Molds, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. They can be semi-rigid or rigid, heavy cardboard, sturdy plastic or wood. Here are a few suggestion where to get you started.


Slab or Block Molds (yields one big piece of soap that needs to be cut into smaller bars):

  • Tupperware or Rubber Maid type storage containers - 9 x 13 cake size
  • cardboard boxes that hold 4 - 6 packs of beer or soda pop cans for shipping
    sometimes referred to as "flats"
  • cardboard shoeboxes
  • food containers:
  • cardboard milk or juice containers
  • soup, juice, vegetable and fruit cans
  • microwave meals containers
  • ice cream cartons
  • PVC pipe 2-1/4" or 3" diameter
  • window expanders of extruded vinyl
  • plastic downspouts and guttering

Individual Molds:

  • Jell-O molds
  • candle molds
  • cookie or muffin trays
  • tartlet molds
  • food containers:
  • yogurt or pudding cartons, single serve size
  • plastic containers for cheese spreads and sauces
  • candy molds
  • L'eggs hosiery plastic egg containers
  • popsicle freezer molds
  • When I first began looking for molds on the Internet and then later in local stores, they were the least readily available item on the soap supplies list. If you use any of these items for soap molds, then that's their permanent task in life. They can't be used for anything else once exposed to lye.

    There is a quaint Midwestern saying about "not breeding a scab on the end of your nose." Translated this means "don't ask for trouble." Asking for trouble with molds is using anything out of tin, aluminum, zinc, china, untempered glass, flimsy plastic or colored molds. The first three will corrode; the middle two are prone to breakage; flimsy plastic can melt and the only color you want in your soap is that which occurs naturally or you add intentionally. These few "no-no's" will save you grief in the long run!

    In selecting your molds, consider the purpose of the soap. Is it decorative, guest soaps or is it for practical use? I have bought cute bars of decorator soaps the shaped like bears, lions and various other interesting choices, but when using them in the shower, try hanging onto a bear's ear or a lion's tail. Invariably they squirted from my grasp and then it became a game of "hunt the animal"! Maybe I'm just a klutz, but this was annoying.

    If considering using candy or candles molds, size comes into play. Many candy molds are very small, some only an inch across, some only 1/4" deep. This makes for nice bite-sized chocolates, but very small bars of soap. Great for decorating, but not too practical at bath time. Also remember that as soaps cure they will shrink a bit, further reducing their finished size.

    A lot of the cute starfish and rosette shapes found in bath shops are professionally extruded soaps. To achieve the same three dimensional look and double-sided design, you'll have to use a two-part mold. It's not impossible by any stretch, but the basics of soapmaking need to be mastered first.

    Conversely, when using candle molds, make sure they aren't gargantuan! Quite a number of them are two-part molds, measuring 7" tall x 3" wide and larger when pressed together. If the mold makes a figure, like a 6" x 3" rabbit for instance, this is too big for a single bar of soap. Being a non-uniform design, there wouldn't be convenient place to divide it. This design would look pretty weird separated into a pair of bunny ears, fat tummy and cotton tail. When selecting molds, choose them from a user's standpoint and envision how the finished soap would look and feel in the hand.

    This subject that has many different opinions.

    1. Some folks say don't use plastic wrap liners because it can wrinkle inside the mold and leave marks on the soap. Some swear by it.

    2. Another thought is to use garbage bags cut to the appropriate size which means enough to cover the insides and come overlay the outside walls of the container.

    3. Another suggestion is silicone bakery paper. This is a Teflon-like paper used to line cake pans. It can be purchased through some bakeries but gets ruined after one soapmaking project. This method is a must for making the sticker milk-based soaps.

    4. Some folks suggest greasing the molds, but others say the grease is absorbed into the soap.

    5. Other tricks involve coating a mold with a light layer of vegetable spray like Pam, vegetable shortening or Vaseline. Most times your soap will unmold with no problem, but the variable ingredients make absolutes impossible.

    6. Using a slightly flexible mold helps convince stubborn soap to release after receiving a gentle twist.

    7. One sure trick to make soap release is to pop soap and mold into the freezer 2 - 4 hours before attempting to unmold it. If you are using a huge slab or block mold, this could present some obvious space problems, but it does work. If you use the freezer method, unmold it quickly directly onto the surface you plan to dry the soap. From being very cold or frozen, the soap will exude moisture almost immediately. The soap's wetted surface will show fingerprints so work quickly and don't handle it a lot.

    Being ever practical, I would use plastic wrap or garbage bags carefully smoothed out and pressed tightly into corners for plain square or rectangular molds. This would make for the least amount of wrinkles. Vaseline, being made of petroleum jelly rather than fats and oils might be less likely absorbed by the other fats but this is not a certainty. Be sure to spread the Vaseline in all nooks and crannies. If the soap is not in a huge mold, the freezer is a terrific idea.

    Whatever mold you choose, make sure it is white or clear. Soap loves to absorb color wherever it can get its molecules on it! One of the best things about soapmaking is all the creativity and flexibility this craft allows. Let your eyes roam and you'll spot heaps of soap mold candidates!
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