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Beginner Soap Making – Lavender Soap Recipe

Lavender Soap

Richly creamy and beautifully fragrant, this Lavender soap recipe is my favorite to date from the batches I have made.  I am a beginner soap maker, having recently commenced creating my own soap. I still have much to learn about the art and process as I progress and learn with each batch. I have spent many months researching, making numerous batches and testing recipes and ingredients. If you are looking for a place to start, for a recipe to get you started this post may assist, so please read on.

Prior to beginning to make my own soap I was already very comfortable working with all of the ingredients, with the exception of lye. This ingredient I have had to learn to use and adjust my thinking about. When I read the facts about lye it scared me (alot!). I found it very difficult to get my head around using it. I took me some time to contemplate combining it with some very high quality ingredients that I would loathe to waste.  This was on top of the thought that I was using a highly caustic ingredient on my family’s skin.

Lye, as an isolated ingredient is highly caustic and will cause burns. It will burn your skin, it will burn a hole in a bench top surface. It must be used with appropriate care and safety. The good news is that lye is broken down as part of the saponification process that takes place when the soap is setting in the mold.

I made a few attempts to prove the soap makers of the world wrong and create soap without lye  before I conceded (kind of) defeat and started to work on understanding the process of soap making a little more.

Soap making is a satisfying skill to add to those of making skin care and many food recipes from scratch.  I find it empowering to know that the ingredients I am using are of the quality that I have chosen. For me that is a key driver in making anything from scratch. I can avoid unnecessary harsh additives and ingredients of limited or no value.

I have much to learn about making soap, I am at the beginning of my journey. The items listed below are some of the things that I have learned along the way. I hope that if you are starting out they help you also.

Beginner Soap Making Tips:

These are the key learnings I have derived whilst experimenting with soap making:

Safety is critical:

  • Protect  feet, skin, eyes and benches/work surfaces

    • Wear gloves, long sleeves, a mask and shoes and safety goggles
    • Cover your work area with plastic sheet or newspaper
  • No children or pets should be in the vicinity when using lye
  • Mix lye outside if possible – if not possible, then it must be in a very well ventilated room
  • Do not walk around with newly mixed lye, mix it in the location it will sit to cool
  • Seek immediate medical advice if you get lye in or near your eyes. If you get lye on your skin it will burn. Rinse under water immediately and if relief is not gained seek medical attention

Ingredient quality is important:

  • High quality ingredients will result in a high quality, moisturising soap.

I find it empowering to be able to make the choice and add the quality that I know and appreciate to products that I will be using. For example, I use organic Coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter in my products. I love that I get to choose, I have defined the product that I am using and know exactly what is in it.

Find a good soap calculator:

  • Use a reliable calculator if you wish to create your own recipes

I use this one and have make numerous batches, all have worked well.

I have also been recommended this one, by a fellow blogger who has been making soap for some time now. I but am yet to try it.

If the calculator seems too confusing follow my recipe below for my favorite Lavender Soap

Accuracy is important:

  • Ensure that you are measuring in grams, not a mix of grams and mils.
  • Use scales to ensure accurate measurements
  • Essential oils are generally used in very low quantities, however, in soap making the quantity required is much higher than in skin care.

Use the correct equipment:

  • Do NOT use glass, brittle plastic or any metal other than stainless
  • Pliable plastic, stainless steel and wood are suitable to use for making soap
  • You will also require two thermometers
  • Baking paper
  • Cling wrap and an old towel
  • Stick blender

I have a bowl, spoon, plastic bucket and stick blender that I use only for soap making.

DIY lavender soap

Be Creative, Make it your Own:

  • Use your favorite essential oils and ingredients to suit your skin type

The beauty of making your own products is that you can create them as YOU please.

I collected the lavender from our garden that I used in this recipe and my recent recipe for a herbal bath soak. Lavender is one of my favorite essential oils I use it on a daily basis.

I suffer from very sensitive skin that is prone to eczema. I choose to use nourishing oils and ingredients that are gently and soothing on my skin.

Read Widely:

  • There are many soap making forums, sites and resources available online. See which ones resonate with you.

I found Australian Soap Makers provided clear and logical process steps and information. I used their guidelines when I commenced my first batches. The method below is based on those steps.

Lavender Soap Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soap
Ingredients
  • 215 grams cocoa butter
  • 50 grams coconut oil
  • 35 grams Shea Butter
  • 150 grams Almond Oil
  • 50 grams Macadamia Oil
  • 175 grams chilled water
  • 65 grams lye
  • 2 tablespoons white clay
  • 30 drops geranium essential oil
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • dried lavender flowers
Instructions
  1. Place a saucepan filled ¼ full of water to heat to a simmer
  2. Measure out and place the cocoa butter, coconut oil, she butter, almond and macadamia oils into a bowl that can be placed on top of the saucepan without the bottom of it touching the water in the saucepan. Set it aside for now and wait until the water in the saucepan comes to a simmer
  3. Line a plastic container/Tupperware with baking paper. This will be the soap mold.
  4. Line your work area with a plastic sheet or newspaper to protect the surface from any spills.
  5. Put on your gloves and mask
  6. Measure your chilled water into a high edged tub or bucket
  7. (I complete this step outside on the deck) Pour the lye into the water (DO NOT pour the water into the lye) Keep your face away from the mixture and avoid breathing in the fumes that will immediately start to be released. The mixture will immediately begin to heat up. Give the mixture a stir to allow the lye to dissolve and leave the container to sit outside
  8. The water in the saucepan should be coming to a low boil, place the bowl with the other ingredients on top and stir once in while until the solid ingredients melt. *DO NOT do this step over high heat, it is a gentle heating process.
  9. Once the ingredients are almost melted remove the bowl from the top of the saucepan and continue to stir until they are fully dissolved.
  10. Allow the ingredients temperature to drop to 40 or 45 degrees
  11. Check the temperature of the chilled water and lye, at this stage it should also be around 40-45 degrees C
  12. Slowly pour the caustic and water mixture into the melted oils. Use a stick blender to combine. Continue to use the blender until the mixture has thickened and when raised slightly above the mixture can make a line across the mixture that stays sitting on top. If the drizzle of the mixture sinks quickly into the bowl you need to keep going with the blender.
  13. Once the mixture is at the correct thickness add the clay and the essential oils
  14. Mix again with the stick blender for a minute
  15. Scatter dried lavender flowers evenly to the bottom of the lined plastic container that will hold the soap
  16. Pour the soap mixture into the lined plastic container on top of the lavender
  17. Set the container aside in a location that will not be disturbed and cover with cling wrap and then with a towel
  18. After a day a two the soap can turned out and sliced into bars of the desired size
  19. Allow the sliced soap to cure and dry on a rack. A cake rack is perfect for this.
  20. Allow to dry for approximately 4 weeks. The longer the soap dries the harder it will be and the longer it will last.
Notes
*All measures are grams NOT mls
*Ensure that all safety recommendations have been followed when making soap. Refer to the full post for information.

Would you like to give soap making a try? 

Kyrstie

 

 

 

 

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Bele @ BlahBlah August 9, 2014, 3:17 pm

    Very inspiring. I haven’t made the leap yet but I’m very tempted x

  • Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas August 10, 2014, 10:21 am

    Nice clear article Kyrstie. You are inspiring me to get back on the wagon :)
    If you are happy with Soapcalc I would keep using that. It is a good calculator, used by many soap makers.
    A couple of suggestions for your next batch. You might like to consider dropping the amount of Almond oil and increasing the coconut. Coconut oil in soap creates a beautiful lather and a harder bar. Almond oil will give you a much softer bar. Don’t drop the almond completely if you love it. Just wiggle your percentages. I also add 5% caster oil to every batch as it helps boost lather. Don’t use more than 5% though as it will give you a softer bar.
    Your point on protective equipment is so timely for me. I somehow managed to splash liquid lye on my skin when making liquid soap this week and now have a lovely small burn to show for it. It pays to never be complacent around lye.

  • Merry August 10, 2014, 5:13 pm

    I too am a newbie and want badly to make soap but I just don’t understand how you would know what size mold to use. Most recipes don’t say. How do you figure that out?

    • Kyrstie Barcak August 11, 2014, 10:43 am

      Hi Merry,
      Good question. With this recipe I used an old tupperware square container lined with baking paper. It is 16cm x 16 cm. I hope this helps. Kyrstie

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