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Candy cane swirl melt and pour

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins
Yields: approximately 500 g of soap or 4 bars of soap

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The consistency of melt and pour soap bases doesn’t allow for the same swirling techniques you can use in cold process soaps. Still, it is possible to get some really cool swirling effects using both white and clear melt and pour soap bases. The trick behind the swirling technique used in this soap is using both clear and white soap bases and pouring them at different temperatures. As the white and clear soaps cool, they will have a different consistencies, allowing for a swirling effect. The temperature difference is important, because is we were to pour both the white and clear soaps at the same temperature (= consistency), the clear and white soaps would just blend into each other and the result would be one solid pastel pink colour, instead of swirls.

The mold I’m using is the small square silicon mold from Pure Nature, which is ideal for melt and pour projects like this. It holds about 500 g, giving you 4 bars of soap.

Pure Nature also stocks several types of melt and pour soap bases. For this project I used the normal white base and clear base. If you wish to leave your soap unwrapped, I recommend using the low-sweat white base and low-sweat clear base.

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ONE: Cut up approximately 250 g of white melt and pour soap base into cubes and add it to a heat proof glass Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts until the soap has melted. Make sure you don’t bring the soap to boil.

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TWO: Add 1 teaspoon peppermint essential oil and give it a good stir.

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THREE: Pour a layer of about 1 cm of white soap into your soap mold.

FOUR: Cut up approximately 250 g of the clear melt and pour soap and add it to a separate heat proof glass Pyrex jug and again, heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts until melted.

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FIVE: Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint essential oil and 2-3 drops of red food colouring. Give the soap a good stir until you have an even colour throughout the soap.

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SIX: Pour about a third of the red soap into the mold from a height of about 20-30 cm, making sure you break through the surface of the white soap.

SEVEN: Using a spoon, give it a little swirl.

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EIGHT: Wait a few minutes, and then pour in some of the white soap and give it another quick swirl. Wait again for a few minutes. Keep repeating this, alternating between pouring red and white soap until you have used up all the soap.

If the soap should set in the jugs, heat them up briefly in the microwave to melt again.

There are no set rules for swirling melt and pour soap, so feel free to play around. Try pouring from different heights, or pouring different consistencies of soap, some a bit thicker and some more fluid. Swirl when the soap is a bit thicker, or don’t swirl at all and let the soap do the movement for you. You can even plop in a few unmelted blocks of soap.

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NINE: Once you’ve poured all the soap and you’re happy with the swirling, sprinkle some gold bio-glitter on the surface.

TEN: Let the soap cool down and harden completely before unmolding. I usually leave it overnight, and unmold the next morning. Cut the soap into 4 bars and wrap in glad wrap or place them in cello bags. The soaps contain a high amount of glycerin, which draws moisture to its surface, especially in a humid climate like we have in New Zealand. To prevent this, we wrap the soaps.

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Candy cane swirl melt and pour

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 250g white melt and pour soap base
  • 250g clear melt and pour soap base
  • 10 ml peppermint essential oil
  • red food colouring
  • gold bio-glitter
  • small square soap mold

Directions

  1. Cut 250 g of white melt and pour soap base into cubes and add it to a heat proof Pyrex jug and heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts or until melted.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint essential oil.
  3. Pour approximately a layer of 1 cm into the soap mold.
  4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the clear melt and pour soap base.
  5. Add 2-3 drops of red food colouring to the clear melt and pour soap base and stir until the colour has evenly dispersed throughout the soap.
  6. From a height of about 20-30 cm, pour about a third of the red soap into the mold, making sure you break through the surface of the white soap.
  7. Using a spoon, give the soap a swirl.
  8. Wait a few minutes, then pour some of the white soap into the soap mold. Give it another swirl, and wait for a few minutes. Keep repeating this, alternating between the red and white soap, until you have used up all the soap.
  9. Give the soap a final swirl.
  10. Sprinkle a little gold glitter over the surface.
  11. Leave the soap to cool down and harden completely (or overnight).
  12. The next day, carefully unmold the soap and cut into 4 bars.
  13. Wrap the soap into glad wrap or in cello bags.

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Holly Berry soap

Difficulty: Advanced
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1000 g soap or 10 bars

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Holly Berry fragrance from Candlescience is known for seizing, but the fragrance has such a lovely delicious Christmas scent, that I really wanted to give this a try and I wasn’t disappointed. This is probably my favourite Christmas soap!

I’ve rated this tutorial as ‘advanced’, but there are several ways you can make it easier for you:

  1. use a different fragrance that you known won’t accelerate or seize, for example Mistletoe from Candlescience
  2. leave out the mica lines
  3. make sure you soap at low temperatures (room temperature)
  4. have everything prepared
  5. and work fast! Very fast!

The mold I used for this soap is the silicon loaf mold  with wooden support box from Pure Nature, which holds approximately 1200 g of soap.

There is a preparation part, which you should do about a week before. A good tip is to do a preparation session for Christmas, where you make a batch of soap and use that to make all your embeds, cut outs, etc.

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

PREPARATION: You can either take the leftover soap in the pot from an earlier batch and wrap it in a little glad wrap so that it will cure but not harden. Or I used cut-offs from a soap, which I placed in a little plastic bag to keep soft. A couple of days later, I formed them into little balls with my hands. The soap was cured by then, so using my bare hands was fine. If you are worried, or have sensitive hands, wearing disposable gloves works just as well. I placed the little balls into a small container into which I added about 1 teaspoon of red wine mica. And then just swirl the container around, until all the balls are covered in mica. You will need approximately 30 little balls.

Note there are both large and smaller balls, the larger ones I’m using for this tutorial. The smaller ones will be for a later tutorial.

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Preparation is the key to this soap. So make sure you have all the equipment and ingredients all laid out and prepared before you start.

COLOUR PREPARATION: You will need two little containers. To one container add and mix 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of irradiant white mica. To the second container add 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of designer green mica. Also set aside 1 tablespoon of red wine mica into a little container with a small sieve utensil (see picture in STEP FIVE) ready for use.

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ONE: Prepare your lye, making sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves, and set aside to cool. Because this soap will accelerate and/or seize, you won’t need any sodium lactate in this recipe.

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TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil. I am not using any hard oils in this recipe, since I know that the fragrance will accelerate and possible seize the soap,  I will need to keep the soap as fluid as long as possible. Hence using only olive oil and castor oil.

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THREE: When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then, using a whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (thin trace).

FOUR: Add the Holly Berry fragrance. I am using a stick blender here, but only for a very quick pulse to mix everything together. As you can see in the pictures, it already started to accelerate. So I suggest to just use your whisk to mix in the fragrance, if you don’t want to risk it, or to keep the stick blending to a minimum.

FIVE: Pour about one third of the soap into the soap mold and then sprinkle the red mica  over the top. The easiest way is to use a little sieve like I am using.

Pour or scoop another third of soap carefully over the soap, trying to not disturb the mica too much. You might need to use your spatula to even out the surface. Sprinkle another layer of mica over the soap.

Lastly scoop the last remaining soap into your mold and smooth it out carefully. This will probably be the most difficult part, since your soap will most likely have started to set already.

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SIX: Drizzle the white mica/oil mixture over the surface and then using a chopstick swirl and shape the surface of the soap. Because holly is a naturally prickly plant, the jagged and rough surface will accentuate this!

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SEVEN: Using the green mica/oil mixture, place some drops onto the surface and using a toothpick, stretch the colour out to make it appear like the leaves of the holly. Add two or three berries (the little red balls) to each leaf and gently push them in a little. Lastly, sprinkle a little of gold or bronze glitter on some of the white parts of the surface.

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EIGHT: Leave the soap to set and harden overnight. Soaps that seize or accelerate quickly will harden very quickly as well. The next day you should be able to unmold and cut your soaps into bars. Leave the bars of soap to cure for another 6-8 weeks.

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Noel

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 750g olive oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 100g caustic soda
  • 200 ml water
  • 30 ml Holly Berry fragrance from Candlescience
  • 1/2 teaspoon irradiant white mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon designer green mica
  • roughly 1 tablespoon of red wine mica
  • 2 teaspoon of lightweight oil, i.e. rice bran oil
  • approximately 30 little ball embeds
  • gold or bronze glitter

Directions

  1. Preparation
    1. from a previous batch, use the leftover soap in the pot to form 30 little balls of about 1/2 cm diameter each
    2. add the balls to a container, into which you have added 1 tablespoon of red wine mica, and swirl until all the balls are coated with the mica
  2. Colour preparation
    1. First container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of irradiant white mica
    2. Second container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of designer green mica
  3. Measure out 200 ml of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out 100 g caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear. Set aside to cool down.
  4. In a large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh and add 750g olive oil and 50 g castor oil.
  5. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
  6. Using a whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add 30 ml Holly Berry fragrance and still using a whisk, stir until the fragrance has been well incorporated into the soap. SOAP WILL ACCELERATE AND MAY EVEN SEIZE – FROM THIS POINT ON YOU WILL HAVE TO WORK VERY FAST
  8. Pour 1/3 of the soap into the soap mold and sprinkle a layer of red wine mica over the top.
  9. Pour or scoop another 1/3 of soap into the mold, careful not to disturb the mica, and even out the surface with a spatula. Sprinkle a layer of red wine mica over the soap.
  10. Scoop the remainder of the soap into your mold and even out the surface with a spatula.
  11. Drizzle the white oil/mica mixture over the surface of the soap and, using a chopstick, swirl and shape the surface.
  12. Place drops of the green oil/mica mixture on the surface and using a toothpick stretch the drops to resemble holly leaves.
  13. Add 2-3 berries (little red soap balls) to each leaf.
  14. Sprinkle a little gold or bronze glitter into some of the white areas of the surface.
  15. Leave to harden overnight.
  16. The next day, unmold and cut into bars. Leave the bars to cure for another 6-8 weeks.

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Noel soap

Difficulty: Intermediate/advanced
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars

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Noel has a special meaning for me. It reminds me of Christmas celebrations of times past. The family Christmas when we would all gather… The real pine Christmas tree, with delicate baubles and candles and a Christmas star on top… The old photographs, which are slightly faded now, but still have that typical golden hue of the polaroids of those times… The typical Christmas scent that lingered everywhere you would go… The sparkling colours and the greens, reds and gold of the decorations… Noel is memories and feelings and smells and colours and Christmas.

All the ingredients used in this soap are available from Pure Nature, my local (and favourite) soap ingredients supplier!

The soap has mica swirling on top, and a green and red swirl within, using a drop swirl or push swirl technique – the colours popping out against the white soap.

There is a preparation part, which you should do about a week before. A good tip is to do all the preparation for Christmas (embeds, cut-outs, etc) in one soap making session, so that you have all the extras ready for your soaps when you need them!

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

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PREPARATION: From an earlier batch of soap, I separated some to make the little stars that I added on top. I poured the soap into a little container, and then when the soap had hardened enough to unmold, I cut it in slices and then used a cookie cutter to cut out the stars. Leave the stars to harden for a couple of days, before proceeding with the rest of the tutorial.

COLOUR PREPARATION: You will need four little containers. To one container add and mix 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of gold abtruse mica. To the second container add 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of shimmer green mica. To the third add 2 teaspoons of lightweight oil and 1 teaspoon of designer green mica. And to the last container add 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/4 teaspoon of red brown mica and 1/4 teaspoon of red wine mica. The lightweight oil I’m using is rice bran oil, but any other light weight oil will work as well. Set aside for later use.

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ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap and set aside to cool.

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TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil. I am using olive oil, because I want to have a nice white base to contrast with the colours of the drop swirl. Castor oil is my little secret ingredient, and as you may have noticed, I use it in all my soaps. It adds a nice creamy lather to the soap, particular in soaps, such as castile soaps, which tend to have a rather thin and poor lather.

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THREE:: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then using a whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate).

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FOUR: Add your fragrance. I’m using Mistletoe fragrance from Candlescience, which was the inspiration of the soap. When I first smelled Mistletoe, it reminded me of all the things I mentioned above. It’s such a beautiful, vintage Christmas fragrance.

 

FIVE: Separate about 1 cup of soap each into two small jugs. And pour the remainder into the mold.

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From the colours you prepared earlier, add one teaspoon of designer green mica/oil mixture to one of the jugs with soap, and all of the red mica/oil mixture to the other jug, and stir well. You should now have one jug containing red soap and one containing green soap.

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SIX: If your soap is still very fluid, use the drop swirl technique to form a swirl in your soap. From a height of about 30 cm, pour each colour into your soap along the length of the mold, slightly off-centre.

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Push swirl technique – using a spatula to push the coloured soap into the white soap. Make sure you hold the spatula flat and push the soap in at an angle.

If your soap has thickened, like mine has (because I keep having to stop and take pictures lol), you can cheat using the push swirl, by pouring each colour into and onto your soap along the length of your mold, also slightly off-centre. Then taking a spatula, push the colours into the white soap at an angle. Do this several times along the whole length of the mold until you think you have pushed sufficient colour underneath.

 

SEVEN: Using the remainder of the colours you prepared earlier, drizzle them over the surface of your soap, and then swirl the top 1/2 centimetre of the soap in a figure-8 motion, to create a nice swirly surface.

Sprinkle some glitter over the surface and place the 10 stars in equal distance into the centre of the soap. There should be one star per bar of soap later when you cut it.

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EIGHT: Leave the soap to set and harden. I would recommend gelling the soap, to make the colours more vibrant and pop out. You can do this by placing it in a cardboard box and closing the lid. Or my trick is to put it on top of the hot water boiler with a box over it – but you will need to keep a good eye on it, so that it doesn’t heat. It will also only work if you have an old boiler like we do. The newer ones are too insulated and shouldn’t be warm on the outside.

After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure, just in time for Christmas!

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Noel

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 950g olive oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 128g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 30 ml Mistletoe fragrance from Candlescience
  • 1/2 teaspoon gold abtruse mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon green shimmer mica
  • 1 teaspoon designer green mica
  • 1/4 teaspoon red brown mica
  • 1/4 teaspoon red wine mica
  • approximately 30 ml lightweight oil, i.e. rice bran oil
  • 10 little soap star embeds
  • glitter

Directions

  1. Colour preparation
    1. First container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of gold abtruse mica
    2. Second container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/2 teaspoon of shimmer green mica
    3. Third container: 2 teaspoons of lightweight oil and 1 teaspoon of designer green mica
    4. Fourth container: 1 teaspoon of lightweight oil and 1/4 teaspoon red brown mica and 1/4 teaspoon red wine mica.
  2. Measure out 250 ml of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out 128 g caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear.
  3. Add 2 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye water. Set the lye aside to cool down.
  4. In a large Pyrex jug or pot, add the 950 g olive oil and 50 g castor oil.
  5. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
  6. Using a whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add 30 ml Mistletoe fragrance and stir.
  8. Separate approximately 1 cup of soap each into two jugs or containers, and pour the remainder of the soap into the soap mold.
  9. To one container add 1 teaspoon of the green designer oil/mica mixture and stir. To the other container add all of the red oil/mica mixture and stir.
  10. Drop swirl or push swirl.
    1. Drop swirl: from a height of 30 cm, pour the green and red soap into the white soap along the length of the mold and slightly off-centre
    2. Push swirl: pour the soap into and onto the white soap along the length and slightly off-centre, and then using a spatula, push the colours at an angle into the white soap.
  11. Using the remainder of the prepared colours, drizzle the oil/mica mixtures over the surface of the soap, and swirl the top 1/2 cm of the soap in a figure-8 motion.
  12. Sprinkle glitter over the surface and place the 10 stars in equal distance along the centre of the soap.
  13. Let soap set and harden for a few days.
  14. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to dry for another couple of days, before cutting into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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Christmas soaps

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins
Yields: approx. 20 small soaps

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It’s Christmas soon! Are you ready yet? Or are you like me, right in the middle of trying to get everything done in time? You should see my kitchen, it is one big chaos and dinners consist of BBQ and salads at the moment while the soap making has taken over the kitchen.

Here’s a little project that is quick and easy to make and doesn’t need a lot of extra ingredients. Something that you can do last minute, because these cute little soaps will be ready to gift in a couple of hours. They make great stocking fillers. Or how about getting the kids to make their own Christmas gifts this year? Something for nana, granddad, family, friends… All you need is some clear melt and pour soap base, food colouring, fragrance, some glitter, and these cute Christmassy soap molds that I found at the Warehouse for $3 each.

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The instructions are based on 2 molds of each, two Christmas tree molds (green) and two Christmas presents (red) molds. I did the little green Christmas trees first, and then repeated the whole process for the little red presents.

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ONE: To prepare, sprinkle some glitter into each cavity of the mold. Pure Nature has these great bio-glitters that are not only safe to use on skin, but are also bio-degradable and sourced from renewable raw materials. You can also use other glitters, but do be aware that they are usually made plastic.

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TWO: Cut approximately 2 rows of clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and add to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts, until the soap has melted. Try to avoid the soap from reaching boiling point!

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THREE: Once your soap base is completely melted, add 3-4 drops of green food colouring, and  give it a good stir.

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FOUR: Add approximately 15-20 drops of fragrance, and stir the soap until the colour and the fragrance has been thoroughly dispersed throughout the soap.

For the Christmas trees, I used the aptly named Christmas tree fragrance from Candlescience, which has a fresh Christmassy scent, and for the Christmas presents I used the delicious, sweet Holly Berry fragrance from Candlescience. I love both fragrances, because although they do remind you of Christmas, they’re not the usual standard fragrances, that everyone seems to use for their Christmas soaps.

When you choose your fragrance, make sure they are safe to use on skin. This is particular important when using candle fragrances. Not all candle fragrances are suitable for use in body care products and soap. So don’t forget to read the safety data of the fragrances you intend to use, or check back with the supplier.

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FIVE: Pour into your mold, and spritz with 99% isopropyl alcohol (optional) to get rid of any bubbles on the surface.

Let the soaps cool down completely and harden before carefully unmolding. Remember, melt and pour soap bases contain a lot of glycerin and the soaps will sweat (attract moisture) in humid conditions, so they will need to be wrapped (Glad Wrap or cello bags).

REPEAT WITH OTHER MOLDS

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Christmas soaps

  • Difficulty: beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • approx. 1/2 kg clear melt and pour soap base
  • red and green food colouring
  • Christmas Tree and Holly Berry fragrance from Candlescience
  • glitter
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol (optional)
  • Christmas tree and Christmas present molds from the Warehouse

Directions

  1. Sprinkle a little glitter into each cavity of the mold.
  2. Cut the soap into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  3. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 20 second bursts until melted.
  4. Add 3-4 drops of food colouring and stir.
  5. Add 15-20 drops fragrance and stir well.
  6. Pour the soap into  your soap mold and leave to set and harden before unmolding.
  7. Package the soaps into little cello bags or glad wrap.