SOAP MAKING TIPS

Melt and pour soap

Melt and pour soap is the easiest method of making homemade soap. Because the soap base has already been made and prepared for you, you do not have to worry about working with lye, like you would with cold or hot process soap. It is fast and easy to prepare for both children and adults alike. All you have to do is melt the premade base, customize it with your favourite colours, herbs, seeds, honey, rind or essential oils and pour into a mould. Once you get the hang of the process, you can experiment with advanced techniques like layers and swirls. Melt and pour bases can be used for body soap and shampoo but they are not recommended for conditioner bars. I have provided wonderful alternative recipes that do not use melt and pour.

Cold process soap is made by combining oils and sodium hydroxide lye. That causes a chemical reaction called saponification. Melt and pour soap has already gone through that process. That means you don’t have to handle lye, you can focus on the design, and you don’t have to cure the soap – it’s ready to use as soon as it’s cool and hard.

A double boiler

There is no need to go out and buy a double boiler. A double boiler is nothing more than a glass bowl inside a pot of boiling water. Ensure the water does not get into the bowl at any time. A glass bowl or jug in a microwave can be used in 30 second stints as an alternative once you get used to working with soap as long as you do not boil the soap/butters. It must be dissolved slowly.

Soap moulds

You need to use a mould that can withstand higher temperatures, so it doesn’t melt when you pour in hot soap. You also want it to be flexible so it’s easy to unmould the bars. Silicone and plastic moulds are best for melt and pour. Silicon moulds are the easiest to work with when making soap. An important tip is to spray the moulds with rubbing alcohol to prevent air bubbles before and sometimes on top of the soap after if bubbles appear on the top. Try not to move the moulds for at least 2 hrs when poured and if you are in a rush, place the soup into the fridge or freezer to harden quicker. They will sweat a little when they are taken out again so make sure to let them ‘breathe’ for an hour or so before storing them in an airtight container.

Colourants

There are plenty of options for colouring melt and pour soap. Micas and colour blocks are easy to use and they look great in the finished bars. Natural colourants such as turmeric or saffron can also be used. It is not recommended to use options like food colouring or crayons because they haven’t been tested or approved for use in soap. They tend to morph, fade, or bleed.