With the holidays approaching, I decided it’s time to start making soap for gifts. First batch of the season was candy cane swirl soap, made with peppermint essential oil. I love love LOVE peppermint essential oil… not only because it smells divine – but it also leaves your skin feeling cool and tingly! I used one of my favorite [& palm oil free] recipes from the book, “The Soap Maker’s Workshop: The art and craft of natural handmade soap,” by Dr. Robert S. and Katherine J. McDaniel. (This is a great book/resource to use if you are just getting started in soap-making, and contains some really great CP soap recipes!)
- 750 grams coconut oil
- 700 grams olive oil
- 900 grams shortening
- 342 grams lye
- 650 grams distilled water
First, I measure out all the hard oils (coconut oil, olive oil and shortening) using an electronic food scale, then add to a large stock pot. Once all the hard oils have been measured out, heat them on medium-high heat until melted.
Measure out hard oils and place in large pot to be melted.
Once your hard oils have melted to liquid form, turn off the stovetop and remove the pot from the heat. It will take a while for these oils to cool down, and ideally you will want both your oils and lye-water mixture to be about 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit before combining.
Once oils have melted, turn off and remove from heat. You will want this mixture to be about 110-120 degrees F before adding lye-water mixture.
Next, comes the **lye safety measures!** This is where donning attractive face masks and safety goggles comes into play. I always combine my lye into water in my kitchen where it is well ventilated and I have plenty of open space, just to be safe. Carefully, add your lye INTO water. NEVER POUR WATER INTO LYE, as this is very dangerous and can cause an explosive reaction and result in burns. No bueno!
Using a stainless steel bowl, I added the lye into distilled water and carefully stirred until the water turned from cloudy to clear.
Next, use a digital food thermometer (dedicated to soap use only) to measure the temps of both your lye water and melted oils. Ideally, they will reach 110-120 degrees around the same time. Often times for me, my oils will be over 300 degrees, so I will fill the kitchen sink with ice water and place the stock pot in the sink to cool down. In my experience, the lye water cools off much more quickly.
Once your oils and lye-water have reached the correct temperature, CAREFULLY pour the lye water into the oils. I use a stick blender to quickly combine the two mixtures. DO NOT OVER BLEND YOUR SOAP, otherwise you will end up with a mixture that “accelerates” and basically hardens into soap prematurely (and good luck getting that out of the bowl!) You want to blend until the soap reaches what is called a “light-trace” and basically has the consistency of watery gravy. I don’t have a picture of this, but if you Google-image “soap at trace” there are plenty of helpful images. Once your soap is at light-trace, it is time to mix in your additives. I used about 2.5 ounces of peppermint essential oil. I also split my soap into two different bowls at this time, one bowl I left “as-is” (white color) and the other bowl I added an ounce of red oxide colorant (called “brick red” from BrambleBerry).
Red Brick oxide pigment
Peppermint essential oil.
Then, I spooned alternating colors of soap mixture into the molds until it was gone!
Soap spooned into silicone molds
Next, I placed some aluminum foil over the soap, placed them on a cookie sheet and placed a towel over them to keep them insulated. I refer to it as “tucking the soap in!” Keep your soap insulated for the first 24 hours to allow for the “gel phase” – as the lye reacts with the oils and creates soap! After 24 hours your soap will be ready to remove from the molds and cut into bars. After this, they will need another 3-5 weeks to “cure” before they are safe for use. Should be ready just in time for the holidays!!
I used a soap cutter to get beautiful, wavy 1-inch thick bars of soap (pictured here is from BrambleBerry)
Hope you enjoy!! Happy soaping 🙂