The great thing about glycerine ( M & P ) soap is it’s flexibility. There are so many ways you can customise your soap for your own use, for children or or for special skin care needs.
Part 1 of our Soap making article covered the soap making basics, part 2 problem solving and this article will give you tips to help you become even more creative.
The soap melts at 60 C. Using a thermometer is not necessary, but if you remember not to let the soap get too hot you shouldn’t have any problems. Overheating will make your soap less transparent and if it gets too hot will smell unpleasant.
Also, some of the advanced techniques require a lower temperature. For example layered soap, embedding, soap curls etc.
To harden your soap, beeswax can be added at 8gm / 500gm but it will lose some of its clarity and lathering.
Remember that the purpose of exfoliants is to gently remove dead skin layers, not to run your skin red raw. Loofahs are very good, and if you use the right mould can embed the loofah into the soap. Gentle additives such as rolled oats, ground almond meal, poppy seed can be added. These are best added when the soap has cooled down slightly to stop the additives from sinking to the bottom of the mould. The best way to test the temperature is to let the soap cool down enough to form a skin, mix in the herbs and pour into moulds.
There is no one “best” ingredient to add that will make your soap more moisturising, but I always add emu oil because it is good for treating conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. I also like to add my own moisturising cream as well as hemp oil, cocoa butter, Manuka honey, rose hip oil and evening primrose oil.
It is really up to you to experiment and decide what you like to have in your soap.
Bubbles To minimise the bubbles in your soap, stir gently and pour slowly. Using a souvlaki stick or a chop stick will help. If you have bubbles once you pour, spray the surface with high proof alcohol ( eg vodka) or Witch Hazel. Do this when the soap is still hot. The alcohol will pop the bubbles.
When embedding other pieces of soap, layering or using soap curls make sure all surfaces are sprayed with alcohol. This will help the bonding of one soap surface to the other. It will prevent the soap from separating when in use.
The alternative to alcohol is Witch Hazel.
Take care when handling your hot soap. It will burn if it lands on your skin. Take particular care if children are around.
Do NOT use any of your utensils for cooking, particularly wooden spoons. They will retain small amounts of essential oils.
Some of your soaps will look good enough to eat, so take care with small children. They WILL attempt to take a bite. Don’t rely on your memory for recipes and what you have added to your soap.
Use a note book and record everything.
Weigh your soap out accurately. This will give you an idea of how much oil and additives you will need.
The key to embedding whether it is a soap curl, soap chunk or a toy ( be careful, if the soap is going to a child) is to prevent the embedded soap from falling out .
To do this the embeds must be sprayed with either high proof alcohol or witch hazel and chilled before they are used.
Timing is everything when making layer soaps. As for the embeds, the first layer must be sprayed with alcohol to keep the layers together.
1/ Prepare your first layer. Pour into your mould and allow to set just long enough to hold the weight of the second layer. Spray with alcohol to help adhesion.
2/ Prepare your second layer and when cool enough pour onto the prepared first layer. By following these simple rules you can make a soap with two distinct layers of five.
If you pour when your second layer is too hot, it will melt your first. You then have two blended layers. It may not be exactly what you want, but it can create some great effects.
Blending Clear & Opaque Soap
One of the best effects you can create in your soaps is to blend your clear soap with the opaque, but as with many of the techniques the timing is important. If you try blending the two different bases when they are too hot, they will simply mix into one.
A transparent, coloured soap looks great mixed into an opaque white. What I normally do is make the base (choose whichever one you want) and allow it to set until it can take the weight of the second, then use a skewer to pop holes into it and pour your prepared contrast layer. As one is more liquid than the others they blend beautifully. The hotter the soap bases are, the more they will blend.
Hope these tips help. M & P soaps are fun to make, great for your skin and easy to customise.