In our grandmothers’ time, soap making was just as much a part of household chores as washing clothes or cleaning the house. In our days, we can choose from ready made soaps in the stores, but this shouldn’t mean we can’t try out the joy of making our own soap. Why? Because making soap gives us an opportunity to reuse some household waste, and the procedure can be quite a lot of fun.
I’ve never liked to throw out something that has become superfluous, for example, small pieces of soap. With two small children and a husband, our trash-bound soap production started turning into an alarming amount. According to my calculations, each year we threw out slippery, impossible-to-grab soap ends that amounted to about six or seven entire bars of soap. I simply had to do something about this.
To cook or to steam?
There are several different ways to use up leftover pieces of soap. We can melt them into one block over steam, but the result is not very attractive. The final product will be much nicer if we grate the soap pieces, and then melt them in hot water or in a microwave oven. After that, we can add some essential oils, color and decoration, and pour the mass into molds.
After the soap ends have been grated on a cheese grater, the gratings need to be diluted in water or some herbal infusion, for which we can use lavender, chamomile, lemon grass, or rose. A few drops of essential oil can also be added to the infusion; however, we need to be aware that oil will make the soap stickier.
The soap needs to be melted in a pan over low heat, and then poured into molds. We need to use some olive oil on the interior of the forms to make sure that the soap will slide out easily. We can sprinkle some small pieces of lavender flower at the bottom of the molds. After overnight cooling, the soap bars can be removed from the molds and allowed to dry for two days. It helps if we turn them over once a day.
Soap can be decorated with orange peel, or we can add graduated colors
These are some ideas to create fragrant, cheerful-looking soap bars with not too much work. There are some more ways to make our soaps prettier and shapelier. For example, if we make a larger amount, we can use an empty milk carton with one end cut off. The result will be a large bar we can cut pieces off gradually. We can also use classic soap holders, sand shapers, egg holders, cookie cutters, or plastic pipes cut in half.
Finally, soap can be decorated with pressed-in patterns, for example by putting a plastic figurine at the bottom of the molds – children will like that very much. We can also use various colors of rose petals or slices of orange to place at the bottom of molds. We can also make colorful soap; for example, by pouring clear white soap at the bottom of the mold, then a second layer that has been colored with some herbal infusion is poured over the hardened first layer. If we add some glycerin to the soap, the result will be a transparent soap. The more glycerin we add, the more transparent the soap will become, and tiny chunks of opaque soap or other small objects will show through nicely.