Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap
I was given a cucumber mint fragrance sample from Candlescience (available from Pure Nature) and I totally fell in love with the fresh green scent! The fragrance is very subtle and pleasant, and not overpowering at all, infused with citrus and floral notes and a light minty finish. I knew immediately that it would go beautiful in a soap or body lotion. Maybe it’s because it’s the end of summer and the weather is getting muggy and heavy, that I’m drawn to fresh and light fragrances at the moment, but I strongly suspect that this might end up being one of my favourite shower soaps all year round!
The recipe uses fresh cucumber, which consists mostly of water, so we’ll be using it to partly substitute the water in the lye. Cucumber is great for your skin for it’s cooling and soothing properties, due to the ascorbic (vitamin C) and caffeic acids, which help reduce inflammation and swelling. Combined with the antioxidants and silica and the high water content in cucumber, makes it a wonderful additive to skin products. In soap, cucumber adds a freshness and a soothing, cooling quality to your soap. And by adding pureed, unstrained cucumber, the fibre not only adds a very gentle exfoliating effect, but your skin will also get the full benefits of the minerals and vitamins it contains.
This soap uses water substituting, which is an advanced technique. If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first and do a few ‘normal’ batches before moving on to these kind of soaps.
Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!
To prepare the cucumber, use a stick blender or a blender, blitz until the cucumber is a smooth pureed semi-liquid.
The water substitution we are using in this recipe is 1:1, which means we are using 100 ml less water to make the lye solution, which will make up for the water contained in the 100 ml pureed cucumber. A water discount of 100 ml (40%) results in a very strong lye solution, which will cause the soap to accelerate quickly, so you will need to work very fast. Make sure you have everything prepared and ready before you start making your soap!
ONE: Prepare your lye as usual and leave to cool down to room temperature. Again, because of the strong lye solution we are using and the expected acceleration of the soap, it is important to make sure you soap at low temperatures.
TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and melt in the microwave.
Side note: I’m using an empty 2L ice cream container as my soap pot because hubby ‘stole’ all my Pyrex jugs for his alcohol distillation! I was not impressed!
THREE: Add your liquid oils (olive oil, rice bran oil, castor oil) and give it a quick stir to blend them together. Set aside until cooled down to room temperature.
FOUR: If you haven’t already, prepare your cucumber as outlined above. Measure out 100 ml. Set aside your fragrance, so you’ll have everything ready when putting the soap together.
FROM THIS POINT ON YOU WILL HAVE TO WORK VERY QUICKLY!
FIVE: Once both your oils and lye have cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils, and using ONLY a whisk, mix together until emulsified (light trace). You’ll notice the oil/lye mixture starting to thicken immediately. WORK QUICKLY!
MAKE SURE YOU ARE WEARING PROTECTIVE GOGGLES AND GLOVES!
SIX: Add the cucumber puree, and give it a quick stir with your whisk.
SEVEN: Add the fragrance or essential oils and using your stick blender now, mix until the cucumber and fragrance has been thoroughly incorporated into the soap. Your soap will thicken very fast now.
EIGTH: Pour or scoop the soap into your mold and even out the surface with a spatula. You can see from the image above that my soap thickened very quickly and I had to scoop it into the mold. Let the soap harden in your mold for a few days before removing, and then leave it to cure for another 1-2 days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks of curing before they are ready to use.
Cucumber mint soap
- 600 g olive oil
- 250 g coconut oil
- 100 g rice bran oil
- 50 g castor oil
- 135 g caustic soda
- 150 g water
- 100 ml fresh cucumber puree
- 30 ml cucumber mint fragrance from Candlescience
or 20 ml peppermint essential oil
- Prepare you lye. Set aside to cool down.
- Prepare your oils and let cool down.
- While you are waiting for the oils and lye to cool down, prepare your cucumber puree. Blitz about 1/4 cucumber with peel on with a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 100 ml of the pureed cucumber and set aside.
- Measure out your fragrance or essential oil and set aside.
- Once the lye and oils have cooled down to room temperature, pour the lye into the oil and using only a whisk, mix until emulsified (light trace). WORK QUICKLY!
- Add 100 ml of pureed cucumber and give it a quick stir.
- Add the fragrance or essential oil.
- Working very quickly, use a stick blender to mix all the ingredients thoroughly into the soap.
- Scoop or pour the soap into the soap mold. Even out the surface with a spatula.
- Let the soap cure in the mold for a few days before removing and then leave the loaf to harden for another couple of days before cutting into bars.
- The bars will need a further 6-8 weeks of curing before ready to use.