Have you wanted to try making your own soap but you were not sure where to get started? Well then you are in the right place:)
There are quite a few different methods for making soap. The three most common methods are Melt and Pour, Cold Process and Hot Process. Of these three, the best one for beginner soap makers to start with is Melt and Pour. This is because with Melt and Pour you are using a premade base so you won't need to work with lye to make your soap. Once you feel comfortable with Melt and Pour soap making you can then move on and tackle Cold or Hot Process soaps with a greater confidence then jumping right to making soap with lye.
Now let's get into the nitty gritty of making Melt & Pour soap. There are really only three essentials that you need when making Melt & Pour soap. A good quality soap base, a way to heat it up and something to put it in.
First let's talk about soap bases. When I first started making soap, there were only a handful of bases available. Now, there are countless options available as far as brand and base types are concerned. The type of base you pick is more of a personal preference on how you want your soap to feel and what properties you want it to have. You can find everything from a plain soap base, to shea butter, goat's milk, oatmeal, hemp and more. You will also notice that some basis are clear and others are opaque so this is something to keep in mind when picking out the base you want to use as it will affect how your finished soap looks. I tend to mostly use a shea butter or goat's milk base as I find them to behave well across most manufacturers and they are also moisturizing on your skin but there are certain projects where you will want to use a clear basis to get a certain look for your soap.
Here are links to three of my favorite soap basis:
Next let's talk about how to melt your base. You can melt your soap base in the microwave or on a stove top using a double boiler method. Either method works. This is more a matter of personal preference but I will say that the microwave is the easier of the two methods, especially for beginners.
To melt down your soap base, your will first want to measure out how much soap you want to make and then cut the base down into small chunks. Smaller pieces melt down faster and more uniformly than if you were to leave the base in larger chunks. This also helps prevent overheating your soap base during the melting process. Once you have your soap in small chunks, place the base in either a microwave safe container(or heat safe if you are doing the double boiler method)and begin to melt down your base in 30 second intervals until it is completely melted. You
will want to stir in between each time you microwave your soap as this will also help it melt evenly. It is important not to heat your soap to boiling as this can cause a few different issues with your final soap product. First being the soap can take on a scorched smell that will remain present in the final product and second being it can cause your soap to sweat more than it typically would due to the excess heat(I'll talk more about why melt and pour soap sweats later in this post).
Once your soap is melted down, you can add in things like essential oils, colorants, botanicals or powders. With melt and pour soap basis you are more limited on the additives you can put in the soap than you are with something like cold process soap but there are still tons of options and combinations that you can do. Typically manufacturers will list a recommended percentage for the amount of additives you can put into your soap base. This is not a hard and fast rule but a general recommendation. Also note that this is different than when we talk about usage rates for fragrance oils and essential oils as those are safety based and should be adhered to. For an example, if your melt and pour base says you can add in up to 3% of your base weight in additives, that doesn't mean you can add in 3% of a fragrance/essential oil. It just means that in between things like scent, colorants, botanicals, etc you can add in up to 3% the weight of your base and still have the product perform correctly. You would still want to confirm what the safe usage rate is for your fragrance or essential oil as that may be lower than the recommended additive percentage.
After melting your soap, adding in any additives you wish and stirring to combine, you need to put your soap in something:). The easiest option is a heat safe silicone mold. There are tons of options on Amazon you can choose from.
Here are three of my favorite silicone molds:
Besides Silicone Molds, you can basically use anything that your soap base isn't going to leak out of. I have seen people make soap in an empty Pringles can, cardboard boxes, Tupperware and more. You just have to line whatever you are using with a wax or freezer paper so that you can remove the soap once it has cooled down.
Once you have poured your soap into it's mold the hard part begins......waiting for the soap base to cool down so that you can remove it from the mold:). This generally take around 4-6 hours but will depend on the size of the mold you use.
After you have removed your soap from the mold, you now need to think about how you are going to store your soap. When melt and pour soap is exposed to the air unproctected for long periods of time it can develop something known as glycerin dew/soap sweat. This is a reaction between the glycerin in your melt and pour base and the air. It doesn't change how the soap looks or works but is not the most aesthetically pleasing to look at AND you can end up with soap gunk all over the cabinet you were storing it in...ick. To prevent this, I recommend shrink wrapping your soap or wrapping it in something like Saran Wrap or Press N Seal. There are low sweat melt and pour soap bases you can purchase, but if you are storing your soaps properly, you don't really need them. Keep your soap wrapped until you are ready to use it and you will be good to go. I have never had any issues with glycerin dew once I have started using the soap. It's more an issue while you are storing it in my experience.
Now that we have went over some of the basics of melt and pour soap, it's time to get soaping! Below are three beginner friendly melt and pour soap recipes to get you started on your soapy journey but feel free to let your creativity flow and come up with your own creations too.
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