Soap! DIY Do’s and Don’ts

24 09 2015


Last year making soap became one of my new hobbies. I wrote about the experience here. I got really into it during the holidays, because it makes great presents and is pretty fun to do! My DIY journey culminated in making said soap-presents, particularly citrus ones:


Please excuse the messy work area; I had a lot going on. The citrus soap taught me a lot about what to do and not to do. Some examples:

DO: make entire soap bars of 1 type (e.g. orange translucent or yellow opaque) and then cut them up into shapes that you then put back into a mold and combine with another type for a more interesting look.

DON’T: If you’re adding opaque (like a goat’s milk soap base) over translucent pieces (like a glycerin base), don’t just lay the translucent pieces down then pour in the opaque over it – the liquid will slide under the pieces and block some of them from sight and/or ruin your design. You can see where I made that mistake on the orange/yellow/white piece below. I could remove some of the overlap with a knife, but not all.


DO: Instead, pour 1st a thin clear layer of translucent base into the mold, and stick your shape pieces in that. It will hold them into place and also, once solid/mostly cooled, will serve as a protective layer that your opaque melted soap can’t leak under, so it preserves your design.


Horrible photo quality, I know. But how cool is that?


By far, the easiest/nicest looking/most popular with recipients soap type was the goat’s milk base (white) with oatmeal – see above. I used a honey/almond scent that worked well with it.

DO: Add small textured items like oatmeal or ground coffee into some of your soap to make it an exfoliant. Coffee is actually pretty abrasive, so use smaller particles.

DON’T: Add fresh herbs/plant particles (e.g. flowers or petals) into your soap. They will eventually mold, going brown/black and sometimes fuzzy. Above, the purple soap is rosemary scented with little bits of rosemary flowers inside. HOWEVER – I figured out the mold thing from last time, so I made sure to use dried plants – in fact, I purchased these in a packet at a craft store. So I’m really surprised they still turned brown. Maybe it’s the heat? Either way, be careful when you use plant ingredients, as even dry ones can turn gross. I’ve heard that you can use silk flowers from a looks standpoint, and of course those will be okay.


These are mini rose soaps… I’d purchased rose scent and where better to use it than in a rose mold? Problem was I  couldn’t find one, so I bought a rose dessert mold instead – you know, for melted candy and chocolate – knowing it may not translate but thinking it was worth a try.

DO: be careful if using molds not meant for soap. My experience with the rose dessert mold showed me the plastic would actually melt if the soap was too hot, so most of my roses were shapeless blobs. I got a few to work by letting the liquid soap sit and cool for a bit before pouring, but still most were thrown out.


I used saran wrap and simple computer labels with the scent written on them to package the soap in a basic way. Could be much better with pretty labels! But I figured as long as they’re in nice tissue paper and a pretty bag, no one would care.

Overall, it’s still pretty easy, and you can get pretty creative with it!





One response

24 09 2015

Thanks for the really informative post. Soap making is on my list of crafts to learn! I see lots of recipes but not any hints or tips so this has been really great!

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