Tips for Successful Soap-Making

Tips for Soap-Making

Ready to make melt-and-pour soap?

Keep these tips in mind for soap success.

They'll help take you from newbie to master crafter in short order.

Try a Kit

Brand-new to soap craft? Try a kit! Soap-making kits contain everything you'll need to create your first projects. They're usually a bit less expensive than purchasing components separately, and they can teach you the ins and outs of a new craft quickly.

A good kit will spark your imagination for more ambitious endeavors, start you off with an assortment of tools and supplies, and give motivation a boost.

Patience is a Virtue

Melt-and-pour soap-making requires only four simple skills: cut, heat, cool and pour. Try to rush the job, however, and you'll mar the final product.

Patience is a virtue with soap-making. Each bar is built as a series of steps, with time between to allow for cooling of the soap base, hardening of poured soaps to support soap inclusions, and cooling completely before removing from the molds. Rush any of these processes, and you'll see the adverse reaction in the soap.

Measure by Measure

Soap-making isn't a difficult process, but it requires precision. Save time and soap mistakes by using an instant-read thermometer. It will monitor soap temperature precisely, saving time and patience. Add a timer so you can safely attend to other tasks when soap cools.

Less is More

At each step of the soap-making process, less is more. When heating cubes of soap base, microwave in short bursts, checking often--soap melts much more quickly than you might think. Overheating can cause quality to decline (and create a microwave mess), so never allow melted soap to boil.

Scent should be added sparingly. Soap, unlike other scented products, has scent embedded throughout the product; as it's used, more scent releases. There's no need to over-scent for fear that the fragrance will dissipate. Noses become overloaded quickly when using scented products. Remind yourself that what you smell after an hour of crafting is only a tiny fraction of what a fresh nose will experience. As a guideline, use only 1 to 4 drops of scent per ounce of soap.

Color soaps with a light hand. Over-use of colorant, even made specially for use in soap products, can cause staining when the soap is used. Add colorant drop by drop, blending well after each addition. It's easier to add a bit more colorant than it is to try to rescue an over-colored soap!

Tricks of the Trade

Soap experts know that rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol in a spray bottle is an essential piece of soap-crafting equipment. Use a light spritz of alcohol on all soap inclusions. Alcohol will enhance adhesion and remove any bubbles from the surface of the inclusion. Another spritz to the back-side of a newly-poured bar removes tiny bubbles that cloud clear soaps.

To oil or not to oil? Published soap references differ on the use of pan spray to lubricate soap molds. Most authorities recommend against using pan spray. Instead, use an oil mister to deliver a very fine mist of vegetable cooking oil to the mold. Wipe nearly dry with a paper towel before pouring soap into the mold.

Don't rush! Molds release best when the soap is thoroughly cooled. Removing soaps too early can cause stress marks in clear bars. In hot weather, do put cooling soap molds in the refrigerator to make unmolding easier. Never freeze soap, either!

Squeaky-Clean Ending

Soap is soap, and dishwasher detergent is detergent, and never the twain should meet. Soak soap-making equipment in water and remove soap residue completely before placing in the dishwasher.

Soap residue in the dishwasher can cause excessive sudsing, suds lock and flooding. [Go on ... ask me how I know!]

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