I’m fascinated with soap making processes at the moment, and I have been looking up dairy soaps and olive oil soaps, which both sound amazing! I am ordering some ingredients and will be sharing more detailed recipes soon. Basically there are four options for soap-making :
– the Cold Process : mixing lye and oils
– the Hot Process, similar to the first one, but during which the soap is cooked
– using a Melt and Pour base: melting a pre-prepared solution and adding fragrances and oils
– Rebatching, with means reusing soaps and adding new ingredients to transform them.
I am a big fan of ‘Savon de Marseille’, soap traditionally made in the Marseille area in France, and the famous Aleppo soap, both of whom are usually made with olive oil. Many soaps nowadays contains sulfates (in particular sodium sulfates) which dehydrates the skin. I have some ghassoul clay, Moroccan Argan oil and Flax oil which I would love to use in a soap. Goat milk soap is also popular at the moment: it is hypoallergenic, moisturizing, and great for sensitive skins.
I chose a very simple recipe to share with you as I am a beginner with soaps myself, but hopefully I will get more adventurous once I get the hang of it. I have chosen to follow the Cold Process method and I have used sodium hydroxide to make the lye, as this is the most natural and traditional way of making soap. It is also easier to check exactly what goes into your soap, as Melt and Pour often contain a long list of ingredients.
Flax seed oil and Shea Butter Soap
For the Lye:
25 grams of caustic soda
65g of distilled water
For the oils:
150g of Flax seed oil
50g of Shea butter
You will also need two glass containers to combine and heat the ingredients, a spatula (I used a silicon one), a whisk or hand mixer, and moulds. It is important to protect yourself with gloves and goggles in case of a reaction, as caustic soda can be dangerous. Don’t leave within reach of children! Also remember to not use aluminium utensils as they react with lye.
– Carefully weight and prepare the ingredients.
-Add the solid caustic soda to the water (Never ever do it the other way around as it will ‘erupt’). This will heat, so put on the side and leave to cool.
– Combine the Flax seed oil and the Shea butter in the 2nd glass container and place in a pan of hot water until completely melted. Remove and leave to cool.
-Once both liquids are at room temperature, pour the lye solution into the oils and start mixing with a whisk or mixer. After around 15 mins, the mix will start solidifying into a custard consistency. This is called ‘tracing’: a drop into the mix will leave a trace. At this stage you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
– You can then pour the mix into your moulds, and set aside. After a few days, the soaps should be hard enough to be removed from the moulds, and are now ready for curing! It is recommended to leave the soaps cure for about 6 weeks, until the Ph levels have gone up (above 7), which means they are not acid anymore and can be used on the skin. You can use Ph strips to check if they are ready. Pictures of my experiments coming soon!
You can create your own recipes easily using a soap calculator such as the Sage.
My first batch after curing :