Is Melt and Pour Soap Handmade or Handcrafted?

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2015-2016

oatmeal cream & honey rebatch soap
Oatmeal, Cream & Honey Soap

I’ve heard and read the argument that any soap that’s made from scratch using oils, liquids and lye is handmade soap. I agree.

There’s the other side of the debate where soapers think that melt and pour soap isn’t handmade. I agree.

Some claim that it’s not handcrafted. I disagree.

I appreciate what made from scratch soap entails. Whether made for personal use or sold online or at crafts fairs, homemade soap is true soap. Those who are new to it may make some mistakes. Fragrances and colors morph, they’ll encounter science-fair worthy lye volcanoes, and they might inadvertently discover DOS [dreaded orange spots] that can appear days or even weeks later. Handmade soap can have a high learning curve for some people. That’s why melt and pour soap crafting is more appealing as crafters don’t have to work with lye and it’s generally considered easier. That may or may not be true as some melt and pour soap crafting techniques are more difficult to master, especially swirling and layering. Yes, even melt and pour soap crafting can be quite time consuming.

Melt and pour soap crafting is a legitimate craft. It’s not just slicing up soap, popping it into the microwave, and getting a perfect bar of soap each time. There are color and fragrance considerations. What, if any, skin-loving additives will you put in your batch? What type of mold will you use? How will you wrap and label your soap?

Nor is it buying a log of soap, cutting it up into a few bars, and wrapping and labeling them. 1. That would be an unscented and uncolored bar of soap. 2. It wouldn’t be handmade or handcrafted — it would be handcut!

Genuine melt and pour soap crafters use the best type of soap base available as they’ve learned what ingredients to look for – and what ingredients to avoid. As I’ve been hand crafting melt and pour soap since 1998, I’ve seen the two standard types of soap base [transparent and opaque] multiply into dozens of different bases such as: shea butter, honey, goat’s milk, avocado oil, yogurt, carrot oil, mango butter, SLS free, etc. I’ve also seen some highly talented crafters out there who make soap in a wide variety of colors and shapes. Handcrafting melt and pour soap has so many wonderful possibilities. Just go to Pinterest and type in the term “M&P” or “melt and pour soap”. You’ll be amazed – and inspired!

Let’s get visual. Here’s a photo of two different types of soap base, transparent and Castile. [Click to enlarge images]. 

soap base
blocks of soap base

A crafter will see this soap base as the raw material. How does it go from nicely wrapped blocks of soap to much smaller and more colorful [and fragrant] bars of soap?

There are several steps from slicing the soap base, melting it, adding colorant and fragrance and pouring the correct amount into a special soap mold.

charcoal cat activated coconut charcoal made by lisa maliga
Black Cat Soap

Here’s the end result. 

See how a raw base can be handcrafted into a dramatically colored and scented bar of soap?

To learn more about making this recipe and other soap crafting information, check out my eBook Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes

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2 thoughts on “Is Melt and Pour Soap Handmade or Handcrafted?

  1. Melt and Pour soaps do take talent and creativity to make a bar that stands out. The only thing that really gets under my skin about some melt and pour soapers is their claim (when selling next to a natural soaper) that their soap has no lye. While technically correct, the assumption that handmade soaps have lye in them is false. However, that just gives me the opportunity to educate both the soap maker and a potential customer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. No lye to add for the soap crafter as the lye has already been added for them! I wish people were upfront about it and always had correct labels.

      You’re doing the right thing by educating people–keep up the good work!
      Happy Soaping!🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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