Today I made my first home made cold processed olive oil and coconut soap. I was initially a bit nervous, having read about the inherent dangers of Caustic Soda, so I took paranoid precautions. The kids and dog were expelled from the kitchen, I cleared an area and covered everything with newspaper. I used Rhonda's excellent tutorial for this soap, please go and take a look at her blog, it really is fantastic! I used this version for the ingredients, wanting to incorporate some coconut oil (I love the stuff!). I buy all my ingredients from a local organic supplier, but really, you could find olive oil and coconut oil at the supermarket just as easily :) The Caustic Soda I also bought from a local supermarket.
First, I donned latex gloves and apron. Then got all my containers ready. These must be glass or plastic. YOU CANNOT USE ANY ALUMINIUM STUFF! The caustic soda will destroy it!!
You will also need two candy thermometers...one for the Caustic Soda bowl and one for the oil bowl. The two sets of ingredients must be at the same temperature when you mix them.
For my Olive Oil , I used Olive Oil Pomace (which is a lot less expensive than Virgin or Extra Virgin Olive Oil ), which is absolutely fine to use for soap.
Prepare the moulds that you are going to use. I used some silicone moulds that are rose shaped...pretty! I sprayed them very lightly with some Spray and Cook. Put them on a tray covered with newspaper. Right, moving onto the ingredients....
So I measured out the required amounts of the oils and water (you can use rain water , but since it hasn't rained here, I used distilled water).
I took a cast iron pot, placed it on low heat on the stove, and melted the coconut oil and the olive oil pomace together. Then poured it into a glass bowl. Placed the candy thermometer on the side of the bowl.
Measure out the Caustic Soda powder in WEIGHT (not mls!), and carefully pour into the glass container with your water. I also put a candy thermometer into this glass bowl. VERY carefully and gently mix the caustic soda granules until fully dissolved. The mix is initially very cloudy, but as the soda dissolves, it becomes clear. You'll see that the mixture produces fumes and quite a lot of heat. (I made sure before I started the process that all the windows in the kitchen were open, and there was a nice breeze.) It wasn't hot enough to make my hand feel hot, ie you can still continue to mix comfortably, but you can see the temp on the candy thermometer rising quite a lot!
Above you can see the mixed caustic soda, and the heat it produced.
I waited until the temperature on both mixtures was the same, ie 50 degrees Centigrade, then very carefully poured the caustic soda into the oil mixture.
When you start mixing the ingredients, the stuff look pretty awful! Like some kind of glue! I decided to use a stainless steel whisk to mix, and as the minutes passed, the mixture became creamier in colour and thicker. It took about twenty minutes to get to the point where I could see thickening, so I decided to see what would happen if I used a handheld mixer. I didn't use the normal egg beater attachments, because you do NOT want this stuff to splatter everywhere (at this stage the stuff is still caustic!). I attached the dough hooks , and within 5 minutes of mixing , the mixture became thick enough that you could see ripples in the liquid which held their shape.
Above you can see the ripples in the mix. I have never made soap before, so I really didn't know if this was the right consistency, but having mixed for so long, decided that it must be...
I added in a blend of essential oils (I have read on the Web that the essential oil/fragrance oil etc component shouldn't be more that 1-2% of the total , but here again, I haven't tested this myself), including Lavender, Patchouli and Orange , mixing it in well with the whisk.
I then carefully transferred the mix to the moulds, being careful not to drip any on my counter top or hand :)
Above you can see the uneven surface, showing how thick it has become. When you have a mixture that has this consistency, it is referred to as having achieved "Trace" .
I placed an oven wire rack on two upside down bowls over the moulds and covered with a thick towel. Apparently you now leave it be for about a day before you can take the soaps out of the mould and leave on a wire rack to cure for 6 weeks or so.
I must say that this process was a lot easier than I imagined it would be! I really enjoyed making this soap, and will try out some more recipes. I found some great ideas here, and here.
These soaps make really nice gifts. I am going to make up a whole load to give as stocking fillers :) ...and the best part of all? If you are on a budget, these really save you loads of money. Here is my cost breakdown:
Olive Oil Pomace: 800mls = R7.28
Coconut Oil 200mls = R2.00
Caustic Soda 130g = R6.50
Total Cost = R15.78 for 12 soaps....one soap cost R1.30 to make!
For all my international readers, the "R" is for South African Rand. At today's exchange rate, the cost per soap in US Dollars is US$0.16!!! Wow! I haven't costed in the essential oils, as they are not strictly necessary and you may want to add your own blends. Suffice to say that the essential oils don't add a huge amount of extra cost :)
How have your Heartmade lists come along? Have you looked at some of the links I posted before? I am adding a Linky List for any ideas you folks may want to share for ideas for Homemade gifts...just add them below...I would love to see what ideas you've seen and liked :)