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Soap Cubes




Go ahead -- wash your hands with these pastel ice cubes. They're actually soaps made using a plastic ice cube tray as a mold.


  • Blocks of glycerin
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Cotton swabs
  • Microwavable container


  1. Step 1


    Experiment with ice-cube trays of various shapes and sizes. Glycerin is usually sold in large blocks; to melt it, cut it to a size that will fit in a microwavable bowl or measuring cup.

  2. Step 2

    Smear a dab of liquid food coloring into the bowl or measuring cup with a cotton swab or coffee stirrer. Food coloring is very concentrated, so only use a dab; try mixing different colors.

  3. Step 3

    Heat the glycerin in a microwave on high, stirring at 15-second intervals, until it's completely melted.

  4. Step 4

    Use a cotton swab to coat the inside of the ice-cube tray with petroleum jelly. Pour the melted glycerin into the tray, filling each section almost to the top.

  5. Step 5

    Cool for about 2 hours; the soap cubes will pop right out. Like cubes of ice, they'll also melt -- getting gradually smaller as each pair of hands is washed.

Martha Stewart Living, June 1999



Reviews (57)

  • arciebirne 13 Nov, 2013

    Excellent article.
    San Diego Lasik eye surgery

  • BackPorchSoapCo 14 Jan, 2012

    These are pretty! We make them into seaglass soaps and teach it in our soap making classes. We'd love to show you our soap projects!

    Back Porch Soap Co.

  • AGinTO 17 Jul, 2009

    I can't get the soap to harden without it being full of bubbles! It's not clear at all, even though the starting soap was completely clear. I've tried re-melting it...still no luck. I even sprayed it with 99% alcohol, as I read that should do it (but it isn't) HELP!!!

  • anahita 18 Apr, 2009

    I think this idea is wonderful! It's practic and beautiful and it's also a fantastic present for a friend. Anahn n n n

  • euni 19 Mar, 2009

    This is for youngrama - Wal-Mart and the hobby stores sell small glassene bags thata can be utilized for gift giving these soaps. Tie with a pretty ribbon or close with a fancy sticker.

  • dandjcook 19 Mar, 2009

    No, food coloring amounts winds up to be so tiny per cube per hand wash that it won't stain your hands. Denise

  • lovemydogbrutus 18 Mar, 2009

    Love this look. You could really make some really pretty soaps to match any bathroom. I'm going to remodel my bathroom in the near future. Just have to give some serious thoughts as to what color I want to go in there. I'm putting in radiant floor heating before anything else is done. Luckily my bathtub and toilet don't have to be replaced. Considering putting in a granite vanity top with a vessel sink so just these pretties will be really nice.

  • chrissysno 18 Mar, 2009

    I really like this crafty idea. I want to try making scented soaps that don't match the color to the scent. I love the color green, but I would like it to smell like red roses, instead of green apples. The sky's the limit, when you want a decorative touch, for the bathroom.

  • janwren 18 Mar, 2009

    Does the food coloring come off on your hands when the soap gets wet?

  • lakotakat 18 Mar, 2009

    Any anti-bacterial agent added to soaps, etc. is strictly an advertising "ploy" to get the consumer to BUY that product! The "anti-bacterial agent" is basically to keep the PRDOUCT as germ free for as long as possible - NOT YOUR HABDS/SKIN!!!

  • jennifer_barnett 18 Mar, 2009

    I have read enough of the comments so now I can talk about germs. It does not matter what you use in the soap to get rid of germs it is the time you wash. When you rub your hands together and sing the ABC song about 2 times, you have been washing your hands enough time to get rid of the germs. We use so many soaps with germ killing things that we don't allow our bodies to make what we need to not have the germs effect us.

  • Anna_Marie 18 Mar, 2009

    I thought this was a "rerun"...I found where I had commented on this craft in June of 2008.

  • Antler 18 Mar, 2009

    Once you have finished the soap project, the plastic trays make great dresser-drawer organizers for your earrings.

  • gram300 18 Mar, 2009

    I made individual soaps using my plastic chocolate molds and the soap from Bath

  • cathygsc 18 Mar, 2009

    Where can you buy blocks of glycerine online???

  • DotK 18 Mar, 2009

    While I have never made soap, it would stand to reason that you can't use liquid glycerine since it's already would you get it to solidify? By melting the big block of glycerine (like a block of wax), once it's removed from the heat source it returns to it's solid state. I would think you could add a scent to the melted mix at the same time as you add the food coloring.

  • pioneer588 18 Mar, 2009

    Do you think it would work to put oatmeal or a small lavender branch inside? Or small coins? A fun way to package tiny gifts! A key?

  • clsmeed 18 Mar, 2009

    I've made soap this way for years. I use olive oil instead of petroleum jelly to coat the mold. Then after you pop them out of the molds, using a piece of nylon stocking, buff away the sharp edges and generally smooth out the cubes. They will look a lot nicer! This particular craft makes a wonderful gift well under $10 depending on the container.

  • latte52 4 Jan, 2009

    Can you use liquid glycerin?

  • latte52 4 Jan, 2009

    Can you use liquid glycerin?

  • honeyone 30 Jun, 2008

    Try this for guest and give them their own soap as some people do not like to use soap that has been used by others. A basket of samples with towels and wash cloth with soap is a welcoming gift to guests.

  • MommyBrown 22 Jun, 2008

    I enjoyed this project! I used heart-shaped silicone ice cube trays, which made for cute shapes, and I thought it was easier to get the soaps out of the tray than it would be with a hard plastic tray. I think these would make great gifts!

  • Wynelda 22 Jun, 2008

    Save the slivers of your bath soap and melt in the microwave. Mold in the same way or purchase a soap mokd at the craft store. Color is optional.

  • Jo_is_me 21 Jun, 2008

    The glycerin melt

  • Jo_is_me 21 Jun, 2008

    Re: a previous comment: The glycerin melt

  • andeande 19 Jun, 2008

    this project is fun and easy peasy!
    playing with the colors is the best.

  • oztopia 19 Jun, 2008

    The idea is TO MAKE THEM YOURSELF...if you cannot make someone a gift with your own hands....what's the whole idea about? I'm making these with my Grandaughter for a gift for my daughter when we go back for the end of summer. High end isn't always needed...the thought is to MAKE THEM.

  • TriciaJay 19 Jun, 2008

    It seems like a lot of work for these, especially being "lower end" as indicated in a prior message. Nice idea though. I would buy some good ones in the gift shop myself. The good ones are not all that pricey.

  • AnnettaParks 19 Jun, 2008

    These look absolutely soooooo cute!! I have got to make some for my kitchen as well as bathrooms......
    Thanks for sharing such cute ideas with us :)

  • NancyHowes 19 Jun, 2008

    Much mis-information here. The melt and pour glycerin-based 'soaps' are usually detergent based, and wrongly called 'soaps'.Read the label. They are OK for fun and play, but not for really good quality skin care such as you get from a good handmade (with lye) soap. Also, beware of putting small items in the 'soap shapes' that could choke a small child. Treat the same as any small toy. Be safe!

  • eross 18 Jun, 2008

    I guess you could also add essential oils to the liquid glycerin to make some nice smelling soaps.

  • April1 18 Jun, 2008

    GREAT IDEA! This will make a fabulous gift. Not only it is pretty but also functional and easy to make. Thanks!

  • kid_valkyrie 18 Jun, 2008

    In Canada, look up a nifty company called Voyageur Soap and Candle, they have fragrance free glycerin, as well as colors and fragrances to add!

  • austingirl 18 Jun, 2008

    You can purchase soap-making supplies at Michaels or Walmart. These will be great Christmas presents.

  • washingtonian 18 Jun, 2008

    Finding various fragrances you can use or the needed glycerin soapbase, do a search on google for soapmaking supplies.

    Kathy Tarbox
    Editor in Chief
    Saponifier Magazine

  • Jo_is_me 18 Jun, 2008

    Food coloring doesn't hold up too well over time, so if you're going to keep the soaps for a long time, you might want to consider soap or candle dye sold in the same craft stores that sell the glycerine blocks. If the soap suds are not white (ie the color of your dye) it may stain your washcloth/hands. Glycerine doesn't kill germs (neither does lye in soap): soap cleans and moisturizes. A tip when melting the glycerine; spray a shot of rubbing alcohol on the melted soap before pouring to prevent little air bubbles.

  • futurern 18 Jun, 2008

    I would like to try this; however, what makes the soap sudsy? Glycerine alone will not suds up, will it?? Don't you have to add something detergent? Any ideas on this, let me know....

  • TicaTiquita 18 Jun, 2008

    anyone know if glycerine alone kills germs? I've seen soap-making instructions on other sites and all include lye...

  • mamadushenko 18 Jun, 2008

    You can buy glycerine at craft stores (like Micheal's) and they will aslo have scents there as well. As for the trays you can almost use anything as long as you coat them with the petroleum jelly. I sometimes use candy molds or the plastic trays you get when you buy cupcakes or other sweets and then cut the soap myself.

  • aestheticonion 18 Jun, 2008

    I think maybe I'll try it with plastic or glass gems inside instead of toys.

  • lbuser 18 Jun, 2008

    Concentrated dyes will dye your hands, towels, etc, if you don't dilute properly, either use a very tiny amount or get the soap dyes from Michaels or Jo-Anns or Hobby Lobby. I was out of petroleum jelly so I used PAM - worked great. I Love your idea of putting little animals or whatever inside, this will be a great project for my grandkids to do when they come over.

  • wduke2 18 Jun, 2008

    I have made these before but used the glycerine soaps from Bath and Body. They are already scented and colored and they come on sale now and then ...cheaper than you can make them. I have also added little toys in them. The kids loved that and wash more, however, I had one grandchild that just kept it in the water until he could get the toy out. There is always one huh?


  • younggrama 18 Jun, 2008

    These are beautiful and the possibilities are endless. I was thinking you could put several small shapes in a "sack" tied with ribbon; something like nylon stockings or a fine mesh. Any ideas on this?

  • Patsy45 18 Jun, 2008

    EWjunk mentioned looking for other ice cube trays, please be careful, some decrative trays are not sutible for soap making. I am speaking from experience some will melt or twist and you are not able to use them for anything else. So please be careful what type you choose.

  • marjorieedwards 18 Jun, 2008

    This idea I like. Easy to do with grandchildren. Quick results. Elegant presentation for guests. This one will find its way into my master bath with square, hearts, star molds.

  • diefenbaker 18 Jun, 2008

    Great Idea, however, I would recommend using dyes specially made for making soaps as the liquid food dye will probually stain hands, clothing and surfaces. Dyes for soap making are available at craft stores such as Micheal's.

  • Ladatha 18 Jun, 2008

    What products would be recommended for adding scent to the soap?

  • EWjunk 18 Jun, 2008

    I add fragrances (a few spritzes of a fave perfume) or essential oils after the other ingredients are melted and combined and just before I'm ready to mold the mixture. I think exposing fragrances/oils to heat for any length of time will harm them.

    This is an adorable idea - I'm going to go look for some of those cute novelty ice cube trays you see in the stores in summer! I also use candy molds, too.

  • dollie1 18 Jun, 2008

    Where do I buy glycerine and trays?

  • nottinghamcottage 18 Jun, 2008

    can you add essential oils to the soap mixture? if so when do you add?

  • ditdit 18 Jun, 2008

    any soap is a disinfectant if you wash for 15 seconds and most importantly RINSE well- that washes germs away. essential oils that are anti septic- lemon grass, tea tree oil, spearmint and sage,lavender- the list is endless- but glycerin is the best cause it will moisturizer which helps to keep your hands healthy also

  • ditdit 18 Jun, 2008

    you can use a double boiler for this also for those of us with no microwave- bring water to boil- place cut up pieces in top and put on lid. remove from burner and wait 30 minutes- then slowly stir in color and a scent and then pour into whatever mold you like. instead of petroleum jelly just pop mold or tray in freezer for 5 minutes or use a injury heat sack on the bottom for a second or two and they release.

  • mpegm 18 Jun, 2008

    These are so pretty. They look just like the little seaglass mosaic tiles my in-laws used in their bathroom remodel. Guess what I'm making for he house re-warming!

  • Anna_Marie 18 Jun, 2008

    Dye is diluted when you use water and rinse...that is why it says to only use a small amount.

  • whit5 18 Jun, 2008

    Will the food dye wash off on to towels etc?

  • Anna_Marie 18 Jun, 2008

    Quick, simple...really pretty in the glass jar! Love this craft. One question: does glycerine alone have any germ-killing properties? I've heard that the friction of rubbing your hands and the flow of the water over your hands remove a portion of the germs.

  • katryna 18 Jun, 2008

    I'm just curious to know from others that may have made this or something similar if the food coloring would stain your hands. Other than that, what a spiffy little idea for making something so pretty.