[4]   MOLDS
Though we will be exploring molds in depth in later chapters and in many of the available downloads, a good, basic starting mold would be #M154 by LIFE OF THE PARTY, pictured below.  It will be needed for many of the designs featured in this book and is almost always available at local craft stores.  We will also be using . . .

However, the main thing needed in pouring and unmolding your soaps is patience.  A little free, level space, in the freezer will also be helpful; a timer or clock will also assist in this process.  For solid, single-pour, molded soaps, you can lightly spritz the mold with a non-stick, cooking spray, for easier release.  However, I have found these to be a poor choice for soaps requiring more than one pour.  Any kind of layering seems ill-affected by the non-stick, cooking spray, usually resulting in layers coming apart.  With practice, I think you'll find that a few minutes in the freezer will get the job done while maintaining the integrity of the soap.

Anchor Hocking Oven Originals or original Pyrex are the most well-known and reliable.  For safety reasons, don't cut corners on this item; you'll be using it over and over again.  Do not use a plastic measuring cup for soap melting.  Although a one-cup size, glass, microwave-safe, measuring cup will be adequate for most projects, I also recommend having a two-cup size on hand.  If you are making loaf soaps, you will likely need a four-cup size.

Do not use a plastic measuring cup for melting soap base.  There are many microwave-safe plastics that will not hold up to the temperature of the melting soap base.

These now come in many shapes and sizes; some are even dyed to expand their uses in crafting.  The important thing is that they comfortably reach the bottom of the measuring cup while leaving sufficient length to keep your fingers from getting burned by the hot, melted soap base.  Do not use the pretty, colored craft sticks for stirring soap base as the dye from the craft stick will bleed into the soap base.

Watch out for rough edges and splinters as the craft sticks may not have been sanded to a smooth finish.

In the freezer, all you need is enough level space on which to sit a mold for expedited hardening.  We will not be freezer-finishing clear soaps as they tend to cloud up during the quick cooling and often don't return back to a clear state at room temperature.  For soaps we will "freezer finish", a timer is critical.  We want the soap hardened, not frozen solid.  Most will take no more than 20 minutes in the freezer.  it's easy to get busy with other tasks and forget about the soap.  For the multi-tasker, an "alarmed" timer is key.

Most know that microwaves can vary somewhat in power.  In the last seconds of melting, soap both bubbles and rises.  Until you know about how quickly various quantities of soap will melt, watch it through the glass.  Even experienced soapers will sometimes get a bubble-over.  Putting a paper (NOT styrofoam) plate under the measuring cup can save on clean-up time.  Should you get a bubble-over, just allow the soap to set and you can easily peel it up.

Not tequila and not perfume, just regular old rubbing alcohol.  Empty and thoroughly washed body spray bottles work well.  the "window cleaner" type bottles often spray out in too much of a stream or with too much force.  You want a light, misting spray.  Alcohol is used to remove the air bubbles from the soap and to aid in the adherence of layers and embeds.  I have found it to be a necessity in every project.

Whether hardening at room temperature; hardening in the freezer or firming without hardening, a timer will be extremely beneficial to your soap making success.  And most crafters know, already, that it's just too easy to get so involved in the crafting process that you lose track of time.

It doesn't have to be razor sharp and you don't need to pull out the 12" butcher knife, but a butter knife won't easily cut your soap block into cubes.  Your most common cuts will be through a 4-cube length and then cutting that length into individual cubes.  This is a soap block you'll be cutting, so (again) it's slippery.  Be careful and take your time.  You'll remove the entire block to make many of your cuts, replace the block into the container, and cover it when you're done.  This keeps the soap from drying out.  Also, if you have containers of multiple soap formulations (goat's milk and shea butter, for example), keeping the labeled top on the soap will help you distinguish between them.

Use extra care when cutting cubes from your block of soap base as the soap base, naturally, is very slippery!

If you are using a wooden cutting board or any porous or semi-porous surface, make sure to designate and label it as a non-food surface.  Permanent marker should work fairly well.  Obviously, the main idea here is to keep soapy remnants from a soap-embedded surface from getting into your food.  I tend to rely on the 12-inch, white, ceramic tile to which I previously referred.

Pipettes and plastic eyedroppers will work but tend to hold fragrance even when washed.  Test the eyedropper to make sure it pulls only part-way into the glass tube and NOT all the way into the rubber squeeze cap.  Eyedroppers that pull into the rubber cap are notorious for "hiding" remnants.  This is particularly hazardous when using a dropper for liquid colorant.  Even washed, you can't see any clinging color and it could backfire and backwash into your very next soap.

Above left:  Glass eyedroppers that remain, after numerous uses, unstained.  they also pull either fragrance or color only part of the way into the dropper.
Above right:  Plastic eyedroppers that are, as you can see, stained yellow after only a few uses.  This style eyedropper pulls either color or fragrance all the way up and into the black rubber cap.

Always rinse your dropper in hot water after every use in order to not "pollute" the next fragrance or color.  At the end of your soap making session, remove the rubber cap and was thoroughly.  The glass tube can be soaked in a small dish with a half-and-half mixture of laundry bleach, then rinsed and left to dry.  Do not soak the rubber cap in the bleach mixture as the bleach will compromise the integrity of the rubber.

Check your prices.  I have found eyedroppers in specialty stores at ridiculously high prices.  Check pharmacies and discount stores with pharmacies as well.

you'll need a 1/8 tsp, 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp and teaspoon measuring spoons at the very least.  Clearly they will be used to measure, but the DESSERT SOAPS download also shares another innovative use.

I recommend having a minimum of 2 or 3 on-hand for making color cubes, storing leftovers and other projects.

These will come in handy again and again.  You can use them to isolate your fragrance blend tests; store completed soaps; and store soap leftovers that have been colored and scented.  I encourage you to label any scented leftovers so you'll know which fragrance you're blending with when you use it.

If you're just starting out in soap making, I know this is a lot of information.  I have tried to make it as complete as possible to save you some of the frustrations I experienced when I first began making soaps.

Cookie Cutters
Fondant Cutters
Polymer Clay Cutters
Candy Molds
Large Muffin Tins
Mini-Cake Tins
Other Soap Molds
Make-shift Molds
It's also a good idea to keep your vent or exhaust fan on.  The fumes from melted soap and the scent of concentrated fragrance oils can build up.

Most microwave ovens also have a timer function that will come in handy.
Basic Information