Kitchen Craft: Soap Clouds! {And homemade kiddie tub soaps}

You know what question Kate and I get a lot?  “How do you girls do it it all??”  Our schedules are full, just as many of yours are, and it comes with the constant struggle of balancing Mom-life with work-life.  And like most other Mothers out there, when it comes down to it and one has to take priority, the Mom gig wins- no contest.  If something has to fall through the cracks it’s not Mom thing; it’s usually the doing-laundry, cleaning-bathrooms, or showering-before-noon thing.  So to answer the question, how do we do it all?  Ha!  We don’t!  Those of you joining us at TOFW get to hear all about how we don’t do it all.  In fact, most times sometimes we barely keep it together!  The past few weeks have felt like that for me.  I’ve been traveling a lot, and working on some huge projects (we finished our book!), so when I got home the other day after spending the weekend in PA (SO much fun- thank you East Coasters for a great time!) the last thing I wanted to do was pull out my big camera and cook.  And then edit photos.  And then write a big recipe post for today.  What I did want to do?  Play with my kids.  Be goofy, be silly, be loud and crazy and do whatever they wanted to do.  I asked them what they wanted to do, and lucky for me (and you) they picked something that I thought would actually be fun to share with you!  So ironically, my intentions of turning off my blog brain back-fired, but it worked out in the end.  I got to play with my kids, and you get a fun kitchen craft.  Or something to entertain friends at the office when you’re tired of working.  Since I had no intentions of making a big ol’ photography project out of this fun little activity, I just snapped some quick photos on my Phone  and edited them right on my phone too, with the Thumba app.  Come next Monday I’ll have my brain fully functioning again and I’ll bust out my big camera have an amazing recipe for you!  Until then, let’s just play 🙂  This is sort of awesome.

We call these “Soap Clouds.”  Where are all of our chemical engineers?  I need to know why every awesome science project involving soap, hinges on the use of Ivory soap.  Thoughts?  Are there magical ingredients in there?  I’ve always wondered that.  I bet whoever came up with the original recipe never expected that so many science experiments would ensue with its use!  I think the same thing about Elmer’s glue.  Anyway, grab a bar of Ivory soap-yes, only Ivory!  It’s cheap, but don’t worry, you can even use it as soap when we’re done here so we’re not being wasteful.  So you don’t need to write us lengthy emails about being earth-hating-soap-haters.

Place a piece of waxed paper, parchment, plastic wrap, or paper towel in your microwave.  Just don’t use foil, or we’ll have issues on our hands that are much bigger than  your next burrito tasting slightly like a fresh mountain spring.  This really doesn’t make a mess, so don’t be scared.

Start your microwave for a couple of minutes on high power.  You don’t need to let it run that whole length of time, but you can just stop it when you need to.  Want to see what happens??  It’s a little hard to see through my microwave door, but check it out (and ignore me when I say you need to turn your microwave turntable off, that’s for if you’re trying to video this experience:))

Ten bonus points for anyone who can reference my children’s ramblings about “the great devourer.”

I don’t know how it does it- but it starts growing!  Sometimes the “clouds” are seriously HUGE, and other times they are sort of wimpy.  I’ve noticed generally, the fresher the soap (as in the more recent I have purchased it) the bigger the result.  We’ve done this a million times and my kids still get a kick out of it.

It looks like it should be foamy and wet, but it’s not.  You can actually pick up the whole big chunk.

If you smash it, it will break into pieces and you’ll end up with soap dust everywhere, so be careful with little hands who like to smash things 🙂

It’s the weirdest looking thing.  I love how it’s different every time.

Now.  You have a giant blob of dried soap fluff and your kids were entertained for a total of 3.5 minutes.  That’s a start!  Sometimes I let my kids just take the whole darn thing in the bath tub and have at it.  It’s one way to make sure they actually get cleaned in there.  Or sometimes I hold it up over them in the tub and let it “snow” by smashing it and letting it sprinkle down like little snow flakes.  Or, you can let them make their own little soaps.  First, put the fluff in a bowl and let them do what they’ve probably been trying to do already- smash it to smithereens. It just kind of falls apart, so it’s actually kind of fun.  And if it gets all over your counter, take my advice and sweep or vacuum it up first, then wipe it down.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a big soapy mess.

Then, either in a bowl with a spoon, or with an electric beater, or in a food processor, like I’m using, add warm water, just until it comes together.  Just like pie crust, folks!  This is why I love kitchen crafts.  To test it, grab some with your hands and hold it in your fist.  If it holds together in a ball, it’s ready.

Take the mold-able mixture and let kids press it into cookie cutters.  Make sure kids are old enough to know it’s not food, or they are likely to attempt to eat it!

These photos below are from a batch I made a while back, (and photographed with my regular camera) and I let my kids add just a couple of drops of food coloring to make colored soaps.  After the soaps are molded, but still wet, you can gently push them out of the molds.  Let them sit in a cool, dry place for a few days and soon you will have little soaps to wash (or play!) with.  I would only use a small amount of food coloring as to not stain anything!

Funny how my kids are always very interested in getting extra clean when it’s with soap they’ve made themselves.

Now go have some fun with your own kiddos today!  Or, just grab some soap and have fun in your office break room at lunch.  C’mon- you know you want to.

Reminder:  Once again, only use IVORY soap.  Lots of people asking this in the comments, or commenting they have a burned mess in their microwave because they didn’t read it earlier in the post!  Ivory!


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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

    1. I’ve been looking for ivory soap and by the looks of it we don’t actually sell it here. Imperial leather comes up alot as the same alternative so I’m glad I seen this comment.

  1. I went to the SNAP conference in Utah this weekend and saw a lot of really cool things. This is the one my kids will pick I can promise that. I can’t wait to do this. I love the shaped soaps too. Won’t my neighbors be impressed that I “make” my own soap.

  2. Haha, Ninjago! I recognized the reference immediately too – I also have two boys that are pretty obsessed w/ that show. 😉

    Thanks for sharing your video! I’ve seen this idea before, but not with a video. It’s amazing how it appears to be doing nothing for a few seconds, and then it suddenly “explodes” into clouds. FUN!

  3. at Christmas time my mom would whip ivory flacks detergent with her hand mixer it get all fluffy she would than smooth it on top of the Christmas tree branches and it looked just like fresh snow and the room smelt so nice.

    1. My mom did that with us too. I’ve done it a couple times with my family but we’ve now had to switch to using a fake tree. I miss doing that.

      1. Forty-five years ago my husband used to do the same thing for our Christmas tree. Sadly, he’s gone now and I have a “fake” tree, but our trees were always beautiful with the “snow” on the branches.

    2. Reading the comments, thinking the same thing you have posted. This is how we made snow for our trees every year, too. Wonder if it would work grating the soap bar because I haven’t seen the flakes for years!

  4. Hey, girls! I stumbled across your website and I LOVE IT! I have three recipes printed to try tonight. Thanks!

  5. I’m with Darlene from North GA…I normally grate Fels Nappa for making homemade laundry soap (Soooooo much cheaper than store bought!) and I HATE the grating part. I’ve heard you can also use Ivory. I may just try this for my next batch!

    1. I use my food processor to grate Fels Naptha for homemade laundry soap. It is so much faster and easier.

    2. I always use ivory for laundry soap. it works great. i used this microwave trick last week when i made laundry soap. it was great fun for the kids and the mom.

    3. I make home made laundry soap and the grating of FelsNapha only takes me 2 minutes. Just need a sharp grater with sizable holes.

    1. I just had to say hi! because I rarely find anyone who has the same name spelling as I do. Looks like we both had parents that were into originality (and french)!

  6. “It’s the great devourer! The great devourer is getting unleashed!” haha That snake thing from LEGO? I feel like maybe my little brother plays that or something….ha

  7. This looked like so much fun, I had to try it right away! Since I didn’t have Ivory soap, I tried the soap I had (Irish Spring). It worked…but now my ENTIRE house smells like a giant bar of soap!! So, next stop, the store…for unscented soap!!

    1. hmm… I also have Irish spring in my pantry! but yeah, the smell might be a bit much!

  8. Not only do I love that I can add this to my summer boredom busters…but I love that even though you didn’t intend to you shared some of your behind the scenes…we get a glimpse into non-rock-star-blogger land…Thanks for being so awesome!

  9. And if you make homemade laundry soap, this is way easier than grating the soap. By the way, I hear this works with Fels Naptha soap as well. In fact, it may work with any SOAP (as opposed to detergent bars, which is what most of our store-bought “soap” really is.)

    1. Very smart! I thought of making my own laundry soap but it was all that grating that got me. I may try it now.

      1. I felt the same way. I HATE grating! I cut my soap into chunks and put it in the food processor with the powdered ingredients and *VOILA!*. I’ll never buy laundry detergent again. It’s wonderful!

    2. My grand-daughters tried it with the cranberry dial soap. It made a pink cloud but it smelled and started to burn before it got very big. The perfumed soaps may not work!

    3. We just tried this tonight and I was thinking the same thing-no more food processor for laundry soap. Guess I can’t get rid of my micro :-).

    4. We tried using a Dove bar and Lever 2000…def did not work. Only Ivory because it’s air whipped.

    5. I was actually wondering about that for the ver purpose of laundry soap! Thanks, I will try it that way instead!

    6. That was one of my first thoughts…the grating is what has kept me from making the one with the bar soap. I’ve been making the one with the borax washing soda and dawn. I have a couple of bars of ivory now I just need the grand kids

      1. I was thinking ivory soap might be best in the laundry soap. I think the fels-naptha has a petroleum base or at lest it did when it first was made.

    7. What a GREAT TIP about the soap grating when making your own detergent, Darlene! You just saved me about 10 precious minutes! Thanks!

  10. Great Devourer from Ninjago! My boys (7 and 5) are obsessed right now. And I was so sure that the red ninjas sister was going to be the green ninja. So, yes, I watch it too 🙂

  11. This looks awesome. I’m always afraid of making messes with my kids, but playing with soap seems less scary. I guess I’ll be adding Ivory soap to the shopping list.

  12. Despite the title, I fully expected to read these were the remains of Rediwhip cans. *laugh*

    Fun project though – next shopping trip may include a bar of Ivory *grin*

  13. Hahaha! Someone beat me to the punch. It’s comforting to know that other Mom’s let their kids watch Ninjago too!

  14. Oh my gosh, this looks so fun! My granddaughter will love doing this. I’m putting Ivory soap on my shopping list this week!



  15. This is cool and I know my son will be impressed. I also know that no matter how many times I remind him that it is soap, he will for sure try to eat it since it looks a lot like cotton candy, his new obsession. But, that should just happen once and then there will be a powerful opportunity to remind him why it’s always a good idea to listen to his mama. 😉

  16. Love it! I’m with Ellie – these would make GREAT kid gifts! I sense my daughters next Christmas gift for everyone! Does the food coloring dye your skin when you use the soap later though?

  17. Now I’m wondering who in the world would have ever have thought to try this in the first place? When I think about putting stuff in the microwave, soap isn’t the first thing that comes to mind! My grandson will LOVE this!

    1. Maybe they were trying to clean their microwave and didn’t know a bowl of water with a little vinegar works better! 🙂 I agree – I would never put somethings in the microwave – soap would be one of those things…until now!

    2. Some of my college guy friends used to put ALL KINDS of things in the microwave. It was probably someone like them! …and, does the food coloring stain once it’s in the soap? I’m guessing not or it would have been mentioned, I just thought I’d check before Smurfs emerged from my bath tub.

      1. The food colouring is not a good idea. They make soap colouring that will not stain skin, clothing, or anything else,but food colouring will stain anything! Any craft store should have the soap colouring.

      1. You can definitely believe that I am going to play. Geez why not, I am only 65 yrs old!

          1. I’m 62, and I want to play too! I homeschool my granddaughter, and we’re always looking for kitchen experiments to do. Thanks! I have some Ivory in the closet, so we’re going to try this tomorrow.

  18. My kids will LOVE this! Teacher appreciation week is coming up (is that the same week for the whole country?) and with some kind of cute tag these would make a fun gift for one of the days. Any of the brilliant designer type folks out there want to create one and post a link? I can do one, but it won’t be nearly as cute. Thanks for a very fun idea!

    1. maybe something like “Thank’s for keeping me afloat!” Or “You never let me sink”, and yes TEACHER APPRECIATION IS SAME week for everyone.

  19. Fun idea! Ivory soap probably works for 2 reasons: 1) there are less ingredients in Ivory soap than most other soaps, and 2) Ivory is whipped with air, which in this case is probably why it works in the microwave so well. “Ivory soap, it floats!”

    1. That’s kinda what I was thinking. Ivory doesn’t have all of the extra fragrances and dyes that could interfere with any chemical reactions 🙂

  20. “It floats” is an Ivory tagline, and that’s what makes it different. More air has been whipped into the soap, making it useful for all kinds of fun uses, and it also dissolves faster than other bars compelling consumers to buy more. Very clever, P&G. 🙂

    1. I’m from the area where P&G is…and ivory soap was a big accident 🙂 The inventor of the soap accidentally left a batch in the mixer for too long which ended up putting too much air into the mixture. He at first thought it would be a big failure but the soap turned out looking normal. From what I’ve heard, P&G began receiving letters from folks saying how much they loved the NEW ivory soap!! Turns out that ivory soap now floats…so people who had to bathe in ponds and creek pools could accidentally drop their soap and it wouldn’t sink to the bottom and be lost. It would just float on top 🙂 (Maybe I should look this up on snopes to be sure 😉 but it’s what my dad always told me.)

      1. This is funny to me. When I was in the 1st or 2nd grade we went on a tour of the P&G factory (I grew up in Cincinnati) and I was told this story too. And Have believed it for all of these years! i am disappointed to know that it isn’t true. 🙁 But I will have to try microwaving it!

        1. Well, perhaps Snopes got it wrong. I’d think that if anyone would know the truth of this story it would be P&G. After all, it’s their product!

      2. It does float. We would bring it camping as we would bathe in the river and always used Ivory for this reason.

        1. My kids carved boats out of a bar of Ivory soap in school n becuz it floats they had boat races

      3. The ad’s for Ivory Soap said “It’s 99/100% pure, it floats! I was told in 1976 by a dermatologist to only use Ivory or Dove. because they were the mildest soaps on the market. I use Dove because Ivory makes me itch and really dries out my skin!

    2. You can harden all makes of soaps by taking them out of the wrapper weeks before use. They last much longer that way. The “older generation” used to put them open in their dresser drawers(before air conditioning)for a nice smell then into the tub for use when the scent disappeared.

      1. my therapist told me when i was having anxiety attacks to sleep with a bar of strong scented soap at night (i slept with irish spring) my bed and pillows smelled amazing, lol it was supposed to help my breathing, idk if this trick worked really, but i did it anyways for the smell xD not really on topic but whatever lol

      2. I remember my Gram telling me the same thing. Take bar soap out of wrapper and let it sit somewhere away from water, for a weeks and it will last much longer!

      3. As soon as I buy soap (I buy bulk packs) I tear the ends off the boxes and put on the shelf until needed. I usually buy the next pack when 3/4 done with the previous so it has plenty of time to ‘dry’. When I met my husband and started doing this he thought I was a nut. Didn’t take him long to realize how much soap he has wasted over the years!

  21. Oh Sara, my 5 year old son will LOVE this!!! Tomorrow is experiment day at school, I think I will carry on the day at home and do this!