What You Need to Get Started
This is just a simple list, as you get more advanced you may want to experienced you may want to move away from using the microwave to using a double boiler, try some different kinds of molds, and embedding soap inside soap. Most of these supplies can be found at a local craft store such as Michael’s or Jo-Anns Fabrics. Many of the soap supplies found at these stores are made by Life-of-the-Party. You can also buy on eBay, but for glycerin soap base the cost of shipping makes it unreasonable in most cases.
Glycerin Soap Base: You probably want to start out with a 2lb brick, which you can usually find in opaque or clear. Some stores also carry soap base in 10lb bricks, but often they only carry clear.
Soap Coloring: Most stores will just carry liquid soap coloring, which is actually my favorite way of coloring soap. Some stores carry powder coloring. Concentrate colored soap bricks can also be found, but usually only online unless you have a supplier in your area.
Soap Fragrance Oil or Essential Oil: Local craft stores tend to carry small 0.25 ounce bottles, which are perfect for beginners. If you find you life making soaps you should move away from these often low quality small bottles of fragrance oils and instead look for good quality ones on eBay or other online stores. Make sure when purchasing fragrance or essential oils that they say melt and pour soap safe because some are made only for candles and can cause skin reactions.
Mold: Plastic molds can be found in the soap making section of craft stores. There are a variety of shapes to choose from massage bars to flowers to animals. Also, check the chocolate making section for small shape molds for making single use hand soaps or embeds. Flexible rubber like ice cube molds, such as the ones made by IKEA, are also great to use.
Glass Measuring Cup: A pour able Pyrex like one works best for melting, mixing in dye and oil, and pouring into mold.
Table Knife: Glycerin soap is rather easy to cut through, so a regular table knife will do. It also works well for stirring the soap.
Basic Melt and Pour Soap Making Method
The easiest way to make melt and pour soap and to get used to the process is to start out by using a microwave to melt the soap.
Step 1: Cut the glycerin soap into small chunks and place in measuring cup. Fill it up as much as you think you will need to fill desired mold. Try to overestimate until you get a feel of how much each mold takes. It is better to have extra than to find you have to melt some more after you started filling mold.
Step 2: Microwave the soap in 15 to 30 second intervals. Stir after each interval. Try not to boil the soap, as it creates bubbles. When the soap is mostly liquid the microwave part is done. It is okay if there are a few remaining small solid pieces. Just stir until they melt.
Step 3: Now it is time to add color and fragrance. First add the color you desire your soap to be to the melted soap and stir. The soap should have slightly cooled off by now. As long as it is not steaming add the fragrance oil and stir in. If still steaming slowly stir until it cools. When a thin skin starts to form on top it is time to pour in mold, but be sure to first remove this thin skin and discard.
Step 4: Slowly pour liquid soap into mold(s). It is nice to have small soap molds handy when making bigger soaps, so you can use any extra liquid soap and pour it into small soaps. You can also save extra for use later. To get rid of some of the bubbles that may form when stirring, pouring, etc., you can spray some rubbing alcohol after you pour the soap.
Step 5: Leave the soap in the mold for about an hour or two. Time depends on size of mold used and heat of soap poured. Flip mold over and gently push soap out. If using clear plastic mold you should be able to see the air slowly come into mold as the soap is released. Do not put soap in fridge or freezer to help in removing unless extremely necessary, as it weakens plastic molds and allows condensation to form on soap minimizing life of soap. You now have created your very own special soap.