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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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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 shampoo bars

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 45 mins

Yields: 4 bars

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Learn how to make this gentle cleansing shampoo bar, which leaves your hair soft, silky and tangle-free. Suits all hair types, and this tutorial is a great introduction for those wanting to venture into making solid shampoo and conditioner bars. Also check out this hydrating solid conditioner bar!

All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature or your local soap making supplies shop.

Please note SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate) powder is very irritating if breathed in or gets in your eyes. I know it sounds like a total contradiction, since it is a very mild, non-irritating cleansing surfactant. But we work with it as a very fine, light powder, which is easily airborne, and our lungs really, really don’t like it. So make sure you wear goggles and a breathing mask (dust mask) and have your windows open!

ONE: Start by preparing all your additives. First add 1 teaspoon of citric acid to 10 ml of hot water and then stir until the citric acid has dissolved. Then add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, the orange essential oil and the mica, if you decide to add colour. Stir everything together.

The citric acid helps to soften the water, especially in areas of hard water (see blog post about hard water here). It works by reacting with the mineral ions in the water, and basically rendering them inactive.

Coco-caprylate is one of my favourite little secret additives. It is a natural alternative to silicons derived from coconut. It is a lightweight emollient, which coats and seals in moisture, making your hair smooth, tangle free and shiny. But unlike silicons, it doesn’t build up in your hair, is easily washed out and is biodegradable.

Provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, keeps your hair hydrated. The provitamin B5 turns into pantothenic acid when absorbed into the hair shaft, where it binds water and thus retains moisture inside the hair.

And the essential oil I’m using in this shampoo bar is orange essential oil, which is not only a delicious fruity fragrance, but is also full of anti-oxidants and vitamin C, is known to increase the ability of absorbing vitamin C as well, and is an excellent moisturiser with calming, soothing qualities on both skin and mind. And also who doesn’t love orange?

TWO: This part can be skipped if your sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) comes in powder form. In any case for this part and the next part, you will need to wear goggles and dust mask to avoid breathing in the powder and to prevent it getting into you eyes.

If your SCI comes in pellet form, use a bullet or food processor to grind it into a fine powder. The finer the powder, the easier it will be to work with. SCI is very difficult to melt due to its high melting point, and by using powder instead of pellets, you can significantly reduce the melting time from hours (pellets) to minutes (powder)!

The benefits of sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) is that it is a very mild and gentle (anionic) surfactant which is naturally derived from coconut and also biodegradable unlike most anionic surfactants (except soap).

Be careful to let the powder settle before opening the bullet or food processor and to tip the powder in at once from a very low height. I usually go outside to do this and let the dust settle again before going back inside. Like I said, the powder makes you sneeze!

THREE: Once you have your SCI in powder form, weigh the correct amount and then add the coco-glucoside. The coco-glucoside is also natural and derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars. It is added as a non-ionic co-surfactant, which acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent and conditioner. Basically, it helps make a nice smooth fluid paste, makes sure you have a great lather when you use it, and it conditions your hair while you clean it.

Once you’ve combined the SCI and the coco-glucoside, it’s time to melt it. You can either use the microwave or directly on your stove. If you are using the stove, use the lowest setting and keep stirring gently. You can also use a double boiler, but that will take longer. I found if I use the lowest setting on my stove, it works just as well as a double boiler!

However, I’m using the microwave here. When you use the microwave, use it in burst of 30 seconds initially and then reduce the burst to 10 seconds. Stir briskly between the bursts and always keep an eye on it in the microwave because it can boil over! When it starts rising, stop, stir, and then put it back in for 10 seconds, until you have a paste similar to the photo below.

FOUR: In another pot, add your BTMS-25, cocoa butter and Dehyquart F75. These are all conditioning agents. Melt it until liquid in the microwave or stove top, and then add it to the SCI/coco-glucoside paste.

The BTMS-25 is naturally derived from rapeseed, coconut and/or palm oil. It is a conditioner pellet made from 25% behentrimonium methosulfate and 75% cetearyl alcohol. For those following the curly girl method, behentrimonium methosulfate is a very mild, non-stripping and non-irritating conditioning agent, and not a sulfate like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium coco sulfate (SCS) and other similar harsh surfactants.

Dehyquart 75 is another conditioning ingredient, which soften and moisturise hair. It is made of distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate and cetearyl alcohol, and comes in off-white waxy flakes or pellets. The active ingredient is the distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate, which is a quaternary ammonium salt like the BTMS, and like BMTS-25 is not he prohibited ingredients in the Curly Girl Method. The cetearyl alcohol is a combination of cetyl and stearyl alcohols, which help stabilise the emulsion, but also give the shampoo its silky and creamy appearance and helps soften and hydrate your hair.

If you don’t have Dehyquart 75, you can add another 10 g of BTMS-25 instead. 

Cocoa butter also has excellent conditioning properties, is incredibly nourishing for your hair and leaves it soft and shiny. There’s just the right amount of cocoa butter in this shampoo, so that it will condition your hair without leaving it feel greasy and heavy.

FIVE: Mix everything to a fluid paste like in the photo. It will take a little while to stir until everything has been thoroughly incorporated into the paste.

SIX: Then add the additives that you have pre-mixed in the beaker and stir everything until it is an even colour.

SEVEN: Pour the shampoo mixture into your moulds and let them cool down and set overnight before using. I prefer to let them dry out for about a week before I shut the lid or use them, just because I find that it helps make them long-lasting that way.

This has become my personal favourite shampoo bar at the moment, because I don’t need any conditioner with it. I’ve also mixed up the essential oil blend a few times, just because I don’t like using the same thing over and over again. Lavender and mint is a nice alternative, or just plain lemongrass, which is the one I’m currently using. Feel free to experiment a little!

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Solid shampoo bars

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 240 g SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate)
  • 80 g coco-glucoside
  • 40 g BTMS-25
  • 20 g cocoa butter
  • 10 g dehyquart F75 or extra 10 g BTMS-25
  • 10 ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon coco-caprylate
  • 1/2 teaspoon provitamin B5
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange mica
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 4 clamshell moulds

Directions

  1. In a small beaker, add the citric acid to the hot water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, essential oil and mica, and stir until it is a slurry. Set aside.
  3. If the SCI is in pellet form, grind it up into powder using a bullet or food processor. Make sure you are wearing goggles and a dust mask, and have your windows open. DO NOT BREATHE IN THE DUST!
  4. Carefully, still wearing goggles and mask, combine the SCI and coco-glucoside and either melt in the microwave or stove top, until melted to a fluid paste. Be careful in the microwave, as it can suddenly start boiling (foaming) over.
  5. In another small jug or pot, add the BTMS-25, cocoa butter and dehyquart, and melt it until liquid.
  6. Pour it to the SCI/coco-glucoside mixture and give it a very good stir.
  7. Add the contents from the beaker (see point 1 and 2) you’ve set aside and stir everything until it has blended to a smooth paste.
  8. Lastly, pour the shampoo mixture into the moulds. You’ll need to work fast, as the mixture starts to set and thicken quickly.
  9. Leave the bars to cool down completely before unmoulding. They can be used immediately, though it’s better to let them dry for about a week before use.

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Soap dough (vegan, palm-free)

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 800 g soap

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There’s nothing special about soap dough, you can use any soap as soap dough. There is no secret ingredient or special technique. The trick is to NOT cure the soap, so that it stays soft. In other words, the soap doesn’t dry out and harden. However, not all soap recipes are the same, and a good soap dough is one that is soft, smooth, pliable, and not sticky. Sorcery soap has a book with 20 awesome soap dough recipes, including tallow recipes, vegan recipes, palm free recipes, and lots more. The recipe I’m giving you here is one that I use in my soap making classes, and I’ve tweaked it a little bit to make it even better.  It is vegan, and palm-free like all my recipes here!

In addition, I’ll show you a handy method to make several colours at once, without the hassle of lots of washing up to do! I’m lazy and hate washing up 😉

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For this batch, I’m using the new mica colours 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: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof container or 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, then, carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Set aside to cool.

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

You’ll notice the recipe contains a high percentage of coconut oil and cocoa butter. This allows the soap to thicken to the right dough consistency, without having to cure it. I found that if I used too many liquid oils, the soap would be too soft to work with.

THREE: Weigh out the olive oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and cocoa butter. Add the titanium dioxide and give the oils a good stir to disperse the titanium dioxide through the oils. Then, let the oils cool down to room temperature. This part is important. The oils need to be lower than 30 C or else you risk the soap gelling, and you want to avoid that.

The reason for adding the titanium dioxide is to make the base colour whiter, which will make the other colours brighter and more intense.

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FOUR: Now you have two options, you can either use cups or containers to mix your colours in, or what I like to do, is add the soap and the colours to zip lock bags and mix it in there. In either case, prepare your cups or your ziplock bags and have your mica colours ready (I’m adding them straight to the soap without mixing them with oil first). The recipe will make for 8 colours of about 100 g each, so you need 8 cups or 8 sandwich sized ziplock bags.

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

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SIX: Now add about 100 g of soap to each cup or ziplock bag. Don’t worry, the ziplock bags will stay put. It’s not as difficult to pour into them as it may seem. Also if you are planning on doubling the batch, make sure you use bigger ziplock bags. If you fill them too full, you risk them popping leaks when you squish them later.

SEVEN: Next add the colour to each cup or ziplock bag, and zip them up. I used 1/2 teaspoon of mica for each. It sounds a lot, but you’ll need that amount to make sure you have rich colours and not pastels. It isn’t enough colour to stain your wash cloth or hands, but could give the lather a slight tinge. However, soap dough is usually used to decorate other soaps, so the little bits of soap dough on your soap won’t have an impact on the overall soap.

Then using your hands, and sitting comfortably in front of your TV with your favourite sitcom, squish and squash the little bags to mix the colour into the soap. I did some yesterday, while waiting for my son at his trampolining course. And that did get me some curious looks and questions from the other parents! Btw great way to promote your business at the same time too!

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If you are using cups, mix the colour thoroughly into the soap and then either use plastic wrap to cover each cup airtight, or pour it into a ziplock bag. (See now you have to use ziplock bags anyway!)

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EIGHT: Leave the little bags or cups in a cool area overnight. Check the consistency the next day. It should be ready to use but will probably still be a little sticky. You can use cornflour to dust the dough to stop it sticking as you work with it, or you can leave it for about a week in your ziplock bag or an airtight container. By then the stickiness should be gone.

To work with your dough, remove as much as you need. Knead it to soften it up. Dust the tools and the surface you’re working on with cornflour to prevent the dough sticking to it. A trick I learned from a cake decorator is to add a little cornflour in a muslin bag or cloth and tie it up, and use that as a little dust stamp. To stick dough bits together, use a little water to wet the surface and that will make it stick again.

Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you might want to spritz it with water or lightly brush it with a wetted soft paint brush, to give it shine and get rid of the powdery look.

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You can store the soap dough in your ziplock bags or an airtight container for several months or more. I’m still using some dough from last Christmas, which was more than eight months ago!

Once you added the soap dough decorations to your soap, the soap will start to harden and firm quickly.

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Soap dough

  • 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

  • 240 g olive oil
  • 200 g coconut oil
  • 120 g cocoa butter
  • 40 g castor oil
  • 80 g caustic soda
  • 180 g water
  • 1/2 t titanium dioxide
  • 8 different mica colours

Directions

  1. Add 180 g of water to a heat proof jug or container. 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. In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and cocoa butter. Heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until all the oil and butter have melted.
  3. Add the olive oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and cocoa butter.
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon titanium dioxide to the oils and give it a good stir. Set aside to cool down.
  5. In the meantime, prepare your ziplock bags. You will need 8 and make sure they’re all open.
  6. Once the lye and the oils have 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 to a thin trace.
  8. Pour approximately 100 g of soap into each bag.
  9. Add 1/2 teaspoon of mica to each bag and zip the bag shut, removing as much of the air as possible.
  10. With your hands, gently squish and squash the bags until the colour is thoroughly mixed into the soap.
  11. Set the bags of soap in a cool area overnight to set. They can be used immediately, though it’s better to leave them for a week before using.
  12. Keep the dough stored in the ziplock bags or an airtight container to keep the soap soft and pliable. You can store the dough for at least several months.

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Rosemary and mint soap

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

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

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


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

If you have never soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first, and make several other easier soaps before continuing.

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

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

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

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

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

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SIX: Add the blend of essential oils to the emulsified soap mixture and give it a quick stir.

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

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

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

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

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

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Rosemary and mint soap

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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