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Okay, so if you’ve been following my blog you’ve noticed that recently I’ve been on a huge DIY body care kick. I can’t get enough!
There is something really decadent about homemade lotions and potions and I’ve found I really enjoy making them. (If you missed my posts on making lotion bars and an edible “mud” facial mask, you should check ’em out!).
The other day I hopped on Pinterest and came across a great soap making tutorial. I’ve purposely avoided attempting to make my own soap in the past, but this was so easy there was no reason NOT to try it! So I dropped what I was doing, went to my local Michael’s and got to work on this:
Now, why have I avoided making soap before, you ask? Because, well, it terrifies me a little bit. Whenever I think of making soap, I think of that scene from Fight Club where Tyler Durden explains to Edward Norton how lye causes chemical burns.
Lye (or sodium hydroxide) is traditionally used in soap making and plays a role in giving soap it’s cleaning properties. It is an extremely caustic chemical that can burn your skin on contact.
And when lye combines with water, fumes are given off that you do not want to breathe, so if you plan to make soap the traditional way, get the kids out of the kitchen, open the windows, and let that air out! You can read more about safety guidelines for traditional soap making here.
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After reading this, I decided that “real” soap making was not for me! That is, until I found that great tutorial on Pinterest and learned about the melt and pour method of soap making. This method is ridiculously easy, child-friendly, and very safe since the lye part is done for you in advance.
To begin, gather your ingredients. There is no rule that you need to add anything to your melt and pour soap base, technically, but I thought it would be fun to try something interesting.
You can buy bricks of melt and pour soap base at your local Michael’s or easily buy them online. I bought a brick of goat’s milk melt and pour soap base, but there are a wide variety of bases to choose from, including shea butter, aloe vera, olive oil, etc. There are scented and unscented varieties, as well as clear and white colored bases.
Cut up your soap base in cubes and place them in a glass bowl. You can melt your soap base in a double boiler or you can put it in the microwave and heat it for thirty second intervals, stirring between each interval until your base is melted. I used 10 ounces of soap base, and it took about three thirty second intervals (plus stirring) to melt it completely.
I’ve read that you should cover your glass bowl with saran wrap to help keep in moisture if you warm your base by microwaving it, but I’ve also seen directions that don’t include this step. I did not cover my bowl and it seemed to turn out fine:
Look at that beautiful creamy goodness! What was nice about the soap bricks that I bought was that although they were unscented, they still smelled good–a soapy smell, if you will.
At this point I added some oats to the mix. Oats are used in skin care all the time as a way to soothe the skin, as well as reduce inflammation and heal dry, itchy skin. In soap, they also work as a great exfoliator! Plus, they are totally hypoallergenic.
The soap base I bought is supposed to provide an even suspension of ingredients like oatmeal. If your mixture is too hot, sometimes the oats (or poppy seeds or what have you) can sink to the bottom.
This didn’t seem to be an issue, but I can’t say if that was due to the soap base I was using, it’s temperature, or perhaps the weight of the oats themselves (as opposed to that of a heavier ingredient, such as coffee beans, for example).
Once I added the oats, I added my sweet almond fragrance oil (you can use essential oils as well, but not all essential oils are safe for the skin, so double check this!), honey (remember how good that is for the skin?), and the oil of two vitamin e capsules.
The honey gives the soap a slightly more creamy color, and I ended up using about 2 tablespoons of it. For the fragrance oil I used 5 drops per ounce of soap base per the directions on the packaging.
From there, I poured my mixture into the soap mold I had purchased. Let your soaps solidify completely before attempting to remove them from the mold! Your mold should be perfectly cool to the touch–if it’s still warm don’t risk it!
If you use a plastic or metal mold, you might consider giving the mold a quick squirt of some non-stick spray so your soaps slide out easier when it comes time to take them out of the mold.
Another trick is to put them in the freezer for several minutes before attempting to remove them. To avoid the little bubbles that form on the bottom of the soap (i.e. the side you don’t see in pictures below) put some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and give your soaps a quick spray right after you have put them in their molds.
Ten ounces of soap base gave me three bars of soap. These little beauties were so quick and easy to make, I made two batches for six bars total in less than an hour (not including time for the bars to set).
You can speed along the setting time by sticking them in the fridge on a flat surface. Consider putting a tray underneath your soap mold containers before pouring your soap in to make transporting them to the fridge easier.
These make for great gifts or party favors, like for a baby shower or wedding shower. They would even be a nice fancy touch to a guest bathroom for when you have company over. They look and feel expensive without actually being so, which is always nice :)
I hope you enjoyed this sweet almond honey oatmeal goat’s milk soap tutorial as much as I did! I will definitely be making more soap again soon.
Have you ever made soap before? Tell me about it in the comments!
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