Ready for a fun project to do with kids? Today we're making soap! This is the third year I've run this program at the library, and the kids think it's so cool every time. Kids get to make all the choices about what shape, colors, and scents they would like, but I recommend having an adult heat and pour the soap as it can get very hot. We don't want any accidents!
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Supplies you will need:
sea salt (optional)
toothpicks or craft sticks
So the great thing about making soap is that you have a ton of options! You can really customize what the final product will be with the type of soap you use and your scents and colors. Also, think about how you want to use your soap. Is this just a fun rainy day project with the kids or are you actually looking to make something that will realistically clean? The quality and combination of your ingredients will make a big difference.
I've provided Amazon links above to various ingredients, but you can also buy direct from companies too. Bramble Berry makes quality soap making supplies that I've used with great success.
So now that we've got all of our supplies, let's get started!
First, we need to prepare our molds. I prefer to use silicone, but plastic is fine too, they just take a little more effort to pop out without cracking the plastic. You can rub a little bit of vaseline inside the mold to help make sure the soap pops out easier at the end. Molds that they sell to make chocolate work great too.
Next we will heat up our soap. Use a sharp knife to cut the soap into smaller pieces and then put into a measuring cup and heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes until the soap is melted. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't start foaming up and spill over (not that that's happened to me...)
While that's heating, we'll set up our color and scent. This time for color I used a sample pack from Bramble Berry that I've had for years. It comes in tiny squares that you can grate a little off and it melts once you pour the hot soap in...but I can't find that they sell it anymore. I've used liquid drops in the past too, and honestly, it's easier. Just put in a few drops, and you can mix different colors together too. They also sell colored powders that are cosmetic and food grade safe. I wouldn't use food coloring though, just in case it stains your skin. You can mix it all together or use a craft stick or toothpick to swirl it around so the soap ends up 2 different colors. Pretty cool! This really only works with white soap though, not clear glycerine.
For your scent, if the bottle has a small opening, very gently tip it over to put just 2 or 3 drops in your soap. If not, use an eyedropper/pipette to put it in. A little goes a long way; you don't want the scent to be really overwhelming. If you have multiple scents, try out some combinations to see what smells good! That would be a fun experiment for the kids to see how the final result smells.
Once your soap is melted, pour it into the mold, almost to the top but not quite, because we don't want any to spill over. Again, I recommend that an adult or teen does this for safety. Use a craft stick or toothpick to mix it all together, making sure your scent and color is mixed in how you want and evenly distributed. In some of the soaps we did, we also added in sea salt at the end for exfoliation.
Now we are going to pop our mold into the freezer for it to set. There is no standard amount of time, but I would say check on it after 15-20 minutes. It really just depends on how big your mold was to begin with. The bigger the soap, the longer it will take to set.
Once it seems solid, pop out of the mold and you have just made your own bar of soap! Kids always seem to get a big kick out of this project, just because it is such a different kind of activity. There are lots of kits out there that have all the ingredients you need, but feel free to branch out on your own and try it with the ingredients that appeal to you. Happy soap making!