Recently I’ve got into soap making and I’m loving it. I simply can’t stop myself from trying out a new soap recipe almost every day. For my first ever cold process soap, I made this Home Made Castille Soap which I could actually call my own as it’s an adaptation of the Castile soap recipe found here. Basically, a Castile Soap is a soap made out of olive oil as a base and any other vegetable oils as additions.
Well, I didn’t have all the ingredients listed there so I took the risk and adapted a little to what I had in my cupboard: coconut oil (previous research on Internet suggested that it adds more foaming power to the finished soap) and Shea butter (adds hardness to the soap as well as being very moisturizing).
It was my first ever batch of home made cold process soap bars and, due to beginner’s luck or to the fact I used this lye calculator, the soap bars turned out all right. Feel free to choose your own oils when making soap at home and do read my quick guide for new soap makers.
It is said you need to leave the soap bars to cure for at least three months before using in the shower. I couldn’t wait that long. I waited a month and I used the soap for hand washing. It is foaming all right and smells good.
- 20 ounces olive oil
- 3 ounces coconut oil
- 3 ounces Shea butter
The lye solution:
- 8 ounces distilled water
- 3.35 ounces lye (Sodium Hydroxide )
The essential oils:
- tea tree essential oil – about 12 drops
- lime essential oil: about 12 drops.
The CP method:
Making CP soap at home comes with a lot of warnings. Therefore, although I believe soap making is just as dangerous as deep frying, I must specify that you should:
- Prepare everything you’ll need in advance: the ingredients; kitchen scales; heat resistant plastic bowl for the lye mixture, big enough heat resistant stainless bowl for the oils and the final soap mixture, molds, stick blender, candy thermometers, plus: protective soap making equipment (glasses, heat resistant gloves – in case you splash the lye, protective clothing). In addition make sure the kids and pets and husbands are not going to interfere with your cold process soap making.
Weigh the oils and place them in a double boiler or in a slow cooker to melt. Allow them to cool to 100° F to 125° F. (Prepare the lye solution during this time)
Weigh the lye in a bowl.
Weigh the cold distilled water.
This is the ‘dangerous bit’ where you’ll need to be fully equipped and not interfered with: Pour the lye in the water and gently and carefully stir until the lye dissolves (less than 1 minute). This is best done outdoors or in a well ventilated area. Try not to inhale the fumes. Turn your nose up, hold your breath or wear a gas mask. Entirely your choice! Whatever you do, DO NOT SPLASH on your skin, it burns or so they say. If you do splash on your skin, they also say that vinegar helps.
Stand the thermometer in the lye mixture. (I skipped this part but when I’ll have a thermometer, I assume I’ll have to lean it against the bowl to make it stand… again, take care not to let it fall and if it does fall into the mix, don’t be tempted to lift it with bare hands… Do I really need to write all this??? )
When the lye mix and the oils mix are about 100° F to 125° F, slowly and carefully pour the lye mixture into the oils mixture and gently stir with a rubber spatula as you pour .
With the stick blender, stir until the mixture traces. Tracing looks like custard or thick pancake batter – what it means is that when you stir or drip or dribble the mixture over the top, that leaves a mark on the surface for a few seconds.At this stage you may add the essential oils ad blend a bit more.
Pour raw soap into your prepared molds, cover them and put them out of the way for a while. The next day, the soap can be turned out of the mold. If the soap is very soft, allow it to cure for a few more days or place it in the fridge for a while.
Cut soap into bars and set the bars out to cure and dry, somewhere cool and dry where the soaps can ‘breathe’ . I used a wicker basket that I hanged in the porch where the sun doesn’t shine. This will allow the bar to firm and finish saponification. After one month, I used some triangles for re batching and adding colors. I also used one bar for hand washing. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it lathers beautifully and smells just as good as any store bought soap (without so many chemicals)
Confession: I didn’t have the protective soap making gear, nor the candy thermometer. I used diligence instead as for the candy thermometer… I simply placed my hand on the outside of the lye mixture bowl – when the bowl didn’t feel hot anymore, just warm, I added the lye to the warm oils…. (where I previously I dipped my finger and thought the oil solution is just lukewarm). I have been lucky to get it right this first time, however I am waiting for my candy thermometer to arrive for the next batch… why risk getting it all wrong?
So, cold process soap making, it’s not that tricky, nor that dangerous. And after an initial investment in good quality essential oils, oils, lye, soap molds etc, it turns out that natural, hand crafted, good for skin soaps are affordable and a lot of fun. Best of all, I’ve now got myself a hobby: turning soap making into an art: Check out my sunset soap and the moonscape one.
Did you ever make Castile soap from scratch? How did it turn out?