Delving into a new hobby can seem intimidating and one of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Bulk is “where do I start?” – we are here to help! Melt and pour soapmaking is a rewarding activity because you get to create beautiful and unique gifts. You can sell your soap, use it as a fundraising item, for personal use or make soap just for fun! The possibilities are almost endless.
Q: What is the difference between melt and pour soap and cold process soap?
A: Melt and pour soap is a preformulated base that allows you to customize it by adding fragrances, botanicals and colors, without having to actually make the soap from the ground up. Cold process soap is made from oils (like olive or palm among many others) and sodium hydroxide. Mixing the two ingredients causes a chemical reaction that results in soap!
Q: What supplies do I need?
A: You will need access to a microwave or double boiler, a cutting board, a soap cutter or knife, melt and pour soap base, a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and a soap mold, as well as any fragrance, color or botanicals you may desire.
Q: How do I prepare my soap?
A: The easiest way to prepare your soap is to cut it into cubes. This allows the soap to melt quicker. Some people prefer to microwave their soap base in 30-60 second intervals while stirring in between until liquefied. Alternatively, you may use a double boiler on the stove. This method is especially handy if you’re making a large batch of soap. Both methods are equally effective.
Q: How do I color my soap?
A: Several methods are available for this task. You may use pigment powder, colored soap blocks or even all-natural ingredients, such as beet root powder for a red appearance or sea clay to achieve a green/grey color. Food coloring may be used in small amounts as it is prone to staining. I find the easiest way to mix pigment powder is to dissolve it in a small amount of alcohol before adding the mixture to the soap base. The heat of the melted soap will burn off the alcohol, leaving the pigment behind.
Q: How much fragrance oil should I use for my soap?
A: The general rule of thumb is no more than 1 oz. of fragrance oil to 1 lb. of soap base. Any more than that can affect the lather as we discussed earlier. Please reach out to our superheroes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-888-728-7612 if you are looking for a specific usage rate on any fragrance oil.
Q: How much essential oil can I use?
A: That varies based on the oil. For example, a bar of soap scented with 10 drops of Peppermint essential oil will smell a lot stronger than a bar of soap scented with 10 drops of Lavender essential oil. This is the fun part where creativity gets to come in with mixing and matching the essential oils to create your very own fragrance blend!
Q: I used botanicals on my soap and it turned green. What happened?
A: Since botanicals are organic matter, they are can discolor the soap base. Add your botanicals to the soap at a lower temperature (Ideally around 120 F) to help avoid this. You can use a kitchen meat thermometer to check the temperature, or use an infrared thermometer. Additionally, a suspending soap base is especially helpful with getting the botanicals evenly spread through your soap.
Q: Why are there bubbles on top of my soap?
A: Bubbles may appear on the surface as you pour the soap into the mold. This is where the spray bottle of rubbing alcohol comes in handy – give the surface of the soap a quick spritz and watch the bubbles disappear!
Q: How long do I have to wait for my soap to set?
A: This all depends on the size of the mold you are using. For example, a 3×4 inch cavity mold would not need to cool as long as a 12×12 inch loaf mold. For smaller molds, six hours is recommended. Loaf molds, however, need to set longer, for about 12-24 hours. In addition, once the soap has set for about an hour, you may carefully transfer the soap to the refrigerator to help speed up the process.
Q: Why won’t my soap lather?
A: There are a few possibilities as to why this is happening. When making melt and pour soap, it is important to keep additives to a minimum. Remember, these are pre-formulated bases that are meant to be, well… melted and poured! Using too much oil or butter (such as shea butter) in your soap base can compromise the bubbling action. Many soap bases are already enriched with those skin-loving moisturizers, so if you do want to add more butters, start with a little bit such as 1 T. per 1 lb. of soap base.
Q: My soap discolored. What happened?
A: The usual culprit of this is a chemical called vanillin. Vanillin is an organic compound that is derived from… you guessed it – vanilla! Have you ever seen the dark brown color of vanilla extract? Vanillin is what gives some fragrances their sweetness. It is especially common in bakery scents and fragrances that have warm, deep or chocolate/vanilla base notes. The color of the fragrance oil will vary based on the vanillin content.
Q: I made a mess! How do I clean this up?
A: We’ve all had a spill now and again… not to worry! After the spilled melted soap has cooled, it’s easiest to scrape up the soap splatter with a credit card, then wipe down the surface with a damp paper towel. You can try to clean it up immediately, but in our experience, it’s easier to let it dry first.
Q: Something went wrong. Can I salvage my soap?
A: Yes! Never throw anything away. You will be amazed what all those little odds and ends will come in useful for later! We refer to this soap as “rebatch” soap. In the future, we will go over some recipes to use up all your happy accidents!
Do you have any more questions? Leave a comment below and we will be happy to help with your melt and pour soap journey!
Melt and Pour Soap FAQs