Molds, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. They can be
semi-rigid or rigid, heavy cardboard, sturdy plastic or wood.
Here are a few suggestion where to get you started.
Slab or Block Molds (yields one big piece of soap that needs to be cut into smaller
- Tupperware or Rubber Maid type storage containers - 9 x 13 cake
- cardboard boxes that hold 4 - 6 packs of beer or soda pop cans
sometimes referred to as "flats"
- cardboard shoeboxes
- food containers:
- cardboard milk or juice containers
- soup, juice, vegetable and fruit cans
- microwave meals containers
- ice cream cartons
- PVC pipe 2-1/4" or 3" diameter
- window expanders of extruded vinyl
- plastic downspouts and guttering
cookie or muffin trays
yogurt or pudding cartons, single serve size
plastic containers for cheese spreads and sauces
L'eggs hosiery plastic egg containers
popsicle freezer molds
When I first began looking for molds on the Internet and then
later in local stores, they were the least readily available item
on the soap supplies list. If you use any of these items for soap
molds, then that's their permanent task in life. They can't be
used for anything else once exposed to lye.
MOLDS TO AVOID
There is a quaint Midwestern saying about "not breeding a scab
on the end of your nose." Translated this means "don't ask for
trouble." Asking for trouble with molds is using anything out
of tin, aluminum, zinc, china, untempered glass, flimsy plastic
or colored molds. The first three will corrode; the middle two
are prone to breakage; flimsy plastic can melt and the only color
you want in your soap is that which occurs naturally or you add
intentionally. These few "no-no's" will save you grief in the
In selecting your molds, consider the purpose of the soap. Is
it decorative, guest soaps or is it for practical use? I have
bought cute bars of decorator soaps the shaped like bears, lions
and various other interesting choices, but when using them in
the shower, try hanging onto a bear's ear or a lion's tail. Invariably
they squirted from my grasp and then it became a game of "hunt
the animal"! Maybe I'm just a klutz, but this was annoying.
SIZE - TOO SMALL?
If considering using candy or candles molds, size comes into play.
Many candy molds are very small, some only an inch across, some
only 1/4" deep. This makes for nice bite-sized chocolates, but
very small bars of soap. Great for decorating, but not too practical
at bath time. Also remember that as soaps cure they will shrink
a bit, further reducing their finished size.
A lot of the cute starfish and rosette shapes found in bath shops
are professionally extruded soaps. To achieve the same three dimensional
look and double-sided design, you'll have to use a two-part mold.
It's not impossible by any stretch, but the basics of soapmaking
need to be mastered first.
SIZE - TOO BIG?
Conversely, when using candle molds, make sure they aren't gargantuan!
Quite a number of them are two-part molds, measuring 7" tall x
3" wide and larger when pressed together. If the mold makes a
figure, like a 6" x 3" rabbit for instance, this is too big for
a single bar of soap. Being a non-uniform design, there wouldn't
be convenient place to divide it. This design would look pretty
weird separated into a pair of bunny ears, fat tummy and cotton
tail. When selecting molds, choose them from a user's standpoint
and envision how the finished soap would look and feel in the
PREPARING THE MOLD
This subject that has many different opinions.
1. Some folks say don't use plastic wrap liners because it can wrinkle inside the mold and leave marks on the soap. Some swear by it.
2. Another thought is to use garbage bags cut to the appropriate size which means enough to cover the insides and come overlay the outside walls of the container.
3. Another suggestion is silicone bakery paper. This is a Teflon-like paper used to line cake pans. It can be purchased through some bakeries but gets ruined after one soapmaking project. This method is a must for making the sticker milk-based soaps.
4. Some folks suggest greasing the molds, but others say the grease is absorbed into the soap.
5. Other tricks involve coating a mold with a light layer of vegetable spray like Pam, vegetable shortening or Vaseline. Most times your soap will unmold with no problem, but the variable ingredients make absolutes impossible.
6. Using a slightly flexible mold helps convince stubborn soap to release after receiving a gentle twist.
7. One sure trick to make soap release is to pop soap and mold into the freezer 2 - 4 hours before attempting to unmold it. If you are using a huge slab or block mold, this could present some obvious space problems, but it does work. If you use the freezer method, unmold it quickly directly onto the surface you plan to dry the soap. From being very cold or frozen, the soap will exude moisture almost immediately. The soap's wetted surface will show fingerprints so work quickly and don't handle it a lot.
Being ever practical, I would use plastic wrap or garbage bags
carefully smoothed out and pressed tightly into corners for plain
square or rectangular molds. This would make for the least amount
of wrinkles. Vaseline, being made of petroleum jelly rather than
fats and oils might be less likely absorbed by the other fats
but this is not a certainty. Be sure to spread the Vaseline in
all nooks and crannies. If the soap is not in a huge mold, the
freezer is a terrific idea.
Whatever mold you choose, make sure it is white or clear. Soap
loves to absorb color wherever it can get its molecules on it!
One of the best things about soapmaking is all the creativity
and flexibility this craft allows. Let your eyes roam and you'll
spot heaps of soap mold candidates!
This information may be used by you freely for noncommercial use
my name and email address attached.
Contents © 1996-2008 Holly Deyo. All rights reserved.
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