Felted Soap 101 or How to use wool to make a soap and scrubber in one
I've been thinking of doing a blog for a little while now, to talk about things that have been interesting to me, to talk about my journey, just to have a place to document the things that happen with this business. So far, I have been using Facebook to do this, but I think I am going to expand a little bit, and here we are! This is my second blog post!
I have been experimenting with different ways to make soaps more fun but also kind of keep to my historical theme. A while back, I found some articles on how to felt wool, but because I am allergic to most kinds of wool (I have since found out it depends on how it's processed), I didn't mess with it much. About this time last year, I started felting wool and now, I admit, I really love it. Specifically I started felting soap, with wool I bought from a local merchant. I don't have that bar anymore, so I will have to make more, but here we go!
What is felted soap? Felted soap is basically a case of wool around a bar of soap. It functions much like a built-in wash cloth and can help protect your soap as well as give you some gentle exfoliation properties. This is ESPECIALLY AWESOME when you are bathing in the woods. It is all natural and a great alternative to using those plastic louffas
. ***Note: While both soap and felting were around in medieval times, I cannot find documentation showing that felting soap was a thing. I do believe, however, that wool was used as a washcloth of sorts.*** I will soon be offering felting as an option that can be added to any soap order! If you are like me and have far too many hobbies, maybe you have some wool roving at home and can follow along with me!
Here is what you need to make Felted Soap: - Wool Roving (Raw but washed, whatever colors you want, or uncolored) - A Bar of Soap (real soap, like mine) - Wash tub (or something similar) of Hot Water - Wash tub (or something similar) of Cold Water - Rubber Dish Gloves (to protect your hands) - Optional: A nylon stocking/panty hose - Time and Patience
First, thin and spread out your wool roving so that it is roughly rectangular and larger than the bar of soap, similar to how you might thin out a pie crust by hand. Thin it out until it is almost see through. Keep checking the size by placing the bar in the middle and working the edges so its roughly the same size all the way around.
Next, move your bar of soap to an edge of the wool and start rolling, tucking in the sides as you go. Check it to see if you have too much or too little or have any exposed corners you need to cover.. You have too much if it bunches or is REALLY lumpy, unroll, pull some off, and try again. If it's too little, you can see the soap. Unroll, add more, and roll up again until the bar is encased.
Optional: If you want to add colors to your felted soap, now the time to do it. You can add accent colors or whatever makes your heart happy.
Thirdly, Dip your soap in the Hot Water and gently, but firmly, press the wool together. Then you will want to start rubbing. I turn mine over and over in my hands so I rub and turn and rub and turn. This is why your gloves can come in really handy. Not only are you protecting your hands from the hot and cold water, but rubbing wool too much can exfoliate and rub your skin raw. A little exfoliation is great! A lot is not. If you have a nylon stocking, this is a good time to put the soap in the stocking as it really just helps to keep the wool in place as you work it. Either way, keep turning and rubbing. As you work, the soap will lather and the wool will start felting. Just keep rubbing and turning and as it cools, dipping into the hot water, then rubbing and turning more. The wool should be tight around the soap, creating a casing. It can take 10-15 minutes but eventually it will tighten up. I like to alternate between hot and cold water.
Once the wool seems to have created a casing, remove it from the nylon, if you are using it. If not, rinse gently with cold water and set in the sun or in a dry place to dry completely. Once it has dried completely, it is ready to use!
Rub all over the body, making sure to be gentle, and enjoy!
As always, with any handmade soap, make sure to keep it out of the water as much as possible. Water causes the soap to soften and will use up much faster, even encased in wool.