As I mentioned before, I have been spending time learning and playing with making melt & pour soaps at home. I decided to try melt & pour soaps because they sounded easy to do while still allowing me to experiment with using different scented oils and exfoliates.
I hadn't really had a lot of experience with glycerine based soaps until some of our hotel trips where we got some very nice ones. They changed my mind about them. Then, once, I learned that different butters could be added to them giving them much more the appearance and properties of what I thought of "soap", I was hooked on trying it out.
The more traditional way of making soap involves using lye which is a corrosive alkaline substance making it much more dangerous to work with. I was not feeling brave enough to do that with the cats in the house.
In addition, it would mean making larger batches of all the same type and waiting weeks before I could try them out. Whereas, with melt & pour soaps, you can make as large or small of a batch as you desire from 1 bar to many, many bars at once. This gives me the flexibility to try out different things without worrying about being stuck with a bunch of "uggg help me" soaps. Also, with melt & pour soaps, the wait time between making them and being able to try them out is at most a couple of hours.
A number of people have either been surprised that you can make your own soaps at home or wondered how difficult it is to do... so... here is how I create my melt & pour soaps...
Step 1: buy your melt & pour soap base
- easily available at craft stores like Michael's or from many online retailers like New Directions Aromatics
(you can also make this from scratch but i've never tried and the bases are a good price & easy to come by)
Step 2: cut off and measure how much soap you want to work with for a batch
- I typically work with around 8-10 ounces at a time to create 4-5 bars
Step 3: cut up the soap into smaller pieces to make for easier - quicker melting
Step 4: place the soap in a microwave safe container & melt the soap in the microwave
- start by putting it in for 20-25 seconds on high and then continue in increments of 15-20 seconds until it is all melted; you want it to melt but not boil
Step 5: select your scented oils (fragrance or essential oils work), exfoliants (if desired) and colorants (can use liquid colorants, small parts of wax crayons or powdered colorants all available at various craft and online stores)
- I tend to use 3-4 drops of liquid colorants or 1/4" of wax crayon to color my soaps & about 1 tsp of scented oil and 1/2 - 1 tsp exfoliate per pound of soap base (can add more or less to preference & depending on how strong your scented oil is)
- exfoliates work best in soap bases made for suspension, if not a suspension soap, add when soap is cooled off some but not hard yet which can be a tough combo to find - exfoliates will tend to either sink to the bottom or rise to the top of your soaps in non-suspension bases
note: wax crayon can make translucent soaps a little murky in appearance, especially if too much is used. as well, if too much is used, it can make the soap leave color behind when wet on tub surrounds, etc. you can test whether the soap will leave color behind by wetting it & placing it on a small white bathroom tile available at hardware stores.
Step 6: add your scented oils, exfoliates and colorant to melted soap & stir
- stir gently to not incorporate too much air into the soap as bubbles will make the soap appear murky
Step 7: pour soap into molds
- I am using mini loaf silicone bakeware pans for my bars as the silicone is easy to remove the soap from and they make a nice 2-3 oz bar size which fits nicely in your hand.
Step 8: lightly spray your soaps with rubbing alcohol to remove air bubbles
- using a light spray mist bottle with rubbing alcohol in it works well
- removing the air bubbles will give you a smoother, nicer appearance soap
- if making layered soaps, the light spray of rubbing alcohol also helps with the 2 layers adhering to one another
Step 9: allow soaps to cool
- usually need at least 40-50 mins but I find it better to wait a couple of hours otherwise you risk warping your soaps or leaving indents on your soap when removing them from the molds
- I have heard of people placing their soaps into the fridge or freezer after pouring for quicker cooling but I haven't tried this yet
Step 10: remove soaps from molds and allow to air dry awhile
- I usually allow them to air dry for a couple of hours or overnight if I make them late at night
- I find this helps to harden them a bit more making them last longer in the shower/bath
- since glycerin is water based, you don't want to leave them out too long as the water in them will evaporate causing your soaps to shrink
Step 11: wrap - seal your soaps to avoid soap shrinkage
- you can wrap them in plastic wrap, shrink wrap them... any number of things to keep them air tight
- I use 4X6 pof (polyolefin film) bags to shrink wrap my soaps in as they are food safe whereas pvc shrink wrap isn't and they are... well, fun to shrink wrap!
- if shrink wrapping, be sure to do on a surface that can handle the heat from the heat gun - I shrink wrap mine on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil and then a silicone baking sheet on top as I want to be safer than sorry and it makes for a nice, portable surface to work on.
- purchasable at many online retailers and in some stores
- I purchased mine from Shrinkwrap Store where I got 500 bags for $13
Step 12: label and add any additional packaging you wish
- i've chosen to wrap mine with a 1" strip of kraft wrapping paper with a strip of raffia ribbon and all held together with a 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" avery label in front detailing my logo and soap base and a 1/2" X 1 3/4" avery label in back detailing the scent of the soap
Step 13: enjoy!
I hope this has shown you how easy it can be to make your own soaps. It is economically good and if you use essential oils, also has great aromatherapy benefits. Fragrance oils (as I used for these bars) are also good and have a lot more variety of neat scents but don't hold the same aromatherapy benefits that can be gotten by using essential oils in your soaps and other products. You can even use spices and other cooking items in your soaps for some interesting combos! like cinnamon... coffee!... oats... the possibilities are endless and up to your personal taste.
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them for you.
In addition to making soaps, I am about to embark on playing with making clay based facial masks. My order of clays, essential oils, botanical extracts, aloe vera gel, avocado oil and packaging should be here in just over a week... wheeee... a fun hobby to play around with which also serves a functional purpose!
Plain soap is just so plain now ;) and in my late 30s, any help I can give my skin, the better!
I am not selling my products at this time, however, any family or friends who are interested in receiving any for gifts, please let me know your preferences in scents... even if you don't express interest, don't be surprised if your next gift from us might include soap. ;)