Melt & Pour Soap Basics
edited: Wednesday, November 23, 2011
By Lisa Maliga
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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Learn the basics of melt and pour soap crafting from the type of base you'll need to what [and what not!] to add.
Crafting melt & pour glycerin soap looks effortless and is the perfect gift to give any time of the year. Better yet, why not just start making and selling it? Apparently, some over-enthusiastic people think that because glycerin soap is so easy to craft; it can be sold with little to no preliminary testing. After you’ve made your first batch you might be just beginning your way to rivaling Primal Elements or Lush, yet you’re nowhere near ready to sell.
Your Soap Base
Melt and pour soap base is premade. You can buy a small amount, cut off a piece, and use it to wash your hands. But that's only the first step into creating wonderful looking bars, slabs, domes, rounds, squares or rectangles of colorful and/or beautifully scented soap.
How do you find a good soap base? Always read the ingredients. Stay away from soap base with a very long list of ingredients.
As with food, the ingredients listing on soap bases begin with the most prominent component listed first. For melt & pour glycerin soap base you’ll want to see the word GLYCERIN within the first two or three ingredients. If not, you might just not have a great product, or you may have a coconut soap base. There’s nothing wrong with coconut soap, it’s just a bit heavier than glycerin soap, and it’s not translucent.
The most common myth is that glycerin soap doesn’t contain lye. It does. ALL soap contains lye. Lye is mixed with fats and water and in the case of melt & pour, other clarifying ingredients such as sugar, alcohol, propylene glycol and sorbitol. The soapy fact is that once you purchase glycerin soap base YOU don’t have to use any lye.
Not 100% Glycerin Soap
I’ve read of people who claim they use 100% Glycerin soap. That’s impossible as it would be a jar of a clear, sticky plant-derived substance that’s devoid of lather and cleansing ability. Melt & pour soap contains is 100% plant glycerin – an amount of approximately 20%. That quantity is enough to give it clarity and softness – as well as its shorter lifespan in the tub, sink or shower.
F.O. Versus E.O.
First off, learn what these initials mean. F.O. = Fragrance Oil. E.O. = Essential Oil. What’s the difference?
Fragrance oils may contain up to 200 components to make it smell like a fresh-baked slice of chocolate fudge brownie, a luscious ripe raspberry, or a just-picked jasmine flower. Fragrances may contain natural ingredients, but many synthetic ones. They’re created in a lab, and are less costly than essential oils. They are also more plentiful. Another advantage is that you can obtain your favorite perfume or cologne for just a few dollars an ounce!
Essential oils derive their substance directly from nature. Lemon oil comes from the expressed rinds of the fruit, rose essential oil is from the petals of this lovely flower, and sandalwood or cedarwood comes from the bark of the tree. Essential oils can be reasonably priced at only a few dollars per ounce [citrus scents], to more than $300 for Bulgarian rose otto from the Valley of the Roses!
Don’t Add Fresh Fruit or Vegetables
Please refrain from adding that pureed avocado. Don’t include dewy lavender or rose buds unless you want to see them turn brown. A fresh slice of cucumber would look gorgeous suspended in a translucent bar of soap – until mold grows over it. You can add dried herbs such as peppermint or rosemary, but expect them to turn brown within a few days or weeks. Glycerin soap contains up to 10% water. Water causes pretty dried lavender buds and green leaves to turn that color also. [The picture shows the Cucumber & Chamomile Glycerin soap I used to make. The cuke slices are just for show!]
Test Your Soap!
You have to be comfortable making your soap before you sell even a single bar. Don’t have your first batch be a complicated multi-color embed project. Start simply: use one color and one scent. You have to be certain that the colors won’t run or fade. Will your fragrances hold up for more than a month? Does your soap sweat? Will that lovely white vanilla or coconut soap remain that color or will it turn chocolate brown in a matter of weeks?
You're the first person to test your soaps. Then your family. Let a few friends, neighbors and coworkers in on your soaping hobby that may turn into a business. Anticipate questions from testers/potential customers. Know the answers. Do this for at least six months, but a year is even better. Remember, you need to be happy with your products, as you’re now the soapcrafter.
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