Give a Handmade Gift: Create Soap at Home

This post is brought to you by Carla Leon for Pura Vida Princess.

Are you the DIY-crafter-budget/saver-Pinterest addict? Here´s a way to cut down costs on soap and create something even better. This is sure to become a go-to gift idea for a friend, family member or hostess.

When making soap, you have to learn a few basics and some precautions. No rocket science here, just remember – safety first.

Some Universal Soap ingredients:

  • Lye (100%)
  • Animal Fat (Vegetal oil)
  • Salt
  • Water

*Magic temperature: heat or cool down materials to 100 degrees.

Projects like Rosey Soap are easy to make once you’ve mastered the basics. You’ll love creating your own customized soaps and adding personal touches to to each design. Start by creating Rosey Soap to add a little color to a drab bathroom or kitchen.


  • Safety  Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Long sleeved shirt and pants legs
  • Do this in an open space
  • When mixing the lye and water, please be sure to add the lye to the water and not the other way around.

For extra moisture: (measurements: 400-515 grams or 500 milliliters or 2 cups)

  • Coconut oil
  • Castor oil
  • Grape seed oil

For exfoliation: 

  • Try adding some coconut skin shavings.

For smell:

  • Add as much oil essence of your favorite type.

*Be extremely careful when using lye, it can burn your skin.


  • Lye — Mix in large pyrex measuring cup, stir with a chopstick saved from order-in Chinese food. Again, do not breathe the fumes. Wear goggles.
  • 700 milliliters purified water
  • 270 grams or 9 1/4 ounces lye (one small container)
  • Oil 955 grams or 4 1/2 cups (Use the cheap pomace olive oil; virgin doesn’t work as well.) *Oils (Mix in a big pot.)

One budget-friendly ideas for handmade soap is reusing wood ashes! Here are the steps you have to follow to create your own version (please keep in mind the precautions mentioned above, otherwise I strongly recommend you take a look at the online tutorials such as the ones on YouTube so you can get a better understanding of what it is you are going to do).

For Lye: (replacement for the store-bought version)

  1. Boil the ashes in water until they settle at the bottom.
  2. After boiling you skim the liquid lye formation from the top of the pan.
  3. Once you have the liquid lye, in a separate pan (avoid aluminum, otherwise the lye will eat through it), boil it again until thick.

For the fat: (you can also just use vegetable oil if you wish)

  1. Gather the left over fat from meat and heat until it melts down, or heat vegetable oil to 100 degrees.
  2. Start adding the fat to the pan with the lye and stir until you begin to get a lumpy consistency. This might take a while, anywhere between 30 to 50 minutes.
  3. To make the soap harden even faster you can add salt, otherwise the mixture will take a full day to harden on its own once poured into the molds (silicone preferably, it can stand more than 100 degree temperatures).
  4. For molds you can use: silicone or a wooden box (this lined up with non-stick paper to later take the soap out easily.

*Add brown coloring and Chocolate essence oils for a wonderful chocolate experience.

Ready to get started? Make Decorative Butterfly Soap to celebrate spring and summer. Use a mold to create a cool design that will help your project stick out from a sea of store-bought sanitizers.


Gift Sunday: Happy Birthday!

Today I chose to feature Happy Birthday crafts and gifts, because yes, today is my birthday!

One of the favorite small gifts I received was from a friend I wasn’t expecting to get me anything. Those are the best kind of gifts, the unexpected ones. She gave me a small assortment of aromatic soaps that might’ve come from a whole food store or soap shop. They’re the organic homemade kind, if you can picture what I’m talking about. Such a nice little gift.

My nieces both gave me handmade cards that I treasure like none other. One of my nieces made me a card with a wedding dress and “crown” for my upcoming wedding. So cute!

Here are a few birthday ideas for cards and gifts:

3-D Happy Birthday Scrapbook Page

Japanese Fan Card

Butterfly Decorative Soap

Make someone’s day a memorable one with more Special Occasion Crafts.

3 New Candle Crafts

Our house is lacking the smell and comforting flicker of candles. A giant bag of plain tealights is all I have to create a romantic or cozy atmosphere. I’m going to have to change that. Luckily, we have some brand new candle craft projects from CandleWic. Homemade candles can be customized for your favorite colors or scents. Have you ever noticed how particular scents can affect your mood or energy level? For example, bright citrus scents can make you feel refreshed and awake, while lavender is more of a calming scent. Make a homemade candle for different rooms in your room where different activities are taking place.

Lemon Candles– I think these are hilarious and would love to have a few on the table for a dinner party or just to enjoy while I cook daily. Scented with lemon essential oil, these candles have to smell beautiful too.


3-Wick Feather Wax– Three wick candles are elegant additions to any room, and the feathered texture is especially interesting.


Easy No-Melt Beeswax Candles– If you are not too keen on the whole hot, melted wax idea, you can still create homemade candles with natural beeswax sheets. Kids can help create these candles and you will love the smell of burning beeswax. The patriotic candle below is just an example of what you can create with different colors.


Product Review and Giveaway: Aromatherapy Votive Candlemaking Kit


Linda Olsen from California

Here’s what Linda had to say: “How Cool! I haven’t made candles of any sort since I graduated from college. Now I can get back into it with the added bonus of aromatherapy!”

Candle-making Kit, Candle Wiz by Candlewic


Product Review by Maria Nerius

Everything you need to make 9 votive candles is in this kit. The instructions are easy to follow and with the pouring pot the process is neat and tidy. You’ll get the metal pouring pot, 3 votive cups/molds, thermometer, 9 wicks, 1 pound of palm wax, and aromatherapy scent and color. This is a wonderful way to try out candlemaking for a beginner, but even those with some candlemaking experience with enjoy making the votive candles. The tools are reusable and if you enjoy candlemaking all you have to do is buy more wax and wicks.

Testing Feedback

  • Yellow was a great bold color and the color was already measured for mixing making it easy to use.
  • The scent was light, but long lasting. Sometimes scent can be overpowering, but the aromatherapy scent was perfect.
  • The pouring pot made it mess free to melt the wax and so easy to pour the melted wax into the votive cups.
  • It was nice to have everything you needed in one neat package. No worries if you had enough supplies to make the candles.
  • Votive candles are perfect for decorating. You can place the votives into other craft projects. Also terrific for gifts.


We are giving away this candle-making kit for free. Just post a comment on this blog and you’ll automatically be entered to win. The deadline to enter is April 10, 2009 at 5 pm CST. We’ll send an email to the winner so please check to make sure your email is correct. You’ll get an extra entry for EACH of the following (if you comment and do all four things, you’ll be entered FOUR times):

  1. If you blog about this giveaway at your blog, we’ll give you an extra entry. Contact us with a link to the blog post.
  2. If you twitter about this giveaway, you’ll get an extra entry. Again, contact us with a link to the tweet.
  3. If you add a link to us on your blogroll or website, we’ll give you an extra entry. Again, contact us!

Craft Giveaway Summary

Prize: 1 Candle Wiz Aromatherapy Votive Candlemaking Kit by Candlewic

Deadline: April 10, 2009 5pm CST

*U.S. and Canada residents only*

Good luck!

**If you like this content, don’t forget to sign up for a FREE subscription to the Quick and Crafty newsletter. We cover everything from crochet to holiday craft to polymer clay jewelry. And, we’ll let you know about the next giveaway as soon as it’s live so you don’t miss a thing! Visit to sign up.

How to Make Romantic Floating Candles

For an instantly romantic centerpiece this Valentine’s Day, whip up some floating candles to float in a shallow glass bowl. Add a big flower bud to the bottom of the bowl for additional color. The key to a floating candle is a short shape with a slightly wider top than bottom. Wax naturally floats so you have little to worry about.

You Will Need:

  • Paraffin Wax
  • Wicks and Wick Tabs (Usually sold together in craft stores)
  • Muffin/Cupcake Pan/Individual Jell-O Molds, etc.
  • Scissors
  • Melting Pot for Wax (I use a large aluminum can) and regular saucepan or double-boiler for melting wax
  • Thermometer
  • Optional- Candle Coloring and/or Scent Block


  1. Find an appropriate pan or mold. For simplicity sake, a muffin pan will work fine. Grease with a little vegetable oil or cooking spray to help the candles pop out easily.
  2. Prepare the wicks by inserting the wicks into the wick tabs.
  3. Boil water in a large saucepan. Place the melting container in the boiling water, or use a double boiler specially for melting max (you wouldn’t want to use the pan for anything else).
  4. Place several chunks of wax into the melting container. Be sure to monitor the wax as it is melts with a thermometer and turn off the heat at 180 degrees F. Parraffin wax will ignite at 375 degrees F and must be extinguished with baking soda or a fire extinguisher, so be careful!
  5. Once melted and the heat is off, add coloring and scent if you desire. You can use dye chips specially for coloring candles or liquid dye added with an eye-dropper. For scents, use shaved pieces from a scent block and avoid essential oils, since most are not designed for the high-heat of candles.
  6. Pour about an inch of wax into each of the molds in the muffin pan and let cool slightly.
  7. Once the wax begins to show some consistency with a skin on the top, press the tab of a wick into the bottom of each mold with a chopstick, spoon or skewer.
  8. Once set, pop out your candles and float in water.

Beeswax Valentine Garland

A few days ago, I posted a tutorial for making melted crayon heart valentines. One of my favorite blogs, Resurrection Fern posted a tutorial on making a beeswax heart garland today. I don’t know where she got those heart molds but they are absolutely perfect!  I hope she shares her source. The hearts are lovely and you can just imagine the smell form natural beeswax. Using paperclips makes the garland a snap.

Homemade Soap

Have you noticed this trend in making your own cleaning products at home? When my friend developed a skin condition, she too threw away every harsh-chemical-based cleaner and scrubber in her house. Her hands reaped the benefits. Containing fewer ingredients such as that miracle helper vinegar, homemade cleaning products are cheaper, often as effective and generally better for the environment (especially since you are not purchasing new plastic bottles every month).

While I often do use baking soda, vinegar and lemon to clean around the house, I am much more interested in homemade soap. It follows to me that a general revival in DIY home products would extend to soap. Unfortunately, I’ve found that inquiries regarding the availability of lye, the essential ingredient of soap, at your local hardware stores and supermarkets incur a great deal of suspicion. “Been watching too much Fight Club?” Not recently.

Evidently, supermarkets stopped carrying the major lye product, Red Devil, three years ago. Some hardware stores still carry Roebic Crystal Drain Opener, which is actually 100% lye, but they probably aren’t aware. Online soapmaking sources such as Lehman’s and Camden-Grey do sell lye, but you generally have to buy in high quantities. In addition, you have extra charges for shipping the hazardous materials and many companies require a signed “Hazmat Waiver Form.” Pretty intense stuff right?

Of course, these companies are right to be cautious. Lye is indeed a dangerous substance. You cannot handle lye without protective gloves and goggles, and it should never, ever be kept in a house with young children. In the process of making soap, lye must be added slowly to cold water. A chemical reaction heats everything up quickly. This mixture is then mixed with fat, classically olive oil to make soap.

If you find this all a bit daunting, as I certainly did at first, check out this shortcut for adding homemade touches to cheap, plain store-bought soap. Also, check out this great video for making soap in your crock-pot. (You’d want to buy a desperate basin for making soap and never, ever cook in the same basin after.)