Shanghai is where my soapy journey originally began (read more about my journey here). My love for handmade soap, however, began long ago when a little website called Etsy introduced me to the wonderful world of handmade soap. For a while I was addicted to Etsy and spent way too much time browsing for handmade soaps and scrubs. I loved how handmade soaps on Etsy were inspired, natural, and just so much better.
The inspiring products had planted a seed of inspiration in me as I thought of making my own soaps. Unfortunately, life got in the way and the seed that was planted got tossed in my brain’s attic. Nearly five years later the seed resurfaced when I was living in Shanghai and I found a Meetup group called Craft’d Shanghai. Craft’d Shanghai is a craft studio located in the former French Concession and one of their most popular workshops is soap making. I immediately signed up and found my former seed of inspiration turning into a full on sprout as my idea of starting my own soap line began.
Craft’d Shanghai’s soap making workshop is very casual and easy going. Nathalie, a former teacher who runs Craft’d as well as the soap making workshop, introduced us to the melt and pour soap making process, which is simple and safe. We were given a variety of options for molds, fragrances, (both essential oils and fragrance oils), decorative flowers, and all types of additives such as honey, coconut oil, and dried lemon slices. We were also provided with a nice worksheet that gave us some ideas for different types of soaps we could make.
Once we had our melt and pour base and ingredients in a Pyrex bowl, we were then shuffled to an area of the workshop with three double broilers where we would heat the melt-and-pour base until it melted and then pour it carefully into our molds (should it be called melt-and-pour-carefully?). It is fun watching as the white melt-and-pour base mixes with the additives and colors you select, making a soap that is uniquely yours. While the process is entirely safe as there is no direct working with lye involved, it can get messy, as I spilled melted soap base on my shoes.
After our melt-and-pour base was safely in our mold, we put it in the fridge and waited for it to cool. While we waited, there was a station with card stock paper, markers, twine, and ribbon where we could make our own packaging while we waited for our soaps to “cure” in the fridge.
The whole process was relaxing and fun. The only downside is that since there are usually more people than double broilers available you do have to spend time waiting for your turn to melt and pour. It’s worth the wait and at the end of the two-hour workshop you get to take home six of your own handmade soaps. Some of my soaps definitely came out better than others and now that I know more about soap making I cringe a little when I see my first soaps. Nonetheless, these soaps are my first babies and I definitely enjoyed using them.
If you’re looking for some “soapspiration” and if you happen to live and be in Shanghai definitely give Craft’d Shanghai’s soap workshop a run by and get inspired to start your own soapy journey.