While there's no shortage of soap products at the store, you can make your own right at home with just a few ingredients. While some homemade soap recipes call for lye, you can make an effective, moisturizing soap without it. Not only is this a fun DIY project, but you also get to pick out the scents and colors you want in your soap. This can be a family fun activity, and then you'll have some beautiful soaps to use around the house or give away as gifts.
There are a lot of different homemade soap recipes out there, so choose one that sounds fun and easy to you. Ideally, melt-and-pour methods are the best, as you can make these soaps without lye. While lye, the general term for sodium hydroxide, is commonly found in retail soaps, it can be harmful to eyes and skin if you're not careful. It's better to opt for a soap recipe that doesn't require lye, and then you can really enjoy the process while protecting you and your loved ones.
Available online and in some stores, a soap base combines the soap as well as plant butters, glycerin, and other additives. You can always get these ingredients and make the base yourself, but it's easier to buy a pre-made one. Even a basic translucent soap base will get your homemade soap started smoothly.
Once you have your recipe and soap base sorted, it's time to pick out your desired fragrance. Soap that smells good and soothes your skin is tough to beat, so think about your favorite scents and choose your fragrance from there. Lavender, jasmine, or tea tree fragrance oils are common for homemade soaps because they smell wonderful and are good for your skin, but you can get creative and choose whatever you'd like. Cosmetic grade oils work the best for mixing with the soap base.
After sorting out the ingredients, you want to make sure you have everything ready to go in the kitchen or dining room. The more prepared you are to make your own soap, the easier and more fun this process will be. An old measuring cup or pot will work well, as you just need something that's heat-resistant and won't be used again for food. If you plan on adding glitter, exfoliating powders, or extra colors, then you will need a mixer, too.
One of the cool things about a DIY soap project is that you can make the soap look however you want. As long as you have the right silicone mold, you can make soap in all sorts of shapes, from squares to circles, stars to hearts, and so much more. Pick out your favorite silicone molds from your local store and have them nearby so you can finish your soap off strong.
If you're using a melt-and-pour recipe, you can melt the soap base either on the stove or in the microwave. If using your stove, place the base in the pan on medium-low hear and watch it carefully, since the base melts quickly. If you take the microwave route, place the base in a container and heat on high for 60 seconds. If the base is not fully melted yet, keep microwaving for 20 or 30 seconds at a time until it's ready.
The real fun part comes when you get to add in the fragrance and watch your soap come to life. You can experiment a bit with this, but just remember that the more fragrance you put in, the stronger the scent will be. Generally, adding one teaspoon of fragrance for every pound of soap works well. Before adding the fragrance, you want the base to be hot enough to mix easily, but not so hot that the fragrance evaporates. Once the base is melted, use a wire whisk to quickly and gently blend in the fragrance, distributing it evenly.
Next, you need to fill the mold, quickly yet carefully. It's best if you have the mixture in a beaker or jar for easy pouring. Fill each mold nearly to the top, as you don't have to worry about soap rising or expanding like yummy baked goods. The sooner you get the base and fragrance mixture into the mold, the better.
Once the mixture is firmly in the mold, you get to wait for a while as it cools down and forms the desired soap. Leave the mold on a flat surface at room temperature for optimal cooling. You may need at least an hour for the soap to cool, but some larger molds require as much as 24 hours before the soap is totally solid. While you wait, you can clean up the mess you made from mixing your soap ingredients together.
Check your soap and when it's fully hardened, remove from the mold and look at your DIY masterpiece. Your soap will be ready to use, so distribute it around your house for everyone to use in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. These sweet soaps will also make lovely party favors and gifts if you're planning to celebrate something soon, so spread the love and show off your soapmaking skills.