Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Soaps

Fancy, scented soaps make a great hostest gift, co-worker gift, party favor, or stocking stuffer. Sew some "amazing three seam bags" to go with them and you have a quick and elegant Christmas gift.
When you use melt and pour soap, this becomes one of the simplest crafts ever: it would be a great one to do with an older child who can be trusted with hot things.
It is so simple, in fact, that I almost hesitate to create a tutorial, but I will focus on tips and money saving ideas.

* 2 lb block of melt-and-pour soap.
You can get this a Jo-Ann's or Michael's. Regular price is about $10, but both of these fine stores release 40% coupons about twice a month, and since the product is nearly never on sale this is a great use for your discount.
My favorite variety is the Avacado glycerine from "Life of the Party," and I've also enjoyed the Olive Oil glycerine.
Tip: If you plan to put anything in your soap other than scent, stear clear of the 10 lb brick of "Moisturizing Clear:" All your additives go to the bottom. Stick with one that says "suspension formula."
* Soap Scent - I love the Eucalyptus Mint or Peppermint for Christmas soaps
* Additives, if desired. I like to use finely ground oatmeal (use your coffee grinder or "magic bullet"), cornmeal, or peppermint leaves (buy some cheap peppermint tea and cut open the bags!).

* Butter knife - use this rather than a spoon to avoid waste.
* Pyrex 1 C container. Seriously, use a good pyrex measuring cup here, unless you want to burn yourself
* Molds: I used silicone cupcake trays. These are perfect for soap because they release so easily. Rigid molds will give you nothing but trouble. The plastic ones they sell for the purpose at the craft store are fine, but not as easy as silicone. (Hint: Check to Dollar Tree or dollar bins at Target. I got my Snowman mold last year for $2.50 at Target. I waited for a sale at Jo Ann's to get my Snowflake mold for about $7.50)

1. For three bars of soap (assuming you are using a cupcake mold similar to the ones shown), use the butter knife to cut 6 blocks of soap. Place in the pyrex measuring cup. (More than 6 won't fit easily in your 1 C container)

2. Microwave for 1 minute.
3. Remove from microwave and stir with the knife, breaking up any large chunks if possible.
4. Microwave about 15 seconds more, watching carefully.

5. Add your scent. A rule of thumb is about 2 drops per soap block, or 12 drops for your whole batch.

6. If desired, add about a tablespoon of finely ground oatmeal or a teaspoon (1/2 a tea bag) of peppermint leaves. Stir well with the knife.
7. Carefully pour into your molds, filling each about 2/3 full.

8. Wait at Least an hour before attempting to release - the label on the soap container suggests 20 to 40 minutes, but this isn't really long enough. Resist the urge to refrigerate as it can make the soap "sweat."
9. Wrap in a scrap of Glad Press-n-Seal for ease, or regular plastic wrap if you have more patience than I. Place in your "Three Seam Bag" and you're done!

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