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Trials for a Glycerin Soap Solid Scrub Bar Recipe

I have an interest in handmade bath and body products, so I am continually experimenting with new soap-making recipes and techniques.

After seeing solid sugar scrub bars for sale on Etsy that had been made from a melt pour soap base, I wanted to see if I could recreate the product myself. The only recipe I could find online was for single-use solid scrub cubes, but these all had extra oils added to them, and were meant to melt away with one use. I was looking for something that would last a little longer than that. So I started experimenting, using both sugar and salt. Here were my results:

Two different recipes yielded two different results.

Two different recipes yielded two different results.

Recipe 1: Using Large Grain Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

  • 2 parts goat milk glycerin soap base
  • 1 part medium grain pink Himalayan sea salt
  • I used 1.5 ml fragrance for a 6.5 oz batch

I used Soap Queen’s instructions for adding my salt to this – I just dumped it into my melted & scented base, and after stirring, scooped out the grains from the bottom with a spoon. It sets up really fast, so two scoops was all that was needed, and then I poured the rest over the top.

Results: While this bar is very pretty, I don’t care for the feel of the larger grain salt. Sure, it dissolves as you use the soap, but you still have some sharp edges scratching you. I don’t think that creating microscopic tears on the skin is very good for it, so I don’t plan on making this one again. As for the lather? It was noticeably reduced.

Recipe 2: Using Fine Grain Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

  • 7 parts goat milk glycerin soap base
  • 1 part fine grain pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 ml fragrance for a 4.25 oz batch

I meant to use 2:1 as my ratio, but I quickly ran out of soap using a different method of incorporating the salt. This time, instead of stirring the salt into my melted base, I poured a little soap into my mold, then sprinkled salt on top (thanks for the tip, Genny of Naughty Soaper). I alternated these two steps until I ran out of soap.

Results: This was much better. I’m glad I didn’t use more salt than I did, because even with the extra-fine grain salt I used, it is still far more coarse than the sugar scrub bars below. I would make this one again, because I know that a lot of people prefer a rougher scrub than I do. And the lather was still pretty decent, because the salt doesn’t make up so much of the bar.

I tried a slightly different approach for these next two.

I tried a slightly different approach for these next two.

Recipe 3: Using Sugar

  • 2 parts goat milk glycerin soap base
  • 1 part organic sugar

I just stirred my sugar into my base and poured. That was it. This one was the easiest to make and it was also my favorite bar of the bunch (even though I forgot to add my fragrance, haha).

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Results: It has just the right amount of scrub—not too hard, not too soft. Sugar is supposed to be lather-increasing, so I paid particular attention to what happened with the lather in these bars; it turned out very lotion-like and creamy. I might continue to experiment with this one, but overall, it’s a solid recipe.

Backside of sugar scrub bars.

Backside of sugar scrub bars.

Recipe 4: Using Dissolved Sugar

  • 60% goat milk glycerin soap base
  • 40% organic sugar
  • 1 ml fragrance in a 4 oz batch

This time I attempted to dissolve as much of my sugar as possible in the soap. Only some of it would dissolve, though. In the photo above, both bars look the same, since some of the sugar sunk to the bottom; but if you flip them over, you can see the difference (photo below).

Results: This one was less scrubby than #3, obviously, but there was a noticeable difference in the later, too. It had big bubbles instead of the creaminess. It looks like maybe the sugar has to be dissolved in the soap for it to increase the lather. I still preferred #3, despite the lack of large bubbles. This bar is meant to be a solid scrub— exfoliation is more important than cleansing.

My 5th attempt

My 5th attempt

Recipe 5: Using Coconut Sugar and Poppy Seeds

  • 70% goat milk glycerin soap base
  • 30% coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp poppy seeds in a 4 oz batch
  • 1 ml fragrance in a 4 oz batch

I had some coconut sugar lying around, and since it’s a bit coarser grain and looks different than the white sugar, I thought I would test it, too. And I added poppy seeds just for the heck of it. I basically just wanted to see what they would look like.

Results: This one turned out much the same as #3. I won’t use poppy seeds in these again, because I think they are painful. But the coconut sugar feels about the same on the skin as the smaller grain sugar does. I like that it retained the brown color, so I think I will use the coconut sugar with fragrances that tend to turn brown.

And that’s it! In my experiments, I learned that it IS possible to make a salt bar out of glycerin soap (I wasn’t sure, since people seem to always use cold process for them). And I learned that it’s really not hard at all to make a solid sugar scrub using melt pour soap.

© 2018 Katie Adams


Kelly Ann Christensen from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas on January 26, 2020:

I don't usually like glycerin soap, but your selections look good. If you stay with making glycerin you don't have to worry about using lye, but I could not find much glycerin I was interested in. Thanks again.