Guest post by Lexie of Lexie:Naturals
I’ve been making and selling my own skin care products for a few years now, but soap making is something I’ve recently added to the list of things I make instead of buy. When I heard about soap felting, I knew I wanted to give it a try, and I knew just who to ask for help! My friend from Lavender and Ladybugs makes all sorts of Woldorf-inspired toys and accessories, and she was more than willing to teach me how to felt soap.
Felted soap is simply soap wrapped in wool that has been matted together. It was used long before loofahs, shower poufs, and washcloths. It’s slightly exfoliating, but still soft like a washcloth. It also removes the ever-present problem of slippery soap. Felting your soap makes it last longer, and the wool has antimicrobial properties.
Felting soap is a great project to do with children or groups of friends, and the finished product makes a great gift. My own children have loved using their very own bars of felted soap at bath time each night!
There are many different techniques to felting soap; but today we’ll focus on the very basic wet method. Remember, not all bars will be perfect. It isn’t going to harm anything to leave bumps or empty spaces. It is almost impossible to completely ruin anything with this project (trust me, I tried). Let’s get started!
What you need:
bar of soap (I prefer my own handmade bars)
wool roving (alpaca or merino work best, but any will do)
piece of net or nylon stocking (large enough to wrap around soap)
large bowl of hot water (or warm if kids are helping)
liquid castile soap (or dish soap, optional)
towels to put under the bowl
cold water from faucet
What to do:
1. First, tightly wrap some wool around your bar of soap. Be careful to evenly cover all around the soap, and keep it tight as you wrap. The entire bar needs to be covered with multiple layers. You can add different color strips of wool at this point, too. Have fun and be creative! If you know how to needle felt, you can also needle felt some designs into the wool.
2. Next, you will wrap your soap in the netting or nylon stocking. Make sure to cover the entire bar. This will help keep the wool on the bar of soap until it’s completely felted. It also helps during the felting process.
3. Once your soap is covered in the wool and netting, you will gently place the bar of soap in the hot water. I’ve found it’s best to just place it half way in the water and let it soak through the bar.
4. Once your bar of soap is wet, gently move it around in your hands. Move it from hand to hand and slightly squeeze it. Keep the netting tightly around the soap so that the wool doesn’t slide off. After a few minutes you will notice that the wool is shrinking and sticking to the soap.
5. Once the wool starts sticking to your bar, you can begin agitating it more with your hands and the netting. Continue dipping it in the hot water and agitating it. Bubbles will start to form which will help you with the process. If you need some extra bubbles, you can add some liquid castile soap to the bar. Make sure you rub all the sides of the soap.
6. After about 10-15 minutes of rubbing and dipping you will notice that the wool is tight and able to stick to the soap on its own. At this point, take the soap to the sink, and run it under cold water. Remove the soap from the netting and check to make sure the wool is sticking. You can do this by rubbing your finger across any extra pieces. If they are stuck together, forming one piece, you are finished. If you are able to tear any pieces off, you need to keep felting. Either way, dip your soap back into the hot water and rub for a few more minutes. Squeeze the soap to make sure the wool is very tight around the soap. You can go back and forth from a cold water rinse to the hot water with agitation (keep the netting on unless you are checking to see if it’s finished).
7. The final thing you want to do is rinse the felted soap with cold water then place on a towel to dry. I put the soap on a towel that was sitting on a cooling rack that was also sitting on a towel. It will take a few days to dry. Putting the soap in direct sunlight will speed up this process.
To use your felted soap:
- Just use it as you would any soap-filled washcloth. Soak the felted soap with water and rub the wool directly on your skin. This is a great way for children to bathe themselves!
- Place the soap in a soap saver dish to dry between uses.
- Just like any other soap, you need to keep your felted soap as dry as possible between uses. This will make it last longer.
- The felted wool will shrink as your bar shrinks.
- When the soap is gone you can cut a slit in the wool and add a new bar of soap, or just use the felted wool as a washcloth.
- Be very gentle with your bar at the beginning of the felting. You want it all to shrink at the same time so that you don’t get lumps
- If you do get lumps, it’s ok. 🙂
- The less wool you use on your bar of soap, the more it will lather in the bath or shower.
- The more wool you use on your bar of soap, the longer your soap will last.
For those of you who want to see all of these steps in action, check out my YouTube tutorial:
Not up for another DIY project, but still want some felted soap? Check out our online store. We will be offering a very limited amount of these soaps. You can also purchase some homemade soap from us if you’d like to make these yourself. Thanks for your support!
Have you ever made felted soap before?
Lexie is a follower of Jesus, the wife of the very talented Stephen McNeill, and a work-at-home mother of two. Her passions include spending time with friends and family, reading, traveling, and teaching. In an effort to live a more natural and frugal lifestyle, she began making and selling her own skin care products (including lotion, lip balm, deodorant, sunlotion, diaper cream, and soap). She loves sharing these passions with others on her blog and helping other families catch the vision of living a more natural lifestyle.