DIY Coconut & Coffee scrub cubes

Disclaimer: since cold pressed coconut oil hardens under room temperature, it can create plumping use if poured excessively down the drain in colder climates.

Coconut & Coffee body scrub cubes is one of the easiest DIY project you’ll ever make – and it will make your skin feel as soft and smooth as a babies bottom! It can also temporarily help cellulite effected areas, by tightening the skin, as well as treat minor skin irritations. Besides these benefits, it’s just a great way to make a two-in-one solution for a scrub and moisturiser!

Why Coconut & Coffee?

Coconut oil is a widely used oil for health and beauty world wide, and for good reasons. In India it has used for thousands of years, as a part of the ancient science of Ayuveda, for both internal and external healing. For skin Coconut Oil is used to promote wound healing and cooling in conditions such as eczema, as well as general nourishing and moisturising. Since it is highly antibacterial and antimicrobial, it can also help ease different mild skin irritations.

Coffee grounds scrubs off dead skin cells, leaving the skin smoother and softer. It is also known to be absorbed into the skin where it dehydrates the fluid in cellulite effected areas, tightening the skin temporarily. An extra benefit is that it’s a great way to reuse your coffee grounds, from your morning coffee!

What you need

  • Coffee grounds (used)
  • Coconut oil (not fractioned since it won’t harden – either 72 degrees or 92 degrees)
  • Essential oils of choice (optional)
  • An ice cube tray

How to go about it

  1. Spread the coffee ground in an ice tray
  2. Heat the semi-solid coconut oil either in a double boiler or in a warm water bath
  3. Pour coconut oil over the coffee grounds
  4. Add two-three drops of essential oil to each
  5. Put the tray in the freezer until solid
  6. Once solid, put them in a jar and keep it in the fridge (unless you keep your house under room temperature – around 22 degrees Celsius)

How to use them

  1. Take out a scrub cube before your bath or shower. You will use the scrub as the last thing, so don’t put it too close to a steaming hot shower since it might melt
  2. Put the cube in your hand and it will soon start melting
  3. Scrub it against the areas of your body you want to treat
  4. Wash the grounds of with water, but no soap (since it will wash away the coconut oil
  5. Step out of the shower/bath and dry yourself lightly with a towel, to allow the coconut oil to be absorbed into your skin
  6. Voila!

That was all for now. Would love to hear from you if you try this out – or have other tips on easy DIY projects from natural beauty.

//Louise

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Coconut:Coffee scrub cubes is one of the easiest DIY project you'll ever make - and it will make your skin feel as soft and smooth. It can also temporarily help cellulite, by tightening

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Homemade all-natural hand sanitizer (Dettol alternative)

Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers have boomed over the last decade, and ironically enough this has introduced a number of new health concerns.  That being said, keeping a good hand hygiene (washing your hands with good old soap and water) is essential to stay healthy. Because I don’t always have access to soap and water when I travel here in India, I have learned to make my own hand sanitizer from all-natural ingredients, that I would like to share with you. But first a little background.

The antibacterial scam

While we are being bombarded with commercials, stating that antibacterial products are more effective than regular soap and water, the reality is more complex. Many antibacterial agents added in commercial products, are strong chemicals that does more damage to our health than it prevents. Additionally, test have shown no evidence they do a better job at cleaning your hands. If you want to read more on this topic, you can start by reading The dangers of antibacterial soap (Dettol).

Its also important to understand that not all bacteria is bad – actually, we need them to stay healthy! We even need to be exposed to ‘bad’ bacteria to help build up our immune system, which usually happens as we grow up. Though the same process continues every time we get exposed to a new environment. My point is this: don’t take commercial companies on their word. Understand the science, and make an informed decision. I’ve concluded that the best option is natural soap, water and homemade hand sanitizer.

The Ingredients

Rubbing alcohol – a strong antibacterial agent, often used for disinfecting and sterilizing. It can be left out of the recipe, for a milder hand sanitizer.

Aloe Vera gel – a nourishing gel, that is mild on the skin. It can help treat small rashes and skin irritations.

Essential oil – a selection of EO’s with antibacterial properties – choose between tea tree, cinnamon, Oregano, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemongrass and Bergamot, Clove.

(Optional) Glycerin – a moisturizing liquid, known for it’s ability to ‘attract’ moisture from the air. Rubbing alcohol can be drying, and this is to counter that.

The Recipe

Note: the recipe is not adjusted to children. Do research child safe essential oils, to adjust accordingly.

  • 1 tbs Rubbing Alcohol
  • 5 tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
  • 20 drops Essential Oils of choice
  • 1/2 tsp Glycerin

Simply mix the ingredients in a bowl and stir for a few minutes. Keep it in an airtight container. I have re-used an old squeeze bottle, which fits conveniently in my hand bag.

This was all for now. Let me know if you have any questions or comments below. I’d be happy to hear your favorite recipe for homemade hand sanitizer if you have any!

//Louise

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How to make two types of soap in one batch

The only downside of making soap at home, is that sometimes there’s just too many new (and expensive) things I want to try out – which is actually why I developed the trick I’m about to explain. In this post I will explain how you can make two or more types of soap in one go, in a way that’s simple enough for anyone with basic soap making skills to do so. If you want to see it live, you can check out my last post: Video tutorial: cold process soap making, where I make two types of soaps in one go. I will use the same soap as an example in this post.

Creating your base recipe – but mixing up the rest

I’m sure a lot of soapers can relate to having a ‘go to’ soap recipe, when it comes to the base oils (carrier oils). There might be smaller variations, but all of us have our favorites. I think this is for good reason, because when something works – why change it? But we still need the excitement of changing it up whenever we make soap, which is where the esthetic and experience of the soap comes into the picture – the shape, smell, look and feel can make two soaps seems completely different even if the base is the same. So to make two types of soap, you simply create a base recipe – but plan out different scents, additives and shapes for the two (or more soaps) you want to make. Here is an example of a two soaps in one:

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 – 141.77 grams
  • Coconut milk – 425.30 grams
The two batches (separated after trace):

Batch 1 – around 800 grams:

This batch will be poured in a loaf mold in a simple swirl with the following ingredients:

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

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Batch 2 – around 200 grams:

This batch will be poured in small muffin molds, unscented with the following one ingredient for color:

  • Paprika powder

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How to go about it

I’ve divided this part in three steps: Planning, Preparation & Timing. Here we go.

Planning

Once you’ve chosen your base recipe, plan out how the two soaps will be different, in a way you are sure you’ll be able to manage. For example if it’s the first time you try this out, start by only changing one element – such as shape or scent. If you’re more experienced you can plan out changing more elements, and even plan to make two different swirls in your two batches. Though whatever you plan, it’s important that it is completely clear before you make your soap. I usually spend some time visualizing my soap, and then write it down on a piece of paper with all the different components and details of each of the batches.

Preparation

Since you will be working with more components than normal, it’s important to prepare as much as you can before you start. Examples of ways to prepare are:

  • Set out as many bowls as you will be dividing the batter into (for two simple batches, prepare two bowls, for two batches with swirls prepare four bowls etc.)
  • Add the additives in the bowls at the preparation stage. If it’s powders, you can mix a little oil in it to make sure they don’t clump when the batter is added. You can either add the essential oil directly in the bowl at preparation, or put it next to to the bowl in a smaller container, so its ready to be added.
  • If you want to pour the soup in different molds, place them so you’ve got plenty of space to work. The batter might be hardening fast, and you wont have time to move things around when you are in the middle of the process.

Timing:

Anyone that has made soap before, knows it’s all about timing, and even more so when you are trying to make two different soaps in one go. The only thing I really do, is to separate the soap batter into the different bowls, a little before it really thickens (trace) and then use a hand whisk for the last thickening. In this way you gain some time to mix in the different additives before they become too thick. A useful pointer is the following: if one mold is a cavity mold, pour that one first. It’s really hard to scoop into a cavity mold (without spending too much time smoothing it out). On the other hand, if you plan a swirl in one of the soaps, pour that first – once it’s too solid, you wont be able to make certain swirls.

Now, that was all for now. Remember, practice makes perfect. I’ve only done this a few times, but I get better every time. And it really keep things interesting when you got the regular process down.

//Louise

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Video tutorial: cold process soap

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

//Louise

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The best hand washing soap (pure coconut soap with recipe)

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

Super fat 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 (with recipes)

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 – 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 – 60% 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 – 10% 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 – 5% 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

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3 different methods to make natural soap

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), namely: Melt and Pour, Cold Process and Hot Process. 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:

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