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Coffee Soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 1/2 hrs
Yields: 1200 g soap or approximately 10 bars

My kitchen coffee soap is one of my first soaps I created decades ago and is still one of my most used soaps in our house. I usually make them as bars, but when I discovered this cool coffee bean shaped mould, I knew they would be perfect for my coffee soaps.

The reason I’m such a huge fan of this soap is that it’s perfect for in the kitchen. It contains a whole lot of coffee. Like a WHOLE LOT. Why? Because coffee is a deodoriser, which means it gets rid of yucky smells – like fish, garlic, onion, and cheese. I learned about coffee when I was training to be an aromatherapist and we’d use coffee to clear our noses between sniffing essential oils. I also found out that coffee is used in the perfume industry for the same reason as well as wine tasters/sniffers do the same. So coffee is the number one ingredient in this soap. The soap contains freshly brewed coffee as well as the coffee grounds. I’ve left them in the soap to give it a bit of a scrubby texture. To compliment the coffee and boost its properties, I’ve added a special blend of essential oils: orange, lemongrass, cinnamon, thyme and clove. This is a blend that cleanses, deodorised and has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties – just what you need in a kitchen soap!

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

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I do strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

ONE: Boil some water in a kettle, and then weigh out the right amount of water in a heat proof jug. Add one heaped tablespoon of ground coffee and set it aside to cool down.

Once the coffee has cooled down to room temperature, add the caustic soda. The lye solution will go yucky with a very yucky smell, but don’t worry about it. It’s only temporary and you won’t smell it in your finished soap.

Stir in 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap quicker and make it easier to unmould. I found this essential, because the first time I tried it without the sodium lactate using this mould, I couldn’t unmould it for weeks. Set the lye solution aside to cool down.

TWO: Next, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter in a microwaveable jug or bowl, and heat in the microwave until the oils have melted. Then add the other liquid oils and give everything a quick stir.

THREE: Let the oils cool for a bit and then add the essential oil blend. The reason we’re adding it before the lye is because the clove and cinnamon essential oils tend to accelerate the saponification process and makes your soap go thick fast, so to prevent this, we’re diluting the essential oils in the oil first.

FOUR: From this point on, you’ll have to work fast because of the acceleration. Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils. Stick blend briefly for about 3-5 seconds, and then use a whisk to stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified and there are no more oil streaks visible. (Note I had to switch stick blenders during making these, because the first one decided it was time for retirement. RIP my faithful stick blender). The important thing here is to not over mix and not let it go too thick to pour!

FIVE: Once you’ve reached thin trace, quickly pour the soap into the individual cavities of the mould. As you can see in the picture below, my soap is already starting to thicken.

SIX: Leave the soaps to cure for a couple of days before unmoulding. They should be nice and firm, otherwise you’ll leave dents in the soaps where you tried to push them out. If you look carefully in the picture below, you’ll see that some of the soaps have dents in them, because I didn’t wait long enough!

The soaps will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use. Because it’s a soap that you’ll use frequently in the kitchen and is likely to dry out only infrequently, a longer curing time is definitely recommended. So try and cure them as long as you can before using or selling them.

Coffee Soap

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

Ingredients

  • 175 g olive oil
  • 125 g coconut oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 50 g avocado oil
  • 75 g canola oil
  • 25 castor oil
  • 69 g caustic soda
  • 140 g water
  • 1 teaspoon of sodium lactate
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of ground coffee beans
  • 15 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 8 ml lemongrass essential oil
  • 3 ml cinnamon essential oil
  • 2 ml clove essential oil
  • 2 ml thyme essential oil

Directions

  1. Bring some water to boil and weigh out 140 grams into a heatproof jug or bowl. Stir in one heaped tablespoon of (freshly) ground coffee beans, and set aside to cool down to room temperature.
  2. Add the caustic soda to the now cold coffee  and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the coffee/lye solution and set aside to cool down.
  4. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  5. Add the olive, avocado, canola and castor oils to the melted coconut oil and shea butter.
  6. And then, add the essential oils to the oils and give everything a good stir.
  7. Check if the coffee/lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until emulsified and at thin trace. Careful, the essential oils can accelerate the soap process!
  8. Pour the soap carefully into the cavities of the mould.
  9. Leave the soap to cure a couple of days before unmoulding. You want the soap to be very firm and hard, so that you don’t leave any dents in the soap when unmoulding. The individual soaps will need to cure for at least a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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Rock Soaps

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 6 soaps of about 100 g each

Soap stones, rock soaps, soap pebbles, whatever you want call them, are so much fun to make and they look AMAZING! The marbled look is really easy to achieve, and the variety of colour combinations and shades are endless.

I decided to go for the grey river stone look for these ones, and I used activated charcoal to get the different shades of grey. If you don’t want grey rocks, you can use micas to create different colours, like green, red or even blue rocks. Or you can even mix different colours to create your multicoloured rocks. Feel free and be creative!

The mould I used to make these rock soaps is the following stones mould (see below). The cavities hold about 110 ml each and the cured soap will weigh about 100 g. Any recipe using 500 g oils will work with this mould. The stones are also excellent for the glazing technique (which is an advanced technique), but to be honest, I personally like the marbling with an in-the-pot swirl a lot better, because the marbling will go all the way through the soap and not just on the surface.

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

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.


ONE: Prepare your lye as usual and place it in the sink to cool down to room temperature.

I’ve added sodium lactate to the lye solution, to help harden the soap quicker and make it easier to unmould the next day. This is particularly helpful with these kind of moulds, because they are fairly enclosed, making it difficult for the water to evaporate.

TWO: Weigh out your coconut oil and shea butter in a microwavable bowl or jug, and heat it in the microwave until completely melted. In my old microwave it took 3 minutes set on high. There should be no white residue or streaks left visible in the oil. It should be completely clear.

THREE: Once your coconut oil and shea butter are melted, weigh out and add the liquid oils – the olive, sunflower and castor oils.

FOUR: Add your fragrance. I’m using Coconut Lime fragrance from Candlescience, available from Pure Nature in New Zealand, which is one of the most popular fragrances in my soap workshops.

FIVE: Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.

SIX: Give it a quick pulse of about 5 seconds with a stick blender and then stir until all the streaks of oil have disappeared and the mixture has emulsified. It should be still very liquid at this stage, you don’t want the mixture to thicken.

SEVEN: Separate the soap into three different portions. Leave one portion uncoloured. Add 1 teaspoon of activated charcoal to one portion and 1/2 teaspoon of activated charcoal to the other portion. Mix with a whisk. Note: you don’t have to disperse the activated charcoal in oil or water beforehand, you can add it direct to the soap, it will mix in easily and without any trouble.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to create grey rocks, you can play with different colours using mica. Again, leave one portion uncoloured, add 1/2 teaspoon of mica to another portion, and 1/4 teaspoon of mica to the last portion. You can either add the mica direct to your soap, and you’ll have a bit of a speckled look in your soap, or you can mix the mica with a little oil before adding for a smooth colour.

EIGHT: Next, pour the three portions of soap back into your main soap jug or bowl, alternating the colours. There is no set way to pour them, and as you can see in the picture above, I just randomly poured the colours into each other. Once you’ve poured all the soap, give it a quick stir with a chopstick, just to give it some extra swirl. Once or two circles is enough.

NINE: Lastly, pour the soap into each cavity of the stone mould, and leave the soap to set overnight.

As you can see my soap is very black when I poured it, but they lightened up significantly the next day.

TEN: Check the following morning if the soap has hardened sufficiently to unmould. If you have used sodium lactate, it will be more likely that you can unmould the next day. Otherwise, you may have to leave the soap in the mould for a few days before it is hard enough to unmould. You don’t want to end up having dents in it from pushing the soap out.

ELEVEN: Leave the soaps to cure for another 6-8 weeks. As with all soaps, the longer the curing time the better the soap will become.

If soap ash develops on your soap rocks, just give them a quick wash. The picture I took below is from a freshly washed soap. The gloss will actually disappear when they dry and they’ll look more like rocks again as in the picture above.

Rock Soaps

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

Ingredients

  • 200 g olive oil
  • 150 g coconut oil
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 75 g sunflower oil
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 70 g caustic soda
  • 150 g water
  • 1 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of activate charcoal
  • 15 ml fragrance or essential oils

Directions

  1. Measure out the caustic soda and the water. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (not the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye solution. This is to help harden the soap.
  3. Place the lye solution in the sink and let it cool down to room temperature.
  4. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  5. Add the olive oil, sunflower oil, and castor oil to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter.
  6. Add your fragrance or essential oils to the oils and give it a quick stir.
  7. Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils.
  8. Give the oil/lye mixture a quick 5 second pulse with the stick blender and then stir until all the streaks of oil have disappeared and the mixture has emulsified.
  9. Separate the soap into three portions. Leave one portion uncoloured. Add 1/2 tablespoon of activated charcoal to another portion and 1/4 tablespoon of activated charcoal to the last portion. Stir the soap until the colour has been dispersed throughout.
  10. Pour the three portions back into the main jug or bowl, alternating colours and pouring randomly around the bowl. Once you’ve poured all the soap back, give the soap a quick swirl with a chopstick.
  11. Pour the soap into the cavities of the stone mould and leave to set and harden overnight, or if necessary longer.
  12. Once you are able to unmould the soaps, they will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.