Melt & Pour Soaps are fun and easy to make, especially when you stick to the basic elements, such as Scents, Colors, and Soap Base. In our Holiday Projects Series we covered how to create basic Melt & Pour Soaps using those three main elements. We often get questions regarding how to use Additives, such as Milk Powders, Herbs, or Exfoliants in Melt & Pour Soap. Here is a little insight into including these specialty ingredients in your Melt & Pour creations.
Many Herbs have the potential to change dramatically when added to Melt & Pour Soap. Often, these changes are not apparent immediately, but appear within days or weeks after pouring the soap. The most infamous for this behavior is Lavender Buds. Lavender Buds look and smell great fresh out of the package, and can even be pretty when you first add them to your soap. However, after a week or so they take on a brownish yellow tinge, and can bleed that color into the entire bar of soap. Rose Buds and Petals also have a hard time retaining their beauty when fully immersed into Melt & Pour Soap. When you are dealing with these tricky Herbs, try using them as toppings instead of embedding them completely inside your soap bars. For example, Rose Buds look very cute peeking out of the top of soap.
Other Herbs, such as Parsley Powder, or Calendula Petals retain their color beautifully when added to Melt & Pour Soap. These Herbs can be added at a rate of 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons per pound of soap, depending on the appearance desired. Experiment with small batches to get comfortable with how individual Herbs behave. Natural ingredients, such as Herbs, often have unique quirks.
Clay can lend extra cleansing ability, exfoliation, and color to your Melt & Pour Soaps. Make sure to choose your Clay carefully, taking into consideration each Clay's strength. Kaolin and Rose Clay are the gentlest Clays, while Illite Clay or Bentonite can be too harsh for sensitive skin. Clay can be added to Melt & Pour Soap at a rate of 1 - 2 tablespoons per pound. The easiest way to add Clay to your Soap is to wet it with a small amount of Distilled Water prior to adding it to your Soap Base. Creating a smooth paste with the Clay and Water will help keep the Clay from clumping when you add it to the Soap. While Clays can help lend color to Soap, keep in mind that the resulting colors will be slighlty different than they dry Clay. Expect earthy, dusky tones from added Clay.
Milk and Honey Powders can be added to Melt & Pour Soaps for their skin conditioning properties. Keep in mind that the addition of these ingredients may shorten the shelf life of your Soaps. Like most Additives, Milk Powders can be added to Melt & Pour Soap Base at a rate of 1 - 2 tablespoons per pound of soap. To add the Milk Powder, mix it with a small amount of warm water to form a slurry or paste. Add the paste to your Melt & Pour Base and stir well to make sure it is fully dispersed.
There are many different types of Exfoliants that can be added to Melt & Pour Soap. To choose the right one, consider the texture and behavior of each Exfoliant. The biggest challenge you are likely to encounter when working with these Exfoliants is their habit of either floating or sinking in soaps. Using Suspension Melt & Pour Soap Base can sometimes help alleviate this issue. Exfoliants are generally added at around 1 - 2 tablespoons per pound of soap, but you may want to add more or less to achieve the texture you are looking for.
Fruit Seeds and Fibers provide gentle exfoliation, but can alter the appearance of your soap. Fruit Fibers will lend subtle color to Melt & Pour Soaps, but not always the color that you expect. For example, Blueberry Fruit Fiber tends to make Opaque Soap Base slighlty gray, while Cranberry Fruit Fiber adds a gentle, pink tinge. Fruit Seeds can look adroable in Melt & Pour Soaps, but they are particularly prone to floating or sinking when added to Melt & Pour Soap Base.
Jojoba Wax Beads come in a wide range of bright, beautiful colors, and provide gentle exfoliation. They are very tempting to use in Melt & Pour Soap, but they can also be very tricky to work with. If Jojoba Wax Beads are added directly to hot Soap Base they are likely to melt, changing the color of the soap, as well as making it much harder, with less lather. In order to add Jojoba Wax Beads to Melt & Pour Soap they must either be added at a very low temperature, which can be quite challenging, or they must be used as a topping on soap bars and logs.
Grain Powders, such as Oat Flour, Oatmeal, Rice Bran Powder, or Adzuki Bean Powder provide a range of gentle exfoliation. It may be helpful to mix the very fine powders, such as Oat Flour or Adzuki Bean Powder with a small amount of water before adding them to the Base, as they can have a hard time dispersing when added directly.
Seed Powders and Nut Meals are generally the harshest Exfoliants. These more instense Exfoliants are great for Gardener's Soaps, Mechanic's Soaps, and Pedicure Soaps. Use these Exfoliants with care. Too much Exfoliant can cause the soap to be hard to use, while too little Exfoliant can cause them to feel harsh and scratchy.