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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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Neon swirl soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1250 g of soap
Mould: standard loaf mould

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I recently discovered neon pigments, available from Pure Nature, and they’re perfect for this easy-peasy swirling method to create these stunning soaps. I loved the bright colours so much, that I repeated the same recipe with three different colour combinations. Yellow and green, pink and orange, and a trio of pink, blue and purple. I’ll let you decide which you like the best!

This recipe is an ideal introduction into swirling after you’ve done a few other soaps. The swirling method is really easy to do and pretty much fail-safe. You just need to make sure you’re using a fluid soap recipe, because one of the most common problems encountered with swirling or any technique that takes time, is that the soap starts to thicken and becomes impossible to pour. This recipe I’m using here is my go-to recipe whenever I need time.  It is an adaption of a pure Castile (olive oil) soap, to which I’ve added castor oil (for extra lather) and sodium lactate, a natural additive which helps speed up the hardening of the soap. The result is a lovely mild cleansing bar of soap with all the good qualities of olive oil, but without the long curing time.


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.

Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, and set aside to cool down. I usually leave my lye solution to cool down in the sink. So in case I knock it over, it will spill into the drains, and the worst thing that will happen is that I have clean drains.

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TWO: In the meantime, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil in your soap pot, which can be a large stock pot, a pyrex jug, or even an empty 2L ice cream container. Set aside.

neon colours

THREE: While you are waiting, prepare the colours. Mix 1/2 -1 teaspoon of each colour that you will be using with 1-2 teaspoon of oil (for example olive oil) in a small beaker or container.

If you are using just two colours, use 1 teaspoon each, for three colours use 1/3 teaspoon each, and if you are using four colours use 1/2 teaspoon of each colour.

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FOUR: 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 to thin trace. Make sure you keep the soap at a very fluid, thin consistency. If you’re worried about getting it too thick, you can also use a whisk and beat the oil/lye mixture until it has emulsified (does not separate). I often can’t be bothered getting my stick blender out and will just whisk the soap. (Yes, that works perfectly fine!)

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FIVE: Add the fragrance to the emulsified soap mixture and give it a quick stir.

I used different Candlescience fragrances for each of the colour combinations:

  • green and yellow: coconut lime
  • orange and hot pink: mango and tangerine
  • white, bright pink, blue and purple: sweet pea

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SIX: Separate the soap into roughly equal portions depending on the number of colours you are using and add the colours to each pot of soap. Using your stick blender or whisk, briefly mix each pot until the colour is evenly dispersed through the soap.

Note for the white/pink/blue/purple soap, I left one portion uncoloured.

SEVEN: To create the swirls, pour a line of one colour along the length of your mould. You can either pour to the line on the side or the centre, it’s up to you. If you pour it in the centre, you’ll have a roughly symmetrical soap, like the white/pink/blue/purple soap, and if you have the line more to one side, it will be more skewed, like the yellow/green soap below.

Next pour a line of another colour INTO the same line of soap that you just poured. So instead of pouring the soap next to each other, you keep pouring into the same line over and over again, and this pushes the colours to the side and creates the swirls that you see in the soaps.

You can be a bit more daring, and instead of one line, create two lines into which you pour the soap, just like I did with the orange/pink soap (further below). Or you can change halfway and start a new line on the other side. You can’t really do anything wrong. Even if you don’t hit the previous line of soap exactly, it doesn’t matter, you’ll still get your swirls.

Keep pouring, alternating the colours, into the same line until all the soap has been used up.

Leave the soap somewhere warm and dry, out of direct sunlight, to cure.

EIGHT: After 2-3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Don’t be tempted to unmould to soon, like I was with the orange/pink soap. The hardest part of creating swirl soaps is waiting for the soap to become hard enough to unmould. Once it is hard enough, carefully unmould, 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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Neon swirl 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

  • 950 g olive oil
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 128 g caustic soda
  • 280 g water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of the neon colours you are using
  • 30 ml fragrance

Directions

  1. Measure out 280 g of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out 128 g of 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.
  2. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution. Set aside to cool down.
  3. Weigh out the olive oil and castor oil in your soap pot. Set aside.
  4. Prepare your essential oil blend. Set aside.
  5. Mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each colour with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a separate pot. The exact amounts depend on how many colours you are using. 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 or whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  8. Add 30 ml of fragrance and give it another quick mix with the stick blender.
  9. Divide the soap into roughly equal portions and colour each portion with one of the colour/oil mixture. Briefly mix each pot a quick pulse with a stick blender or whisk until the colour is evenly dispersed through the soap.
  10. Pour a line of one colour along the length of the mould.
  11. Pour another colour of soap into the previous line of soap. Keep repeating the colours until all the soap has been used up.
  12. Place the soap in a warm, dry area to cure.
  13. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmould. Remove from mould and cut into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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Solid conditioner bars

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins

Yields: 1 bar

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Conditioner bars are the solid versions of hair conditioners, using similar ingredients but without being diluted in water, which makes them so much more economical to use. One solid conditioner bar is equivalent to 2 or more bottles of liquid conditioners. As opposed to hair serum bars (more on that in a later blog post), conditioner bars are meant to be used on the ends of the hair, not on the scalp, and unlike shampoo bars, which clean your scalp and hair, conditioner bars condition, nourish, protect, boost shine, and restore vibrancy to your hair. Conditioner bars are made using non-ionic surfactants, oils, butters, and special ingredients, such as hydrolised proteins and panthenol, that are highly beneficial to the hair. This makes conditioner bars slightly more expensive to make than shampoo bars, but the benefits of all the goodness in your conditioner bar greatly outweigh the costs.

One solid conditioner bar is equivalent to 2 or more bottles of liquid conditioner!

The following recipe is for one 100 g solid conditioner bar, which will fit in a clamshell mould available from Pure Nature. If you would like to make more than one bar, just multiply the amounts appropriately. For example if you want to make 6 bars, multiply all the ingredients by 6.

Please note that the recipe uses hydrolysed silk protein, which is not vegan. Alternatively, you can use wheat or soy protein instead. All the ingredients used in this recipe are available from Pure Nature.

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ONE: Weigh out 60 grams of BTMS-25 into a heat proof bowl or jug. I will be using a microwave to melt the ingredients, but alternatively, you can use a small pot and your stove.

BTMS-25 is the name for one type of conditioner pellets, and is an abbreviation for the active ingredient, behentrimonium methosulfate. For those following the curly girl method, behentrimonium methosulfate is not a sulfate like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium coco sulfate (SCS) and other similar harsh surfactants. Instead, it is a very mild, non-stripping and non-irritating conditioning agent (a quaternary ammonium salt to be precise), derived from natural rapeseed oil.

The 25 in the name stands for the percentage of active ingredient in the product. So therefore, BTMS-25 contains approximately 25% of behentrimonium methosulfate and the remaining 75% is cetearyl alcohol. There is also a BTMS-50, however, this product also contains butylene glycol, a humectant moisturiser, but which is derived from petroleum, which is why I don’t use it in my tutorials. Instead, I will add glycerin later, which is also a humectant.

Cetearyl alcohol, or cetostearyl alcohol, is a combination of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. These are fatty alcohols and are nothing like their liquor namesake. Drinking alcohol, rubbing alcohol, or ethanol are all short-chain alcohols, which act as solvents and should never be used in your hair. Fatty alcohols, on the other hand, are long chain alcohols with a waxy appearance and are used as non-ionic co-surfactants in conditioners to stabilise the emulsion. They also give conditioners their typical creamy appearance (both in liquid and in bar form).

Unfortunately, most fatty alcohols are made from palm oil, and coconut oil derived fatty alcohols are just not yet widely available, at least not here in New Zealand.

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TWO: Next, add 10 grams of cetyl alcohol.

I’m adding extra cetyl alcohol, which will add additional silkiness to the conditioner, and rather than penetrating the hair shaft, it is deposited on the surface, making it feel softer and smoother to the touch.

Cetyl alcohol comes in waxy pellets, and is usually derived from coconut or palm oils by heating the oil with a strong base. The cetyl alcohol I use comes from Pure Nature, which is derived from RSPO certified palm oil. I would have preferred using coconut derived cetyl alcohol, but I have yet to find it here in New Zealand.

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THREE: And finally, add 10 grams of castor oil, which is an amazing hair care oil. It deeply moisturises and conditions, helps reduce split ends, and add shine and lustre to your hair.

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FOUR: Melt on high in the microwave for 30 seconds initially and then in 10 second bursts until completely melted. How long it takes to melt will depend on your microwave. My microwave will take 1 minute, but when I told my students in class to set it that long, it came out boiling!

If you don’t have microwave, or don’t want to use one, melt the ingredients on the stove using a small pot and on the lowest setting. It will take a lot longer, but just be patient, it will eventually melt!

 

FIVE: Once all the ingredients have melted, add the glycerin. This is the humectant I was talking about earlier. It will help keep your hair hydrated.

 

SIX: Let the mixture cool down a little, before adding the coco-caprylate, hydrolised silk protein, provitamin B5, and the essential oils. Then stir until everything has blended together to a smooth, opaque emulsion.

I’ve added coco-caprylate to the conditioner bar, because it is a natural alternative to silicon. Silicons coat, lubricate and seal in moisture, making hair smooth, tangle free and shiny. However, they are non-soluble, build up over time and make your hair heavy and dull with prolonged use. Coco-caprylate, or caprate, is derived form coconut, and has similar properties, with the added bonus that it doesn’t build up, is easily washed off and is biodegradable.

In this recipe, I’m using hydrolysed silk protein, which improves elasticity in hair and protects brittle hair from breakage. However, I’m aware that this is not a vegan product, and you really don’t want to know the process of harvesting silk. I have to admit, I’ve been using it before I realised what I was actually using here. So if you don’t want to use silk protein, the alternatives are vegetable proteins, such as soy or wheat. Hydrolysed just means that it has been broken down into smaller units, allowing the proteins to penetrate the hair shaft.

Provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, works by retaining moisture in hair. It is easily absorbed and turns to pantothenic acid, which binds water and thus enhances hydration.

The essential oils I’m using in the conditioner bar are rosemary, which is full of antioxidants to restore the hair’s vibrancy, and lavender to nourish and condition and add extra shine. The blend has also a soothing and calming effect on the mind, which can help with stress and anxiety, which can be triggers for hair loss.

 

SEVEN: Lastly, make sure the mixture is not too hot (the jug should be cool enough that you can touch the sides), to prevent the plastic mould from warping. Then pour the mixture into the mould and spritz the surface with isopropyl alcohol. to get rid of any bubbles.

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Leave the bar to solidify and cool down completely before unmoulding or closing the lid.

Unlike cold process soaps, you can use the solid conditioner bar immediately. After washing your hair, slide the conditioner bar down the length of the hair a few times and massage it into the hair, but only the ends of the hair and not into the scalp. Leave for a couple of minutes and then rinse thoroughly.

Solid conditioner bars

  • Difficulty: Beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 60 grams BTMS-25
  • 10 grams cetyl-alcohol
  • 10 grams castor oil
  • 10 grams glycerin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coco-caprylate
  • 1/2 teaspoon hydrolysed silk protein
  • 1/2 teaspoon provitamin B5
  • 15 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • isopropyl alcohol

Directions

  1. Weigh out the BTMS-25, cetyl alcohol and castor oil into a heat proof bowl or jug.
  2. Heat in the microwave on high for 30 seconds or until completely melted. Alternatively, you can use a small pot and place it on the stove on the lowest setting until melted.
  3. Add the glycerin and let the mixture cool down a little.
  4. Then add the remaining ingredients, except for the isopropyl alcohol, and stir everything thoroughly until all the ingredients have blended together into a smooth emulsion.
  5. Pour into the mould, and spritz some isopropyl alcohol on the surface to get rid of the bubbles.
  6. Let the bar solidify and cool down completely before removing from the mould or closing the lid, if using a clamshell mould as I did.
  7. The conditioner bar can be used immediately.

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Chamomile soap for sensitive skin

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

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Sensitive skins need extra care and won’t tolerate harsh detergents, fragrances and chemicals. And although there has been a trend towards natural skin care, many companies still use ingredients that are linked to skin irritation, dermatitis and allergic reaction. The two most common additives are SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) derived from coconut. They’re both surfactants, know to irritate skin, however, the latter is marketed as being natural, and you’ll find it in many of your ‘natural’ products.

“The whole “coconut-derived” or “from coconut oil” or whatever verbiage you see on the label is a marketing gimmick to make you believe that somehow the ingredient is more natural.”

https://www.bewell.com/blog/sodium-lauryl-sulfate-from-coconut-is-it-safer/

When you make your own soap, you control the ingredients and what goes into the soap. In this soap, I have used only natural ingredients and it is probably one of the mildest soaps I have ever made, with a pH close to 7.5 (neutral pH is 7), due to the high super fatting content and the blend of mild and nourishing oils, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, Shea butter and jojoba oil.

It also contains chamomile and calendula. Both are well-known to have skin healing, soothing and calming properties, and by using both an oil infusion and essential oils, I have tried to maximise these benefits in the soap.

Although I don’t advise to use soap on infants under 12 months, this soap is mild enough to use on toddlers and those with sensitive skin prone to allergic reactions.

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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!

To make this soap, I first had to infuse my oil with the goodness of chamomile and calendula to reap the maximum benefits of these skin healing flowers. I filled a jar with dried chamomile flowers and calendula flowers (not just the petals) and topped it up with sunflower oil, which is full of skin nourishing vitamins, especially vitamin E. I left the jar to infuse for about a month on my window sill, using the natural warmth of the summer sun to provide the heat.

If you have never infused oils before, here’s a handy guide to infusing oils, or alternatively you can buy calendula infused oil and chamomile infused oil from Pure Nature.

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ONE: Prepare your lye. Make sure you are wearing protective gear to protect your eyes and skin from any splashes! Measure out your water in a small heat proof jug or beaker. In a separate small beaker or container, weigh out the caustic soda. Then, carefully pour the caustic soda into the water, while stirring constantly until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Add 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate. This is a natural additive, which will help to harden the soap.

 

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 is known to be anti-inflammatory and helps to soothe and balance the skin. Great for sensitive skin!

Once your oils are melted, add the olive oil, castor oil, and last, your infused sunflower oil. You want to add the infused oil last, when the oil/butter mixture is not too hot to preserve all the goodness in the infused oil.

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THREE: Make sure you are still wearing your protective goggles and gloves for this next part. 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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FOUR: Add the chamomile essential oil and keep mixing with the stick blender until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.

There are basically two main types of chamomile essential oil used in aromatherapy, the clear coloured Roman chamomile liquid and the blue coloured German chamomile liquid. Both are soothing, calming and healing, but whereas the Roman chamomile works mainly on the psychological, the German chamomile does the same for the physical. German chamomile soothes, heals and calms the skin and upset tummies, whereas the Roman chamomile soothes and calms the stressed mind. However, because the mind and body are undoubtedly interlinked, many physical illnesses can be traced back to psychological problems, such as stress, and vice versa. Physical illnesses have an effect on the mind. So usually I like to use Roman chamomile essential oils, which is calming on both body and mind, and use the German chamomile for exclusive skin related problems, such as nappy rash.

In this soap I used a Roman chamomile essential oil dilution in jojoba oil to boost the properties of the already infused oil in the soap, rather than using a pure essential oil, since chamomile essential oils are very expensive. Alternatively, if you do want to use pure essential oil, you only need about 1 ml because of its potency.

 

FIVE: Pour or scoop the soap into your mold. You can either use a loaf mold or one with cavities. The recipe yields approximately 1200 g of soap which will fill a regular loaf mold or make for about 10 round soaps of 120 g each.

Sprinkle some chamomile and/or calendula flowers on the top.

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SIX: Keep the soap in the mold for a few days to harden. Carefully unmold and let the soaps cure for a further 10-12 weeks. Because of the higher than usual amount of soft oils, the soaps need a longer curing time to harden completely. As with all soaps, the longer the curing time the better the soap!

Chamomile 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

  • 450g olive oil
  • 200g coconut oil
  • 100g shea butter
  • 200g calendula and chamomile infused sunflower oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 130g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 50 ml Roman chamomile in jojoba oil 3% dilution
  • dried chamomile flowers

Directions

  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 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 and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it all a quick stir.
  5. Add the infused oil and give it another quick stir.
  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 chamomile essential oil and keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
  9. Pour the soap into the mold and sprinkle some dried chamomile flowers on top.
  10. Leave the soap to harden for several days.
  11. 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 10-12 weeks until ready for use.