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Lavender and ylang ylang soap

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

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Aromatherapy is usually not associated with soaps, but rather with massage oils and diffusers, to maximise the olfactory effects of the essential oils on both the body and the mind. However, when we use soap in the shower, the steam also enhances the fragrance and envelopes our senses in the fragrance of the soap. The olfactory system, or sense of smell, is a complex, largely passive system, but which can have a powerful effect on the mind. Smells induce memories and feelings in us, and can even change our moods and perception, and bodily responses. For example, think of chocolate and the smell of chocolate. Most likely it will bring up thoughts of eating chocolate. You might feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe you can even smell and taste it in your mind and you might even start to salivate in your mouth. Now think of smelling something disgusting. I’ll leave it up to you what you want to think of. The most common reaction would probably be nausea and you might unconsciously even wrinkle your nose in disgust. These two examples show how powerful the sense of smell can be, and we were only thinking of the smells. Now imagine if we were actually smelling them!

So it makes sense that the fragrance of the soap and shampoo you use in your morning shower will have an effect on your mood and on how you start off your day. Remember this the next time you shower!

With this in mind, I  wanted to create a soap, which focuses on the properties rather than just the fragrance of the essential oils. For this soap, I chose a simple blend of lavender and ylang ylang essential oils. Ylang ylang, which has a delicate floral scent, is said to lift the spirit and induce feelings of joy and happiness. In aromatherapy, it is often used to treat depression and anxiety. Lavender compliments the uplifting effect of ylang ylang by adding calmness and serenity to the blend. The result of the combination is a stunningly beautiful and comforting fragrance.

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

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

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ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap and set aside to cool.

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TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and 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 love using shea butter in my shower soaps because it helps to condition and balance the skin. It’s a great additive for any skin type, especially sensitive and ageing skin.

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THREE: Weigh out the olive oil, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it a quick stir.

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FOUR: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate).

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FIVE: Add your essential oils and give it a quick whisk.

SIX: Keep mixing with your stick blender or whisk until the soap has thickened to a medium trace. Then pour it in your soap mold and sprinkle some lavender flowers and rose petals over the surface.

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SEVEN: Let the soap sit in the mold for several days. After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

Lavender and ylang ylang 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

  • 550g olive oil
  • 250g coconut oil
  • 100g rice bran oil
  • 50g shea butter
  • 50g castor oil
  • 137g caustic soda
  • 270 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 20 ml lavender essential oil
  • 20 ml ylang ylang essential oil

Directions

  1. Measure out 270 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, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it all a quick stir.
  5. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
  6. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add the essential oils and keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
  8. Pour the soap into the mold and sprinkle some lavender flowers and rose petals over the surface. Leave to harden for several days.
  9. 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 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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Pink clay and salt bath bombs

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 bath bombs

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Baths are a wonderful way to detox and rejuvenate your skin. These bath bombs contain the benefits of cleansing pink French clay and detoxifying Himalayan salt, combined with an uplifting and soothing blend of litsea cubeba, ylang ylang, bergamot and lavender to leave your skin looking radiant and feeling soft and smooth.

All ingredients are available from Pure Nature, who also stock the bath bomb molds in two sizes, the larger one is the one we used here, which is perfect for an adult sized bath.

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ONE: Using the standard 2:1 formula, add two cups of baking soda and one cup of citric acid to a bowl.

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TWO: Add 1/2 cup of pink Himalayan sea salt and 2 tablespoons of pink French clay.

Next, put on disposable gloves to protect your hands and nails (baking soda and citric acid ruin your manicure!), and using your hands, combine everything and break up any clumps.

THREE: Then measure out and add your essential oil blend. I used 2 ml of litsea cubeba (may chang), 1/2 ml of ylang ylang, 1/2 ml bergamot and 1 ml of lavender essential oils. Mix the essential oils well into the bath bomb mixture.

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FOUR: Using a spray bottle, spritz some water and start mixing it in immediately. Keep mixing and spritzing until you reach the right consistency. It should still be powdery, but when you squeeze some of the bath bomb mixture in your hand, it should hold its shape.

FIVE: Scoop the bath bomb mixture into your half molds and fill them a little bit more than it can hold. Push down with your palms to compact the mixture. Then press two halves together and twist them so that both halves will hold. Gently remove one of the half molds and then, carefully, place it on a baking sheet and remove the other half mold.

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SIX: Leave the bath bombs to harden completely overnight in a dry, warm place. I like using my hot water cupboard for this, because it’s the driest place in the house. Because of the clay, they might take a little longer to dry than usual. Once they’re solid, wrap them in cellophane or put them in a little cellophane bag, to keep them dry. Bath bombs should be used within 3-6 months, because they will lose their fizziness over time.

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Pink clay and salt bath bombs

  • Difficulty: beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup fine pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 tablespoons pink French clay
  • 2 ml litsea cubeba (may chang) essential oil
  • 1/2 ml ylang ylang essential oil
  • 1/2 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 1 ml lavender essential oil

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda and citric acid in a bowl.
  2. Add the pink clay and Himalayan salt.
  3. Measure out and add the essential oils, and, wearing gloves, mix well with your hands, breaking up any clumps..
  4. Spritz with water and keep mixing until you have reached the right consistency. It should be still powdery, but hold shape when you squeeze the mixture in your hand.
  5. Scoop the bath bomb mixture into the half molds and firmly press to compact. Press two halves together and twist to hold shape.
  6. Gently remove them from the mold and place on a baking sheet.
  7. Leave them to dry overnight before wrapping. Note, because of the clay, they may take a little longer to dry!

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Cleansing clay soap

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 500 g soap

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French pink clay is known to clarify and improve skin softness, but in a gentle way, which makes it ideal for all skin types. A shower soap made with pink clay will gently exfoliate without irritating your skin, and will help smooth and draw out impurities. If you have oily skin or blemished skin, for example on the upper arms, backs of thighs and/or stomach, you can substitute the pink clay for red clay, which has a stronger drawing effect.

Exfoliation is an important part in the skin care routine, and should be used on the whole body and not just on the face. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, opens clogged pores and stimulates circulation, which improves both skin texture and tone, leaving the skin looking radiant and rejuvenated.

Added a rose geranium, sweet orange, and lavender essential oils maximise the benefits of the clays and help balance and soothe the skin.

Rose geranium is used for a wide range of skin disorders, such as eczema, acne, rashes,  because not only does it reduce inflammation, it also helps balance the secretion of sebum, which makes it ideal for dry, oily or combination skin.

Sweet Orange essential oil is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory which makes it an ideal ingredient in your skin care routine. This oil isn’t just for acne-prone skin though: It’s been shown to increase the ability to absorb vitamin C, collagen production, and blood flow, all of which are essential for anti-aging.

Lavender essential oil, is one of the best known skin oils, for its properties. It is an antibacterial, helps reduce redness, inflammation and blemishes, and is soothing and calming on both body and mind.

All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature. The soap mold I’m using is the small square silicon mold, which is my favourite soap mold, perfect for small batches and test soaps. It makes 4 bars of soap.

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!

ONE: First, prepare your lye. Weigh out the caustic soda in a small container. Measure the water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug. Then carefully add the caustic soda to the water and gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Optional: stir in one teaspoon of sodium lactate, which will make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.

While you are waiting for the lye to cool down, ….

TWO: Get your fragrance ready, by measuring out the essential oils in a measuring beaker. If you don’t have a measuring beaker: 20 drops of essential oil are approximately 1 ml.

Next, it’s time to get the oils ready.

THREE: Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in microwave on high for one minute or until melted.

FOUR: Add the other oils and give it a little stir to blend them.

When the lye has cooled down to room temperature…

FIVE: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves). Add the clay to your lye and give it a careful but good stir to make sure all the clay is suspended in the water and there are no more clumps. Be careful of splashes! Note the pink clay goes a reddish orange when added to the lye and soap, but once it’s cured it will be a beautiful soft pink. If you are using the red clay, it will cure to a rich orange/red colour.

SIX:  Carefully pour the lye to the oils and whisk until the mixture has emulsified.

SEVEN: Add your fragrance.

EIGHT: Keep stirring with the whisk or give it a few pulses with a stick blender until you reach trace (the mixture has emulsified and starts to thicken). It doesn’t matter if you stir/pulse too much and the mixture becomes thick, but make sure it has emulsified. The image below shows thin trace, so you want it like this or thicker!

NINE: Pour the soap into the mold. Tap the mold gently on the bench a free times to get rid of any air bubbles.

TEN: Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds and leave it to cure in the mold for a few days, before carefully removing. Leave to cure for another day before cutting it into bars. The bars will need to cure for a further 4-6 weeks until they’re ready.

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Cleansing Clay Soap

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

Ingredients

  • 250 g olive oil
  • 120 g coconut oil
  • 30 g castor oil
  • 56 g caustic soda
  • 110 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sodium lactate
  • 1 teaspoon pink clay
  • 10 ml rose geranium essential oil
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 ml lavender essential oil
  • poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Prepare your lye: carefully add the caustic soda to the water and stir gently until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Optional: add one teaspoon of sodium lactate. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare your fragrance.
  3. Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave on high for 1 minute or until melted.
  4. Add the other oils and give it a good stir.
  5. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, add 1 teaspoon of clay and whisk well (but carefully to avoid splashes) until all the clay has dispersed and there are no more clumps.
  6. Carefully add the lye to the oils and stick blend briefly until the mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add the fragrance and keep stick blending until the mixture has reached trace (thickened).
  8. Pour in mold, and sprinkle poppy seeds on top.
  9. Leave to cure in the mold for a few days, before removing and cutting. The bars of soap will need another 4-6 weeks of curing.
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New Zealand lavender bath bombs

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 3-4 full bath bombs or 7-8 half bath bombs

Lavender is not something you usually associate with New Zealand, so it comes to a surprise to many to hear that there are several dozen commercial lavender growing farms here in New Zealand, some with tens of thousands of plants. Continue reading New Zealand lavender bath bombs

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Lavender castile soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 500 g soap

Castile soaps are named after the Castile region in Spain, where the olive oil based soap originated. Historically, the soaps were made from olive and laurel oils, but nowadays, castile stands for soaps made with 100% olive oil. However, pure olive oil soaps have a rather poor and thin lather due to Continue reading Lavender castile soap