Want a fun project that kids can do? Try easy melt and pour soap recipes for holiday giving. Use as stocking stuffers or quick gifts for friends or coworkers.
The joy of melt and pour soap is that it’s the easiest and safest of easy soap recipes for beginners, so safe that kids can do it, as long as you don’t overheat the soap. You don’t handle any lye, there’s no chance of caustic chemical reactions, and it washes up with water at the end.
Some soap making techniques require special pots and pans. For instance, goat milk soap recipes require stainless steel or enameled pots, because aluminum can react with lye. Also, if you use any kitchen gadgets or utensils for cold process or hot process soap, they are then only to be used for soap. Never again for cooking, because you must be absolutely sure no residual (and highly toxic) lye can contaminate your food.
Melt and pour soaps have one requirement: Any equipment used must be microwave-safe if you’re using the microwave to melt the soap, and heat-safe if you’re using the stovetop. It’s not the soap which will harm the pans; it’s the heat source. After the soap-making process, you can soak pans and spoons in water, remove the soap, and reuse for food.
To make easy melt and pour soap recipes for holiday giving, you need five things:
Soap Base: Though you can purchase melt and pour (MP) base at craft stores, it’s much cheaper if you go through those online retailers that sell almost everything on their website. But when I say cheap … it’s cheap. Better bases, which are gentler on skin and may last longer, can be found on websites which specifically sell soap making products. Though all MP bases involve unnatural petroleum products, to facilitate the constant melting-and-pouring, some contain honey while others have shea butter in the formula. Read the ingredients listed, to ensure you’re not using chemicals or additives which may cause allergic reactions.
Soap Molds: Yes, you can buy specific soap molds at craft stores or online. And yes, they’re adorable. But have you seen those silicon cupcake molds which you can later reuse for holiday muffins? Really, anything plastic, metal or silicon can be used as a soap mold, as long as you can remove the soap afterward. Even waxed milk cartons work, because the wax keeps cardboard from absorbing soap. Try reusing plastic cold cut trays. My favorite molds for easy melt and pour soap recipes, for holiday giving or otherwise, are the silicon cupcake pans. I have pumpkins, maple leaves, Christmas trees, ornaments. And it’s easy to remove soap: I just press the flexible cups and pop it right out.
Colors: One big factor here: colors must be skin safe! Do not use candle dyes. Look for colorants intended specifically for cosmetic use, such as on soap supply websites. Also, don’t use food coloring because it adds extra moisture to the soap, making it gummy, and doesn’t add much extra color. If you want natural colorants, look for soap-making pigments and micas, powders which stir into the soap. Liquid dyes produce brighter hues but are more likely to irritate sensitive skin. How much fragrance and color do you use? That depends on you. If you dump too much in, you’ll have dark-colored bars which scare guests out of the room. But if you use the right soap making products, your bar won’t fail.
Fragrance: Follow the same crucial factor here: use skin-safe fragrances! No candle scents. And though essential oils are usually great for soap-making, some oils should not be used on your skin at all. Others cause allergic reactions or shouldn’t be used on infants’ sensitive skin. Purchase delicious soap-making fragrance blends at those specialty soap supply sites. I recommend Almond Biscotti, Fresh Snow, and Pumpkin Pie, though some food-themed fragrances smell so realistic you’ll have to tell kids they’re for crafting only.
Fun Stuff: Read on to find out how you can incorporate glitter, toys, and ice cube trays in your projects!
Though the possibilities are vast, here are some ideas for easy melt and pour soap projects for holiday giving. (The mint-chocolate one made my husband hungry!)
Glitter Gems: Purchase a clear base for this one. Now find transparent or translucent colorants, such as liquid dyes. Powdered pigments can make the soap opaque. When purchasing glitter, dollar store stock is okay, if you’re fine with scratchy soap. Higher-quality pearl dusts or specific soap-making fine iridescent glitters create a silky product.
If melt and pour soap gets hot enough, it becomes very runny. Glitter doesn’t suspend in runny soap. To avoid glitter which sinks to the bottom, wait until the soap is thick, right when it starts forming a skin. Mix in the glitter then pour mixture quickly into the mold, before it can become gloppy. Or consider shaking the glitter into the mold first, so soap forms on top and doesn’t lessen the glitter’s reflective surfaces.
Try different color-and-glitter combinations. Pour into molds which resemble gems, and there are many on the market! Or pour into square molds and use a vegetable peeler to shave facets into the finished bar.
Hidden Treasures: Kids love this one! Use an opaque base, so they can’t see through and know what’s inside, or a clear one so they do see it. Find little toys which fit within soap molds. Plastic works best because wood absorbs some soap and changes texture. You can even use coins, such as quarters, to give the kids some true hidden treasure.
After melting soap and adding colorants and fragrances, pour just a little into the molds. Now let this cool and harden. Place the toy on the hardened product then re-melt your soap base. Pour more soap over the toy to fully conceal it and fill the mold. Let this cool and harden before unmolding it.
Dollar Store Party Favors: Purchase silicon ice cube trays sold within the discount store’s seasonal department. I’ve found tiki masks for summer luaus, pumpkins during Halloween, Christmas trees and snowmen at year’s end. Though these don’t make large bars, they produce more little bars for the same price. And the designs can be intricate.
No crazy technique tricks here. Just buy the molds, mix up color and fragrance combinations, pour, then pop out. These are fun to layer, pouring one color, letting it cool, and pouring another. At the same discount store, purchase packs of cellophane gift bags. Insert a combination of different holiday soaps, tie the top with ribbon, and pass them out at the office.
Chocolate Mint Temptation: My favorite holiday candy has always been those tiny mints, pale green candy sandwiched between two chocolate layers. Purchase opaque white soap base, pigments or colorants to make the green and brown (I used brown and black oxide for the chocolate, little bits of green and blue for the filling), and colorants.
My favorite soap-making supply store has a “Mint Leaf” liquid color which eliminates trial-and-error color mixing. But if you need a more natural hue for sensitive skin, shake in oxide powders and stir. You can even try cocoa powder for the brown, though it’ll take a lot more to get the same color. As far as fragrances, peppermint essential oil is great if you don’t have people on your wish list with sensitive skin. The same soap supply store that sells “Mint Leaf” color has fragrances like Mint Chocolate Chip, Moroccan Mint, and Butter Mints.
Find a rectangular soap mold. And if it’s not perfectly-shaped, don’t worry. You can trim it later. Mix up your chocolate layer first, shaking in fragrance and color. Pour that into the molds, leaving at least 2/3 of the mold empty. While that layer cools, melt and mix the mint, about half the amount as the chocolate. Pour over the chocolate and allow to harden. Now re-melt the remaining chocolate and pour.
Let the soap cool completely before unmolding it. Now, using one of those delicious little candies as your model, use a flat, non-serrated knife to create sharp right angles. Then use a vegetable peeler to bevel the top edges.
Do you have any ideas for easy melt and pour soap recipes for holiday giving? We’d love to hear about them.
The Pros and Cons of Soap Colorants
|Colorant||Form||How to Use||Pros||Cons|
|Spices||ground||Mix ground cinnamon, tumeric, annatto,
or other spices into soap
|Less likely to irritate skin, and you may
have them already in your cupboard.
|Doesn’t create much color so you need a lot, which
may change soap’s texture. Can be thick and gritty.
|Pigments||powdered||Mix a tiny bit of powdered pigment into
soap, stirring until fully incorporated.
|Usually doesn’t irritate skin. A “natural”
product that has great saturation.
|Pigments generally only come in natural earth tones.
It’s difficult to achieve bright reds and yellows.
|Micas||powdered||Mix into cold-process soap or stir into
slightly cooled melt and pour soap.
|Color is stable in all soap making types.
Come in a variety of colors. Many are
vegan. Adds a pretty shimmer.
|Not all micas are naturally colored, so there is a
possibility of skin irritation. Can be messy if spilled.
Sinks to the bottom of overheated melt and pour soap.
|Dyes||liquid||Use droppers to add liquid color to either
melt and pour, cold process, or hot process
|The best option for color saturation and
bright hues. A little goes a long way.
|Not natural. May cause skin irritation. Dyes meant only
for melt and pour soaps may change colors in cold