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Make It : Fruit and Herb Soaps

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I have always enjoyed making soap because it feels somewhere between a recipe you make in the kitchen and a science experiment. I love the trial-and-error approach and am always excited to see what it can yield. Our latest soap project can be found in "Wonder Bars" from our April issue. Instead of using colorants and essential oils as additives (for scent and color), we made purées with fruits and herbs. The purées are added to a plain glycerin soap base and then poured into recycled containers to mold. So all you need to get started is glycerin soap base—the rest you probably already have in your kitchen!

Comments (17)

  • [...] a kitchen craft, check out this soap-making project from the Martha Stewart Crafts Dept. Instead of using oils and additives, this tutorial uses fruit [...]

  • Is there some sort of preservative added to the glycerin base? I'm concerned about the shelf-life of unpreserved fruits and fresh leaves. Won't this soap get moldy before it is used up?

  • Crafter Comment:

    Hi Vicki -
    The glycerin acts as a preservative and the soaps should be fine for 3-4 months. The berry and herb soaps will lose some of their vibrance after a few weeks but they shouldn't mold - the citrus soaps did not lose their color at all.

  • I made this! What a simple soap, and my mint version smelled better with every use.

  • I was so excited to try this craft! I made the lemon version just last week using small plastic jello containers. However, the soap at my sink is already discoloring as are the extra sealed away in a ziploc bag. I can see little black spot of mold already. Every tool was washed and dried and I followed every step. Are there any suggestions you could provide? I was hoping to make a batch as summer party favors.

  • Crafter Comment:

    Hi Melissa - If you used a glycerin soap base and only the zest of the lemon it should be fine. The glycerin acts as a preservative. Ours lasted for several weeks. The berries and the herbs gradually lost a bit of their color but the citrus held up quite well. You may want to consider wrapping them in wax paper instead of the ziploc bag. I hope this helps.

  • Thanks so much for your quick reply! AHA! I bet I had too much white in the rind still! I had grabbed a brick of clear glycerine from Michaels, it says natural pure vegetable glycerine. I was reading a soap book and they suggested adding the Fruit Fresh preservative by Ball, I'm not too sure how successful that would be. Will the berries mold quicker because the whole fruit is being used?

  • Crafter Comment:

    Hi Melissa - the berries shouldn't mold. The glycerin acts as a preservative - so you shouldn't need the one from Ball. The berries and the herbs will not remain as vibrant as the citrus. Hope this helps.

  • tell me how to make these soaps.

  • Crafter Comment:

    Hi Valerie,

    You can find the how-to text and video through this link-

    Good luck!

  • [...] The greatest thing about the ability to make your own soap, aside from the satisfaction it’ll bring you, is the level of control you have over the product that you and your family will use on a daily basis. You can use goat milk bases, olive oil bases, hemp bases, or aloe bases. You can use essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, or cinnamon. You can add color or no color, or even real fruits and vegetables to add color, smell, and extra nutrients. [...]

  • Crafter Comment:

    Glycerin does not have a strong scent. If it wasn't overheated, which is the only reason I can think that it would have a bad smell - I would return it of possible.

  • Thank you!

  • I just recently started putzing with M&P and was trying to find new things to do with it (scents and what not) and everything I have found says that majority of M&P bases are not all natural. Is this true or is it just people being CP/HP biased? Eventually I will try out CP/HP but atm I like working with M&P but if it is not as natural as it claims to be I dont really want to mess with it. As my goal is to make natural items because myself along with many other people are allergic to store bought things.

    Is there such thing as all natural M&P? I am currently putzing with the kind you can buy from Michaels, I havent gotten the urge to actually make my own glycerin soap base yet. Any help at all would be lovely! :)

  • Crafter Comment:

    Hi Kellie - It is difficult to answer this in general. It might be best to discuss specifically with the manufacturer. We like to use melt and pour bases from which contain only natural oils. I have included a link to their bases below. They are very knowledgable and would be able to give you a better idea of exactly what is in their soap base. I hope this helps.

  • Hi! I was wondering if anyone knew whether combining the fruit AND herbs together in one soap would effect the length of time the soap will last, or effect the quality of the soap in some way? For example, I was thinking of doing lemon thyme...Thanks!

  • Crafter Comment:

    Hi Rebecca - combining the fruit and herbs shouldn't affect it. Citrus fruits tend to hold their color better than the berries and herbs, so the color may be affected slightly but the soap itself will still be fine.

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