Free Beginner’s Guide To Soapmaking: Melt and Pour

We are going back to the basics! Here is a free beginner’s guide to the art of Melt and Pour soapmaking that includes a step-by-step guide through a beginner’s melt and pour project in this part. Interested in cold process soap? Click here for a free comprehensive guide to Cold Process soapmaking. And, bonus, downloadable PDFs make these guides a handy take-anywhere tool.

Free Beginner's Guide to Soapmaking

What’s the difference between Melt & Pour (M&P) and Cold Process (CP) soap? Melt and Pour (M&P or MP) utilizes a pre-made base that is ready to use as is (literally, you could take the melt and pour block, as-is, get in the shower and lather away!). But this block of unassuming plain soap is waiting for your personal touch to transform into something amazing. Cold Process soap is made by mixing or saponifing lye and oil and the resulting chemical reaction is soap. With M&P base – the saponification and waiting step has been done for you while with CP, you do it yourself. It’s similar to using a cake mix (melt and pour) versus from scratch (cold process).

MELT AND POUR: Melt and pour soapmaking is the process of melting a preexisting soap base, most often adding color and fragrance or essential oil, then pouring the soap base into a mold. Once fully hardened, the result is a bar that is able to be used right away. Benefits of melt and pour soap include not having to handle lye, the wide variety of color and fragrance options available, kid friendly process, and no curing time. One downfall is that because of the additives in melt and pour to make it easily re-meltable and the lack of curing time, melt and pour soap does not last quite as long in the shower as cold process can. Because melt and pour soap is already made and the process is relatively easy, users are able to focus on the design of the soap. Most novelty soaps are made using MP techniques.

VOCABULARY:

Soap base: The actual melt and pour itself. Melt and pour in it’s original, uncolored state is clear. Many vendors offer an opaque or white base option as well, which is simply clear base with white colorant (titanium dioxide) already added for you. Other popular additives include Goat Milk and Shea Butter. Keep in mind that additives can also affect the color of the soap base; for example, Goat Milk soap base tends to have an opaque ivory color, where an Aloe or Hemp base may be clear but with a greenish tint and a Honey base may have a clear but dark yellow appearance. Additionally, the base color will affect any additional colorant you wish to add to the soap. Any color added to a white or opaque base will be pastel, and colors added to the greenish or yellowish bases mentioned will be affected by the color of the base as well.

Glycerin: A natural bi-product of the saponification process, found in both MP and CP soaps. Glycerin is found in a particularly high percentage in MP soap, and MP soap bases may also be found under the name glycerin soap base. Glycerin is a humectant, which means it attracts moisture. It’s humectant properties in soap contribute to a super moisturizing and skin-loving bar. Most commercial soaps have had the glycerin (and thus all of its properties) removed, which may be why many people prefer melt and pour or cold process soaps to commercial soaps.

Fragrance: The product you scent your soap with, this can either be a fragrance oil (synthetic) or all natural (essential oil). Take care to only use soap or skin safe fragrances. Do not use potpourri, craft or candle fragrances as they have not gone through the same safety testing. Suggested usage rate for fragrance or essential oils in melt and pour soap is .25 ounces of fragrance or essential oil per pound of soap. Please read through all the safety and warning instructions from your vendor with essential oils. Some of them, like Peppermint or Spearmint, have a ‘cooling’ sensation when used in soap (and on nether regions) and others can warm up, like Clove or Cinnamon.

Colorants: This is the medium you use to get color in your soap. There are many options to color your soap, not all of them cosmetic grade. For example, while crayons and RIT dyes are technically ‘non-toxic’ they have not been tested nor approved for use in soap or cosmetic products. You only want to use specially designated colorants for use in your soap. Common colorants include Oxides and Pigments, Liquid Colorants, LabColors, Color Blocks, Micas and Clays. Note: the clays used for soap are not the same as used in pottery. They have been purified to a higher grade than pottery clays. The term “non-bleeding’ is often used with regards to colorants. Non-bleeding simply means the color will not migrate or bleed into other parts of your soap. For more information on non-bleeding, click here.

Molds: This is what you will pour your soap into. You can use any container that is fully cleaned and has ‘give’. Example: a plastic tupperware would work; a glass bowl would not. You need to be able to release the soap from the mold easily by pulling gently on the side of the mold. Common molds used in melt and pour are Heavy Duty Molds, Milky Way molds and Silicone molds.

SAFETY: When soap bases are melted, they are generally over 120 degrees, which turns the soap into a scalding hot liquid burning hazard. Be extremely careful about only soaping with heat safe containers and equipment. If you soap with children around, they should be old enough to hold their own containers and should always have an adult with them during the soapmaking process. Hot soap can hurt if dripped or splashed on skin.

Layered Soap Project

EQUIPMENT: Pyrex or other heat-resistant containers, spoon, Silicone Loaf Mold

Plumeria MP

RECIPE: Plumeria Layered Soap

40 oz. Clear Melt and Pour Soap Base

15 oz. White Melt and Pour Base

Diluted Tropical Pink LabColor

Diluted Tropical Orange LabColor

Super Pearly White Mica

1.1 oz. Plumeria Fragrance Oil

Soap Chunks and Fragrance

STEP ONE: Cut the melt and pour soap base into (approximately) 1 inch chunks. Keep the white soap base and clear soap base separate.

Cutting Soap

Ingredients

STEP TWO: Melt the clear soap base in the microwave on 30 second bursts, stirring between bursts, until the base has fully melted.

STEP THREE: Add 2 heaping mini-scoops of Super Pearly White Mica to the melted clear soap base and mix well. The Super Pearly White mica helps to give the soap base a nice shimmer, which adds dimension to the colors we’ll add in the next couple of steps. Use Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol to disperse any mica clumps, they usually float to the top.

STEP FOUR: Add 0.8 oz Plumeria Fragrance Oil and stir until incorporated. Split the soap base into two equal parts, each weighing 20 ounces.

Adding Fragrance

STEP FIVE: To one 20 ounce portion, add 3 mL Diluted Tropical Pink LabColor and mix well. To the second 20 ounce portion, add 5 mL Diluted Tropical Orange LabColor and mix well.

Adding LabColor

STEP SIX: For a super even look, I measured out the soap amounts for each layer. If you’d like a more uniform look, split the Orange and Pink colored soap bases into two portions, each weighing 10 ounces. For a more organic look, no need to split the batches, just eyeball the layers.

STEP SEVEN: Pour the first layer of Pink soap base into the mold, spray with alcohol to pop any bubbles on the surface, and allow to harden.

Pour first layer of soap

STEP EIGHT: Check the temperature of the orange soap. If the orange soap is 125 degrees or below, spray the pink layer with alcohol again, which will help the layers to stick together. Pour the first layer of orange soap. Spray again with alcohol to pop those bubbles and allow to harden. TIP: When pouring layers, the temperature is important; pouring too hot can result in the first layer melting, which can result in an undesired effect. The temperature guidelines in this tutorial are designed to be used with the Bramble Berry ‘House’ melt and pour bases. Other bases may melt and successfully do layers at different temperatures.

Spray with alcohol

STEP NINE: Heat the White Melt and Pour Soap Base in a heat-safe container on 30 second bursts in the microwave until fully melted. Add 2 heaping mini-scoops of Super Pearly White Mica and 0.3 oz Plumeria Fragrance Oil and mix well. Adding mica to an opaque base will add just the right amount shimmer, making the white extra special. Keep in mind that any color added to a white or opaque base will result in a pastel version of that color!

Adding Mica

STEP TEN: Once the white soap base has reached a cool enough temperature, spray the orange layer with alcohol and pour the melted white soap base. Spray again with alcohol and allow to harden. Repeat with another orange layer next, and finish it off with a final pink layer, being sure to check the temperature of the melted soap before pouring the layer.

Poured soap

STEP ELEVEN: Allow to harden for a few hours. Unmold and cut.

Unmolded uncut soap

Check out some of our favorite Melt and Pour recipes!

Super Bouncy Balls || Faux Swirl Cubes || Easter Duckies || Color Block Rainbow

Click here for a printable PDF of this tutorial.

76 Responses to “Free Beginner’s Guide To Soapmaking: Melt and Pour”

  1. Michelle says:

    I love this melt and pour layered project!! Gorgeous…kinda like a sunset : )

  2. Luciefer says:

    I am French and I love your blog I visit regularly. We share the passion of soap: o) This is another great article!

  3. Nickie says:

    I really like this, plumeria is one of my favorites! The colors go well w/ the fragrance & add the mica to it…WOW, a shimmery flower lol
    I cant wait to hear the bramblebump news!!! :)

    ~Nickie~

  4. Tracy/Aiya says:

    Hi! I just wanted to say I love the new features on the Brambleberry shop side bar (paypal and shipping estimator). Or at least I think they are new! I just now saw them and thought sweetttttttttt.

    Thank you for the awesome tutorial as well!!

    Tracy/Aiya

  5. Anita says:

    I am so new in Soaping and I love your site,blog and youtube etc. So inspirational and wonderful.
    I only wish i was in the US so i can just order my supplies as soon as I’ve seen your project to order.

  6. Kelly says:

    The soap looks awesome,I like the colors It makes me feel like I should take a vacation.

    I was woundering about use goat milk for layers, has anyone tryed goatmilk.
    I love the goatmilk, if any one has any ideas?

  7. Kelly says:

    I am sorry I didnt make my self clear on what goatmilk. I use melt and pour soap. I have a special needs child and I am scared about using lye in the house and in the grauge because of my cats and my dog, but I meant melt and pour goatmilk.
    Thank you.

  8. Meagan says:

    Love the look of layered m&p, but some of my layers always want to peel apart. What am I doing wrong? I always spritz with alcohol between layers.

    • Good morning, Meagan!

      I know how frustrating that can be. Typically we like to pour our layers at 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit and spray liberally between our layers. Could you tell me a little bit more about your recipe and I can defintley help you troubleshoot. =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  9. Meagan says:

    Well after watching some of her videos, I remembered that I had put that one in the fridge to get it to set up faster.. lesson learned. Plus, I didn’t know to use the same brand for each project.
    It’s usually crafter’s choice clear.
    Today, I had the same problem when trying to make a jelly roll. Will I always see layers peeling apart if the first layer is cooled?

  10. Karen says:

    I have a question for you. I recently started making soaps with the goats milk melt and pour and sell at craft shows. I personally like this soap, but need to find a way to address a few questions I get at shows. I have people wanting something for sensitive skin and for those who can’t tolerate ‘store bought soap” The soap I am using do you feel would be good for sensitive skin and how does it compare to “store bought” brands. I want people to try my soap but don’t know how they will react so I tell them each person is different , but I would like to beable to give a general idea for them about sensitivity. and ect. Thanks karen

  11. Teresa D says:

    Hi Becky- quick question…if the orange and pink-colored soap for the 2nd layers has started to set up before I’m ready to add it to the mold can I heat it up for a few more seconds in the microwave or will that distort the fragrance/color? I tried my first little melt & pour expirement today (just an easy 2-color bar w/ an embed) & noticed a thin “skin ” starting to form on my unpoured soap. I was able to just give it a stir, but wondered whether I could have zapped it in the microwave.

    Thanks!

  12. Karen says:

    I am using the melt and pour goats milk soap. I was wanting to know if I can add goats milk powdeer to the goats milk melt and pour soap base. If, so how much can I add per pound and can I mix it directly into the melted soap base. I don’t want to change the lathering or the hardness of the finished product as I know adding additives can change the product, but would like to have a more milk rich soap. Thanks for any help! Love your site! Karen

  13. Jane says:

    I’m sorry if this sounds like a really stupid question, but I live in a metric country, and so am not naturally fluent in your measurements… are these oz measurements volume (ie fluid ounces) or weight? Or is the base one and the fragrance oil another? Cheers,
    Jane

    • Hi Jane!

      Not a stupid question at all. I promise you that if you have a question, someone else has had the same one. =) All of the measurements that you will find on the Soap Queen blog (unless otherwise notated)are by weight. This includes the bases, the fragrance oils, the butters, the oils and anything else you could possibly think of. I hope this helps! And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions.

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

      P.S. For up-to-the date news and questions answered, you can join us at Bramble Berry’s Facebook page.

      https://www.facebook.com/BrambleBerry

      We hope to see you there!

  14. Tina says:

    I’m a super newbie M&P soap maker and want to thank you (all staff involved) for posting these tutorials as well as the YouTube videos. I’ve been ‘attending’ Soap Queen school the past week, lol. My supplies are coming in the mail all this week and I’m really excited to get started, but am also enjoying the learning process.

  15. Karen says:

    I have a question. I want to use a melt and pour soap and would like to come up with something for guys who have dirty greasy hands. I want to use pumice in it, but what would be good for grease? Thanks for your help. Karen

  16. Sally says:

    Hi. I used the M & P clear base and something odd happened. All of the soap developed a crystal-like covering. The crystals wiped off but the soap is rather slimey feeling. Is it still ok to use? Can you tell me why it happened? I did leave the soap out uncovered – is this why it happened? Do I need to wrap the soap as soon as it comes out of the mold?

    Thanks so much for your help.
    Sally

  17. [...] For helpful Soap making hints, click here. [...]

  18. Sherrie says:

    This is such a pretty project. I would like to try it with my kids. I am confused about diluting the lab colors. How do I do this? Must distilled water be used? We have well water. How much water is used per ml?

    • Good morning, Sherrie!

      You will just love this project — especially using the bright and vibrant LabColors. To dilute your LabColors, you will need distilled water, your LabColor of choice, a preservative and an extra bottle. The best part (in my opinion), about LabColors is that you can get a full 8 ounces out of a 10 mL bottle!

      For detailed instructions on how to dilute your LabColors, here is a blog post that Anne-Marie wrote a few years ago that I think could really help out:

      Diluting Bramble Berry LabColors: http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/diluting-bramble-berry-labcolors/

      We always suggest using distilled water, because if you use anything else, you do run the chance of microbes and bacteria being in your LabColor — and you wouldn’t want that!

      Let me know if you have any other questions. :)
      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  19. Mary says:

    I typically make cold process soap, but recently had an order for some soaps for wedding favors. I used fragrance oil at the same level I do for cold process.
    In other words, 1 oz per pound. I should have done my homework because that is way too much. The soaps are greasy feeling. Will this eventually absorb into the soap, or do I need to scrap this and start over?

    • Hi Mary!

      Could you tell me a little bit more about this greasy feeling? Sometimes, if you are in a humid area, your melt and pour soaps can begin to sweat and feel a bit greasy. When we make melt and pour soap, our general rule-of-thumb is .25 ounces of fragrance oil per pound of soap, and you can always use the Fragrance Calculator for a more precise measurement. If you are finding that your soaps are too ‘greasy’, I would try to dry them out either using a fan or dehumidifier. As soon as they are dry, wrap them up completely in plastic wrap to prevent any sweating or glycerin dew. I hope this helps! :)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

      Fragrance Calculator: http://www.brambleberry.com/Pages/Fragrance-Calculator.aspx

  20. Denise says:

    Can I use MP ingredients in my CP recipe?

  21. Akeisha says:

    How do I make my melt and pour more sudsy?

  22. Mimi Comerford says:

    I have just completed my first loaf mold and love it. My biggest challenge was keeping the soap bases at the right temperature. It always seemed like when I needed to pour the next layer my colored soap had gotten too cold and started to harden or I had to reheat it and then it was too hot to pour… Any tips for that? Would it help to keep it on a hot plate?

    • Hi Mimi!

      We are so excited that you’ve started making handmade soap and can’t wait to hear more about your adventures. The best thing about melt and pour soap is that if your soap that is waiting to be pour gets hard or cooler, you can just pop it in the microwave to reheat it and pour when you are ready! It is totally okay to reheat it as many times as you would like to get it ready to pour, but just remember to put it on 30-second (or smaller) bursts in the microwave so it doesn’t get too hot! =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  23. Sally says:

    Hi Becky,

    You gave me good advice before and now I’m back for more. I live on the coast so have to deal with a lot of humidity. I’ve been wrapping my M&P soap in shrink wrap leaving the ends open so you can smell the soap. Even with a small opening the soap is developing crystals. What do you recommend as the best way to wrap the soap to prevent the crystals from forming yet still allow the scent to come through?

    Thanks,
    Sally

  24. Way up says:

    Thanks once again.
    Sally

  25. […] Beginner’s Guide To Melt & Pour Soap Making […]

  26. Reham says:

    Hi sally
    I was make soap but when i put the fragrance the oil float up
    What can i do ???
    Thanks

  27. Diane says:

    This was so informative-thanks for sharing.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Diane!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this blog post! If you give melt and pour a try, we would love to see it on our Facebook page! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  28. Asawar Sajid says:

    Thanks for your recipes! We are experimenting on soaps and the layering process! We visit the website daily and watch the tutorials on how to perfect the soap recipes. We hope you can visit our website once the launch happens. Cheers!

  29. Marva says:

    I made my first batch of melt snd pour soap recently. I notice that after a couple hours out of the mold, the soap became frosty with a coatingbof what looked like bubbles. Is this normal. If not, how do I prevent this?

    Marva

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Marva!

      It is normal to experience bubbles on the top of your melt and pour. To avoid this, after you have poured your soap into the mold, spray with a fine mist bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol. This will break up any bubbles on top if the soap. We also recommend covering your melt and pour with plastic wrap to avoid the melt and pour from sweating due to the glycerin.

      I hope this helps! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  30. Sue says:

    I enjoyed this post on melt and pour. I was curious if anyone had information for combining melt and pour with cold process. I am new to cold process but have made several batches. Recently I purchased a couple of bars of soap- one had a line of glycerin soap in between 2 layers of cold process and the other the glycerin was swirled with the cold process. I have looked everywhere online and cannot find out how to do this. Does anyone have suggestions? Thank you!!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Sue!

      There are definitely ways to combine melt and pour with cold process techniques. Melt and Pour is perfect for adding embeds into cold process, which you can see in these two projects!

      Cold Process Planets in a Melt and Pour Galaxy:
      http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/melt-and-pour-soap/otion-repost-planet-soap/

      Cold Process with a Twist:
      http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/cold-process-soap/cold-process-with-a-twist/

      If you are looking to add a line of melt and pour between two layers of cold process, while we have never tried it, it can certainly be done! I would make one layer of cold process, let it harden thoroughly in the mold, pour melt and pour on top, let it harden, and then pour another layer of cold process on top. In between the layers, I would recommend spraying with isopropyl alcohol, to help the layers stick to each other. Swirling the melt and pour would be a little trickier. Again this is something we haven’t tried (but maybe need to!) but I could see temperatures being an issue, and the rate at which they harden. If you try it, let us know how it goes :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  31. Vimax Asli says:

    wow,,, this cool boss can create their own experiments at home
    thank you for posting a very amazing once

  32. Carmen says:

    Hi there!

    So quick question: I tried doing layers the other day and the soaps just mixed together. I know you say to wait till it’s at 120° but how hard should the first layer be before pouring the second layer? Or should letting the second layer cool help?

    Thanks!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Carmen!

      Layers can be a little tricky sometimes :). I definitely recommend letting the first layer cool a bit, that way it can support the second layer without the layer breaking through. A few minutes should do the trick.

      You may find this Soap Queen Tv video helpful!

      Soap Queen Tv: Basic Layers:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oyh1Bf3Gxo

      I hope that helps!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  33. Rachel says:

    I have a question about weighing out bases…If I want to melt down a large quantity in a presto pot then measure it out for individual projects, will the weight still be accurate? For example, if I need 2oz of hardened melt and pour, will 2oz of melted liquid melt and pour base weigh the same?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Rachel!

      You’re correct, if you melt down a certain amount, it will weight the same once it is melted, and will still weigh the same once it hardens again :) I hope this helps!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  34. Rebecca says:

    Still reading and studying soap making for personal use and started gathering my supplies.i grow papayas and would like to see a recipe with papaya oil or papaya juice. Thanks

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Rebecca!

      I’m so glad that you’re interested in making soap, it’s a lot of fun. If you’re interested in melt and pour specifically, I would not recommend adding juice, or additional oil to the base. The bases are already made with luxurious oils and butters. The more you add to the base, the more the consistency will change. The lather will start to decrease or you could end up with a softer bar of soap.

      If you are interested in making cold process soap, using juice could result in a soap volcano because of the additional sugar. You can see an example of a soap volcano here!

      Coconut Milk Soap Volcano:
      http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/cold-process-soap/coconut-milk-soap-volcano-2/

      If you have any more questions, we are happy to help :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  35. Andaluza says:

    Hi Amanda, if I use a melt&pour base to make my soaps, can I still call them handmade? I am wondering if handmade is an appropriate term to put on the soap labels.

    Thanks!

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