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Activated charcoal soap

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

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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… ūüôā

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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.

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Northern lights soap

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

Northern Lights

One thing I do miss from living in Europe is the dark, cold, clear winter nights. I was never lucky enough to be far enough up north to see the northern lights, the one time I did go was in summer, but I can imagine what an astonishing sight it must be.

This soap uses a variety of colourants to recreate the Northern Lights. I’m using activated charcoal for the black background, blue and yellow soap pigments for the green and blue light, and blue glow in the dark pigment for the light glow. And the soap really does glow in the dark with a beautiful blue glow! The glow in the dark pigments from Pure Nature are classed as skin-safe and are as such safe to use in soaps, and work both in melt and pour soap bases as well as cold process soap making. The soap mold I’m using for this soap is the silicon loaf mold with wooden support box available from Pure Nature.

The colour technique I’m using in this soap is a simple layering technique, where you scoop the coloured soap alternating into the mold in a random fashion.

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!

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COLOUR PREPARATION

Prepare the blue and yellow granulated soap pigments as outlined here. I like having my three main colours (red, yellow, blue) already pre-mixed and I keep them in the fridge for storage, so that when I need them, they’re already prepared and ready for use.

In a small container, mix 1 teaspoon of blue glow in the dark pigment with 1 teaspoon of water.

Set the colours, glow in the dark mixture and the activated charcoal aside, ready for use later.

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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.

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TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil, and heat in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until it has completely melted.

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THREE: Weigh out the olive oil, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil , and give it a quick stir. Set aside until the lye has cooled down to room temperature. You will want to make sure that you are soaping at no more than 30 degrees, so that you can slow down the thickening of the soap while you are putting the soap together.

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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).

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FIVE: Add the fragrance and using a stick blender, give it another quick pulse to mix the fragrance into the soap, but make sure you keep the soap at light trace (fluid consistency). Because we’re doing colour work, you want to prevent the soap from thickening too soon.

The fragrance I’m using is called Garden Mint from Candlescience Fragrances. It’s a beautiful fresh, clear fragrance but with a rounded, slightly floral base to it. I think it matches Northern Lights perfectly! 30 ml (1 oz) of fragrance is sufficient for this soap, because mints can quickly become too overpowering, and I wanted a subtle fragrance in this soap.

SIX: Next, pour about 1 cup each into three different containers (I’m using my small Pyrex jugs for this), leaving approximately 3 cups in the main soap pot.

To the main pot with about 3 cups of soap in it, add 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal and 1 tablespoon of water, and give it a good stir until the charcoal and water is well incorporated into the soap. The reason we also add a tablespoon of water to this soap is to off-set the extra water the other 3 parts will have added to it, and prevent an unequal water balance in the soap. This will help avoid glycerin rivers.

To one of the remaining containers or jugs with 1 cup of soap, add 1 teaspoon of blue soap pigment solution. To the other container, add approximately 3/4 yellow soap pigment solution and 1/2 teaspoon blue soap pigment solution. And to the last container, add the pre-mixed glow in the dark and water mixture. Give all three containers a good stir to blend in the colour.

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SEVEN: You should now have 4 colours, approximately

  • 3 cups of black soap
  • 1 cup of blue soap
  • 1 cup of green soap
  • 1 cup of glow in the dark soap

EIGHT: First, pour or scoop a layer of black soap into your soap mold and then start putting your soap together, by alternately scooping the different coloured soap into your mold. Layer the colours both over each other and next to each other, in a random fashion, making sure you buffer sufficient black soaps between the coloured layers. Keep scooping until you have used up all the soap.

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NINE: Drizzle the last few bits of soap over the surface, and then using a chop stick swirl the surface of the soap. Spritz with 99% isopropyl alcohol to prevent soda ash from forming on the surface. Place the soap somewhere warm and dry, but out of direct sunlight, to cure. I like using the hot water cupboard to cure my soap, which is the driest spot in our house. But when the weather warms up in summer and becomes terribly humid (especially January and February), I move my soaps into our hallway with a dehumidifier right next to them. Even cold process soaps can sweat in extreme humid weather!

TEN: 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 8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

Northern lights

  • 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

  • 500g olive oil
  • 250g coconut oil
  • 200g rice bran oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 136g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 30 ml garden mint fragrance from Candlescience Fragrances
  • 1 tablespoon activated charcoal
  • blue and yellow granulated soap pigment
  • 1 teaspoon blue glow in the dark soap pigment

Directions

COLOUR PREPARATION

Prepare the blue and yellow granulated soap pigments as outlined here. Mix 1 teaspoon of blue glow in the dark pigment with 1 teaspoon of water. Set colours and activated charcoal aside, ready for use later.

  1. Measure out 250 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.
  2. Add 2 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye water. Set the lye aside to cool down.
  3. In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil. Heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until all the oil has completely melted.
  4. Add the olive oil, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil, and give it 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 the fragrance and give it another quick pulse with the stick blender to mix in the fragrance. Make sure the soap remains fairly fluid (at thin trace)!
  8. Pour approximately 1 cup of soap into three separate containers, leaving roughly 3 cups of soap in the main pot. You should have 4 containers with soap in total!
  9. To the main pot with 3 cups of soap, add 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal and 1 tablespoon of water and stir well to incorporate the charcoal evenly into the soap.
  10. To the three containers containing 1 cup of soap each, add colourants as follows, and stir each pot until the colour is evenly distributed throughout the soap:
    1. 1 teaspoon of blue pigment solution
    2. 3/4 teaspoon of yellow and 1/2 teaspoon of blue pigment solution
    3. all of the prepared glow in the dark mixture
  11. Pour or scoop a layer of black soap into the soap mold.
  12. Then alternating colours, scoop the soap into the mold, layering them over each other and next to each other in random fashion, until all the soap has been used up.
  13. Drizzle the last remaining soap on the surface, and using a chopstick swirl the surface of the soap, and spritz with 99% isopropyl alcohol.
  14. Leave the soap to cure for several days.
  15. 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 8 weeks until ready for use.

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Glow in the dark Halloween soaps

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 2x 30 minutes
Yields: 6 soaps

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I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I first encountered the glow in the dark soap pigments, and even though they were bright in powder form, I wasn’t sure if the effect would last in soap. As you can see, they do work and they’re pretty spooky, if I say so myself!

Pure Nature stocks glow in the dark pigments in green and blue, and they are safe for cosmetic use.

I had a little play with the glow in the dark powder before doing these soaps, and I found out that they work great in melt and pour soap, but only if you don’t add colours that suspend. Dyes seem to work fine. But micas will block the pigment and you’ll lose the glow in the dark effect. In bath bombs you have to remember that only the outer layer of your bath bomb is exposed to sunlight, so any pigment not on the surface won’t glow in the bath. And lastly, they also work great in jelly soap! You can add food colouring to jelly soap and it will still glow. Great if you want green, glowing, slimy jelly soap!

For my halloween soaps this year, I’m using a skull and crossbones ice cube tray that I bought years ago, and will add the pigment to these to make them stand out and glow in the dark. Add these to a black square soap will make them pop out and look good even in normal light.

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The glow in the dark soap pigment is really that bright!

Apart from a skulls mold, you will also need a soap mold with cavities, I used one with square cavities, to embed the skulls into the black soap. To colour the soap black, I used activated charcoal powder, which is a fantastic black soap colourant and works just as well in melt and pour soap as cold process soap.

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ONE: To begin, cut up sufficient white melt and pour soap base for your skulls and crossbones and place them in a heat proof pyrex jug. Heat the soap in the microwave for about 1 minute or until melted. Keep an eye on your soap, so it doesn’t boil!

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TWO: Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of glow in the dark pigment. I used the green colour for these soaps. You can stir the pigment in directly, you don’t have to mix it with alcohol first, because it disperses easily in the soap. Stir well. If you have left the pigment out in the light beforehand, then you can test if the pigment has been dispersed throughout the soap in the dark. Just holding the jug in the cupboard was sufficient for me to see the effect!

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THREE: Pour the soap into the mold and set aside to harden and cool. I usually don’t bother with fragrances in embeds. The surrounding fragranced soap will be sufficient.

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FOUR: Once they’ve hardened and cooled completely, after about an hour, carefully remove them from the mold and set them aside for later.

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FIVE: Cut up the clear melt and pour soap and place it in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Cut up enough soap to pour about 1/2 inch of soap into each cavity. You’ll have to eyeball this. Heat the soap in the microwave until completely melted. Again, make sure you don’t let the soap come to a boil.

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SIX: Once the soap is melted, add 10 ml of fragrance. I’m using blueberry cheesecake from Candlescience because it’s such a yummy fragrance that I know kids will like – and I am making these as Halloween treats for the kids!

SEVEN: To prepare the colour, add 1/2 teaspoon of activated charcoal to 1 teaspoon of 99% isopropyl alcohol, give it a good stir and then pour it into the soap. Stir the soap until all the colour has completely dispersed throughout the soap.

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EIGHT: Pour about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of black soap into each cavity of the mold. You’ll have to work quickly now, because you don’t want the soap to set!

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NINE: Carefully place the white skulls and crossbones into the black soap. For the best effect, you will want the white embeds to stick out from the black background. But the glow in the dark effect will still work if they have been covered by black soap. I drizzled some black soap into the eye sockets and nose. Don’t worry if you are a messy worker like me, you can easily clean up the soap once it has hardened,

TEN: Leave the soaps to harden and cool down completely before unmolding. Tidy up the soaps by using a very sharp knife, and lift off any black soap ‘splashes’ from the white soap. I also trimmed the edges a bit to give it a more jagged look.

Because these are melt and pour soaps, you will need to store these soaps wrapped in cling foil or plastic to keep from moisture droplets forming on the soaps.

Happy Halloween!

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Glow in the Dark Halloween Soap

  • Difficulty: beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • white melt and pour soap base
  • clear melt and pour soap base
  • green glow in the dark soap pigment
  • activated charcoal powder
  • blueberry cheesecake fragrance
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol
  • skulls and crossbones ice cube tray (or similar)
  • soap mold with square cavities

Directions

  1. cut up the white melt and pour soap base into small cubes and heat in microwave until melted
  2. add 1/4 teaspoon of glow in the dark pigment and stir well until pigment has fully dispersed throughout the soap
  3. pour into the skulls mould and leave to set
  4. once the skulls and crossbones have set, remove them carefully from the mold and set aside
  5. prepare the black colour by adding 1/2 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder to 1 teaspoon of isopropyl alcohol
  6. cut up clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and heat in microwave until melted
  7. add 10 ml of fragrance and stir
  8. add the colour and stir until the soap is an even black colour throughout
  9. pour about 1/2 inch of the black soap into each square cavity of the mold
  10. carefully place the skulls and crossbones into the black soap – for the best glow in the dark effect you will want the surface of the skulls and crossbones to stick out of the black soap
  11. leave to harden and cool before wrapping in cling foil