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Felted soap is soap that is wrapped in felt, eliminating the need for a separate washcloth. This type of soap is generally made by wrapping a bar of soap in wool, then applying water and friction until the wool felts. The felting process typically causes the wool to shrink tightly around the bar of soap. Wool generally has natural antiseptic properties, so felted soap usually remains clean if it is allowed to dry properly after each use. The layer of felting over the soap can usually be reused, and many fans of felted soap simply cut open the empty felt bag after the soap is gone, and put in another bar of soap.
These soaps are available from a number of manufacturers. Decorative touches, such as stripes, spots, or even shapes, may be worked into the wool during felting to enhance the appearance of the finished product. Various types of soap can be felted. Marino wool is generally considered ideal for felting soap. Other suitable wools include angora and alpaca. Soap can generally only be successfully felted when some type of real wool is used.
The process of felting soap is typically simple enough to be completed by hand at home. Handmade or commercially manufactured soaps can be felted. Felting wool, hot and cold water, scissors and a drying rack are among the things usually needed to make homemade felted soap.
Those who wish to make felted soap at home are generally advised to begin by wrapping an ordinary bar of soap in a piece of felting wool. Some people lump together scraps of soap to create a larger bar. The wool should generally be wrapped all the way around the soap. Swaths of varying colors can be layered around the soap to create more appealing designs.
Once the soap has been wrapped in wool, hot water is usually used to thoroughly but slowly moisten the wool and soap. This typically begins the felting process. When soap and wool are moist, the wool should generally be rubbed in circular movements, squeezed and generally manipulated with the hands. As the wool begins to felt, it will slowly adhere to the shape of the soap.
One can usually expect quite a bit of lather during soap felting. Signs of felting include the appearance of large creases in the wool. Felted wool will normally wrap tightly around the bar of soap, and cannot be removed without being cut off. Cold water is generally recommended to wash away any excess suds after soap felting, since cold water can help further shrink the felt layer.