NtB is in the trenches, and the trenches are filled with soap

(Preamble: I’m happy to announce that as of today, The Beard and I have been married for one whole year! He reads this at work, so here’s me saying, “I love ya, loverboy!”)

In case you’ve ever wondered whether I actually read and play with and make all of the books, stuff, and recipes I’ve reviewed here, let me just say I don’t mess around. Yesterday, in my never-ending quest to acquaint myself with all things bridal, I made soap.

Let me rephrase that…I didn’t start with lye and fat and whatever other nasty things are in soap, but I did melt down blocks of colorless unscented soap, mix up different colored batches, add a fragrance, and pour it into molds. So to address any lingering doubts, when companies are nice enough to send me free swag, I test run it, whatever IT is.

In this case, it was a soap-making kit from Bramble Berry, makers of a ton of DIY soap and candle supplies. The soap kit was presented to me as a potential bridal shower or wedding favor–the catch being that you have to have the patience to work with a medium that needs to sit around and dry for hours before you can unmold it.

Uh, forget something?

The directions call for a microwave…something we don’t have. So I just stuck the whole works into a pan and popped it into the oven at about 275. This worked like a charm after I remembered to cut the soap base into chunks. When I did that, it actually melted!

That done, I ladled out the hot soap into various heat safe dishes, and added the sparkly mica bits and fragrance. Note to other soap makers: They provide you with A LOT of fragrance–don’t use it all unless you’re olfactorily challenged. Seriously.

The kit comes with pink dye so you can make clear soaps, pink soaps, and crossover soaps featuring a bit of both. I wanted more colors, so I decided to improvise with standard baker’s food colorings. I don’t recommend you do the same because I’m not yet sure the resultant soaps won’t turn you blue or green. Me? I’m adventurous.

Here’s some of the soap slurry:


This is where I encountered a problem. The kit only comes with two molds, and each mold makes five soaps. I’m pretty sure that one block of soap base will fill up the two molds, and the kit comes with four blocks. Soap bars need to sit in the molds for four whole hours before you can pop ’em out.

If you’re impatient like me, you will want to order extra molds…maybe in the form of different botanicals, seashells, animals, or something else that gels with your theme.

Notice the boring soap rounds?

Personally, I overcame the mold/soap ratio problem by using cups and sauce dishes. That’s why, in addition to soap in pretty shapes, I have soap in rounds and soap that looks all wrinkly because I set it in tin foil.

The project pros:

  • It’s fun
  • You’re creating a favor that many (if not most) of your guests will actually use
  • The end result is pretty cute as soaps go, especially when all wrapped up with ribbon
  • You get a lot of favors for very little cash

The project cons:

  • The melted soap hardens really quickly, so you need to work fast or have a lot of help
  • Re-melting the scent-infused soap made my kitchen rather too fragrant
  • You’re going to need more molds
  • Whoa, what a mess

Soaking is recommended

Did I mention the mess? If you happen to have some heat safe disposable dishware, I’d suggest using that. Cleanup meant soaking all of the dishes and spoons and cups I’d used in the bathtub for a rather long time. Luckily, it was just soap, so everything was very clean afterward.

As for the end result, compare the Bramble Berry examples:


With my soaps:

I think I did fairly well!

THE VERDICT: I’ve never poured soap before, but it was definitely easy. All told, I probably spent about two hours on the whole project. At $31.55 (plus the cost of a little organza for wrapping) for forty favors, the price is right. You could, however, buy the bits individually to customize your soap. There’s hemp soap and goatsmilk soap and all manner of nice adds. In conclusion, I could see this being a fun weekend DIY fest for a bride and her ‘maids.

I give it a solid thumbs up.

16 Responses to “NtB is in the trenches, and the trenches are filled with soap”

  1. Twistie says:

    Actually, that sounds like a lot of fun, NtB. Now I feel myself being irresistably drawn to go visit the site and make soaps for everyone on my Christmas gift list…and I can think of a couple friends with birthdays coming up….

    Oh dear. You may have just created a monster. DIY is in my blood.

    (backs away slowly)

    Don’t have time to make soap today. Have layer cake to make today.

    But I have no doubt I’ll be trying out the soap thing soon.


  2. Emily says:

    Happy Anniversary!

  3. Audrey says:

    Happy Anniversary!!

    I made soap with a friend once in college. We put things in the soap. It was smelly (I’m not a perfume person). I don’t think I ever actually used my soap. Now hemp soap and goats milk soap, those I’d love to try my hand at!!

  4. Thanks Twistie, Emily, and Audrey!

  5. Dianasaur says:

    Ooh, that looks really fun. I’ve made bath salts as gifts before, I enjoyed that. It was less messy though. Happy Anniversary!

  6. Anusha says:

    CONGRATULATIONS on your first anniversary, NtB!

  7. Leah says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    Soap is my go-to Holiday gift when I’m poor. You can buy base at any craft shop (like Michael’s). I used Stonyfield Yogurt cups for round soaps and very small Ziploc containers for bar. I’ve stopped scenting my soaps with the perfume they give you because many people in my family are sensitive to that. I generally use things in my pantry to make the soap special – oatmeal and clove is a popular one, or clove and a few drops of orange extract. Vanilla extract and cinnamon in the goat based soap is great. For kids I color the clear soaps (DO use the dyes they give you – generally hypo-allergenic and don’t stain skin or clothing) and I put little figures in them, like ninjas and toy soldiers for little boys, fairies and princesses (or lady nights) for the girls, and duckies and bears for babies or non-gender specific. Just little trinkets from the party shop that people put in goodie bags.

    Having a microwave makes this WAY esier. I melt the soap in a 2c liquid measuring cup with a pour spout. I mix things right in the molds (can’t do layering like that – but I’m too lazy to clean up a million dishes). I also pop the molds in the freezer. You have to trim the bottom a little bit to make it flat, but it looks nice still.

  8. La BellaDonna says:

    A very Happy Anniversary, NtB and The Beard! I would add that you could probably try experimenting with your own favorite scent, too – especially if it’s NOT available as soap! This might make a nice personalized gift for friends.

    And Today’s Soap PSA:
    I had a friend who’d been doing a lot of cooking, which entailed pouring grease down the drain of her sink. It started to get blocked up, so she poured lye into the sink to unblock it, since she was going to be entertaining.

    Then she called the plumber, who took out the piece of pipe that had a beautifully pure block of snow-white soap in it, courtesy of the fat and the lye. And she knew better! She does re-enacting! We all learn in grammar school that fat plus lye equals soap! Especially in the entrails of your sink, apparently.

  9. Thanks Anusha, Leah, and La BellaDonna!

    Imagine what the plumber must have thought was going on…

  10. T. Beard says:

    as always, a little late to the party: happy anniversary, darlin!

  11. Thanks, sweets! Now wave to all the nice people 😉

  12. Twistie says:

    (waves to The Beard)

    It’s nice to see you here!

  13. De says:

    Happy Anniversary (late) !

    My dear friend did soaps as the favors for another friend’s wedding – they were half circles that she dropped those little cheapy ‘wedding rings’ into. Unscented but typed in tulle and green ribbon, they were lovely! (I still have 2 of them that I use!!)

    I am thinking of doing soaps should the day come – a nice, consumable favor.

  14. scarlett says:

    I make and sell MP soap full-time. I would not recomend melting soap base in an oven – if you melt the base at too high a temperature, you’ll compromise the lather. I use a makeshift double boiler-large pyrex bowl over a pot of hot water.

    I would also recommend measuring your soap base chunks – 4 oz of soap base=one standard bar of soap.

    I would advise that you do a little research regarding colorants and additives before you attempt this project. Too much, especially additives, can cause severe skin reactions.

  15. Thanks for the advice, scarlett.

    Everything worked out just peachy for me. The ingredients in the kit come pre-measured — the base bars are 1 lb. each — but the molds do not make standard sized bars. The fragrance included in the kit is designed for soaps and lotions, but they don’t tell you how much to add. I could see someone adding the entire bottle and getting quite the nose-ful!

    As for my alternative coloring agent I used food-grade dye which is designed to be non-toxic, so I felt pretty safe there.