I made soap. True story.
It was a lot like cooking. A lot. Chopping, heating, flavoring, mixing, pouring. Setting in the freezer to chill. I used Pyrex and a spoon. Poppy seeds. A baking sheet. The kitchen smelled like lavender, lemongrass, peppermint. I won’t lie: the hardest part by far was remembering not to taste-test.
I think the reason it was so easy is because I essentially made the Annie’s Mac & Cheese of soaps. I used the “melt and pour” method, where you start with something that’s already soap — but really big, really boring soap — and just make it all pretty and stinky and bite-sized. The alternative method requires you to mix lye with other ingredients. Lye is highly corrosive and generally sort of terrifying to those of us who trembled our way through high school chemistry and have been known to cut ourselves badly with a stalk of Brussels sprouts. If you knew how recently I’ve said, “Thank God I’m not a surgeon, right?” I’m confident you’d support me in the melt and pour.
And hey, maybe you’ll try it too? Based on my experience gifting these left and right last year, I’ve put together a list of everything you need, which you can click through and buy via my affiliate links on Amazon if you like. (And if you do, thanks for helping to keep Umami Girl up and running.) I made four “flavors”: Peppermint, Lemongrass Poppy and Orange Poppy (the poppy seeds act like little exfoliating microbeads, which is cool but also sounds like muffins, right?), and Lavender, which I totally know is not spelled Lavendar (like calendar?), so I definitely did not have to reprint my labels at ALL. You can make whatever scents you like, but if you want to make the same ones I did, I’m including PDF files of printable labels below because I love you dearly.
Here’s what you need:
- Shea Butter Soap Base (each pound makes 6 bars of soap, so plan accordingly)
- Silicone Soap Molds
- Essential Oils
- Poppy Seeds
- Clear Gift Bags
- Avery 22820 Labels (this is the oval one in the back of the photo)
- Umami Girl’s Printable Label Templates
- 4-cup glass measuring cup or spouted bowl
- Cookie sheet
- Waxed paper or white craft paper, to wrap soaps
Here’s how to do it:*
- Cut a one-pound block of soap base into rough one-inch squares and place in glass measuring cup.
- Microwave on high in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until melted — about 90 seconds total.
- Stir in 10-20 drops essential oil (to “taste”) and about a tablespoon of poppy seeds, if using.
- Place soap mold on cookie sheet for stability, then pour soap mixture evenly into molds. Tap out any air bubbles or pop with a toothpick (or don’t, honestly).
- Freeze for 15 minutes or so, until set. Gently pop soaps out of molds.
- Don’t you almost feel guilty giving these as gifts because they’re so easy? Don’t.
- Cut a 2-inch strip of waxed or craft paper to wrap around each bar of soap. Secure with a printed label. Place one or two bars of soap into each gift bag, tie with ribbon or included twist-tie.
- Give give give!
*(Method adapted from Gluesticks)
That’s it! You made soap. Omnipotent much? The best part is the dishes clean themselves. Just add water.
Have fun, and see you soon with more homemade — and, no worries, totally non-homemade — gift ideas.
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