The Gift of Soap – A Dollar Store Hack

I’m declaring the unofficial holiday gift of 2020 as soap. This is an easy gift that kids can help make and the clean-up is easy because it’s soap! All you need is a few bars of soap and a pot to boil it in. It is a great project for kids as they can choose the scent, color, shape, and additives to customize their own gift – one they will be proud to give AND explain how they made it!

There are a lot of ways to package your soap for gift giving. I have a lot of yarn, so I chose that, but you could get ribbon, or cardboard boxes, wrap them in paper, or put them in wax paper bags. The packaging isn’t as important as the recipient knowing their gift was lovingly handmade.
Kids love to do crafts, and it’s even better when they can give their crafts as gifts. Weighing the grated soap and measuring water can be a lesson in math.

The Dollar Store has a variety of soaps, which can also be an adventure for kids – they can each choose 4 bars of soap, for example. The inventory of soaps includes single bars and packages of 2-3 for $1. Some soaps have a higher weight in ounces than others (these are the math lessons I was hinting to before, wink.) There are different scents and colors; some are even vegan, sulfate and paraben free. There is a large selection.

If you have a kitchen scale, you can have the kids compare the number of ounces of the bar to grated soap. You may also add up the total number of ounces in the bars you use in the recipe. You may also experiment with melting temperatures and mixing colors or adding food coloring to see color changes.

The fun part is mixing the different colors and scents of the soaps. The dollar store also offers oils and other things that can be added to the soap, such as food coloring. I like to add a little cornmeal to my melted soap for a gentle exfoliant. Some other additives could be oatmeal, hand cream, coconut oil, Vitamin E and mineral oil – all usually available at the Dollar Store.

There are a variety of soap bars and oil additives to customize your soap.

One thing to consider is what shape you would like to make your finished soap. The texture of the soap, when it is hot, is similar to mashed potato and you will want to keep this in mind when choosing your vessel. It does NOT POUR! It must be SPREAD like frosting. I have used copper jello molds, muffin tins, yogurt containers and candy molds, just to name a few. It will need to be pounded on a surface to release air from the soap, so make sure it isn’t something breakable.

The choices for molding the soap are endless. Just make sure the top is at least a wide as the bottom and that it isn’t too big (it takes too long to set up).

The most time consuming part of making reprocessed soap is grating bars of soap you want to use. I typically use 4-5 bars in a batch, but how big a batch you want to make is up to you. I recommend grating different color soaps into different containers to keep them separated and experiment with mixing colors and textures. BTW- graters are available at the Dollar Store as well, so you won’t need to ruin your own. Grating the soap is probably not the best contribution of a child less than 12 years old, without parent supervision. You may want to grate your soap bars in advance for the younger crowd(or most of them, that way they get a try!). Their short attention spans will thank you.

Once soap is grated, it is time to boil it. This is where measurements don’t matter… barely cover the soap with water and boil until it resembles mashed potato. You will need to stir it as it boils, and it will change texture multiple times before breaking into a creamy paste that is ready for your additives and molding. Be prepared! It takes longer to get to the potato stage than you might be anticipating. Be patient.

When the soap has cooked down, remove from the heat and stir to let cool slightly. This is the time to add any extra oils or colorings – mix in well. Other additives include cornmeal or oatmeal, which are beneficial to the skin. To make a funky soap, add chopped up pieces of soap, or grated soap before molding. Different batches of soap can be colored and layered for a fun effect.

This recipe was 3 bars of Palmolive and one bar of charcoal soap. The charcoal soap was grated and stirred into the melted Palmolive after slight cooling.
Affectionately named “Monster Teeth,” this soap was whipped with hand mixer and the melted, whipped soap was blended with chopped Shea Butter Bars.
Rainbow soap was made by layering cooked soap and pounding the container firmly between layers to release air bubbles.. Each layer can be a different scent, or contain different additives.

Once the soap has been set up in its mold and it’s cool, it can be un-molded and cut. I recommend cutting the soap with 24 hours, as it will be easier – like butter. I also recommend cutting the soap into 1/2″ to 1″ slices for best drying. The soap is best when allowed to dry for six weeks or more; meaning right now is the perfect time to make this soap in preparation for gift-giving season.

It resembles Mint Chip Ice cream! I used a tall measuring cup to mold this soap (4 bars total plus oils and cornmeal). To unmold, the soap should be cold, but not yet hard. It is best to unmold and cut the soap within 24 hours.
Half to one inch slices of the soap will dry the best. Allow the soap to dry in the open air for at least six weeks before use. That means right now is the time to make soap with your friends and kids. I recommend having a “Zoom” party and everyone make a soap. Then, exchange the soaps with those in attendance. You could make a soap that looks like a cookie and pretend it’s a cookie exchange!
DIY Mint Chip and Rainbow Soap. Basic Instructions for making reprocessed soap at home for gift-giving.

Published by lessismorelifestyle

Do you like saving money and learning new skills? Less is More Lifestyle focuses on crafting projects and recipes that save money!

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