I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but, my husband is rad. Totally rad. I love him dearly.
He is good at so many different things, and one of them happens to be soap making. I like this, because lye is dangerous, and I am clumsy and anxious, so it’s best that he be in charge of the soap making.
Last week, like crazy fools, we declined some free baby-sitting because we instead wanted to stay home and make soap and watch a video on a fermentation workshop. You know you are 30 when…
That is my idea of a rockin’ Friday night! Put the baby to bed, and make soap! The best part about it is that I am the “soap apprentice,” so that means I get to sit on the kitchen stool and “help” while I eat chocolate and drink a glass of cabernet. (Life is tough between the hours of 8pm and Midnight. That is my “Mama Time” and I protect and covet it :))
Anyhow… what I am good at is finding really awesome soap recipes, (since I have not branched out enough to write my own), and I really wanted to make this recipe, and my sweet DH was happy to help. It is a pure coconut oil soap, which isn’t very common, since most soaps are a blend of various oils that contribute their various properties to the end result. Coconut oil in soap is renowned for its amazing lather, but coconut oil in soap recipes is (generally) complimented by other oils because when used alone, coconut oil can be very drying to the skin. Unless it is super-fatted…
Super-fatting, for those new to soap-making, is adding extra oil to the recipe that is in excess of what the lye can bind to, so that extra oil is not converted. For a more detailed and scientific definition, go here.
By super-fatting the coconut oil in this soap, you end up with a dreamy, thick, foamy-lathering soap that has all of the bells and whistles of coconut oil. This recipe is 18% super-fatted and has only 3 simple ingredients. You can’t go wrong!
Pure Coconut Oil Soap
- 33 ounces of coconut oil* (76 degrees)
- 4.96 ounces of lye
- 12.5 ounces of water
- 0.5- 1 ounce essential oils (optional)
*76 degrees melting point. This recipe has not been tested on the fractionated or 92 degrees melting point coconut oils. Thankfully, the 76 degrees variety is the most common, so that’s likely what you already have
We do the hot process method of soap-making, and for that you really need to have a crock pot and stick blender, along with a few other odds and ends.
- crock pot
- stick blender
- digital scale
- small glass bowls or mason jars
- plastic spoon with long handle
- rubber spatula
- protective equipment: long-sleeved shirt, plastic/rubber gloves, safety glasses or protective eye gear
- soap mold – A standard sized bread pan is perfect for this batch, cardboard boxes will also work. We used our wooden (DIY) mold which was a bit too big, so we added cardboard to the ends to make it smaller.
- parchment paper for lining the soap mold
Melt the coconut oil until it is completely liquid and added it to the crockpot on low heat.
Measure the coconut oil on a kitchen scale. (33 ounces is a ton of coconut oil!)
Measure and pour the water into a glass bowl. Measure and pour the lye into a separate glass bowl or jar. Take both bowls out of doors. Slowly, add the lye to the water. Do not mess this part up! Never add water to lye. That’s when the danger happens. I’m not a scientist, or a genius, but I know how to stay safe when making soap, and you should too, so do a bit of homework beforehand on safety if this is your first soap-rodeo :) It’s not hard, but is very specific, so know the rules beforehand and don’t be clumsy about it.
It is important to add the lye to the water out of doors because when the two are mixed there is some noxious off-gassing, and you don’t want to breath it or have the fumes in your dwelling.
At first the lye and water will be cloudy, but then will start to clarify. Wait until the water looks clear. Though the mixture looks harmless, it’s not. Don’t spill or splash. The mixture gets very hot, so use caution when handling the glass jar or bowl.
Slowly, add the lye/water to the crockpot and slowly stir.
Using your stick blender, begin to mix. Go slow at first so you don’t splash. As the mixture thickens, you can speed up your mixer. Mix until “trace” which is like a pudding consistency. As your mixer glides through the soap, it leaves a sort of trail. That is a telltale sign of “trace.”
Cover and let the soap cook. It will get bubbly and rise a bit. The oil puddles will disappear and the soap will look like a semi-translucent, vaseline-type mixture. Cooking time varies depending on your crock pot. Expect over a half an hour at least.
Test your soap. Rub a bit of it between your fingers and touch it to your tongue. If it zaps you like a 9 volt battery would, it’s not done. If it is done, it just tastes like soap. (I remember the taste well from childhood ;))
If you are adding essential oils, add them at this point, once the mixture has cooled a bit. Add them when it’s too hot and they will lose their fragrance.
Cut the soap as soon as it has set up. Coconut oil soap sets up harder than most other soaps and can be difficult to cut (cleanly), so cut it up as early as it is prudent to do so.
You can test out a bar right away, but allow the rest to cure 24 hours at the bare minimum. A few weeks is preferable.
Enjoy as you would any homemade soap, but this soap in particular is GREAT for felting!
Do you make homemade soap? What is your favorite type of soap?
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Precaution: Lye is caustic and dangerous. It is the responsibility of every soap maker to be familiar with how to safely handle such chemicals. Do your homework! Especially if this is your first soap-rodeo.