Learn how to make easy melt and pour soap recipes with this modern guide to natural soapmaking. This instructional tutorial and resource explores incorporating natural melt and pour soap bases with botanicals, colorants and essential oils. It also includes numerous recipes that you can recreate without using lye to make your own soaps at home.
Melt and Pour Soap Recipes for Beginners
Wondering, how do I make glycerin soap for beginners? I’ve got you covered. You don’t have to work with lye to make soap. In fact you can make homemade soap without lye. While lye is necessary to make true soap, you can work around this by buying a pre-made melt and pour soap base. There are lots of way to create unique homemade soaps without lye by using a glycerin soap base. Discover how to get started making homemade soaps the right way. Plus explore some of my own melt and pour soap recipes, which I link to at the end of this post.
Easy Melt and Pour Soap Making without Lye
There is SO much information on the internet, and Pinterest especially, on how to make melt and pour soaps for beginners. Some of those so called easy melt and pour soap recipes are spot on. The recipe works exactly the way it should and you’re presented with all the right information from the start. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of bad formulations out there. And if if you’re a beginner soapmaker, incorrect recipes or flat out bad information can be costly as well as discouraging.
The first few times I made homemade melt and pour soaps, well, I messed up. One, I had no idea that using lavender buds in a melt and pour soap base would eventually turn the entire bar of soap brown! Not only did it not look pretty, but what was actually happening was that those botanicals were rotting. Can you imagine gifting a bar of homemade soap to a friend and then realize later on they’re slathering decaying plant matter on their skin? How embarrassing!
I learned from that mistake pretty quickly, thank goodness. However, it still bothers me, that close to twenty years after that incident, there are still bloggers sharing recipes with botanicals that just don’t work with recipes that call for a glycerin soap base.
Not long after my first major mistake making melt and pour soaps, I had another. (I mean, that’s how many of us learned prior to the youtube era. So PLEASE don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Occasionally it leads to a happy accident.) I bought a (way back) organic soap base that I decided to add cocoa butter too. The soaps looked great. I wrapped them in scrapbooking paper and gave them as gifts to family one Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn’t test my homemade soap bars before I gifted them. (I know. I know. But to err is human.)
Shortly after gifting my bars of homemade soap, I was told they didn’t lather. At all. (Scented paperweight, anyone?) Back then there weren’t really guides on how much of an additional ingredient you should add to your melt and pour soap bases. Luckily, that information is out there now. Along with insight on where and how to select the right melt and pour soap base for your needs. But where can you find all the information your need to make homemade soaps for beginners? And how do you know that it’s the right information?
This post covers everything you need to know to make melt and pour soap at home. In addition to providing an overview of the soap making process and providing easy recipes to try, you’ll also discover resources to help you on your journey.
Glycerin Soap Making Instructions
Formulating your own glycerin soap recipes is relatively easy. To make simple glycerin soap, you will need a glycerin soap base of your choice and a soap mold. While fragrance and a colorant are optional, they are fun to work with and allow you to explore new designs and scents once you are familiar with the soap crafting process.
Once you have your materials and supplies needed for this project, follow these instructions to create your first bars of handcrafted soap from a glycerin soap base:
- Cut the soap into small chunks. I like to divide the base into 1-inch cube.
- After it’s been cut, place the base in a microwave and heat safe container.
- Melt the soap base in a microwave in 20-30 second increments. Stir after each heating. (Alternatively you may also melt the soap in either a double boiler or crockpot.)
- Once the soap has melted, the color and fragrance . The stir to combine.
- Finally, pour the melted glycerin soap base into a mold.
- Spritz the tops of the soap with isopropyl alcohol to remove any air bubbles.
- Then, allow to cool and fully harden.
- Then wrap the soaps tightly in either foodservice film or plastic wrap. This prevents the glycerin in the soap from sweating as it draws humidity from the air. Unwrapped soaps typically develop glycerin dew if not wrapped.
- Finally, label your soaps for future use or to give as homemade gifts.
What Ingredients Can I Add to Homemade Soap Recipes?
In addition to color and fragrance, there are also other ingredients you can add to melt and pour soap to create custom soap bars.
Just keep in mind that you don’t want to add anything to your soap base that can be reconstituted with water. This is because some ingredients may mold in a glycerin soap base. While the PH of soap typically prevents bacterial growth and mold, there are exceptions, especially when the soaps begin to come into contact with water.
Following are some of the other additives your can add to to your handcrafted glycerin soaps to create unique skin care recipes at home.
Carrier Oils and Butters
You can add carrier oils and butters to melt and pour soaps. However, if you add too much it can decrease the lather and make your homemade soap soft. When I first started out learning how to make melt and pour soap, I accidentally added too much cocoa butters to my bars. They were pretty and smelled amazing, however, they didn’t lather at all. I basically had scented paperweights.
Therefore, I recommend adding no more than 1 teaspoon of butter or oil per pound of soap. I would also suggest that you experiment with adding butters and oils to your soaps before creating a large batch of loaf. Begin with a small soap bar or recipe to avoid wasting time and materials.
Popular oils and butters to use in your handmade soaps are:
There are several ways to color any glycerin soap. I don’t recommend using food coloring or a food dye as it can bleed after the soap sits. It also fades in sunlight. If you selling your handmade soaps, you also need to ensure you only use FDA approved colorants. Food coloring is not among those. Further, it’s important you only purchase batch-certified colorants if you intend to sell your products.
You can use any of the following to color your homemade soap:
- Cosmetic mica powder
- Liquid soap colorant, which are liquid soap dyes
- Color soap blocks, which are solid concentrated colorants
- Liquid or powder pigments
- Cosmetic clay, such as French Green Clay
It’s important to keep in mind that when coloring soap, a white soap base will create pastel colors. Therefore, you may find you need additional colorant to get the shade you want in opaque bases. For soap with true or bolder colors, stick to a clear soap base. The general rule of thumb when coloring your glycerin soaps is 1/2 teaspoon of per pound of soap base. If you use too much colorant, the soaps may bleed when they come in contact with water. In some instances, the colors may also stain skin if used in excess.
Fragrance and Essential Oils
Fragrance oils are available in more scents, but they aren’t natural. Generally fragrance oils consist of synthetic fragrances or a combination of essential oils and synthetic scents. Essential oils, on the other hand, are natural. However the scent choices may be limiting if you aren’t accustomed to making your own essential oil blends. Fragrance oils also typically last longer in homemade soap. So keep that in mind if you plan to sell your soaps.
The amount of fragrance or essential oil you can use is determined by a number of factors. You can obtain safe usage guidelines for each of these ingredients from the manufacturer.
Exfoliants are another great ingredient to add to any easy melt and pour soap recipe. These additives naturally exfoliate your skin when you use them in the bath. If you make a hand soap with exfoliants, they also help to scrub away dirt and grease.
I recommend adding no more than 1 tablespoon of an exfoliant per pound of soap. However, if you’re making a specialty soap, such as a gardener’s soap or foot soap, you can play around and experiment with the amount you use in your recipes.
Here are some popular exfoliants you can add one to your homemade melt and pour soap:
- Ground steel cut oats or colloidal oatmeal
- Coffee grounds
- Ground almonds
- Fine ground pumice
- Ground walnut shells
- Shredded or ground loofah
- Cosmetic clay
- Activated charcoal powder
Botanicals and Herbs
There are only two decorative botanicals and or herbs that you can add to your homemade soap: calendula and cornflower. All other floral botanicals will start to brown and can grow mold as they rot in your soap.
The biggest mistake that I see when people learn how to make melt and pour soap is that they add lavender buds or rose petals to their soap. They look beautiful, but they will rot. Lavender buds in particular closely resemble mouse droppings as they change color. Therefore, stick to using only calendula or cornflower if you’d like to add dried flowers to your soaps.
What Equipment and Tools Are Needed to Make Soap?
In addition to the soap base and additives necessary to make this form of soap, you also need some basic tools and equipment. In general, these are the most common supplies you’ll use to make homemade soap:
- Silicone molds: This type of mold is easy to find. Commonly used for baking, it’s also great for making soap. These molds can be used to create unique shapes. It’s also easy to remove the soap from silicone molds.
- Large heat safe measuring cup: I typically use a large Pyrex measuring cup to melt my base in the microwave. It’s quick and easy to melt the soap this way and makes clean up a snap.
- Microwave: A microwave is best for melting bases used to make soap. It’s faster than other methods. However, you can also melt the base in a double boiler or a small crockpot depending on the size of your batch.
- Spatula: A spatula or similar utensil is needed to mix the soap with the additives once it is melted.
- Measuring spoons: These are ideal for measuring out botanicals and other ingredients or additives that aren’t calculated by weight in the recipe.
- Digital scale: Most recipes require you to weigh out the ingredients used to make soap. Therefore, it’s wise to always have a digital kitchen scale on hand.
- Knife: A large sharp knife, such as a Chef’s knife, is the easiest way to cut the soap base into small chunks so they can be melted.
- Dropper or graduated transfer pipette: This tool makes it easy to add a fragrance or essential oil, such as lavender essential oil, to scent the soap you make. As many recipes are formulated to produce small batches, materials used to scent the soap often don’t weigh enough to register on a scale. Therefore, the fragrance is calculated in drops.
- Spray bottle with rubbing alcohol: A spray bottle filled with isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) is used to disperse air bubbles from the soap after it is poured. It is also used between layers of soap when layering different colors or types of soap to create designs.
- Cutting board: Often one places the soap in the refrigerator after it has been poured. This helps to speed up cooling times. If you place the silicone soap mold onto a cutting board before pouring the soap, it makes it easy to transfer to another location.
- Safety gear: As you are using a pre-made soap base to create homemade soaps, safety gear and other precautions against chemicals aren’t as necessary as they are with cold process soap making. The melted soap base is safe for skin even during the process of creating new bars. Therefore, you really only need to be careful to avoid getting burned from heat. However, if desired you can use nitrile gloves to protect your hands. I also recommend that you use a potholder or tea towel when handling any hot containers.
What is the Best Soap Base for Melt and Pour?
The best soap base for melt and pour soap making depends on your needs. You might want to use clear soap to color it a bright color. Alternately, you may choose a base with an additive, such as oatmeal or shea butter, for its skin benefits. The choice between a natural or synthetic soap base, I believe, is also a personal choice.
As far as the best brands of glycerin soap, I recommend those produced by Crafter’s Choice® or Stephenson. There are also hobby brands that you can purchase from your local craft store such as Life of the Party and Soap Espressions. However, I don’t recommend these bases as they aren’t high-quality. They can also be difficult to work with as you move into more advanced soap making techniques. While they are adequate bases for beginners and the occasional hobbyist, if you want to become serious about your new craft, you’ll likely be disappointed with the results.
It is important to note, that while Crafter’s Choice® and Stephenson’s are quality melt and pour soap bases, they do behave and perform differently. I’ve found that I choose the best soap base for my projects depending on the application. Crafter’s Choice® tends to melt quickly and harden more slowly. While Stephenson’s melts slowly and hardens faster. Sometimes I like to combine several different bases for varying effects. While I almost always use Stephenson soap bases if I want to swirl my soap.
There are many varieties and brands of glycerin soap you can buy, including honey, hemp, aloe vera, green tea, goat’s milk and even a shea butter soap base. However, many of the bases you find on sites, such as Etsy and Amazon, are actually privately labeled and produced by Stephenson. This occurs with several other brands as well. So, it’s easy to choose a base that doesn’t cause skin irritations based on your individual needs.
Where Can I Buy Melt and Pour Soap Base?
You can find hobby melt and pour soap bases at most craft stores. You can also buy professional bases online from Amazon or Etsy. I recommend buying your bases from a reputable company. This ensures that you receive a high-quality product.
The best places to buy your glycerin soap for soap making are soap making suppliers or companies that specifically cater to the craft. In some instances, you may sacrifice faster shipping. However, these companies tend to have better prices and added value.
Several soap specific suppliers you can buy melt and pour soap bases include:
- Bulk Apothecary
- Nature’s Garden Candles
- Soaper’s Choice
- Wholesale Supplies Plus
Part of the fun in learning how to make melt and pour soap for beginners is using your soap! So don’t be afraid to experiment with different brands and types to find what works best for your finished product.
Keep reading for the best recommendation to help you learn how to make melt and pour soap. Plus, be sure to check out my collection of melt and pour soap recipes at the end of this post!
Glycerin Soap Making Book with Melt and Pour Recipes
Are you a beginner soapmaker? Or do you simply want to learn how to start making homemade soaps using melt and pour soap bases? If you’re seeking additional information on how to make glycerin soap along with tried and true recipes, then I have the perfect book to assist you on your quest!
The book, Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps, by Jan Berry (which you can purchase here) is a modern guide to navigating the world of soap crafting and learning how to create custom natural soaps using botanicals, essential oils, natural colorants and soap bases. The latest addition to Jan’s collection of books, which also includes Simple Natural Soapmaking, this guide is the perfect way to learn how to make melt and pour soap for beginners!
I received a copy of Jan Berry’s new book today to review. For those of you who don’t know, Jan and I are *almost* neighbors. She lives about an hour and a half north of me right here in Virginia! I’ve long been a fan of her blog, The Nerdy Farm Wife, and I have to tell you – her books are just as amazing. The photos inside her new book, Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps, are absolutely dreamy! I especially love all the information on natural colorants for melt and pour soaps. Along with the RIGHT way to use those botanicals you now have a slew of and just realized they’re not going to look as pretty as you thought they would a few weeks down the road.
There’s really so much more to this soapmaking book than just the easy melt and pour soap recipes! By the time you’ve worked your way through the book, you’ll have some pretty solid knowledge on how to formulate your own custom recipes. And you definitely won’t feel like a beginner soapmaker anymore!
Easy Homemade Melt and Pour Soaps
This book is divided into three parts. Each part combines for in depth information on making herbal soaps with natural botanicals, colorants and essential oils for successful products. There are also tips and tricks so you know the best way to make natural soaps without making the same mistakes I did.
Part 1: Getting Started
Everything you need to know about the different types of melt and pour soap bases, melting points and the ingredients. There’s also information on how to infuse soaps with herbs and flowers as well as the basic soapmaking tools and equipment you’ll need to get started. In addition, this section also includes a brief overview of tips for successful melt and pour soapmaking along with a basic melt and pour soapmaking tutorial to get you started.
Part 2: Melt and Pour Soap Recipes for Beginners
Part two of the book, Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps, is filled with fifty amazing melt and pour and pour soap recipes for beginners. These easy, all natural recipes are divided into six separate sections:
- Nourishing Infusions
- Spa Day Luxuries
- Springtime Delights
- Sunlight & Seashore
- Field & Forest
- Desert Inspiration
Recipes in the Nourishing Infusions section feature easy melt and pour soaps made with classic, skin soothing flowers and nourishing green herbs. The recipes include chamomile honeycomb slices (soap bars) infused with chamomile flowers and naturally scented with lavender and orange essential oils as well as facial soaps infused with thyme and rose.
In the Spa Day Luxuries section, you’ll discover melt and pour soap recipes for beginners that are designed to polish, cleanse and pamper skin. Highlights include charcoal & sea salt spa bars, adzuki bean & rhassoul clay bars, moringa detox bars and mocha mint massage bars. While the chapter on Springtime Delights includes easy recipe for a spring weeds gardener’s soap, aromatherapy soap dough, floral bouquet (flower shaped) soaps and herbal soap favors perfect for weddings.
The Sunlight & Seashore section of the book highlights summer fun in the sun – and everything associated with that. Like the beach! Learn how to craft seashell mini soaps, sea glass guest soaps, ocean waves soaps, loofah soaps and mermaid tails soaps.
For those that love to forage, you’ll find the Field & Forest section perfect for your needs! There are glycerin soap recipes for making pine resin infused soaps, a rustic woods shave soap, camping soaps and even a wildflower honey soap made from a goat milk soap base and scented with a natural blend of lavender and Peru balsam essential oils.
If aloe vera is your go to for soothing skin care, then the chapter titled, Desert Inspiration, may be your favorite. This natural skin care ingredient is key in these easy melt and pour soaps for beginners. Learn how to make triple aloe soap bars, cactus landscape soaps and even jojoba sage shampoo & body bars.
Part 3: Melt and Pour Soapmaking Information & Techniques Library
This section of the book, Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps, is a must for anyone looking not just to recreate melt and pour soap recipes, but to also harness the knowledge needed to develop your own custom formulations. This chapter alone is a must for any soapmaking library. You’ll find yourself referencing it time and again for information on natural ingredients you can use in your own homemade melt and pour soaps at home.
Discover details on natural colorants along with photos of the finished soaps and the amounts needed to achieve the same look. There’s also in depth information on the properties of essential oils used in soapmaking along with essential oil blend ideas and recipes. Plus information on exfoliants and other additives you can use when crafting homemade glycerin soaps. You’ll also learn the eco-friendly ways to package and store the melt and pour soaps you create.
If you want to get extra creative with your melt and pour soap recipes for beginners, this section also highlight various melt and pour soap making techniques. Discover how to incorporate soap curls, cookies cutter shapes and embeds into your melt and pour soaps as well as how to use soap stamps and create layers. Can’t quite figure out that pencil line? There’s detailed information on creating a pencil line in melt and pour soaps as well as step-by-step photos on creating visually pleasing diagonals and triangles as part of your soap designs.
And, for those times, that things don’t quite work out the way you expected, information on troubleshooting things like separating layers, a lack of lather, soap shrinkage and more is also included.
In addition, there’s also a list of fourteen soapmaking suppliers you can source ingredients from in both the USA and Canada. (She even included one of my personal favorite suppliers, Mountain Rose Herbs.)
Easy Melt and Pour Soap Recipes for Beginners without Lye
Once you learn how to make homemade soap the right way (with no mouse poo soap mishaps!) be sure to explore some of my own easy glycerin recipes here. Or try one of these melt and pour soap recipes without lye below. These DIY soaps are perfect for anyone who is just getting started in beginner soap making.
Natural Glycerin Soap Recipes
Not everyone wants to use artificial scents when making soap. Therefore, I’ve created a collection of natural recipes for you to try:
- Orange Spice Melt and Pour Recipe: This easy glycerin recipe for beginners is made using both the Winter Spice essential oil blend and the Cinnamon Leaf essential oil.
- Dandelion Soap Recipe: This dandelion soap is an easy melt and pour soap beginners can make using dandelion infused oil. It’s a simple way to learn how to infuse botanicals into carrier oils to incorporate into a natural skin care routine.
- Activated Charcoal Glycerin Soap Recipe: This activated charcoal melt and pour soap without lye is quick and easy to make. It’s also a great addition to your natural skin care routine as part of your daily beauty regimen for acne free skin.
- Patchouli Rose Complexion Soa Recipe: This patchouli rose complexion soap is made using a melt and pour soap base and activated charcoal and clay help to fight acne. Made using natural essential oils, this easy melt and pour soap for beginners is a great project for beginners looking to add a natural soap to their daily skin care routine.
- Caffeinated Coffee Soap: Learn how to make an easy caffeinated soap with a coffee scrub center. This melt and pour soap is made using a melt and pour soap base and is a suitable soap making project for beginners.
- Tea Tree and Sea Mud Soap: Not all soap DIY’s are as easy as they seem. Especially when formulating a new recipe. This melt and pour soap started as a mishap, but turned into a beautiful marbled soap in the end! Check out the before and after photos of this melt and pour soap project. Then discover how to create the easy melt and pour soap for beginners that I ended up with!
- DIY Seashell Soap: Learn how to make a DIY seashell soap using seashell soap embeds. This fun and easy glycerin soap recipe is easy enough for beginners to craft at home this summer.
- Massage Soap Bars: Scented with coffee absolute, this glycerin soap doubles as a massage bar for skin. Made using a suspension soap base, the simple, easy-to-follow directions teach you how to whip up your own custom batch of scented massage bars that exfoliate, hydrate and massage skin all in one step.
- DIY Soap Cupcakes: Learn how to make homemade snickerdoodle soap cupcakes for your bath or shower. Made using melt and pour soap, this easy soap cupcakes recipe is naturally scented with essential oils and is simple enough for even beginners to craft.
Melt and Pour Soap Recipe with Fragrance Oils
If you don’t mind using artificial or synthetic fragrance oils to scent your homemade soaps, then explore these other easy recipes:
- Sunflower Melt and Pour Soap: This simple glycerin soap is shaped like later summer/early fall sunflowers. Scented with a sunflower fragrance oil, these sunny soaps look beautiful sink side and smell heavenly when used.
- Snowflake Soap: Discover how to make winter soap recipes, including an easy melt and pour snowflake soap. This coconut oil soap is made without lye and is perfect for beginners. It also makes a wonderful homemade gift.
- DIY Gummy Bear Soap: Learn how to make these fun, pool party DIY gummy bear soap bars using a regular size gummy bear soap mold and any other soap mold of your choice. This easy glycerin soap tutorial makes a fun family project when you’re stuck indoors.
- DIY Sponge Soap: Learn how to make a soap sponge to use as part of your daily skin care routine. These soaps are dual purpose with an exfoliating sponge and a glycerin soap combined into one, easy-to-use product. With proper care, your homemade soap sponges will last about two months.
- Fall Melt and Pour Soap Ideas: Looking for fall soap ideas? Whether you need soap making ideas for soaps to craft and sell, DIY ideas for autumnal make and take crafts or even seasonal homemade gifts, these fall soap recipes are the perfect solution!
- Easy Fall Melt and Pour Soaps: These easy fall melt and pour soaps are perfect for even beginner soapmakers. They can be scented with your favorite fall fragrance oils or your choice of fall essential oil blends.
- Rubber Ducky Soap Tutorial: Learn how to make fun DIY rubber ducky soaps for children’s gifts or party favors with this easy rubber ducky soap tutorial. They’re the perfect bath time treat for kids who love Sesame Street!
- Glitter Unicorn Soap: Bring some of that magic into your shower with this DIY glitter galaxy unicorn soap. Made with a ridiculous amount of eco-glitter, this recipe offers a fun spin on galaxy soaps. And, because it’s made using melt and pour soap base, anyone can tackle this project as a fun weekend DIY.
- DIY Agate Soaps: This recipe creates stunning glycerin soaps that look like agate slices. Painted with gold mica around the diameter, these homemade soaps are easy to mistake for the popular, decorative coasters.
- Gingerbread Men Soap: A holiday favorite for homemade gifts, this cute gingerbread shaped soap requires just 3-ingredients to make.
- Glitter Snowflake Soap: Another fun soap project for the winter months, this easy recipe sparkles like snow when it’s hit by sunlight.
- Melt and Pour Polar Bear Soap: Learn how to make DIY polar bear soaps for winter fun with this easy soap recipe for beginners! This cute soap making tutorial is a great project to make with kids as a winter family craft project. Made using glycerin melt and pour soap, this homemade soap is a great way to get started in soap crafting if you want to learn how to make soap without lye.