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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
  • Print
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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Apricot Scrub Soap

Difficulty: Advanced
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or approximately 10 bars

I came up with this soap when I was browsing through the exfoliants section of my local supplier, Pure Nature. I’ve always left the special kind of exfoliants, like walnut shells and apricot kernel flours, for facial and body scrubs, and haven’t really used them in soaps before. I still had some carrot juice left from the soap challenge last month, and I thought those two would make for a nice combination. And since I was focusing on natural ingredients, I didn’t want to go for an apricot fragrance. Instead, I asked my good friend, Shaz, who’s always an absolute inspiration when it comes to soap making and has great nose when it comes to essential oil blends, what she would suggest. So the credit for this delicious blend of orange, bergamot and ylang ylang goes to her!

The reason this is an advanced tutorial, is because I’m replacing all the water in the lye solution for carrot juice. Because carrots contain sugar, extra precautions must be taken when preparing the lye solution, because it can get quite hot. The sugars will also speed up trace, so it’s essential you have everything prepared and ready beforehand and can work quickly.

In addition to the carrot juice, ylang ylang essential oil is also known to accelerate trace. Just to make things even more exciting for you! But don’t worry, if you make sure you keep your temperature down and work quickly, you’ll be fine. And it’s definitely worth it. The soap smells amazing and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth!

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: I’m using a store-bought 100% organic carrot juice, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered juicing carrots myself. Make sure the carrot juice is fridge cold, before you add the caustic soda to it. I also added two teaspoons of sodium lactate to it, to make sure the soap hardens quickly, which makes it easier to unmould. Once you’ve prepared the lye, place the container with the lye solution in an ice bath – a bigger container filled with cold water and ice. This helps to keep the temperature down.

TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter in a microwaveable jug or bowl, and heat in the microwave until the oils have melted.

THREE: And then add the liquid oils to the melted coconut oil and shea butter.

FOUR: Add the essential oil blend to the oils and stir them through. Adding them to the oils, rather than at trace, helps dilute the essential oils and may slow the acceleration. I’ve never tested if this really works, but I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this way, at least, I don’t forget to add the fragrance. You have no idea how often that has happened to me!

From here on, you’ll need to work quickly. Make sure you have your apricot kernel flour on hand and your soap mould ready. You don’t want to go looking for ingredients or moulds once have poured the lye to the oils!

FIVE: Check if your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, and add the lye to the oils. Stick blend only 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.

SIX: Add the apricot kernel flour. I’m using a little more than 1/2 tablespoon. If you want a more scrubby soap, you can go up to 1 full tablespoon, but I wouldn’t add more. Use your whisk to stir it in. Doesn’t the soap look a pretty orange?

SEVEN: Pour the soap into your mould, and gently tap the mould on the bench a few times to release any air bubbles caught up in the soap and to even out the surface.

EIGHT: Use your spatula to add a bit of texture to your surface. And sprinkle a little of the apricot kernel flour along one side of the soap.

ELEVEN: Let the soap cure for a couple of days before unmoulding, and then let it harden for another few days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

Freshly cut Apricot Scrub Soap

Apricot Scrub 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

  • 320 g olive oil
  • 200 g coconut oil
  • 80 g shea butter
  • 160 g sunflower oil
  • 40 castor oil
  • 110 g caustic soda
  • 220 g pure carrot juice
  • 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 20 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 10 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 10 ml ylang ylang essential oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp finely ground apricot kernel flour

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 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution and set aside to cool down.
  3. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  4. Add the olive, sunflower and castor oils to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter.
  5. Add the essential oil blend to the oils and give it a good stir.
  6. Check if the lye 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 for 3-5 seconds only. Use a whisk, and stir by hand until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add and stir in the apricot kernel flour using your whisk.
  8. Pour the soap carefully into the mouldr.
  9. Use your spatula to texture the top of the soap, and sprinkle a little of the apricot kernel flour along one side.
  10. Leave the soap to cure a couple of days before unmoulding, and then let it stand for another few days before cutting into bars. The soap bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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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.

Rice

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!

Matcha

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

Ingredients

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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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.

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Skin brightening soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap

Over the years I have been repeatedly asked for a skin whitening soap, but I’ve always been hesitant for going in this direction. The reason for my reluctance is that I believe everyone is beautiful, regardless of their skin colour and ethnicity, and we should stop striving to reach what are sometimes impossible beauty standards. However, after a little research, I realised that there is some benefit to these skin brightening (not actually whitening) products. The purpose of most such products is not to ‘bleach’ or ‘whiten’ the skin, but to chemically exfoliate, dissolving the glue holding the dead skin cells and removing them, which will leave your skin looking fresh and bright.

Admittedly, there are some ingredients that do have an inhibitory effect on melanin production, but these are not without their own risks, including skin irritation and hyper pigmentation. Here’s an interesting study about skin whitening agents: https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/3/3/27/htm

This recipe I formulated for this shower and bath soap contains papaya and corn silk, two known skin brightening ingredients. Papaya is a popular ingredient in skin whitening products. It doesn’t actually have an inhibiting effect on melanin production. Instead, the enzyme papain contained in papaya works as an excellent chemical exfoliant, dissolving the glue between dead skin cells. Corn silk, on the other hand, can reduce skin pigmentation, as studies have shown: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260527233_Inhibitory_Effect_of_Corn_Silk_on_Skin_Pigmentation. It works by directly interfering with the melanin production. However, in this soap, I am using the corn silk as a mechanical exfoliant, which will help with the removal of the dead skin cells after the papain has loosened them from the skin. Together, they will make your skin look and feel fresh, rejuvenate and boost cell renewal, and help prepare the skin for optimal absorption of your (skin whitening) moisturiser or lotion.


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 leave to cool down before placing it in the fridge. You will want the lye solution to be fridge temperature (around 4 degrees Celsius). This is important, because the papaya contains sugar and will heat up the soap.

TWO: While the lye solution is cooling down, we can prepare all the other ingredients. First, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter in a microwaveable jug or bowl, and heat in the microwave until the oils have melted.

THREE: Then, add the olive oil and rice bran oil to the now melted coconut oil and shea butter. Set aside for now.

FOUR: Next, scoop out about 1/2 cup papaya and add the corn silk (fresh or dried) of about 2-3 cobs of corn (a small handful) to a food processor or bullet. Blend until the mixture is as smooth as you can make it.

FIVE: Add the papaya and corn silk puree to the oils and mix it well with a whisk or stick blender.

SIX: Once your lye solution is sufficiently cold (fridge temperature), carefully pour it to the oils/puree mixture and use your stick blender to mix it until it has emulsified.

SEVEN: Add the essential oils or fragrance to the oils/puree mixture and continue mixing with the stick blender until thin to medium trace.

I used a blend of lemon (20 ml) and sandalwood (10 ml) essential oils, which are known for their skin brightening effects.

EIGHT: Pour the soap into your mould and place it in the fridge for several hours to prevent overheating.

NINE: After 2-3 hours, remove the soap from the fridge and leave it on the kitchen bench overnight to set and harden. DO NOT INSULATE THE SOAP!

TEN: The following day, unmould the soap and cut into bars. The bars will need a further 6-8 weeks of curing before they can be used.

Skin Brightening 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

  • 400 g olive oil
  • 350 g coconut oil
  • 100 g shea butter
  • 150 g rice bran oil
  • 135 g caustic soda
  • 200 g water
  • 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 20 ml lemon essential oil
  • 20 ml sandalwood essential oil

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 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution. This is to help harden the soap.
  3. Place the lye solution in the fridge to cool down to fridge 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 and rice bran oil to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter.
  6. Next, blend approximately 1/2 cup of papaya and a small handful of corn silk in a food processor or bullet blender.
  7. Add the papaya and corn silk puree to the oils and give it a good stir with a whisk or a quick pulse with a stick blender.
  8. Add the essential oils. Or use your own fragrance.
  9. Once the lye solution is cold, and making sure you are still wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until you reach medium trace.
  10. Pour the soap into your soap mould and place it in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  11. After 2-3 hours, remove the soap from the fridge and leave to set overnight. DO NOT INSULATE THE SOAP.
  12. The following day, unmould the soap and cut into bars. The bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.