I Don’t Want to Waste Ingredients

Three Tips for Newbies


More times than I can count, potential artisans make this request, “I don’t want to waste money or ingredients, so please give me a tried-and-true formula.”

Those with years of experience and many poor to average batches probably feel less than charitable in their response, and for good reason. They have “wasted” ingredients in learning the craft, whether soap, candles or any number of cosmetic products, and resent simply handing it over so that someone else can experience instant success without putting in the effort. They also realize that failure is part of the process of learning.

Frugal ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know how else to say it, but if you want to be proficient at something, you must put in the effort. You must read and research. You must try and fail. You must ask questions, go back over the procedure, do more research, whatever it takes to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again, fix it or figure out how to make it work.

If want to learn how to make bath and body products or candles, do the following:

  • Do ask for reliable sources of information. The internet is replete with useless, inaccurate and sometimes dangerous information, so finding out what you should read is as important as reading it.
  • Take solace in the fact that most experienced artisans do not expect the uninitiated to completely go it alone. Nevertheless, they do expect newbies to show a deep interest in the process and the will to research and take risks, not only because they themselves did, but because they know that is how we learn best.
  • Like most new skills, first learn the rules and underlying concepts. Then, learn how to make or do that skill, one simple step at a time. Consistently build on that knowledge to hone your skills. With patience, hard work and yes, time and money, you become the expert.

To make great soap, for instance, start by learning the basics—the science behind it, the ingredients and the process. Find a good source for a good first timer’s formula and make a simple, small batch. Make the second batch a little more difficult by adding another ingredient—another oil, or color or scent, perhaps. With each batch, do something new. If it does not turn out as expected, try to figure out why and how you might fix it.

What did you learn? That knowledge will stay with you forever.

The same is true for bath and body products or candles. Learn the basics. Practice with simple formulas in small batches. Add complexity as you go and seek new challenges. Research. Ask questions. If you fail, find out why and move on.

It will prove frustrating at times and will cost something in supplies and time; but the true satisfaction of success gained by hard work is the best kind.

And, keep in mind, what initially appears as a mistake could lead to something better. It might lead you to debunk traditional, yet inaccurate information. Even better, it could lead to a serendipitous discovery!


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