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Rosemary and mint soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 600 g of soap
Mould: small square 4″ silicon mould

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I love these rustic looking natural soaps, which contain gentle exfoliating green and yellow clays and a blend of essential oils that is herbaceous, yet also fresh and uplifting. Rosemary and mint stand out, but not overpowering due to the refreshing citrus scent from the lemongrass essential oil. The fragrance is well-liked by both men and women, and great for the morning shower to wake you up and energise for the day!

The recipe is calculated for the small 4″ silicon mould, that holds roughly 600 ml of soap, but can easily be doubled to fit a standard loaf mould, such as the 10″ silicon mould. Both moulds are available from Pure Nature.


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: First prepare your lye by weighing out the caustic soda and water. And then, carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and stir until the lye water is clear. Set aside to cool down.

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TWO: In the meantime, weigh out the coconut oil in a heat proof jug and melt in the microwave.

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THREE: Weigh out and add the olive oil, sunflower oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil, and give the oils a quick stir. Set aside.

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FOUR: While you are waiting, prepare the essential oil blend and the clays. Add 1 teaspoon each of green clay and yellow clay into a separate container. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of water to each and stir to a slurry.

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FIVE: Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves, carefully add lye 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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SIX: Add the blend of essential oils to the emulsified soap mixture and give it a quick stir.

The essential oils that I am using is an fresh, herbaceous blend of rosemary, mint and lemongrass. I purchase my essential oils from Pure Nature in 250 ml bottles, which makes it a lot more economical than buying small amounts.

SEVEN: Separate the soap into roughly two equal portions and add the clays. Using your stick blender, mix each pot until the soap has thickened to a medium trace.

EIGHT: Pour the green soap first and sprinkle with poppy seeds. We’re creating a thin pencil line of poppy seeds between the two layers. And then pour the yellow soap over the top. To decorate the top, pull a fork from side to middle along the length of the mould. Repeat for the other side, and then sprinkle poppy seeds on the peak in the centre.

Place the soap somewhere warm and dry to set and cure.

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NINE: The following day, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and cut it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

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Rosemary and mint 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

  • 300 g olive oil
  • 100 g coconut oil
  • 75 g sunflower oil
  • 25 g castor oil
  • 68 g caustic soda
  • 150 g water
  • 1 teaspoon green clay
  • 1 teaspoon yellow clay
  • 10 ml lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 ml rosemary essential oil
  • 5 ml peppermint essential oil
  • poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Measure out 150 g 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 solution is clear. Set aside to cool down.
  2. Weigh out the coconut oil and melt in the microwave or stove top.
  3. Add the olive oil, sunflower oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and give the oils a quick stir. Set aside.
  4. Prepare your essential oil blend. Set aside.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of yellow clay to one container and 1 teaspoon of green clay to another. Mix each colour with 1 tablespoon of water to a slurry. Set aside.
  6. 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.
  7. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  8. Add the essential oils and give it another quick mix with the stick blender.
  9. Divide the soap into roughly two equal portions and colour each portion with one of the clays. Stick blend until you have medium trace.
  10. Pour the green soap into the soap mould, and sprinkle some poppy seeds over the surface of the layer.
  11. Carefully pour or scoop the yellow soap over the poppy seed layer, and then using a fork, form a peak by pulling the fork from side to centre for both sides. Sprinkle some poppy seeds along the peak in the centre.
  12. Place the soap in a warm, dry area to cure.
  13. The following day, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and cut into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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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… 🙂

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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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.

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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.

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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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5X Sweet Orange Soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars of soap to fit a large loaf mold

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Citrus oils are very volatile and can lose their scent quickly in soaps, especially when they heat up during gelling in cold process. Using a concentrated orange essential oil removes some of these lower boiling components, mainly the terpenes, which intensifies the scent and makes it also longer lasting in soaps, but also removes some of the phytotoxicity. The higher the concentration the stronger the scent will be. Higher concentrated essential oils can also colour your soap, ranging from yellow to orange. Sometimes the colour can fade during curing, but the stronger tints tend to stay.

In this tutorial I am using the ‘5-fold’ orange essential oil from Pure Nature, which has an amazing intense fruity orange fragrance, and I can confirm that the scent is still strong after the obligatory 6 week curing time. This is definitely one of my favourite orange oils!

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.

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ONE: Measure out the caustic soda and the water in separate containers. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (never the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool down.

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TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter, and heat in the microwave or stove top until the oil and butter have melted. This particular recipe will give you a nice solid bar of soap with a creamy lather due to the coconut and shea butter it contains.

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THREE: Add the olive oil and castor oil to the now liquid coconut oil and shea butter. I’m using pomace olive oil here because it makes for a harder bar than the cold pressed olive oil and doesn’t need as long a curing time. I also find that the pomace oil I’m using makes a whiter soap than my other olive oils, but I know that’s not the case with all pomace oils.

FOUR:  Add the ‘5-fold’ orange essential oil and give everything a good stir. As you can see on the bottle the Latin name is Citrus sinensis, which is the same as the normal sweet orange essential oil. The only difference being that is a 5-fold concentration than the normal essential oil.

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FIVE: Make sure you are (still) wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye solution to the oils, avoiding any splashes.

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SIX: Use your stick blender and alternatively pulse and stir until the mixture has emulsified and thickened to a medium trace.

SEVEN: Pour the soap into your loaf mould and sprinkle some calendula petals over the top for decoration.

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EIGHT: 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.

Note: the soap will have a yellow-golden colour to it in the beginning but this will fade over time, leaving only a light yellow tinge.

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5x Sweet Orange Soap

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

Ingredients

  • 550 g olive oil
  • 300 g coconut oil
  • 100 g shea butter
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 138 g caustic soda
  • 260 g water
  • 50 ml 5x orange essential oil
  • optional: calendula petals

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. Set aside to cool down.
  2. Weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter and heat in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  3. Add the olive oil and castor oil.
  4. Measure out and add the essential oil and give everything a good stir.
  5. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until emulsified and thickened to a medium trace.
  6. Pour the soap into the soap mould. Optional: sprinkle some calendula petals over the surface.
  7. 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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Manuka soap

Difficulty: Advanced
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars of soap to fit a large loaf mold

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Manuka honey has been on an upward trend the past few years and not without reason. The medicinal properties of honey have been recorded since ancient times, and manuka honey has one of the highest anti-microbial activity, inhibiting growth of over 60 species of bacteria (Mandal & Mandal, 2011). It is used to assist in wound healing, in skin care, prevent and heal infections and stimulate growth of new skin cells. The importance of natural remedies, such as honey, has increased in importance “as resistant pathogens develop and spread, the effectiveness of the antibiotics is diminished”. The quoted paper ‘Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity‘ is a good read and accessible to the public.

Honey soaps, especially soaps containing Manuka honey and essential oil, are particular effective cleansers in that they contain anti-microbial properties yet remain mild and gentle on the skin. However, honey soaps are tricky to make, because the additional sugar can cause the soap to overheat and burn. The higher temperature are difficult to work with, but if you follow a few tricks it is possible to create a beautiful bar of soap with all the benefits that honey will add to it.

TOP SOAPING TIPS WITH HONEY:

 

  1. soap at cool temperatures
  2. do not insulate your soap
  3. do not discount your water
  4. place the soap in the fridge for the first 2 hours after pouring

The Manuka soap that we are making uses Manuka honey, Manuka essential oils and beeswax from Manuka honey, to maximise the benefits of Manuka in the soap. I used the Manuka essential oil from Pure Nature, but alternatively you can use a tea tree oil for a cheaper alternative. The Manuka honey I bought from my local supermarket, and I didn’t go for the most expensive one! The Manuka beeswax I still had left over from a friend, and you can use any beeswax as a substitute, although I would recommend to go for an unbleached and undeodorised beeswax.

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.

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ONE: Prepare your lye as usual and leave to cool down to room temperature.

TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil and beeswax, and heat in the microwave or stove top until the oil and wax have melted.

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THREE: Add the olive oil, sunflower oil and castor oil to the now liquid coconut oil and beeswax, and give it a quick stir.

FOUR: MAKE SURE YOUR LYE HAS COOLED DOWN TO ROOM TEMPERATURE OR LOWER. Add two tablespoons of Manuka honey to the lye and stir, stir, stir until the honey has completely dissolved. This will take a while, but don’t be tempted to use warm lye because the honey will heat up the lye and you can end up burning the lye if the lye is still warm. Just be patient and keep stirring. You’ll notice the lye turning a reddish colour. That’s fine and how it should be. Let it cool down again.

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FIVE: Check the temperature of your oils. They should be no warmer than 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). Add the Manuka essential oil to the oils and give the oils a good stir.

SIX: Add the lye to the oils, and use your whisk or stick blender to mix the lye/oil blend until it has emulsified to a medium trace. Pour the soap into the mould.

For the swirly surface, I used a chopstick in a looping figure 8 pattern along the length of the soap.

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SEVEN: PLACE THE SOAP IN THE FRIDGE FOR THE FIRST TWO HOURS! This is important. The sugars will heat up the soap during the chemical reaction, and placing it in a cold environment will both prevent the soap from heating up too much and will help keep the colour of the soap a nice cream colour rather than the usual caramel-brown colour of honey soaps.

After two hours (approximately), take the soap out and place it somewhere cool to cure. I put mine in the laundry, which is the coolest room in our house. Don’t insulate or cover your soap!

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EIGHT: 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.

Note: honey is a humectant, meaning it will draw moisture to the product and honey soaps are prone to DOS (dreaded orange spot), which are harmless but don’t look pretty. Make sure to store the soaps in a dry area to prevent DOS and moisture forming on the soap.

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Manuka

  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Print
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
  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 270 g sunflower oil
  • 30 g beeswax
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 135 g caustic soda
  • 270 g water
  • 2 tablespoons Manuka honey
  • 30 ml Manuka 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. Set aside to cool down.
  2. Weigh out the coconut oil and beeswax and heat in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted.
  3. Add the olive oil, sunflower oil and castor oil and give it a quick stir.
  4. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, add 2 tablespoons of Manuka honey and stir until dissolved.
  5. Check the temperature of the oils. They should be no warmer than 32 C (90 F).
  6. Add the Manuka essential oil to the oils and give everything a good stir.
  7. Carefully pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until emulsified to a medium trace.
  8. Pour the soap into the soap mould and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
  9. Remove from fridge, and place it in a cool spot to cure.
  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.