DIY Holiday Gift Idea #2: Handmade Soaps, Eco & Easy

Last week we extolled the virtues of making one’s own bath salts as we kicked off our holiday DIY ideas for homemade bath and body gifts that are simple, inexpensive and thoughtful.This week, we tackle making your own bars of soap, and while not quite as easy or cheap as making your own bath salts, as long as you are careful and follow the instructions, you’ll end up with some beautiful bars to present others with and some soap making skills to last a lifetime.

Conventional soap products contain synthetic chemicals, fragrances, and ingredients that many people have allergic reactions to, as well as those that come from our furry friends (or are tested on them). Making your loved ones soap is a caring and creative gesture that will be kind to their skin, their senses and our earth.

What You’ll Need:

  • organic soap base which comes in big solid blocks. Search google for local suppliers or online retailers (of which there are a ton!) or ask at your local health food store
  • organic essential oils of your choosing, like rosemary, lavender, orange, peppermint, tea tree, lemongrass and eucalyptus. Check out our guide to Pick the Right Essential Oils.
  • organic dried herbs and foodstuffs of your choosing, like rosemary, lavender, salt, flower petals and oatmeal
  • soap molds. We recommend investing in soap molds; for one, they make it simple and come in cute, creative shapes. But they also end up saving resources as you use them over and over and over. However, you can line a box (like a shoe or pizza box) with cling wrap or freezer paper instead.

What To Do:

  • Begin with a double boiler (but you can fake it by filling a large pot with water and putting a smaller pot inside of it) and turn the heat on.
  • Chop up your soap block into smaller chunks so it will melt faster and evenly.
  • Once the water begins to boil, place your soap in the pan, covering it and turning the heat to low. You’ll have to sit tight while the soap melts, up to an hour, but check on it occasionally.
  • When it’s completely liquid smooth, mix in your organic essential oils and herbs. The amounts are up to your discretion and have to do with the amount of soap you’re making, but generally add 1/4 ounce of essential oils per pound of base.
  • Now, pour the melted soap mix into your choice of soap molds and let them sit and cool, preferably for 24 hours, after which they will simply slide out. You also have the option of hand molding your soap into shapes by waiting just until it’s cooled enough for you to handle without getting burned, sliding out of the mold and playing around until you arrive at your desired look.
  • When the soap is all ready to go, think of a creative way to package them as gifts, perhaps recycling things you have around the house. You could stack three bars, wrap them in newspaper, and tie straw around them, attaching your own personalized label. Just a thought, let us know what you come up with!

image: sha-put-ski