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 figure that experiments tend to use Ivory as it’s a plain, basic soap with not many added ingredients. It’s also readily available and easy to recognise. As far as I’m aware Elmer’s glue is just plain PVA so it’s being recommended for the same reasons as Ivory. In the UK we have neither brand so if I have a go at making soap clouds I’ll try a very plain, basic soap.

  2. I found out tonight that a fresh bar of Ivory. I had a bar that was about 3 years old in the linen closet. I tried it in the microwave. It split apart and looked neat but didn’t turn to fluff. I’m definitely going to try again!

  3. So cool! I’m going to try this with my 3 year old soon! Also, I laughed out loud at the Ninjago reference! We are big fans in this house! Thanks for the idea…can’t wait to do it !

  4. I used this experiment when I was a high school teacher. To find the science behind it you can go to Thanks for teaching me that I can do other things with the soap after the experiment. I feel bad now because I always threw the soap away. I teach elementary school and I probably will do this experiment with them sometime this year. It would make cute Mother’s day or Christmas gifts.

  5. the great devourer. Obviously your child watches Lego Ninjago. 🙂 Love the idea will be trying it tomorrow. thank you

  6. Your kids are saying, I see something happening, I see something happening, it’s growing, it’s growing. It’s the great devourer too cute and cool craft

  7. This is neat! We used to do this as children at Christmas. Blend it with water until it is sticky, and then use the mixture to “paint” the limbs of a real tree. It dries hard and looks like real snow on the branches! This is so fun!

  8. I can’t wait to try this with my 6 yr old! Ivory is going on this weeks grocery list.
    I’m so glad to see I’m not the only Mom who watches NINJAGO with her son! I have to say I wanted to cry this week when Lloyd grew up in a flash! I did however have to explain to my 6 yr old what a hemeroid was when Lloyd was called “Lloyd the Hemeroid Garmadon” That name must have directed at moms since some mom’s probably feel that way somedays about their little darlings : )

  9. That is so cool. Going to have to try it. BTW isn’t that a reference to Lego Ninjago? My kids love that show. lol

  10. I think the Ivory soap does this because of how it is made– it’s whipped longer to add air. Remember the old ads. It floats. I always got a kick out of how it was originally made. It was an accident! lol! Worker fell asleep and whipped it WAY too long… lots of air in the mix.

  11. I love this. As a Grandmother I love to have projects, keeps them busy and out of trouble. One question. Does the food coloring come off on your skin when you use the soap? I quess what I’m asking is will it stain? Thanks

  12. This sounded so amazing that I sent it off to all my nieces with kids. First report from Lauren, who said tbey did it twice today, and then made piggy soaps. Can’t wait to get some Ivory, and let my little girl try it. She’ll love it. She’s almost 19. 😉 Thanks for the fabulous trick.
    Oh, the secret to Ivory soap floating (which is what makes it unique, and probably what makes this possible, is that is it overly whipped. The person who made that first special batch whipped it too much, and aerated it. Have you tried other soaps? Now I’m askeered to try that!

  13. I’m thinking if you are worried about food coloring staining you could use washable watercolor for coloring it…I may have to experiment…lol

  14. For New Zealanders, this worked for me with a leftover bar of Palmolive that had been recently used, so not too dried out.

    1. Cool! I didn’t expect to see a comment from another Kiwi. I’ll try it with Palmolive. I was considering making a trip to the American store (in Auckland) to see if they had any Ivory in stock. Thanks for the tip!

    2. Thanks! Was scrolling thru wondering if there might be hints for kiwis on what works for us but expected not to find anything. You’ve made my day 🙂

  15. This is an awesome idea! At first I was like hmm this looks like a disaster waiting to happen and then I read the whole article. Looks like FUN! Imagine you can make little soap gifts for people! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!

  16. WARNING: it almost burned my house house down. i only had it in there for 1 min 40 sec and it bursted into flames. scary

  17. love the great devourer reference. planning ninjago birthday parties for both the boys as we speak 🙂

  18. Seriously awesome! Thank you so much! I burst out laughing at the Ninjago reference. The hilariousness of kids:)

  19. this is cool for teaching about the weather. you can make clouds to hang in the class. anyhow, is it cool to the touch the second you take it out of the microwave or do I need to let it cool before taking it out?

  20. I’ve done this before with church kids and they love it. As for the question of “Why Ivory?”… it has air pockets in it that allow expansion when heated in the microwave (similar to how a piece of popcorn pops). It’s also the reason Ivory floats while other soaps sink. :o)

  21. Tried this with a bunch of two year olds. Except they each had a bowl and a spoon a d I put a few drops of water in each bowl enough to make it thick. Added a few drops of food coloring and the kids had body wash to take home and take a bath in that evening. I LOVE this…

  22. I love the video! It makes me feel like I’m not being pinterest punked. 🙂 Can’t wait to try. Going out for some IVORY (!!!!) soap right now. Ellen

  23. Someone may have said this already, if so I apologize, but you can buy soap dye in lots of colors for cheap at Michaels. Food coloring is risky because of the stain potential should the kids drop the soap on a nice white towel, bathmat, or in the tile grout. Soap dye is washable and works great! Find it in the candle/soap making section.

  24. Ninjago…I know you have already had this answered, but do I get points for knowing it immediately? lol. I am definately trying this with the kids. They will LOVE making little soap forms. Bonus that I can also use it for laundry soap! I will say, though, I have a hand crank cheese grater (Pamp Chef) that I use for grating the Fels Naptha soap, and it’s pretty easy that way. Another trick I learned to get the lumps out of the concentrate is to use an immersion blender. Fabulous!

  25. How do you get the soaps out of the molds? Ours keep falling apart. Do we need to let them dry more or did we use too much water?