December 18, 2011

Handmade Christmas: "Making" Soap

Mike and I spend a lot of money every month buying handmade soap from New Seasons, so I've been wanting to make my own for a long time in the hopes of cutting down costs. Last year Rebecca gifted us two handmade bars of soap that we just loved. While I thought the bars were a great success, she quickly declared that she would not be doing it again. She had made her soap from scratch and had a very difficult time getting all the ingredients to balance out and come together.

At our sewing get-together in October Danielle mentioned that we could buy premade soap blocks from craft stores and add our own scents and additives; altogether eliminating the need to "make" the soap. Last weekend we made this idea into a project!


 I purchased two blocks of shea butter soap from Michaels, and Mom gave me a block of clear glycerin soap. Rebecca bought the Olive Oil and Goats Milk soap blocks, as well as some clear.


Danielle set us up with scents and colors. My favorite scents were lemongrass, rosemary and teatree. She also had all sorts of additives for us to use, including, lavendar, herbs, oatmeal, spices and tea.

The process is pretty simple. Cut the large soap blocks into smaller pieces (they are already portioned into ice cube sized pieces). Melt the cubes four at a time for 1 minute in the microwave. Next, add "goodies" and mix it up! We used plastic soap molds (also available at craft stores), and before adding the soap we sprayed each mold with rubbing alcohol.

 The above soap has a little blue coloring and glitter! Soap that Barbie would like!

Next we poured the soap into the mold, sprayed the tops with alcohol again (to eliminate bubbles) and let the molds set up. We put some of them in the fridge to get them to set faster. If you do this, the soap will start to "sweat" when you bring it back into room temperature, so be prepared to wrap them up quickly.

I made a wide variety of soaps - above is Chai Spice, and below are Chai Oatmeal, Chamomile Lemongrass, Oatmeal with Almond Oil and Lavender Vanilla. I also made a Kitchen Herb, TeaTree and Cinnamon Oatmeal.

Rebecca was making gifts for her nieces and nephews, so she brought small rubber toys to suspend in each soap bar. The tricky part was getting them to stay directly in the middle of each soap bar.

This project was a great success (at least the making part was - I haven't actually tried to use any of the soaps yet). All of the materials are easily available at Michaels Craft Stores and online (Hobby Lobby for one). Price wise, it's cheaper to make the soap this way than to buy it. The large soap blocks are $10 at Michaels, and you get about 12 bars per block (varies depending on the size of your molds). The scents range from $3-$5, and the additives can be super cheap (oatmeal) or a little pricier (lavender and lemongrass). All in all, I think I made each bar for around $2. That doesn't include the cost of labor, but since this was so fun and easy, I think it's safe to call it a wash (a clean one).

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