When you want to make your first loaf of soap, the raft of online recipes can be a little overwhelming. It is like knowing whether to start your baking journey with cookies, cupcakes or a lemon drizzle cake.
I like to take things back to basics, with a simple recipe and ingredients that are relatively cheap and easy to get hold of.
There are not many kinds of butter or oils that you can use on their own to make soap; only coconut or olive oil fits the bill. Olive oil is lovely but needs a long cure time. Coconut oil, however, is brilliant, readily available and gives a beautiful hard bar of soap with plenty of lather.
Try this recipe if you are ready to make your own 100% Coconut Oil Soap.
500g Coconut Oil. Refined or unrefined is okay but not fractionated.
165g of water (in the UK, tap water is perfectly good).
73g of Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda or Lye); make sure it is 100%.
Pop in a small handful of Porridge Oats for an extra creamy lather.
Up to 15g of Essential or Fragrance Oil(s). If you use fragrance oils, check they are suitable for cold process soap making.
Try Lavender, Rosemary, Geranium, or even a combination of all three if you use essential oils.
You will also need gloves, goggles, a hand blender, weighing scales, plastic kitchen jugs or stainless steel pan, a silicone spatula or stainless steel spoon, a digital thermometer and something to use as a mould. A cardboard box lined with greaseproof paper works well, or a silicone mould.
- Put your gloves and goggles on (Sodium Hydroxide is caustic and will burn if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes)
- Weigh your water into your jug or pan.
- Weigh out your sodium hydroxide carefully.
- Pour your sodium hydroxide into your water. (It is important to do it this way around and not water into sodium hydroxide) Stir for at least 15 seconds. During this time, it will get very hot and produce fumes, so be careful not to breathe these in. If you are in a small space, you may find it helpful to open a window. I don’t recommend walking outside to do it as you then have to walk back inside carrying a jug of caustic liquid. This is now your lye solution.
- Put your jug of lye safely to one side to cool.
- Weigh out your coconut oil into a jug or pan and melt on the stove or in the microwave.
- Once these are both prepared, you will need to wait for them to cool to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Use the time you are waiting to prepare your essential oils, fragrance oils, and mould.
- Once your temperatures are around 100f or thereabouts, put your gloves and goggles back on.
- Carefully pour your lye solution into your coconut oil.
- Use your hand blender to mix the oil and lye solution, and the soap ‘batter’ thickens. It will not take very long, 10 to 15 seconds or even less if your temperatures are higher rather than lower. You are looking for a pourable, pancake-like batter.
- Add your fragrance or essential oils and mix in well. You can use your hand blender, but the more you mix it, the quicker it will thicken up.
- If you are adding porridge oats, stir these in now.
- Scoop or pour your soap batter into your mould.
- Tap the mould on the worktop to knock out any air bubbles.
- Leave covered (I like to use a cardboard box, a shoe box is perfect)
As coconut oil makes a tough bar of soap, cut your loaf within 24 hours, and a non-serrated kitchen knife works well. You will then need to leave your soap to cure for around four weeks before using it.
Written for Mystic Moments by Keri Squibb - The Soap Coach