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The Joy of Melt & Pour Soap Making
By Lisa Maliga

You’re about to find out how simple it is to make soap in your own kitchen. Supervised children can make it and certainly anyone can and will use it. Soap Making is an inexpensive hobby. It also allows you to make the scents and or colors of soap that you prefer. Melt and Pour soap, is what you’ll be working with. You buy it in blocks or tubs and all you do is melt it in either your microwave oven or a double boiler, add some color and/or scent, pour it into a mold and in less than one hour you have a batch of new soap that’s ready to use.
Melt and Pour soap is glycerin soap which is made from vegetable oils and is safer for your skin than most commercial brands found in your drug store or supermarket. You can obtain melt and pour soap over the Internet. Keywords are: ‘melt and pour soap making’ or ‘glycerin soap’. You’ll pay around $3 per pound. Translucent glycerin and opaque are the most common types sold. Opaque glycerin is white as it is colored with the mineral titanium dioxide. Also, you will be able to buy soap making kits that contain all the needed ingredients.

Once you’ve made your first batch, you can get more creative when choosing colors, scents, and additives such as dried flowers, herbs or soothing oils. You’ll discover the ideal way to make useful gifts for family, friends and co-workers. Your newfound hobby may even turn into a new work-at-home business!

Equipment:
Double boiler OR microwave
Flexible plastic containers for molds OR soap molds Kitchen scale
Measuring spoons
Cutting board
Large knife
Paring knife
Plastic bowls or containers [for storage]
Wax paper
Cling wrap
Wooden spoon
Paper towels
Toothpicks

Soap Supplies:
Glycerin melt & pour soap -- 2 pounds [32 ounces]

Coloring
cosmetic grade color nuggets

Fragrances [cosmetic grade only]

Molds:
These will come in various sizes and shapes but plastic is recommended. You can order soap molds online or find them at a crafts shop or candle supply store. You can use microwavable containers, food containers, candle molds or even drawer organizers. At many discount stores you can find the perfect mold, and for less than $2 in many cases. Using plastic means that you can reuse it and that it will make getting the soap out so much easier than a glass mold. Warning: Don’t use aluminum or metal.

Step 1: On the cutting board you’ ll slice up the soap into cubes, approximately one to two inches. You’ll then put these into a plastic container, first weighing the container and noting the weight, and putting the filled container onto the scale.

Step 2: Using your double boiler, fill the bottom part with water a few inches deep. For microwave users only:when you melt the soap, don’t use the highest heat, watch the soap carefully and don’t melt it all the way, allow a few chunks to remain. They’ll melt quickly.

Step 3: For the double boiler method, put the soap in the top level and melt, stirring occasionally. Add a piece of color if using Color Nuggets, from the prepackaged colors you’ve bought. Powdered colors aren’t highly recommended for glycerin soap, as they’re more difficult to mix. Cosmetic grade liquid colors can be used.

Step 4: Once the color is melted it’s time to add the fragrance. Use 1 teaspoon and let your nose be your guide. Underscenting will cause your soap to be less aromatic after a few months. Adding a little more scent is okay. Citrus scents such as orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit are lighter scents and don’t last as long as a heavier scent such as sandalwood or lavender or tea tree essential oils.

Step 5: Pour your soap into the mold. For this recipe you need a 4.5-cup capacity mold. A rectangular shape is preferred. When you pour the soap into the mold you’ll get bubbles. Pop these with a toothpick.

Step 6: You can let your soap harden at room temperature, or you can put it into the freezer for about 30-60 minutes. Freezing the soap speeds up the process and allows the soap to pop out of the mold easier.

Step 7: It’s time to see your first successful chunk of handmade Melt and Pour glycerin soap. You can tell it’s ready when: the mold is cool and it easily pulls away from the soap. Release it onto a wax paper-covered surface. Cover it with more wax paper and a paper towel. You should allow it to return to room temperature before using it. It’s advised to let it sit for 24 hours for the fragrance oil to settle.

Step 8: Cutting the soap can be done with a large knife. This recipe yields approximately 6 bars, depending on the thickness. Plane the rough edges and traces of white filmy popped bubbles with a paring knife. These will be more noticeable on darker colored soap.

Step 9: Wrap the pieces with a cling wrap. The generic cling wrap is better. Pricier cling wraps don’t allow the aroma to be smelled, as they’re too thick.

Step 10: Make a label for your soap if you’ll be giving it to someone for a special occasion like Christmas, birthdays, a wedding or anniversary, a promotion, etc. You should list the ingredients.

Should you want to continue making soap in the future, it’s advised that you keep notes of what you put in your soaps, how much, the date, etc. Remember to store your new soap out of direct sunlight and put the bars in a ridged soap dish so it makes no contact with water.
 
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