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Melt & Pour Soap Making, Bath Salt, Bath/Body & Massage Oil Basic Recipes, Preparation & Storage Tips:


Massage Bar Soap

The purpose of this page is to provide you with the basic recipe and instructions for making melt and pour soap, bath salts, and bath/body & massage oils. There are also basic instructions for suspending botanicals, soap noodles & cubes, and plastic toys in soap. I've also included a some preparation & storage, and packaging tips as well as a few ideas of how to fix or recycle a batch of soap if your recipe doesn't work out as well as you had hoped.

If you have trouble locating supplies or would like to compare prices please visit our links page.



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Basic Melt & Pour Soap Recipe and Preparation & Storage, and Packaging Tips:


Linen Bar Soap

The information provided below should work with any melt and pour soap base. The basic recipe is provided using 8 ounces of glycerin to make it easier to half the recipe if you are trying something for the first time or to double it if you know you like a particular recipe and would like to make more this time. If you are a first time soap maker I would recommend using translucent glycerin as a base since it is much easier to tell when all of the base has melted.


Basic Soap Making Recipe & Instructions:


As mentioned on the home page, always start with high quality melt and pour soap bases and always use essential oils, colorants, and additives/botanicals that are safe to use in soap making.

Ingredients:
  • 8 Ounces of Glycerin
  • Essential Oil
  • *Colorant (optional)
  • *Natural Additives/Botanicals (optional)

Equipment & Materials:
  • Microwave
  • Cutting Board
  • Sharp Knife
  • Metal Spoon (Wooden Spoons Tend to Gather More Base During the Melting Process)
  • 16 - 32 oz (500 - 1000 ml) Microwave Safe Glass Measuring Cup
  • Soap Mold
  • *Measuring Spoons (Optional: for Measuring Additives/Botanicals)
  • *Kitchen Scale (Optional: for Weighing the Base if You Do Not Have Pre-Measured Blocks of Glycerin)

Use the cutting board and the knife to cut the base into 1/4 - 1/2 inch cubes. Try to keep the cubes as close to the same size as possible. This will help to minimize the time it takes to melt the base.

Microwaves vary so in order to avoid problems set the timer for 1 minute on high. Stir, and if not melted keep setting the time for 15 - 20 second intervals and stir in between until the almost all of the base is completely melted. Keep a close watch during this process and when it appears that but a few small pieces of the base has melted stop the microwave and remove the base immediately to stir until it is completely melted.

If the base will not melt, put it back into the microwave for 10 seconds and try again until it does. It is very important the base is completely melted but does not overheat. Overheating can cause warping of your soap molds and disruptions in fragrance and color. If you do wait a little to long and the base melts completely don't worry, allow it to cool, stirring occasionally until you start to see a mild soap scum forming on the sides or top of the melted base.

Once the base is melted immediately add any additives or botanicals that are safe to use in soap making. Stir until they are well blended and add any colorants one drop at a time until you achieve the desired effect.

Add the fragrance a few drops at a time as directed, stir, and keep in mind that potency of scent varies between brands, grade, etc. Wait a few moments to smell the soap and never position your nose to closely or you may get a much stronger scent than what is really there. Continue to add safe levels of scent until the desired effect is achieved and immediately pour into soap molds.

Wait for the soap to harden completely before trying to remove from molds. If the soap does not pop out easily it has most likely not completely set. Wait for about an hour or two and try again.


How to Suspend Botanicals, Soap Noodles or Cubes, & Plastic Toys:


Suspending Botanicals in Soap: To suspend materials such as lavender, calendula, oats, wheat germ, etc., make sure they have been slightly crushed to prevent floating on top of the melted base. Wait until the soap has cooled to the point where it starts to leave a solid ring around the edges of the glass measuring cup. Stir in your dry additives and pour into molds. If you add them too soon and the majority float to the top, wait for the soap to cool slightly and stir occasionally. Once you start to see the soap start to harden at the sides of the measuring cup or it forms a skin on the top, scrape the skin off the top with your spoon, stir, and pour into molds.

Suspending Soap Noodles or Soap Cubes: There are two ways I know of to do this in order to prevent the cubes or noodles from melting somewhat and discoloring the base of the soap.

  1. Use a true coconut melt and pour base for the noodles or cubes. This works well because the coconut base has a higher melting point than glycerin. Just be sure to use a mold release for this method because when these two different bases are used in this manner it can cause the soap to stick to molds. Place the noodles or cubes into molds and melt the base. Make sure the glycerin has cooled to the point that it starts to form a ring on the sides of the glass measuring cup. Add scent and color as necessary and stir. Slowly pour the glycerin into the molds over the back of the spoon toward one of the corners or sides of the molds. This will help to prevent melting of the noodles or cubes in case the base is a bit too hot. Wait for it to completely harden and remove soap from the molds.

  2. Place the noodles or cubes on a paper plate and refrigerate for about 1/2 hour. Remove them and melt your base. Make sure the glycerin is cool enough that it starts to form a ring on the sides of the glass measuring cup. Add scent and color as necessary and stir. Place noodles or cubes into molds. Slowly pour the glycerin into the molds over the back of the spoon toward one of the corners or sides of the molds. This will help to prevent melting of the noodles or cubes in case the base is a bit too hot. Wait for it to completely harden and remove soap from the molds.

Suspending Plastic Toys in Soaps: This can be a little tricky and may take a few times to perfect. The main problem is adding the toy at the right time to avoid sinking, floating, or air pockets from developing around the toy.

Start by selecting a high quality translucent (clear) glycerin base. Be very careful about purchasing "ultra clear" bases since they tend to contain alcohol and other harsh chemicals that act as a drying agent. Good translucent bases tend to be somewhat cloudy but there are a few things you can do to make them appear more clear without harsh chemicals. Melt the base without color and scent following the instructions in the basic melt and pour soap recipe on this page. Pour into molds and allow to harden then remelt when you are ready to make your soap with toys. This should take out some of the excess moisture (what makes the soap appear cloudy). The second thing you can try works well for soaps with a water themed toy. Try adding a very small amount of blue colorant (only add one drop at a time between stirring). You want for it to be a very, very light blue. This tends to make the base appear to be clearer and the toy stand outs more without removing moisture from the base.

You will also need to select a plastic toy that doesn't have sharp edges. Soft plastic fish toys that squirt water, soft decorative erasers, soft plastic dinosaurs, bugs or reptiles all work well. Just be sure whatever you choose is small enough to fit into your soap molds and leaves some room around the sides and is no taller than 1/2 the height of the mold.

  1. Melt the base as directed in the basic soap recipe.

  2. Add scent and if desired a very small amount of colorant. As mentioned blue tends to work very well but whatever color you choose just be sure that the base is extremely light in color or you will not be able to see the toy well.

  3. Fill the molds about 1/4 full (you will need to make sure that there is room to cover the toy and also over filling or under filling will result in the toy being at the top or bottom of the mold).

  4. Wait for a skin to form on the top (usually in 5 - 10 minutes). What to do next depends on whether you have a heavier toy that will sink or light or air filled toy that will float.

  5. For Toys that Float: Use a small metal spoon (wooden spoons will not work well for this) to carefully scrape out an opening in the center. You want the hole to be large enough to fit the toy and leave room at the sides. If it is too small it can cause air pockets to form around the toy when the rest of the base is added. Place the toy in the mold and wait for the base to cool until a thin skin forms on the top (usually about 5 minutes). While you are waiting for the skin to reform, stir the remaining base in your glass measuring cup. If a skin has formed on top remove it and if necessary reheat for about 10 - 15 seconds in the microwave and stir. Be very careful not to overheat the remaining base or it will cause the toy to float to the top when poured. Once the skin has reformed carefully pour the remaining base into the mold. Pour the base near one of the corners instead of the center to avoid the toy coming loose and floating to the top. Wait until completely cooled and remove from mold.

    For Toys that Sink: This one is a little easier to accomplish without air pockets forming around the toy. Pour in enough base so that the mold is about 1/4 full. Allow for a thick skin to form over the top (usually about 10 -15 minutes). You do NOT want the soap to completely harden or it may split in two when you remove it from the mold. Place the toy where desired making sure the top of the toy is facing the bottom of the mold. Stir the remaining base in the measuring cup and if a thin skin has formed over the top remove it with a metal spoon. If necessary reheat base for about 10 to 15 seconds. Pour the remaining base into the mold. Avoid pouring directly over the toy. If necessary carefully reposition toy to the center using a butter knife. Avoid scraping the semi-hard layer of glycerin with the knife. Wait until completely cooled and remove from mold.

Safety Precautions:

  • Small plastic toys can present a choking hazard so be sure to keep out of the reach of small children and pets.

  • Some types of plastic can be hard enough scratch skin so unless the soap is purely decorative avoid using hard plastic toys with sharp edges.


Preparation Tips:


  1. Always use high quality melt and pour bases. If you are looking for moisturizing quality never use a base that contains alcohol or other drying agents.

  2. Only use cosmetic grade colorants, natural pigments, or botanicals that are specifically for or are known to be safe for use in soap making. Food grade and other colorants tend to stain or fade and some botanicals and natural pigments can be toxic or have harsh effects on your skin.

  3. If you wait too long during the melting process don't worry this is easy to fix. Stir occasionally and wait for soap scum start to form on the sides or top of your glass measuring cup before adding additives, color, & scent and pour immediately into mold(s).

  4. Do not use excessive amounts of additives with moisturizing properties such as olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, etc. This will cause your soap to become too soft.

  5. Do not use excessive amounts of dry additives such as cinnamon, corn meal, oats, etc. This will cause your soap to become too hard and scratchy which can cause irritation to your skin.

  6. Never use any ingredient that you have a known allergy or sensitivity to. You can usually find a suitable substitute or simply omit it. For example, if you are allergic to chocolate and a recipe calls for cocoa butter you can omit it but, if you would like for your soap to have more moisturizing properties, you can substitute 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per 8 ounces of glycerin.


Storage & Packaging Tips:


  1. Never let your soap sit in water for any amount of time. Glycerin based soap melts in water very quickly (it is not like most store bought soap) so be sure to store your soap in a proper soap dish that drains water. Otherwise, your soap will melt very quickly. If you cannot find a soap dish that drains try a mesh bag or tying it off loosely in cheese cloth and hanging it up to dry above the shower between uses.

  2. Always store your soap in a cool, dry place and avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight, humidity, extreme heat and cold can interfere with moisturizing properties as well as the fragrance and color of your soap.

  3. For short term storage 1 -3 months in a ziplock type freezer bag or tightly wrapped saran wrap is OK but never store soaps long term this way. The scent will fade and the soap will become harder and obtain less moisture. The later can have bad effects on your skin. For long term storage be sure to use shrink wrap. You can buy this from your local hardware store (usually to keep cold air from leaking in from windows during the winter) and cut it down to size, from the craft section of a department store, or you can buy shrink wrap made for packaging from a craft/hobby store or a soap making supplier. Just be sure to follow directions as they tend to involve heat (usually from a hair blow dryer). No matter which one you choose, just be very careful to follow directions and be sure not to get the heat source to close to the soap or you could cause the soap to stick to the packaging or to melt.

  4. Always store your soaps out of the reach of children and pets.


When All Else Fails:

Sometimes things just don't go as planned and your soap will not turn out the way you wanted it to. Don't worry there are a number of ways to recycle failed soap projects without wasting materials.

  1. Use a cheese grater, slicer or cube the soap to use in included soap recipes.

  2. Remelt, adding scent and color if needed and try again.

  3. If your soap has become too hard due to improper storage, poor quality base, etc., remelt and try adding 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per 8 ounces of glycerin. Add scent and color if necessary and pour into molds.

  4. If your soap has become too soft due to too much olive oil, shea butter, honey, etc., add more glycerin and remelt adding scent and color if necessary and pour into molds. You can also grate it with a cheese grater and add a small amount to soap molds prior to pouring a new batch of soap. Pour in the new soap, let it sit for a few moments, and gently swirl with a toothpick or butter knife being careful not to scrape the sides or bottom of the mold. Try to do this in a figure 8 or feathered pattern and do not over stir. This should melt the soap noodles leaving a swirled color pattern in your new bars.


Bath/Body & Massage Oil Information, Tips, and Basic Recipe:


Photo of Bath Oil

Bath/Body and Massage Oils are very easy and inexpensive to make. Many base oils such as extra virgin olive oil, light sesame oil, and sweet almond oil can be found at at your local supermarket or drug store. If you can find common (and inexpensive) essential oils such as peppermint, lavender, citrus, or eucalyptus oils at a local heath store you can get started right away.



Caution: Bath oil can leave the tub slick causing a slipping hazard. If your tub does not have a textured bottom to prevent slipping get some safety no slip pads and always rinse tub with hot water after draining and remove any excess oil with a cleaning cloth or sponge and hot soapy water.


Carrier Oils:


A carrier oil is is the base oil that carry and dilute the essential oils or fragrance oils that are used to scent them. It is very important to use a good base oil that doesn't cause irritation to your skin, doesn't clog pores, and is easily absorbed into your skin. I have listed a few common carrier oils below.

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (do NOT use other types) is reported to be good for those with sensitive skin. It is available from your local supermarket, health food stores, soap making suppliers, and online. Extra virgin olive oil is suitable for almost all skin types but it does have a distinctive odor so you will need to use a fairly potent scent such as lavender and peppermint to overcome the scent of the oil. The scent of the oil may not be suitable for blending with some essential oils.

  2. Virgin or Extra Virgin Sesame Oil is available at some grocery stores, Asian food markets, or online. A high quality extra virgin sesame oil is light green and resembles extra virgin olive oil in appearance. It does not have a heavy scent and blends will with all fragrance types.

  3. Light Sesame Oil can usually be found at your local supermarket, Asian food markets, or online. It is pale yellow in color and blends well with all fragrance types.

  4. Sweet Almond Oil can be found in the bath/body section of large supermarkets, pharmacies, soap making suppliers, or online. It is pale yellow in color but a bit heavier than light sesame oil. It blends well with all fragrance types.

  5. Avocado Oil is reported to be good for those with sensitive skin. It is somewhat expensive and may need to be purchased through a soap supplier or online.


Equipment:


Equipment is very inexpensive and you may already have everything you need to get started.

Photo of Lavender Bath Oil

1. 24 - 32 Ounce glass jar with tight fitting lid. You can purchase new jars or reuse well cleaned and dry jars.

2. Metal spoon for stirring. Metal spoons can be cleaned and reused in the kitchen. Wooden spoons that come into contact with fragrance oils or essential oils should be clearly marked and never used for food preparation.

3. Measuring cups.

4. Small funnel for pouring into storage containers.



Basic Bath/Body & Massage Oil Recipe:



This is one of my favorites and can be used as bath/body oil or as a massage oil to help soothe sore muscles. I have found that virgin and extra virgin sesame oil work the best for my skin. You can substitute any other carrier oil you like.


2 Cups of Virgin or Extra Virgin Sesame Oil
Essential Oils:
  • 15 Drops of Peppermint
  • 7 Drops of Eucalyptus

Add the oil and scent to a jar and stir.

Seal the jar so it is air tight and allow the oil to age for 1 week shaking the jar once a day. Check the scent level every couple of days and add 1-3 drops of scent as necessary.

Allow for 3 days of additional age time if you add scent toward the end of the aging process.

Package as desired.


Tips & Safety Precautions:


  • Whenever possible use glass jars or containers with tight fitting lids for preparation and long term storage. Plastic will cause the scent to fade over time. I make larger batches of oils that I use frequently and keep them in glass jars then funnel a small amount into travel containers for easy short term use. This is also safer since oil is slippery and glass breaks.

  • Store your oils in a cool dark place. Do not allow direct exposure to sunlight.

  • Do not allow your oils to be exposed to extreme heat or cold.

  • Always keep your oils out of the reach of small children and pets.

  • As mentioned previously, bath oil can leave the tub slick causing a slipping hazard. If your tub does not have a textured bottom to prevent slipping get some safety no slip pads and always rinse tub with hot water after draining and remove any excess oil with a cleaning cloth or sponge and hot soapy water.



Bath Salt Information, Tips, and Basic Recipe:


Photo of Bath Salt

Bath Salts are extremely easy and inexpensive to make. They can be a great project to do with older children. You will most likely be able to purchase everything you need except the essential oil from your local supermarket or pharmacy. Common and inexpensive essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, orange, and lemon may be available at some pharmacies or from a health food store.



Basic Bath Salt Ingredients:
  • Vegetable Glycerin - to help prevent dry skin
  • Essential Oil
  • One or More of the Following: Fine Sea Salt, Coarse Sea Salt, or Epsom Salt
  • *Colorant (optional)
  • *Natural Additives/Botanicals (optional)

Equipment & Materials:
  • Large Size Mixing Bowl
  • Medium Size Mixing Bowl
  • Metal Spoon for Stirring
  • Measuring Cups
  • 24 - 32 Ounce Glass Jar with Tight Fitting Lid
  • *Measuring Spoons (Optional: for Measuring Additives/Botanicals)
  • *Food Processor or Mortar and Pestle (Optional: for Crushing Botanicals

Caution: Metal Spoons can be thoroughly washed and reused. Wooden or plastic spoons that come into contact with essential oils or fragrance oils should be clearly marked and never used in food preparation.


Basic Bath Salt Recipe:


WARNING: Do not use Essential Oil of Lemon in concentrations of more than 2% within 12 hours exposure to sunlight or a tanning bed.

Tip: If you are concerned about photosensitivity substitute the lemon oil with peppermint, lavender, or ylang-ylang (be sure to use a safe amount and use caution when trying an essential oil for the first time) and use whatever color you like.

Photo of Lemon Bath Salt

1 Cup of Coarse Sea Salt
1 Cup of Epsom Salt
1 Tablespoon of Glycerin
Yellow Liquid or Gel Colorant
Essential Oils:
  • 10 Drops of Lemon



Mix all the salts and glycerin in a large mixing bowl.

Remove about 1/2 cup of salt and place in another large mixing bowl. Add a few drops of colorant and mix well.

Gradually mix the rest of the salts in 1/2 cup at a time adding more colorant as needed.

Stir in the lemon oil and place the salts in an airtight jar no more than 1/2 - 3/4 full.

Shake the jar every day for 1 -2 weeks. Remove the lid every couple of days to check the scent. If additional scent is needed add only a few drops of oil, replace lid and shake. Check again in a few days to see if more scent is needed.

Package as desired.

To use, add about 1/4 cup to warm - hot bath water.



Tips and Safety Precautions:


  • If you accidentally use too much glycerin and the salts are too moist you can add about 1/8 cup of salt and shake. Continue aging and if necessary add more salt and scent as needed.

  • Bath Salts may not be suitable for people with dry skin.

  • Good bath salt recipes should include vegetable glycerin or something similar to help prevent dry skin.

  • For added protection, while running your bath water you can add some bath oil that has a similar scent or a small amount of coconut, extra virgin olive or sesame oil and follow up with a good moisturizer after the bath.

  • For short term storage plastic containers with tight fitting lids are OK but the plastic will cause the scent to fade over time. Use glass jars with tight fitting lids for long term storage.

  • Always keep bath salts out of the reach of small children and pets.

  • Store bath salts in a cool, dry, and dark place.

  • Do not allow bath salts to be exposed to direct sunlight or extreme heat or cold.



Potpourri Information, Tips, and Basic Recipe:


Photo of Potpourri

Potpourri is easy to make. Some ingredients are easily found or made (such as dried orange peels, cinnamon sticks, and cloves) but others may need to be purchased from soap making suppliers, craft stores, or online. Some items such as rose petals or buds, can be expensive so comparing prices before purchasing can save some money. If you are into flower gardening you may be able to make your own ingredients by drying your own flowers and there are books available that can help get you started. You can also purchase a food dehydrator to quickly dry ingredients such as orange and lemon peels or slices and apple slices. They are fairly inexpensive at second hand stores and can help to produce some very expensive looking potpourri.


Selecting a Fixative:


A fixative is what enhances and helps to hold the scent of potpourri. Orris root appears in many potpourri recipes. However, it may cause skin irritation to some individuals and may not be as easy to find as some other alternatives. Dried orange, lemon, or grapefruit peels are less expensive, easier to find, and as mentioned above can be made at home. They are also much less likely to cause a sensitivity issue. Dried apple slices can also be used.


Other Botanicals Used in Potpourri:


Chamomile, lavender, rose petals or buds, rosehips, rosemary, calendula petals, green tea (loose leaf) cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, allspice, and crushed nutmeg are some commonly used and fairly easy to obtain. Many are inexpensive in small quantities and can be purchased from a supermarket, health food store, craft stores, soap suppliers, or online.


Basic Potpourri Recipe: Lavender/Rose Potpourri


Tip: Potpourri can be placed in paper envelopes (always seal to prevent spills), small mesh bags, or sachets and kept in closets, storage containers, or dresser drawers to keep clothes from smelling musty.

1 cup of Lavender Buds
1/4 cup of Tea or Mini Rose buds
1/4 cup Dried Chamomile buds
1/4 cup of Rose Hips
3 Tablespoons of Dried Orange Peel
2 Tablespoons of Brandy or Canadian Whiskey
Essential Oils:
  • 15 - 20 Drops of Lavender

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large stainless steel or glass mixing bowl.

Stir in the lavender oil and brandy. Place the potpourri in air tight jar and do not filling no more than 1/2 - 3/4 to the top.

Shake the jar every day for about a week. Remove the lid and check the scent level on the 3rd or 4th day.

If additional scent is needed add only a few drops of oil, replace lid and shake. Check again in a few days to see if additional scent is needed.

Package and display as desired.

When the scent fades mix the potpourri with 2 tablespoons of brandy to renew the scent. If this does not work add a few drops of lavender oil and stir.


Tips & Safety Precautions:


  • Potpourri can be rescented and reused a number of times. Mixing potpourri that has lost its scent with 2 Tablespoons of plain brandy, whiskey, or vodka per approximately 2 cups of potpourri can renew the scent. If this does not work add a few drops of the essential oils you used in the original recipe. Try to keep the ratio of oils in the blend in the correct amount or it could throw off the scent.

  • Do NOT scent store bought potpourri. Not only are many store bought potpourris poor quality but you have no way of knowing what it was scented with. Blending unknown fragrances could make you ill.

  • Always store excess potpourri in glass jars with a tight fitting lid to prevent the scent from fading prematurely. For short term storage, plastic containers will work but it will cause the scent to fade quicker.

  • Store excess potpourri in a cool, dry, and dark area. Do not allow it to come into direct contact with sunlight or extreme heat and cold temperatures.

  • Always keep potpourri out of the reach of small children and pets.