While most parents tend to opt for the ease of purchasing basic soap and candles from stores, the crafty types out there will find that it’s actually not that difficult to make homemade products. With so many shortcuts available these days (like lye flakes that dissolve in liquid and sheets of honeycomb textured beeswax that require no cooking whatsoever), you’ll find that some projects are so easy that even the kids can participate. Of course, safety is a consideration, but when you learn the process first and have the proper equipment, ingredients, and protective gear on hand, there’s no reason why you can’t set up an afternoon crafts project that yields beautiful and fragrant soaps or candles for your own home or to give as gifts. Here are just a few projects you might want to try with your children.
Perhaps one of the easiest things to make is homemade candles. If you know anything about the candle-making process, you may have horrifying visions of hours spent sweating over a vat of hot tallow while you dip a wick repeatedly until your tapers are thick enough. And while you could certainly go the traditional route, there are some modern conveniences that can make the process a lot easier. For one thing, you can get melting pots specifically designed for candle-making that come with a handle and a spout for easy pouring (if you want to make votives or candles in molds or glass jars). When paired with easy-to-use pelleted paraffin wax, you can quickly get your base melted and start adding whatever colors and scents you prefer.
In truth, though, you can make it even easier on yourself and your kids by simply opting for sheets of honeycomb textured beeswax. They come in a variety of colors and all you have to do to create tapers is lay a wick across one end, roll it up like a yoga mat, and trim the wick. Of course, you can also come up with creative ideas to make the project more personal. Since the beeswax is sticky you’ll have no trouble pressing small dried flowers or charms, for example, into the surface. Or you could cut shapes out of a sheet of beeswax (hearts, stars, etc. – cookie cutters work great), and wrap it around a candle of another color to customize a plain pillar. As for the shapes you cut out, you can stack them one atop another, pressing lightly to secure them together, and then poke a hole in the middle to thread a wick through. You can even use candle paint from your local craft store to paint designs on the beeswax. These projects are super easy, super fun, and super safe for kids.
As for making soap, you can have even more fun here. You could start with easy-to-use liquid soap base from an online outlet like ChemistryStore.com; just mix it with essential oils in order to make custom liquid soap and decorate the container. Or you could try cold process recipes for bar soap (found online) so that you don’t even have to melt a base to begin; you can just start mixing ingredients together. And lye flakes are a lot easier to work with than other options. Of course, dealing with a caustic substance like lye can be hazardous, so you might want to have kids wear goggles, gloves, and aprons (and you should probably handle the lye yourself). But from there you can use molds to make all kinds of cool shapes, you can create a variety of colors and scents, and you can even add charms inside the soap. Kids will have fun making and using these bars, and family and friends will no doubt love getting them as gifts.