Tuesday, 27 May 2014


I saw this method for making European brine soap on the website below


I decided to give it a try and I am really pleased with the results. I used a simple lard based soap recipe with a high coconut oil content of 30%. I usually only use a small amount of coconut oil in my soaps as I find it can be very harsh and drying, however salt is known to reduce lather so the increased coconut content should prevent having a non lathering soap. You can use any type of salt for this recipe, I used rock salt.

Ingredients   (This amount of batter fills a 7cmx7cmx25cm mould)

Water 349.6g
Sodium Hydroxide 133.2g
Lard 460g
Coconut oil 276g
Sunflower oil 184g
Salt (25% of water weight) 87.4g
Ocean Vitality Fragrance Oil 30g (~2%)
Titanium dioxide 1/2tsp
Ultramarine blue 1/4tsp


Start by dissolving the salt into the lye water. Then add the sodium hydroxide, the mixture will become pure white and almost frothy (set aside to cool). Melt the oils until they have dissolved and allow to cool also. When both have dropped in temperature to below 35-40C mix together and stick blend until fully homogenised. Add the titanium dioxide to all the soap batter and stick blend a little more to ensure it has fully mixed with no lumps. Divide the mixture into two unequal parts, 1/4 and 3/4 of the soap batter. Add the ultramarine to the pot containing 1/4 of the batter and mix thoroughly again. You will need to work fairly fast to ensure the soap batter does not set up too quickly. Pour the blue mix back into the white mix and mix gently with a spatula a couple of times. The same way you would fold ingredients into cake batter. Pour all the mixture into the mold and leave to set up. This soap will set up really quickly so you will need to unmold it and cut it within 4-6 hours or you will end up with a solid brick that is impossible to cut. Leave the soap to cure for at least 4 weeks before using it.

This is by far one of my favourite soap recipes so far. It makes a great shower bar as the soap is hard as rock and lasts forever. Give this a go, you won't be sorry! Has anyone else tried this method of making salt soap? How did your results turn out?

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Here is my recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I started making it as my husband suffers severely from eczema and the highly scented washing products sold at the supermarket cause him real problems. Even the ones designed to be hypoallergenic. You can't beat some basic old-fashioned soap combined with some extra added ingredients to improve cleaning power.

First you need some old fashioned soap. I made my own soap specifically for laundry purposes, but you can buy a bar of hard soap from the supermarket if you prefer. Something like wright's coal tar or imperial leather would probably work.

The soap I made was 100% coconut oil soap with no superfat to make sure there weren't any free oils to stick onto my clothes.

I made soap with 920g of oils as that is the amount that fits nicely into my silicone mold. You can adjust the recipe accordingly for the mold size you have.

276g Water
168.5g Sodium Hydroxide
920g Coconut oil

Use the basic method for making soap from any of my other posts to create your laundry bars using the ingredients above.

Then combine the following extra ingredients to create your laundry powder :-

300g grated bar soap
150g bicarbonate of soda
150g washing soda
100 drops of essential oil (I used sweet orange oil but you can use anything you have around, peppermint or lavender are also quite popular)

Use the grating attachment on a food processor or a hand grater to grate your soap bar. Then use the chopping blade of a food processor to add the additional ingredients to your grated soap which will break it up into powder form. Keep mixing and add your chosen essential oil for fragrance. You won't get a strong scent from the clothes once the washing is done, just a slight citrusy smell but the clothes mainly just smell clean. You won't need fabric softener with this either so it is drastically cheaper than buying detergent off the shelf.

I only put around two tablespoons into the washing machine drawer and wash clothes as usual. I have found this works really well, towels come out lovely and soft and most stains are removed fairly well without pre-treating. For particularly difficult stains like tomato, I keep a solid chunk of my laundry bar to rub into the stain before washing.

Borax is widely used in the US, but it is banned in the EU due to issues about it's safety so I prefer not to use it and I think the detergent works fine without it.

I have heard that some people use 100% lard instead of coconut for their laundry soap so I am planning to give this a try with my next batch. Have you made your own laundry soap? What type of soap do you use and what have you found works best for you? I'd love to hear your experiences.

Choosing The Right Combination of Oils

Choosing the right combination of oils in your soap bar recipe is very important, they all provide different qualities to your bar of soap. You need some that provide hardness as you don't want your soap bar to turn to mush as soon as it gets wet. Then depending upon the purpose of your soap you need to put in oils that provide cleansing power. Shampoo bars need to be quite powerful cleansers to remove oils from the hair, but facial soap needs to be very mild to protect the delicate skin of your face. You also want to add oils which will moisturise the skin, leaving it feeling soft and comfortable after cleansing.

The qualities of soaping oils depend upon the fatty acids they contain, each different oil has a completely different profile of fatty acids. There is a wonderful table on the SoapCalc website highlighting the different fatty acids and showing which qualities they will bring to your soap.


If you are having a problem with a recipe and you want to increase any of the properties listed in the table, then look at which fatty acids will provide these qualities in your soap bar.

For example if I wanted to increase the cleansing values of my bar I would need to add lauric or myristic acid.

SoapCalc also has another really useful page which then tells you which soaping oils contain the highest percentages of these fatty acids.


To find oils high in lauric acid, click the lauric acid button and it will sort the oils in order of % lauric acid content. Common oils like palm kernel oil and coconut oil come high on this list with 49 and 48% lauric acid. Therefore these are the oils I would look to add to my bar to increase cleansing.

I hope this explanation is useful, If you have any questions then feel free to drop me a comment and I will do my best to help.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Minty Goat's Milk Soap Recipe With Mantra Swirl

This produces a wonderful smelling soap and the pastel colours compliment the fragrance beautifully. The goat's milk yoghurt produces a lovely bubbly bar of soap and the silk adds extra smoothness. You can leave out the soap and the colouring if you don't have those ingredients available to you.

This batch fills a mold size of 25x7x7.5cm and is superfatted at 5%


Olive oil 414g
Sunflower Oil 92g
Lard 276g
Coconut oil 46g
Palm oil 92g
Sodium hydroxide 122.485g
170g Goat's milk yoghurt
179.6g Distilled water
Large pinch of tussah silk
Green mica 1/4tsp mixed into 2ml olive oil
Blue Mica 1/4 tsp mixed into 2ml olive oil
Titanium dioxide 1/2 tsp mixed with 2ml olive oil
Spearmint Essential oil 10ml
Peppermint Essential oil 10ml
Aniseed essential oil 10ml


Prepare your mold, either line it with waxed paper or petroleum jelly to help release the soap when it has hardened. Use plastic or cardboard sheets to make 4 divisions in your mold, I am lucky and my mold comes with acrylic sheets that slot into place. Now you are ready to start soaping. Heat the oils until melted, mix the sodium hydroxide and water together. Wait until the two portions cool down to 35C then mix the two parts together. Blend with a stick blender until the mixture reaches light trace. Add the titanium dioxide and yoghurt to the whole batch and mix thoroughly. (You will have to work fast from now on as the sugars in the goats milk will heat up the batter and you don't want brown soap!) Separate the batter into three containers, two with 1/4 batter in each and one with the remaining 1/2 of the batter. Add the green and blue mica to the two 1/4 batch containers. Fill up two of the mold sections with white mix and the other two with the coloured batter. Then gently remove the separating sheets. You should now have a mold filled with 4 stripes of differently coloured soap. Take a stainless steel skewer or piece of wire coat hanger and swirl it through the soap  in a figure of eight pattern wich will produce a mantra swirl pattern on the top of your soap.
Quickly move your mold into the fridge to make sure the soap doesn't overheat, and leave overnight to saponify. I took my soap out of the fridge the following morning but the soap was still too soft to unmold and cut so it needed to be left another two days to dry out before it was hard enough to cut.

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Soap

I thought this was going to be a failure half way through but it all turned out ok in the end, I don't seem to have much luck with fragrance oils. Every one I have tried so far has caused my soap to set up really quickly.  I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with this.

I fancied something that was a bit indulgent for my shower. I had recently purchased some sweet fragrance oils so I thought I would have a go at a chocolate soap with added cocoa butter and cocoa powder. I didn't want the soap to have horrible brown lather so I am only used a small amount of cocoa powder and make the colour look a bit darker with some chestnut coloured mica.

Here is the Chocolate Soap Recipe :

Coconut oil 150g
Palm oil 100g
Cocoa Butter 50g
Olive oil 125g
Sunflower oil 75g
Distilled water 190g
Sodium hydroxide 71.85g
10mls Dark Chocolate Fragrance oil
5mls Almond Fragrance oil
5mls Vanilla Fragrance oil
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp chestnut coloured mica


Slowly mix the sodium hydroxide with the water until it has dissolved completely and set aside.
Melt the oils over a gentle heat until they have dissolved completely then add the cocoa powder and mica.
Wait for both parts to cool to 40C, add the fragrance oils to the other dissolved oils and then combine with the sodium hydroxide. Mix with a hand blender until the mixture thickens. My fragrance oils caused my mixture to trace really really quickly, it only took a couple of bursts and my mixture had begun to set!!! I quickly plopped it into the mold and hoped for the best.

After about half an hour the surface of the soap started to form tiny beads of liquid and the soap started to really heat up in the mold. After doing some research it appears that the soap may have got too hot due to the fragrance oil speeding up the chemical reaction so much. I put it in the fridge to cool it down a bit.

I unmolded the soap the next day and it is fine, no separation and it smells lovely. A kind of chocolatey amaretto smell, almost good enough to eat.