Homemade Gift Idea – Melt and Pour Soap-Making
Making homemade soap as gifts can be pretty easy and a lot of fun. Homemade soap bars are great gift ideas because you can also whip up pretty large and attractive batches of them in a day or two and satisfy your entire holiday gift list. I made these as gifts for the holidays a few years back and some of the recipients were sincerely unsure whether these were purchased at a boutique or if I had actually made them.
The process to making these gifts is quite simple. Simply melt the soap base for a few minutes in the microwave, add the natural scents and exfoliants, pour them into molds and let them cool. That’s it! Creating unique names and gift labels can add to the creativity and presentation of these gift to make them even more memorable. Soapmaking purists might use a more difficult process that requires the use of lye and therefore there is a safety issue, but I found that the melt and pour soap variety as gifts can be just as elegant, much easier and safer, and creativity can be involved in every step of the process.
All of the supplies listed can be found at brambleberry.com
You can get an olive oil soap base (as well as some of the other ingredients) at Michael’s, or other craft store if you can’t wait for the shipping. Brambleberry.com has a larger number of other choices of soap bases. I have used their aloe vera base, their creamy and dreamy goats milk base, shea butter, organic clear, a honey base and they even have shaving base, that would make a homemade gift idea that is more accessible for guys.
As soon as your base is melted, you can add your ingredients. Now there are far too many options to mention here but I will mention a few. Essential oils, though expensive, have a stronger, purer scent than any of the other types of scents, so if you are making large batches I would recommend getting a few of the basics. The ones I’d recommend as essential oils are a nice soothing lavender, a citrus oil like bergamot which is a great uplifting, “wake-up” scent, and maybe a rosemary, eucalyptus, or peppermint. You can get a essential oil sampler kit from. They also carry a variety of exfoliants.
My personal favorites are their shredded loofah and pumice. You can also be creative and use oatmeal, (which a lot of people combine with honey) a light exfoliant like bamboo extract, and walnut seeds, or even cornstarch. You can also look in your kitchen for ingredients like cinnamon and coffee grounds. You can find soap recipes to start out with at teachsoap.com. They also have a detailed tutorial on melt and pour soap making. You can use dyes and colorants, but I have found that once you add the other ingredients, the bars take on an already attractive, and natural looking character.
A few tips on scenting…
The scents listed here are pretty universally enjoyed by men and Whole Melt Extracts women alike. I would keep the scents on the subtle side, and stay away from the overly floral scents unless of course you know that the person receiving the gift will enjoy it. When experimenting with scent combinations your smelling sense will often soon become overloaded, making it difficult to sample each smell. A tip that a local soapmaker once told me is to keep coffee grounds nearby, and smell them to sort of cleanse your olfactory palate between batches. Coffee grounds, by the way, are a great ingredient to include in a kitchen soap as it tends to remove or at least disguise strong smells. This is great for when you have chopped a lot of onions for instance.
Though brambleberry carries a number of shapes for molds, I personally use just a standard rectangular soap mold I got from Michael’s. Again, I think that the soap ingredients make the bars attractive enough, and have found that unusual shapes might just make them look chaotic and