Handcrafted Soap: All Shapes and Sizes

Although we most commonly picture bar soap as a rectangle, we know that isn’t always true.  Besides being comfortable to grip, rectangular bars are common because they are also easy to make.  Fill the loaf mold and slice the soaps when they’re ready.  Stand them on their sides to cure and everybody’s happy.  Right?  Of course not; because despite the practicality of the rectangular bar, soapmakers aren’t limited to that and so they can and often do, make other shapes.  And even the rectangular bars vary in their dimensions, with soapers making a wide variety of heights, widths and depth of soap.

Consider round bars.  they are often used for shaving soaps since they can be dropped into a coffee mug.  A small minority of  soapers prefer the round bars or just make them for certain soaps just for something different.

Oval bars are well-liked because they too, fit in the hand well, but are less common because finding or fashioning a mold is a challenge.  Also, soapers are limited in the creative designs afforded them with loaf or slab molds.

We occasionally see square bars and it’s a bit surprising that we don’t see them more often often, since a mold for square soap would be as easy to make as one for rectangles.  This is true with either a loaf or a slab mold, which makes me wonder why this is the case.  Perhaps the soap is more awkward to use or it’s difficult to make the correct weight bar without making it too thick.

Finally, we have the soaps that are made in decorative molds.  Some soapers have difficulty getting their hard traced soap into such a mold without air pockets.  Others have  a hard time getting the soap out.  When it works, however, it yields beautiful, decorative soaps that friends and customers love.

With such a plethora of choices, it’s no wonder that soapmakers differ in their preferences.

What is your preference, and why?


Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.


Beth Byrne