Creativity comes in many forms and is not confined to the realm of art. Creation is about bringing something new into the world. Learning, discovering and working with your hands and hearts aligned. One of my passions is to explore how to switch my patterns of consumption to creation through making what my family needs. This act always makes me feel grounded, connected and empowered to keep learning. So as requested here is our families simple soap recipe.
I love Castile soap because it is so simple. You can create this classic soap with 3 basic ingredients that can be sourced at most grocery or hardware stores. There is no need to be an expert artisan or spend a lot of money on materials to create the perfect soap for your home.
Many items can be found in your home and are the perfect way to up-cycle something you no longer use. Please be aware anything used to make soap can no longer be use to make food. We created a soap making kit that is packed away to ensure nothing is mixed back into our kitchen. Plus everything is organised in one place when you are ready to make soap again!
Large metal pot
2 metal loaf pan or baking pan
Glass measuring cup
Stick blender or whisk
Safety gear: eye protection, gloves, White Vinegar
*Lye can seriously harm you. If you are new to making soap please research best practices on how to safely work with lye. http://www.soap-made-easy.com/safety-lye.html *
Castile soaps main ingredient is olive oil which makes it amazingly mild for your skin.
*Beeswax optional: helps to harden the soap
50 oz Olive Oil (Pure olive oil from grocery store. Get the cheap stuff)
6.5 oz Lye (available on Amazon or hardware stores)
17 oz Water
2 oz Beeswax *optional -available on Amazon
Use a kitchen scale to measure your ingredients. Soap is measured by weight not volume and a kitchen scale is necessary to achieve the correct measurements. Do not change measurements or substitute ingredients without running it through a lye calculator. You run the risk of creating a caustic soap.Lye calculator: http://www.soapcalc.net/calc/soapcalcwp.asp
Take your 2 loaf pans or large baking pan (9x13x2) and completely line it with parchment paper - like a cupcake cup. You want the soap to easily pop out of the mold. You can use any shape of metal baking pan. These are just the shapes I found worked for me.
Put on your safety gear! Lye is extremely caustic and burns on contact with your skin. Wear long sleeves, pants and shoes. Make sure you have a clear work space that is free of interruptions (no children, pets, tripping hazards). Have white vinegar on the counter in case of spills. Vinegar will neutralise the lye.
Use your scale to measure water into a glass heat proof container. I use a large pyrex measuring cup. Place under hood fan and turn the fan on high. Put on your eye protection and gloves! Measure lye into a small bowl. Pour lye slowly into the water and carefully stir until lye dissolves. `When lye comes into contact with water, it causes a chemical reaction which will create a lot of heat! Do not pour water into lye container as it can splash. Leave under hood fan to cool. Always have ventilation when making soap.
Measure olive oil into a large metal pot and set on low heat. I heat my oil to around 160 F degrees and remove from heat to cool to 120-130 degrees. Timing can be tricky as you want to combine both liquids when they are within 10 degrees. Use your thermometer to measure temperature of lye water and oil. When both liquids are between 120-130 degrees you are ready to combine.
*Lye water can take a long time to cool down. To speed up the process you can put lye water in an ice bath. Use your sink or large container. Fill with two inches of water and ice. Place lye water container carefully in middle and watch temperature carefully as it will cool quickly*
Reminder to continue wearing your safety gear! The lye is still hazardous. Pour lye water into the olive oil. Using your stick blender or whisk to combine. With a stick blender it will take around 10-15 minutes to start thickening. With a whisk it will take about an hour! Get a stick blender. When your soap reaches trace- (fancy soap term for pudding like texture) you are ready to pour into your mold. You can check for trace by looking for drips to show on surface before dissolving.
Pour soap into your mold. Use the spatula scrap the pot clean and smooth the top of the soap. The soap should fit into two regular size loaf pans or one baking pan. Either container works and will just create a different shaped bar when cut.
Let the soap set at room temperature for 24-48 hours. You can wrap your soap in towels to insulate during cooling process. I sometimes insulate and sometimes don't. I have found it made no difference to the soap.
When the soap is firm you are ready to cut into bars using a large knife. Test firmness by pressing with your finger. If you can easily make an indent it is not ready! Castile soap is famous for taking longer to set due to not having any hard oils. Be patient and it will set. Cut the bars as thick as you would like your soap to be. Experiment.
Last step! Place your bars on a tray with air space around each bar and tuck it away to cure. It is safe for your skin after 4 weeks. The longer you leave the bars to harden the better they will be! Congratulations you made soap! The first time is hard but once it becomes familiar you can whip this off in no time.
This recipe is VERY basic but the perfect place to start if you are looking for a mild soap that is great for all skin types. I hope this recipe inspires you keep creating and learning new skills to add to your creative toolbox. Be well everyone.