Saturday, September 6, 2008

Handmade Soap

The holidays are around the corner so if you are looking for a cute gift for friends and co-workers then I recommend homemade melt-n-pour soap. This craft is inexpensive and you can get the kids involved.

There are many ways of making soap but the easiest is the glycerin melt-n-pour (MP) which depends entirely on the quality of the base.
You can purchase soap base by the pound online or at craft stores. To choose the best base make sure the first ingredient is glycerin, with palm oil or other all natural products such as aloe vera. Good soap base also has a sweet taste and should not contain any animal products which is perfect for people seeking cruelty free beauty products.

Once you acquire a quality base then acquire molds online. If you want to make Christmas presents for a few people at a time then get a loaf mold or invest in a flexible silicone mold and a loaf cutter knife. Silicone molds are more expensive than plastic candy molds but more convenient to use and will last much longer. Generally, silicone molds will have more intricate designs.

Melt the chunks of glycerin in a double boiler and turn off the heat before adding essential oils, dyes or cosmetic glitter. Essential oils are the most expensive ingredient in soap making so do not add too much.

Overpowering scents should be used in moderation.

Some people set the microwave on low to melt the glycerin but I think cleaning up after spilled soap would be a hassle compared to the double boiler method.

Coat the soap mold with vaseline using a clothe or papertowel and pour in the liquid soap base. It's normal for air bubbles to form. While some people spray the bubbles with a mist of alcohol you can instead wait until the soap is thoroughly solid to “rub” the bubbles out with saran wrap.

Loaf soap allows you to embed soap curls, flower petals, herbs and toys just be sure that the soap has cooled enough for you to put in the pieces.
After gently popping out the soap or cutting slices of the loaf, preserve it in saran wrap and then cover in decorative handmade paper and twine to turn it into a gift.

The “goldfish in a bag” soap is always popular and all you need are plastic goldfish or any other critter and clear soap base. You'll need very clear soap base which may be hard to find as all-natural coconut bases are a bit cloudy. If you can only find a cloudy base then simply add blue cosmetic grade dye to make it look like the fish is in water. Fun looking soap is a good way to encourage children to wash their hands however plastic toys can also be a choking hazard.

The best videos explaining the melt and pour process can be found here:

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