The night I made my last batch of bath bombs, I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake wondering what other bath-related products I could make at home (I’m weird). After tossing and turning and obsessing for a while, I decided I wanted to make brain soap, because brain soap is creepy but also incredibly clean and nice-smelling. It’s also really easy to make, and way cheaper to knock out a big batch yourself than to buy individual brains on Etsy (however, for the lazy/rich among you, here’s a link).
There are two basic ways to make soap: “melt and pour” (the method I’m using in this DIY) and cold-processing, which doesn’t require heat or a soap base, but does require a lot more ingredients like butters, fats, lye, and safety equipment. Obviously cold-process soap-making is way too much work for someone who sits on her butt and watches Battlestar Galactica for 15 hours a day, so melt and pour it is. Here is what you’ll need:
- Clear soap base: I bought a 25-pound chunk of clear glycerin soap base off eBay for $25. You can buy a bunch of different soap bases on Brambleberry, too. You CANNOT just use soap you buy at the drugstore; it will not work. You need an actual soap base. Soap is more expensive to make than bath bombs are, but it’s still cheaper than buying your stuff at Lush. And homemade brain soap makes an awesome gift!
- A silicone mold: I bought my brain mold at Party City, I think? It was $2. You don’t need to use a brain mold specifically, any silicone mold will do—an ice cube tray, cookie molds, a sand-castle or popsicle mold, etc.!
- Food coloring: You’re not going to be using a lot of it, so it won’t stain your skin, don’t worry. You can also buy soap colorant, but that is essentially just pure mica, aka loose eye shadow. You can buy pure mica from TKB Trading.
- Fragrance oil (optional): I mean, half of the point of getting clean is smelling good, right? For this soap I’m using some jasmine oil I had left over from my bath-bomb DIY.
- Plastic wrap
- A microwavable bowl
- A measuring cup (not totally necessary)
- A knife
- Mixing implements: In my house, we use chopsticks, ’cause I’m Asian. A spoon would also work!
- Rubbing alcohol
- A microwave oven
Step 1 Soap base comes in chunks; since you’re going to melt this in the microwave, it’s best to cut it into even smaller chunks so it melts easier. Don’t worry if you melt too much or not enough—you can just melt more, or store unused melted soap base and reuse it later.
Step 2 Put the chopped-up chunks into your microwavable bowl and cover it with plastic wrap to keep in the moisture.
Step 3 Microwave your soap base for about a minute (this is gonna vary depending on your microwave). You want it to melt into a clear, uncloudy liquid, but not to get steamy or scalding hot.
Step 4 This is when you add your smelly stuff, aka fragrance oils. Different websites have different opinions on the what the oil:soap-base ratio should be; I say go with your gut. I added about one ounce of oil to eight ounces of soap base. (Don’t add too much fragrance or you risk skin irritation.) If you’re working with just one colorant, add that now, too. (I wanted each one of my brains to be a different color, so I waited until the soap was in the molds to add colorant.) Mix everything together with your mixing tool of choice.
Step 5 Pour your melted soap base into the molds.
Step 6 If you haven’t added your coloring agent yet, do it now. I poured a few drops of food coloring into each brain mold and mixed it in with a chopstick.
Step 7 To prevent air bubbles, which are gross, spray your freshly poured soaps with a li’l bit of rubbing alcohol.
Step 8 Put your soap in the fridge to set in the molds for a few hours. Then pop them out of the molds, and they’re done! Easy, right? Now you can say you shower yourself with brains of small children.