Some of you may recall how I have written before about living with allergies, especially my allergy to scents. My husband and I found a nice castille soap in the USA that I could use without setting my allergies off. It was available in the Walmart in the USA. Each year, I would stock up on our trip south to have enough until we could make it south again. We hit a sale on our last trip home in 2019 and I bought the place out. This year, for the second year, there is just no going south and my stock of scent free no allergic reaction soap was rapidly diminishing. Since I also used the soap to make my laundry detergent it was a double problem.
I tried finding my soap on line and in the grocery stores here. As it turned out, I could buy my soap from Amazon but only for an astonishing $15/bar. (Gasp!) So I started looking into making my own. I watched several videos on line and I searched for recipes. The simplest of all soaps is a cold processed three ingredient castille soap made with olive oil. That was also really close to the simple castille soap I was already using. I started with that.
I found a perfect recipe from Lovely Green. Goodness I just love her lovely site. Simple easy clear directions for a small batch of the easiest soap. It was absolutely perfect for a beginner like me. I ordered the molds for six bars she recommends. I picked up some lye flakes from our local hardware store. I also purchased a hand held mixer of the type she recommends. (I actually found one made in Romania, not China!)
I made the first batch outside and it went smoothly and easily. After about a half an hour I had six bars of pure castille soap with 100% olive oil. After 48 hours they had hardened enough to remove from the bars and set to finish drying in the basement. Now the bars have to sit for 28 days so I figured I would keep trying some other recipes and see which one I liked.
I next tried making a 70% olive oil and 30% canola oil. Canola is the cheapest oil around here and being a geneticist I understand its reputation for being a GMO is both untrue and not horrid even if it was. If I could cut the olive oil then I would have a soap that was a lot cheaper and made from something we grow locally.
My third batch was 100% coconut oil. I overheated the oil and got a “volcano” effect which was startling but after it settled the bars seemed like they would be usable anyway. I knew better for batch #4 which was 50% coconut and 50% olive oil. I rounded that off with a final batch of 70% coconut oil and 30% canola.
I ended up with five batches of six bars each. The coconut/canola was the softest and it took five days before I could remove it from the mold. Now I just have to wait until the drying/aging time is finished and try the soaps out. I can hardly wait!
Except for dissolving the lye in water, I found the soap making much easier than say, making bread. I wore all the proper safety equipment and handled the lye with extreme care and I had no trouble. The bars feel lovely and I can put them up to my nose and smell them without the tickling and running. I can hardly wait to try them. Once I decide on a base soap I like, I will try adding things I know I am not allergic too, like peppermint or maybe a pure orange for a bit of scent. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just enjoy the pure simple soaps. I also want to try making soap in pretty little rose bud molds or maybe even fun shapes like animals. I loved shaped soap when I was a little girl. Do any of you recall Fuzzy Wuzzy Bear Soap from Avon? I sure do.
And making my own soap was not just about a pure soap that didn’t set off my allergies. It was FUN!
If you decide you might like to try soap making I heartily recommend the recipes from Lovely Green for your first foray. They’re lovely!