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Calendula citrus soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 9 soaps

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I love using the calendula infused sunflower oil from Pure Nature. Even a little amount will give my soaps a beautiful, deep golden hue. But in this soap I’m not just using it as a natural colourant. Calendula, also commonly known as marigold, has been used throughout history as a skin healer, due to its soothing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. This makes it an ideal additive in soaps aimed specifically at sensitive skins.

You can make your own calendula infused oil by following the tutorial here, using your own flowers from your garden or by purchasing organic dried calendula flowers from Pure Nature.

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: Making sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves, measure out the water in a Pyrex jug or other heat proof non-metallic container.  Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water, and avoiding any splashes, keep stirring until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, a natural additive derived from a fruit sugar, which will help harden the soap. Set the lye aside to cool down.

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TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and either heat in the microwave (if using a Pyrex jug) or on the stove (if using a pot), until completely melted.

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THREE: Weigh out the olive oil, calendula infused sunflower oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil, and give it a quick stir.

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FOUR: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. When 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 the essential oils and keep mixing with the stick blender until the soap has thickened to a medium trace.

I’ve formulated a special synergistic blend of essential oils (lemon, sweet orange, mandarin, bergamot and spearmint) to compliment and boost the skin healing properties of calendula, although each of the essential oils can lay claim to their own beneficial traits, including anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, promoting cell regeneration and growth, and having a soothing and calming effect on skin.

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SIX: Once you have reached medium trace, pour the soap into the soap mold. The soap mould I’m using here is a 9 cavity cube silicon soap mould. Pure Nature has a similar mold with 25 cavities.

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SEVEN: Because of the amounts of soft oils (olive oil, sunflower oil, castor oil) used in this recipe, the soap may take a little longer than usual to be firm enough to unmold. If it is still soft and sticky, leave it for another few days before checking. I did my second batch of this recipe when it was very humid here, and it took more than a week before I could unmold the soap.

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ATTENTION: The picture above is of the soap after it had cured for 6 weeks. After 3 months it was still golden, but slightly paler. Six months on, the soap is losing the beautiful golden hue and at the moment isn’t looking too flash –  yellow and white flecked soap. I just wanted to let you all know and I’ll keep you updated with what the soap is doing. My guess: it will fade to white over the next months 🙁

Calendula citrus 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

  • 500 g olive oil
  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 200 g calendula infused sunflower oil
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 133 g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 10 ml lemon essential oil
  • 8 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 6 ml mandarin essential oil
  • 4 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 2 ml spearmint essential oil

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 heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until completely melted.
  4. Add the olive oil, calendula infused sunflower oil and castor oil to the melted coconut oil and give it 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 leave to harden for several days.
  9. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold, otherwise leave it to set for another few days before checking again. The soaps will need to cure for at least 10-12 weeks before they’re ready to use.

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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.

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Dog soap for sensitive skin

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins
Yields: 6 small soaps

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Skin pH is a tricky thing. And while certain ingredients used in soaps and shampoos might be great for our skin and hair, it doesn’t mean it’s also good for our canine friends and can cause itching, flakiness and be generally irritating to a dog.

Human skin has a pH level on the acidic side, around 5.5, which helps us combat germs and infection on our skin. Dogs, however, have a much more neutral skin pH, between 6.5 and 8, which is why it so important to use the right products for dogs as not to irritate their skin.

I always test a soap or any product that is designated for use on dogs. Since soaps have a tendency to be slightly more alkaline, a good trick is to add citric acid. One teaspoon of citric acid to 1000 g of soap can bring the pH down approximately by 0.5. So you don’t need much.

This recipe is formulated especially for sensitive skins, with colloidal oatmeal, castor oil and a special blend of essential oils, all which help restore, balance and soothe sensitive skins.

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ONE: Cut the soap into small cubes and add them to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts, until the soap has melted. Try to avoid the soap from reaching boiling point!

I am using shea butter melt and pour soap base, because shea butter is great for dry and sensitive skins and helps balance and nourish the skin. Alternatively, you can also use the triple butter melt and pour soap base, which is more nourishing, or the SLS-free white melt and pour base, for very sensitive skins.

TWO: Add two teaspoons of colloidal oatmeal and a sprinkle of citric acid (just a teeny tiny amount) to 1 teaspoon of castor oil, and mix well, and then add the mixture to the soap. (In the picture I added the oatmeal directly to the soap, and as you can see it has formed clumps, which despite whisking furiously, I couldn’t make disappear). Oatmeal has been used throughout time to soothe dry, irritated and inflamed skin. In addition, it is also full of skin-loving vitamins and minerals, which help nourish the skin. I’m also adding castor oil, which is also known to help restore skin’s moisture balance and helps promote a healthy, shiny coat.

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THREE: Lastly add this special blend of essential oils, which soothes and calms sensitive skin, and helps fight off germs and infection and also acts as a flea-repellent:

  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil

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FOUR: Give everything a good stir to ensure everything is well dispersed throughout the soap and then pour it into your mold. I’m using little paw molds that I found on AliExpress. Leave the soaps to harden for a few hours before unmolding. Make sure you package these soaps into little cello bags or glad wrap, because these melt and pour soap bases attract humidity and little beads of moisture will form on the surface if not properly packaged.

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Dog soap for sensitive skin

  • Difficulty: beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 240g shea butter melt and pour soap base
  • 2 teaspoon colloidal oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon castor oil
  • citric acid
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil

Directions

  1. Cut the soap into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 20 second bursts until melted.
  3. Add 2 teaspoon of colloidal oatmeal, and a sprinkle of citric acid to 1 teaspoon of castor oil, and add the mixture to the melted soap.
  4. Add the essential oils and give everything a good stir to mix thoroughly into the soap.
  5. Pour the soap into  your soap mold and leave to set and harden before unmolding.
  6. Package the soap into little cello bags or glad wrap.