Natural soap recipe with pink clay for color and scented with a blend of emotionally balancing essential oils. This 454g /1lb soap recipe will make about six bars. It also has a 5% superfat that will be made up mainly of rich shea butter.
For a consistent pink color, I recommend insulating or oven processing this recipe. This will help the soap complete a full gel phase.
Insulating means wrapping the soap up in towels after you pour it into the mould. This keeps it warmer for longer and getting the soap to gel and is easy to do.
If oven processing is new to you, don't worry. It's the same idea as with the towel but instead of a towel keeping the soap warm, it's the residual heat from the oven.
I always advise to get everything prepared and measured before starting to make soap. Get your equipment set out, measure out all the ingredients. This includes the clay in a heat-proof jug, water in another jug, lye in a jar, coconut oil in the main soaping pan, shea butter in a heat-proof dish or small pan, and liquid oils should be in a kitchen bowl or jug. You can also pre-measure your essential oils if you wish.
As for apparel. You should wear closed toe shoes, a long sleeve shirt, hair pulled back, and wearing eye protection and rubber/latex/vinyl gloves.
Soap making is chemistry so this step needs particular care. Making sure that you're wearing eye protection and gloves, pour a little water from the jug into the clay. Mix it well so that it forms a paste. Pour a quarter cup more water in and mix until it's dispersed. Then pour the rest of the water in.
Next pour all of the lye crystals into the water in a well ventilated place. Outdoors is best. Stir immediately and thoroughly with a stainless steel or silicone spoon until dissolved.
Allow to cool outside or place it in the sink or a basin of water to help it cool down. There will be steam and heat when you mix them together so be prepared.
Just after you mix the lye water, put the pan of oils over low heat. Stir while they’re melting to speed things up. After they’re mostly melted, take the pan off the heat and stir until the last few pieces of oil melt. When fully melted, stir in the liquid oils (but not the essential oils)
The ideal temperature for this recipe is 100°F / 38°C. Using a thermometer, or better yet a digital temperature gun, take the temps of both the lye water and the pan of oils. They should be within 10 degrees of one another and around the temperature mentioned.
Before moving to the next step, you need to melt the reserved shea butter. You can carefully use the microwave or melt it on very low heat until liquid.
If you're oven processing your soap, you should turn your oven on now to a low setting. You want the interior to only be 110°F/43°C when you put the soap in. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't get too hot.
Back to your soap. When the temperatures are just right, pour the lye water into the pan of oils through a sieve. It will catch any bits of undissolved lye or chunks of clay. Now stick blend. You're going to alternate stirring and pulsing until you reach 'Trace'. Trace is when the consistency of your soap batter is like warm drizzly custard.
I’ve included a video at the bottom of this piece for lemongrass soap and it shows my technique for stick blending. Have a watch to see what to look for.
When your soap is at trace, stir in the melted shea butter and mix thoroughly. Next add the essential oils and keep stirring until it's all mixed in. It may begin to firm up quickly at this point so try to be quick about it yourself.
Pour the soap batter into your mould(s) and either cover with towels or oven process.
For towel insulation: wrap the soap up, both from underneath and over the top with a big fluffy towel. You can line the top of your soap with cling film to keep the cloth fibers out. Leave it wrapped like this for 24-48 hours.
For oven processing: From the moment you turned your oven on you've been monitoring the temperature. When it gets to the right temperature, turn it off and put your soap inside on a baking tray. Leave inside for 24-48 hours.
If your oven gets too hot, turn it off and leave the door open until it's cool enough. The soap can sit uncovered for about 10 minutes without the color being affected too much.
You can pop the soap out of the moulds after 48 hours. After two days, saponification is pretty much complete.
Let the soap dry out for four weeks before using or decorating. This process is called ‘Curing’ and I have a great piece on what to do over here.
Decorating the tops of soap with dried herbs or flowers when it's wet or fresh can lead to your botanicals turning brown (more on that here). If you wait until it's cured then they'll stay colorful for longer. To get dried lavender buds or rose petals to stick, spray the tops of your soap with witch hazel and then sprinkle the flower petals on top. When the witch hazel dries up, they'll stick to the soap like magic.
If you’d like to give your soap as gifts, I also have some ideas on how to naturally wrap soap for gifts.