Have you ever made your own soap? In today's blog I want to show you how you can make a bar of soap with just three ingredients: Coconut oil, water and sodium hydroxide.
If you are new to soap making, it is very important that you first familiarise yourself with the safety measures with handling lye safely. I have linked a tutorial where I walk you through all the steps you must follow in details before attempting to make your first soap.
A quick guide to soap making
Let's go back to the basics: soap is the result of a reaction between fats, in our case oils, and sodium hydroxide, which is usually dissolved in water.
Using a combination of different oils gives us the most balanced bar of soap. Yes, because that's oils give different qualities and properties to soap! From how fluffy, creamy or moisturising the lather of the soap is.
Instead, if we used only one oil, take for example avocado oil or jojoba, we will likely obtain a really soft, sticky soap, because often just one oil does not have all the qualities necessary to give enough hardness and lather to our soap.
These are a few exceptions: for instance, olive oil makes castile soap which make a soap that hardens over time: this means you likely need to wait for months before using your soap.
The other exception is coconut oil. Yes, because coconut oil has a really unique fatty acid profile which gives the soap hardness and fluffy lather. However, when used in very high amounts in a recipe, it can also be drying. So let me show you a trick every soap maker must know if they want to formulate their own recipe.
100% Pure Coconut Oil Body Soap Bar Recipe
In order to make 100% coconut oil soap more hydrating, we need to reduce the amount of sodium hydroxide in the recipe by 20%. This will ensure that the soap will be still hard and fluffy, but not drying to the skin.
So, let's make this soap:
1. Wearing safety googles and gloves, prepare the lye solution by adding the sodium hydroxide inside the water, and never the opposite, in a heat safe Pyrex or stainless steel or heavy duty plastic bowl.
2. I will transfer the coconut oil in a bigger beaker which I can use to make the soap in later. You need to make sure this beaker is also heat safe.
3. We need to allow the lye solution to cool down, so in the meantime I will melt the coconut oil.
4. Now let's take the temperature, when the lye solution is at about 110F/43C, we can slowly pour it onto the coconut oil and start blending with a stick blender.
5. I like to add a little bit of essential oils too to give my soap I nice scent, I choose lavender, and blend again.
6. Once we've achieved trace - the soap leaves a trail when dripped over the mixture, it's ready to pour. We then pour the soap into the mould, let it rest and unmould it after 24 hours.
7. After about a month, your soap will be ready to be used. You can use this soap to replace your current hand soap or as completely plastic free body wash!
Learn how to formulate your own soap bars
This was a simple but very satisfying recipe. Imagine what you can do when you learn how to formulate your very own recipes from scratch. Let me know if you are thinking about trying it out.
This is exactly what all of my students inside Soap Making for Zero Wasters did: Marina had so much oil from her private family-owned production that was about to go to waste, and saved it to make her own handmade soap.
Mel created her own soap line, to sell her handmade soap in her Brighton-based wellness clinic, Thirza launched her zero waste soap shop, Colby Soaps, and Denise is now customising her soaps with the exact colours and oils she had in mind.
Online course: Soap Making for Zero Wasters
If you want to learn how to formulate your very own recipes from scratch, come join me inside Soap Making for Zero Wasters the online course.