Monday, August 13, 2012

shampoo soap bar - a recipe

One of my green goals for the year was to make my own soap and shampoo products.  I am pleased to tick both of these of the list and I'm really happy with how they work. 

I'd never made any soap before this year, putting it in the too hard basket, but after doing a bit of reading and giving it a go, I've found it quite simple.  I used tools and equipment I already had in the kitchen and sourced ingredients from the supermarket and from a local online store.  And the process is not as complicated as I first thought.

I've been using my home made shampoo bars for about six months now and love it.  My hair feels clean with lots of body.  No need for comercial conditioners either, I use a rinse of diluted white vinegar, which gives all the shine I need.  This shampoo bar is what our whole family uses.  It foams up really well and washes out easily.  It takes a little getting used to, rubbing a soap into your hair and getting the suds all over, but nothing unmanageable.

About soap making
If you have never made soap before, I would advise reading around the net on several soap making sites to get a good handle on the process.  Things like how saponification works, cold and hot process, super fatting and lye ratios. 
Now don't switch off just yet!!
Read a site or two and these terms will become clearer.  Make a batch of soap and they will make even more sense.  It wasn't until I had made a batch of soap that some of these ideas ment anything to me at all.  You don't need to know all the details to make a batch of soap.  It does help to understand the process if you want to modify the recipes or make up your own. 

some of my soapmaking oils

One thing you will need to be clear on is how to make soap safely.  Caustic soda (NaOH) is used in the process and you must be very careful with it in all its forms until the soap is cured or ready to use.  Wear safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves when working with the caustic soda.  And make sure that children or animals are not under your feet during this time too.  Work in a ventilated area (outside or under a rangehood/extractor fan) when first making the lye liquid.  It gives off some nasty gas, which is not good to inhale.

Basic How To - cold process method
1. Prepare the fats and oils.
Measure out all the fats and oils into a saucepan.
Heat until all are liquid.
Set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Prepare the lye liquid.
Steep rosemary and mint sprigs in boiling water.
Measure out the caustic soda into a dry container.
Measure out the steeped liquid into a glass heat proof jug.
Pour the caustic soda into the liquid (NEVER LIQUID INTO CAUSTIC SODA)
Stir until disolved. (This will heat up lots and give off a nasty gas.  Work in an appropriately ventilated space)

Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Prepare mixing equipment and moulds.
Select a bowl (about 4lt capacity) and stiring utensil.
Grease two 1lt UHT milk or juice cartons.

4. Make soap.
Pour the oil mixture into the bowl.
Pour the lye liquid into the oil.
Stir together.
Use stick mixer (immersion blender) to mix.
Mix until trace is achieved.
(Trace looks like thick custard)
Pour into moulds.
(Still be careful with the mixture.  It is not soap yet.)
Leave overnight or until the soap is set.
Un-mould and slice into 1" thick slices.
Leave to cure for about 4-6 weeks, in a ventilated spot, for the saponification process to fully work.
I leave mine on a cake cooler or on folded tea towels in a cardboard box or linen cupboard.

Shampoo Soap Bar
300g Castor Oil
600g Coconut Oil
100g Jojoba Oil
300g Sunflower Oil
200g Beef Tallow
50g Hemp Seed Oil

589g water (steeped with fresh rosemary and mint sprigs)
219g caustic soda

Follow general soap making instructions to construct.

Have you made your own shampoo bars?  What is your favorite recipe?

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  1. Hey Nona, I recently started making my own soap too! I love it, so fun! Thanks for sharing your soap recipe!

  2. HI! my name is kayla, and i just had a question for ya. Ive seen alot of shampoo and soap recipes but i have never seen any that call for caustic soda. now im not even really sure what it is exactly but i was wondering whats the purpose of it in the recipe. if you have the time to answer thatd be great=]

  3. Hi Kayla. To answer your question, the caustic soda is the ingredient which chemically changes the fat into soap. Caustic soda is sometimes known as NaOH, or lye. It is needed to make any form of soap from scratch. Recipes which do not call for the caustic soda are more than likely using pre-made soap in a melt and pour form. Hope this helps!!

  4. Hello! Is there a good vegan substitute for the beef tallow?
    And if not, does beef tallow = lard?

    Thanks for your help :)

    1. You can make soap using only vegetable oils. It will be a softer bar but still very good. Use a lye calculator and make up your own recipe to your specs. That's how I've done all my soap recipes.

  5. And advice for making soap purely from scratch? What I mean is drawing your own lye from ash. I have made 2 batches so far and both times it makes great soap, it just stays soft.

  6. Tallow is Beef, Elk, Buffalo, etc.
    Lard is Pork Fat
    Shortening is Vegetable Fat
    (If you substitute Shortening you'll need to seek out a good lye calculator because the saponification would be different than using the Tallow.)

    I make homemade soap anyway, but (and pleae forgive this perhaps "doh" question, but which of those ingredients is it that makes it a "shampoo" as well?

    1. It's my understanding that any soap can be used to wash your hair. But the addition here of jojoba and hemp oils give more conditioning and are less harsh on the hair.

  7. Looks really cool. Saw it on Homestead Survival blog.

  8. Whoa! First time seeing Shampoo turned soap bar. It's quite creative for you to create on of these dear. Wanna try making one out. Thanks for this information! Might as well check mine.
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  9. I've heard high amounts of coconut oil, over 20% of the total oils, can be pretty drying. Has anyone tried using this recipe to give feedback? Thanks!

  10. 20% coconut oil can be drying, but if you have a high superfat/ lye discount, then it is usually much better! I haven't used this recipe but have made soap for a long time and often use coconut oil at 20% with a superfat around 7-8%

  11. Do you ever sell this? I can't make my own because the smell while making it makes me very, very sick. I would love to find some I can use that is homemade...

  12. Hi, how many pounds approx. does this recipe make? or how many bars of soap turn out? Thanks!!!

    1. This makes about 16 large bars of soap. Have fun soap making!


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