Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars
Sensitive skins need extra care and won’t tolerate harsh detergents, fragrances and chemicals. And although there has been a trend towards natural skin care, many companies still use ingredients that are linked to skin irritation, dermatitis and allergic reaction. The two most common additives are SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) derived from coconut. They’re both surfactants, know to irritate skin, however, the latter is marketed as being natural, and you’ll find it in many of your ‘natural’ products.
“The whole “coconut-derived” or “from coconut oil” or whatever verbiage you see on the label is a marketing gimmick to make you believe that somehow the ingredient is more natural.”
When you make your own soap, you control the ingredients and what goes into the soap. In this soap, I have used only natural ingredients and it is probably one of the mildest soaps I have ever made, with a pH close to 7.5 (neutral pH is 7), due to the high super fatting content and the blend of mild and nourishing oils, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, Shea butter and jojoba oil.
It also contains chamomile and calendula. Both are well-known to have skin healing, soothing and calming properties, and by using both an oil infusion and essential oils, I have tried to maximise these benefits in the soap.
Although I don’t advise to use soap on infants under 12 months, this soap is mild enough to use on toddlers and those with sensitive skin prone to allergic reactions.
If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.
Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!
To make this soap, I first had to infuse my oil with the goodness of chamomile and calendula to reap the maximum benefits of these skin healing flowers. I filled a jar with dried chamomile flowers and calendula flowers (not just the petals) and topped it up with sunflower oil, which is full of skin nourishing vitamins, especially vitamin E. I left the jar to infuse for about a month on my window sill, using the natural warmth of the summer sun to provide the heat.
ONE: Prepare your lye. Make sure you are wearing protective gear to protect your eyes and skin from any splashes! Measure out your water in a small heat proof jug or beaker. In a separate small beaker or container, weigh out the caustic soda. Then, carefully pour the caustic soda into the water, while stirring constantly until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Add 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate. This is a natural additive, which will help to harden the soap.
TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter. Either heat in the microwave (if using a Pyrex jug) or on the stove (if using a pot), until the oil and butter has completely melted.
I’ve added shea butter to the recipe because it is known to be anti-inflammatory and helps to soothe and balance the skin. Great for sensitive skin!
Once your oils are melted, add the olive oil, castor oil, and last, your infused sunflower oil. You want to add the infused oil last, when the oil/butter mixture is not too hot to preserve all the goodness in the infused oil.
THREE: Make sure you are still wearing your protective goggles and gloves for this next part. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate).
FOUR: Add the chamomile essential oil and keep mixing with the stick blender until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
There are basically two main types of chamomile essential oil used in aromatherapy, the clear coloured Roman chamomile liquid and the blue coloured German chamomile liquid. Both are soothing, calming and healing, but whereas the Roman chamomile works mainly on the psychological, the German chamomile does the same for the physical. German chamomile soothes, heals and calms the skin and upset tummies, whereas the Roman chamomile soothes and calms the stressed mind. However, because the mind and body are undoubtedly interlinked, many physical illnesses can be traced back to psychological problems, such as stress, and vice versa. Physical illnesses have an effect on the mind. So usually I like to use Roman chamomile essential oils, which is calming on both body and mind, and use the German chamomile for exclusive skin related problems, such as nappy rash.
In this soap I used a Roman chamomile essential oil dilution in jojoba oil to boost the properties of the already infused oil in the soap, rather than using a pure essential oil, since chamomile essential oils are very expensive. Alternatively, if you do want to use pure essential oil, you only need about 1 ml because of its potency.
FIVE: Pour or scoop the soap into your mold. You can either use a loaf mold or one with cavities. The recipe yields approximately 1200 g of soap which will fill a regular loaf mold or make for about 10 round soaps of 120 g each.
Sprinkle some chamomile and/or calendula flowers on the top.
SIX: Keep the soap in the mold for a few days to harden. Carefully unmold and let the soaps cure for a further 10-12 weeks. Because of the higher than usual amount of soft oils, the soaps need a longer curing time to harden completely. As with all soaps, the longer the curing time the better the soap!
- 450g olive oil
- 200g coconut oil
- 100g shea butter
- 200g calendula and chamomile infused sunflower oil
- 50g castor oil
- 130g caustic soda
- 250 ml water
- 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
- 50 ml Roman chamomile in jojoba oil 3% dilution
- dried chamomile flowers
- Measure out 250 ml of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out the caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear.
- Add 2 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye water. Set the lye aside to cool down.
- In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter. Heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until all the oil and butter has melted.
- Add the olive oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it all a quick stir.
- Add the infused oil and give it another quick stir.
- Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
- Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
- Add the chamomile essential oil and keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
- Pour the soap into the mold and sprinkle some dried chamomile flowers on top.
- Leave the soap to harden for several days.
- After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to dry for another couple of days, before cutting into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 10-12 weeks until ready for use.