Geri Burgert's Melt & Pour Tutorial
Melt and pour soapmaking is easy and fun. It's also a safe project for households with kids and pets because you won't be handling dangerous chemicals. Your supplies can range from simple to as fancy as you wish to make them. Even cleanup is quick, and you can use your soaps as soon as they are cool enough to unmold.
You will need a quantity of melt and pour base. A good amount to start with might be one pound, which will make an average of four bars of soap. The quality of base varies widely, so be sure to avoid the inferior kind you find in craft stores. Base can be plain or colored, with or without additives. The beauty of specialty bases such as goatsmilk, Castile, cocoa butter, and olive is that you won't need to guess how much of these luxurious enrichments to add to a plain base because the work has been done for you. The wonderful thing about melt and pour soap is that you can don't need to waste mistake or leftover pieces. You can remelt the base and try again.
Almost any fragrance labeled "safe for body" will work in melt and pour. Essential oils are wonderful, but be sure to add no more than one ounce per pound of base. Oregon Trails' fragrance oils are spectacular in melt and pour and the scents do not fade over time. Depending on how powerful the scent is, you will need to add no more than about half an ounce per pound of base. For a very strong fragrance oil such as Chai Tea, the amount can drop by half! Be aware that fragrance oils containing a vanilla component will probably eventually discolor the soap to a lovely amber.
NOTE: While all of our fragrances are thoroughly tested for CP, M&P and all are skin safe, we discourage the use of spicy fragrances such as Chai Tea & Pumpkin Pie in leave on products like Creams and Body Butters as they can be a sensitizer for some people just as Spicy Essential Oils can as many are made with EO/FO combinations.
There are several ways to color your soap: liquid colorants, micas, and glitter are a few.
Liquid colorants such as Crystal Colors produce a vibrant effect in melt and pour soapmaking and don't morph, unlike with cold process soapmaking. One drop is plenty to color a pound of base. Too much colorant may stain your washcloth. If you add too much colorant by accident, increase the amount of base to compensate.
Micas create a magical impression in clear melt and pour soap. They reflect the light and shimmer beautifully. Begin with an eighth of a teaspoon per pound of base and stir it well to disperse lumps. You can also mix the mica into a small amount of base first, then incorporate it into the larger batch.
If you want a "wow" effect in your soap, try cosmetic glitter. A tiny amount goes a long way. Add it when the melted soap begins to thicken and stir it continually before pouring to prevent the glitter from sinking to the bottom of the mold.
You can add lots of interesting things to melt and pour: botanicals such as calendula petals, exfolliants such as fruit seeds, shea butter. the sky's the limit! Limit the total amount of liquid additives to no more than one ounce per pound of base, though, or you will notice a decrease in lather or hardness.
Melt and pour molds must be able to withstand heat. They don't have to be complicated: clean food storage containers can make wonderful soap loaves. On the other hand, molds such as the Milky Way series are truly impressive and create gorgeous soaps. When you are comfortable with making soap in smaller molds, don't overlook the Ultra Molds for a spectacular professional-looking bar!
Tools & Supplies
You will need a good-size heat-tempered glass measuring cup (Pyrex is fine), a knife, a spoon, a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol, and measuring spoons. I prefer using my microwave to melt the base but you can also use a double boiler.
Have all supplies on hand. Slice and cube one pound of melt and pour base, and place it in a measuring cup. Melt the base in a microwave for no more than 50 seconds at a time, checking after each cycle to see if it is liquid. Do not overheat the base!
When the soap is melted, remove it from the microwave and stir it gently with a spoon. Stir occasionally until the side of the measuring cup feels warm, not burning hot. When the soap is about 130 degrees (don't worry if it 's slightly more or less), add the colorant and stir. Then put in any additives, and finally the fragrance. Stir, stir, stir! Then pour the soap into a mold and spray it lightly with rubbing alcohol to remove bubbles.
Let the soap set for at least a half hour before you attempt to move it. The soap will need to cool down for several hours before you unmold it, especially if the mold is detailed. When you are ready, press firmly on the underside of the mold with your thumbs. If the soap does not release easily, give it more time. If it is still stubborn after several hours, you may place the mold in a freezer for five to ten minutes at a time, after which it should fall out of the mold. Do not freeze the soap for a longer time or it will begin to sweat as it defrosts.
Are you creative? Warning: Melt and pour soapmaking is addictive! Here are a few ideas for fun projects you can try.
Children love soaps with plastic or rubber toys embedded in them, especially scented with fruity fragrances such as Peach Mango. This project is best done with a very clear base such as Olive Oil melt and pour. You can easily make this bath treat by pouring a layer of soap about a third of the way into your mold and letting it set until it forms a skin. Spray the soap with rubbing alcohol and place the toy facedown into the mold. Then pour melted soap up to the top.
Pour a quarter-inch layer of 24Karat Gold Mica colored soap into a shallow plastic container and let it harden. Then use a small star-shaped cookie cutter to make tiny soap stars. Pour a layer of Olive Oil base fragranced with Moonlight Stroll into a soap mold, about a third way up. When a skin forms, spray the layer with rubbing alcohol and place the gold star in the middle. Lightly spray again with rubbing alcohol. Pour a layer of Olive Oil base colored with Brightest Blue colorant over the first and lightly spray again with alcohol to prevent bubbles. The finished soap will look like a sparkly star hanging in the night sky.
Chop up bright-colored soap and spray it lightly with rubbing alcohol. Melt an opaque base such as Creamy Cocoa Butter, Creamy Goatsmilk, or Gentle Castile and add a rich, mysterious scent such as Amber Dawn but leave the soap uncolored. Pour the opaque base into the mold, up to about two thirds. Put in the chopped soap and top off the mold with the opaque base. Lightly spray the top with rubbing alcohol to prevent bubbles. The finished soap will have a stained-glass look. This is really nice in a loaf mold because the slices of soap reveal the "glass" hidden within.
This project is easy but requires careful timing. The amount of soap base you need will depend on the size of your Ultra Mold. I have a 20-bar mold, so I made seven layers, each one pound of base. It helps to cut up lots of soap ahead of time, and to have the colorants lined up in rainbow order.
Use Deep Amethyst, Brightest Blue, Juicy Green Pear, Sunny Yellow, Sweet Orange, Ruby Red, and Wineberry (or Crystal Colors of your own choice).
Choose a single fragrance such as Mardi Gras and measure out .5 to .7 ounces, depending on your preference for strength of scent. Place 1 lb of chopped clear Olive Oil base in a heatproof glass cup and melt it, then stir in the first color and add the fragrance. Pour the soap into the Ultra Mold (it will look very sparse for this layer) and spray heavily with rubbing alcohol.
Immediately melt the second batch and choose the second color, then add fragrance. Don’t pour this layer until the first one sets up, like the skin on gelatin. You should be able to touch the molded soap with your finger without the liquid layer oozing through. On the other hand, don’t wait until the first layer is completely hard or it might separate later. After you have poured this second layer, spray again with rubbing alcohol and prepare the next layer, and so on.
With proper timing, the layers will stick together nicely, creating a prismatic effect. After you have poured the last layer, don’t forget to spray it with alcohol, to avoid bubbles on the surface.
The soap mold will be quite heavy (7 lb). Cover the top lightly with plastic wrap to keep out dust and dirt, and place the mold in a cool and dry place. It may take several days before you can remove the dividers, since melt and pour soap clings to plastic. If you encounter difficulties after a few days, place the mold in a freezer for no more than 15 minutes at a time, and try to remove the dividers. Mine slid right out without this step. You’ll be fascinated by the beauty of the finished bars!
Melt and pour soap should be wrapped within a day after unmolding. Especially in humid weather, the soap’s glycerin can rise to the surface if the soap is not protected, which creates an ugly effect. Use plastic wrap or shrink wrap to ensure a tight fit.