Homemade rainbow soap

Image: Abby Jones

As we adjust to spending more time at home, many of us are turning to crafting to keep our minds and hands active.

Making your own soap using just a few ingredients is a simple and fun DIY project for adults and children alike.

As it’s so important to keep washing our hands right now, and there are so many gorgeous handmade soaps to choose from, we thought we’d find out how easy it is to make your own unique bar of DIY soap.

Sourced by Oxfam Elements Soaps

Imagine knowing how important it is to wash your hands regularly but not having the soap or clean water you need to keep your family safe.

“It’s very expensive to buy a bar of soap. Now it’s going for about $70, so whenever you get it, you try to keep it so it lasts longer,” says Tsitsi, a Glen View resident in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“It makes a great difference [having soap] we will… wash our hands when necessary, especially before handling our food. Even to wash our dishes. It was very difficult for us to do that, but now it’s a little bit better, we can plan on how best we can conserve it.”

A woman holding an Oxfam bucket and soap, Harare, Zimbabwe - Covid-19 response

Resident Netsai with soap she received during Oxfam’s door to door distributions. Image: Tavonga Chikwaya / Oxfam

Too many people around the world live in cramped conditions, with no access to clean water or proper handwashing facilities and are already facing crises like conflict and hunger. For these communities, coronavirus could be catastrophic.

How you can help

We’re doing everything we can to help protect the poorest people from the coronavirus. But we need your help to do more.

Your kind donation helps us deliver soap, clean water and sanitation services such as handwashing facilities to keep more families safe.

It’s a difficult time for everyone – but anything you can give today can make a difference and save lives. Thank you.

Donate now
Tell someone you love them with these inspiring charity gift e-cards. Your donation will help Oxfam and local partners support the world’s most vulnerable people facing the devastating effects of the coronavirus. For a limited time, the Unwrapped gifts you buy will be match funded by a partner of Oxfam – doubling the poverty-busting power of your gift!

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Abby talks us through 6 easy steps to soap-making success

“To try and make handwashing a bit more fun, I thought we’d have a go at making some homemade rainbow soap.

You can make soap from scratch using lye but to keep it simple and child-friendly, I opted for a glycerine soap base – which is clear. There are lots of other soap bases available including shea butter, coconut oil, goats milk all of which you can buy quite cheaply.

We then added our own colours, and essential oils.

The girls were delighted with the results and are proudly working towards their Brownies ‘charities badge’ by selling the soap to family and friends to help raise money for Oxfam’s coronavirus appeal,” Abby says.

You will need:

Everything you need to make your own rainbow soap

Image: Abby Jones

  • Glycerine soap base
  • Food colouring
  • Essential oil
  • Small bowls
  • Loaf tin

🌈 1. Chop up the glycerine into little bits. We weighed out the same amount for each layer (250 grams per layer)

A block of soap base being cut with a bread knife

Image: Abby Jones

🌈 2. Melt the glycerine in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan with boiling water in it. It melts quickly so we did it 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time to get rid of any lumps

Soap base cubes

Image: Abby Jones

🌈 3. Add the food colouring and essential oil. Be generous with the essential oil. We gave it a good 10-20 drops per layer and chose lavender oil

Adding colour to a soap base

Image: Abby Jones

🌈 4. Pour into the loaf tin. (We found the greaseproof paper ended up sticking to the soap so we’d recommend you leaving this out!) Try and get rid of any bubbles

Pouring soap mix into a tin

Image: Abby Jones

🌈 5. Wait patiently for the layer to harden (around 10/15 mins) Then pour the next layer, and the next layer, until you have about 7 layers

Waiting for soap to set

Image; Abby Jones

🌈️ 6. Once all the layers were done, we let the soap harden overnight…

…although you don’t have to wait that long. A tip to help ease the soap out is to heat the sides of the tin a little with a lighter or an iron. You can also buy gel moulds for soap which make it easier. I used a sharp knife which I heated slightly to cut the slices.

Homemade rainbow soap

Image: Abby Jones

We also tried making dinosaur eggs using an Easter egg mould and some toys we had lying around!

Homemade dinosaur soap

Image: Abby Jones

We’d love to know how you get on – send your soap creations to heretohelp@oxfam.org.uk

Keeping clean and healthy – activity ideas for children

Pupils washing their hands at a school in Rakhine, Myanmar

Image: Dustin Barter/Oxfam

There are many ways parents and carers can help and encourage children to appreciate the why and how of keeping clean and healthy. Oxfam Education has put together some creative activities linked to good health and well-being you might like to try at home.

This simple activity from Dr. Lucy Rogers helps younger children demonstrate the power of soap against viruses. All you need is pepper, oil and water.

Until it’s time for everyone to go back to school, we will be regularly sharing fun and educational activity ideas for ages 7-14 to use at home. These can help young people consider what we all need to thrive, explore what connects us and be inspired to make a difference. For more inspiration, check out the weekly resources on our home learning hub.

Oxfam's coronavirus emergency response appeal

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