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There is an old saying that goes a little something like this:
You aren’t a real homesteader until you’ve made your own soap.
Actually, I lied. There is no such saying. I don’t know why I said that.
I have been making my own bath and beauty products for a good many years now. I’ve even made several batches of liquid castile soap from scratch. But in a super strange twist of reality – I had never made a cold process bar soap.
I know, right? Well, thanks to the creative freedom that my brand partner, Mountain Rose Herbs, offers me – I am in soapy hog heaven!
Serious, guys… I am addicted right now. Soap is the holiday gift giving theme for me this year!
First on the docket was a luxurious super-fatted, rose-scented cold process soap. My friend Jan from the Nerdy Farm Wife is an expert level soap maker, so I perused her website and ebook for all the particulars and recipe base my rose cold process soap on (her website is like a candy store of recipes for handmade soap lovers, y’all). With a lot of guidance and inspiration, I came up with a luxurious blend of oils, rose petals, and essential oil to make the loveliest of handmade rose soaps.
For this receipt you will need:
Shea Butter (you can use refined or unrefined – the latter will have a characteristic shea odor)
Rose Geranium essential oil (optional – note: you can also use actual rose essential oil or absolute, but it is spendy)
Lye (see below before you freak out)
A soap mold and cutter (I have this set up)
An accurate digital kitchen scale
A stick blender designated for soap making only
Rubber gloves, protective eyewear & long sleeves
Paper towels (to clean up any spills) and vinegar (to neutralize any lye splashes or burns)
A note on lye
In order to make a true soap – lye is an essential ingredient. This caustic chemical is no joke – it is dangerous stuff and should be handled accordingly. When working with lye, you should don rubber gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear, work in a well ventilated (kid and pet free too) area, and the lye should only be added to cool or cold liquids. Lye is what is responsible for saponifying the oils and creating the luxurious lather we know and love.
With a proper oil balance and curing time, the lye will be all used up in the saponification process resulting in a gentle soap. This recipe is super-fatted to 6%, which essentially means that it is even gentler and slightly moisturizing. Take note that special care must be observed when handling the soap during the first 48 hours as 98% of saponification is taking place during this time. The soap can be quite caustic and harsh until it is fully cured (three to six weeks).
I am super pleased with the outcome of my first cold processed soap adventure. I am just in time from making a few batches for holiday gifts. Should you be pressed from time, a hot process soap will result in a soap that is ready to use right away and does not require the extended curing time (although it will benefit from it). From what I gather, virtually any cold process soap recipe can be converted to a hot process. Here is a great hot process soap tutorial from Modern Soapmaking.
Looking for more DIY bath and beauty ideas? Try this facial mask. Happy soap making!
Luxurious Rose Cold Process Soap
A perfect DIY project, this rose scented cold process soap recipe will result in a luxurious soap with a rich and gentle lather.
- 12.5 oz olive oil
- 12.5 oz coconut oil
- 2.5 oz castor oil
- 2.5 oz shea butter
- 4.13 oz lye
- rose petals
- 1 tablespoon geranium essential oil
Prepare a “rose tea” with approximately 1.5 cups hot water and a quarter cup of dried rose petals. Cool to room temperature (or colder in the refrigerator). Strain the tea and measure out 10oz by weight of the “rose tea”.
Wearing safety gear (long sleeve, rubber gloves, and protective eyewear), prepare your lye solution in a plastic tub (with the recycle symbol #5 on it – I use this so that it can be thrown away) by carefully pouring the measured out lye granules into the cooled rose tea. I like to do this in the kitchen sink to capture any splashes. After working with your lye, wipe up area with a paper towel dampened with vinegar to clean and neutralize any stray lye granules. Your lye solution will superheat to near boiling point and may discolor (don’t worry). Place a lid on the container and cool in a safe and secure spot until the lye solution is about 90-110 degrees F.
Meanwhile, combine the oils and butters. Warm until blended. Cool to 90-110 degrees F.
When both mixtures are cooled to 90-110 degrees F, transfer oil to a heavy crock or stainless steel bowl (do not use aluminum). Slowly pour the lye solution into oil, using a stick blender to emulsify. Make sure the stick blender stays below the mixture to avoid splatter. Within a couple of minutes. the mixture will reach “trace” stage when an instrument dragged through the mixture leaves an impression before settling in. Add essential oil at this time and blend thoroughly.
Quickly pour into a parchment lined or silicone mold. Smooth top with a rubber spatula and gently press dried rose petals into the surface if desired. Wrap mold in a couple layers of towels. Cool in a safe spot for 24-36 hours. Unmold and cut.
Cure the cut soap in a single layer, turning daily for three to six weeks. When properly cured the soap will be gentle and non-drying.