I love shampoo bars, I think they are great and so convenient, I use to love Lush’s shampoo bars – particularly their one that smelled of cinnamon (It’s called new). However their shampoo products contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). With Lush I felt that my scalp was dry and at times it had dundruff/flaky skin – I experienced it more with Lush than any other product. At some point washing my hair every other day with a Lush shampoo bar was just too much and I’d have to switch to something like Head and Shoulders to stop the dry, itchy scalp. Since cutting down on using SLS though my scalp has never felt better!
I experimented with a Liggett shampoo bar which was SLS free – but there was something about it, I just wasn’t a big fan of I don’t know what exactly. Whilst reading through blogs about No ‘Poo thought I stumbled across people who made their own soap…and in particular they used these soaps to wash their hair. I have been interested in making some of my own for quite a while – but I’ve never quite had the courage.
I was watching a video by Mommy Potamus on how she made her shampoo bars and she uses three ingredients. Just three. I can pronounce all of them too which is rare for a shampoo and it wasn’t that expensive to do an inital layout for the ingredients. I decided to give it a go. However, one of the ingredients Lye, or Caustic Soda, is seen as quite a scary ingredient – you have to wear gloves and safety glasses to use it and it comes with a set of safety instructions. Mommy Potamus uses a crock pot, and whilst I have one – it’s used for food so I wasn’t sure about using it for soap. Some people do use their soap utensils to prepare food as well. But just to be safe I decided against using it, and I also decided it was foolish to just buy a crock pot to make soap for the first time. I mean I would probably use it once and then it’ll just sit there…never to be used again. So I decided instead to use the same three ingredients but to Cold Process the soap. Cold Process soap just means the soap needs longer to cure for it to be ready to use.
I am the only one using the soap, a lot of youtube videos out there make big batches…but as it’s just me – how much soap can I really get though? So I decided to start small.
I was looking for a small loaf tin for a little while to use as a soap mold. My mum suggested I buy a silicone one instead I looked around and they were about £13 online, plus extra for shipping. I decided to shop around and see if I can find one cheaper – luckily my mum found one for £2.99 – I can’t remember where! So bargin. She got it for me and then in sat in the cupboard for about two months. During that time I was still using the Dr. Liggett shampoo bar, however I am running a little low now. So I decided maybe it was time to try making some.
I shopped around as to where I could buy Lye and Coconut Oil together, as I figured I would need a lot and then shipping would be expensive. I found Just A Soap , and I couldn’t get how cheap the ingredients were – particularly the Coconut Oil. A 1KG tub is £4.65 – I don’t even think Asda could beat that price, as their coconut oil is a little pricey. I purchased some saftey googles, Lye and Coconut oil. Shipping cost £5.99 – which is expensive but the Lye and Coconut Oil were both 1KG each. So it’s not too bad a price really.
My silicone mold holds 1KG. I used a soap calculator to work out the Lye, Water and Coconut Oil ratio. I liked the Brambleberry soap calculator because it did grams. A lot of the videos of youtube are great – but they are all American and they use ounces, which is not a problem, but they always say get a scale that can measure to two decimal places for better accuracy. There isn’t much difference with a gram – so I have always thought it made more sense to make soap in grams.
I put some disposable gloves on and measured out the coconut oil. I used 600g because when adding the water and the lye to the mixture it made about 1KG of soap – which was the right size for my mold. Next time I could probably use a little more and get a taller soap – but I think the amount I used was fine so I’ll probably stick with that. The mixture I used took just over half of my coconut oil – but only ten percent of my Lye. So next time I make this I can pick up coconut oil from a shop and not pay the £5.99 shipping – however if I like the soap I’ve made I might try a more complicated recipe and make a face soap. So I may look back at the different oils Just a Soap has.
I next measured out the water and lye (for the lye I put on glasses and kept them on throughout dealing with lye). I set up a ban marie on a medium-low heat – set my coconut oil melting. I went outside to do the lye. Unfortunately just as I was about to start my cat came bounding over to say hello. I managed to persuade him to stay away from me and the Lye. I mixed the two – there were some fumes and I stayed back from them…however because I was making a smaller batch there were not many. The mixture got hot too – but not majorly so. I think the trick if you are scared about lye is just to start small and make a small batch. I waited ten minutes for the lye mixture to become clear – like regular water, but in reality that didn’t take long as the mixture was only small.
I had to wait longer for my coconut oil to melt. Once that had melted I let it cool (in hindsight I’ll probably let it cool a little more than it did…it wasn’t an issue but my soap did crack, which was because the soap got too hot). I poured the lye mixture onto a spoon as I was pouring it into the coconut oil – this was to help it fountain out, to avoid splash back. I then mixed it thoroughly with a spoon and then but a stick blender in to get the mixture to trace. Trace is when the soap starts to mix with the lye and begins the process of making soap. Youtube mention light pudding texture for trace, I wasn’t sure what a light pudding mixture was so I decided to mix until my mixture was thick enough to make little swirls when I dangled the blender out. Once that was done. I poured it in the mold, banged the air out of it and then covered it with a towel.
As I mentioned earlier – my soap got too hot and cracked, I check on it 30 minutes after I made it. It wasn’t a big crack and not an issue for me as it was home use only. I decided to see if there was a way to remove it – just in case I later decide to make some soap to give as a gift. I took from rubbing alcohol and sprayed the soap – used cling film to cover the crack and then rubbed it with my finger. It worked quite well and the crack did reduce. I didn’t go crazy trying to get it perfect though.
Then I let it sit for the rest of the night, but it got to about five hours after I made the soap and it felt rock hard – already like a bar of soap. So I was worried about leaving it for 24 hours in case I struggled to cut it. I decided to cut it after five hours – just to be safe. It was tough to cut – but I am a fairly weak, pathetic individual. I put it back in the mold and left it overnight. This morning I’ve put it on a large serving plate and put it on top of a book case. I’ll leave it there for the next few weeks to cure.
Just one comment I will make – I have a red silicone mold and my soap was white – coconut coloured. The soap mold has transferred some of it’s colour onto my soap. It’s not a big deal, but wouldn’t look that great if I gave it for a gift.
Cost wise – it worked out really cheap. The 1KG mold produced 10 bars of soap. The cost to make it was £5.26, that’s 52p a bar (31p a bar if you exclude the shipping cost). Not bad really. Finger’s crossed I get a nice bar of shampoo 🙂