By Kim Robson:
If you think hand-dipped homemade candles are the ultimate in personalized gift-giving, wait until your friends and family try out your own homemade rustic natural soaps. They are amazingly easy to make. All you need is a ribbon to tie up a few and you’re ready to go. It’s lots of fun for the entire family, and coming up with interesting scents is so creative.
resources. The bases come in opaque and clear glycerin. They can be combined if you desire. You may want some food coloring also.
At home, chop up your soap base into small chunks. Set up a double boiler to slowly melt your soap base, or use a microwave at 30-second intervals. To cool your soap, choose a mold to pour it into. A loaf pan or flat, square baking pan both work well, or you can buy pre-made moldsfrom the store. Give the insides of molds a light spray with cooking oil for easy release.
Decide on scents. This part is really fun. I’ve made green tea- and oatmeal cookie-scented soaps just with items I already had in my pantry. You’re limited only by your imagination.
· For the oatmeal cookie soap (a big hit, by the way), start with opaque white base, and stir in cinnamon, vanilla extract, and oatmeal flakes. Combine thoroughly, then strain off all but a small amount of the oatmeal with a slotted spoon.
· For the green tea soap, simply add loose green tea and green food coloring. Mint would also be a great option. Again, strain off all but a small amount of the loose tea with a slotted spoon.
Once the soap base is melted, stir in essential oils, extracts, spices, biodegradable scrubbing agents, and/or food coloring to achieve your creation. Pour mixture into molds. Spritz surface with rubbing alcohol to get rid of bubbles, if necessary.
If using a pan, don’t pour the mixture any higher than you want your soap to be tall. Let it cool for at least two hours, up to overnight. Remove from molds. If you used a pan, the soap will be easy to slice into slabs or remain as rustic-looking blocks.
Some ideas for additions:
· Essential oils; Honey; Brown sugar; Beer; Oatmeal; Berry juice; Citrus juice; Extracts of vanilla, mint, or chocolate; Aloe; Cucumber; Chamomile; Vitamin E; Shea butter; Calamine lotion; Earl Grey tea; Rosemary; Lavender; Powdered milk; Ground kola nut or apricot pit; Coffee; Cold cream; and Olive, Sweet almond, or Coconut oil.
Some other ideas for recipes:
· Cut sea sponge, loofah, or citrus into slices and add to bottom of mold before pouring in soap.
· Pour ¼ inch pumice powder into bottom of mold for an exfoliating bar.
· Submerge the ends of a cotton rope into the melted soap to make soap-on-a-rope.
· Embed small plastic toys in clear glycerin soaps for bath time fun for the kids. You’ll have to pour in three separate layers to get the toy suspended in the middle.
· Use open-scallop seashells as molds for guest soaps.
· Use a vegetable peeler to make mini soap spirals for guests.
Once you’ve mastered basic melt-and-pour soap making, you can try more advanced techniquesfor really spectacular results:
· Make layered soaps by pouring differently colored layers and allowing to set between pours.
· Make boutique-style embedded two-tone soaps: first make opaque soaps in different colors. Chop into rough geometric shapes, or use mini cookie cutters to make circles, hearts, or flowers, or use a cheese slicer to make spirals. Arrange in the bottom of molds. Then pour clear glycerin soap base over shapes to make one bar of soap. Makes a brilliant and impressive statement.
· Make swirled soap by pouring in two or more different opaque colors at once and swirl colors with a chopstick.
Soapmaking is a wonderful way for the family to spend an afternoon together. Plus, you’ll end up with homemade, inexpensive soaps for your home and gifts. I bet you already have some ideas,