The last three soaps I made (Neem, Ghee & Coconut butter)

I’ve reached a point in my soaping adventure, where I always try to add something new to my creations, just to keep things interesting. Honestly it isn’t that hard to find new things to add to soap, or new ways of making it – because the possibilities are really endless. I’ve recently been fascinated with Calendula flower in soap and using atypical oils and fats. I thought it would be fun to make a post with the last three soaps I made, for some inspiration!

If you are not familiar with the soap making process you can start by reading How to make natural soapHow to form a soap recipe & Coloring soap naturally to get started.

Neem soap for troubled skin

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Neem oil is known for it’s ability to treat and soothe troubled skin, such as acne, eczema and other skin irritations. I’ve had a complicated relationship with Neem oil in soap making, because it somehow always seems to go wrong when I use it in over 10% of my total oils. Originally I wanted to use Neem oil in higher quantities because it makes a super hard bar, and is a relatively cheap oil. That, besides it’s amazing properties. I was re-inspired to give it another try, after reading another soaper that used it over 20%. So I gave it a try with hot process – and voila, it worked. Therefore I conclude Neem soap should be made by hot process, since it’s more unlikely it will go wrong. The soap batter did actually separate (water and oil seemed to separate, which has often happened to me in the mould when making it by cold process), but after cooking it for half an hour it became the right consistency. Now, Neem does smell quite strong, so I didn’t even gonna try to make it smell great. I just want to make a soap bar for my troubled skin, for which I added Tea Tree oil – one of the most commonly used essential oils, to help treat acne. The recipe was the following:

  • 27% Coconut oil
  • 27% Olive oil (I had some organic olive from Denmark)
  • 19% Neem
  • 9% Castor oil
  • 9% Sesame oil
  • 9% Mango butter

Alternatively: Exchange sesame and mango butter for olive oil – 

Superfat: 7%

Additives: Calendula water (I boiled dried calendula in water for 20 min, and used it for liquid) and Tea Tree essential oil.

Method: Hot process

Ghee soap for dry and irritated skin

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This really happened by accident, because I didn’t have enough oil to complete my recipe and I was walking around my kitchen and then suddenly realised – Ghee is fat! Ended up loving the soap I made so much that I think I will definitely make it again. In this soap I also used Calendula infused Coconut oil, which gives a yellow hue to the soap as well as add soothing and calming properties of Calendula. Ghee is supposed to be a great moisturiser and I’ve heard of women here in India using it directly on the skin.

  • 30% Calendula infused Coconut oil (infused for 3 weeks)
  • 15% Mango butter
  • 10% Castor
  • 10% Sesame
  • 10% Neem
  • 15% Sunflower
  • 10% Ghee

Alternatively: exchange Mango butter, Sesame and Neem with Olive oil – 35%

Superfat: 7%

Additives: Calendula petals and Essential oils of choice

Method: cold or hot process (this one was hot process)

Coconut butter soap to add a little luxury

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I was in Rishikesh over Dussehra (Indian holiday), and found some Coconut butter. Seems it’s really not used much in soap because couldn’t find any soap calculator with the option of coconut butter. After asking on a soap making forum on Facebook, I decided to use the recommendation to put it in place of Cocoa butter. Though if you would like to give it a try,  SAP value for Coconut butter is between 225 to 235, and SAP value for NaOH is 0.164. You can calculate the recipe. To keep the amount of hard oils up, I added 20% Kokum butter, but that could be substituted for Olive oil, or raise the Coconut oil to 37% and superfat 10-15%. Hot process does give the top a much more messy appearance, but I’ve decided to embrace it.

  • 17% Coconut oil
  • 13% Coconut butter
  • 10% Castor
  • 10% Sesame
  • 15% safflower
  • 15% Sunflower
  • 20% Kokum butter

Superfat: 7%

Additives: Calendula infused water and activated charcoal. Citronella, Bergamot and Sweet Orange essential oil.

Method: cold or hot process

I hope this inspired you for some new soap experiments. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or input.

//Louise

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How to make natural liquid soap

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Disclaimer: I personally don’t use preservatives because I only use this on myself, so I therefore don’t know enough about it to write about. So please do your research on how to use preservatives in liquid soap, and add at diluting stage. If you chose not to use any like me, be sure to ONLY to use it on yourself, and let it be on own risk. If never had any issues but better safe than sorry no?

Making liquid soap making can seem a bit intimidating to some people, but once you get down to understanding the process, it really isn’t much different than cooking a meal. Though online there is definitely a lot less resources writing about liquid soap making than solid soap making, so when I first started off exploring liquid soap I was left with a lot of questions. Still there’s some open ends I have not yet completely closed, so this post will probably have some follow ups as I discover more aspects of making liquid soap. For the sake of understanding, I made a batch of liquid soap I will guide you through. I will assume that if you’re reading this you have a basic understanding of what soap is and the process of making it (even if you only have experience with making bar soap), but if you don’t, please start by reading the post How to make natural soap.

Whats the difference between solid and liquid soap

Liquid soap like solid soap consists of three elements: fats/oils, water and lye. The difference is that instead of using Sodium Hydroxide, you use Potassium Hydroxide. When adding the three you will get a thick mass of soap, that then is further diluted with water to make it liquid. There are some basic things I would like to note on the way I  personally make natural liquid soap:

  • Natural liquid soap doesn’t feel like the soap most of us are used to from commercial companies. It is a lot thinner and doesn’t have the same creamy consistency. There are ways to thicken natural soap, but I won’t be exploring any of them, since those methods mostly involve adding extra chemicals.
  • I will be using the hot process method, but are exploring the theory that it’s possible to do it by the cold process also. Since cold process needs to cure a few weeks, I will keep you updated on my findings in a few weeks (I have put a little of the soap aside without cooking it, and will measure the PH in some weeks).
  • Like its important for most solid soap makers to make a hard bar of soap, its important for most liquid soap makers to make a clear (non cloudy) liquid soap. This is about aesthetics, and doesn’t make the soap better. A common method to do this is to put excess lye, and then neutralise the soap after its cooked. I won’t be doing that.

Now lets get started from the start. Even though solid soap and liquid soap is quite similar in it’s process, there are some differences in making the recipes. Let me explain.

How to make a liquid soap recipe

Again I will assume you have some basic knowledge of making soap recipes, but if not please start by reading How to form a soap recipe. Making a liquid soap recipe is a bit different than making one for bar soap. The basic differences and guidelines are this:

  • Liquid soap usually have a rather higher percentage of Coconut oil (unless its Castile soap which is pure Olive oil), to ensure the soap foams properly and doesnt become sticky. I once made a liquid soap with only 14% Coconut and it barely lathered at all. You can use up to 90% Coconut oil in your liquid soap, but I prefer using around 50%.
  • In solid soap recipes it’s important to use oils that will make the soap bar hard, but since thats not necessary in liquid soap, you can use higher percentages of oils like Castor, Safflower and Sunflower that is usually limited in bar soap. Which is great, because they are much cheaper!
  • Liquid soap recipes are mostly made of oils with less un-saponifiables. What it means is that some oils have fats that can’t be made into soap. If an oils has high percentage of un-saponifiables it will make the liquid soap cloudy. For that reason Palm, Tallow and Cocoa butter is usually avoided in liquid soap formulations or added in very small amount, while Coconut, Castor, Safflower and Olive oil are frequently used. I take this lightly because I don’t care if my soap is cloudy.
  • Superfatting liquid soap is pointless, because the excess oil will float on top of the soap once diluted since oil it not water soluble. You can though superfat with Vegetable glycerin at 1% of the full recipe.

I chose to follow the following basic recipe:

  • 50% Coconut oil
  • 25% Safflower – can be exchanged with Sunflower or Rice bran oil
  • 20% Castor
  • 5% Butter like Mango Butter or Kokum butter

or

  • 50% Coconut oil
  • 20% Safflower – can be exchanged with Sunflower or Rice bran oil
  • 20% Castor
  • 10% luxury oil like Sweet Almond oil or Avocado

I chose to use the first recipe in my example soap, and used beer instead of water. For superfatting I added Glycerin and then finally some natural colourant i got from Moksha Lifestyle Products and Peppermint and Sweet Orange essential oil.

The method

The method of Hot process liquid soap making is similar to cold process soap making, until the point where you would normally pour the soap into the mould. If you need a detailed list of instruction please refer to the link how to make natural soap.  The basic instructions are the following:

1. Calculate the recipe:

Unlike solid soap, your final amount of liquid soap will be at least double of you’re amount of oils, since the soap mass is diluted with water. So before you calculate you’re recipe you need to take into consideration how big your double boiler is, and then use the percentages above to calculate each oil amount. This is my recipe in the app Saponify:

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Instead of NaOH (Sodium hydroxide) I put KOH which is Potassium Hydroxide and then Superfat by 0%.
2. Measure the oils and melt, measure lye and water and mix
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I measured out my oils. Since I had Mango butter I heated the oils straight in my double boiler until completely melted. Then measured the lye and beer and missed it. 
2. Mixing the lye water with the oils and blending till trace:
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When the lye water was ready I added it to my oils. I blended until it reached trace and then put it on the stove on medium heat. Don’t worry if it looks like its splitting, it will settle down as it’s getting cooked.
3. Cook the soap mass on medium heat, stir lightly
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Cooking the soap mass it actually quite relaxed. Many might feel like stirring the mass all the time, but it won’t burn if you don’t. Actually it’s better to put a lid on the pot and let it heat. Check once in 30 min. to see what stage the soap has reached. Stir lightly.
4. Keep cooking for 2 hour to 2.5
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The soap mass will start getting more solid and waxy. Continue heating and stirring lightly from time to time. 
5. Reaching the final phase
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Once it reaches this stage is when I start checking if my soap is done. The stage is something like gel phase, that some might know from solid soap making. The mass is sort of elastic, and doesn’t clump anymore. There are different options for checking if the soap is done – personally I use a PH meter and wait for the soap to reach PH between 9-10. Though I’ve heard of people using PH strips, or the chemical phenophtalein which changes colour if the soap is not done. Others use the method called the ‘zap’ method – where you put some soap on your finger, and touch it to your tongue. If it feels like a small electric current, it’s not done. Though honestly I don’t use this method, because I can’t feel the difference enough to trust it. 
6. Start diluting the soap
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When you are sure your soap is finished, you can either dilute it straight away, or keep the soap mass for diluting later. Different soap miss have different diluting points, which means some might need more water than others to turn liquid. Coconut soap for example have a low diluting point, which means it needs less water to mix with the water. 
7. Dilute completely or leave over night
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So how do you figure out how much water to use? I really just take it as it comes, and dilute slowly to make sure I don’t pour too much water. Start adding 1:1 (As much water as your oil weight) and let me mass simmer, while you mix from time to time. Then add 1/4 water of total oils until it’s diluted. Now I actually added 1:1 to my batch, turned off the heat and let it stand over night. In the morning I added two times 100 ml over an hour and then it was diluted. It just makes the process a little shorter if it gets to stand on its own over some time. 
8. Add your essential oils and colourants if any
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At this stage you can add you’re essential oils and colourants. I’m a bit untraditional when it comes to essential oils, and I tend to add a lot. For 400 grams oils I added 25 ml of Peppermint and Sweet Orange.  You can use bramble berries fragrance calculator that gives recommended amounts – or my favourite method, add until you feel like it’s enough. Ive actually occasionally reheated a soap and added extra essential oil, and it’s worked well for me. 
9. Voila! Look at it and feel happy
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My final soap – in the sun light it looks red, but otherwise it has a brownish colour. Since natural soap is a lot more liquid than commercial soap, it’s perfect to keep in a soap pump or foam dispenser.

This was all I had for now on liquid soap. Do let me know if there’s any stages of the process that should be more thoroughly explained – either in the write up or in additional posts. Leave a comment if you have any questions or corrections – no matter how long I do this, I still have a lot to learn!

//Louise

Easy natural products with only 2 to 4 ingredients

I always loved making things myself. I loved it so much that until the age of 25 I’ve never bought gifts for my family, but always made them myself. Now that I’m making soaps, needless to say that thats what I gift everyone! Luckily my family and friends doesn’t mind. I am a passionate soaper, which means I end up writing a lot about it, but I have a lot of additional experience with making other Natural products because I make all my own products. So I thought I would put together a list of easy DIY Natural products that can be made with 2 to 4 ingredients, for own personal use or to gift in the upcoming  Indian holiday season. Lets face it, nothing beats homemade gifts. So here we go.

Lip Balms for super soft lips
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Use lip balm tubes or small containers like this. Makes a very cute gift

Lip balms are some of the easiest products you can make. Again, I’m super lazy when it comes to personal care, so I’ve narrowed it down to the most basic thing I can use on my lips – butter! I just take some Mango butter and use it as lip balm. Though as a gift it’s nice to fancy it up a bit. There’s only one thing you need to keep in mind when making your lip balms:

Some essential oils are phototoxic, which means that they react to exposure to sunlight, in a way that can cause allergic reactions in some people. Phototoxic essential oils are mostly citrus scents such as Lime, Orange, Mandarin, Bergamot and Lemon. So don’t use these in the Lip balms. Actually they should never be added in product used when going outside during the day. Otherwise you can switch up any part of the recipe – Shea butter, Cocoa butter, Sal butter and Mowrah butter can be substituted for the butters, and any Carrier oil or essential oil depending on availability and preference.

Mango Lavender Lip (Vegan):

This makes a softer, more butter like lip balm. Almost like a lip butter. I prefer this because it’s easier to apply in a round container. For a lip balm tube it won’t work because it’s not hard enough. This is also an option for vegans that don’t want any animal products in their products.

  • 50% Mango butter
  • 50% Sweet Almond oil
  • Lavender essential oil

Kokum Coconut Care:

I personally love peppermint in my lip balms. It gives a tingling sensation when you apply it and just smells like a dream. This works well in both a container and a lip balm tube. Beeswax protects the skin and tend to make the lip balm feel fresh on the lips a little longer. This might get a little hard in winters, so its possible to add a little extra oil if you like it softer.

  • 50% Coconut oil
  • 25% Kokum
  • 25% Beeswax
  • Peppermint or Spearmint essential oil
How to make it
  1. Measure out your ingredients on a scale according to the size of your containers
  2. Gather oils/butters/beeswax in a double boiler and melt
  3. Add essential oils (I would add a few drops per 30 grams)
  4. Pour into your containers and let it harden
Face packs for beautiful skin
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You can mix up the ingredients. This is Bentonite and Turmeric.

Face packs or Face masks (depending on where in the world you are) is another thing that is super easy and still feels really really luxurious. I prefer to keep my Face packs pretty simple, and always use clay as my base. Besides being fantastic for the skin, clay also gives the mask a very smooth feel and makes it easy to apply. Depending on your preferences you can use any clay – I’ve chosen Bentonite Clay and Karolin Clay.

Activated Charcoal & Karolin Clay

Activated Charcoal is a fantastic skin cleaner, because it absorbs impurities without drying the skin. Karolin clay is a great clay for more sensitive skin, because its a very gentle cleaner that moisturises. This mask is perfect for dry, sensitive and troubled skin.

  • 75% Karolin Clay
  • 25% Activated Charcoal

Turmeric & Bentonite Clay

This mask is not for sensitive skin. If you want to make it more mild, you can switch Bentonite for Karolin Clay. Though Bentonite Clay is super cleansing, and perfect for skin that needs some extra detoxifying. When coming in contact with liquid the clay gets the ability to absorb toxins and impurities. Turmeric is an ancient Ayuvedic ingredient in Indian skin care, that is used to give a beautiful natural glow and is said to be help lighten dark spots. If you’re very light skinned, it might give a yellow glow for some time after its used. You can removed it by applying oil on your skin, and remove it with a warm washcloth.

  • 85% Bentonite Clay
  • 15% Turmeric

Note: you can add any favourite ingredient to the mix such as for example Red Sandalwood or fruit powders

How to make it
  1. Measure out your ingredients on a scale according to the size of your containers
  2. Gather, mix and voila!
  3. The mixes can be used mixed with water, honey or rosewater. If you’re gifting it you can make a small instruction to go with it.
Hair pack for lustrous hair

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I’ve not used hair packs much, but when a friend showed me a hair pack she wanted (and I saw the price of it) I told her I could make it for her. After using it once, she declared every dying love to it and made me promise to order the ingredients for it right away. So for so much love I thought that should make the list. Now hair packs can be combined in any combinations of the ingredients I list, so feel free to get creative. Actually you can even stuff all of them in one hair pack!

Hair cleanser and softer (south indian style) 

Soap nut is traditionally used to clean hair in India, and can actually be a substitute for shampoo. If you want to read more on natural shampoo you can read Chāmpo चाँपो / Shampoo. Arappu is made from a leaf and is mostly used in southern India to clean and soften hair. It’s a natural conditioner, so it will leave your hair super soft.

  • 25 % Reetha (soap nut) powder
  • 75 % Arappu powder

Optional adds: Amla for shine

Hair cleanser and shine 

Shikakai like soap nut is also a natural cleaner, and help strengthen the hair roots. Amla nourishes the hair all around, and gives beautiful shine.

  • Amla powder
  • Shikakai powder

Optional adds: Arappu for extra soft hair

Hairfall hair pack

Neem and Fenugreek are superior when it comes to help treat hair fall, while Amla and Moringa nourishes and stimulates hair growth. Even if you’re not struggling with hair fall it’s still a super hair pack that will give overall healthy hair and scalp.

  • Amla powder
  • Moringa powder
  • Neem powder
  • Fenugreek powder

Optional adds: Reetha or Shikakai for Cleanse

How to make it
  • Measure out your ingredients on a scale according to the size of your containers
  • Gather, mix and voila!
  • The mixes can be used mixed with water or yogurt to be applied on hair. If you’re gifting it you can make a small instruction to go with it.
Other ideas

Another easy idea for a personalised gift is to make body butter. If you want to give it a try you can read Whipped Body Butter (with 2 to 4 ingredients). If you’re more adventurous you can go for learning how to make soap here – How to make natural soap. Though I warn you, soap making is highly addictive. One day you find yourself counting the days since you made your last batch of soap. Sigh, 2 weeks. I hope this was useful! Let me know if you have any questions or ideas for more easy DIY.

//Louise

Whipped Body Butter (with 2 to 4 ingredients)

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Body butter with Mango Butter, Coconut oil and Sweet Almond oil. So smooth!

I am very lazy when it comes to personal care, so I have slowly and steadily made my beauty routine as simply as possible. So for moisturiser I have come down to the most simple ingredient I possibly could – oil! The other day though, I felt inspired and whipped up a batch of Mango and Kokum whipped body butter, and it did feel just a little more pampering than my usual oil routine. It is also insanely easy to make, so I thought I would give you a little post on how to make your own custom body butter.

What is Body Butter

Body butter is a mix of butters and oils. Butters are usually solid or soft with a very smooth feel on the skin. In India Mango Butter and Kokum butter are probably the most commonly known butters, but there are also less known butters such as Sal Butter and Mowrah Butter. Internationally Shea butter and Cocoa butter are widely used in a wide range of personal care product. Oils added to body butter can be divided into two categories – soft oils and semi-hard oils. Soft oils are oils that are liquid at all times, and semi hard oils will turn solid at certain temperatures. The most common semi-hard oil is Coconut oil, but Palm as well turns solid at some temperatures. Typically I mix 1-2 butters with 1 soft oil and 1 semi-hard oil, and then play around with the quantities according to the season. Let me explain.

The recipe

The trick in making body butter in India (or any place with large changes in temperature), is to take the seasons into consideration. In winters you need less butter and semi hard oil to make a beautiful whipped body butter, and in summers you need more. This ensures your butter stays fluffy rather than stone hard or super soft. So I follow these guidelines to make my body butter:

Medium – early and late summer: 

  • 25% Semi-hard oil
  • 25% soft oil
  • 50% butter

Warm – summer: 

  • 75% butter
  • 25% soft oil or Semi-hard oil (at this temperature it won’t make a difference if its soft or semi hard)

Cold – winter: 

  • 50% butter
  • 50% soft oil

Or 

  • 25% butter
  • 25% semi-hard oil
  • 50% soft oil

When you decided you’re quantities, its time to decide what you want to put inside. I will write some basic recipes for inspiration, where you can switch up whatever you feel like to make it your own. 4 parts represents 25% each.

Mango-licious Body Butter

  • 2 part Mango butter
  • 1 part Coconut oil
  • 1 part Sweet almond oil
  • Grapefruit & Peppermint essential oil

Koko-tastic Body Butter

  • 1 part Kokum butter
  • 1 part Mango butter
  • 1 part Alkanet infused Coconut oil
  • 1 part Safflower oil
  • Lavender essential oil
How to make it
  1. Measure your ingredients out in grams, and gather them in a double boiler.

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2. When everything is melted, set it apart and let it harden. You can speed up the process by putting it in the fridge.

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3. When it has hardened, whip it with a whisk like you would whipped cream. It will soften and then start becoming fluffy. Add your essential oils until it has the scent you want. Now voila!

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Keep in a jar in a cool place. I don’t usually keep mine in the fridge but it’s an option, if you’d like your body butter to last longer. Since this is for personal use I don’t put any preservatives, and have never needed it as long as its used within a few months time. Though, I recommend that If you’re intending to sell you should do your research on preservatives and stabilisers to taken an informed call on this.

Note: Shea and Cocoa butter makes excellent body butters. My selection is purely about local availability.

//Louise