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: 

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:¬†Dangers of Antibacterial Soap (Dettol)¬†and¬†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:¬†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

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:¬†How to make natural liquid soap.

In the post¬†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:¬†3 Coconut Soaps ‚Äď 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 fatted¬†

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 used 

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 Р60% to 90% of the recipe 

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 Р10% to 40% of the recipe 

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 Р5% of the recipe 

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 one 

  • 90% Coconut oil
  • 10% Castor oil

2. The cheap one 

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

3. The Luxurious one 

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

Now to the exceptions:

3. The baby soap 

  • 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

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:

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 soap, How 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

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

3 Coconut Soaps – for hair, body and clothes

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My soaping adventure has taken me through a number of different experiments with soap, but till date one of my favourites is to make pure Coconut soap. In this post I will go through three different recipes of pure Coconut soap, using the same method (cold process), but creating soap bars for three different uses:

  • As a Shampoo bar
  • As a Face & Body bar
  • As a Clothes Washing bar (for hand wash and machine wash)

If you are new to soap making, you can start by reading How to make natural soap to understand the basics of Cold Process soap making and Coloring soap naturally to learn how you use natural colourants in soap.

Why Coconut Soap?

I originally started making Coconut Soap because I was struggling to find a combination of oils in my soaps, that reached my four criteria 1) they should be Indian sourced 2) They should be Organic 3) They shouldn’t be too expensive 4) They should make a hard, cleansing and moisturising bar of soap. Three oils in particular are known to make very hard, balanced and moisturising soap bars – namely Olive oil, Palm oil and Coconut oil. Since Olive oil can’t be sourced from India, and Palm oil isn’t available from Organic and sustainable sources, I was left to find other alternatives. Even though I found many different combinations, I couldn’t really get the soap bars as hard as I wanted them, without doubling the price of my materials. Then one day I came across a post on making pure Coconut soap bars, something I had never even thought about. Today I have probably made more pure Coconut soap, than of other recipes, and I’ve found a number of up benefits and a few downsides to it:

Benefits:

  • It makes a super hard bar of soap that doesn’t get soft after use
  • It has great thick creamy lather
  • It is super cleansing and moisturising (if superfatted properly)
  • Its versatile – can be used for hair, body and clothes
  • It has a beautiful white colour if no colour is added, and gets a very rustic look if it is added
  • Its naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial
  • Its relatively cost effective since Coconut oil is a medium priced oil (here in India)

Downsides: 

  • It does have a very rustic look, and leaves a white coating on top of the soap that hides the colorant used – and is thereby not very suitable for making soaps with colours, patterns and swirls
  • It does disappear relatively fast, maybe because of its great lathering

All in all I think the upsides outweigh the downsides.

3 Coconut soaps – for hair, body and clothes

Because Coconut Soap is very cleansing, making a bar without superfatting it will make it very drying. Though by controlling the superfat % you can also modify it to serve the purpose you have in mind.

Superfat is the amount of oil left in the soap that isn’t saponified. It’s calculated in percentage, and will in most soaps vary from 5 to 7 percentage.

0% Superfat for a Clothes Washing bar 

Pure Coconut soap without any superfat makes the perfect clothes washing bar, because it is very cleansing. Make your soap like you normally would, with or without essential oils. You can cut them as bars to use for hand washing, or follow this Washing powder recipe for Machine wash:

What you need:

  • A bar of Coconut soap
  • 1/2 Washing Soda
  • Essential oil of choice (apply by drops until it smells like you want it to

How to make it:

  • Shred the Coconut soap with a normal kitchen shredder
  • Mix the soap shreds with the Washing Soda
  • Drop your essential oils until it has the desired smell
  • Optional: mix with a few power turns in a mixer grinder.

10% Superfat for Shampoo bar (12% for dry hair) 

Coconut soap makes for a great shampoo bar because it lathers a lot, giving you the same feeling as using regular shampoo. When making you’re recipe superfat by 10% for normal hair, and 12% if you’re hair is dry. Make your soap like you normally would and add your favourite essential oils to leave your hair smelling fantastic. You can also add softening or cleansing powders such as Amla, Shikakai, Soapnut or Arappu. Make sure to cure the bars (leave them to rest) for minimum 6 weeks after making them. Only use additives that will help soften or clean the hair – such as Soap nut, Amla, Hibiscus, Shikakai etc.

20% Superfat for a Face and body bar

For face and body you need some extra moisturising ¬†to make sure it doesn’t dry out the skin. Superfat by 20% and otherwise customise the soap according to your wishes. There’s is mostly not much difference between a face and a body bar, unless you’re trying to solve an issue you’re having on a specific part of your body – like acne, dryness etc. When superfatted this much it will take the soap a little longer to harden in the mould, but since Coconut already hardens pretty fast it won’t take very long (1 day max).

I hope this was useful. Do let me know if you give it a try, or have more know more ways of making or using Coconut soap.

//Louise