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[personal profile] geeksoup
Since I last posted on soapmaking, I have refined my methods and am pretty darned pro at it. Part of the confusion in the last soap post was that I was still relying heavily on someone else's directions. This is my method now. It's cheaper, less complicated, and I have had rave reviews. Try it. It's fun and really a lot easier than it looks.

Super-Rich Moisturizing Soap

Hardware needed:

Gloves, goggles or safety glasses, old long-sleeved shirt.

Scale (preferably digital) with a tare function

Stainless steel measuring device (or Pyrex that you can dedicate to soapmaking)

Stainless-steel stick blender (or one that you can dedicate to soapmaking)

Soap mold (baking pan, sheet pan, loaf pan, whatever) lined with baking parchment

A small bowl for measuring the lye

All measurements are by weight, not volume:

11 oz. coconut oil

21 oz. (1 lb 5 oz.) olive oil (doesn't have to be extra virgin, but it can be)

4.43-4.48 oz. potassium hydroxide lye (this is a good brand) --MUST BE FOOD GRADE.

8 oz. water

.75 to 1 ounce total essential oil(s) of choice. Fragrance oils might be cheaper, but also might be more irritating.


First, let me say that yes, this is a soap made with two oils. That's it. No jojoba, no castor, no "additive" oils. It needs none. It's a cheaper bar that enables me to sell it for less (though when you're paying full retail for supplies, "less" is relative). The lather is good, the bar lasts well, and it's very moisturizing.

1. Put your bowl on the scale and tare out the weight. Measure the lye into it by spoonfuls (the dry lye crystals aren't going to hurt your flatware). Aim for 4.43, but don't go under that. The .05 ounce range of lye between 4.48 and 4.43 will put you between 9 and 10% superfatted for a recipe this size, which is the highest superfat percentage you can have without basically ending up with a bar of something that is fat, not soap. Codicil: if you go sliiiightly over 4.48 oz., it's not the end of the world. It's really not! If you end up with an 8% superfatted bar, it will still be okay. Not quite as moisturizing, but certainly not drying. Most soapmakers hover around 5-6%.

See? Totally not rocket science.

2. Put another measuring cup on the scale and tare out the weight. Observe, as you add water, that 8 oz. of water by volume is basically 8 oz. of water by weight. This is also not rocket science. I'm not going to get into water discounts right now, but just hit 8 oz. or slightly under and don't fret.

3. Go outside with your bowl of lye, cup of water and a stainless steel spoon. Don your gloves and whatnot. Very gently, pour the lye into the water, NEVER pour the water into the lye, or you will end up with a volcano of very caustic stuff. Stir as you pour, and keep stirring until the lye solution clears. It will go from white to gray to clear. The cup will be very hot to the touch. When it's clear, take it back inside and let it rest/cool until the other things are ready.

4. Put a larger bowl on your scale and tare out the weight. Measure your coconut oil into the bowl. If you are a wee bit over 11 oz. that's okay--better to be over than under, but don't let it get past .3 oz over. If you are using Pyrex (DO NOT USE PLASTIC), warm the oil in the microwave until it is just liquid. Me, I use stainless and I just plop that bad boy on the gas range on super low heat while prep my soap mold. Keep in mind, I've been doing this a couple times a month since roughly August, so my method is pretty refined by now. When you've done it for a while, "refined" means "whatever's easiest, because you're that good at it."

2. When the coconut has cooled a bit, put it back on the scale and tare it out. Add the olive oil.

3. When the lye solution and the coconut solution are both around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, add the lye to the oils. Here's what I do: put the lye in, and hit it with the hand blender until it begins to change color, about 30 seconds. Set a timer for five minutes and walk away. Come back, hit it again, set the timer, repeat. You will do this for about 30 minutes, ish, until the soap is a pale opaque greenish yellow to white color (depending on your olive oil) and the soap, when the blender is lifted, leaves a trace of dribbles behind, like thick gravy. If they sink in and don't leave ripples and ridges behind, do another five-minute cycle.

4. Once you've hit trace, add the essential oils. If you're doing a blend, tare out your cup or bowl (I use a shot glass) and measure the first oil, then tare it out and measure the second. My favorite is lavender-grapefruit, so I do roughly .35 oz. of each. Once again, if you're point-zero something over or under, don't fret.

5. Thoroughly blend the essential oils in. That done, IMMEDIATELY pour the soap into your mold. Tap it to flatten it out a bit. It's a good idea to immediately rinse all of your gear now, because the soap will set up hard and fast inside the bowl.

6. Set the mold in a cool, dry place to cure overnight. By the next day, you should be able to release the soap from the mold and unwrap it; it should be a solid mass. Cut the bars with a sharp knife.

Done. You have soap.

Now, the following will be a shock to anyone who makes soap or follows soapmaking processes, and I might even get some protest. YOU CAN USE THESE BARS AS SOON AS THEY'RE SOLID. The reason is that there is so much fat that the lye is already processed out by the time it's hardened. I have been making this recipe for months, over and over, for women with very mature, sensitive, dry or allergic skin (one woman could use nothing but Black Soap). They have consistently told me that they love the way it makes their skin feel--and I have often given them their batches within a day or two of making it. Their husbands love it, too, and they use it on their grandbabies.

If you have a doubt, touch your tongue to a bar. If it zaps you like a 9-volt battery, let it sit for a few weeks. But you won't get zapped. Not with this recipe. There's so much fat that you may find a layer of lotion-like oil on the outside of the batch, especially at the corners. Don't sweat it. This is totally okay; the longer the bars sit, the more that will cure out.

Conversely, the longer these bars sit, the more the essential oils will evaporate. You can add more fragrance to compensate, but if you're using essential oils, just be aware that this is going to happen. I recommend to my customers that they separate the bars and place them in a linen closet or other cool, dry place where the scent won't overwhelm other things. I've heard of people keeping their bars in the refrigerator to stave off the oils evaporating, but do you want your fridge to smell like that? It gets into everything. Trust me.

If you try this, you will love it. You won't be able to go back to any other bar. I have a fancy ridged slicer and a soap mold made by my neighbor, and I make bars for many, many people I know. I wish I could do this for people on the interwebs in general, but until I can find (and afford) bulk oils and fragrances, the cost and shipping are just too prohibitive.
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