I've been wanting to do something non-bookish on the blog but couldn't think what. I'm not much for cooking, I can't garden worth a darn, and I don't sew, knit,or do anything creative. Then I remembered that I make soaps, bath salts, and sugar scrubs, and that's both creative AND crafty. One Saturday a month, or when I remember :D, I'll share some photos and recipes and chat a bit. I'm by no means an expert, it's a casual hobby, though for a few years I did have an online store. I still sell if you ever want to place an order.
This month I'm talking about molds. No, not the nasty stuff growing in your bathroom that's bad for breathing, but the devices you pour your melted soap base into to give it a shape. You can buy them or make them. The main criteria is that it be able to safely withstand temps of up to 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get your soap base hotter than that, then you've burnt it. Ideally, it'll be 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. So your container must be able to withstand that heat without breaking, cracking, or warping.
So what can you use? There are wooden soap molds though I've never used one; metal ones, a pain to get the soap out when it's cured but good and strong; plastic, which tends to warp after a number of uses; PVC pipes, also a nuisance for removing the finished soap; and silicone molds, my favorite. They are super easy to remove soaps from, clean easily, and last a long time. They're also expensive but worth it if you're serious about soap making (I've read that the wooden ones are too) or if there's a shape or style that you will be using regularly.
You can buy molds at the same craft stores where you buy your soap bases, online at soap and crafting sites, or the kitchen aisle of your grocery story or big box store! I've gotten quite a few items there that I use for soaps, especially muffin and cake pans. My friend Elizabeth buys Jello Jiggler kits and uses the Jiggler molds for her soaps.
These have a short life span and you can't easily mass produce a particular design but they're fun and relatively inexpensive.
Then there are the cheap plastic molds specifically for soap that you can buy at Michael's or other craft stores or online. They have a short life span as they inevitably warp or crack and you can only produce a few bars at a time.
Next up, cake and muffin pans! They can be metal or silicone. This metal train cake pan is a bear to get the soap out of without wrecking the soap in the process. Many bad words were involved while I figured it out. :D Part of the problem with this particular design is how detailed it is. I got this from the baking aisle at Walmart.
After many bad words and one wrecked bar of soap, success was achieved!
Then there are the silicone molds. These come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. The wolf and coyote paw soaps I shared a few months ago were made from silicone molds. Click here for a sample of what's available. They are good for small batches of a design or shape.
I know it's hard to see the little purple mold, it's a curled up cat.
the sleeping cat on top of a circle base of clear glycerin.
For mass production, you want a log style mold or a mold that has multiple cavities of the same shape or design.
You can also get creative and make your own molds but I haven't done that. You can Google the info or hit up your library or book store for how-to books on soap making.
Take a look around and see what you have or can make or can buy. Candy molds work well too! I go out shopping or just out and about and often look at something and go, "I can use that to make soap!" :D Amazon also has lots of fun molds for cakes, etc. that could be used for soaps so go wild and have fun!