Monday, October 21, 2013

Holiday Soaps

I wanted to do a project that would a.) get men/boys interested and b.) stick with the Halloween theme. After seeing this post by Jourdan Crouch Fairchild on CountryLiving's website, I figured I'd run to Michael's and give it a try. I've never made soap before but it can't be that hard, right? And if I add some creepy crawlers inside the soap, how cool would that be??

First off, I had no idea there are so many different kinds of soaps you could buy! And honestly, I picked the Higher Temperature Glycerin Soap primarily because of the price (it was the cheapest for the amount provided - $11.99 for 2lbs. or 8 soaps total). As to whether or not that was the best choice, we shall see.

Next, I knew I needed to put the melted soap into some sort of a mold. "How many should I get?" I asked my husband, who was a saint for being there in the first place but definitely wasn't interested. I went with a pack of 3 by the same company (ArtMinds), figuring that'd be a good place to start. I can always reuse them. Too bad only 2 out of the 3 survived (more on that later).

Ok, so we've got soap, we've got molds, now we need something to go in the soap, like plastic insects or spiders. Note: Michael's does NOT have any small plastic bugs in bulk, except for a tube of 9-10 insects (most over 3") for $8.99. Yeah. I don't think so. So I decided to use some plastic spider rings that I received as a Halloween grab bag gift and cut off the "ring" part.

Lastly, a fragrance for the soap. I didn't know what glycerin soap smelled like but I knew I'd want to cover it up. Now what smells like spiders? Mint seemed like the best choice. Don't question, just go with it.

Onto the soap making! Ok instructions, tell me what to do:

That's it? Ok, but how much do I cut? What do I do after it has cooled? What about bubbles? I had to make up the answers to these questions, because the instructions were definitely lacking.

Cutting board
Microwave safe bowl or measuring cup to put soap in
Something to stir soap with (I used a plastic knife so I could throw it away later)
Fun toy to put in soap
Oven mitts

Step 1 - Put on gloves and cut the soap. I didn't wear gloves and my hands smell something awful. Turns out 4 squares = 1 mold, so I cut up 12 squares (since I had 3 molds). 

Step 2 - put 4 squares in microwave safe bowl or measuring cup and put in microwave (I used a bowl and it spilled a lot, so you might want to go with a measuring cup). I put it on high for 30 seconds, stirred the contents, put back in the microwave for 15 seconds, stirred, then 15 more seconds in the microwave. One of my tries, the soap was still hard so I put it in for another 15 seconds. Just keep adding 10-15 seconds until it's all melted. Once it was all liquid, I added 6 drops of Mint soap fragrance and stirred it up with a plastic knife.

Step 3 - Be very careful with this next step. Wearing oven mitts (because the bowl/measuring cup will be HOT), pour the bowl/cup of melted soap halfway into the mold, put in your toy, and pour in the rest. Now the spiders I used were too light so they floated to the top/bottom of the soap.
One thing I didn't think of until it was too late was the bubbles. Try and remove those as soon as you've poured the soap into the mold, otherwise you'll have bubbles in your soap. Not a big deal but something to think about. You should be able to scrape them out with a knife.

Bubbles in the corner of my mold I forgot to remove
Step 4 - Set aside mold for 1 hour

Step 5 - Immediately clean up your work area (or the microwave), in case you spilled any soap.

Once the hour is up, removing the soap from the mold is the most frustrating step. The first mold, I swore a lot, took out a pair of scissors, and hacked the mold to pieces. Ahem. The second mold, I regained my composure and tried to separate the sides first, before pushing out the soap from the mold. That seemed to have done the trick! I even tried out one of the soaps and by golly, it works! Whichever soaps you're not using, be sure to wrap in clear plastic wrap to preserve the freshness of the soap bar. Another thing they forget to tell you in the instructions :-/

And remember, if you do add a toy, put it in the center of the mold and try to remove the bubbles or it's going to look foggy, like this -

Swimming in a sea of soap and bubbles

TOTAL COSTS: About $20
$11.99 at Michael's for 2lbs of ArtMinds Higher Temperature Glycerin Soap
$2.99 at Michaels for 3 ArtMinds Embossing Soap Molds
$4.99 for ArtMinds Mint Soap Fragrance (.05 fl oz)
Spiders were free

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: 1 hour, 11 minutes
3 minutes to cut 12 squares of soap
1 minute/soap mold in microwave (and I did 3)
1 hour to wait for soap to cool
5 minutes to remove soaps from their molds

EASY-PEASY SCALE: 3 out of 5
Not super hard, just need some nails and upper-body strength to remove the soap from the molds!


  1. This was a good resut for your first try. I myself have begun making soap as a hobby. Here are some tips that no one ever tells you that are really useful.
    You need to of-course heat up the soap in "burst" of 20 sec. in the microwave. then stir in your colorant and/ or dye. After wards pour into your mold and spray with alcohol. I use 91% since it was the highest i could find. If you can find 100% alcohol that's great. the alcohol breaks up all the bubbles. If you are embedding a toy all you have to do is fill in your soap partially and place in your toy and wait 5 minutes, then reheat your soap and fill the rest of the way.
    this video link should help a lot. :-)

    1. These are such WONDERFUL tips! Thank you for sharing!