Easy Beginner’s Cold Process Soap Recipe

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I’m pumping up my production for the holidays, to prepare for upcoming holiday craft shows. This Lavender Rosemary soap has been a huge hit so far, despite being a simpler soap and not containing a lot of luxury oils, this is my best seller!

This is the first cold-process soap recipe I made all by myself, and it is a confidence booster because it turns out great every time. This recipe makes a hard bar, that un-molds easily and hardens quickly. The resulting bar after a short cure time (3-4 weeks) produces a medium lather. I’ve received feedback that it doesn’t rinse away as clean as commercial soaps, but I like this soap. I think it leaves your skin feeling moisturized, although it’s definitely not as moisturizing as some of the other soaps I’ve made. If you are new to soapmaking, I encourage you to give this recipe a try! The oils are common to many other soap recipes, so if this is your first investment in soapmaking oils I promise you will get your mileage out of these ones.

I found this recipe on SoapQueen’s blog, like many others I pulled inspiration from. Her recipes make great finished soaps, even though I often have to improvise and use oils I have on hand instead of all of the oils she has.

This is meant to be run through a lye calculator to figure out the weight of each oil to use, so you can make enough to fill whatever size mold you are using. The first time I made soap on my own, I decided to use an aluminum bread loaf pan I had, and line it with parchment paper. My pan had a non-stick coating.. and I’ll just advise you right now to not use any sort of nonstick pan, even if you line it, for your soapmaking. The nonstick coating just fell off the sides of the pan when I washed it when I was done and I had huge rusty spots all over the pan. I’m not sure if using a stainless steel pan that wasn’t coated would work better… what I can tell you is I found these silicone loaf pans on Amazon for $10, just take my advice and grab something like this before ruining one of your old baking pans! Even if you plan to dedicate it to soapmaking like I did, when it’s covered in rust it’s not going to be a good long-term solution for your molding needs. The silicone molds are nice because you don’t need to line them before pouring your raw soap into them. Do make sure that whatever you use for your soapmaking mold, you don’t use for any food storage or preparation once you’ve made soap in it.

Whatever mold you decide on,  you have to figure out the volume of the mold to be able to accurately run your soap recipe through a lye calculator. Measure the length, width and height of your mold in inches and multiply by .4. This will give you the total oil weight volume to plug into your lye calculator for your soap recipe. My mold needs anywhere from 30-40 ounces of oils to fill it mostly to the top (I like to leave myself a little bit of room at the top, so I can throw cardboard and a towel over the mold to insulate without ruining any designs on the top of the soap). I have a 10″ silicone mold, which is a pretty standard mold size (I know Brambleberry has a similar 10″ silicone mold , with reinforced sides to prevent your soap from bowing out at the sides, that I’d like to try soon!).

When you are measuring your soapmaking ingredients, always use weight to measure, not fluid ounces! I use a digital kitchen scale I bought at Costco for fifteen bucks – it converts to pounds, ounces or grams, and you can zero the scale whenever you want so it makes measuring all of the oils into one bowl really easy.

Beginner’s Cold Process Soap Recipe:
30% Coconut Oil
30% Palm Oil
30% Olive Oil
10% Sweet Almond Oil

So, to fit my 10″ mold I use:

9 oz Coconut Oil
9 oz Palm Oil
9 oz Olive Oil
3 oz Sweet Almond Oil

At 0% superfat, this would require 9.9 oz of distilled water and 4.5 oz of lye. At 5% superfat, 9.9 oz of water and 4.3 oz of lye. Notice the only thing that changes is the lye amount? Some people also refer to superfatting as the “lye discount”, since you are just reducing the lye amount to your water and oils. Superfatting your recipe ensures you will be slightly oil-heavy for your finished soap, resulting in a more moisturizing finished product. You can change the superfat percentage on your lye calculator to whatever you desire. Most soapmakers don’t go above 10% because if your soap is too oil-heavy you can wind up with a soft soap or dreaded orange spots, which is unsightly discolored oils going rancid in your finished soap product. Not good! I make this soap at 0% superfat, so I use the full 4.5 oz of lye, and I still think it leaves the skin feeling moisturized and nice, but feel free to play around with it to get the results you desire.

Make sure you suit up for soaping – goggles, gloves, long sleeves, long pants and shoes that cover your feet – and I mix my lye into my water out on my back deck to keep the fumes out of my kitchen.

I wanted to dress this basic soap recipe up a bit, so I added 1/3 of an ounce of 50% lavender essential oil and 50% rosemary essential oil at trace. I like to blend this into a thick trace, because I also sprinkle dried lavender blossoms on top of the soap in the mold. Try not to push them into the soap to deep, if you mix the dried blossoms into your raw soap they will turn black, and discolor the soap around them a brownish color. If you can leave them sitting on top of the soap, they retain their purple color and keep the soap a nice pure white.

I insulate this soap recipe by placing a cardboard box over the top of my filled mold and wrapping it with a towel to hold in heat. After just 24 hours, you can unmold and slice your soap, and after about 4 weeks of curing this soap is ready to use or gift!

All of these soapmaking oils can be found at Costco, Amazon, or other websites on the internet for good prices.. I have found organic versions of all of them except for the Sweet Almond Oil so far. If you buy in bulk, you can get your prices down to under 50 cents per ounce on most of these oils, which will help reduce your overall cost per bar of soap. You can easily make 90-100% organic soap as gifts with a cost of under $2 per bar for your family and friends!

Do you make homemade, natural gifts for Christmas as well? What are your favorite items to make?

Holiday Inspired Soap

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It is October 10th, and I’m already thinking about Christmas. The smells, flavors, and joy everyone looks forward to each holiday season. How can I capture the essence of Christmas in a bar of soap?

I’m going to try this weekend, by whipping up a batch of Peppermint Mocha soap. Warm coffee mixed with refreshing peppermint.. comforting, relaxing and seasonally inspired!

I’m going to make my soap special by using all organic base oils, and only scent it with natural coffee and peppermint essential oil. I’m hoping to get a bar that is nourishing for your skin, rinsing away clean and leaving your shower smelling like your favorite local coffee shop or kitchen after your morning cup-o-joe.

After I try peppermint mocha, I’d like to make some more holiday scents.. I’m thinking maybe a Mulled Red Wine bar made with red wine replacing the water, or perhaps an exfoliating Gingersnap bar made with honey and cinnamon and ginger! I made a Pumpkin Spice soap for fall, with organic pumpkin puree and scented with cinnamon and clove essential oil. It has organic castor oil to leave your skin soft, and makes such a big bubbly lather! I love the way it turned out.

What are your favorite holiday scents?