By Lisa Maliga
It started around the time I was learning to read, I guess. In the grocery store with my mom, I noticed all the cans and boxes had words on them. I didn’t know what ‘ingredients’ meant so mom pulled the loaf of bread off the shelf and told me it contained flour, salt, sugar, etc. I pointed to a can and she looked at the label and read the list of ingredients. I was impressed that the secrets were being revealed and asked, “So we can make them ourselves?” She explained it was the law. It only listed what was inside the can, not how much or how to make it. The food manufacturers weren’t giving recipes to the consumer, but I didn’t listen. At the age of six, I knew one thing – I could make whatever I wanted.
After using some expensive soap back in early 1997, I decided to make my own. I surfed the internet and discovered that the soap base was called melt and pour glycerin. Being a soap lover but a total dummy, I searched for ways in which to buy and make it. I found a well-illustrated site. Gorgeous color close-ups of uniquely shaped soap sculptures were on display. Imagine a bright red apple, or a deep violet flower – soap in disguise! Inspired, I ordered a soapmaking kit that contained translucent glycerin and opaque [white] melt & pour soap in blocks. There were also color nuggets and a few different scents. A single page containing instructions was my only guide.
Not having a microwave oven, I used a double boiler consisting of two cooking vats and watched the translucent chunks melt into a pool of liquid soap. I added a bit of the orange color nugget, the required amount of scent, some dried calendula [marigold] flowers I had, and poured it into a square plastic food storage container. I was so anxious I stood there and watched it dry! I used a toothpick to pop the excess bubbles and to prevent the petals from floating to the surface. For a long time I waited, not putting it in the freezer, just allowing it to harden at room temperature. When it finally did, I eagerly removed it from the mold and looked at the suspended petals ‘frozen’ like a still life in the canvas of clear glycerin soap. I was hooked on the art and craft of soap making!
Top Soap Photo — Roobios Red Bush Tea Soap
If you’d like to learn how to make your own soap, please check out this eBook, The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting
Soap shown to the right is Cabernet Wine Soap –– yes, it’s made with real Cabernet wine.