The thought of handling lye to make soap can sometimes scare people away. While making soap without lye isn’t really possible, you can pay a little more and have someone handle that part for you.
Making soap can be compared to baking a cake. You have three options: go to the store and buy a ready-made cake from the bakery section, buy a box of cake mix to bake up at home, or you can buy the individual ingredients to make one from scratch.
Similarly, you can buy ready-made bars of soap, buy a pre-made mix (melt & pour base), or you can buy all of the ingredients (lye, oils, etc.) needed to make your own from scratch. Convenience is not only more expensive, but you also have to put up with extra ingredients, preservatives, and chemicals.
The following process starts with a melt and pour soap base – the lye has already been handled. There are many suppliers around, including your local craft store. Shop around to find a base with ingredients that suit you. Once you have your base, follow these easy steps to make your own soap!
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1. Melt the Soap Base
Cut it into chunks and place them in a glass measuring cup. Using either use a double boiler or microwave (heat for 30 seconds at a time), melt the chunks until they become a smooth liquid.
2. Prepare Your Molds
There are many options for soap molds. Your local craft store should carry them, but you can also try silicone muffin pans, candy molds, paper cups, etc. You can definitely get creative here. Lightly spray your mold with a tiny bit of oil and then wipe it smooth to help with release later on.
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3. Add Colors, Scent, Herbs & Flowers
Once your base is in liquid form, you can add to it. Here are some ideas:
Dried flower petals: Pour a very thin layer of melted soap base into the bottom of the mold. Sprinkle your flower petals on and let this set up for about ten minutes before adding more soap.
Natural colorants: Start with about 1/8 teaspoon per pound of base. In a separate cup, mix your colorants with a tiny bit of water, oil or even a bit of soap first until they are smooth. Otherwise, you will have chunks of unmixed powder in your soap.
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Honey and/or oatmeal: Add two to three teaspoons per pound of base. Make sure your soap has thickened up a bit before stirring the oatmeal in or it will all settle to the bottom of your mold.
Poppy seeds/vanilla bean: These can be handled the same way as honey/oatmeal.
Essential oils: Add whatever scent you desire.
Herbs: First, rub the leaves through a fine mesh sieve to break them down into a powder. You can also use a small coffee grinder. To avoid all of your herbs settling to the bottom of the mold, let the soap mixture thicken a bit before stirring them in.
4. Set Your Soap
Once you’ve colored and added and layered, then it’s time to pour into the molds. If you notice bubbles across the top, spritz the soap with rubbing alcohol to get rid of them.
Once poured, let it sit for an hour or so to harden before trying to release. Once your soap has completely cooled, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap.
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