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How To Make Melt And Pour Soaps

by Lyndon Langley
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How To Make Melt And Pour Soaps

How To Make Melt And Pour Soaps

Soapmaking is a hobby that you can pursue for many reasons — from the satisfaction of creating something unique to the desire to explore new techniques and ingredients. The methods used to create soap are as varied as the soaps themselves. One popular method uses an oil-based base, which is poured into molds and allowed to cure before unmolding. Another technique involves melting a fatty acid with glycerin and other oils, combining it with colorants and fragrances, then pouring the mixture into molds. These basic melt and pour methods make up only part of the spectrum of soap making techniques. There are also recipes using tallows, fats (such as lard), animal protein (like gelatin) and even vegetable proteins such as soy.
The method we’re going to use here relies on the classic melt and pour method. This technique has been around since at least 1875 when a German chemist invented a way to combine sodium hydroxide with fat and water to produce what was essentially dry soap. Today’s versions rely on modern technology, but the concept remains the same. You’ll need some basic equipment, including a double boiler, a microwave oven, a food processor, a thermometer, and various other tools. If you don’t already have these items, you may be able to borrow them from your local science lab, chemistry department, kitchen supply store, etc.
Melt and Pour Soap Making 101
Materials Needed For Melt and Pour Soap Making
Food Processor
Double Boiler
Mixing Bowls
Measuring Cups
Wire Cooler
Ice Tray
Cutting Boards
Handheld Electric Blender
Spice or Herb Boxes
Paper Towels
Equipment Needed For Melt and Pour Soap Making
Microwave Oven
Metal Spoon
Pouring Pot
Water Tumbler
Rubber Gloves
Baking Pan
Hot Plate
Step 1: Cut and Weigh the Melt and Pour Soap Base.
Prepare the Soap Base by weighing approximately 20 ounces (566 grams) of unscented soap flakes on the scale. Set this aside for now. Then weigh 7 tablespoons (102 grams) of potassium hydroxide onto the scale. Add enough distilled water to the pot until the total amount weighs 5 cups (1.4 liters). Now set the pot over medium heat and stir slowly until all of the solid soap dissolves completely. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Step 2: Melt the Soap Base in the Microwave.
Fill a large bowl with 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of water and place the metal spoon about halfway down the side of the bowl. Position another empty bowl directly below the first one. Put the microwave on high power and heat the melted soap base just long enough to warm it through. Stir occasionally with the wooden spoon to keep it from scorching. When the soap looks like hot caramel, remove the pan from the microwave and continue heating the liquid until it reaches the target temperature as determined by the recipe. It should never boil. Once the desired temperature is reached, turn off the microwave and cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap to prevent splattering while it continues to melt.
Step 3: Add Fragrance or Essential Oil.
This step requires some patience. First, fill a clean, airtight container with 4 ounces (113 milliliters) of coconut oil. Have ready a small jar filled with pure vanilla extract. Using a funnel, pour the melted soap base into the container of coconut oil. Gently swirl the contents with a spatula to blend them together thoroughly. Next, carefully pour the resulting mixture into the smaller jar of vanilla extract. Again, gently swirl the two substances together with the spatula, being careful not to agitate the coconut oil too much. Cover both containers tightly with plastic wrap and let sit undisturbed overnight at room temperature.
Step 4: Add Color.
When the fragrance and essential oils have blended nicely, add any coloring agents you’d like to use. A good rule of thumb is to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer who made the colors you’ve chosen. Some manufacturers will specify how much dye they recommend adding per gallon of soap mix.
Step 5: Stir the Melted, Colored, Fragranced Soap.
Use a whisk to vigorously and continually stir the colored soap base until it appears smooth. At this point, you may find that you need to adjust the temperature of the stovetop burner if the mixture becomes too thick. Also, pay attention to the temperature gauge on the microwave; overheating the mixture could cause it to burn. When the finished product appears somewhat opaque, test its consistency by dropping a little bit onto a counter surface. If it immediately forms a thin layer without spreading very far, it’s ready. Otherwise, return it to the microwave for another 30 seconds to ensure fully melted, and repeat as needed. After several minutes, the soap should appear transparent.
Step 6: Pour the Melted, Colored, Fragranced Soap Into the Molds.
Set the molds aside and pour the soap into each mold. Pay close attention during the process because soap hardens fast! Use a wet finger to check for air bubbles. Lift the lip of each mold and look inside to see if there are any voids. If necessary, run your knife around the edges to get rid of any extra soap clinging to the sides of the molds. Smooth the tops of the soaps with a damp rubber spatula, then pop the molds out of the water bath. Let the soap cure for 24 hours before turning them over.
Step 7: Unmold the Soap.
Carefully dip the bottom half of each mold into cold water. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from burns. Hold the mold upright and peel away the backing material. Repeat this procedure for every bar. Enjoy your homemade soap!
Tip: As noted above, soap cures quickly after you pour it into the molds. Therefore, you must unmold the bars within 24 hours, preferably sooner. If possible, refrigerate the uncured bars between layers of wax paper to hasten their curing time.
Here’s a great opportunity to try out different scents, colors, and flavors. Keep reading to learn more…
If you plan to sell your handmade soap, you’ll want to choose colors that won’t fade easily, especially if you intend to print labels or advertise your business with colorful signs. Natural dyes tend to last longer than synthetic ones. They also tend to work better and smell stronger, which makes them preferable for most people.

Author’s Note
I got my start making candles years ago, and I still enjoy doing it today. But when I started experimenting with making my own soap, things got interesting. Since I had no prior experience, I learned about different kinds of bases, additives and processes through trial and error. Eventually, I became pretty comfortable working with all sorts of chemicals and materials, and I’m glad I took the challenge.
Maryellen Bradley

In addition to providing a pleasant aroma, soap provides us with the important task of washing our bodies. Because soap is composed primarily of water, it removes dirt and grime rather effectively. In fact, the word “soapy” is derived from the Latin term sua pia, meaning “to wash well.” However, soap does a lot more than simply help us feel cleaner. It also cleans and sanitizes our dishes, clothes, and skin. It performs this function by removing grease, body oils, dead skin cells, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and dust. Certain chemicals found in detergents, however, can strip polymers from clothing fibers and leave behind harmful residues. Fortunately, soap doesn’t contain these chemicals. Instead, it contains salts of certain alkali metals. When combined with moisture, these salts react chemically with dirt particles, breaking down organic matter. Although soap itself isn’t toxic, the reaction left behind can irritate sensitive skin. That’s why it often takes repeated applications to achieve satisfactory results. Even though soap is safe to use, it may stain fabric, so use care when handling it.

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