You can quickly and easily make a set of fun and cute or elegant glycerin soaps. I am a chemistry teacher so I make them for my students to use to wash their hands after labs. Since I am using them in school I don't add any fragrance but I will explain how and when you can do that.
The equipment you need for the basic recipe includes:
a microwave safe dish (I prefer glass for this)
A hot pad for handling the hot dish
a block of glycerin soap (you can get this at your local craft store or big box store)
Essential oils if you want scented soap (a little goes a long way)
A mold for the soap
The sky is the limit for your creative ideas. I have basic directions first, then several pages of different theme soaps to give you some ideas. Try your hand at soap making, it's good clean fun!
Step 1: Preparing the Soap Mix
Preparing the mix is very easy if you are making glycerin soap. Simply cut the block of glycerin into pieces that will fit into your microwave save container, then melt it in the microwave until the entire batch has melted.
Be sure to stir occasionally with a table knife or chopstick to see if there are any hidden lumps in the mix. Be very careful though as getting scalding hot melted soap on your hand is really quite painful. If you get some on your hand, run your hand under cold running water to cool it quickly and then peel the spilled soap off your hand.
If you are going to add fragrance and/or color, do this after you have finished heating the soap in the microwave.
A little fragrance goes a LONG way! Add tiny droplets at a time and do a test sniff before adding more. The first time I made soap I had to dilute it about 20 times until it was not too pungent to have in the same room. Coloring the soap is a little more forgiving, but still add slowly at first and stir thoroughly before adding additional. There are different color bases available in glycerin soap and this will make a big difference in the amount of coloring you use. Some of my example soaps are made with clear and some with white.
Step 2: Loading the Molds and Unmolding the Soap
This is the fun step, you have added your coloring and scent if you choose and the mix is completely melting. You need to work fairly quickly as the soap mixture will cool in just a few minutes.
I prefer silicon molds for soap because they come in lots of fun shapes and they are very flexible and super easy to unmold. You can also use the stiff clear plastic molds sold for making chocolates and other candy. If you use the stiffer molds, make sure to spray the mold completely with oil before pouring in your molten soap.
If you are using silicon molds, just pour in the soap. Make sure to pour it all the way to the top.
For some variations, you can fill a mold halfway with one color of soap wait a few minutes until the first soap solidifies a bit, then pour a second color on top.
To unmold the soap, wait until the soap has cooled completely, then carefully pull the edge away from the soap and push on the top of the mold to pop out your piece of soap. If needed you can trim the edges slightly to neaten the edges.
Step 3: Soap for Children
There are tons of molds out there, one example of making cleaning fun for kids is to hide a toy inside the soap. You can suspend glitter, or...
a small plastic frog hidden in a brain shaped soap! The brain mold is a fun shape but it also makes a fairly substantial sized piece of soap.
To include the toy, when the soap is freshly poured, lower the toy into the soap. One of my frogs disappeared completely so it will be a surprise, and if you look closely you can see the feet of the second frog just sticking out of the bottom of the soap.
Step 4: Soap for Budding Scientists
As a chemistry teacher, I have soap always available for students to wash their hands after lab. Here are a few examples of the fun shapes I provide for the students!
The teeth are one of the favorites.
Step 5: Elegant Soap
To make soap for a more elegant gift, there are additional embellishments you can make such as imprinting the top of the mold with a stamp.
To do this, fill the mold as before but while the soap is still hot, push the embellishment onto the top. This type of imprint tends to be more impressive on a darkly colored soap base.
Once the soap cools completely just peel off the embellishing mold.
Step 6: What to Do With the Oops Batches of Soap?
The great thing about glycerin soap molding is if it looks bad, re-melt it and re-pour it!
I attempted to make a soap model of the leaning tower of Pisa. It was theoretically a great idea, but that was a huge block of soap and I couldn't quite get the three pieces to fit together properly.
What to do? Melt and pour of course!
Now the soap is in a much more useful form.