A little over two years ago I discovered the wonders of making my own natural soap at home. Not only is it a great hobby, but they make wonderful, personalized gifts AND they save money on buying commercial soaps. I first got hooked when I bought a kit for my daughter's birthday. We made the soap together and were stunned by the great results we had. Since then, we've ventured out on our own, meaning we've steered away from the kits, and have begun giving our soaps as gifts.
I'd always been interested in learning to make my own homemade soaps, but was just a little bit intimidated by the whole process. Melt and pour soap recipes are a great first step into that more compliczated terrain, in my opinion. They give you an opportunity to learn the basics and gain some confidence along the way.
If you're really creative, driven and a pro at marketing, you could even start your own business!
Kits For Making Your Own Natural Soap
Melt and pour soaps are pretty self-explanatory. You can either buy a kit that comes with a premade soap base, usually made out of glycerin along with various colorants and fragrances. Alternatively, you can just purchase the block of base soap (it is often clear or white/opaque) and you can utilize your own additives. Most are glycerin soaps, but you can get some with nutritive additives as well. You then just pour the ingredients in a mold, wait for it to cool and harden, pop it out and voila, you've got yourself some nice soap.
It's up to you, but there is something to be said for starting with the kits if you don't quite feel ready to take the plunge. They will cost you a bit more in the long run and they aren't as customizable as you may like. But, they're easy and effective for learning the process. They're also a great craft gift to give to a friend.
Basic Supplies You''ll Need
f you really get into this craft, along the way you will discover what supplies work best for you and your needs. But, the following items are the basics:
- A large Pyrex measuring cup (4 cups is good).
- A whisk or large spoon
- A knife or a scraper cutter (best if you have a tendency to cut yourself like I do!) for cutting the soap base if you aren't using pre-scored soap cubes.
- A dropper
- A cutting board
- A food scale
- A spray bottle of rubbing alcohol
- Melt and pour soap
- Your additives: like fragrance oils, essential oils*, colorants*, dried flowers or herbs. Make sure your oils are safe for skin! Don't use candle or potpourri fragrance oils!!
- Soap mold (or yogurt or tofu containers if you're frugal and environmentally-conscious like me and not too concerned with how professional it looks)
- Saran Wrap
Note: If you want your soap to be all natural use only essential oils. Although fragrance oils are safe, they are still synthetic. You may want to use fragrance oils if you can't find the aroma you want in an essential oil, like chocolate, for example.
Colorants can be mica powders (will create a little shimmer), herbs that tint naturally, soap-safe dyes, oxides and ultramarines (which are all-natural and create more muted colors).
Basic Directions for Natural Soap Making
All the recipes below begin with these basic instructions.
- Using your food scale, measure out the amount of soap needed for the recipe. You won't need to weigh your soap if you use the pre-scored type of soap. The normally come in 2 pound bricks that are divided into 32 cubes each weighing one ounce. Easy peasy!
- Cut the soap base into small, uniform chunks. They will melt more readily this way. Alternatively, you can purchase soap that's already scored into the proper size cubes.
- Place the soap chunks in your Pyrex measuring cup. You might want to cover with Saran Wrap to encourage uniform heating and reduce potential splatter. But, I must admit I never cover mine and no problems yet! I chop mine about the size of ice from ice cube trays.
- Put it in the microwave for short, brief bursts. I usually do them in 30 second intervals. Just to give you an idea, 16 ounces of base usually takes a little over 2 minutes to melt. If you heat it too long and end up scorching it, not only will it take on an odd yellow appearance, but it will have a bad odor.
- Add your oils with your dropper when the base is all melted and there are no "chunks" left. A basic formula is to add between .3 and .5 oz of fragrance or essential oil per pound (16 oz) of soap base, or around 1-3% of the total soap weight. You can add more though, especially if you're working with a weaker scent..
- Gently stir, vigorous stirring isn't necessary and will only serve to introduce unwanted bubbles.
- Pour into your molds.
- Spritz the bubbles with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to pop them. Alternatively, if you don't like the idea of adding alcohol to your soap, you can pop them with a toothpick.
- Wait for the soap to harden for at least 2 to 4 hours and pop out of molds. Some people insist upon waiting longer, but I've never had problems popping it out even as early as two hours. Definitely wait until the next day to use it, however. You do want to give it some time to fully coagulate and harden.
Lavender Soap Recipe
Please read directions above for additional instructions.
- 1 pound (16 oz.) melt and pour soap. You can use either the clear or the opaque. Personally, I like using the opaque for this recipe.
- .3 oz lavender essential oil or lavender fragrance oil
- .2 oz lavender vanilla soap-safe fragrance oil
- 10 drops of soap-safe dye (make sure it's SOAP SAFE!). You can either get purple, or mix 1/2 red and 1/2 blue to create your own purple.
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender, ground through a food processor or your coffee grinder. Lavender not only doesn't suspend well in melt and pour soaps, but it will turn brown. The lavender powder works beautifully though! Always add the dried herbs and flowers LAST. As you can see from the photos on the right, for this hub I used dried lavender that wasn't ground. I don't personally mind the discoloration in the soap, but some people do. Because it doesn't suspend well, I add the lavender after I've filled in only about half of the mold and after it's begun to harden a little. I usually wait around 10 minutes to add the lavender. Then, I fill up the mold the rest of the way so the lavender will stay put.
The Final Product!
Apple Soap Recipe
- 1 pound (16 oz.) melt and pour soap. The clear looks better for this recipe.
- .5 oz soap-safe apple fragrance
- 10 drops of either red or green soap-safe dye (make sure it's SOAP SAFE!).
- One tablespoon of ground cinnamon (optional).
Natural Soap Recipes That Are Environmentally-Friendly
These are simple to achieve.
- You will use organic glycerin base.
- Use a powdered organic oxide mix(or ultramarines) for the colorant. You will first need to mix it with a little water. A capsule of charcoal also makes a wonderful black colored soap.
- Use organic essential oils for fragrance.
- Used recycled materials (like yogurt containers) for the molds.
- Add dried and ground herbs and flowers, coffee grounds for texture and smell.
What NOT To Add
- Food coloring doesn't work well. It will look okay in the beginning, but the colors will begin to fade and can even start turning odd colors after a while.
- Anything that was once alive will turn brown. The best way to get around this is just to grind the herbs or flowers first.
- Oils, like Olive or Sunflower end up settling at the top of the soap while simultaneously decreasing the lathering abilities of the soap. Stick with essential oils.
Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on January 03, 2012:
RTalloni, I seem to have missed your comment! Sorry... you probably felt skipped over. I hate it when that happens. Anyway, thanks for the vote, visit and comment!
Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on January 02, 2012:
You're silly, Garrett... don't give anyone any ideas!
Garrett Mickley from Jupiter, Florida on January 02, 2012:
With enough soap, you can blow up just about anything.
Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on January 02, 2012:
kikalina, thanks for the visit and vote.
kikalina from Europe on January 02, 2012:
Very interesting detailed hub. voted up.
RTalloni on December 31, 2011:
Thanks for this thorough overview on making natural soaps. It's nicely done and full of great tips for the novice. Voted up and bookmarked.