How to Make Luffa Gourd Soap

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If you have leftover soap, you may want to try making other items.  You can purchase soap, candy or candle molds like those shown here.  It should be flexible, so you can pop the finished soap out after it has cooled.  Since luffa is scratchy when cut crosswise, try making some luffa bars using only the outer, softer part of the fibers.  Cut a lengthwise section of luffa to fit a rectangular or slightly domed soap mold like the one shown to the left.  Pour in soap until full to form one individual bar.  Smaller candy molds are wonderful for little guest soaps.  (I don't use the luffa in these, just soap.) 

Clean up is easy - simply wash the containers and implements in warm water!
You might enjoy this short YouTube video that shows the parchment paper/rubber band method of making single slices of loofah soap.    I've also included links below to some books on melt and pour soapmaking if you would like to try some other soap projects.

If you are making the soap for gifts, purchase some 4-6" square cellophane bags, then tie the bag shut with some raffia. Add a simple decorative label or tag that lists the soap type and scent.  Place several bars in a basket with other bath products in coordinating colors
Feeling adventurous?  Buy a short length of 3" PVC waste pipe, plus one plastic end cap that fits the pipe.  You can get these from a home improvement supplier.  Cap one end of the pipe with the plastic cap, then place the log of finished soap into the center of the PVC pipe.  Make another batch of soap, but this time use either a stronger dye concentration or an opaque milk based soap base.   Pour the melted soap into the gap between the PVC pipe and the soap log.  When the soap has cooled, remove the plastic end cap and force the entire soap log out of the pipe.  Sometimes it helps to place the tube over a canned food tin  - press down and the soap will slide out as the tube is forced over the can.  When cut into slices, the soap will look like pretty fruit slices - complete with a darker colored "rind" on each slice. 
Pearlescents and Glitters
You can turn luffa gourds into wonderful exfolliating soap!  I have made several batches of soap and they are wonderful gifts for family, friends and other gourd enthusiasts.  Make them in custom colors for bridal showers, baby showers, and other special events.  Luffa soaps are great holiday gifts - and it's really nice soap to use yourself!  It's also a lot of fun to make and not difficult when you use prepared soap supplies from a craft store. 

First, you will need some luffa gourds.  These gourds are very thin skinned and easy to peel.  Simply soak the gourd in a tub of water until the skin softens, then peel off the outer skin with your hands.  The inner sponge-like part will be filled with seeds, so the next step is to clean them out and brighten up the luffa.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to run several luffas through your washing machine, (but only if you don't mind fishing out the seeds and loose stuff afterwards!)  Use a bit of detergent and a bit of bleach.  You don't need to run a full cycle, check them periodically to see when they appear clean.  Then, spin them dry and put them into the dryer with an old towel for a few minutes.  If you don't want to use your washing machine, soak the luffas in a large bucket with the same detergent/bleach mixture.  Agitate by hand until the seeds fall out.  If the loofa is a bit dark, let them dry in the sun with the bleach mixture still in them, then rinse them thoroughly and dry again.
On the left is a photo of a raw luffa gourd.  The photo is courtesy of the Wuertz Gourd farm. They usually have a nice supply of these on hand.   If you don't want the mess of cleaning the gourds yourself, you can cheat a bit and buy a packaged luffa sponge that is already cleaned and bleached.  Click photo below)  You can often find these at dollar stores or discount stores like "Big Lots".
Next, you will need a form for the soap.  If you want to make only one small bar of soap, you can place a slice of the dried luffa on a piece of parchment paper.  Pull the paper up around the edges of the luffa, then use rubber bands to hold the paper in place.  The soap mixture is poured over the top of the exposed luffa until the entire luffa is covered.  (See YouTube video below) However, it is much easier to just make a bunch of bars all at once using a Pringles chip can as a form.  Wash out the can thoroughly, then wet the luffa and push it inside the can lengthwise.  Trim off any excess that sticks up above the edge of the can.  This form is disposable and will be peeled away after the soap has hardened. 

Now gather your soap making supplies.  You will need the following materials:  A cleaned luffa gourd, glass measuring cup, cutting board, large knife for cutting soap blocks, old wooden spoon or other disposable stirrer,  glycerin melt and pour soap, soap scent and soap dye (if desired). 
Cut off chunks of the clear soap base, and place them into the glass measuring cup.  Melt the soap in a microwave or double boiler.  If you are using a microwave, start with small increments of no more than a minute.  Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, and when all of the chunks have melted, it's time to add the dye and scent. Add a few drops of each until you are satisfied with both the color and strength of scent.  Mix well with the wooden spoon, and then pour the liquid soap mixture into the form with the luffa gourd.  Fill the form so it covers the luffa completely, then set the form aside to cool.  It will take at least an hour or so to cool completely.  You may place the form in the refrigerator to speed things along, but do not place it in the freezer.  Once the soap has cooled, peel away the Pringles can and you will have a nice cylindrical block of soap.  Cut slices from the soap "log" to make individual bars. 
Here are some of the basic supplies you'll need. To the left you'll see dyes on the left and scents on the right.  Don't use food colors - the dyes made for soap are intended for that purpose and work better. Most are available at craft stores and from online sources.  There are many addtional specialty additives such as glitter, pearlescents, charms, and much more.  Click on the photos below to see a few of them that are available from online suppliers.
1 lb Glycerine Soap
10 lb Glycerine Soap Bucket
Soap Scents
Soap Dyes
Melt & Mold Soap Crafting
Making Transparent Soap
*Special thanks to Judy Sullins of Prescott, Arizona, for introducing me to gourd soapmaking at one of our AGS state meetings!