How to Pick Containers for Soapmaking (What is Safe to Soap In?)

If you are new to soapmaking it is very important to pick the right mixing containers and bowls for making soap. The #1 rule when choosing a mixing container is to make sure it is not aluminum. Sodium hydroxide (lye) reacts with aluminum. Stick with stainless steel, heavy duty plastic and glass. Here are some options.

How to Pick Containers for Soapmaking (What is Safe to Soap In-)

When it comes to plastic, choose plastic with the plastic code #5 on it, which means that the container is made from polypropylene. It can take high heat and is sturdy.

Containers for Mixing Your Soap

Stainless Steel Pots

stainless steel for making soap

A stainless steel pot is great to make soap in. Lye does not react to stainless steel. When you get into making bigger batches of soap, a big stainless steel pot is a lifesaver. Make sure your pots are stainless steel and not a blend of stainless steel and aluminum.

Rubbermaid Bowls

soapmaking containers

These Rubbermaid bowls hold two-pound soap recipes perfectly. I use these all of the time and even use them in all of my classes that I teach. Look for the triangle with the #5 in it.

Plastic Pitchers

containers for soapmaking

Plastic pitchers are great for mixing soap in. You can find them at dollar stores, Walmart and even thrift shops. Stay away from hard brittle plastic pitchers, such as those used to serve tea and water at restaurants.

Stainless Steel Bowls

You can make soap in a stainless steel bowl. Make sure that it is stainless steel and not a blend of stainless steel and aluminum.

Plastic Buckets

mixing-soap-in-a-bucket

Buckets are great to make soap in. You probably get some of your raw materials in buckets. A gallon bucket will hold up to 6 pounds of soap. Once you up your production (learn about master-batching), you can use five-gallon buckets to make batches of soap up to 40 pounds.

Glass Measuring/Mixing Bowls

mixing-soap

Large glass measuring bowls are great for mixing soap in. You can get up to 4 pounds of soap in the larger ones. (Never mix your lye in glass containers, even Pyrex).

Containers for Lye Solution

You can use any of the above containers, EXCEPT for glass containers. Never mix your lye solution in glass. Even Pyrex has been known to etch and shatter when used with sodium hydroxide.

Here are some other options for containers to mix your lye solution in.

Paint Mixing Containers

lye-solution-container

You can find these paint mixing containers in the paint section of home improvement centers. The small ones are great for mixing up your lye solution. Overtime the plastic seems to get a bit brittle and you should replace them.

Plastic Measuring Cups

what-to-mix-lye-in

These containers are great for mixing lye solution in. You can find them at dollar stores, Walmart and kitchen stores.

Again, I can’t stress enough to not mix your lye solution in glass. The heat of the solution shoots up to 160+ degrees F and this quick fluctuation of temperature can make your glass shatter.

Containers for Fragrance/Essential Oils

Glass Jars and Measuring Cups

containers-to-measure-essential-oils

You should only measure fragrance oils and essential oils into glass or stainless steel. We love to use mason jars as we always have some on hand. Fragrance oils and essential oils can eat through plastic and Styrofoam, so never measure into plastic drink cups.

For my more experienced soapmaker readers, what are you favorite containers?

Happy Soaping!

-Amanda Gail

About the Author:

I am a soapmaker, author and blogger! I started blogging in 2008, sharing soap recipes, design tutorials and publishing articles on various topics of soapmaking.

17 Comments

  1. Atefeh November 15, 2018 at 5:46 am - Reply

    Hi
    Thanks for your information.
    You are so experienced😊

  2. Avika June 21, 2018 at 2:16 am - Reply

    Thanks for the information. I wished to avoid using plastic altogether to be ecofriendly. Until I read this article I was planning to purchase glass. I will get stainless steel now! Thanks so much

  3. Michelle March 23, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Hello can I used any fragrance oils for soap making. And how exactly do I measure them as in how much do I know I need for each batter. Thank k you for your time God bless you.

  4. Anna June 5, 2017 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    i always used glass for lye ! omg, good job it never broke ! will use plastic from now on 🙂

  5. Jeff Shaw November 27, 2016 at 8:51 am - Reply

    With the Pyrex, you say they are great for mixing soap but not lye – I assume this means mixing all the ingredients (including hydrated lye and oils) but not for just mixing the lye and water, correct?

    • Amanda Gail November 30, 2016 at 10:48 am - Reply

      You are correct! 🙂

  6. Earlene September 27, 2016 at 8:07 am - Reply

    You cannot safely use just any plastic container for mixing lye. Please check the bottom of the container for the recycle triangle. If it has “PP #5” it is safe for mixing lye. HDPE #2 is also safe as long as your lye solution does not excede 190°F. However, the other ones are NOT lye solution safe! I have had one crack and leak lye when it was of lesser quality.

    Also good for mixing lye:

    Stainless Steel is safe for mixing lye solutions as long as it has no other metal mixed in (although ‘aluminum core’ is okay because it is sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel.

    PFTE (polytetrafluoroethylene)- used in labs to store highly corrosive materials. May be cost prohibitive and hard to find.

    PP #5 (resistant to alkali and can withstand boiling water) (PP = Polypropylene)

    HDPE #2 (safe up to 190°F) – so mixing lye solution might be iffy if you generally go over 190°F (HDPE = High Density Polyethylene)

    The above section of this website should really be revised to warn against the wrong kind of plastic containers.

  7. Ashley Lantz August 29, 2016 at 4:04 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for the information! Do you know if it is ok to store finished soap in an aluminum bottles or are there restrictions to what packaging you should use? Many thanks for any advice!

  8. Kat July 27, 2016 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Hi,
    I put Marseille soap in an antique perfume dispenser and it turned green in less than a day. Does anyone know why? Could it be because the pump is metal (probably brass). Does it affect the soap properties? Thank you for your input.

  9. Brian April 28, 2016 at 10:23 am - Reply

    If you live near a store called Ollie’s (good stuff cheap, is their motto) I’ve purchased 80% of the equipment I use to make soap from there. From large stainless steel pots to silicone bread molds, you can get everything you need. I’d be happy to make anyone a shopping list.

    • Varujomi September 25, 2018 at 3:10 pm - Reply

      Does this offer still stand? If so I’d like a list. Ollie’s just opened in a nearby area.

  10. Lucille February 5, 2016 at 11:59 am - Reply

    I no longer use Pyrex in the microwave. It is no longer made from borosilicate glass. I was melting oils in mine in the microwave (which I had done many times before) but this time about a minute and a half into it I looked in and the handle was melting with glass strings going all over my microwave. So I use plastic now without any issue. I was glad it didn’t explode but it was still dangerous and bad to clean up.

  11. Anne-Marie Faiola December 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this great information. Picking soaping containers can be difficult; especially when you aren’t soaping regularly! Thanks for sharing. =)

  12. Steve Pritchard December 17, 2015 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    I love love love the .99 stores! They have mixing/pouring bowls that work great and when they get to messy some times i just toss them lol. Also the paint mixing buckets is such a great idea!

  13. Elizabeth December 17, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

    I use Pyrex beakers to measure EO/FO into. They’re relatively inexpensive to purchase from a laboratory supply store. I also have lots of stainless steel condiment cups for measuring fragrances for small batches.
    I’m so glad you warned against using glass & Pyrex for mixing lye – when I saw the photo for this article, I cringed a bit! I used Pyrex for a while when I first started soaping, but I heard too many stories about lye/glass explosions, so I use either stainless steel pots or HDPE containers.

  14. Kathy White December 17, 2015 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I had been using a 2 gallon bucket that some oils came in, but I found a clear plastic container at a restaurant supply store that I love to use now. It has measurement marks on one side which is very helpful when splitting batches. Since it’s clear, I can see on the bottom and sides if I’ve blended the colorant completely. It has a pour spout, too.

  15. Carrie S. December 17, 2015 at 8:49 am - Reply

    One of my favorite containers to use are disposable party cups! I don’t mix my soap directly in them, but use them for ease of coloring smaller portions of the soap batter, once it has come to trace. They are usually just the size I need and biggest bonus of all is that I can throw them away when finished. Less clean-up = WIN!

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