Solid shampoo bars

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 45 mins

Yields: 4 bars

Learn how to make this gentle cleansing shampoo bar, which leaves your hair soft, silky and tangle-free. Suits all hair types, and this tutorial is a great introduction for those wanting to venture into making solid shampoo and conditioner bars. Also check out this hydrating solid conditioner bar!

All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature or your local soap making supplies shop.

Please note SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate) powder is very irritating if breathed in or gets in your eyes. I know it sounds like a total contradiction, since it is a very mild, non-irritating cleansing surfactant. But we work with it as a very fine, light powder, which is easily airborne, and our lungs really, really don’t like it. So make sure you wear goggles and a breathing mask (dust mask) and have your windows open!

ONE: Start by preparing all your additives. First add 1 teaspoon of citric acid to 10 ml of hot water and then stir until the citric acid has dissolved. Then add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, the orange essential oil and the mica, if you decide to add colour. Stir everything together.

The citric acid helps to soften the water, especially in areas of hard water (see blog post about hard water here). It works by reacting with the mineral ions in the water, and basically rendering them inactive.

Coco-caprylate is one of my favourite little secret additives. It is a natural alternative to silicons derived from coconut. It is a lightweight emollient, which coats and seals in moisture, making your hair smooth, tangle free and shiny. But unlike silicons, it doesn’t build up in your hair, is easily washed out and is biodegradable.

Provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, keeps your hair hydrated. The provitamin B5 turns into pantothenic acid when absorbed into the hair shaft, where it binds water and thus retains moisture inside the hair.

And the essential oil I’m using in this shampoo bar is orange essential oil, which is not only a delicious fruity fragrance, but is also full of anti-oxidants and vitamin C, is known to increase the ability of absorbing vitamin C as well, and is an excellent moisturiser with calming, soothing qualities on both skin and mind. And also who doesn’t love orange?

TWO: This part can be skipped if your sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) comes in powder form. In any case for this part and the next part, you will need to wear goggles and dust mask to avoid breathing in the powder and to prevent it getting into you eyes.

If your SCI comes in pellet form, use a bullet or food processor to grind it into a fine powder. The finer the powder, the easier it will be to work with. SCI is very difficult to melt due to its high melting point, and by using powder instead of pellets, you can significantly reduce the melting time from hours (pellets) to minutes (powder)!

The benefits of sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) is that it is a very mild and gentle (anionic) surfactant which is naturally derived from coconut and also biodegradable unlike most anionic surfactants (except soap).

Be careful to let the powder settle before opening the bullet or food processor and to tip the powder in at once from a very low height. I usually go outside to do this and let the dust settle again before going back inside. Like I said, the powder makes you sneeze!

THREE: Once you have your SCI in powder form, weigh the correct amount and then add the coco-glucoside. The coco-glucoside is also natural and derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars. It is added as a non-ionic co-surfactant, which acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent and conditioner. Basically, it helps make a nice smooth fluid paste, makes sure you have a great lather when you use it, and it conditions your hair while you clean it.

Once you’ve combined the SCI and the coco-glucoside, it’s time to melt it. You can either use the microwave or directly on your stove. If you are using the stove, use the lowest setting and keep stirring gently. You can also use a double boiler, but that will take longer. I found if I use the lowest setting on my stove, it works just as well as a double boiler!

However, I’m using the microwave here. When you use the microwave, use it in burst of 30 seconds initially and then reduce the burst to 10 seconds. Stir briskly between the bursts and always keep an eye on it in the microwave because it can boil over! When it starts rising, stop, stir, and then put it back in for 10 seconds, until you have a paste similar to the photo below.

FOUR: In another pot, add your BTMS-25, cocoa butter and Dehyquart F75. These are all conditioning agents. Melt it until liquid in the microwave or stove top, and then add it to the SCI/coco-glucoside paste.

The BTMS-25 is naturally derived from rapeseed, coconut and/or palm oil. It is a conditioner pellet made from 25% behentrimonium methosulfate and 75% cetearyl alcohol. For those following the curly girl method, behentrimonium methosulfate is a very mild, non-stripping and non-irritating conditioning agent, and not a sulfate like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium coco sulfate (SCS) and other similar harsh surfactants.

Dehyquart 75 is another conditioning ingredient, which soften and moisturise hair. It is made of distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate and cetearyl alcohol, and comes in off-white waxy flakes or pellets. The active ingredient is the distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate, which is a quaternary ammonium salt like the BTMS, and like BMTS-25 is not he prohibited ingredients in the Curly Girl Method. The cetearyl alcohol is a combination of cetyl and stearyl alcohols, which help stabilise the emulsion, but also give the shampoo its silky and creamy appearance and helps soften and hydrate your hair.

If you don’t have Dehyquart 75, you can add another 10 g of BTMS-25 instead. 

Cocoa butter also has excellent conditioning properties, is incredibly nourishing for your hair and leaves it soft and shiny. There’s just the right amount of cocoa butter in this shampoo, so that it will condition your hair without leaving it feel greasy and heavy.

FIVE: Mix everything to a fluid paste like in the photo. It will take a little while to stir until everything has been thoroughly incorporated into the paste.

SIX: Then add the additives that you have pre-mixed in the beaker and stir everything until it is an even colour.

SEVEN: Pour the shampoo mixture into your moulds and let them cool down and set overnight before using. I prefer to let them dry out for about a week before I shut the lid or use them, just because I find that it helps make them long-lasting that way.

img_2553

This has become my personal favourite shampoo bar at the moment, because I don’t need any conditioner with it. I’ve also mixed up the essential oil blend a few times, just because I don’t like using the same thing over and over again. Lavender and mint is a nice alternative, or just plain lemongrass, which is the one I’m currently using. Feel free to experiment a little!


Solid shampoo bars

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 240 g SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate)
  • 80 g coco-glucoside
  • 40 g BTMS-25
  • 20 g cocoa butter
  • 10 g dehyquart F75 or extra 10 g BTMS-25
  • 10 ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon coco-caprylate
  • 1/2 teaspoon provitamin B5
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange mica
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 4 clamshell moulds

Directions

  1. In a small beaker, add the citric acid to the hot water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, essential oil and mica, and stir until it is a slurry. Set aside.
  3. If the SCI is in pellet form, grind it up into powder using a bullet or food processor. Make sure you are wearing goggles and a dust mask, and have your windows open. DO NOT BREATHE IN THE DUST!
  4. Carefully, still wearing goggles and mask, combine the SCI and coco-glucoside and either melt in the microwave or stove top, until melted to a fluid paste. Be careful in the microwave, as it can suddenly start boiling (foaming) over.
  5. In another small jug or pot, add the BTMS-25, cocoa butter and dehyquart, and melt it until liquid.
  6. Pour it to the SCI/coco-glucoside mixture and give it a very good stir.
  7. Add the contents from the beaker (see point 1 and 2) you’ve set aside and stir everything until it has blended to a smooth paste.
  8. Lastly, pour the shampoo mixture into the moulds. You’ll need to work fast, as the mixture starts to set and thicken quickly.
  9. Leave the bars to cool down completely before unmoulding. They can be used immediately, though it’s better to let them dry for about a week before use.


If you enjoyed this tutorial, please consider donating a coffee, or a flat white as we call it here in New Zealand! This website is only possible due to my coffee consumption and early morning starts.

15 Comments

    • True, too much will suppress lather, but not in this shampoo bar. It has an amazing foamy lather! It also contains coco-glucoside, which is a lather booster.

  1. Hi Jackie! I am thrilled to find this recipe! I have been making shampoo bars with oils and goats milk. I just got in all the ingredients for your recipe and waiting a couple of days to try it! They smell great and I can’t wait to try it. I have been trying to figure out what would work to detangle and smooth my hair and I think you have come up with some great ingredients! I would like to try to add one or two of the conditioning ingredients to my regular goat milk shampoo bar recipe and would love your recommendation as to which one(s) you would add to that? Thank you in advance! Planning on trying the ones I made with your recipe tomorrow! Thank you for sharing your recipe and knowledge with us!

    • Hi Cathy! I am guessing that your regular goat milk shampoo bar is a soap based shampoo? There are quite a few ingredients that are actually cold processable. All fatty alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol, are cold processable, as well as some ingredients such as Lamesoft PO65 and BTMS.

      • Thank you so much for your help! I’m going to try the cetyl alcohol and the btms and might even try pantenol . I just got some violet#2 to try and add for the brassiness in my highlights.

  2. Hi Jackie! Thank you so much for the formula and tips, sounds very great shampoo bar!
    I have been learning about and would like to know about amphoteric surfactants. I dont know if is really necessary or if another ingredient of your formula acts as it…
    Also, I have seen that some use Cocamidopropyl Betaine as amphoteric but researching on internet it is allergic to many so I would like to don’t use it as it is possible. What do you think about?
    Thank you again!
    Kindly and cheers

    • Hi Adriana! Cocamidopropyl Betaine is the only amphoteric surfactant that I know of, and I have seen little benefit to using it in my formulations due to it being not natural and as you mentioned, there are too many accounts of people reacting to it. But that’s just my opinion. 😉

  3. Hi! I really liked this formula and I am excited to try it. I have bought all the ingredients, but I was thinking that maybe I could try also different butters and oils. I know that 20g is enough, but do you think castor oil and/shea butter could be a good idea to substitute cocoa? thank you so much!

    • Yes, you can freely substitute the oils and butters, and if you feel you need a little bit more, you can try adding 5-10 grams more to it.

  4. Hello there, Thank you for this tutorial.
    Few questions.
    1. Have you tested pH of this soap?
    2. In every other tutorial i found BTMS used in 3-7% range but you have almost 13%. Is it ok to lower that percentage?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Levi! pH testing isn’t a very accurate measure. It really depends on how much water you use. If I wash my hands with soap but use little water, the pH will be much higher than if I use the soap under running water, because of dilution. It’s the same with solid shampoo. If you use it on moist, lightly wetter hair, you’ll also have a higher pH than if you have very wet hair. That said, a good estimate for this shampoo bar would be around 8. To your second question, you can lower it, but this will increase pH and also make it more cleansing. I have added this much BTMS25 to make it a more conditioning shampoo. Hope this helps!

  5. I tried making this yesterday but I can not get it runny enough to pour out the jug. measured everything exactly and even tried by putting the csi and coco glucoside into the oils and butters. The the other bits, but could not get it to go runny. ANY IDEAS

    • Hi Chris! It’s trickier with the microwave. I’ve started using a double boiler method in the meantime. SCI takes ages to melt, regardless what method you use. The one tip I can give you is to stir less, especially at the beginning. Each time you stir, you add cool air to it, and that cools it again. So keep an eye on it but don’t stir until the bottom layer has become liquid. Stir and leave again. I hope that makes sense.

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