How to Layer Melt and Pour – Rainbow Soap Tutorial
Wondering why your soap is peeling apart? Check out this tutorial for how to layer soap for the super easy fix and make some fun rainbow soap, too!
I honestly don’t know how it happens… I have the best intentions and, heck, maybe even a plan all written out. But sometimes I have those days where I repeatedly get so sidetracked.
I start off most days with a list so I can remember what I must do, what I’d like to do and what it would be nice if I could get started on. Getting sidetracked right from the beginning, I found myself concerned that my handwriting on my morning ritual is ugly… Is it ugly? Hmm. Better safe than sorry, and more than a little OCD, I typed up my list with a nice handwritten font and then printed it out. Now was all that necessary? Hmm.
Looking down at my now incredibly neat list (which kind of bothers me in a different way, YIKES!) I realize I want to do some soaping and I remember that Rob put my coconut oil in the pantry instead of the office. On my way to retrieve it, I see the fridge and realize that I didn’t take my antibiotic today because, you know, I nearly hacked the tip of my finger off recently making a cardboard cat scratcher. So I veer toward the refrigerator where I pull out some yogurt because, well, you know. Oh, but the antibiotics are in my nightstand. Oh, hey! I need to wash the sheets today.
And then I’m back at my computer with a warm yogurt and I can’t remember why I left my office in the first dang place. But luckily I got my act together (on a different day, mind :) and today I’m going to show you how to layer soap. Layering soap is super easy but if you’ve ever worked with melt and pour and finished your project and when you unmolded it realized that it peeled apart at the layers, this is the post for you, my friends.
Ooh, but I’m about to get sidetracked for yet another time… let me tell you about my itty bitty silicone loaf soap mold I got. I had been wanting to make a loaf of soap for AGES but THAT’S A LOT OF FREAKING SOAP, you know? I mean, this is an average-ish sized loaf mold and it uses holds 40-44 fluid ounces of soap. This means that when you use it, you’re using about 3 to 3.5 pounds of melt and pour to fill it. THREE POUNDS! or even worse, THREE AND A HALF POUNDS! Since I wanted to make a loaf that’s not even half that I looked around and scored a 4-inch loaf mold from Brambleberry for $9. Filling it all the way to the tippy top uses 1.4 pounds which is MUCH BETTER for my budget and I super big time LURVE IT.
Since I’ve gotten my little mold I’ve actually found a set of 2 molds, that look to me to be pretty much the same size, that get pretty good reviews (albeit just a few) where you can score 2 mini soap loaf molds for less than the 1 I got. You’ll save money by only making as much soap as you actually need and you’ll basically get 2 molds for the price of 2. Awesome :)
Want to learn how to layer soap and make some awesome rainbow soap while we’re at it?
For this project you will need:
- 4-inch Silicone Soap Loaf Mold
- Melt and Pour Soap Base (I used clear)
- Rainbow Soap Colorant (I used mica powder pigments)
- Glass Measuring Cup
- Fragrance Oil
- Small Scale (optional but super helpful and this one is PINK and CHEAP!)
- Spray Bottle of 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
- Soap Slicer (this is a set of 2, works like a dream and is a STEAL!)
I am crap at eyeballing things but I’ve finally learned… In all honesty, I only bought this scale because it was under $11 and pink and cute, but as it turns out it totally has its place in a craft room :)
To fill one of these smaller loaf pans with 7 even layers of changing colors you’ll need to weigh out 7 little heaps of melt and pour soap weighing 3.2 ounces apiece.
Dig out 7 colors of the rainbow, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. (I cheated and removed either an indigo or a violet which is either a blue or a purple, or whatever and added pink) If using mica pigments also dig out a little plastic cup to use…
So for this soap, my initial plan had been to use a Bubble Gum fragrance because bubble gum scented rainbow soap is freaking cute. But since Rob is the one currently in need of soap I decided to go with something a little more, shall we say, manly? In all honesty, I had a few fragrances that I really, really wanted to try together to see if they’d make a “musk of man” sort of smell and guess, what? They totally do!
So I’ve got a musky man rainbow scented soap that comes together with a little bit of Dirt (yes dirt scented fragrance oil!), Leather, Cedar, Amber and Forest Pine. Each layer I scented with something different and I doubled up on the cedar and dirt, though I wish I would have doubled on the amber and leather. And if you’re wondering, Rob LOVES the scent. After using it the first time he literally said “that rainbow soap is so cool!” Huzzah!
If you don’t want slightly dirt scented soap, I’d suggest a fun, flirty scent like bubble gum! :)
Make sure your loaf mold is clean and melt your first 3.2 ounce batch of melt and pour in 30-second bursts in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup. I go Pyrex. Warm until most of the soap is liquid and then stir to finish off any remaining chunks without overheating the soap.
Now I’ve spent a long time coloring my soaps with mica by putting them into the hot melt and pour and then whipping the bejesus out of it but it gets full of bubbles becaise up have to stir the dickens ou tof it to get the powder to incorporate well and so I figured out a different way…
In a small cup squirt a small amount of 91% isopropyl alcohol. I didn’t measure this and you just want a really small amount. Transfer a small amount of red powder (a little goes a long way!) and mix into the alcohol until fully dissolved and incorporated.
Pour the mica tinted alcohol into your melted soap and stir gently to incorporate. Oh, and all of the bubbles in the soap will burst, so yay for nice and smooth soap! Let the soap cool down just a bit and add your fragrance oil.
Did you know that adding the oil while the soap is still really hot diminishes the scent? You can still get a nice, strong scent by using more, but that’s so wasteful! Just give it a minute or 2 to start to cool off before adding for richly fragranced soap that won’t break the bank!
Pour the soap into the bottom of your loaf mold and spray the top with a light spritz of alcohol to pop any foam or bubbles.
Allow your soap a little bit to begin setting up, I typically run around the house cleaning or play a game of solitaire or something, until the top of the soap has firmed up a bit. The soap beneath will likely still be liquid so when testing don’t push too hard or you’ll break through the “skin”.
Melt your next 3.2-ounce parcel of soap and color orange and scent it. Next, SPRAY THE TOP OF YOUR PREVIOUS LAYER WITH A FINE MIST OF ALCOHOL.
Wait! Did you spray the top of the red soap in the mold with a little bit of alcohol? You did? Awesome, you get a gold star and you’re ready to move on… Pour the orange soap on top of the red and spray the top of the orange with alcohol to pop the bubbles and foam. Do your run around, deal out another 7 stacks of cards or do whatever you do to stay away and allow your soap to set up approximately 7-15 minutes :)
You’re going to repeat this process over and over again in rainbow order: yellow, green, blue, purple, pink. Melt the next color, spray the previous layer in the mold with alcohol, pour the freshly melted soap on top, spray with alcohol again to pop bubbles and wait it out to allow the layer to begin setting up.
Want to learn the secret to making layered soap? Spray the previous layer of soap with alcohol to ensure proper adhesion of the layers and no awful peeling soap.
That’s it! Though I don’t know why, and despite some fairly heavy internet research, I have not been able to learn WHY isopropyl alcohol helps layers of soap stick together. I just know that it does!
Since I did do quite a bit of research I can tell you a little bit about using alcohol in soap making in general… My ingredients list suggests you use 91% isopropyl alcohol. The reason for this is you can easily find 91% alcohol at grocery stores, pharmacies and even Sam’s Club. Isopropyl alcohol is also called rubbing alcohol and is NOT safe for consumption. It’s the stuff you get in the pharmacy section and use as a disinfectant to treat cuts and stuff. Isopropyl alcohol is a blend of isopropanol and water with the percentage being the amount of alcohol in the blend. The higher the percentage the more alcohol and less water, which is better for soap making. They do sell 99% alcohol but I have only found it for order online and it’s expensive and you have to pay shipping to boot.
A higher percentage of alcohol is preferred when making soap, especially layering soap, because the water in the isopropyl alcohol is going to evaporate slowly and can leave bubbles in between your layers. The less water, the fewer bubbles and the better and less cloudy your soap looks at the end of the day. I’ve used both 70% and 91% and there is a big difference between the 2 and I’d strongly recommend purchasing the 91% for soap making. Granted I’ve never tried the 99% but if you’re not as cheap as me, you should totally give it a go!
Back to this beautiful rainbow soap…
Once fully layered allow your soap a good while to cool and set up. Overnight is a great idea and if you have a full 24 hours, that’s even better to ensure everything is cooled off and set up fairly firmly because soft soap easily dings and scratches for an ugly finish. Pull the silicone mold away from the sides of the soap to loosen it and then push the bottom to pop the whole loaf of soap out.
Cut using a soap cutter or a sharp kitchen knife (be careful!) into 4 bars. I basically cut the loaf in half and then in half again to get bars that are approximately the same size, but you can also use a ruler to get bars with more precise widths. If your edges are a bit rough, rub your finger down the edges to smooth out. Boom! Four beautifully scented (or manly muskily scented, haha) bars of rainbow melt and pour soap easy as you please!