A few years ago, I went through a soap-making phase. I wasn’t serious enough about it to really sell anything, except a few bars to some of my husband’s very supportive friends.
But, I did manage to make enough to give to everyone I knew for every holiday that came to pass. And, I did manage to accumulate a pretty big stash of soap-making supplies. When it came time to decide what to give my daughter’s teachers for Valentine’s Day, I remembered my chunks of olive oil & goat’s milk soap and my little vials of essential oils & aroma oils. Thus, began a very interesting foray into soap-making with a 4 1/2 year old.
I won’t go into instructional detail about how to make melt & pour soap, because, frankly, you melt it — then you pour it. Pretty straightforward. OK, I guess it is a little bit more involved than that. If you are interested, here is a very informative article on the melt & pour technique. Instead, I’ll just share with you some helpful hints that I’ve learned along the way, and share some fun photos.
Hint #1 – Bees Wax – Use a little bit of bees wax. It will make your soap last longer and its good for your skin. You can buy the little yellow pellets at most soap supply companies. I don’t really measure, but I use about a tablespoon or so to a batch of 2-3 smallish bars of soap. (I know, I know, I should measure!) When we did this project, I just let my daughter throw in a handful. Beeswax melts slower than soap, so pre-melt your beeswax and then add the chunks of soap base.
Hint#2 – Color – I read somewhere that you can use melted crayons for colorants. I tried this and found that it didn’t work very well with opaque soaps such as goat’s milk, but did a nice job with transparent soaps like olive oil. For this project, we tried the crayons, because it was fun, but I ended up using Wilton‘s gel food coloring to brighten the color. I’ve also used powered soap colorants, but always had a hard time getting them to blend in. All and all, food colorings always seemed to work best for me.
Hint #3 – Molds – For this project, I we used silicone heart-shaped muffin pans and rubber heart-shaped ice-cube trays. I found them in the dollar bin at Target last year. They were so much easier to use than the plastic soap molds I’ve used in the past, and they were much cheaper. I’ve also used bread pans lined with saran wrap. Just pop out the ‘loaf’ and slice it.
Hint #4 – Supplies – I’ve always had good luck buying soap base, bees wax and aroma oils at Brambleberry. They have an enormous selection and a helpful site. I used to buy great essential oils from a company called Cedar Vale, but they don’t seem to be around anymore.
Hint #5 – Making It Kid-Friendly – Obviously, you need to be very careful when dealing with hot, melted soap around kids. Some of the things I let my daughter do were to pick out the colors and aromas, put the cut up of chunks of soap base into the bowl, squeeze an eye-dropper of essential oil (filled by me) into the melted soap, and stir the essential oil into the melted soap base while being carefully monitored. She also had fun popping the soaps out of the molds when they were hardened.
When we were done, we ended up with some really cute heart shaped soap in pink, orange, yellow and blue. We bundled them in pink tulle and plan to bring them into school later this week.