This shea butter soap recipe was made in collaboration with Eco Age! I really wanted this recipe to focus on the art of natural soap making. So let's learn how to make shea butter soap in eight simple steps.
Is Shea Butter good for Soap Making?
Yes! Shea butter is a wonderful ingredient to use in soap making as it makes the soap super creamy and moisturising. It's fatty acid profile is made up of 5% palmitic, 40% stearic, 48% oleic and 6% linoleic. This means it helps to harden soap, whilst creating a creamy and highly conditioning lather.
Therefore, this nourishing shea butter soap recipe is perfect if you have dry skin. You can use this soap to wash your hands and your body.
If you'd like to know more about how butters, like shea butter, can add different properties to soap, then check out the online course: Soap Making for Zero Wasters.
Shea Butter Soap Recipe
Making Soap is truly an art. Soap in itself is so simple and so empowering at the same time. Natural soap really is the perfect gift for your loved ones: it effectively keeps us clean while reducing the amount of plastic we consume. In fact, the ingredients in this recipe are very easy to find plastic free.
The only ingredient that will definitely come in plastic is sodium hydroxide but…with 1 kg of sodium hydroxide you can make hundreds of soaps, dramatically reducing the impact of packaging.
Soap Making Tools
Making soap doesn't require expensive tools, and most of the stuff you need to start it's very likely already in your kitchen. Just make sure that once use something for soap making, you don't use it again for food.
You will need:
- Googles and gloves
- Mask or respirator
- High precision scale
- Heat safe Pyrex jug/bowl to weight and melt the oils/butters
- Bowl to weight the sodium hydroxide
- Heat safe stainless steel or Pyrex jug to mix the lye solution
- Stainless steel tablespoon
- Optional, silicone spatula
- Moulds: I recommend silicone moulds as they are reusable. You can also pour your soap in an upcycled milk carton
- Stick blender
- Thermometer: either a candy thermometer or a laser one.
- Piece of carboard and towel or blanket
Shea Butter Soap Ingredients
This recipe makes 200 grams of shea butter soap, which is about four soaps of 50 grams each using the following quantities:
- Cold Water: 57.49 g/2.03 oz
- Sodium Hydroxide: 28.31 g/1 oz
- Olive Oil: 120 g/4.23 oz
- Coconut Oil: 60 g/2.12 oz
- Shea butter: 20 g/0.71 oz
- Lavender essential oil: 6 g/0.21
Any variety of oil works (such as extra virgin, refined or unrefined). I have used pure non-extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and unrefined shea butter.
You can also use a different essential oil, however make sure to check any contraindications first.
If you want to make a smaller or larger batch, divide or multiple each ingredient as necessary.
Please don’t swap any oil in the recipe: if you do, you will need to recalculate the entire sodium hydroxide amount as well.
How to Make Shea Butter Soap
1. Gear up for safety: wear googles and gloves and keep them on at all times. Weigh the sodium hydroxide in a glass or ceramic bowl. In a separate heat safe stainless steel or Pyrex glass bowl, weight the fridge-cold water.
2. Wear your respirator. Slowly add the sodium hydroxide into the water. Stir well with a stainless-steel tablespoon until fully dissolved.
3. Let the lye solution cool down until it reaches 43°C° (110°F). In the meantime, weigh the oils in a heat safe glass or ceramic bowl.
Place this in the microwave or at bain-maire to melt the coconut oil, shea butter, and heat up the olive oil. The oils should also be at around 43°C° (110°F).
4. Measure the temperature of the lye solution and the melted oils. If the temperature is correct, slowly add the lye solution into the oil and mix with a spatula or a tablespoon until they are all combined.
5. It’s time to stick blend: do so until the soap is still very runny but you can clearly see that the batter is fully mixed and is opaque.
6. At this point, add the essential oils and mix them in with a spatula or tablespoon. Stick blend again until you reach a slightly thicker trace that looks more like a light custard.
7. Pour the batter into the mould, tap to remove any air bubbles and cover the mould with a piece of cardboard (or place it inside a shoe box). Then cover it with a towel or blanker to keep it warm.
8. Let the soap harden for 24 hours, then unmould and leave to cure for 4–6 weeks before using it.