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Chadō – The Way of the Tea

I’ve recently joined the Soap Challenge Club, which puts out a new challenge each month. It’s fun having someone else determine what I should make for a change, and the challenges themselves are inspiring and challenging themselves. Do check out the Soap Challenge Club!

This month the challenge was to incorporate drink and food in your soap. The advanced category states that you have to replace all your liquid with a drink and you have to use the equivalent of at least 1/8 of your oils as a food in your soap.

So let me present you:
Chadō – The Way of the Tea

I wanted to created a soap that wasn’t just going to fulfil the demands of the challenge, but a soap that would be aesthetically pleasing and functional at the same time, and would be something people would love to use.

Chadō – The Way of the Tea is a simple, yet sophisticated soap, that symbolises several aspects of Japanese culture: rice and green tea, the rituals of bathing, and simple, pure ingredients. Every ingredient in the soap has both function and meaning.

Advanced category fulfilment: I used rice milk as a 100% substitute for the water in the lye solution. The amount of uncooked sushi rice (100 g) is equivalent to 1/4 of the amount of oils (400 g). The other ingredients are caustic soda, rice bran oil, coconut oil, shea butter, lemongrass essential oil and matcha green tea powder. There are no synthetic ingredients in this soap.


A staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine. There are very few meals that are eaten without rice, and you will find rice in every meal at every time of the day. Rice was of such fundamental importance to Japanese culture, that it was once used as a currency. Many sayings and proverbs are about rice. And even the word for meal ‘gohan’ literally means cooked rice.

The rice in the soap is sushi rice, because of its roundness. The purpose of the uncooked rice in the soap is to massage the skin. The little, round kernels are perfect to achieve a gentle massaging effect, and I’ve tested it, it feels wonderful!


Literally powdered tea, is finely ground green tea leaves and has a very bright green colour, which turns a brown shade in soap. Instead of brewing the tea leaves, the powder is stirred into the hot water to a frothy brew. The meditative act of preparing, presenting, and sipping matcha is the backbone of the Japanese tea ceremony.

The reason I used matcha and not just green tea made from the leaves, is that I wanted the whole leaves in the tea and not just the brewed water. Green tea leaves contain more antioxidants and caffeine, which is what I wanted to put into the soap. Caffeine can be absorbed through the skin and has an effect of stimulating blood flow to the skin, which helps with the general appearance of the skin. It is also said to reduce cellulite and fluid build up.

The matcha in the soap combines both the importance of tea in Japanese culture, but also the focus on beauty. The times I went to Japan, I always marvelled at how much effort they put into the presentation of pretty much everything. Everything had to be perfect and beautiful. From the little sanctuary gardens in the ryokans, the way the food was dished up, and especially your own appearance and the way your presented yourself. This didn’t mean people walked around constantly dressed up, but it meant that you were clean and proper, and good skin care was one of the signs that you were taking good care of your body.

Other ingredients

Rice milk – Made of rice (obviously!), makes for a wonderful soft, creamy lather. Rice milk has been used for centuries as a natural beauty aid for its anti-ageing, soothing, anti-inflammatory and skin-whitening effects.

Rice bran oil – another rice ingredient in the soap, is extracted from the hard, brown rice husks. Whereas the milk contained all the beneficial water-soluble components of rice, the oil contains all the oil-soluble vitamins, mostly vitamin E and omega-9. The soap contains 37.5% rice bran oil and with a superfat of 10%, it is highly likely that rice bran oil makes up part of the superfat.

Shea butter – Although not a ‘Japanese’ ingredient, shea butter is well-known in Japan for its benefits to the skin, and is contained in many skin care products. Shea butter has the highest amount of unsaponifiable content (up to 15%), meaning anti-oxidants, vitamins, phytosterols and the like, of all the oils and fats we use in soap making. This is why it considered so valuable in skincare and why I decided to use shea butter, as opposed to another butter in my soap. Shea butter also contributes to a nice, stable, creamy lather in soap and I really like the feel of it in my soaps.

Coconut oil – not widely used in Japan, and the only ingredient that I added for its functionality. Coconut oil brings hardness to the soap and because I don’t use any palm oils in any of my recipes, coconut oil is my substitution.

Lemongrass essential oil – the perfect fragrance for this soap. Lemongrass has a very pleasing, refreshing scent, and is said to uplift and relieve anxiety. Lemongrass is one of my favourite herbs, and I love any dish that contains lemongrass.

You may notice I haven’t added any other colourants to the soap, because I wanted this soap to be as pure as possible and not add any unnecessary ingredients that don’t contribute to meaning or function of the soap.

Japanese bathing culture is rooted deeply in their history and culture and has its own sets of customs and rituals.

Japanese people love to bathe, and it is in Japan that I discovered the true pleasure of bathing. As a western person, I wasn’t used to being (and seeing) everyone naked together, so I did stick to the women only bathhouses. I loved how you scrub yourself clean, and this part takes quite a while and with lots of soap, before you let your very clean body sink into the hot water of the Onsen. There are three areas in the Onsen, the area where you leave your clothes and shoes, the area where you clean yourself, and the hot water pool. There are certain rules you need to abide by, and some funny moments (being the only white, plumpish, blonde woman), but everyone was always helpful and there were lots of giggles. If you ever go to Japan, visiting an Onsen has to be on your to do list!

I hope the fragrance, the silky, smooth lather, and the feel of the rice kernels of the soap will give you the same sense of the bliss I experienced at the Onsen. Arigatou gozaimasu!

Chadō – The Way of the Tea


Makes 600 g soap (roughly 500 ml volume)
10% superfat
33% lye solution (2:1 water to lye ratio)

  • 200 g coconut oil
  • 150 g rice bran oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 55 g caustic soda
  • 120 g rice milk
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of matcha tea
  • 100 g sushi rice
  • 15 ml lemongrass essential oil

ONE – I weighed out the rice milk (fridge temperature) and added the caustic soda. As you can see, I had to use an ice cube bath for the lye, because the sugars in the rice milk do tend to heat up the lye solution as you can see.

TWO – While the lye was cooling down, I prepared the oils. I melted the coconut oil and the shea butter in the microwave and then added the rice bran oil to it.

THREE – While I was waiting for the lye and oils to cool down, I prepared the matcha. I mixed the matcha with equal amounts of water and then whisked it. The colour looks a beautiful bright green, but unfortunately in soap this turns to a shade of tan-brown, depending the amount you put in. However, the scent of matcha remains lightly in the soap, even after curing, which I was pleasantly suprised by, and it goes well with the lemongrass scent.

Another interesting little suprise I got, is after I made my first batch, as you can see in the middle. The outside of the soap is brown and when I cut it, the inside was green. Unfortunately, it also oxidised to brown in only a short time. I also made several batches of different amounts of matcha, to see what the colour would look like. For the challenge, I ended up settling on a lighter bar of soap. But I would suggest to go with the maximum amount for maximum caffeine benefit!

FOUR – I added the matcha and the lemongrass essential oil to the melted oils and gave it a good whizz with the stick blender. The amount of matcha you add, will depend on how dark you want your soap to be, and how much caffeine you want in your soap. If appearance doesn’t matter, and you’re fine with the dark colour (I personally like it), add the full 1 1/2 tablespoons. If you want a lighter soap, only add 1 teaspoon. I wouldn’t go any lighter than that, because then you might not add any at all for lack of caffeine in the soap!

FIVE – And yet another surprise! This is what the lye looked like when I took it out of the fridge. It looks like the the oils in the rice milk reacted with the lye to make soap! The same thing happened with every batch I made.
I poured the lye to the oils (carefully!) and then mixed with the stick blender to medium trace. I wanted it to be a nice and thick consistency so it would hold the rice kernels in suspension. I didn’t want them to all sink to the bottom.

SIX – Now it’s time for the rice! Initially I added only 50 grams of rice to the soap, but then it didn’t look like much, so I added another 50 grams of rice to it. All the subsequent batches were also made with 100 grams of rice added to it. (That’s why the photo shows 50 grams and not 100 grams!)

SEVEN – Lastly, I poured it in the moulds and let it harden and set overnight. I gelled the first batch (see picture of the loaf bars above), but I didn’t like the look of it, and I suspected it made the colour darker, so I made sure the other batches didn’t gel. Since it’s winter here in New Zealand now, all I had to do is just leave it on the kitchen counter to avoid gel.

The next day I carefully unmoulded the soaps and gave them a quick rinse to expose the rice kernels on the surface. Here are the dark and light options. The dark one is made with 1 1/2 tablespoons and the lighter one with 1/2 tablespoon of matcha tea.

I leave it up to you which one you like best!

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Finding gifts for the soap maker

Looking for a gift for your soap maker bestie, partner, secret Santa? Finding gifts can be quite challenging for some people, and let’s be honest, no one wants to be that person who keeps getting it wrong, and boy, finding gifts for soap makers is really, really hard. So here are some suggestions that will help you find something that won’t end up on the ‘bad presents’ pile!

The prettiest gloves for making soap


Who said soap makers need to look boring? Let them own their style with these pretty gloves and some Dame Edna onion goggles (seen at Spotlight). Gloves available from Farmers for only $19.99.

The little mica sieve


Working with mica can get pretty messy, especially if you’re silly enough like me to try and blow on it. If your soap maker in your life is struggling to keep their kitchen and their face(!) clean, this little sieve will be their saving grace. Found at Stevens for $9.99.

The summer read


The hand cream


Making soap is a caustic affair and really dries out your hands, despite the gloves. Finding the right hand cream that rehydrates and conditions without leaving your hands greasy hasn’t been easy, but I’m a huge advocate for this one. Not only because it works immediately leaving my hands soft and moisturised, but it also has a lovely subtle fragrance. $24 for 4oz or $40 for 8oz available here.

Wire hangers aka hanger swirl tools


Wire hangers are not quite you had in mind for a Secret Santa or as a stocking filler? I promise you, you’ll hit the jackpot with these wire hangers, also known as hanger swirl tools by soap makers. You see, in New Zealand, we have struggled for years to get some decent swirling tools, and often had to get them shipped from the USA at outrageous shipping costs. But now The Warehouse is stocking them and for only three dollars it will get you ten of these cool tools. So what are you waiting for? Go get them!

The perfect protection


Do they need a little protection from the caustic fumes and splashes? How about a whole lot of protection? Let them go full Breaking Bad mode with this professional top quality $289 protective mask. Add overalls, gloves and solid shoe wear, and they’ll be all set for soap making! Available from Mitre 10.

The not-soap recipe book

Has your kitchen been taken over by a soap maker? (gasp!) Are you sick of seeing, smelling and even tasting soap everywhere? Having to have takeaways for dinner every night? And are all the subtle and maybe not-so-subtle hints not working? How about steering them towards some baking. Not just any baking, mind you, pretzel baking! Pretzels are dipped in lye, which is what gives them their yummy distinctive flavour. So it’s win-win for all! They get to play with some more lye (yippee!), and you get to enjoy the taste of freshly baked pretzels with a German Weiss beer or a cider. Cue relaxing sigh.

Please note, In My Soap Pot and the author of this blog are not affiliated to any of the companies suggested or mentioned in this article or website, and no money is earned by clicking on the links or purchasing the items.

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School holidays are coming up!


Next week it’s school holidays again, and although we’re all hoping for awesome sunny weather, it’s the middle of winter here in the Southern Hemisphere, and there’s nothing worse than having bored kids during rainy holidays!

Some easy crafts for kids of all ages is making their own soaps and bath bombs. It’s such a creative and fun thing to do and kids just love it! I should know, because the kids holiday programs always book out so quickly!

Check out the following tutorials, which will keep your kids busy for while:


Using the ever popular jelly soap base (available here), you can create your own awesome Lush-like jelly soaps and use your creativity to make them even more fun, like these fish soaps. And for more tips on using jelly soap click here.



You can buy some great (and cheap) silicon moulds from places like K-mart. These only cost me $2 each, and they make for great little soaps with an easy-to-use melt and pour soap base (available here).


You can make some cool soaps with these soap bases, using food colouring to colour them and essential oils to scent them. Here are the detailed instructions on how to use soap bases, and here are some more great soap ideas:

Bath bombs are another popular craft to keep the kids busy and you don’t need special ingredients for it either. The 2 key ingredients in bath bombs are citric acid and baking soda, both which you can buy from your local supermarket. Like the melt and pour soaps, you can use food colouring to colour them, and essential oils to scent them. Mix 2 parts baking soda with 1 part citric acid, and spray lightly with water to wet the mixture (only a little bit, otherwise it will start to fizz prematurely). Fill your moulds (muffin tins, empty yoghurt pots, or other little moulds), pack it tightly and then carefully  remove the bath bomb. Dry out overnight and it’s ready for use! The detailed instructions on how to make bath bombs you can find here.

To help you put together a little ‘professional kit’ to get the kids started, here’s a list of things to get:

  • 2 kg baking soda
  • 1 kg citric acid
  • 1 kg clear melt and pour soap
  • 1 kg white melt and pour soap
  • 1 kg bubble bath base
  • 1 kg glycerin
  • optional: jelly soap
  • 2 sets of small bath bomb moulds
  • 8 clamshell soap moulds (these are re-usable)
  • 3-4 micas to use as colourants
  • 2-3 skin safe fragrances or essential oils (more expensive)
  • little plastic figure toys from 2dollar shop
  • cute silicon ice cube trays (pineapple, unicorn, cactus) from Kmart
  • anything else you will probably have in your pantry

You can get all these ingredients (except where mentioned) from Pure Nature, and the total cost is roughly around $100, which should be enough to keep 2 kids busy for a while and make lots and lots of soaps, bath bombs, bubble baths and more!


And last, but not least, this is probably the most popular tutorial for kids on the blog! The play dough will keep for a while sealed in a ziplock bag, and will make for hours of entertainment in the bath! To make this you will need corn starch, vegetable oil, glycerin and liquid soap, fragrance and colourants. Here are the instructions on how to make play dough soap.

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Lemon juice soap

One of the soap groups on Facebook that I belong to does monthly soap challenges and this month they challenged people to make a soap using lemon juice. I thought that was such a fun idea, and something I’d never done either, that I wanted to give it a try myself and show you the process and results, so you can have a go at it yourself.


One of the problems with using acids, like lemon juice, is that it will neutralise some of the lye in your recipe. The acid in lemons is citric acid, but the amount of citric acid varies between types of lemons as well as between the individual fruits themselves. So unless you’re a chemist with the right equipment, you can’t really know how much of the lye will be neutralised. If it’s too much, you’ll end up with a soft gloopy mixture because of the excess oils that didn’t get saponified (turned to soap). To make sure that doesn’t happen, you need to reduce your superfat or lye discount to a minimum. I reduced my superfat to 2%, and if I replace all the water in the lye solution with lemon juice I will get a soap with a superfat somewhere between 5% and 8%. Here’s the recipe I used:

Lemon juice soap recipe

  • 375 g olive oil
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 55 g caustic soda
  • 100 g lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 15 ml lemon essential oil
  • annatto seed colourant

I pressed out three lemons to get 100 g of juice and placed it in the fridge to cool. Lemons not only contain citric acid, but also sugar, and I wanted to prevent the sugars from burning in the lye.

Once the lemon juice was cold, I carefully stirred in the caustic soda one teaspoon at a time, and check out the cool colour display I got! First it turned a bright yellow before going orange. To be on the safe side, I placed the jug in the sink with cold water to keep the lye from going too hot, and luckily it didn’t get any darker than that orange.

I continued normally using the cold process method: oils in one pot, and once the lye had cooled down, adding the lye to the oils and stirring. Because I knew from other soapers that the lemon fragrance from the juice would not come through in the soap, I added lemon essential oil to the soap,

I also decided to have a little fun with colour using annatto seed colourant, which I added to about 1/4 of the soap mixture. I then poured the colours into a bowl, alternating between the yellow and uncoloured soap, like you do in the ‘in-the-pot-swirl’ method. I gave the soap in the pot an extra swirl with my spatula and then poured it into the mold.


I had no idea what the lemon juice would do to the colour of the soap and to the soap itself. I didn’t insulate it and despite it being in a cavity mold, the soap did go through a gelling phase. So a word of caution: don’t insulate and keep the soap cool! And despite the soap looking rather dark here in the mold and the next day when I unmolded them, they did turn a lovely white and yellow marble effect after a couple of days. And testing it after nearly a week already felt that it was going to be really pleasant mild soap!

For more information and ideas, check out this blog post about adding fresh ingredients to soap!


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2018 Christchurch workshop!

NEW! Christchurch Weekend Workshop

It’s finally going ahead on Saturday and Sunday 28 & 29 July 2018 in CHRISTCHURCH! I am so excited to offer a soap workshop to you wonderful soap makers on the South Island!

Two full on days with demonstrations, theory and practical sessions covering everything from cold process soap making to advanced swirling techniques. Learn how to make milk soaps, how to add honey to your soap, what (natural) additives you can add to increase lather or hardness of your soaps and learn how to create and formulate your own recipes! Course costs includes all material and equipment and you will have ample opportunity to try out the new techniques you have learned in the practical sessions.

Meet up with other like minded and passionate soap makers and share your soap tips and tricks! This workshop is aimed at soap makers who understand the basic cold process method and want to improve their skills and learn new techniques.

The course takes place on a beautiful private property only 30 minutes from Christchurch, thanks to our wonderful host, Saskia Berkhout-Findley.



  • Chemistry of soap making
  • Cold process soap making technique
  • How to control and manipulate the soaping process
  • Formulating your own recipes
  • Calculating lye, how to discount and superfat
  • Using fragrances and essential oils in soap
  • Micas, dyes and natural colourants in soap
  • Colouring techniques including swirling, ombre technique and more!
  • Adding clays, fresh ingredients and other additives
  • Making milk soaps
  • Natural soap making
  • Troubleshooting and how to avoid and fix problems in soaps

DATES: Sat 28 and Sun 29 July (2 days)
TIMES: 10 am – 4 pm
LOCATION: 2428 S Eyre Rd, Eyrewell Forest
COST: $220 pp (includes all material)

Limited to 8 spaces only! Registration closes 24 June 2018


Once you have registered, you will receive an email from me within the 24 hours.