Layering melt and pour soaps is easy. The key to making great-layered soaps is to have the ingredients that can be made ahead of time, ready. Next, it is important to be very patient; each layer has to be thoroughly set before the next layer is added.
Good preparation involves gathering all the ingredients and tools needed. Next, it is important to have soap colorants that do not bleed into adjacent layers. Colors sometimes differ according to manufactures. Suppliers will sometimes change color names to protect their sources and so as not to infringe on copyrighted or trademarked names.
In addition, suppliers will mix their own proprietary color combinations. The chief thing to look for if you are using colors for melt and pour soaps and do not want colors that bleed into adjacent layers, is to make sure colors are non-bleeding colors. Usually colors that are pigments, micas and even colored clays will not bleed. Usually dyes will bleed. However, some suppliers may mix a combination of dyes with non-bleeding pigments and will advertise the color as a nonbleeding color. This may be true. So, one cannot say with certainty that a color with a dye product will always bleed. Still, sometimes colors that will not normally bleed in one kind of soap, may bleed in another kind of soap.
The most effective way to ensure that colors are non-bleeding is to check with the manufacturer and then secondly to do your own testing. To test a particular color, make a small test batch with desired colors layered next to an opaque white base and watch the colors over a period of two to three weeks. Sometimes it takes more that two weeks or even a month for the color bleeding to become evident. It is important to stick to suppliers who know their product and have tested the colors they are selling in different products.
1. Method of melting soap (bain marie, double boiler method, microwave method, direct stove method)
2. Isopropyl alcohol, vodka or distilled water in spray bottle (to spray one layer before adding the next)
3. Non-bleeding colors - like oxides and non-bleeding pigments. Also micas can be used.
4. Loaf or individual mold
5. Fragrance or essential oil blend Decide how much soap will be used in each layer of soap. If the soap mold is a loaf mold and the manufacturer says that the mold holds about 50 oz. of soap, then decide how many ounces embeds and fragrance total. Subtract this sum from the total volume. The amount left, then can be distributed to each layer. So, if the mold holds 50 oz. and the embeds you have on hand totals 10 oz and the fragrance is 4 oz, then the combination weight of the soap base and fragrance will have to be 40 oz.
It is important to keep a log of the amounts of each layer and embed combinations along with fragrance. If this is not done, then each time you are making layers, you will be guessing the amounts of each ingredient needed. To keep an accurate count of how much soap is used means that ingredients will not be wasted.
So, for the first batch of layered soap in each mold, weigh or measure the ingredients. If a scale is not available, then the next best thing to do is to measure the melted soap and record this amount, or approximate the weight and note the amount. This is especially important if you use many different molds. For example, if you are using a log mold and the mold holds 50 oz. of soap and the layered soap you are making has three layers with embeds on two layers-- The first thing to do is to list the amounts to ensure that your total is not more than the mold will hold: Have embeds ready before making the soap
Soap layer 1 = 16 oz.
Soap layer 2 = 8 oz.
Soap layer 3 = 12 oz.
Large red embed = 8 oz.
Small red embeds = 2 oz.
Fragrance oil = 4 oz
Total = 50 oz.
Melt soap according to manufacturer's directions. Allow to cool until skin forms on top. Stir, and allow to cool until lukewarm. Add color and fragrance. Follow manufactures instructions for color mixing. Some colors clump so to mix take out about 1 tablespoon of melted soap and combine with color, then add back to melted soap. It is important to work quickly so that soap does not get too thick and unworkable.
Pour soap into mold. Before embeds are placed into layer, spritz them with alcohol, or other liquid. If embeds are large, turn them over and spray all surfaces. Then add them if this is part of the design. Embeds will not sink to the bottom of the mixture if soap is cool, rather than hot. The cooler the soap the more control you have of where to place the embeds. Allow soap to set and cool for about one hour or so. Soap may be placed into the refrigerator to set. However, be forewarned that soap will absorb strong odors from the refrigerator. Also, food will absorb some of the scent if soap is left in the refrigerator for a long period of time.
To Add further layers:
Check soap to make sure layer is set completely and there are no hot spots left. Spritz layer with alcohol or other liquid and pour lukewarm melted base that has been colored and fragranced. Moisten embeds with spray and add to last layer. Allow soap to set for several hours or overnight.
Sources for Colorants and Molds
TKB Trading has the widest assortment of colors. They have as many types of colors as can be imagined; micas, dyes, pigments, oxides, clays, natural and noncosmetic colors. Also, they sell ingredients to make mineral makeup. They sell both bulk and small quantities. Buying bulk is cheaper than buying small quantities. Think about this - A 4-8 oz. bottle of colorant can last for about a whole year.TKB Trading.
Nouveau Designs is the first company that I ever purchased colorants from many years ago. They have wonderful ready made embeds, custom colors as well as packaging specifically designed for melt and pour soaps Go Planet Earth.
The most reliable loaf molds I have purchased have come from Chase Molds. They have most extensive inventory ever! If you are looking for ethnic molds and even wedding cake molds- this is the place Chase Molds.
Moldmarket is the brainchild of veteran melt and pour suppliers, Nouveau Design. Mold Market designs and manufactures high quality plastic soap molds for all occasions. Their multi-cavity custom molds designs are suitable for hot and cold process soap making, melt & pour soap making, candle making, and ceramic crafts. They supply both the wholesale and retail market Moldmarket.