I'm gearing up for holiday gift giving this year and we decided to make soap. You can make soap...and then you can make soap. I decided that this year we'd cheat and do it the easy way that only takes two days. Using lye with a baby and two cats running underfoot did not seem like a safe combination. Cheating this way was so fast and easy I may not ever really make real soap again.
This is the melt and pour process where you buy a soap base, melt it, add scents and/or colors and then pour it into a mold where it cools and hardens. The end! No stirring, no chemicals that burn a holes in your skin and no curing for weeks either. You didn't really make soap at all...but it looks like you did, smells great and will impress just the same.
Materials Needed: Soap base, which you buy and it comes in a huge block of soap. I got a 10lb block from Bramble Berry since they carry a variety of different melt and pour bases. We picked the hemp base because my mom loves the way hemp soaps lather. Essential oils--add 1/4 ounce per pound of base, although I used more like 1/2 ounce per pound for strong lavender scent. A mold to pour the soap in: pizza box, cardboard box, wood box, shaped molds made for soap, etc. Big pots to melt the soap in and freezer paper OR plastic cling wrap.
Use a double boiler or cheat the way I did by filling a large pot with water and putting a smaller pot inside of it for the soap. Wait for the water to boil, then toss your soap chunks in your pan, COVER and turn the heat way down. I suggest cutting up the chunks into smaller pieces first if you want to save time. We just left them as huge chunks and it took over an hour to fully melt down to liquid. Go back and lift the lid, checking on the melting. You can use a spatula or a spoon to test to see if all the chunks have melted.
Soon, it will be a liquid. At this point, add your essential oils and stir them in well. We opted not to add any coloring but you would add this now if you like.
Pour your soap into your mold and let sit until fully cooled and hardened...at least 24 hours for large molds. Pre-prepare your mold by lining it with freezer paper or plastic cling wrap. If you use freezer paper, it should be waxy side towards the soap. Make sure you line a mold (especially a cardboard box type mold) well so that the liquid stays in and doesn't leak out. Shape molds that are made for soap do not need lining. After it is cooled down and hard you can remove the soap and carefully peel off the paper, leaving you with a huge rectangle chunk of finished soap.
Use a straightedge to section the soap to get uniform bars. Any uneven edges can be trimmed off.
Cut off a slab (I had my husband do all the cutting as it took a bit of force) and then cut into individual bars.
We did some fat square ones and some huge rectangles. We didn't bother trying to make them all uniform since we are giving them away individually to different people. Plus, we were impatient to be done.
I had some lovely homemade papers laying around and used it to wrap the soap bars "present style" with some raffia to tye them. When I ran out I used brown parchment paper and even did a few that had layers of tissue paper as well. Wrapping them up was my favorite part. I still plan to make some cute tags and/or stickers for them that say "Handmade soap by..." and what the ingredients are.
All done! Ten pounds yielded about 20 bars, which is a bit less than I thought it would but we made our bars huge and also trimmed off all the edges to make them clean looking. We also have over 10 bars worth of "imperfect" edges that we'll keep and use at home. I used the soap for the first time this morning and wow, it sure is lovely! A nice smooth lather that makes my skin feel soft afterwards. I think we'll do this again with a citrus scent in spring for a summer soap.