Here is a recipe for a shampoo bar which is gentle enough for daily use or can be used as a preventative for head liceAs with all the soap recipes on this site, please read through the method first and ensure you understand everything. Be very careful using lye (caustic soda or sodium hydroxide) as it can cause really nasty burns if used carelessly. However, if you are sensible and follow the instructions you will make a soap to be proud of!
Caustic soda is available from hardware shops like Wilkinsons, and will be found where the drain cleaners are. Make sure you get the 100% caustic soda and not the one which has metal in it.
Follow the instructions and ingredients carefully and remember to weigh EVERYTHING, even the water!
125 grams coconut oil
125 grams olive oil
90 grams palm oil
35 grams almond oil
neem oil (or may used other oil to replace it)
90 grams castor oil, plus 3 more tablespoons for adding to the soap later. The addition of extra castor oil makes a really frothy lather making it ideal for creating a shampoo bar
71 grams caustic soda
200 grams water infused with nettle, rosemary, fennel and melissa (put your jug on the scale and weigh your infusion into it)
1 teaspoon each of tea tree, rosemary, lavender and lemon essential oils
GATHER TOGETHER YOUR UTENSILS:
A Pyrex jug
A large Pyrex bowl
A clean stick to stir the lye solution
A wooden spoon (do not use the spoon for anything else other than soap)
A pair of rubber gloves (I suggest you wear shoes and long sleeved top and something which covers your legs too – lye solution burns and carries on burning!)
Something to mould your soap in, an old margarine tub (thicker one 500 gram size) is ideal or any box that sort of size.
Weigh your COLD water in your jug.
Weigh your caustic soda crystals into an old cup.
Add the crystals to the water in the jug, SLOWLY, STIRRING ALL THE TIME WITH YOUR CLEAN STICK – IT WILL GET HOT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AND GIVE OFF FUMES – DON’T BREATHE THEM IN THEY’RE NOT NICE!
Set the jug aside and allow cooling.
Pour your oils into the Pyrex dish.
Heat the oils (either in a microwave, or over a saucepan of boiling water). The temperature you are aiming for is about 80 C. The lye solution must be about this temperature too. If you put your hand on the side of the jug and on the side of the bowl you can feel if they’re the same temperature; they should feel just warm.
Now the fun bit. Slowly pour your lye solution into the oils, stirring all of the time with your wooden spoon. The oils will change color and consistency and look like custard! Keep stirring, keep stirring, keep stirring – did I say keep stirring! This is to incorporate the mixture. The process we are aiming for is called saponification where all of the lye is chemically changed by interaction with the oils into SOAP.
The mixture will start to thicken, when it reaches the stage where if you lift the spoon out and draw it over the surface you can see a “trace” which falls back slowly that’s it! (It’s actually called trace honest!).
Now you can add your essential oils and the three extra tablespoons of castor oil. Adding oil at the trace process is called ‘superfatting’: When oils are added then they do not saponify fully so you get more of the benefit of the oils.
When the fragrance is stirred through you can pour your soap into your mould.
Pour mixture into mould carefully.
When all the mix is in put aside your utensils.
Now if there is a lid for your mould, put it on, if not cover with a plate and wrap it all up in a thick towel (this is to insulate the soap). You can then leave the soap to set for 24 hours.
After 24 hours unmould your soap, cut it into bars and leave it to dry out completely for about 4 weeks. (This “cures” the soap and ensures that total saponification has taken place (no lye left!).
You can wash up your utensils now too! Don’t do this before as if you wash them straight away you are pouring raw soap into the drainage system – not well! Leaving it for the 24 hours allows the residue to saponify and then all you’re washing away is nice pure soap.
Enjoy your soap!