Melt and Pour Soap, 101

Today we are making a melt and pour Chamomile-Lavender Soothing Bar (with Hibiscus!) I love this particular type of soap because of all the wonderful, healthy things it has in it, and the smell is divine. Plus, with this soap, you automatically have a reason to brew a cup of tea, or three! The melt-and-pour method is one of the easiest ways to make home-made soaps, because it doesn’t require dealing with lye, which is a caustic chemical.  It’s so simple, I don’t see why everyone doesn’t make their own soap! With home-made soaps, you can control exactly what goes into your soap, and customize it as you see fit, without any additives or preservatives. Your handmade soaps make terrific presents and soap-making can also be a great way to be both crafty, and thrifty.

The ingredients I use today are due to my particular preferences. Soap bases, essential oils, flower additives and colors can all be customized to your desire–such is the glory of making your own soap!

Start by brewing yourself a very strong (3 bags to a cup) batch of chamomile tea. Whatever brand isn’t terribly important, but I try to use brands that don’t have added ingredients. Brew at least 1 cup + 2 Tbsp full.

Just before the tea kettle starts whistling, cut the heat, and let the tea steep for at least 10 minutes. I spent the time cleaning up the kitchen and getting the rest of my supplies and ingredients together.

Next, pour yourself a cup of this tea. I’ll take a tad of cream with mine, please!

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Give your soap molds a quick wash, to make sure there is no soap residue from previous batches. Also, pour enough water into 1 mold to fill it, then measure this amount of water. This will tell you how much soap base you will need to use. One of my molds measured 100 mL, so to make a complete set, I would need 400 mL of soap base. Unfortunately, I’ve just recently started using 5 pound bulk blocks, and haven’t figured out how much soap to cut off, to get a precise measurement. I started with 2 inches of shea butter base, off the 5 lb block, and ended adding 2 squares of a pre-measured glycerin to have enough for the last bar. That measurement gave me 4 large bars, 1 medium bar, and 8 small heart-shaped bars.

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Next, gather all your ingredients, tools, and supplies. You will need a microwave (or a double boiler and a stove), a cutting board, a large knife, at least two glass measuring cups, a metal long spoon, a digital thermometer, and a medicine dropper if your oils are not so equipped. Also, you will need a melt-and-pour shea butter base, 2 TBSP chamomile tea with no additives, ¼ tsp hibiscus flowers per soap mold you intend to use, (grown in my own yard, this year, and dried—but you can get them at most health food stores, or online), lavender and lemon essential oils, and food grade purple soap colorant. Make sure you line your work area with newspaper. Soap making can be messy business. I also put a parchment paper liner in the microwave. It’s easier to throw this away than scrub the microwave lazy susan.

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Cut your soap base into small pieces. I divided my 2 inch chunk into about 30 pieces, to expedite the melting process. Make sure you wash all your soap-making tools thoroughly when you are done. They are all food-safe, but that doesn’t make them tasty!

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I poured my 2 TBSP of chamomile tea in with my chopped up soap base, because I wasn’t sure if the tea would effect the color, so I wanted to add it first. Place this in the microwave for 30 seconds. It only needs to be hot enough to completely melt the base. (Pardon the glare on the microwave.)

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This is what it looked like after 30 seconds, and 1 minute.

Once you have melted all 400 mL of soap base, you can add your essential oils. I ended up using 6 drops of lemon and 18 drops of lavender, all total. If you lean over the cup as you stir, it will seem incredibly strong, but remember, soap loses its scent fairly quickly. A little extra will mean a longer, stronger smell, later.

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Next, slowly start to add your colorant. I suggest a purple hue, if you have one. I tried mixing red and blue, and ended up with something more akin to gray. Here is the first and second batch of colorant being added. I always like the colors before they are mixed more than after!

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Next, alcohol your molds really well. Put a little alcohol in each mold and rub it all about, with a cotton ball. This will make it easier to get your soaps out of the molds. Don’t be shy with the alcohol. Having tried to get soap out of a mold that didn’t previously have an alcohol treatment, I will tell you this is one of the most important steps! After you have covered the molds in alcohol, put ¼ tsp of hibiscus flowers in each mold. You can use slightly less for smaller molds. Try to scatter them about a bit. Then, slowly and carefully, start to pour the hot soap mix into the molds. Don’t pour it all over your favorite jeans, like I did! Generally, you shouldn’t get hot soap on you at all. I was fortunate my jeans are heavy denim, and I didn’t get burned.

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This batch made 4 large bar soaps, 1 small bar soap, and 8 hearts. Now, put them in your fridge, and let them set-up for up to 45 minutes. You are almost done! Now, you can wrap them (I prefer tissue paper) and label them as you see fit—or just jump straight in the shower with them!

So, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and keep your eyes on this channel, because there is always more to come!

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Other tutorials here at Oma’s:

https://princesschaosomaand2crazydogs.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/schwarzwald-kirsch-kuchen

https://princesschaosomaand2crazydogs.wordpress.com/2014/02/ (Especially, “Jam! Oooey, Gooey Strawberry Jam”

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