Having tried a variety of crafts and crafting projects over time, my most recent discovery has been making decorative soaps. Being one of the latest crafting trends to become better known to a larger public, making soaps is rapidly gaining popularity world wide. Due to this increasing popularity many of the materials have become easier available in larger selections to choose from, allowing soap making to be an enjoyable form of creative expression for many in many ways.
Soap making can be done in different ways. It's possible to make your own soap entirely using base ingredients and chemicals. This is known as cold process soap making. Though I can see the benefits of being able to design your own soap entirely based on personal preferences, for me the idea of my tiny kitchen and hazardous chemicals make a bad combination that I did not want to consider.
Another way of making decorative soaps is by means of what is known as the rebatch method. This method requires grinding down and slightly moisturizing bars of soap suited for this purpose so that they can be molded into the desired shape by hand. As much as I can see how for some this can be enjoyable, rebatch soap making isn't for me.
By far the most popular method for soap making at this time and also the method of my choice is soap making by means of what is known as melt & pour soap. The base product for this particular method is a ready made soap base that can be melted and poured into the desired shape or project after having been colored and scented as desired. Combining various techniques with different materials makes it possible to create an endless variety of soaps that both look and smell great.
The frothy duck bath-soap project was one of my first projects. It's a good project for starting soap makers because it will always generate great looking results but it's also a project that can easily be done at a childrens party without getting things too complex or messy.
To make 4 frothy duck bath-soaps you will need:
- 4 small rubber ducks
- between 250 and 300 grams of clear melt & pour soap base
- between 50 and 75 grams of white melt & pour soap base
- liquid blue soap color (water-soluable, not pigment)
- cosmetic fragrance oil (I used Ocean fragrance)
- a spray bottle of 70% rubbing alcohol
- a plastic soap mold (I used oval but round, square etc will also do)
- a nice big pan of water at boiling point
- a jug to melt the soap in, in the pan of boiling water
- a stainless steel spoon
Now that all the "ingredients" are gathered up, the first thing to do is to cut the white soap base into bits of around 0,5cm each. Don't bother to cut to regular as these little cubes will be the iceblocks and in nature those are not perfectly square either.
The next step is to melt the clear soapbase. After cutting the clear soap base into chunks it goes in the jug and the jug goes into the hot water to allow the soap to melt. It's also possible to melt the soap in the microwave but this must be done carefully in bursts no longer then 30 seconds. Longer may cause the soap base to discolor with a yellowish tint and if the soap base gets over 100C, it can ignite. Rather safe instead of sorry, I prefer the water bath method.
Once the soap has fully melted, it needs to be colored and given a fragrance. To color the soap, make sure to use a color that is suited for a clear soap base. Using pigment based colors will cause the soap to lose transparancy. I used 6 drops of a blue color for this batch and fragranced it with some Ocean cosmetic fragrance oil.
Before the soap is ready to be poured, it needs to cool off a bit. Pouring the soap too hot will damage the mold and pooring the soap too cold will make the results look less pretty. The ideal temperature for pouring the soap is around 60C.
When the soap is at the right temperature it's divided somewhat evenly in the shapes of the mold. This will cause air bubbles to appear in the soap but a quick spray with the alcohol with clear those right back up.
The rest of the project depends on time and timing because all the parts need to be in place before the soap hardens out too much to work with. Putting things in too soon will cause them to sink in the soap too deep so it's needed to start at the right time and be a little quick with it.
It takes around 2 minutes for the soap to go solid enough to form the base for the ducks to be pushed in. Push the ducks in gently so that some liquid soap poors over the newly formed skin. This will hold the ducks in place.
Right after the ducks have been placed in the soap, push bits of white soap base in the blue soap around the ducks.
All it takes now is to wait for the soap to cool off and harden fully. This takes about 1 hour. After the soap has cooled off, just slightly bend the edge of the mold away from the soap to allow air to slip in. Turn the mold around and very gently, push the soap out. Carefully slide a finger by the edges of the soap to smooth them a little and then the 4 frothy duck bath-soaps are ready.