Updated: Jun 7, 2020
My very thoughtful boyfriend booked us a soap-making class at Once Upon a Star as a surprise, as he wanted to help with my goal of making (at least) one thing every month.
The workshop was held at someone’s flat, and we happened to be the only two participants for the session that day.
The instructor gave us a sheet of paper with some basic information on the soap and options we had to customize – colour and fragrance, and we started getting down to making choices. The first decision to make was whether we wanted transparent or an opaque soap base, and since there were two of us so we decided to take a both to try.
I asked if it was possible to make soap from scratch from raw / natural ingredients, and the instructor said yes, but it would take at least a couple of weeks to harden (unlike in commercial production where they add some chemicals to speed that up)
The soap base bars were melted in little chocolate fondue pots (above) ha. While they were being melted down, we had to choose the colours, fragrances, and moulds.
For colours and fragrances, food colouring and essential oils were used, all of which were safe to be used on the skin. There was a whole range to choose from, and there was a cheat sheet in the handouts providing information on the different benefits of the various essential oil. Being a little boring (and irritating), I chose the lavender-flavoured essential oil because it’s supposed to be a calming and good for sleeping (which I already knew, but still asked lots of questions about other options and for recommendations, which I didn’t end up taking anyway :p). He picked lemongrass. As for the colour, I was “compelled” to pick yellow since I selected a pikachu mould 😀
There was a whole catalogue of moulds available, and we went for the more “basic” ones (with the exception of the pikachu one, of course).
The instructor taught some simple techniques e.g. “spraying” ethanol on the surface of the filled moulds to remove air bubbles, filling a bit of the mould with one colour and letting it harden before pouring in the next.
Once the soap hardened, we had to gently pull it out of the mould – extra care had to be taken for the parts with words / little designs on it. The final step was then to wrap the soap in cling wrap – this proved to be the most challenging part of the workshop, but a critical one to make sure the soap can be kept for a longer time without funky stuff forming on it when moisture goes in etc.
My pikachu soap, the 2 coloured soap (done by filling in the clover section and waiting for it to harden before pouring int the transparent bit), and a a basic purple bar with a “100% handmade” design
We also learnt some good lessons about what not to do when mixing colours (opacity) – one should always let the opaque colour be the base, and ideally only pour in the transparent one later (instead of vice versa). This is because even though we wait for the “first layer” soap to harden before pouring the next, the next layer will always be hot (in order to be in liquid form), and will still mix into the first layer. My boyfriend had the fortune of learning about this:
The green / “brown” bar on the left: the brown opaque second layer created a little “meteor” / “fart” into the first transparent green one.
The yellow / “purple swirls” bar on the right: I made the yellow opaque first layer, and then poured the transparent purple swirly one as the second layer, so it isn’t noticeable even though the second layer might have melted into the opaque yellow first one.
All the soap we made:
My lavendar flavoured ones – I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to finish using all of them…
The first one I started using – had to buy a soap container too..it’s been a while since I used soap (so my shower times are a wee bit longer to accommodate to my fumbling around with the soap)
Details of the workshop
Duration: Up to two hours (we took a bit less) Price: $38 per person for a basic session (250g of soap – that easily gives at least 4 “pieces”, 2 colours, 2 fragrances), they have other options – check out their facebook page here
Level of “fun”: 3/5
The most fun part of it was mixing the colours and pouring it into the mould. It’s reminiscent of when we try to mix paint / chemicals to create pretty colours, except this time it ends up in a soap (and not an explosion).
I imagine it can be a fun activity for children and families 🙂
Level of difficulty: 1.5/5
This is one of the simplest workshops I have gone for. The most challenging part was having to wrap the soap in cling wrap. It’s manageable for most of the regular-shaped ones (with some pulling & tugging to make sure it’s tight etc.), but so precarious when trying to wrap my dear little pikachu without breaking off its ears.
It is a simple workshop that is definitely suitable for those who want to make stuff, but do not have confidence in their hands (yet)!