Easy DIY soap for gifts and everyday use

Soap for everyone!

You may remember that I tried making my first melt and pour soap quite a while ago when I got fed up looking for a good cleansing soap to wash my face with. Well, it’s been a year and a half now and both my boyfriend and I are still using my DIY face washing achievement regularly, but I’ve also tried making some fancier normal soaps, so I wanted to share that with you. They’re super simple to make and work great as special homemade gifts for friends and family, so read on. 🙂

There are two main ways to make DIY soap at home: the simple way with a ready-made melt and pour glycerin soap base that takes about 1 hour, or the advanced, traditional cold process way using oils and lye (sodium hydroxide) to start the saponification reaction, which takes 6-8 weeks to cure. Both ways are very similar, but with a melt and pour soap base the process of waiting for saponification has already been done for you by the manufacturer. Cold process yields the highest quality of soap and is a bit better for the environment, but takes a lot longer and requires you to work with lye, which is a caustic chemical, so you need to be careful. Once I have enough space to cure my soap in, I’m planning to try the cold process too, but until then, melt and pour is a more convenient way to go and if you have kids it could also be a totally safe fun for the whole family.

How to make DIY melt and pour soap:

  • Buy a melt and pour soap base: There are many different soap bases available and you can choose between transparent or opaque. They also often contain extra skin caring ingredients like argan oil, goat milk, shea butter, coconut oil etc. You can usually get them rather cheap in bulk quantities between 250-500 grams, which makes A LOT of soap.
  • Choose a fragrance: The easiest way to add fragrance to your soap is to use aromatic or essential oils (aromatic oils are cheaper and made in a lab, while essential oils are made directly from natural ingredients). You’ll only need to add a few drops, the general guideline is about 1 teaspoon of fragrance per 500 grams (a pound) of soap.
  • Choose ingredients: Depending on what you want, you can add mica or natural colouring powders (turmeric, beetroot, charcoal, coffee, clay etc.) to change the colour of your soap; particles like coffee grounds, tea leaves, salt, sugar, wax or bamboo micro particles for a peeling effect and active ingredients like ground plant powders or extracts, oils, oatmeal, clay, active charcoal etc. for their skin care benefits. If you want your soap to look extra pretty, you can also add dried flowers and herbs or play with the colours and patterns by pouring different soap bases in layers or swirling them like icing on a cake. You could even put in small plastic toys for kids.
You don’t need anything special to make DIY soap – here’s the extent of my soap making equipment.
  • Melt the soap base: Use a double broiler (a bowl floating in a pot of boiling water) or a microwave to fully melt your soap base. Try not to stir it too much, because you’ll mix in air bubbles that will show in your final soap. Make sure your soap base doesn’t boil.
  • Mix in the ingredients: Take the melted soap base and carefully mix in your ingredients and fragrance with a whisk or a small spatula. If you feel your soap base is solidifying too much, you can remelt it again, but take care because some ingredients like essential oils and dried flowers don’t reheat well.
  • Pour into a mould: The mould determines the shape of your final soap, so you can play around with smaller moulds or just make a giant loaf of soap and cut it into pieces layer. You can buy special silicone soap moulds, but regular muffin kitchen moulds or more pliable plastic boxes work just as well and are usually cheaper. To be honest, I often use the same moulds for my food and my soap, because unless you’re working with cold process soap there’s nothing toxic in the melt and pour base and it washes out easily under hot water. You’re cleaning it with dishwashing detergent any way, so what’s the real difference between soap and detergent?
  • Leave it to cool down: Depending on the size of your mould, it should take about an hour for the soap to fully solidify and cool down. All in all, making soap with a melt and pour base shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes + cool down time, so you’re all set to go!

Here are some of my recent DIY soap ideas for inspiration:

  • Transparent soap base with dried lavender flowers, lavender essential oil + a bottom layer of white soap base with goat milk
  • White soap base with goat milk, white tea and ginger essential oil and Australian red clay
  • White soap base with goat milk, dried tulip petals, bergamot essential oil + top layer of ground oatmeal
  • Argan oil soap base with dried roses and rose essential oil
  • Argan oil soap base with herbal tea mix and chamomile essential oil

It’s very simple to make your soap look pretty, so like I said, these are great as gifts or if you want to treat yourself to something fancy without breaking the bank. I’ll admit, using whole dried roses might have been an overkill, because they’ll be a pain to use and might clog the sink, but it sure looks pretty (it was a gift though, ha). So, learning from experience, I recommend using smaller or ground flower petals that won’t be impractical. Also, you can even buy shampoo, shaving cream and foam soap bases in most stores, if you want to experiment further.

Have you ever tried making DIY soap at home?

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