After writing and making the recipes for Kitchen Soap for Chefs: 4 Easy Melt & Pour Soap Recipes, I came up with yet another cool soap idea that I hadn’t published before. In fact, I used to sell it when I had my Everything Shea business, but it went by another name. I changed two of the ingredients, but it’s pretty similar and it’s now called Vanilla Bean soap. I have my almost year-long baking binge to thank for this recipe, too. So if you’re looking for a fun and easy soap recipe to make for the holidays or just because, here it is…
Vanilla Bean Melt & Pour Soap Recipe
Learn how easy it is to make this creamy melt and pour soap with natural vanilla beans. This type of soap is wonderful for all skin types and would make an excellent addition to any bath & body gift basket!
Activated charcoal is the type of coal you want to use any time of the year! Here’s an excerpt from my eBook, Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes.
Nope, it’s not found in your outdoor gardening section in lumps of coal that’s coated with lighter fluid. Charcoal is very porous and is known for purifying water. Activated charcoal has been used as an antidote for poisons. It’s often used in hospitals to help with drug overdoses. There are various types of activated charcoal that you can buy for only a few dollars per ounce. The main types are: activated bamboo charcoal, activated coconut shell charcoal that has a neutral pH, and activated hardwood or willow bark charcoal.
Activated charcoal from coconut shells is a natural body deodorizer that also has cleansing and exfoliating properties. As it’s highly absorbent, it may help draw dirt from the pores, so this is a handy soap for very active/athletic people or those who live in urban areas.
Storage Tips: Activated charcoal should be stored in a container [NOT a bag] with a securely closed lid. By keeping it airtight, charcoal will not attract pollutants. Well-stored charcoal has an indefinite shelf life.
Also, when opening the container of charcoal, do so slowly and carefully due to the fineness of this ingredient. If you open it too quickly, you might spill some. If so, clean the surface right away!
As you can see, the color is jet black yet the suds are nice and white. Using any type of clear melt and pour glycerin soap base is recommended if you want this dramatic color. Another advantage to this type of soap is that you don’t have to be concerned about a fragrance or essential oil changing the color.
In my eBook I include two  different recipes for soap that contains activated charcoal. Yes, I love the stuff!
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].
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.
Here’s the end result.
See how a raw base can be handcrafted into a dramatically colored and scented bar of soap?
This is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of my latest eBook, Organic and Sulfate Free Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap Crafting Recipes.
I used to buy my herbs, soap bases, molds and oils from suppliers in buildings rather than online. Nowadays, I order online because I make soap part time and don’t sell it. Over the years, I’ve learned what makes a good supplier — one that you will order from repeatedly.
It helps if the site is visually appealing, showing photos of their supplies. How well laid out is the site? Does it have a prominently placed search feature? Can you find the type of soap base you need? Are the soap base’s ingredients listed? What other products are available from fragrances to molds to packaging?
This is where you’ll want to shop around to compare where you can get the best value. Do they sell their soap by the pound, two-pound container, or only in larger quantities? Keep a list either on a computer document or on a pad of paper and write down the amounts that a given supplier charges. Do they have a sale page; a closeout section/discontinued products area? Perhaps they have a customer rewards program that will help if you plan to purchase a lot of soap. Do they offer coupons, discounts or free shipping? Is there an order minimum? By scrutinizing the site, you may end up saving money. If you’re a newbie to soap crafting, it’s practical to order the smallest sizes available so that you don’t end up with products that you never use or have to sell/give away.
Variety of Products:
Large suppliers like Brambleberry.com carry an array of products. This is the ultimate convenience in one-stop-shopping. If you’re just starting out and have to buy most of your soap bases, scents, molds, colorants, etc. you can also fill your shopping cart with way more than originally anticipated, so be careful.
Types of Payment:
Do they accept PayPal, major credit cards, eChecks, money orders, cashier’s checks, C.O.D. or other payment options? Can you snail mail them a check? Do they accept international orders? Do you need to register to make a purchase or can you bypass registration? Can you order online, via phone, fax, snail mail or email?
About the Company:
How long have they been in business? Are they online only or do they have a storefront? Do they provide free soap making/soap crafting resources? Does the owner or owners make soap and have an extensive background in soap/bath and body products crafting? Do they have a blog? If so, how frequently is it updated? Are they on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc? Do they offer discounts or coupons? Are there free video tutorials, and/or recipes? Do they sell eBooks and books?