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How to make organic soap overnight: a wow-worthy, last-minute holiday gift

Handmade soap
Dress up your soap with brown paper and twine, then gift away

Serial crafter Audra Held has a talent for making personalized gifts, like origami ornaments. So, of course her friends and family love it when she gives them stacks of her artfully wrapped Cocoa and Peppermint Organic Body Bars for the holidays. But Held, who’s a native New Yorker (and sibling of Well+Good staffer, Lisa) swears that the rest of us possess enough skill to pull off this thoughtful (or last-minute) gift idea, even if we’ve never cracked the cover of Ready Made Magazine.

“Friends and family don’t need to know that it’s a simple seven step process—and that it takes the soaps just five hours to cure,” says Held, who graciously gave us her recipe. “They just see the amazing results and the cute paper packaging.” The ingredients are easy to find and inexpensive, and the recipe is easy to follow. Let us know how it goes!


This four-ingredient recipe includes moisturizing cocoa butter, cocoa powder for a gentle exfoliation, and peppermint oil, which gives the bars a seasonal scent that doubles as an enlivening morning-shower pick-me-up.

Audra Held
Audra Held, soap maker extraordinaire


  • 2 lbs organic melt-and-pour soap base
  • 1 oz peppermint essential oil
  • 4oz wildcrafted and naturally scented cocoa butter
  • 1tsp cocoa powder (yes, the kind used for baking)
  • muffin/cupcake trays

You can find 100% Organic Melt and Pour Soap Base at, or at a craft store like Michael’s or A.C. Moore, for about $4.50 per pound. A health food store should carry the rest of the ingredients. Materials total: about $25.


Unwrap the block of soap base and cut it into one inch cubes. Place cubes into a glass mixing bowl and heat it in the microwave for 3 minutes or use a double boiler. Stir, breaking up any larger chunks formed at the bottom of the bowl. Return to microwave. Heat at 30 second intervals until fully melted, stirring every 30 seconds.

Break the cocoa butter into pieces and stir them into the melted base.

Whisk in 1 tsp cocoa powder until evenly distributed and not clumpy. (If your mixture starts to cool down, put it back into the microwave or over the double-boiler heat for 20 second intervals.)

Add one drop of peppermint oil at a time, while stirring until desired scent is achieved. (About 6 drops.)

Pour the mixture into ungreased muffin trays, filling all the way to the top. Don’t move the trays for 15 minutes. Then let the soap cool and harden for approximately five hours.

To remove the soaps, fill up your sink with 1-2 inches of very hot water and float the tray in the water for a few minutes. This will loosen up the bars, so they’ll slide right out of the tray. (It’s okay if you need to give them a gentle tap, too.)

Wrap these little holiday body bars in whatever you have. They look great in simple brown paper—or use a more glamorous paper or a fabric like tulle or linen.