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How To Make Melt and Pour Soap: Basic Instructions for New Soap Makers


I still remember the very first soap bar I ever made. It was a goat's milk base, with dried sage and scented with sweet orange essential oil. I was so proud of that batch. I literally had to show it to everyone (I apologize to all whom were subjected to my obnoxious show-and-tell.)

But it was an incredible experience, to make soap! I was hooked.

My first batch of soap was made using the melt and pour method. There are several benefits to getting started making soap this way.

First, you don't need any special equipment (your kitchen implements will work just fine). Second, you don't need to work with lye like you must for cold process and hot process soap. Third, melt and pour soap is finished and ready to use in just a few hours. Because when you're excited you don't want to wait 4 to 6 weeks for soap to cure (which you must do for cold process soap).

So, for brand new soap makers, I always recommend the melt and pour method. It's simple, inexpensive, and the learning curve is short.

I've put together this step-by-step guide to walk you through making your first melt and pour soap batch. Ready to get started? Fair warning: once you make your first batch, you'll be hooked too!

How To Make Melt and Pour Soap: Basic Instructions
This recipe makes 1 pound of soap, or about 4 (4 oz.) soap bars. Customize your bars with whichever additives, color, or fragrance strikes your fancy. You can find soap base, fragrance, and colorants at your local craft store. Get your dried herbs at the grocery store.

What You'll Need: 
 Melt and pour soap base—any variety
 Soap mold—store-bought soap mold, silicon baking cups or pan, or a Tupperware container
Your choice of additives—oats, dried herbs, dried flower petals (optional)
Soap colorants or food coloring (optional)
Soap fragrance oil or essential oil (optional)
Spritz bottle filled with rubbing alcohol
Kitchen tools:
Double boiler or small sauce pan
Silicon spatula or spoon
Cutting board
Large knife 
Measuring spoons
Ladle

Step 1: Measure out 1 pound soap base. Most melt and pour soap base comes in a 2 pound brick (check your package for weight), so just cut this brick in half.

If you really went for it and bought a 5 pound block, just eyeball about 1/5 of this block. No need to be super precise.

Step 2: Cut the soap base into approximately 1 inch chunks. Again, no need to be precise so don't let sizing trip you up too much. Just give it a chop and put the pieces into your sauce pan or double boiler.

Step 3: Over low, slowly heat the soap base until it's fully melted. Low and slow is the way to go. You don't want to overheat your soap or it will scorch. Don't allow soap to simmer. Stir occasionally.

Step 4: Once soap is completely melted, remove from heat. Stir in your choice of additives now.

Here's a measurement guide:
Dried herbs - 1 teaspoon
Oatmeal (it works amazingly if you do this first) - 2 teaspoons
Soap fragrance oil or essential oil - 1 teaspoon or about 100 drops
Soap colorant or food coloring - add drop by drop until you get desired color

Remember, all of these are optional ingredients, so just add what you'd like. There's no right or wrong here. Have fun and allow yourself to be creative!

Note: If your soap base becomes too thick to work with, simply place it back on the heat on low until it remelts.

Step 5: Carefully pour soap base into your mold (this is where a ladle comes in handy.) Immediately after pouring, spritz the surface of your soap with rubbing alcohol. This will burst any bubbles that formed on the surface of your soap, making it look smooth and pretty.

Step 6: Let the soap set undisturbed for several hours or overnight. The soap may seem set after as little as one hour, but will not be firm enough to easily release from the mold.

Try to resist the urge to move the mold. If you do, your soap will develop waves across the surface. It doesn't hurt the soap at all, it's just a cosmetic issue.

Step 7: When the soap is completely set, press it out of the mold by applying firm, steady pressure. With silicon molds the soap releases easily. Stiff plastic molds take a bit more muscle.

If soap doesn't want to release from the mold, try breaking the seal by pulling outward on the walls of the mold. You can also try running a non-serrated knife around the sides of the mold.

Step 8: Once your bars are unmolded, they're ready to use immediately.  Enjoy your handcrafted soap!

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