The wonder of melt and pour soap is its versatility and customization. One can prepare a bar with the exact color, fragrance, and cleansing properties desired – without ever having to alchemize lye and fat into soap.
While the possibilities of melt and pour soap may seem endless, a little background on the customization options can help you develop the soap that’s perfect for you!
Clear, white, pastel, or richly colored soaps can all be created! Novice soap makers will want to stick with solid color choices but it is possible to create both layered and swirled soaps. For a clear or white soap, there are soap bases available which require no pigments.
How to Mix Pigments
If colorant is desired, pigments can be mixed to reach to desired color. For each pound of melted soap base, mix 1/8 teaspoon of pigment powder with just enough glycerin to create a smooth liquid consistency. Remember, less is more when mixing pigments. If you use too much pigment it can run and stain surfaces.
When to Add Pigments
If you learn anything about melt and pour soap, we hope that you takeaway that timing and temperature are everything! And it's no different when it comes to adding pigment.
Once you've melted your soap base and created your pigment mixture, add it when the soap base cools to about 120 degrees. This helps to increase the viscosity, preventing pigments from running.
Pigment Color Guidelines
Adding half of this mixture to the soap base will result in something akin to a pastel shade. Adding all of the pigment-glycerin mixture will create a deeper, darker shade. Keep in mind that color is specific to the lighting of the room and person viewing it, so flexibility is key if a certain amount is not working with a specific recipe.
More Color Options
Food coloring can also be added to the melted soap base in one drop increments until the desired color is achieved.
Adding natural fragrance through essential oils and botanicals is one of the most wonderful aspects of melt and pour soap. These fragrances not only smell delightful on the skin, but they also have their own unique beneficial qualities.
Essential oils are one of the easiest fragrance add-ins. Gentle essential oils can be used as desired. These can include floral oils such as lavender and geranium or citrus oils such as grapefruit and lemon. Hotter essential oils such as cinnamon, clove, tea tree, and others should be used with caution or in combination with other, gentler oils.
Adding the essential oils just before pouring the soap into the mold helps give the fragrance its best staying power. Essential oils can dissipate with heat and over time, so take this into consideration when adding your oils.
Start with 20 drops of essential oil and work your way up, depending on the strength of the scent once mixed into the melted soap.
Botanicals and Other Mix-Ins
Botanical oils are easily mixed into the melted soap base. For each pound of soap base, mix 1-2 tablespoons of botanical oils into the melted soap and then pour into molds. Dried herbs and flowers on the other hand do not distribute as evenly throughout the bars as they cool.
For that reason, you will need to decide whether you’d like the botanicals embedded on the surface of the soap bar or evenly distributed throughout.
To add leaves or petals to one side of the soap, sprinkle these additives over the top of the soap bar or directly into the bottom of the soap mold.
If even distribution is desired, multiple pours may be required. To do so, fill ¼ of the mold with the soap and additive and allow to cool until somewhat set. Repeat with remaining layers, spritzing with alcohol as needed to prevent bubbles from forming. This will create layers of even distribution.