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 bear with me if some parts of it are 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 cedarwood oil
  • 25 ml lemongrass oil
  • Aronia powder

Batch 2 – 200 grams – unscented:

  • Paprika powder

//Louise

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The best hand washing 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 are 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, Castor, 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 superfatted 

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 are 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 are 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 are 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 serve 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 recipes

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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Natural ways to colour soap

In this post, I want to share some of the natural colorants I’ve used over the time, all with fantastic added properties that will make for a great soap. If you don’t know how to make soap, I recommend that you start here: How to make natural soap.

Use the code CORNER25 and get 25% discount at Moksha Lifestyle Products, to shop the ingredients. Moksha is a leading wholesale supplier of 100% Pure, Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils and other materials around the world.

Methods to color soap

First, I’ll go through different methods of coloring soap. Let me list them out:

  • Powder – by powdering a number of herbs, algae, roots, flowers, spices, and others, you can color your soap at trace
  • Oil infusing – by infusing some of the above in oil over typically 3-6 weeks, you can color the oil as well as add extra properties to it. Keep in mind it isn’t all herbs etc., that will give off color when infused
  • Liquid – by adding or completely substituting the water with another liquid, before adding the lye to it, you can color your soap without much extra work
  • Oils – by adding certain colored oils or essential oils, you can add a color naturally. I’ve only come across a few that really added color, but never the less I will be mentioning some of them

Now let’s get to the specifics.

Turmeric/Haldi

Turmeric has been used for centuries in the traditional Indian medicine known as Ayurveda, because of its strong anti-oxidant and anti=inflammatory properties. Today, besides its uses in cooking, its still used for preventing and fighting disease as well as in traditional beauty regimes and remedies. Most common uses in beauty are by applying it in a paste to the face and body, for clear and bright skin. Actually, a Turmeric paste is often applied to the skin of a bride to be in traditional Indian weddings, and some places in South India it is used by women as a face powder. Needless to say, it is a great additive to soap and makes for a variety of yellow shades. When adding it to your soap, be aware that the color will look much darker right after being added, as it will when the soap has cured. Also, an excess will make the soap ‘bleed’ yellow. I typically add between 1-4 tablespoon fulls per kg of oil.

Juice and Puree

Both Fruit and Vegetable juices and purees can be used as the base liquid for your soap, giving a beautiful color as well as extra properties. The same way nutrients in juices can nurture us from the inside, they can do the same from the outside. I prefer to press the juice myself, but it is also possible to use store-bought stuff. Again, the color will always be the brightest right after the soap has been made, so to ensure you get a bright color you can add powder of same shade. For example, add Turmeric with Carrot juice or Spirulina powder with Avocado Puree.

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Switching the water with Carrot juice gives a lovely yellow color

Neem oil

Neem is in itself an amazing oil, also a found in Ayurveda. It has a deep yellow color, making it ideal to use for coloring soaps yellow. Even though it has a very strong smell, it fades as the soap cures if not added in two high amounts. Neem oil is also known to be an unstable oil, so I usually don’t add it above 10% of the complete amount of oils. Besides the added color, Neem is also one of the most healing oils you can find. It’s ideal for troubled skin and can help treat a number of issues such as eczema, acne, rashes and irritations, fungus and infections as well as smaller cuts.

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5 % Neem oil in a Coconut soap

Multani Mitti and other clays

Also known as Bentonite clay or Fullers Earth this clay makes for an amazing additive. To read more about its amazing properties, you can start by reading Uses of Indian Healing Clay. There are a number of wonderful clays that can add color to your soap – but for environmental reasons, I prefer those found here in India. Though in the picture I’ve added a French Green clay soap, just because it looks so damn pretty. Doesn’t it? So, if you wanna go for it, french clay also includes Red and Pink clay, both giving beautiful looks to the soap. Another Indian clay is Karolin clay, that gives a light cream or whitish color. Additionally, to the beautiful look, clay also helps scents stay in the soap longer, and gives a creamy lightly scrubby feel to it.

Spirulina & Activated Charcoal

This soap was actually a mistake. I wanted one part to be green and the other to be black, swirling it in a pattern. In the end, I had to mix it, and this is what came. Unfortunately, you can’t really see the color Spirulina gives, but it’s one of the best green colorants I’ve found. Will be sure to upload a picture, as soon as I make one where the color is more clear. I ended up loving this soap and called it soap ‘Starry night’. Activated Charcoal, besides its intense black color, also cleans the skin by absorbing impurities and pollutants. This makes it a very popular additive in commercial products, but why not use it without all the chemicals?

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Coffee grounds

I’ve written on this before, so won’t say much about it. If you want to read more on the uses and properties of coffee grounds you can read it here: Reusing your coffee grounds. Actually, I just wanted another excuse to display this beautiful picture. So here it is, enjoy!

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Alkanet Root

Alkanet is a herb, whereof the roots are commonly used in dyes for red and purple color. This root can also be used to color soap and other natural cosmetics in these shades. In the pictures below, the bigger picture is from grinding the root and adding it as a powder. The top small one is from infusing the oil over a couple of weeks and adding between 10% to 30% of the infused oil to a batch of soap, When infusing it I use the full root without grinding it. The last picture is from adding shavings of an Alkanet colored purple soap to a coconut shampoo bar. So three fun ways to give a purple color!

Henna/Mehendi

Last but not least, I’ve used Heena as a colorant for green or brown color. In India, this plant is mainly used for coloring hair and skin, but it is also a very strong anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Now, because Heena colors the skin and hair if left as a paste, adding it to soap is a great way to use the wonderful properties of Henna without the stain. Henna does come in different variants, but you can see the color of the one I’ve used.

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And the rest…

The list of colorants is eternal. Here are a few I’ve come across:

  • Moringa, Alfalfa leaf, and Stevia for green
  • Red Sandalwood and Saffron for red
  • Arrowroot powder for white
  • Annatto seed for yellow
  • Cinnamon and Cacao powder for brown

This was all I had for now. I’m sure there will be more posts on coloring soaps as I find new ways. As I have said in earlier posts, only your imagination limits the possibilities of artworks you can make out of your soap.

Do let me know if you have any colorants that should be added to this list.

//Louise

Uses of Indian healing clay (Multani Mitti)

I first heard of Multani Mitti when I was looking for a way to make a face mask (or face pack if you’re based in India) with all natural ingredients. Now, it’s not that I hadn’t tried making natural face masks before, but only from things such as yogurt and avocado, and honestly, I always ended up making a mess with those. I wanted to find something that I could wear on my face, without having to lay completely still, and even then dripping down the sides of my face. Is it just me?? So now you must have guessed the first use.

For Skin

Multani Mitti has great cleansing properties, absorbs oils and impurities and is a natural antiseptic, making the name Indian Healing Clay very fitting. It can be used to treat a number of skin ailments such as acne and other skin irritations like small cuts, burns and insect bites. This is done by applying the clay as a paste to the affected area, leaving it to dry and then wash it off. Though, you can also use it, in general, to keep your skin clean and healthy. Once I asked a woman I worked with here in India what her grandmother used to clean her skin with and one of the answers was ‘Multani Mitti’.

I’ve not used Multani Mitti as a general body cleaner, but regular use it to make a cleansing Face mask. I simply add few spoons of clay to water or other liquids depending on what I feel like my skin needs at the time.

  • Water for normal skin
  • Honey or Rosewater for sensitive skin
  • Apple Cider vinegar for Acne Prone skin

It’s a good idea to test this on your skin before going for a full mask, to make sure it doesn’t cause irritation. Other ingredients I sometimes add includes Turmeric and Activated Charcoal.

For Soap

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Swirl from Multani Mitti & Activated Charcoal

I use Multani Mitti in soap on a regular basis, because it gives a smooth lather and adds the properties of the clay to the soap. Its ideal for shaving soaps because the lather becomes very dense and silk-like, making it similar to shaving foam (minus the toxins :)).  Clays also help the scent of essential oil stay in the soap, and then, of course, add the earthy brown color.

For Teeth

Yes, I brush my teeth with it, and I must admit I love it. Would never go back to using conventional toothpaste. I’ve written an earlier post on my dental routine, including how I make toothpowder. You can find the whole post here. I will give the recipe here as well. It is as follows –

  • 2 tablespoons Multani Mitti – gentle detoxifying cleanser, rich in minerals 
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda – mild abrasive polish that removes stains from teeth 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – – for flavor and gum health 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon – for flavor and gum health
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon steviato sweeten the taste 
  • 3/4 teaspoon activated charcoal to whiten the teeth 
  • 5-10 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oilfor minty fresh breath

Gather all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it. Keep in a glass jar, and simply wet your toothbrush and dip it in the powder when you want to brush your teeth.

For Detox

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Multani Mitti can detox the insides as well as the outsides. When getting in contact with liquid, Multani Mitti gets the ability to bind toxins. It can, therefore, be used as a natural remedy for a number of stomach ailments such as constipation, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, gas etc.  Simply add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of clay to your water, and drink it a few times a day. I suggest you start with one class and wait to see the effect. This can also be used for pets with tummy issues, by adding 1/4 cup of clay or less to their water.

Another way to use it as detox is to add it to your bathtub. Add 1/4 cup of clay to your bath, and lay back to relax. I’ve used this to help recover from the flu, but can also be to simply relax and stay healthy.

Other Uses

There is a number of other uses of Multani Mitti I have not yet explored. Though I thought I would still put them down for anyone that would like to try it out:

  • As baby powder for irritated baby bums
  • As an alternative clothes whitener 
  • A natural remedy for morning sickness when pregnant
  • For a general daily health boost 

Now that was all. Do you know any more uses? Would love to hear them in the comment section.

//Louise

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How to reuse your coffee grounds

I love coffee. In fact I’m drinking coffee right now, at almost 11 pm. Safe to say I accumulate a lot of coffee grounds. I separate all my trash in the house, to recycle it – so if I’m not in the mood to put my grounds to better use, I compost it using Smart Bin Composter. Though, I have found a number of other more creative uses, that I would like to share.

Coconut/Coffee scrubby cubes

Coffee is known to be a great exfoliant, and can be used all over the body to scrub off dead skin cells. Many even say it can help lessen the appearance of cellulite, because it stimulates blood flow and tightens the skin. I will not commit to that outcome, since I don’t have any experience with it, but I still thought I should include it. Now, mixed with coconut oil, coffee grounds makes for the most skin loving body scrub – with the added bonus of being anti-microbial, because of the coconut oil.

How to make it:

  1. Take a ice cube tray
  2. Fill the bottom with your grounds, filling approximately 1/3 of the tray
  3. Pour coconut oil over the grounds
  4. Freeze, or leave out – depending on the temperature
  5. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge

How to use it: 

  • When showering take a cube out, and use it to scrub your body. It has to be used after using soap, since the coconut oil will be left on your body. The coconut oils will melt in your hand while scrubbing. It will leave your skin baby smooth and soft.

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Wash your hair in it

Now this might sound a little odd, but stay with me. Coffee exfoliates the scalp, stimulating hair growth and keeping it healthy. The grounds also softens the hair, and leaves it shiny. Trust me, I’ve tried it.

How to use it:

  • Take a small handful and scrub it into your scalp, after wetting your hair. Keep at it until you covered the whole scalp. Wash with shampoo, and rinse until all the grounds have been washed out. That simple!

Mix it in your soap

If you’re into making soap, be it melt and pour or cold process, adding coffee grounds can make for a great scrubby soap. Use it like any other soap additive. If you are new to soap making, you can start here. I love making one side scrubby and the other smooth like the picture underneath.

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Boost plant health

Coffee grounds make for a great plant health booster, because it releases Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus and other minerals. It also helps in keeping pest like ants, snails, and slugs away from your plants.

I keep an airtight jar in my kitchen where I put my remaining coffee grounds. When it’s full, I sprinkle them on my house plants, and leave it to mix with the soil. When my compost has turned to soil, I also mix it with coffee grounds for the perfect plant loving mixture.

I hope you found this useful, and do comment if you have some great uses for coffee grounds.

//Louise

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How to form a solid soap recipe

When I first started making cold process soap I was determined to make soap from Indian sourced oils, but I very fast realised that this would pose some challenges. Soap resources online are majorly American/European based, where Olive oil is a stable in soap recipes. That Olive oil is so common has a lot of good reasons – since it makes a hard, moisturising bar and can be used in high amounts of the total amount of oils. Though, this did pose me with a challenge, but hey, challenge excepted.

But I was determined! So I started learning how to form my own recipes, and after a lot (A LOT) of trial and error I have found some general principals to use when making a recipe. Whether you use Olive oil or not, you should be able to use my experiences to shape your own recipe. I will focus on the base recipe, meaning the Carrier oils, and not the additional additives (essential oils etc.). If you’re new to Soap making start by reading How to make natural soap to understand the basic content and process of making soap.

Choosing the purpose 

There is a few things to decide when you want to make your soap recipe. Some basic questions you should ask yourself is:

  • What do you want to use the soap for? Hair and body bars are different in structure, but it’s also possible to make a ‘universal’ soap bar that can be used all over the body.
  • What kind of properties do you want your soap to have? Soaps can be customized to treat a certain skin issue such as acne prone skin, dry skin or sensitive skin, but also just to your own personal preferences.
  • For the ones that sell soap for business, I would add – What do you want to emphasize about your soap? – when buyers look for soaps they tend to focus on a specific ingredient or abilities of the soap, with a certain ‘flair’ to it. This can also be a certain oil and it’s abilities you want to emphasize. It takes some understanding of your audience, and this mostly comes with experiences. An option is to seek out soapers groups on Facebook or other forums, to ask more experienced soapers for their evaluation of the market etc.

After some thought on these questions, you’re ready to go on choosing the oils you want to include in the recipe. Now, this takes some basic understanding of carrier oils, their structure, and abilities and how they behave in soap. I’ve included some of the most common soaping oils to the list (that are found in India).

Choosing your oils

Each oil has its own structure, and with that comes a set of abilities in soap. Certain oils like coconut make a super hard soap bar, with a thick lather that is very cleansing while other oils add moisturizing properties but also makes the soap soft. To keep this as simple as possible, I will not go into the specifics of the oil structure but go through the properties different oils add and what percentage is recommended to use it at out of your total amount of oils.

Hardness and cleanse

Coconut oil – use up 50% of oils: a stable in most soap recipes because of it’s incredible cleansing properties, as well as contributing to the hardness and lather of the soap. It’s possible to use coconut in higher percentages if the soap is superfatted accordingly. My rule of thumb is – used at 30%/superfat 7%, used at 50%/superfat 10-15% and used at 100%/superfat 20-30%. If you want to read more on making pure coconut soap read 2 coconut soaps – for face, body and clothes. Additional to hardness, cleanse and thick lather coconut soap is known to add antibacterial and antimicrobial properties to the soap.

Butters – use between 10-30% of oils: butters are mostly a luxury to add in higher quantities in soap because it’s on the pricy side. I use Kokum butter and Mango butter on a regular basis, but there is a long list of butter available today. Besides great moisturizing and healing properties, butters add to the hardness of the soap and give a creamy lather. One thing I’ve noticed is that by adding 15% of butters with 30% of coconut, I can un-mold much faster, and get a hard bar of soap. Because I tend to avoid Olive oil and Palm oil, which both contribute to the hardness of the soap, this has been one of my go-to methods to make my bars harder. Different butter has different recommended amounts – Mango Butter/up to 30%, Kokum Butter/up to 10% and Cocoa butter/up to 15%.

Other hard oils I choose not to use: Olive oil (up to 100%), Palm oil (up to 40%), Shea Butter (up to 25%)

Moisture

Castor oil – use between 5-10%: castor is in a league for itself when it comes to adding moisturizing abilities to soap. It can’t be used in too high amounts because it will make the soap soft and sticky. Though in the right amount, it’s also a stable oil in all my recipes.

Cheap oils (filler oils)

Sunflower – use up to 15%: sunflower is relatively cheap oil, but also a very moisturizing oil. Prices of oils are mostly set according to the cost of extraction, not how healthy or good it is. Reasons for not using too much Sunflower is that it will take away from the hardness of the soap, but in combo with hard oils, it works great.

Safflower- used up to 20%: similarly to Sunflower, this oils is relatively cheap, and can, therefore, be used as a ‘filler’ oil to bring down the cost of the soap. This oil is also very conditioning.

Sesame – used up to 10%: I use this oil in almost every recipe since it a cheap and moisturizing oil.

Other Filler oils I choose not to use: Canola (up to 40%), Soya bean oil (up to 15%)

Healing Oils

Neem – used at 10%: now it might just be me because I’ve heard of soapers that use it at higher quantities. What I’ve experienced is that it can cause the soap batch to expel oil when used in higher quantities. Also, it makes the soap trace very fast so be aware when using it. You barely need a stick blender. On the other hand, it is a strong medicinal oil, that can help treat and heal acne, eczema and other skin conditions. It also adds a yellow color to the soap. Now, the oil has a very strong smell, but my experience is that the smell goes out of the soap after curing a few days. I’ve used it as a colorant together with coconut oil soaps, to give a beautiful yellow color.

Luxury oils

Sweet Almond – used up to 20%: a very light oil, that contributes rich lather. Because it is a humectant (it attracts moisture), it adds moisture to your soap. It also helps soothe dry and troubled skin such as rashes and eczema. It is on the more expensive side, so I tend to use it at around 5-10%.

Avocado – used up to 20%: a very nutritious oil, with great regenerative and moisturizing properties. It also helps treat dry and irritated skin, but because of it’s the price I also use it in amounts between 5-10%.

Rule of thumb

Now, you can find endless info on the recommended usage of other oils, as well as their properties. What is important to understand is that any soap recipe needs to be balanced, between some basic properties most would find essential – hardness, lather, moisture, cleanse and price. I use some basic formula’s to ensure this, for body bars. For shampoo bars, I exclusively make pure coconut soap bars, so this is for body bars only. Rule of thumb: 40-50% hard oils or butter, 30% filler oils, 10% Castor & 10-20% Luxury, Healing, Other oils. Here are two examples:

Recipe 1: 

  • 30% Coconut
  • 15% Butter – Mango Butter, Kokum butter
  • 30% Filler oils – Sunflower, Safflower
  • 10% Sesame
  • 10% Castor
  • 5% Luxury oil – Sweet Almond oil, Avocado
  • Superfat: 5%

Recipe 2:

  • 50% Coconut
  • 25% Filler oils – Sunflower, Safflower, Sesame
  • 10% Castor
  • 10% Neem
  • 5% Luxury oil
  • Superfat: 10%

This was all I had for now. I really hoped it gave you enough to start making your own recipes. It gives a lot of freedom and Creativity to the soap making process. Let me know if there are some Indian oils I’ve missed (preferably available organic – Soya bean for examples is available in India, but not organically grown).

//Louise