When I first started my blog, I was all about handmade everything. I was running an Etsy shop, totally excited about giving handmade gifts, and so caught up in trying new ways to make things for people I love!
I HAD to pull this project out of the vault, because it is one of my all time favorites... I made some super simple, delicious smelling and antibacterial shave soap for my hubby for Christmas one year... but I think I am going to make an all new set this year for Valentines! What a perfect gift for the man who is impossible to shop for... shave soap! (team it with a cool boar bristle brush and a funky mug to keep the soap in and you have a fabulous gift for under $20).
First, I started with a glycerin shave soap base, cedarwood essential oil, fresh hops (you can buy these at a homebrew store), two tablespoons of bentonite clay (it helps provide slip for the razors), and some activated charcoal.
I boiled my hops down for about 1 hour in a couple cups of water to release as much oil as possible. You want to make this a reduction to get the best smell out of the hops. Simply simmer on low until you have a strong aroma, and reduce to a syrup consistency, without letting your hops burn (you don't want to add water to soap, so you want it to really cook off most of the water).
To skip this annoying step, you could also find hop essential oil. Add a few drops to your preference, and then toss in a few fresh hops purely for aesthetics.
First, melt your soap. I made a quick double boiler out of two pans. You can also microwave the soap, but I like the double boiler method. When the soap is fully liquid, drop in the two tablespoons of clay and remove from heat.
Next, add a few drops of essential oil (start with a few, and you can build up- but you don't want it to be too strong!) and your hops, or your charcoal (I melted separate bases for each as the charcoal turns the soap jet black, and the hops wouldn't show up well in it). Stir until fully mixed.
Next, I poured the soaps into muffin pans.
Let the soap set for a few hours- you can speed it up by popping it in a freezer. When it is set, pop them out of the muffin pans (it might take a couple of hard thumps to get them to break free), and you're done!
I love how the charcoal soaps look like little hockey pucks. We love hockey, and so do a lot of my husband's friends. The hop soaps look lovely- although the hop smell wasn't as strong as my husband and I would like. Next time I think I will boil them with a little water and let it reduce for a while so the oil is released. Besides being an ingredient in many craft beers, hops have strong antibiotic properties, and smell lovely.
You can wrap these in tissue, in newspaper, or even package them up in old cigar boxes. I stacked them in a mason jar and tied the boar brush around it to give to my husband- and it looked really cute!
The number of soaps depends on the size glycerin brick you buy- check with your store to be sure you have enough.
What are your favorite manly valentine gifts?