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Sugar Scrub Cubes, Three Ways

Aug
29

I love sugar scrubs, and I’ve been interested in experimenting with sugar scrub cubes for awhile. I have my favorite sugar scrub in a jar recipe here. The only downside to sugar scrub in a jar is that it’s in a jar and has to be glopped out with a spoon. It separates over time and has to be re-stirred. Sugar scrub cubes are handy and cute.

Researching sugar scrub cubes, I found that the internet offers two ways to make them–using melt-and-pour glycerin as a base, or using homemade soap as a base. I browsed a multitude of websites and found the same general recipe on all of them, so I’ll credit this recipe to the internet. I was attracted to the idea of using my own homemade soaps in sugar scrub cubes, but at the same time, there is probably a reason for the popularity of the glycerin base…. I went into the CITR laboratory to try them both, armed with a block of glycerin and a couple bars of my own homemade soap.

First, let’s start with the players.

Clear melt-and-pour glycerin:

Wild mint and honey homemade soap:

(This is a reformulation of my first wild mint and honey soap where I used a wild mint tea along with dried wild mint. The tea turned the soap brown, so I tried it without tea, just the dried mint and the honey.)

Lemon and lavender homemade soap (with lemon peel and dried lavender):

Sugar: I didn’t browse any sites that specifically talked about using brown sugar, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use brown sugar, turbinado, etc in place of white sugar. I used white sugar in my tests.

Vitamin E: Add a few drops of Vitamin E liquid to act as a preservative along with other healing benefits.

Oil: Sweet almond, jojoba, grapeseed, olive oil, etc, or solids like shea or cocoa butter, which would require melting before being mixed with the melted glycerin or soap.

Other additives: Dried herbs, flowers, seeds, etc.

Note that all of the measurements are by weight.

Sugar Scrub Cubes with Glycerin:

1 part white or clear melt-and-pour glycerin
1 part oil
if desired–fragrance, colorant, Vitamin E, other additives
3 parts sugar

Sugar Scrub Cubes with Homemade Soap:

2 parts homemade soap
1 part oil
if desired–fragrance, colorant, Vitamin E, other additives
3 parts sugar

As you can see, if you use homemade soap, you double the quantity as opposed to the glycerin. Soap (real soap) can’t take the sugar the same way glycerin does and unless you double the soap amount, the scrub will fall apart.

You can make this in any quantity you want, but for the smallish test batches I was making, I used these quantities:

6 ounces melt-and-pour glycerin (I used clear)
6 ounces olive oil
18 ounces sugar

To make a comparison batch using homemade soap, that translates to this recipe:

12 ounces homemade soap
6 ounces olive oil
18 ounces sugar

The method is the same either way. Work quickly after transferring the mixture to the bowl. Have your mold ready. I lined a Pullman pan (for its square edges) with freezer paper. You probably don’t even have to line most molds for this mixture, but I find it easier anyway.

Measure everything before you begin. Shave or shred homemade soap to help it melt faster.

Method:

1. Melt the glycerin or homemade soap in a double boiler over low heat. (You could also use a microwave or crock pot.)

2. Turn off heat, but leave the pot over the water or in the crock pot. (I found keeping the melted soap or glycerin warm while adding the oil important, which would be a downside to using the microwave.) Drizzle in the oil and stir.

3. Transfer to a bowl. If adding soap colorant or fragrance, do so now. If adding fragrance, for this quantity, about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. If you intend to use the scrub on your face, you may want to use little or no fragrance, depending on your sensitivity. Also add Vitamin E now and any other additives.

4. Add sugar, mixing well. Get in there with your hands to make sure the sugar is completely incorporated.

5. Scoop into the mold and pat/smooth down.

Let set until it hardens! You could also use a melon baller, or just a spoon or even your fingers, to make little sugar scrub balls instead. The size of each cube or ball is up to you, depending on whether you want a one-use sized scrub, or two or three uses per scrub.

The result?

They were both fine, but…. Here’s the point of the glycerin or the homemade soap–it’s like the “glue” that holds the scrub together. Note what is in a sugar scrub here–mostly sugar and oil. In order to get the scrub out of the jar and keep it intact in a shape, you need the glycerin or the homemade soap to “glue” it together. I prefer using homemade soap over glycerin. Homemade soap makes the scrub all natural, but it reduces the scrubby effect of the scrub because there is less sugar in proportion. The balance of the sugar is better with the glycerin, but it lacks the natural appeal. I wanted to use my homemade soap!

I wasn’t completely satisfied with either approach. Then it hit me–why does it have to be one way or another? Why couldn’t I combine the approaches for the best of both worlds? A more natural scrub, yet still scrubby.

Lightbulb! I concocted a recipe revision and followed the method (5 steps) above.

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Suzanne’s Sugar Scrub Cubes:

4 ounces homemade soap
4 ounces glycerin
6 ounces olive oil
if desired–fragrance, colorant, Vitamin E, other additives
18 ounces sugar

In changing the 6 ounces of glycerin to 4 ounces, that left 2 ounces for the homemade soap–which has to be doubled, so that means 4 ounces homemade soap. This makes it a half and half recipe between homemade soap and glycerin–increasing the scrubby affect as well as making a more (albeit not all) natural scrub.

And I liked it the best! The consistency was the best, the feel on my skin was the best, and I was satisfied that it was more natural. I also like the natural color added by using homemade soap, which includes whatever herbs etc were included in the soap recipe. It’s a great use for soap scraps, too!

This is the wild mint and honey sugar scrub, using all homemade soap, no glycerin. (Natural color.)

This is the all glycerin batch, using a little green colorant and some dried wild mint added in.

This is the half glycerin, half homemade soap sugar scrub batch using the lemon and lavender soap. (Natural color.)

Melting the combined homemade soap and glycerin:

Drizzling in the oil:

Adding the sugar:

Mixed in the bowl:

Patted into the mold:

After you cut in cubes or make balls, you can drop them in a jar, tie on a ribbon or some twine, and it makes a great gift or a nice “pretty” for yourself.

Note: I tried to get Buttercup to make the sugar scrubs for me, but he declined. Lazy cat!

*You can see my soaps in the farm store.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 29, 2012  

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Comments

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  1. 8-29
    8:27
    am

    Does it harden like soap or is it still kinda soft?

  2. 8-29
    8:28
    am

    Yes, after you cut the cubes and let them sit, they harden similar to soap.

  3. 8-29
    9:33
    am

    Just a note: Vitamin E is not a preservative, it is an anti-oxidant. It will slow oils from going rancid, but will not prevent mold/bacteria from growing. (Check out SwiftCraftyMonkey.com for more on preservatives)

    Perhaps change the recipe to say “melt and pour soap” instead of “glycerin”. I was confused at first and thought you added liquid glycerin, not melt-and-pour.

  4. 8-29
    10:04
    am

    Hi-OK,please help me out here. I am not much into beauty products and have never used anything but Ivory soap my whole life. What is a sugar scrub? How does it work? What will it do for me? I am clueless.

  5. 8-29
    10:15
    am

    I’ve made sugar scrubs but have never liked the gloopy, fall-apart texture either and always wondered how to make the cubes. Your cubes look so pretty!! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes :-)

  6. 8-29
    10:30
    am

    Jersey Lady, a sugar scrub cube is used just as any sugar scrub (in a jar)–depending on your skin sensitivity, you can use it as a conditioning scrub on your body (take a cube into the shower) or a facial scrub.

  7. 8-29
    12:42
    pm

    OK-Thanks for the info, Suzanne. Those little scrubbies sure are pretty!

  8. 8-29
    1:53
    pm

    Jersey Lady–scrubs are especially nice at scrubbing off dry flakey skin. It gently kind of scours your skin and leaves it feeling softer and smoother. I wouldn’t use it everyday but its nice to give yourself a “spa treatment” and use a scrub soap followed by a moisterizer.

  9. 8-29
    3:15
    pm

    Thank you too, Joykenn, for the little beauty tutorial.

  10. 8-29
    9:02
    pm

    Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant, not a preservative. It keeps oils from going rancid awhile longer than normal.

    I always wanted to try and see if I could use handmade soap into sugar scrub cubes, but never got around to it. I’m so happy to see your results. I will be trying this soon. They looks so good. :woof:

  11. 8-30
    12:14
    am

    These are so pretty! And as stated Vit E is an anti-oxidant to stabilize some oils. And another idea is to use to use the small, colored foil squares to wrap the solid sugar rounds as the ‘pretty candies’ we find in some candy boxes. There are formulas for a more solid sugar or salt scrub for jars. It’s an emulsified scrub and does require a true preservative because minute amounts of water can be introduced into the jar…..but these are very nice scrubs, worth the additional effort and expense of the correct preservative. It’s just another choice.

  12. 8-30
    7:01
    am

    The Vitamin E isn’t a true preservative, but it acts as one for the oil in the cubes, sorry for the confusion!

  13. 8-30
    10:20
    am

    I am super new to making soap and am a little confused about what Glycerin was used. Suzanne, can you tell me exactly what you used and where you got it? Thanks.

  14. 8-30
    10:43
    am

    TwistedStitcher, I used block (solid) melt-and-pour glycerin soap base, which you can purchase from soapmaking suppliers, such as Brambleberry.

  15. 9-9
    3:57
    pm

    This looks like a great idea for Christmas gifts for my coworkers!

    I just found a large patch of spearmint growing in my neighborhood (it appears to have escaped one of my neighbor’s gardens and has taken over part of a field). Could I use this to make the recipe with the wild mint? Do I dry it like the other herbs, upside down in a paper bag, in a dry place?

  16. 9-10
    6:27
    am

    lovemypets00, yes, you can use it just the same, and yes on the drying, too.

  17. 9-19
    7:01
    pm

    Susanne, the scrubs look great, but I also loved your double boiler. Another good use for those jar rings!

  18. 10-26
    10:37
    pm

    When I make my soaps I trim some of them down woot now I have use for the pcs THANK YOU

  19. 10-27
    6:47
    pm

    :bugeyed: mine where to moist fell apart pfft try try again I broke it up and I am melting down some more soap for it and I slipped in a bit of bees wax fingers crossed

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