Starter Guide to Melt and Pour
Are you looking to expand your range? Looking to add decorations to your products? Need cost-effective samples or thankyou gifts for your business? Melt and pour soap might be just what you need. This versatile product has many advantages and can be a great fun creativity that works for all ages and all skill levels. With a few basic guidelines, you can be well on your way to a professional soaper.
Here are some tips and tricks that might save you some time trying to figure out for yourself.
Temperature is the key to 90% of this product and the good news is you can reheat and try again if it becomes too cold. This is a wide range of temperature and it is very forgiving. You can safely get up to 80degrees and it will still survive (although of course not needed to be that high but accidents can happen) The most important thing is it can burn, it can overheat and then it is not really a useable product. So underheating and reheating again is the best aim of the game when trying to mix and incorporate items into your melt and pour.
Bubbles on top of your soap can be popped and the easiest way to get rid of them while the soap is still liquid is to spray the surface with isopropyl alcohol.
There are a wide range of ways to customise your soap-
Moulds are the easiest and we recommend silicone as the most forgiving. You can use plastic but keep in mind the heat sensitivity of the material and the hot soap can actually warp/burn the moulds.
Adding ingredients to your soap is really fun just be aware when adding to your soap it has a finite amount of product volume that can be added before it impacts on the already perfectly balanced ingredients and preservatives.
Colours are a great way to make a scent pop or bring out highlights in moulds (think a black and white panda) You can swirl or mix colours, or add/paint colours on after the soap has solidified. Be aware some colours can bleed (move around) in the soap and blue into each other. Food colouring although cheap is notorious for this kind of thing as well as colouring your hands. Try Neon pigments, micas and soap safe colourants. Natural colours should also be explored and can be a great alternative like clays, indigo, charcoal etc.
Fragrances are our next big-ticket and probably a final selling point. These can really compliment colours and shapes and bring people to the ‘oh my god I have to have it because it smells so good’. Be aware of vanillin content and the browning colours it might have and you can plan around this (please see our file on vanillin for more details.) Please check each individual fragrance for maximum percentage use.
Essential oils can be used for a more natural option, be aware citrus and light notes can quickly lose their scent in soaps. Around 3% total for essential oils is best. Try mixing your essential oils for example Spearmint, lime and lavender. Or another favourite is Eucalyptus, Mint and Rosemary.
Additives are the final step in your soap game. Only three botanicals survive inside your soaps, Calendula petals, loofah slices and Cornflower. Any other botanicals should be used on the top and have minimal contact with the soap as possible so they do not go mouldy. You can also add exfoliants like pumice or jojoba beads. You can also add oils but be aware this will cut down on your ‘bubbliness’ of your lather. A good rule of thumb is to not add over 1% of your total amount.
Once you get the hang of these it can be time to progress onto harder techniques
Swirling colours. To keep colours separated and not just mixing is a juggle only to do with temperature. Each individual melt and pour base will have a separation point (when it is higher viscosity ie thickness) but under 55 degrees is a good starting temperature.
When doing layers the bottom layer can absorb some of the heat from the pouring layer so let this cooldown and form a thick skin. You must spray isopropyl alcohol on the receiving layer before pouring onto it or it won’t stick at all. The ability for one layer to stick to another relies on the surface it is joining to. Ideally, it should still be warm (around 30-40degrees) and it should have as much surface area as possible to grip to (try running a knife or scratching a smooth surface to help it.
When embedding pieces of soaps or toys spray them first with a coating of isopropyl alcohol.
To get the clearest see through for your projects (think fish in a bag or snowglobes) try stirring as less as possible to decrease microbubbles and do not add any fragrance.
Bonus - moisture/humidity and melt and pour
melt and pour can suffer from moisture on the surface of the soap commonly referred to as ‘sweating’. This is not actually your soap losing moisture but the condensation or moisture from the air. So if it is humid or if your products are going to be stored it is best to wrap them in something protective (cling film, shrink wrap, sealed boxes) This moisture can be wiped off without an issue.
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