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Lemon Myrtle Soap

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

Recently I was debating the benefits manuka essential oil vs tea tree essential oil, when one of my Australian soap friends mentioned Lemon Myrtle. I’d heard of lemon myrtle before, but I’d never used it in any of my products. Discussing the properties of lemon myrtle soap, I soon came to realise that lemon myrtle is totally underrated. We always think of tea tree oil as being The Wonder-Oil, but lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), also native to Australia, is just as powerful if not more so. And it has the added bonus that, unlike tea tree, it smells delicious! (Can you tell I’m not a huge fan of the tea tree scent?)

So let’s begin with the fragrance. Lemon myrtle is said to smell more lemon-y than lemon itself, and I’d say that statement is pretty accurate. Lemon myrtle oil contains more citral compound, which is what gives lemon its lemon scent, than lemon oil. In fact, lemon myrtle has over 90% pure citral compound compared to 10% found in lemons. In soap, the fragrance of lemon myrtle essential oil is also stronger and longer lasting than lemon essential oil, which, like all citrus oils, are very volatile and fleeting, and don’t hold well in soap. Lemon myrtle is definitely more expensive than lemon, if you are going for fragrance only, but there is a lot more to lemon myrtle than just a pleasant aroma.

Like tea tree and manuka, it is considered to have anti-viral, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiseptic properties, but is also anti-inflammatory, soothing and calming, reduces redness and itchiness, and has an uplifting and refreshing effect on the mind. Like the popular tea tree/lavender combination, it can be used to treat problem skins, cuts and grazes, insect bites and stings, rashes, inflammations and infections. In soap, which is a wash off product, it adds an antimicrobial and antiseptic aspect to the cleansing properties of the soap, which makes it ideal for hand soaps, which need that bit of extra disinfection from dirt, grime and germs.

The soap we are making here is a natural, yet effective hand soap, to which I’ve added lemon peel powder to give it a bit of extra scrub. Both the lemon myrtle essential oil and lemon peel powder I am using in this soap 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 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 to room temperature. I’ve added 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate, which is a natural additive, to my lye solution to make the soap harder and easier to unmould.

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: Add the liquid oils to the melted coconut oil and shea butter.

FOUR: Add the lemon myrtle essential oil to the oils, and give everything a good stir.

FIVE: Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils.

Use your stick blender to mix the lye/oil blend until it has emulsified, and is still fluid. For those working with trace, you’ll want a thin trace.

SIX: Separate 1/3 of the soap into a separate jug or bowl.

SEVEN: To the remaining 2/3 of the soap, add 1 tablespoon of lemon peel powder. Lemon peel powder is a gentle exfoliant, unlike pumice, so if you want more exfoliation, you can add a heaped tablespoon of lemon peel powder.

Mix with the stick blender until medium trace – thin enough to pour, but thick enough to be able to support layers.

EIGHT: Give the smaller portion of soap in the jug, a quick burst with the stick blender to thicken up the soap to the same consistency of the lemon peel powder soap. Then add 1 heaped teaspoon of poppy seeds, and then stir it through with a spatula or spoon.

NINE: To assemble the soap, first pour about half of the lemon peel powder soap into the mould, and gently tap the mould on the bench to even out the layer. Next, pour all of the poppy seed soap over the first layer. To prevent the soap from breaking through and disturbing the previous layer, pour the soap over the flat part of the spatula to spread out the stream of pour. Lastly, pour the remainder of the lemon peel powder soap over the poppy seed layer.

TEN: Use a spoon to texture one side of the soap, and sprinkle some poppy seeds over the other half.

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.

Lemon Myrtle 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

  • 400 g olive oil
  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 100 g shea butter
  • 200 g sunflower oil
  • 50 castor oil
  • 138 g caustic soda
  • 280 g water
  • 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 30 ml lemon myrtle essential oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel powder
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

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. Then, add 30 ml of lemon myrtle essential oil to the oils and give everything 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, mix until emulsified (thin trace).
  7. Separate about 1/3 of the soap into a jug.
  8. To the remaining 2/3 of the soap, add 1 tablespoon of lemon peel powder and mix with the stick blender until medium trace.
  9. Give the soap portion in the jug a quick mix with the stick blender until it has the same consistency (medium trace) as the lemon peel powder soap.
  10. Then add 1 heaped teaspoon of poppy seeds to the soap and mix it through with a spoon or spatula.
  11. To assemble: first pour half of the lemon peel powder soap into the mould, then pour all of the poppy seed soap over the first layer, and lastly, pour the remaining lemon peel powder soap over the poppy seed layer.
  12. Use a spoon to texture one half of the soap surface, and sprinkle poppy seeds over the other half.
  13. 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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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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Lemon and poppy seeds soap

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

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There are many variants of lemon poppy seeds soaps on the internet, and it’s one of the highly popular soaps. The lemon gives the soap a delicious fresh fragrance, and the poppy seeds not only make for a striking effect, but also add a little exfoliation to the soap. It’s the perfect morning shower soap!

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

I’ve kept the recipe simple, using my favourite olive oil and castor oil combination. This recipe makes for a wonderful white soap, which, after sufficient curing, gives a hard and long lasting bar, that stays hard and doesn’t go all mushy in the soap dish.

The little swirl dots on top are optional. If you leave them out, you’ll find this recipe a great beginners soap, if you don’t feel too confident yet using special techniques. For those who want a bit more advanced techniques, or try their hands at piping soap, this would be a ideal project to start your piping adventures with.

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 olive oil and castor oil, and give it a quick stir.

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THREE: 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) – this is also called thin trace.

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FOUR: Add the lemon essential oil and stir well. Soaps using essential oils can be prone to orange spots in the soap over time, this is due to not mixing the essential oil properly into the soap mixture. So make sure you mix well or even use the stick blender to give it another couple of pulses.

Optional: separate about 150 ml (2/3 cup) to use as icing later on top of the soap.

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FIVE: Next add the poppy seeds. I used about a tablespoon of poppy seeds, but feel free to add less or more, depending on how much of a sprinkle effect you want in your soap.

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SIX: Pour the soap into the mold and lightly sprinkle poppy seeds over one half of the surface.

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OPTIONAL: If you have separated some of the soap earlier to use as icing, check the consistency of the soap. If it has thickened sufficiently to pipe (in other words, keep its shape), add to an icing bag and pipe little swirls along one side of the soap. If the soap is still to thin, carefully use the stick blender to thicken it to the right consistency. For these swirls I used the piping tip #1M

SEVEN: After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 8-10 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

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Lemon and Poppy Seeds 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

  • 950g olive oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 128g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • sodium lactate
  • 30 ml lemon essential oil
  • poppy seeds

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 olive oil and castor oil, and give it a quick stir.
  4. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully pour the lye to the oils.
  5. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir, avoiding any splashes, until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  6. Add the lemon essential oil and stir well. Optional: separate approximately 150 ml of soap into a separate container to use as icing later on.
  7. Add roughly 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds and give it another good stir.
  8. Pour the soap into the mold and sprinkle poppy seeds over one half of the soap.
  9. If you have separated some of the soap earlier to use as icing, check the consistency and if necessary thicken with the stick blender until the soap can hold its shape. Scoop into an icing bag with #1M tip, and pipe little swirl dots along one half of the soap.
  10. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to dry for another couple of days, before cutting into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 8-10 weeks until ready for use.