crafting

Soap Making

Not too long ago, I mentioned that I’ve been doing some soap–making. It’s a craft I read about online and decided to try. I thought it would make good gifts / stocking stuffers.

For my first attempt, I went with this all–in–one kit from Michaels. I used a 50% off coupon, figuring if the whole thing went terribly wrong, I’d only be out ten bucks.

It comes with 4 soap molds, 3 soap colorants (red, blue, and yellow), and 1 soap scent (cucumber melon). It also comes with a good amount of starter soap.

You can melt the soap in the microwave, but we don’t have a microwave, so I went with the double boiler method. It took longer, of course, but you can get the melting started, then go do other stuff and just check on it every now and then. It also makes it easy to add whatever colorants, fragrances, or herbs you want.

soaponstove

The starter kit was a good way to learn what in the world I was doing! I branched out from there to a few more molds, including a loaf mold.

soaploafmold

The soap fragrances at Michaels are nice, but I knew I’d end up using essential oils instead.

oil1

I also started drying some herbs, like mint and rosemary, and strips of lemon peel to include in the soaps. As you might imagine, it gets all Little House on the Prairie–esque when I’m making these. A friend of mine came over when there were herbs hanging to dry and lemon peel on the window sill, and she nearly died laughing. ; )

My favorite herb to include? Lavender.

soapsdriedlavender
No surprise there.

When the soap is melted in the double boiler, add whatever colorant, essential oils, and dried herbs you want to add, then pour into the molds. Put some strong rubbing alcohol* in a small spray bottle and spray the soap after you pour it. This will get rid of the bubbles and will evaporate, leaving no alcohol smell or residue.

* Most bottles are 70% alcohol, but it’s better to use the oddly specific 91%. You may need to call around to find out which pharmacies carry it.

And that’s it! It’s really easy.

soapsinmolds

Then you just let them sit for a few hours—I usually wait overnight—and work them out of the molds in the morning. The loaf mold comes apart so you can cut the loaf into individual bars.

Here are some of my favorite soaps:

soapslavender
lavender and shea butter or goats milk soap
lavender essential oil + dried lavender

soapsmint
fresh mint soap
spearmint essential oil + dried mint

soapshoneylemon
honey, lemon, bergamot soap made with honey glycerin soap
lemon essential oil + bergamot essential oil + dried lemon peel

I put the lemon peel in the molds instead of mixing it in the bowl of melted soap, which made it easier to divide up the peel evenly.

soapsbathtime
bathtime soap
various essential oils + different colors + a small, bendable toy

Won’t these be such fun for kids? Be sure to use a toy that bends easily and doesn’t have scratchy edges.

soapscandycane
candy cane soap
made with glycerin soap dyed red and a layer of shea butter soap
peppermint essential oil

I used the loaf mold first, making a 1/2 inch red layer covered by a 1/2 inch white layer. When you do layered soaps, you need to spray them with 91% rubbing alcohol right after the layer is poured to get rid of the bubbles (as usual), then again when that first layer is set, right before you add the next layer. This binds the layers together.

After those two layers dried, I cut them up into chunks. Then I did a red layer, a white layer, and another red layer, pouring in the top layer and then filling it with the little soap chunks. You do need to spray the soap chunks with alcohol before you add them.

They smell so good and look so cute!

soapsall

Word of advice: If you do a layered soap, like the candy cane one, be sure to let each layer set. Don’t be impatient. If you are, at least make it a happy accident . . .

. . . like I did with this would–be candy cane soap.

soapsgrapefruit
grapefruit mint soap
candy cane soap you messed up but stayed positive and re–melted + grapefruit essential oil

It’s actually a very forgiving craft. Easy to remelt and start over. : )

soapsinbasket

I can’t wait to give these as gifts and share them with friends.

What handmade gifts are your favorites to give or receive?

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