Friday, April 11, 2014

Springtime Melt & Pour Herbal Soaps

I set as one of my goals for this year to learn soapmaking - I am only at the beginner stage, and experimenting with melt and pour soaps before I start exploring cold process soap made with lye - and it turns out there's an awful lot you can do creatively with melt and pour soaps, and it feels quite soft and sudsy to use!

So what is Melt & Pour Soap?  It is soap that is, well, melted. And poured.  It starts with a purchased soap base which is available as a large one to ten pound brick at some craft stores or online, may be opaque or clear, may or may not be made with glycerin or additives such as goats milk, or aloe, or olive oil.  The difficult part of actually creating soap through careful measurement, combination and heating of various ingredients such as lye has already been done.   It might be safe to say that melt & pour soap isn't exactly soap making, so much as soap manipulation (...but I'm going to say soapmaking anyway.)

That said, here are many things to love about melt and pour soapmaking:

  • It's easy enough for a beginner to dive in and try it.
  • Soaps are ready to use within hours, rather than needing to be cured for weeks.
  • You can do creative things with layering, embedded, and using shaped molds.
  • Materials are pretty easy to find. 
  • No dangerous lye  to worry about. 

Those are just a few off the top of my head.  Sometime over  the next few months, I will work with lye soapmaking, but for now I am happy  to learn a few techniques for working with melt and pour soaps.

A few weeks ago, I needed a project I could make in quantity for donating to a vending table at a conference, and decided small soaps would be just the thing.

The basic supplies are simple - as I'd said, melt & pour soap base comes in a few varieties and in large 'bricks' anywhere for one pound to five pounds or so.  I purchased mine online, but some craft stores carry them as well. 

In addition, there are a large variety of fragrance oils specifically for soapmaking, essential oils, soapmaking colorants, and all sorts of additions ranging from oils and clays to herbs and various exfoliants that can be added for visual appeal as well as their particular skincare qualities.  You can find fragrance oils and colorants wherever you find your M&P soap base.

For my Springtime Soaps, I chose to make two different but coordinating styles, and made some as 2.5 oz bars, and some as small 'guest soap' sized minis that were either flowers or stars.

I used silicon molds and I cannot recommend this path highly enough - it is much easier to remove these when the mold is flexible enough to push up from the bottom.  While I did try some in thin clear plastic molds, I failed to include a releasing agent and... well, it's still stuck in those molds.  I'm sticking with silicon.

These are layered soaps:

1. a tiny sprinkle of dried herbs.
2. a thin layer of melted Olive Oil Melt & Pour Base.
3. a layer of opaque Goat's Milk Melt & Pour Base, prepared as indicated below.

The picture above shows how I mistakenly poured the clear layer on the bar soaps, then the herbs, and then the opaque layer - the herbs got lost all through the opaque, which is fine, but less visually appealing to me.

A pound of M&P soap base made six of my bar soap molds, about 2.5 oz each.  I was making these in quantity, so I'm not sure of total ingredient amounts, but a ration of 1 part clear to 2 parts opaque should work.  For each 1 pound of soap base, I added 1 T. of calendula-infused olive oil I had made up awhile earlier.  Avocado oil, almond oil, etc, would also do nicely, or it could be left out.  Adding a little Vitamin E oil is a good idea, too, as it helps preserve the soaps.

Springtime Herbal M&P Soaps

Variation 1: Lavender-Jasmine Soap
- dried lavender
- lavender essential oil
- jasmine fragrance oil
- tea tree oil
- lilac soap colorant
- Olive Oil M&P soap base
- Goats Milk M&P soap base
- calendula-infused olive oil (optional)

Variation 2:  Rosemary-Mint Soap
- green tea & mint
- peppermint essential oil
- rosemary essential oil
- eucalyptus oil
- tea tree oil
- green soap colorant
- Olive Oil M&P soap base
- Goats Milk M&P soap base
- calendula-infused olive oil (optional)

1. Sprinkle a small quantity of desired herb into each soap mold.  Less is best!

2. Slowly melt clear soap base, either in the microwave or in a glass measuring cup over boiling water.  When entirely melted, add calendula infused olive oil or other skin-friendly oil, if desired, blend well and remove from heat. 

3. Pour the clear melted soap into soap molds, taking care to only create a thin (about 1/4" or so) layer.  Let cool.

4. While first layer is cooling, melt opaque soap base. When completely melted, remove from heat, and then add essential oils (I added about 30 drops combined to each pound, but this depends a lot on which fragrances are being used, and how heady you'd like the scent to be.)

5.  Next add liquid soap colorant (these are specifically made for soaps, and won't accidentally dye the person using the soap), one drop at a time, and stirring between each drop, until desired color is reached. I only needed about four drops to get the nice springlike pastel I was going for.

6. Pour melted base on top of the clear layer in the soap molds.

7. Spritz with a little diluted rubbing alcohol, if desired -  this will break any air bubbles that form.

8. Let sit for several hours or overnight, until fully hardened.  Then pop the soaps out of their molds.

That's it! Store them somewhere dry, and enjoy!  I like leaving 3-5 of the small ones in a small dish - in spite of only being an inch or so around, these last a good long while and would, I think, make very nice favors for houseguests, wedding guests, or tucked into an Easter basket.

Shared with:
~ Anything Goes, Be Inspired, BBF Open House Party, Crafting Along, Fabulously Creative Friday, Feathered Nest Friday, Flaunt It Friday, Freedom Fridays, Friday Favorites, Friday Link Party, From the Farm Blog Hop, Frugal Friday, Kitchen Fun & Crafty Friday, Let's Get Real Friday, LHITS DIY Linky, Old Fashioned Friday, Party Bunch, Pinworthy Projects, Shabbilicious Friday, Show and Tell Friday, Small Footprint Friday, Thrifty Things Friday, Unprocessed Fridays, Weekend Re-Treat.
~ Get Schooled Saturday, Link Party Palooza, No Rules Weekend, Say G'Day Saturday, Serenity Saturday, Show and Tell Saturday, Show Shopper Saturday, Simply Saturday Saturday, Super Saturday, Weekend Wind Down.
~ DIY Sunday ShowcaseHappiness is Homemade, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Our Sunday Best Showecase, Share Your Creativity Party, Silver Pennies Sunday, Submarine Sunday, Sunday FUNday, Sunday Soiree, Think Pink Sunday.      
~ A Round Tuit, Block Party, Busy Monday, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Craftastic Monday, Frugal Crafty Home, Homestead Barn Hop, Inspire Me Monday, Mad Skills Monday, Making Your Home Sing Monday, Marvelous Mondays, Masterpiece Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Mod Mix Monday, Mommy Monday, Monday Funday, Monday Motivation Linky Party, Mostly Homemade Monday, Motivation Monday, Much Ado About Monday, Natural Living Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday.
Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Backyard Farming Connection, Brag About It, Create - Link - Inspire, Good Tips Tuesday, Growing Homemakers Link Up, Handmade Tuesdays, Healthy Tuesday Hop, Hearth & Soul Blog HopNifty Thrifty Tuesday, One Project at a Time, The Scoop, Share It Link Party, Share Your Stuff Tuesday, Take It On TuesdayTime to Sparkle, Tip Me Tuesday, Too Cute Tuesday, Treasure Box Tuesday, Tuesday At Our Home, Tuesday Talent Show, Tuesday To Do, Turn It Up Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, Two Cup Tuesday, You're Gonna Love It Tuesday.
~ Cast Party Wednesday, Categorically Crafting, Centerpiece Wednesday, Fluster's Creative Muster, Fresh Foods Wednesday, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Homemaking Link Up, Inspiration Board, Lovely Ladies Linky, Mom Club Linky Wednesday, Oil Me Up Wednesday, Party on the Porch, Penny Pinching Party, Pretty Wednesday, Show + Tell Link Up, Wake Up Wednesday, We Did It Wednesday, Wednesday Round Up, Welcome Home Wednesday, What's It Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Wonderfully Creative Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Your Whims Wednesday.
~ All Things Thursday, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Home & Garden Thursday, It's a Party, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Share Your Cup Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Time Travel Thursday.                                 


  1. Wow, this is awesome! Thanks for sharing and linking up again with us at the #WWDParty. Have a wonderful week ahead, Happy Easter!

    1. Thank you Antionette! Happy Easter to you as well!

  2. I love the two-layer ones you made, they are so elegant! What perfect little gifts, for a friend or for yourself :)

  3. This is so cool, love it! What a great craft to do with kids - I'm assuming it's safe because it isn't lye-based, right? Thanks for sharing!

    1. With good supervision, yes - since heating is needed, you'd want to be careful, but it cools quickly, and I think Melt & Pour soap crafting would be a great way to get the kids involved!

  4. Thank you for linking this up with Share your stuff Tuesday! I have always wanted to try to make my own soap. Maybe I will...oneday. Your's are beautiful!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing with the Let's Get Real party. I have been wanting to try soap making, and this sounds like a great place to start. I'm pinning this to our party's group board.

  6. You make it sound easy! Making soap is on my "to-do" list for someday... :)

  7. I would love to try this! Wouldn't it be nice to find a handmade soap in your Easter basket :)
    Thanks for sharing via Mommy Monday.

  8. Awesome! I keep saying I need to make our own! Thanks for sharing on Sunday FUNday!

  9. So cool!! This would be fun to make. Thanks for sharing at Take it on Tuesday!!
    ~ Betsy @ Romance on a dime

  10. These are gorgeous! I made lavender soap once and it sure was fun. Nothing as fancy as yours. I poured it into an empty milk carton and then cut it up when set. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  11. I bet these are divine! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

  12. I've wanted to make soap, but only considered doing it from scratch, but I can't really do that where I am. So for me, this is enlightening and wow, I'm excited! It looks pretty expensive, so I won't be doing it to save money, but I think they would make nice gifts and then a few for me, too. Luv!!!!!!