Sunday, September 27, 2009

Melt & Pour: The Possibilities are Endless!

I have been a crafter for as long as I can remember. As I grew up, I graduated from Play-Doh finger puppets to sand castles on the beach to hand-made clothes for my dolls. As a young teen I learned how to make friendship pins and bracelets and how to jazz up my own clothes. As an adult, I focused on jewelry making and computer crafts. What all this pursuits had in common was the ability to take a specific medium, and transform it to my exact vision (or, at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof.) So when I found melt and pour soap-making, it was almost inevitable that I should fall madly in love.

The medium of melt and pour soap is extremely versatile. To begin, you must select a soap base. You can choose from white or clear, or a base enriched with goat’s milk or honey or shea butter or coconut milk, or many other additives. You can add herbs or spices or seeds or butters to your base. Then, you can use a plain loaf mold, or find one shaped like a duck or a kitty or a cupcake. Next, you can choose from a rainbow of colorants in various formats (or you can choose to leave the soap its natural hue). Then, you can scent your base with fragrance or essential oils or a combination of the two, or, if you prefer, leave it unscented.

One of the best parts of melt and pour soap is that you can make soap in extremely small batches. Traditional soapers generally make batches starting at about 16 ounces, because of the precise nature of the chemical reaction required to produce the soap (saponification). Melt and pour soap has already been saponified. In order to prepare it for accepting your fragrance, color and other additives, all that is required is a few seconds in the microwave to melt it. I’ve made “batches” of soap as small as half an ounce! So, with melt and pour soap, you can literally make one bar at a time, if you’d like. This is handy if you want to make a small bar for testing purposes, or, if you’re making a customized soap for someone.

For example, I have a friend who has a medieval-themed bathroom in three shades of blue. Probably not surprisingly, she was having some difficulty finding soap to fit her theme, so she asked if I could make her some. I found a dragon candy mold, which I used to make two-toned blue dragon soaps, in the lavender scent she’d requested. With melt and pour soap, if you can imagine it, it can probably be made!

The melt and pour soap artists on etsy have taken this concept to the extreme. You can find soaps in the shapes of animals, vegetables and minerals. A soap that looks like a root beer float? Soapy cupcakes, cookies and candies? Soapy sushi? A soap shaped like a pizza? Just do an search on etsy and you’ll see what I mean. Even though I sometimes feel that I’ve seen everything you could possibly do with melt and pour, at least once a week I see something that makes me stop and go “WOW! How did they come up with that?”

To me, melt and pour soap gives me the opportunity to be extremely creative, while making a product that is, in the end, totally usable. If you’re thinking of trying melt and pour, I recommend that you go for it. Give your imagination free reign. Maybe you’ll be the next person to amaze me with your technique. At the very least, you won’t be buying soap from the grocery store anytime soon!


Soap Scent-sations said...

Well done! Melt n Pour really is a lot of fun!

Sandi and Kassy Ramirez said...

I love Melt N Pour soaping! My girls and I have fun learning new and fun things to create and also experminting with different soaps and brands is fun in itself. Like any kind of soaping Melt N Pour soap is very addicting and oh so fun!
Great article! Thanks