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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Sara Wells
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. Just tried this with a not quite new bar of Ivory. Don’t know why, but there was sparking in my microwave and the wax paper started to burn. We may try it with a new bar of soap……

  2. My Grandkids had a great time with the Ivory. I would recommend cutting the bar in half or quarters so it doesn’t rub all over the inside of the microwave.

  3. First off, Ninjago! 🙂 It’s late here, but I am going to do this in a few minutes. It’ll keep the kids happy before they go off to bed.

  4. I’m 25 years old and I can tell you this is an old VBS craft project for me. We would mild the soap buy instead of adding color we (with help from the craft leader) add a few drops of scented oil. I am glad I found your post cause I totally forgot about this craft until just now. Can’t wait to do this (well part of it) with my 20 month old son. Thank you do much. 🙂

  5. Can’t wait to try this with my grandson. Hope he’s old enough to enjoy at 3 1/2yrs! If not, his mom and I will have a blast!

  6. For those in the UK who can’t get Ivory soap-
    I tried this today with Morrisons savers soap (3 bars for 35p!) and although it didn’t fluff quite as much as the Ivory ones, it did work. It did start to steam a little bit, but no smoke or burning. My house smells soapy right now – it’s quite pleasant!
    I’ve also bought their own brand Pure soap to try too, but really happy with this savers version.

  7. Love this idea and I also want to use it for kids to make cloud formations. They could shape the clouds in the different types and even add some color where needed–it looks like fun and can’t wait to try it next year.

  8. I am so going to have to try this with my kids. Every time I perform a random “magic act” they absolutely love it.

  9. Clever, Clever, Clever! Tomorrow I’ll be spending some time with my daughter-in-law’s five year old sister (20 year age difference going on there) and I will be able to surprise, amaze and delight not only her, but my daughter-in-law and her mother!!! Thank you!!!! Now, I’m off to the store to buy some Ivory.

  10. Thank you for a maaaarvelous soap idea. My husband is going to Haiti on a mission trip and I was looking for an interesting this to do with soap for the orphanages he will visit. Along with sending boxes and boxes of clothes, I will be sending these fun soaps. Thanks again.

  11. We tried this, and it did not work for us. We placed wax paper in the middle of the microwave, and put the bar of Ivory soap on it, put 3 minutes on the clock and pressed start. after about 1 minute, it bubbled a bit but then split into pieces, at 2m45s it started smoking. Maybe it is because we had popped popcorn the night before, and I didn’t bother wiping it down, because I figured the wax paper would provide a barrier. I suppose we might try it again another time, but so far no good.

    1. The other commenters indicated at the beginning of thread that it had to be a New Ivory Soap bar. old dried up bars don’t have enough air left to bubble.

    2. The exact same thing happened to us. We used parchment paper which caught on fire after 2 minutes 45 seconds. Be careful.

  12. This is “Camp Grandma,” week. Can’t wait to try this. Boy, will I be a hit! Thank You! 9 year olds can be hard to please at times. The other times they are absolutely wonderful.

  13. OH MY GOODNESS! This was the most fun ever. My 5 daughters and the babysitter had a blast. Watching the microwave was an incredible sight the kiddos could not take their eyes off the magic.We will do this again and again. Thank you.

  14. Apparently my Ivory soap is too old?!?! Mine broke apart but didn’t increase in size and then it burned. I promise it’s plain old Ivory soap! Scouts honor… weird.

  15. I read that Ivory soap floats because a worker left a mixing machine running while away at lunch. Extra mixing added air that caused the bars to float. Customers who got that batch were delighted, and future batches had air whipped into the soap. That probably has something to do with what happens to it in the microwave.

  16. I did this today with my 3 grandsons ages 12, 7 & 5. They all LOVED it! Next we will make little soaps for gifts for their Mommies. Thanks for the quick, easy, super fun craft. I liked it as much as they did. I made them come over so I would have a good excuse to play.

  17. I use Dove soap and I know how strong the smell is. How long before you food stopped smelling or tasting like soap? I think this would be fun to try but am afraid it would leave a smell in my microwave.

  18. I can tell you how it works, it’s the same concept as popcorn. The reason that Ivory is the only soap that floats is because there is air inside of it. When you put the soap in the mic, the air expands and *poof*! Only unlike popcorn you can actually see it in action. What a fun idea. My kids will love this!

  19. I had a small piece of Jergens soap to break off the bar. I put the small piece in the microwave and it actually worked. I’ll have to remember to purchase Ivory soap the next time I need bar soap.

    ~ Marjorie ~

  20. My kids will love this! …and I get 10 points for knowing way too much about the great devourer.

  21. I wonder if you saturated/soaked/colored the IVORY soap first with food coloring then microwaved it…would the cloud have a color tint to it. Hmmmmmmm….

  22. I’m babysitting two pre-schoolers for the next two weeks. We willake our own bar soaps tomorrow! Btw…Fels Naptha can be softened in the microwave, cut into cubes, then run through the food processor to make your own detergent. I grated it once…no more. I make detergent with Fels Naptha and Ivory. Love them!

  23. The quote is from Ninjgo (not that I can spell it).

    This project looks amazing and would make great gifts too….fun things to do at parties too!

    many hugs fellow “in the trenches Momma”!