I hope you are enjoying my series on hobbies and crafts for the disabled. If you have missed the first two posts this is where you can find part 1 and part 2. I am hoping that with this series I can inspire you to find something new to try out and get excited about. You never know, you might fall in love with a craft and start selling online as I did with my pottery! I simply don’t have room for any more pottery in the house!
This week I’m going to write about soap making. I think this is a great relaxing hobby and you reap the rewards when you use them in a nice hot bubble bath.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that if you choose to use I will receive a small commission to help with the running costs of this blog. This is no way affects the price that you pay. All opinions are my own. Thanks, Cath xx
There are different methods for making soap, the melt and pour method and the cold pressed method. The name cold pressed, however, is a bit misleading as the process isn’t actually cold, but rather there is no external heat required. The heat comes from the chemical reaction (an exothermic reaction) between the acids in the oils used and the alkali sodium hydroxide, also known as lye or caustic soda.
I have only used the melt and pour method as I do this activity with my daughter and I don’t want her handling caustic just yet. For the same reason, if you have any problems with grip (as I do) or dexterity then I would recommend that you also use the melt and pour method but again be careful when handling hot liquids.
I started off buying a kit for soap making as it has all the basics you need to get started. From there you can buy extras to your taste such as different moulds and colourings, scents and dried flowers, and so on.
This is the kit that I started off with and it had a great selection to get me (and Missy) started.
There are the ingredients needed for about two batches of soap to be made, some basic moulds, essential oils for scent and various seeds and dried flowers to add.
I added ground almonds to one of mine to add an exfoliant texture and it was my favourite to use after. Great for waking me up in the morning!
Being me, I also melted down some old soap slivers that we had. Hey! Waste not, and all that! 😀
Brief run through of the method
First, you need to weigh the soap compound appropriate for the number of moulds you want to fill. (See the instructions for your kit or moulds.) Then you melt it down.
There are two ways to melt your soap compound, either over indirect heat on the hob or in the microwave. I’m always a bit twitchy using the microwave as in the past I’ve been distracted and ended up with hot liquid (usually melting chocolate if I’m honest!) exploding in the microwave. So I prefer the indirect heat method on the hob. It does take a bit longer bit I feel that it’s safer and less messy.
So to heat your soap compound on the hob it’s the same method as for heating cooking chocolate. You will need a pan with water in it and a glass pyrex bowl that fits into the pan. The soap compound goes into the pyrex bowl and you heat the water in the pan that then indirectly heats the soap compound in the pyrex bowl. Stir continuously until all the soap is melted. I hope that makes sense. It is also in the instructions.
Next is the fun part! Now you have to decide what scent you’d like to use and if you are going to add colouring or go au natural! As far as the scent goes pick out your favourite essential oils. I like the citrus ones as they are so refreshing. A scent is included in the kit if you don’t have any essential oils so don’t worry.
A word of caution, when adding the colour crystals or the liquid drops go steady as a little goes a very long way! Missy loved this part as the crystals would melt and a burst of colour would appear. Then, of course, she had to start mixing them! Make sure that any colours you use are for soap kits though as a soap that turns your skin bright blue isn’t exactly getting you clean! 😉
Once you have the melted soap and the colour and fragrance of your choice, you are ready to pour (carefully) into the moulds. A jug is useful for this step. Take care not to introduce any bubbles by pouring slowing and close to the moulds. If you do get bubbles you can pop them with a cocktail stick.
Before the soap solidifies in the moulds you can add flowers in the top layer to decorate them, or add seeds, herbs or ground almonds to the mix as an exfoliant. I stir the exfoliate in with a cocktail stick.
Then leave them in a cool place to set. When they are ready they usually pop out of the moulds quite easily. If not then pop them in the freezer for a few minutes then with a knock they come out easily.
Lastly, stand back and admire your beautiful work. 😀 You may also have the urge to run a bath!
As you get into soap making you will need to replenish some of your supplies. The most obvious one is you soap compound. There are various kinds that you can buy based on different oils (olive oil, coconut, palm etc) and some are also based on animal fats. If you are vegetarian then you will want to avoid these.
This soap compound is based on olive oil and I think has a nice opacity to it for soaps where you add flowers. This soap compound is based on shea butter, which is great for dry skin. Take a look on Google and see what you can find.
A really pretty touch is to add flowers like these dried rose petals. (They are also great for candles and wedding confetti.)
Extra essential oils are always nice to have as well. This is the make that I use and they are a great quality and very reasonably priced. I also use them for fragrancing my homemade laundry sauce (it looks like apple sauce when I’ve finished it!) Maybe I’ll do a post about that one day.
This set has rose, coconut, chocolate, sandal wood and vanilla.
I think soap moulds are really important. There are so many beautiful moulds available now. Pretty much any silicone mould will work and often they are sold for cake baking or as chocolate moulds so keep an eye out.
I love this set of flower moulds. Wouldn’t they make gorgeous soaps for gifts? I wouldn’t mind them in chocolate either. Goodness! I’ve got chocolate on the brain today and all because I should be cutting down! I need help!
This is also a great set of moulds. Imagine this. Your kids hate to wash. Ok, so you probably don’t have to imagine it, all kids hate to wash! But, what if you made them special soaps in the shapes of lego characters and lego bricks in bright colours? Now we might just get their attention! I know, I’m a conniving mother!
The other thing that is useful to have are books on soap making detailing different techniques and for me, trouble shooting! As you know, I love books and I find this kind of book very inspiring. I love to plan my next creation with a cuppa in hand. This book has excellent reviews, although I don’t own it myself. In fact, I don’t think I have a book specifically on soap making but I do have some books where it is a dedicated chapter.
Now I’d like to hear from you. I am still very new to this craft and I’d love to hear about your experiences with it. What funny stories do you have? What hints can you give me? And what is your favourite soap that you’ve made?