Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 30, 2016

DIY Gemstone Soap Tutorial | How to Make Easy Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap Rocks

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
 
As a rock collector, you can imagine how much I mooned over the gem and mineral shaped "soap rocks" when I first spotted them in an artsy boutique in Duluth, MN.  They were regularly price at around $11, so you can imagine my glee when they were put on clearance one day - for $6 a bar!  Still pricey, but I ran to the cash register with an armful.  I bought a couple as gifts and then depleted the store's stock of "turquoise" soap rocks, which I've doled out to myself over the years.  You might have seen them pop up in this bathroom and that bathroom.  I swear it wasn't the same soap, moved from room to room.

;)

When I finally got down to my last original soap rock, I hopped online to buy more and they're still expensive - even in bulk.  I am definitely not want to shirk away from paying for craftsmanship, ingenuity or quality but they're too expensive to enjoy (does that make sense to anyone else?), no matter how adorable.  When I started seeing gemstone shaped soap tutorials popping up everywhere, I decided to make my own soap rocks.  My gem soaps are nowhere near as gorgeous as the originals, but at only $2 a bar (which will be less once I make more batches), my wallet is much happier - and I don't feel a twinge of guilt when I'm lathering up.  Plus, making soap turned out to be such a fun and easy craft project that I can't wait to make more!  

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Although there are a lot of great gemstone soap tutorials online (like these ones by A Beautiful Mess, Dream a Little Bigger, Fall for DIY, Honestly WTF, Soap Queen, and DIY in PDX), this tutorial is my favorite and it's the one I followed because it created the most realistic looking "stones".

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Soap Rock Making Supplies:

A note on these soap making supplies supplies:

Essential oils: I read that vanilla can yellow a soap so if you're going for a really clear "gem," opt for another scent.

Glycerine soap bases: In total I ordered 7 lbs of glycerine, which yielded two huge silicone molds worth of soap.  I linked to the exact glycerine bases I used because they are really nice.  I chose organic glycerine and was really happy with how this particular soap base lathers.  The clear looks so gem-like, so I ordered even more of it.  If you're only going to order one (the opaque or the clear), get the clear.

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Cosmetic grade mica dyes: Mica colorants bestow the shimmer and sheen of real stones and help make these gem soaps more realistic.  I think I went a little overboard with the dye and made mine too richly colored, so play around a little with the quantity and add a little to start, building up the color if required.  For my next batch I'll try more faintly tinted clear glycerine areas for a more "quartz" inspired look.  The exact kind of mica I used is no longer available but I linked to a similar one.  Buy any kind you like, but make sure it's cosmetic grade.  Or try what Rachel did and put those unused eye shadow kits to good use! 

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Look at the pretty shimmer:

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

How to Make Gem and Mineral Shaped Soap:

This style of soap making (melt and pour) is too easy:  in a nutshell, you melt the glycerine, add coloring agents and fragrance, pour into molds, and let cool.  With soap rocks, you add an extra step of chopping up the soap, arranging in a larger mold, adding more melted glycerine then cutting the finished product into a natural rock shape.

The only tricky part is creating a realistic gem, so the first step with making rock soap is to figure out what kind of stones you want to make.  Hit up Pinterest (I have a entire board dedicated to rocks) and find at least one kind to mimic.  Take a close look at the veining and colors to determine what colors of soap you'll need to make, and how to layer the different pieces - but there's no right or wrong way to do this.

How to Make Melt and Pour Soap:

With your rock soap "design" sorted, here are some more detailed instructions for how to actually make melt and pour gem-shaped soap.

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Cut up the glycerine into small pieces and place in the microwaveable bowl.  I worked with a cup or two at a time.  Pop into the microwave and melt (about 30 seconds - 1 minute, depending on the microwave).

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Mix in a pinch of mica until the color is perfect and then add essential oil.  I added a few drops of oil at a time until it smelled great - it's a personal decision how much to add.  If you're going to be making many colors, you can also pour the melted soap into another container, add dye and oil, and then pour into mold to keep the Pyrex measuring cup from transferring dye across batches (like I did, below).

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
 
Pour the melted glycerine into the bar mold and let cool 6-8 hours.  In the meantime, start on another color and repeat the process.  You want to have a nice variety of the colors present in your gem or mineral.  I spent a couple of hours leisurely making different colors; it was a relaxing crafternoon.

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

You can also use an assortment of random plastic containers, but the bars pop out of this silicone bar mold so nicely.  I bought it because I figured I can make rectangular bar soap later.  After they've hardened, remove the soap from the molds.  (Technically, at this stage you could also just cut these soaps into gem shapes). 

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap RocksDIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Now chop up those bars!  Use a knife or other kitchen tools (like a vegetable peeler) to create organic looking shapes.  Create bigger and smaller chunks, some shards and thin little "veins" - depending on the stone you're trying to replicate.  You can also gently rub the soap to soften corners.  Set aside any shavings and cuttings - you can add them to a bar later or melt them again.

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Next, assemble the pieces in the large loaf silicone mold, as per the gem or mineral you want to replicate.  For one batch, I started with a darker layer then added lighter layers as well as "veins":

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Then melt a batch of glycerine, adding essential oils and mica again, but keeping the color very light and sheer.  Once mixed, pour into the soap mold, covering all of the smaller pieces.  How much you need will depend on how much room is left.  Start with a cup and keep adding.  If you want separation between the layers, let them firm between adding more.   

Let the loaf of soap set and harden overnight.

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

When it's set, you'll have a block like this:

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

For my first attempt, I really created a layered look (below) and my second batch was a little more uniform (see above):

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

For my next attempt, I plan to limit the variation of color and just play more with opacity, so the little shards and pieces I cut up will be suspended in what I hope will look like quartz.  This process is fun and I promise you'll want to keep experimenting to get as realistic a gem soap as possible. 

Once it has hardened, remove the soap from the mold and slice it like bread.  Cut off edges and corners, and add some facets, to create a random, organic feel.  Cut some bars diagonally, some square - mix it up! 

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Making soap can continue forever because you'll end up with little scraps that you can melt down and use again or add into the next batch of rock soap.  One neat idea is to pick up a small silicone mold, like this gem-shaped mold, and then melt down and make mini guest soaps with any leftovers (recognize the gem mold from my gemstone gummies?)

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

I love my DIY gem soap - it makes such a cheery statement on the counter in the bathroom.  The colors didn't stain or dye anything (which was my worry the first time I lathered up a bar in my brand new white tub).  I also have really sensitive skin (prone to redness, dryness, and also oiliness - yay) but this soap has not dried out my skin or aggravated acne; it's a really nice soap. 

Make a batch of these easy DIY gemstone soaps for holiday gifts - bonus points for whipping up birthstones!  (Or, if you're in a rush, you can always find Soap Rocks on Amazon for stocking stuffers and make/hoard these handmade gem soaps for yourself later).

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks
DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

Tips and Tricks for Making Melt + Pour Gem Soaps:
  • Make sure to keep some areas translucent to create a more realistic "gem" look
  • The mica/shimmer shows up better in clear glycerine
  • If you don't like a color, re-melt the bar and try adding more dye (to darken) or glycerine (to lighten), or add a whole new hue and try again!
  • If you get mica bubbles (I got some) spray with rubbing alcohol, or mix the mica with the alcohol before adding to the soap
  • But don't worry about it being "perfect" - have fun and just go with it
  • Clean up is a breeze (it's soap!) so I just ran my cutting board, knife and Pyrex cup through the dishwasher when I was done

DIY Gem + Mineral Shaped Soap | Make Your Own Melt + Pour Soap Rocks

I'll definitely be trying this again and I'll be sure to share my results.  Have you made soap?  I'd love to see!  Share a link in the comments or tag me on Instagram.  
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10 comments

  1. These are so pretty! I love that you are sharing how to make these!!! Love, love, love:)

    Amy in MN

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  2. I just ordered everything I need for making soap. You made it look so easy! I have had my fair share of diy failures so wish me luck! Great Christmas gift idea. Thanks Tanya.

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    1. Good luck!! I hope yours turn out beautifully, but I have no doubts :)

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  3. The framed Agate art was apparently too hard for me (I bought the slices and never did anything more, haha) but this looks more fun! My husband is a geologist so I'm always on the lookout for rock stuff :)

    Yours turned out beautiful.

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    1. Oh no! Well, those slices make perfect coasters, as-is. Call them DIY coasters and call it a day, haha. I have a closet full of discarded projects, so I totally understand. If your Hubby is a geologist, he'll be able to help make amazing soap. I read somewhere that the folks who created soap rocks were geologists and that's how they created such realistic soap stones. Hubby might be an excellent asset for this craft!

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  4. This looks absolutely marvelous! It seems like a nice project to do together, or a perfect afternoon all to oneself!

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    1. Thank you! Definitely, it would be a great craft to work on with someone but it's also kind of a peaceful project to tackle alone.

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  5. I am a minimalist so I would probably make the monocolored gemstone using my diamonds silicon ice cube tray. They will be perfect for my guest bathroom. Glad to hear that they didn't stain, but not sure why they didn't since its still dye sitting on a surface. Maybe your new tub just has a great finish on it. But I do worry about my sink counters as they are rather old and possibly porous. Although I wouldn't know for sure since I am obsessive about keeping anything that could stain, off of it.

    Anyway, love your soap rocks.

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    Replies
    1. Your plan sounds lovely!

      The weird thing about the mica dye is that the soap lathers white, not colored. I've never worked with soap before so this is all new to me but it seems like the glycerine traps it somehow. Bath bombs made with it can definitely stain tubs (I've read), but with the soap there wasn't even any color released when it's used. It never stained my stone counter, which did stain when a strand of my freshly dyed hair fell on it and sat in water for too long (crap). But if you're worried about your counter, then it would be a good idea to avoid colorants of any kind. The glycerine on its own is gorgeous and in your mold with a lovely fragrance, this would still be a really nice soap.

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