Mix and match your favorite scents and colorants when making this fun and easy soap dough, similar to homemade play-dough. It’s a snap to whip together and will provide hours of play. After creating shapes, you can leave them out for several days to harden and dry, then use the resulting soaps in a bath. Alternatively, you can roll the dough back into a ball and store it in an airtight container. Soften it for five to ten seconds in a microwave on defrost mode. Since kids will most likely use this project, I suggest only kid-safe essential oils (see suggestions below). Do not let children handle undiluted essential oils or hot soap dough; let it cool before letting them use it.
Yield: one 5-ounce (142-g) ball of soap dough
- 5 oz (142 g) white soap base, chopped into 1″ (2.5-cm) cubes
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp natural colorant of choice, diluted in twice as much rubbing alcohol
- 0.75 g (1/8 + 1/16 tsp) essential oil
- 3 to 4 tbsp (24 to 32 g) cornstarch or arrowroot powder, plus more if needed
- In a heatproof jar or container, melt the soap base, using the double-boiler method, heating over medium-low heat for 15 to 25 minutes, or the microwave method, heating for 15 to 20 seconds at a time, until it’s melted. Stir in the diluted natural colorant and essential oil until they’re thoroughly combined. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, 1 tablespoon (8 g) at a time, stirring after each addition.
- Continue to stir as the mixture cools. It will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. When it turns into a lumpy dough, remove it from the bowl and continue to knead it in your hands or on a sheet of parchment paper, adding a sprinkle of cornstarch as needed if the dough feels too sticky. When the dough turns smooth and easy to work with, it’s ready for use!
- Using cookie cutters or play-dough tools, cut the soap in a variety of shapes. Allow it to air-dry until hard; this may take several hours to several days. Store the soaps in an airtight container and remove them one at a time as needed.
Suggested Colors & Kid-Safe Scents
These are the specific colorants and essential oil amounts I used to create the batches of soap dough shown in the photo.
- Purple (calming): 1/4 tsp purple Brazilian clay + 0.75 g (1/8 + 1/16 tsp) lavender essential oil
- Blue (encourages positivity): 1/8 tsp woad + 0.75 g (1/8 + 1/16 tsp) spearmint essential oil
- Green (soothes overexcitement): 1/8 tsp chlorella powder + 0.75 g (1/8 + 1/16 tsp) Himalayan cedarwood essential oil
- Yellow (brightens mood): 1/8 tsp safflower powder + 0.75 g (1/8 + 1/16 tsp) lemon essential oil
- Pink (uplifting): 1/8 tsp madder root + 0.75 g (1/8 + 1/16 tsp) pink grapefruit essential oil
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Reprinted with permission from Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps by Jan Berry, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Jan Berry.