Category Archives: soapmaking

Dragon’s Blood Soap

This is a basic vegetable based soap, made of olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, cocoa butter and castor oil. I added 1 teaspoon of sea salt and sugar to the oil and I replaced half of the distilled water with coconut milk.

For the colorant I separated  the batter into three parts and blended in brick red oxide and activated charcoal, I used activated charcoal and some titanium dioxide for the grey.

I was looking for a thicker trace to do a drop swirl that wont instantly blend, plus alternating hangar swirls.

The scent is Dragon’s Blood, the resin from the dracena tropical plant.

Pine Tar Soap Recipe

Pine tar is made from placing pine in a kiln and heating it until it becomes charcoal and pine tar, which drips down from the wood and is caught in a container.

Pine tar has been used for centuries for sealing wood, protecting rope from sea water, for bug bites and skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. Despite advances in modern medicine pine tar soap is still around and people with skin conditions still use it. As to if they are being old-timey or it’s still relevant in comparison I cannot say. It does however make a uniquely wonderful soap.

A caution however, when wood burns it releases creosote which is a carcinogen, most pine tar contains some creosote. But you also have to consider other interactions you may have with creosote for perspective, when you eat BBQ for instance, or use liquid smoke on your food, you are ingesting creosote. There is creosote free pine tar for those who wish to eliminate creosote though it can occasionally be hard to find closed kiln pine tar.

I has a very strong scent you will not be able to mask with a fragrance oil. It smells a bit like pine, rubber and smoke. Some fragrances that can work well with it are peppermint, patchouli, rosemary, cedar wood, tea tree and fir needle. You can also leave it unscented, eventually the pine tar scent will mellow. I choose to scent mine with Siberian Fir needle essential oil, it smells like pine trees and camp fire with a hint of kerosene.

There are several methods to adding the pine tar, it is recommended you add it to your oils before you add the lye water. Then blend it to thin trace and pour immediately. You can also add it just after emulsification at the thinnest trace but you should use a whisk once it has been added because it will thicken incredibly fast. Pour it as soon as you have it mixed well or it will solidify and you will be scooping and squishing it into your mold. If you add your pine tar at emulsification and whisk you should give yourself no more than 60 seconds from the addition of the pine tar before pouring, the faster the better.

This soap will be a bit soft in terms of unmolding. I let mine sit for a bit longer than usual before unmolding and cutting. I added extra water to this recipe to help with how fast it was going to thicken. I am planning on it taking 3-6 months for a full cure before this soap will be at it’s best.

Ingredients

317 g olive oil

272 g lard

91 g coconut oil

91 g palm oil

136 g pine tar

365 g distilled water

111 g sodium hydroxide

 

Bay Rum & Vanilla Soap

This is a hot process soap with a moderate water discount using the following recipe:

lard 40%

coconut 20%

olive 25%

rice bran 5%

shea butter 5%

castor 5%

I blended bay rum with vanilla fragrance, I didn’t try much for a design here as it’s going to darken quite a bit due to the vanilla. I did not do a fluid HP. I sort of smooshed this down into the mold and banged it on the table for a while. I superfated this with the shea butter. I really like the rustic look of hot process soap.

Here is the color transition over a month, I was expecting to get a little darker discoloration from the vanilla than this, perhaps it will get there in time.

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Day 1
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Day 15
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Day 36

How To Make Savon Noir

 

This soap is also known as Moroccan Black Soap or Beldi. It is made with 100% olive oil, black olives, distilled water and potassium hydroxide. It should not to be confused with African black soap which is very different. As this is the first time making it I am trying to be as simple and traditional as possible.

Because we are using KOH instead of NaOH this will not be a solid soap. The olive are blended up and added to the lye water, it is also common for the olives to be blended with the oil instead. This is made in a crock pot and is cooked for 3+ hours, in that time the olive breaks down and gives this soap paste a unique texture. It is used by rubbing a small amount onto the skin and working it to a lather, then letting the lather sit for several minutes on the skin before a good scrub and rinse. This soap gel should be sequestered for two weeks to a month before use.

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Instruction:

Calculate this recipe using Soapcalc.net as a 100 % olive oil soap, set the superfat somewhere in the 5-10% range based on your preferences. You will be using KOH as your lye source for this recipe. Please check the type of KOH you are using with the soap calc settings. The water content should be calculated in the range of 60-70% of the oil weight depending on how thick you want it to end up.

Add the oil to the crock pot and turn the heat to high. Weight water into a separate heat safe container and add 100 g of olives for every 300 g olive oil, stick blend until everything is in tiny bits.

Add the KOH to the water and mix until dissolved thoroughly.

Add the lye solution to the oil and stick blend until light trace is reached.

Continue to cook for 3-4 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes or as needed.  It can expand rapidly so watch it, until enough water has cooked out and it settles down. It will go through a mashed potato and chunky phases, It might get somewhat solid, you just break it up and mix it. Cook in the 170 to 200 degrees F range and continue to cook until the soap gels and turns dark, it has taken me up to 7 hours of cooking to get gel phase in this soap. Keep cooking it until it gels, the higher the water content the longer it may take. Typically Essential Oil that blends with the natural scent of the soap is chosen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aloha Soap

 

This was a really fun project, it looks a mess, but I had so much fun. I did this using the heat transfer method and adding the fragrance oil at about 100 degrees before I stick blended for maybe 20 seconds. I stopped blending at the lightest trace and hand mixed it the rest of the way. This gave me enough time to separate and mix 5 colors. There is some inconsistency where I did not mix well enough.

I took all of these precaution because I did a water discount, plus I used a floral fragrance It got thick fast at the end. I didn’t get as much color mixing with the chopstick as I wanted. I am testing out a new mica sampler pack from WSP. I had not used any of these micas before, I am mostly pleased by all of the colors except for the purple which faded out almost completely.

I poured all the colors in messy layers then dragged a chopstick through it for a little bit of displacement. After pouring I sprayed it with isopropyl alcohol and covered it in plastic. For the sake of the colors I wanted to fully gel this soap so I preheat the oven to 170 degrees F, then turned it off and put my soap in there and left it alone for 12 hours before I unmolded it.

 

Rose Clay Soleseife

I have a great love of salt bars and I have been wanting to try a brine soap. Soleseife is a German soap made from salt water and coconut oil, also known as Brine Soap or Salt Water Soap the salt makes for a smooth extremely hard bar of soap. The only difference between this and a salt bar is I am dissolving the salt into the water before I add the lye, I am using 80% coconut oil, 15% olive oil and 5% Sunflower oil with a 10% superfat. I added Breton sea salt at 25% of the water weight. I will split the batch once emulsified and fragrance is added and then add Bentonite clay to half and rose clay to the other. I expect this to have much of the same behavior as salt bars and harden quickly. I will use individual molds. because trying to cut a bar of this is just asking for disaster. This type of soap is ideal for using delicate soap molds.

This recipe can be fiddled around with a bit, just make sure it is properly recalculated with a soap calculator. Coconut oil is one of the only oils that can lather is salt water. However you want to keep the coconut oil content above 50% and superfat high, at a 10-20% range so that it is not drying. Clay usually makes for small bubbles so if you want big bubbles you would want to leave out the clay. I scented this batch with ‘bite me’ from Nature’s Garden.

If you are looking for an exfoliating bar of soap you can add the salt at trace instead of dissolve it, here is a link to a salt bar recipe.

Castile Cold Process Soap

 

What is and what isn’t Castile soap is always up for debate it seems. A lot of soap makers maintain that Castile soap is 100% olive oil, water, and lye and to replace some of the olive oil with other vegetable oils would make it Bastille soap. Which is still primarily olive oil in content but includes other vegetable based oils.

You can walk into many stores and find Bastille soap sold as Castile soap and the argument continues among them.

Let’s look at the history of olive oil soap.

What we now call Castile soap was first believed to have been made in the same region in Syria as Aleppo Soap, in which incorporates laurel berry oil with olive oil.  “Castile” is named after a region in Spain, which it was given after the Crusades( 1095-1291) brought* it to Europe and the Europeans named it as such. However, the process of making 100% olive oil soap was spread all around the Mediterranean region.

The true origins of soap are lost to time and we are left with legends, the word soap itself is believed to be named after Mount Sapo, a fictional mountain somewhere in the vicinity of Rome. The earliest known documentation of soap making was written down by the Greek-Egyptian alchemist Zosimos of Panopolis around 300 B.C.E.  The oldest soap ever found was excavated in the ancient city of Babylon and dated back to around 2800 B.C.E.

There are several other variations on 100% olive oil soap that I have found throughout history, Savon de Marseille was an olive oil soap made in France with sea water first documented in the 1300’s. Nabulsi soap which was traditionally made by women in West Bank, Palestine before there was an industry, before the 10th century. Beldi soap also known as Savon Noir which has been made in Morocco for centuries is a gel like soap made from macerated olives, ashes and olive oil.

Regardless of what you call it and why, 100% olive oil soap is a very mild and wonderful soap, it takes about a year for it to fully cure. Depending on the type of olive oil you choose to use this soap may take hours or days to become solid enough to unmold. Once it hardens it can become crumbly so you have to keep an eye on it. Mine did become crumbly and work prevented me from cutting sooner but I was able to hide most of the crumbling when I trimmed up the edges. I recommend checking it daily so you do not end up cutting a soap that will crumble on you. I do highly recommend saving good quality olive oil’s for your kitchen and using lesser quality olive oil or pomace for your soaping needs.

This soap will need about seven months to a year for curing, some people even wait longer, you will want to select a fragrance that will really last, if you choose one at all. A large portion of fragrances will loose their scent before the cure would be finished. A steep water discount gets you the lower end of the cure time, I did mine at 33% of the oil weight or roughly a 28% lye concentration. Before this soap is fully cured it can feel sticky when used. it’s not a soap to make if you are an impatient soaper.