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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.