Today is an important day here at the Soap Kitchen, with only 6 weeks to go until Christmas, this is your last chance to make any Cold Process soaps that will be cured and ready to go for Christmas day. So we’ve got an extra festive yet very traditional Cold Process soap- Frankincense. Below, we have given an in-depth recipe, so whether you are new to soap making or a veteran, this should please everyone!
We made 2 different soaps with this recipe, one natural Frankincense & vanilla decorated with juniper berries, and another more striking Orange & Frankincense with cinnamon sticks.
If you’ve never made natural cold process soaps at home before, you’ll need to make sure you have the equipment and utensils before you start. This recipe makes a simple cold process soap which you can then adapt to be more creative as you gain confidence.
You Will Need:
- Two good sized stainless steel or enamelled saucepans.
- A heat-proof glass measuring jug or plastic jug able to withstand boiling water.
- Accurate kitchen scales.
- A balloon whisk & rubber/wooden spatula, or similar.
- A mould to pour the liquid soap into whilst it sets.
- Eye and hand protection (safety glasses and rubber gloves).
- A blanket or large towel.
- 340g of cold, clean water
- 125g of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) beads or pearls
- 454g olive oil (preferably pomace grade but virgin or extra virgin will do)
- 284g coconut oil (hard variety)
- 170g palm oil (hard variety)
- 1/4 tsp Grapefruit seed extract OR vitamin E (optional preservative). Note… Grapefruit seed extract will speed up the time it takes for your soap to ‘trace’.
- 20ml Fragrance or Essential Oil/s
- Botanicals to decorate (optional)
*Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment listed above BEFORE you start, weigh them out into suitable containers ready to use.
*Always wear safety goggles/glasses and use protective gloves when soap-making to avoid injury from spills and splashes.
First choose your mould. Traditionally, soaps are made in wooden moulds lined with waxed or siliconised paper, but a cardboard box lined in a similar way is fine or you can use a silicone cake-baking mould, as they are usually lye and heat-resistant. If choosing a traditional lined wooden mould, make sure the lining paper is not cut or holed in any way below the top of the mould
Make the Lye
Measure out 340g of cold clean water into a jug, and then weigh (accurately) 125g of sodium hydroxide beads (or pearls) into a suitable container. Carefully add the sodium hydroxide to the water, and whisk, stirring all the time. Be careful not to breathe the vapour that is initially given off, so hold your breath and stir until all the sodium hydroxide has dissolved and there are no lumps stuck to the bottom of the jug.
The solution (now known as Lye) will heat up to nearly 200°F and will need to be left to cool. (to cool it quicker you can place the jug in a large bowl of cold water, being careful not to ‘float’ it.)
Meanwhile, measure out exactly 284g of coconut oil and 170g of palm oil into one of the saucepans (the smaller if there is one) and gently melt it on the stove. Don’t overheat it, just melt it. When there are tiny pieces of solid oil still left to melt, remove from the heat and leave until completely liquid.
Whilst the solid oils are melting, measure out 454g of olive oil (pomace grade is best) into the other saucepan (this will be the soap-making pan). If adding grapefruit seed extract, add it to the olive oil now.
Once melted, pour the combined coconut and palm oils into the olive oil and mix them all together.
Then slowly and carefully pour the lye into the oils, and start stirring with a balloon whisk to ensure the mixture all starts to chemically react and combine.
You should stir the mixture fairly briskly. You will notice the solution start to turn more opaque and as the minutes pass it will start to thicken.
The stage in the process you have to wait for is known as the ‘Trace’. This is when you can drizzle the mixture from the whisk onto the surface of the solution and it leaves a visible trace before sinking back into the rest.
Once everything is added and well mixed simply pour it into your lined mould.
You can decorate the top with botanicals like we have; we used juniper berries with our Frankincense and Vanilla
Cover the mould with something like a cardboard sheet to prevent anything touching the surface of the soap whilst it’s setting.
Insulate with old towels or a blanket and leave at room temperature until the soap has solidified. With a small batch like this example, this should be no more than 24 hours. Larger batches can take longer.
Once set and cool, remove the soap from the mould and remove any lining paper from the soap. At this stage it will be a soft solid and can be easily cut into bars or smaller blocks if desired. If it appears too soft to handle, leave it for 2-3 days and try again.
Leave your soap ‘curing’ at room temperature for typically at least 3-4 weeks, preferably on a sheet of uncoloured absorbent paper allowing air to circulate around each bar or block. Curing will allow the soap to lose excess moisture and become harder.