Thursday, December 5, 2013

Experimenting With Homemade Soap

I made two more batches of soap last week. Since it takes new soap about four weeks to cure I wanted to make it in time for Christmas gift-giving. My first batches of homemade soap, made back in September, contained olive, coconut, and palm oils. This time I didn't have any palm oil so I made a plain batch with an olive and coconut oil base and no additional essential oils. It is curing up nicely and smells so nice and clean and unadulterated. I used the following recipe (7% superfat):

Simple Soap
50 oz olive oil
12.5 oz coconut oil
8.3 oz lye
20.6 oz water

For the second batch I got a bit experimental and I can't tell yet if my experiment has worked. I had a mostly full bottle of Burt's Bees Insect Repellant lying around that nobody wanted to use because it is so oily. Indeed, it is made entirely of oils- a blend of soybean, eucalyptus, and lemongrass oils. I decided to use it in a soap and I developed the following recipe using the lye calculator at Bramble Bee.
Eucalyptus Blast Soap (still unproven)
50 oz olive oil
3 oz Burt's Bees Insect Repellant (=2.1 oz soybean oil + 0.75 oz eucalyptus oil + 0.15 oz lemongrass oil)
6.634 oz lye
17.19 oz water
plus about 0.25 oz eucalyptus essential oil added at trace
(makes a 7% superfatted soap)

The saponification process seemed to go fine. The soap set up fairly quickly in the mold but not as quickly as the simple soap mentioned above. I cut it into bars the morning after making it but it was still a bit sticky and slightly soft. I probably should have waited another day or two to cut it. I expected the eucalyptus smell, which was very strong at time of process, to dissipate a lot as the soap continued to cure those first few days. However, the smell seems as strong as ever one week later and the soap continues to feel slightly tacky. If I were to make this batch again I would leave out the additional essential oil that I added at the end. I was really curious to see how the Burt's Bees repellant would behave and I ruined that experiment by adding another variable (the essential oil). 

Blast of Eucalyptus Soap for Vicks Vaporub lovers
My father-in-law loves eucalyptus so I'm hoping to give him some of this soap for Christmas. He also has a poor sense of smell (due to an illness many years ago) so maybe a really strong eucalyptus smell will be perfect for him. (Assuming the soap is otherwise okay, of course.) We will see.


  1. Where do you get your lye? Online? Or locally? The people at our local HEB Plus gave me some weird looks when I asked about it. Most of my soap experimentation has just been with melt-and-pour thus far.

  2. I ordered the lye from Amazon. I couldn't find it anywhere locally. I think it used to be carried in grocery stores but isn't anymore. Pamela, you should totally try making some soap. It's easy!


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