Guest post by Leeann Coleman & Jayne Barnes
Castile soap is the most basic and gentlest of all soaps, made from a simple recipe of saponified olive oil and beeswax. The soap has no lather, but provides excellent, gentle cleaning. The beeswax in this recipe makes the bars hard and long lasting. Doctors often recommend castile soap to their patients with allergy-prone or reactive skin types, as well as for babies. This is a basic recipe for a scentless soap.
• Rubber gloves
• Lab goggles or other eye protection
• A small scale
• 1 cup distilled water, room temperature
• 2 large glass measuring cups (2-quart) or 2 heat-safe glass bowls
• 2 1/4 ounces (weight) lye
• Wax or candy thermometer
• 16 ounces (weight) pure olive oil
• 1 ounce (weight) beeswax
• Hand mixer or stick blender
• Rubber spatula
• Commercial soap molds, reusable-type plastic containers, or paper milk cartons lined with waxed paper to use as molds
• Plastic wrap
• Thick towels to insulate your molds
Important Safety Note
You should always take care when using lye. Lye, when added to water, creates a chemical reaction that produces heat. Be sure to protect countertops with a thick layer of newspaper. Lye is corrosive— never handle lye without eye and skin protection. Always use lye in a well-ventilated area.
1. Pour water into bowl.
2. Very carefully, pour the lye into the water while stirring. The lye will react with the water and produce heat. Set aside and allow the lye solution to cool to 150°F.
3. While the lye solution is cooling, prepare the oil solution. In the second large glass bowl, combine olive oil and beeswax. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir, repeating until beeswax is melted and the temperature of the liquid is 150°F.
4. Beat the oil mixture using hand mixer or immersion stick blender. While beating, carefully pour the lye mixture into the oil in a slow and steady stream. Mix for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. The mixture will begin to thicken. In the soap world, this is called “trace.” The term trace refers to the presence of traces of the soap mixture on the surface of the mass when some is taken up on your stirrer and dribbled back in. If the dribble makes no mark, your soap has not traced. When it leaves a little lump on the surface that sinks in quickly, it’s beginning to trace. You must stir your soap to trace before pouring into the molds. If your soap hasn’t traced, it will likely separate and remain unsaponified in layers of oils and lye solution.
5. When the mixture is the consistency of pudding, pour into prepared molds. Cover molds with plastic wrap, and then cover that with several thick towels; set aside. The lye will continue to react in the soap mixture for a few days—the goal is to cool the soap slowly.
6. After 3 days, uncover soap and unmold. Cut into slices if necessary. Allow the soaps to dry out and cure in an undisturbed place for 6 weeks before using them, turning the pieces over once or twice a week.
Soapmakers struggle with unmolding all the time. A simple way to ensure easy release is to line the bottom and sides of the mold. You could brush vegetable oil lightly on the inside of the mold. Then cut plastic sheeting, freezer paper, overhead projector transparency, or other similar materials to size and press onto the oiled surface. Smooth out bumps and creases in the liner to ensure smooth surfaces on your soap.
When the soap is ready to unmold, if all has gone as it should, all you’ll have to do is turn the mold over and the beautiful soap will just fall out onto the table. If, after a few days, the soap won’t release from the mold, put it in the freezer for half an hour and try again.
Excerpted from Honey Crafting: From Delicious Honey Butter to Healing Salves, Projects for Your Home Straight from the Hive written by Leeann Coleman & Jayne Barnes, Copyright © 2013 by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of F+W Media, Inc. All rights reserved.