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. When making it into bar soap again, would it be okay to add a couple drops of an essential oil or something? It would be nice to make some scented ones. Maybe mix it with green tea powder or something along those lines. Or baking cocoa. Both of those are good for the skin. Super curious about your opinion on that cause these could make fantastic gifts xD. As well as my own personal use. Does it end up making more soap than you started with or condense back down?

    Could putting natural exfoliants in it be a good idea?

    Someone let me know what they think of these ideas.

  2. Thanks for this idea! I cut a bar into four pieces so for $1.50 I can do this 12 times. Worked great. Lots of fun.

  3. I found you on Pinterest and am really excited to try your ivory soap project with my 6 and 3 yr old grandaughters. thank you for doing such a great job sharing!

  4. Not sure if anyone has let you know but it’s because Ivory soap is aerated, not many soaps are created this way and this is why it expands. Most soaps are compressed, so it won’t expand ivory soap has thousands of tiny air bubbles which is also why the drier (older) the soap is the less bubbles it has. ( I learned this from Steve Spangler science 🙂 )

  5. Someone may have said this already – but way back up in comment #3 – Kim said it dissolves more quickly thus creating the need to buy more soap sooner. That is true but it is also true that it dissolves more quickly because of the chemicals that are NOT in it. I’d rather buy it more often – than have the chemicals and it is still the least expensive soap on the market.

    Thanks for this – my daughter is going to love it!

  6. This looks like fun. My boys are always looking for things they can “blow up” so to speak. What made you decide that microwavinga bar a soap sounded like a great idea??? I’m just a bit miffed my boys hadn’t thought of doing this years ago. I can’t wait to do this with them. They however will probablly turn it into a parlor trick, which will be fun. This will be a great hypothosis to throw out there for my 12 year old and have her come up with the outcome and then watch her brothers turn it into a parlor trick. FUN….FUN…..FUN!!!!!

  7. As a little girl, I used to love Ivory soap. When I started crafting with Ivory, I would shape a ball (approximately the size of a hardball) out of it, while at the same time adding and thinly covering fresh, clean spearmint leaves from my garden near the surface of the ball. Then I would wrap each of the dry balls in a square of netting fabric tied at the top with an attractive bow. They make attractive guest soaps in your bathroom. It would be nice for the children to add a small toy favor in ones shown made here with cookie cutters.

  8. i love this soap experiment! would love to do it in my class. I am from Durban, South Africa and was wondering if we have a similar brand of soap? Thanks for the cool idea!

  9. I read this awhile back and last time I made laundry soap, I made a soap cloud rather than grating the soap. It crumbled so easily! It literally took all the work out of laundry soap making.

  10. To heck with the kids….mine are 27 and 31…and no grandkids yet, but I wanna play all by myself with this! 🙂

  11. When visiting the Soap Factory in Hawaii the tour guide told us that what we call ‘soap’ is actually not soap. I checked and indeed most all bar ‘soaps’ actually say ‘beauty bar’ or something similar. They are made from petroleum byproducts and are chemically different from soap. Ivory soap is based on animal fat and is not a petroleum byproduct.

    I could not find any documentation for this but it seems reasonable to me.

    Thanks for sharing such a fun thing to do with IVORY soap! It’s good to teach kids basic sculpture as well. Carves up nicely. 8^)

  12. did this with my grandkids. by the time I did three bars, i have lots of it still stuck to the sides of my microwave. any ideas on how to get it all off?? by the way, they enjoyed playing in it.

  13. A fun science experiment and a Ninjago reference, my son was SOLD!!! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  14. Lever 2000 soap works, too!! It might not get the full size of Ivory, but it still puffs out!!

  15. This was a super fun experiment BUT it did make a mess in my microwave!! Maybe my microwave was smaller than yours, BUT once again, we all had a blast. When my grandkids got thru with their project, each one got in the tub and took a bath with their own soap. We will defintitely do this again. By the way, you were right about little hands liking to crush the soap. My middle one acted like it was SNOW and I really had a mess to clean up . It was still worth every second of cleaning up!!!! FUN FUN FUN

  16. Oh Ninjago….so many great lines in those shows. All of my kids love that show. Anyways, great idea. I will have to do this soon. Looks like I will be going off to the store to buy me some Ivory soap!!!

  17. Hi! I tried this with Ivory soap and all mine did was puff up in the center and then start turning brown and smelling burnt. I used Ivory Pure, does that make a difference? My boys were so bummed it didn’t work, please help!

  18. Hi there all you overseas people…. please could someone in the UK or Australia comment on the soap that they used… we do not have your kind of soap in south Africa. Dove, Palmolice, Lux, ????????

  19. This was awesome. Definately going to try it!! Oh, and for the bonus points…both of mine LOVE Ninjago too. I can’t wait for them to make the same reference!!

  20. I pinned this tutorial for cub scouts, and decided to try it out ahead of time. I used an old bar of Ivory that the cubs had previously used to practice widdling… and it puffed up a little, then burnt. So, in case you were wondering, Im guessing you should open a fresh bar. Will have to pick up some fresh soap and try again.

    1. Mine did the same thing, and it was fresh out of the package…hum, wonder why it didn’t work?

  21. I’m a couponer & Ivory soap is always on sale @ Target for $1.18 for a 3/pk (of course I use my q’s to get it extra cheap) but even if u don’t have coupons its still a cheap soap to experiment. I just tried it & its too cool. I kept microwaving with the little pieces & they still grew extremely large. Great project for kids of all ages!

  22. sure looks fun i will have to give it a try this adult has an inner child
    locked inside her thanks for the cute idea. Frances Bowman

  23. When my son was younger he so enjoyed doing this project simply useing marshmallows and eating them once cooled, they are actually fun to eat that way. Our church does the Christmas Boxes to send overseas to the children in poor countries and because Ivory Soap Bars are so gifted enough that they float, I always send them in the gift boxes for the children who receive them simply because we do not know there cleansing accomodations so if there washing in a river or stream they can’t loose there soaps. We have always also sent the plastic storage containers for the children to store there soap bars in. Such fun bar of soap and for so many helpful and fun reasons…enjoy.

  24. I will have to try this. I am surprised that people today would not have a microwave. I dont think there is a day goes by that we don’t use ours. I will use the old one we have in our shop. Does it smell like soap after you do this? Neat idea for a rainy day.

  25. First I must say that your son is awesome! He is talking about a scene in Lego ninjago where the great Devourer is unleased and he busts out from underground! So cute! And second this is amazing I keep seeing the same things over and over for kid activities and this is something i have never seen and by far the most fun! I mean who cares if they make a mess it is soap!! I am so in love with this I thank you so much for sharing it.