Video tutorial: cold process soap making

This is my first attempt of making a video tutorial, so bare with me if some parts of it is explained too fast or I babble a little. Also, at the time of making the video I had been spending some time in Denmark, so my usual Indian accent is mixed with a danish accent.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section if something is not clear from the tutorial. I will leave the recipe below for reference.

Base recipe – 1000 grams:

  • 250 grams coconut oil
  • 200 grams olive oil
  • 150 grams mango butter
  • 200 grams canola oil
  • 100 grams castor oil
  • 100 grams sesame oil

Lye & Coconut milk:

  • Lye – 141.77 grams
  • Coconut milk – 425.30 grams

Additives:Ā 

Batch 1 – 800 grams – scented:

  • 50 ml cedar wood oil
  • 25 ml lemon grass oil
  • Aronia powder

Batch 2 – 200 grams – unscented:

  • Paprika powder

 

 

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The Best Hand-washing Soap (100% coconut soap – with recipe)

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There is a lot of misinformation out there on what it takes to keep your hands clean (and soft) – at least if you ask me. I’m not a professional in neither biology or any other science, so if I ever find sufficient (trustworthy) evidence to prove the contrary I will be the first to admit I was wrong. Though until then, I will insist that the very best thing to wash your hands with is plain old fashioned handmade soap! Actually I intentionally try to avoid any stronger stuff, such as commercial antibacterial soaps like Dettol. If you want to explore this topic further you can start by reading:Ā Dangers of Antibacterial Soap (Dettol)Ā andĀ Commercial vs. Handmade soaps. This post though will focus on my own alternative to products like antibacterial soaps, including the recipe I use, so that you can make your own. If you have never made soap before you can read about the process here:Ā How to make natural soap.

The soap I prefer to wash my hands with (and the star of this post) is pure coconut soap. First of all, using 100% coconut oil makes a rock solid bar of soap, which can withstand the moist environment in many bathrooms. Additionally coconut oil is a strong cleanser, perfect for hand washing. A very common misconception about coconut soap is that it dries out the skin, but there’s a very basic trick to solve this: super fat! Super fat is a soapers term describing leaving some of the oil in the soap, , without being saponified (made into soap). This adds extra moisture to the soap. A normal batch of soap will have a super fat of between 5% and 7%, since more might make the soap too soft, but since coconut oil makes a rock solid bar of soap it can have a super fat up to 30%.

The second secret to great hand soap is essential oils. Essential oils doesn’t only add scent to a soap, but also different properties, depending on the essential oil you use. Tea tree, cinnamon and sweet orange essential oil, amongst others have antibacterial properties, making them great ingridients for hand soap. In this soap I’ve added lemongrass and sweet essential oil – which also smells divine.

My mold is 900 grams, so this is the recipe I’ve used:

  • 900 grams of coconut oil
  • 342 grams of Water
  • 140 grams sodium hydroxide
  • 40 ml Lemon grass essential oil (optional)
  • 50 ml Sweet orange essential oil (optional)
  • 1 spoon Aloe vera gel (optional) – added in the lye

Suoerfat is at 15%

The last three ingredients are optional and can be exchanged or completely left out. I prefer to keep the essential oils at 10 ml per 100 grams of base oils (carrier oils), but many use less than that. If you want to make less or more than this recipe, simply run it through your preferred soap calculator,

//Louise

‘Stone Age Bread’- gluten free alternative to danish style rye bread

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I’m currently spending some time at my best friends place, and she is an incredible cook. So when we bought some ‘Stone Age’ bread’ mix, she instantly said she could give me a better recipe than the premix. And then she did!

Stone Age bread is a made entirely up of seeds, nuts, eggs and oil. This combination makes it both gluten free and lactose free – as well as full of proteins, fibers and healthy oils (from the seeds and nuts). Another thing I love about it is how filling it is! Now lets get to the recipe and process.

Creating the recipe

Another great aspect of Stone Age bread is that you can customize it according to your own liking, and availability of different ingredients. The base ingredients remains the same – eggs, oil and salt – but the rest can be mixed however you want. Only rule is that the flexible ingredients needs to make up 600 grams all in all.

So just to make it completely clear – you create the recipe by choosing your flexible ingredients, as well as optional ingredients – while the base ingredients remains the same. The ingredients are:

Base ingredients:Ā 

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dl oil (canola, sunflower, coconut, olive or other)

FlexibleĀ ingredients:Ā 

1. Seeds: 350-400 grams

  • Sesame seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

2. Nuts: 150-200 grams

  • Almonds
  • Wallnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecan nuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • Macadamia nuts

OptionalĀ ingredients (added by eye measure):

  • Dried berries (cranberries, goji berries, dates etc)
  • Spices (salt, chilly flakes, garlic etc.)
  • Herbs (thyme, rosemary etc.)

How to make it

  1. Measure out your seeds and nuts and collect it in a bowl
  2. Add the egg, salt and oil and mix thoroughly
  3. Add any other optional ingredients and mix
  4. Fill the batter into a greased bread form
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 160 degrees for 1 hour
  6. Take the bread out of the form when it has cooled down

The bread will last for a week in the fridge. You can also cut it out and freeze it, and then toast the individual pieces before serving. Its delicious with cheese and different speeds. I had it this morning with some danish blue cheese and avocado. Yum!

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That was it for now. Feel free to leave a comment –

//Louise

How to form a liquid soap recipe

 

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When I started making natural liquid soap, I realized that there’s a lot less information on this process, than there is on solid soap making (both cold and hot process). This goes especially for info on how to combine oils in the right percentages to make a great liquid soap recipe. After a lot of searching and experimenting, I’ve gotten a basic idea on the things to consider when forming a liquid soap recipe. I would like to share what I’ve learned with you in this post, including a few examples of recipes I’ve used. If you have never made liquid soap, or would like to give it try, you can start out by reading:Ā How to make natural liquid soap.

In the postĀ How to form a soap recipe, I explain the process of forming a recipe for solid soap, and there’s a few things that are very different when forming a liquid soap recipe.

1. Liquid soap can contain high amounts of soft oils

Solid soap is all about making the bar hard and long lasting. This means that a lot of oils can’t be used in high quantities, because they make a soft and sticky bar of soap. These are called soft oils – meaning that they are fluid at all times (coconut, palm and mango butter are examples of hard oils, because they turn solid at certain temperatures). Liquid soap formulas on the other hand can easily contain high amounts of soft oils, since you don’t have to worry about the soap turning soft. Examples of soft oils are sunflower, sweet almond, avocado, safflower, sastor and canola oil.

2. Liquid soap needs high amounts of coconut oil

Coconut oil is a must in most soap formulations, because it gives great cleansing properties and abundant lather. Though in solid soap, coconut oil isn’t used above 30 percent, because it makes the soap drying (unless it’s super fatted properly. Read:Ā 3 Coconut Soaps ā€“ for hair, body and clothes). Liquid soap on the other hand needs high amounts of coconut oil, to give proper lather and is often used between 60-90% of the total soap formulation. I’ve not experienced it to make the soap drying, properly because of the added water.

3. Liquid soap isn’t super fattedĀ 

To Superfat a soap is to leave some of the oil ‘unsaponified’ in the soap, but since liquid soap has added water, the excess oil would just float on the top of the final soap. This means that it’s pointless superfatting liquid soap, the same way you would in solid. Though there’s two ways to do it, which is to add glycerin or sulfated castor oil, which are both water soluble.

4. Liquid soap gets cloudy if certain oils are usedĀ 

This is of absolutely no importance to me personally, but for many soapers it’s important to keep the liquid soap completely clear (not cloudy). Some oils make liquid soap cloudy because they contain high amounts of ‘unsaponifiables’ (oil that can’t be made into soap), and is therefore left as oil in the final soap, that creates cloudy masses. Examples of these are palm oil, lard, tallow and all types of butters (cocoa, mango, Shea etc.). It’s recommended only to add these at 5% of the total recipe, if you want to keep the soap clear.

Another way this is ensured is to make the soap with higher amounts of potassium hydroxide and then neutralizing the soap at the end. This won’t work though if there’s too much ‘unsaponifiables’ in the recipe, so either way first rule is key.

How to formulate a recipe

To make this guide more simple, I will write down a general guide and then mention the exceptions in the section with recipes. According to me there’s three parts to a great soap recipe, with the option of excluding the third category. These are:

1. Coconut oil – 60% to 90% of theĀ recipeĀ 

Coconut oil is a must, in any amount from 60% to 90%. I’ve tried all the ranges, and from what I can feel, the biggest change is how abundant the lather is. Though I would say the more sensitive your skin is, or if you want to make soap for children, the smaller amounts of coconut oil should be used. Baby soap is the only time I would add less than 50% coconut oil – and accept the soap will just lather less.

2. Soft oils – 10% to 40% of the recipeĀ 

Soft oils serves to add moisture to your soap, and also to keep the price down. What’s great about liquid soap recipes, is that a lot of really cheap oil makes for great components in high quantities. These are for example sunflower, canola, safflower and castor oil. Other examples are sweet almond oil, avocado oil and apricot kernel. Olive oil isn’t technically a soft oil, but is also a very moisturizing oil. Therefore it can also be added to the recipe as a soft oil.

3. Hard oils – 5% of theĀ recipeĀ 

Hard oils can add some extra body to your soap, but needs to be added in less than 5% if you prefer an unclouded soap. Though, since I don’t care I’ve added up to 15% and loved the outcome. Examples are cocoa butter, shea butter, mango butter and kokum butter. Personally I don’t use palm oil, because of its environmental concerns but I’ve heard it’s great for liquid soap. Additionally are tallow and lard, which I also don’t use.

These three in combination will make a great recipe. Let’s take some examples.

Liquid soap recipies

1. The super lathering oneĀ 

  • 90% Coconut oil
  • 10% Castor oil

2. The cheap oneĀ 

  • 60% Coconut oil
  • 10% Castor oil
  • 30% Sunflower or Safflower oil

3. The Luxurious oneĀ 

  • 60% coconut oil
  • 10% castor
  • 25% sweet almond or avocado oil
  • 5% mango, kokum or shea Butter

Now to the exceptions:

3. The baby soapĀ 

  • 100% olive oil

4. The cleaning soap (for a sparkling house or super clean laundry)

  • 100% coconut oil

I’m a bit apprehensive writing a baby soap recipe containing coconut oil, since I don’t have much experience with it. But from what I can deduct it could work with small amounts of coconut oil and high amounts of soft oil – if you want to avoid using olive oil.

This was all I could cook up for now. I’m not nearly as experienced in liquid soap as I am in cold process soap making, so feel free to write in the comment section if you disagree with something or have other input – I’d love to hear it!

//Louise

Breakfast Waffles (Gluten free)

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The other day I found an old fashioned waffle iron in a second hand shop, and absolutely just had to have it! One thing I love about Denmark is the well organized, high quality but still cheap, second hand shops to be found in almost any town.

I’ve never really taken any sides in the ‘is gluten bad for you’ conversation, but I do acknowledge that a lot of gluten products are high in fast carbohydrates and starch – which can be unhealthy if eaten in excess. For that reason I’m always experimenting with gluten alternatives in my baking and cooking, and of course I wanted to try this out with my waffles as well. I also made them dairy free, since a family member is intolerant, but they will turn out just as great with milk. In case you don’t have a waffle iron, this can be made as pancakes as well. I made them with some creme fraise mixed with honey and vanilla powder, topped with blue berries.

Ingredients (4 waffles):Ā 

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  • 4 dl oats
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 dl rice milk, almond milk, soya milk or regular milk
  • 1 banana (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder (optional)

How to make it:Ā 

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a mixer or blender and blend till smooth
  2. Heat the waffle iron or pan on the stove
  3. Grease the iron with butter and let melt
  4. Make your waffles, greasing the waffle iron according to need (if using an old waffle iron you will need to turn it manually)

Since the waffles look like little hearts, they could make a pretty cute birthday breakfast or just as a Sunday surprise for a loved one. They can also be served with ice cream or whipped cream to make it more of a dessert, or even be made into food waffles – with some spices and herbs, but thats a project for next time.

Here’s the final result – and with that, I will end this post. Feel free to leave a comment or question below.

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3 methods of making soap (solid)

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I’ve been making soap for a few years now, and have slowly but steadily tried out a number of different soap making methods (for solid soap). Each method has its merits and limitation, that I would like to explore in this post. I will include links to the different posts I’ve written in the past describing the methods, and include simple instructions for the ones I’ve never written about. Here we go.

1. Melt and pour

This method can be a great way to start your soaping adventure. In fact, it was how I started too! Melt and pour is the method of melting specially melt and pour soap bases, either in the micro oven or in a double boiler. Once the bases has been melted, powders and scents can be added to the bases, before its poured into a soap mold. This way you can design your soaps scent, color, additives and shape – as long as none of the additives are fresh foods (since they will rot in the soap).

Merits:

  • This method uses no lye (since the soap base has already been made) and it is therefore suitable for children to participate in. It can be a great project to make a home with little ones, and once they become bigger they would even be able to do it on their own
  • It’s a great way to experiment with scent combinations and different types of powders to add color or properties to the soap
  • Melt and pour needs very little amounts of scent (essential oils or fragrance) making it much more economical than other methods
  • It takes a lot less time than any other soap making method and doesn’t need any special equipment except for a soap mold. Even this can be worked around by using muffin molds

Limitations:

  • To make a soap base melt-able, chemicals have to be added, which makes the soap less natural. Cold process soap cant be melted easily, so to use this method, you will have to use the special soap bases
  • The feel of melt and pour soaps just can’t compete with natural soap made from scratch. In my opinion at least!
  • You can’t use anything fresh (food items) in melt and pour, meaning many additives are excluded that can be added during other methods
  • Even though this is a great way to experiment with scents and additives, both of these act differently in cold and hot process soap, so it wont necessarily prepare you completely to use them in other methods
  • Melt and pour limits the number of designs you can make, because the soap base hardens quite fast. It’s possible to layer with colors but its very difficult swirl together

2. Cold process soap

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Cold process soap making was the second method I ever tried, and is till today also my favorite. During cold process soap making, combinations of oils is mixed with lye dissolved in liquid (sodium hydroxide). After these three elements are combined, the mix is blended until trace (the moment it starts thickening), where-after scent and other additives can be added. Finally the mixture is poured into the mold, and left to cure for 4-8 weeks. If you want to give this method a try you can read more here: How to make natural soap, How to form a soap recipe and Coloring soap naturally.

Merits:

  • Cold process soaps gives you all options open when it comes to using different types of ingredients, including fresh foods (as long as its blended or juiced). This is what I always loved about it – its like an empty canvas, waiting to be filled
  • Because the process is such the soap is poured while quite fluid, it gives many options in design. It’s possible to layer colors, swirl them together, “paint” with soap, embed older soap pieces into a new soap and much more
  • This process doesn’t take as little time as melt and pour but not as long as hot process – so it’s completely possible to fit it into a busy day. It takes me around 1-2 hours
  • In my experience cold process soaps are harder and last longer, while still maintaining good lather

Limitations:

  • Cold process soaps has to cure for 4-8 week, so patience is key
  • Compared to melt and pour this method needs a lot of fragrance or essential oil for the scent to stay in the soap
  • Compared to hot process this method more often goes wrong without possibility of damage control (at least not one that leaves the soap pretty)
  • This method is all about timing, so you will have times when you just run out of time – I’ve experienced not being able to add scent, or the mass hardening so much I couldn’t pour it like I wanted. This can be minimized with practice though
  • It’s a bit unpredictable how colorants will act for example. And when it’s done there’s no going back

3. Hot process soap – solid

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Hot process is basically cold process, but with the added element of ‘cooking’ the soap for a few hours (2-4 hours). I’ve never written a post on hot process soap making, except for liquid soap (How to make natural liquid soap), but there is a lot of info on it online. I’ve tried the process a few times, and find it a lot less ‘scary’ that I thought. It’s a lot like cooking a meal really!

Merits:

  • Hot process has a lot more options of salvaging the soap, and very rarely goes very wrong in comparison to cold process soap
  • Time! You get time to take manage everything, meaning less goes wrong because of running out of time
  • In theory the soap is ready to use 24 hour after making it, because the heating accelerates the lye/oil reaction. Though, in experience the soap is still quite soft at this point, so I usually still give it at least 2 weeks to harden

Limitations:

  • Hot process soaps get a lot thicker and stickier, making it hard to pour. It’s really more scooping than pouring. This makes it impassible to make certain designs that you can when making cold process
  • If you want to be 100% certain all the lye in the soap is gone, you will have to get a PH meter which is quite pricey. Though there is other methods of checking, that are quite precise that you can use

This way all for now. Feel free to ask anything or comment.

//Louise

Other soap related posts:

5 ways to use oil for health and beauty

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1. Oil pulling

Oil pulling has been practiced in a number of indigenous cultures, including in India, for centuries. Oil pulling is the practice of keeping oil in your mouth for 15-20 min., allowing the oil to ‘pull’ out toxins from the gums and thereby leaving them and your body healthier. I was never one to get too much into the science of such methods, but in general go with my gut feeling on whether it sounds credible or not. I have a lot of faith in practices that have survived generations, but make sure to keep a balance according to the seriousness of the situation. Meaning I uses natural methods to prevent illness, but never take the chance if I get seriously ill.

What oil pulling can have an effect on is:

  • Whitening the teeth
  • Preventing bad breath
  • Reducing tooth decay and improving health of gums
  • Detoxifying the body and reducing inflammation
  • Relieving headaches and hangovers
  • Clearing sinuses
  • Improving sleep
  • Clearing troubled skin such as acne and eczema
  • Improving hormonal balance

How to ‘oil pull’

  1. Choose an oil – I use whatever is handy, and taste all right. I have used coconut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and olive oil. Coconut oil, with it’s antibacterial properties and pleasant taste, is a clear favorite.
  2. Take a spoon full of oil, and put it in your mouth. Preferably on an empty stomach. Try to fit it into a routine, such as when you are preparing breakfast. You might feel uncomfortable at first keeping the oil in your mouth, but give it some minutes to see if it settles in. You can take small amounts the first couple of times to get used to it.
  3. Keep it in your mouth, swirling it around occasionally, for 10 to 15 min.
  4. Spit the oil out in the sink. Don’t swallow it.
  5. Brush your teeth like you normally would.

Voila, easy peasy! It’s good to make it a routine over a longer period of time. I believe nothing will fix anything if only done once or twice. Give it a try over a couple of weeks, and see for yourself if you feel any differences.

2. The oil cleansing method

Unlike ‘oil pulling’, this method might give you more visible results faster. This is a method to clean your skin, using only oil, warm water and a wash cloth. Over the last years I’ve had a lot of issues with blemishes and irritated skin, and this method has really helped calm my skin when it was particularly inflamed. I’ve used a number of different oils, and haven’t seen a major difference in result, so I usually just use what I have at hand. Some possible choices are: almond oil, flax seed oil, olive oil and coconut oil.

How to use the oil cleansing method

  1. Apply oil on your face in a generous amount
  2. Either let the hot tap run until the water is really hot or keep a pot of hot water aside before starting
  3. Soak your wash cloth in the hot water. It’s a little tricky to get the water hot enough to steam, but not so hot you burn your fingers, but practice makes perfect
  4. Place the steaming wash cloth over your face
  5. Repeat once or twice

The steam in combination with the oil, cleans out the pores, and leaves your skin moist at the same time. I usually don’t need to use a moisturizer after I use this method, since some of the oil is left on the skin.

3. Face & Body oil

There was a time when I used to make body butters to use on my skin, and I still occasionally do so, but I generally just use oil straight on my skin now. If you want to try making body butter, you can read how to here: Whipped Body Butter (with 2 to 4 ingredients). Well, there isn’t much of a trick in using oil on your skin, except for the fact that you can. I think many, including my former self, have a feeling that oil will make your skin oily and maybe even cause it to break out. Though in my experience, once your skin gets used to it, the oils soaks in within a minute and leaves the skin soft and moist. I try to use oils that are more light in texture such as sweet almond oil, flax seed oil and avocado oil, especially on sweaty summer days. In winters I sometimes use heavier oils, such as neem oil and a bit of castor oil, which are both much thicker in texture. To choose an oil that suits your skin, you can research the different properties of oils you have at hand, or just experiment. Personally I use oil after my morning shower and after cleaning my face in the evening.

4. Natural hair conditioner

A few years back I started questioning whether commercial products, was really as healthy as most of them claimed to be. Once I started reading up on the labels, and decoding the many ingredients that goes into for example shampoo or conditioner, I concluded that most of the same was if not unhealthy then at least unnecessary. I figured that had to be a simpler and more natural way to clean my body. When it came to conditioner, I turned to a traditionally practice of India, namely the one of ‘oiling’ hair. Oiling hair is as simple as it sounds, to apply oil to the scalp and hair before washing it, to make it soft and manageable. For me it has worked like a charm, and is also a very enjoyable tradition I share with some of my indian friends. To read more on how to oil you hair you can read:Ā How to oil your hair (natural conditioner).

5. Toothpaste

When I started out making my own products, toothpaste was of course one of the products I got around to making. At first I was a bit doubtful on whether natural ingredients would be able to clean my teeth as well as a commercial toothpaste, but three years later and still no cavities, I’m not in doubt anymore. The first natural toothpaste I made was oil based, but I have later gone over to using tooth powder – which you can read about here: Trashy Toothbrushes. Though I wanted to include the oil based version in this post, in case some might prefer it over the tooth powder.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 10-20 drops of peppermint or spearmint essential oil (optional)

How to make it:

  • Depending on where you are, and the temperature there, your coconut oil might be fluid or solid. If needed, put the coconut oil in a water bath to melt it
  • Put the two tsp coconut oil in the container you want to store your toothpaste
  • Mix baking soda in and stir
  • Drop the essential oils in, and taste to determine how much you want to add

How to use it:

  • If the paste is too solid, you can keep under hot water for 30 sec, and if it’s too fluid you can put in the freezer for a little while. Mostly I don’t fuss, and have just used it as it was
  • Dip your toothbrush to add a little and brush as you normally would

That was it for now. Hope it gave you some inspiration! This is just a fraction of how many different uses oil has, with tons of info online just waiting to be discovered.

//Louise