I want to learn how to make felted soap. I'll probably practice with inexpensive, store-bought soap, but ultimately, I want to make it with homemade soap. This weekend I made orange-ginger soap, and by the time it's ready, in three weeks, I should have the felting part down.
This year, making soap with lye is on my list of things to learn. For now, I'm still afraid of lye. I have a habit of sticking my fingers in boiling water to see if it's hot enough, and other spacy brain types of things. The thought of sticking my hand in lye, or getting it on my fingers then rubbing my eye, is enough to keep me on a safer path. Hand-milled soap, made from white, unscented soap (think Ivory) is a great way to start. This may feel a little bit like cheating, but it's sort of like grating cheese for lasagna, instead of milking the cow yourself.
For this soap you need:
2 cups grated soap
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup water
Grate your bar of soap, and gather your other ingredients. For this recipe, I used 1 tablespoon orange oil, and 1/2 tablespoon ginger. Experiment with scents you like, and make this your own.
Put the grated soap, coconut oil and water in the top of a double boiler, and melt away. (Note: Coconut oil is moisturizing and makes a rich lather. You can substitute palm oil to make your soap harder and get a fluffier lather. Palm oil does little for your skin.)
I added the ginger at this point, because I wanted it to really cook through the other ingredients. Usually, scents are added after everything is melted.
The next directions said to melt the soap until it “looks like marshmallow cream.” Descriptions like that make me crazy. Maybe what I think looks like marshmallow cream isn’t what someone else thinks. No problem here. After about 5 minutes, it looks a little like rice pudding. In 10 to 15 minutes, it really does look just like marshmallow cream.
Once the soap and oils are melted, add whatever else the recipe calls for. In this case, I added orange oil. I also added a little more ginger because I wanted to smell it more. This is my favorite part. The oils in the hot soap mixture smell so good!
Spoon the soap mixture into silicone or plastic molds. I used a silicone muffing pan, but you can also use a loaf pan, then cut the soap to the desired thickness. (I chose round for this batch because it is supposed to be easier to felt than something with corners.
After about 5 hours, the soap can be removed from the molds. It is sort of soft and foamy feeling at this point, but will continue to harden. Soap needs to cure for three weeks. Once it's ready, I'll get to work felting it.