Activated charcoal soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 8 small rounds of soap or approximately 750 ml of soap

Woohoo, my teenager has finally shown interest in being clean! For someone who comes from an all girls family, I couldn’t believe how dirty little boys get and how much they like dirt! So this is a huge milestone for me (and him), though I suspect with him, it has something to do with girls… 🙂

Regardless, teenage skin can be really problematic during puberty, when hormones wreak all sorts of havoc in your body (and mind). When the first little spots and shine started showing up on your skin, it’s time to look at your skin cleansing ritual. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend using soap on your skin, but there are certain times in your life, when a good cleanse followed by a nourishing and balancing serum is just what your skin needs.

This special formulated facial bar contains activated charcoal, something that has been trending in skin care recently. Activated charcoal is a bit of a miracle ingredient. It is a form of compressed carbon with low volume pores and high surface area, which enables it to draw and bind material to itself. As a remedy it has long been used as an emergency treatment for poisoning, as it will bind the toxins and poisons to itself and prevent them from being absorbed into the body. In skin care, it helps unclog the pores through gentle exfoliation, and then draws out the impurities and oils from the skin binding them to the emulsion to be rinsed off. A special blend of detoxifying, antiseptic and soothing essential oils reduce and prevent infections and calm the skin.

After cleansing your skin with the activated charcoal facial soap, follow up by massaging a few drops of this balancing and soothing skin serum formulated to help regulate sebum production, reduce and help prevent acne, promote skin healing, reduce scarring and keep your skin feeling and looking fresh and healthy.

Balancing skin serum for acne prone skins
(Also good for mature skins who suffer from late onset acne)

  • 15 ml jojoba oil
  • 10 ml rose hip oil
  • 3 ml castor oil
  • 10 drops rose geranium essential oil
  • 6 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 4 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 3 drops juniper berry essential oil
  • 3 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 1 drop peppermint essential oil

Blend everything together and apply 3-4 drops to face and massage in gently. Use twice daily after cleansing.

Please note that this is a skin serum, which has a lower dilution (5%) than most aromatherapy applications, but is therefore applied in smaller amounts to skin.

By the way, my son has been using this soap and serum for about two months now, and I can really say that his skin has improved so much and looks so amazingly good again!

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

If you have never soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first, and make several other easier soaps before continuing.


ONE: Measure out your water in a heat proof jug or container. In another small container weigh out your caustic soda and then carefully add it to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND), and stir until it has completely dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon of sodium lactate and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid. Set aside to cool down.

The sodium lactate adds hardness to the soap and also has humectant properties, which means it will draw moisture to the skin. The citric acid reduces the pH of the soap and will make the soap milder for the skin.

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 helps to condition and maintain a balanced skin, and contains anti-inflammatory and soothing triterpenes.


THREE: Weigh out the liquid oils (olive oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil and castor oil) and add them to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter. Give the oils a quick stir to mix everything together.

FOUR: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. Check if the lye has cooled down to room temperature or a little more (below 32 deg C), then 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 a tablespoon of activated charcoal and stir it in well with your stick blender.

By the way, activated charcoal is one of the few additives that you can add directly to your soap without having to dilute or mix it with another medium beforehand. Just letting you know, because I have had quite a few students come up to me and ask me because activated charcoal can be so messy to mix. No need and keep your workspace clean!


SIX: Add the specially formulated essential oils blend to the soap mixture.

These have been chosen for their cleansing, antiseptic, but also soothing and calming qualities, which will help detoxify the skin, prevent and soothe inflammation and infections.

SEVEN: Keep stick blending the soap mixture until it has thickened to a medium trace. Then pour it in the cavities of your soap mold and leave it to set and harden in the mold overnight.

Alternatively, you can use a small loaf mould with at least 700 ml volume, and then cut them into bars.


EIGHT: The following day, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore, and then carefully unmold, and leave them to cure for another 6-8 weeks before they are ready for use.

Activated charcoal soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!


  • 200 g olive oil
  • 175 g coconut oil
  • 100 g sunflower oil
  • 50 g rice bran oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 80 g caustic soda
  • 150 g water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon activated charcoal
  • 8 ml lavender essential oil
  • 5 ml tea tree essential oil
  • 5 ml lemongrass essential oil
  • 2 ml rosemary essential oil


  1. Measure out 150 g of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out 80 g 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.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of sodium lactate and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid to the lye solution. Set aside to cool down.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the olive oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give the oils a quick stir.
  5. 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.
  6. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal and mix with the stick blender.
  8. Add the essential oils and keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
  9. Pour the soap into the mold and leave to harden overnight.
  10. The next day, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.


  1. Hi there,

    Hope you are keeping well and safe.

    I was going through usage of citric acid and wanted to check if you added additional lye to avoid high superfat.
    Thanks heaps

    • Hi Manju! The amount of lye that the citric acid uses up is only minimal and adds to the superfat. The extra fats don’t end up on your face, rather they get used up by the soap molecules in the lather, hence making the soap milder, which is why you want. I also wouldn’t advice adding extra lye in any case, as the risk of ending up with a caustic soap is too high, especially if you miscalculate the amount of extra lye you need. If you don’t want the extra superfat, just omit the citric acid. Hope this helps!

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