Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars
Aromatherapy is usually not associated with soaps, but rather with massage oils and diffusers, to maximise the olfactory effects of the essential oils on both the body and the mind. However, when we use soap in the shower, the steam also enhances the fragrance and envelopes our senses in the fragrance of the soap. The olfactory system, or sense of smell, is a complex, largely passive system, but which can have a powerful effect on the mind. Smells induce memories and feelings in us, and can even change our moods and perception, and bodily responses. For example, think of chocolate and the smell of chocolate. Most likely it will bring up thoughts of eating chocolate. You might feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe you can even smell and taste it in your mind and you might even start to salivate in your mouth. Now think of smelling something disgusting. I’ll leave it up to you what you want to think of. The most common reaction would probably be nausea and you might unconsciously even wrinkle your nose in disgust. These two examples show how powerful the sense of smell can be, and we were only thinking of the smells. Now imagine if we were actually smelling them!
So it makes sense that the fragrance of the soap and shampoo you use in your morning shower will have an effect on your mood and on how you start off your day. Remember this the next time you shower!
With this in mind, I wanted to create a soap, which focuses on the properties rather than just the fragrance of the essential oils. For this soap, I chose a simple blend of lavender and ylang ylang essential oils. Ylang ylang, which has a delicate floral scent, is said to lift the spirit and induce feelings of joy and happiness. In aromatherapy, it is often used to treat depression and anxiety. Lavender compliments the uplifting effect of ylang ylang by adding calmness and serenity to the blend. The result of the combination is a stunningly beautiful and comforting fragrance.
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!
ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap and set aside to cool.
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 love using shea butter in my shower soaps because it helps to condition and balance the skin. It’s a great additive for any skin type, especially sensitive and ageing skin.
THREE: Weigh out the olive oil, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it a quick stir.
FOUR: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. 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).
FIVE: Add your essential oils and give it a quick whisk.
SIX: Keep mixing with your stick blender or whisk until the soap has thickened to a medium trace. Then pour it in your soap mold and sprinkle some lavender flowers and rose petals over the surface.
SEVEN: Let the soap sit in the mold for several days. After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.
Lavender and ylang ylang soap
- 550g olive oil
- 250g coconut oil
- 100g rice bran oil
- 50g shea butter
- 50g castor oil
- 137g caustic soda
- 270 ml water
- 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
- 20 ml lavender essential oil
- 20 ml ylang ylang essential oil
- Measure out 270 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, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it all a 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 essential oils and keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
- Pour the soap into the mold and sprinkle some lavender flowers and rose petals over the surface. Leave 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 6-8 weeks until ready for use.