I was looking for activities to do over the weekend when I saw a post about a workshop on making soap. At around Php 5,000 (roughly USD 108), I was hesitant on joining since I also saw that it involved the use of lye. I read somewhere that lye does not have a pleasant smell so it was a big no for me because it might trigger an asthma attack for me.
So I researched about how to make soap without having to deal with lye and I found tons of articles that led me to discovering melt and pour soap bases. These are basically blocks of pre-made soap that you melt to mix in other ingredients you would like in your soap.
I found instructions on how to make lavender and rosemary soap from Mother Earth Living (click link for the recipe) and decided to give it a try. I have loved the scent of lavender ever since I was a kid and the fondness for rosemary scent was discovered just a few years ago. I wondered how they would smell together since I was more used to lavender being mixed with peppermint. I only used half of everything specified in the recipe.
The first challenge was to find where I could buy my raw materials. Fortunately, online shopping made things easier for me. Here’s a list of the stuff I was able get over Shopee:
Shop Name: PurpleButterflyCrafts
Melt and Pour Glycerin White Soap Base 1kg – Php 275 (I used only 1/3 of the block).
Lavender Essential Oil 15ml – Php 315
Rosemary Essential Oil 15ml – Php 270
Purple dye 10g – Php 90
Shop Name: Tiny Buddha
Organic dried lavender flowers 10g – Php 55
First, I made my infusion of lavender flowers alone. It slipped my mind that we had dried rosemary leaves in the house already, ha-ha. Too much excitement on my part. My bad.
Please be careful in handling the steaming hot water to avoid any injuries. The flowers need to steep for around ten minutes so it is best to do this first since the rest of the steps can be done in no time. It will also give off a lavender scent in the air while you work on the base.
Next, I chopped 1/3 of my soap base into small cubes with a large kitchen knife. The base itself was not that hard (chocolate blocks are much harder) so I did not have to exert so much effort.
I placed the chopped up base in a microwave safe glass measuring cup that I got from the housewares section of the department store at Php 429.75. I opted to use glass because I am not sure how plastic would react with essential oils that will be mixed in later.
I melted the base in the microwave, mixing every thirty seconds before putting it back to be heated again. It did not take very long for the base to melt and it did not splatter all over my microwave despite not having any sort of lid on.
I do not recommend trying to smell it yet at this point. I did and it was not pleasant at all.
I added 1/8 cup of my infusion to the melted soap base then proceeded to adding the essentials oils. The recipe called for more lavender than rosemary because the latter has a stronger scent.
When working with essential oils, one must be aware of the materials of the tools to be used because of varied reactions to the oils. Every tool I bought for soap making was intended solely for that purpose and will never be used for food preparation.
After they have all been mixed, I prepared my silicone molds. I was hoping to get cute trays of molds from the baking tools section but all three places I went to ran out of them. I could not wait anymore to order from Shopee again because shipping takes some time. I had to make do with the individual cupcake molds (Php 149.75 for 6 pieces) because I am stubborn and could not be prevented from making soap today (I shopped for the tools yesterday). Again, these molds will never ever go into the oven. They are just for making soap.
I first poured the white base around 3/4 the size I wanted them. I then added purple powder coloring to the remaining base. I learned too late that I was supposed to dissolve it in oil so that the color will be consistent all throughout. Oh well. Lessons learned.
It is best to add coloring to base a little at a time because that coloring powder I got was potent. Really, truly potent! Thankfully, the color did mix into the soap mixture. I poured them over the white base and used a toothpick to swirl the purple color around. Try not to mix too much or you’ll end up mixing the two colors completely and lose the swirls.
After pouring all the soap mixture, I sprayed the tops with alcohol because I watched some YouTube videos on DIY soap where I learned that this will help prevent formation of air bubbles on top.
The next part was to wait. At around 45 minutes, I could feel the tops harden already. I took out the molds from the pan that has already absorbed so much heat from the mixture so that the soaps will cool down much more quickly since the bottom half are still liquid at this point.
After another 45 minutes, the soaps were completely hard! The best part about silicone molds is the ease of taking out whatever you put in. So, I started popping the soaps from the molds, excited to see how the rest of the soap looked like. Tada!!!
I tried one of them right away and discovered that they lather up really well but the lather has a purple tinge to it because of the dye. Not to worry, it did not stain my hand and rinsed off very easily. However, people with sensitive skin are advised do a patch test first before lathering themselves with the soap. This is to check for any possible allergic reaction to the ingredients.
The site where I got the recipe from classified this soap under soaps for blemishes. The soap can be drying (probably to dry out zits), so moisturize after use. The soap has a lovely scent to it though I could smell more of the rosemary than the lavender.
Since this project can pass as a success, I cannot wait to try to make other kinds of soaps. I will also try to find liquid dye because powder dye was a little too tricky for my comfort. I wonder what scents are great to combine and what other ingredients can I add to the soap base. No matter, I am sure that my next step will be to buy silicone molds intended for soaps. Luckily, Shopee has a lot of them.