Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Coconut oil soap - Laundry soap

I've made up a little grated laundry soap for myself and I'll sell a little at my local markets. It's not cost effective for me to sell laundry soap online so I thought I'd share the recipe I use.

100% Coconut oil shredded laundry soap
I wouldn't suggest making this as your first soap as 100% coconut oil soap will easily misbehave and overheat.

If you are unfamiliar with soap making I would first buy/borrow a good soap making book and try some of the other recipes first. I would highly recommend "The Everything Soapmaking Book" by Alicia Grosso. It's very well written and the recipes will work out.

I would also check any recipe you would like to use in a soap calculator such as soapcalc as it is always possible that there are transcription errors in a recipe.

There are lots of U-tube videos of soap making around. Some are very good, some show very dangerous practices. Therefore I'd read some quality material on soap making first.

Coconut oil unhydrogenated - I use RBD coconut oil with a melt point of 25C, you could use virgin coconut oil but it would be much more expensive. 1000g

Sodium hydroxide 98-99% 182g

Water 468g


Do not use any glass, aluminium or rigid clear plastics with soapmaking the Caustic will react with them making them susceptible to catastrophic failure.

Do not undertake soap making with children or pets in the area as you are working with highly corrosive concentrated sodium hydroxide solutions.

-Accurate scales with at least 1g accuracy. This is even more important for laundry kitchen soap than for hand soap as you work a lot closer to the neutralisation point for the caustic with these.
-Fully enclosed chemical safety googles
-Heavy duty rubber gloves
-Closed shoes
-Long sleeves and pants
-Stick blender ideally you can use a hand whisk it will just take a lot longer.
-Large bowl - Heavy plastic or stainless steel saucepan
-Silicone spatula
-Plastic spoon
-Mould/s plastic tupperware containers, milk cartons will work. Ideally line these with baking paper to make it easier to remove the soap. I'd suggest something shallow would work better for coconut oil soap if you aren't used working with it.
-Cake rack.
-Grater, food processor or mincer.
-Well ventilated area.

The coconut oil soap reaction is hot and fast and precautions need to be taken to keep the reacting soap mix cooler.

Step 1- Put on your safety gear

Step 2- Weigh out and warm your coconut oil just enough to melt it. This can be done in the microwave.

Step 3- Weigh out your water.

Step 4- Weigh out your Sodium hydroxide and add it slowly to the water. Never add pour the water onto the sodium hydroxide it is not a safe practice.

Step 5- Patience - allow the sodium hydroxide solution to cool to room temperature.

Step 6- Slowly pour the sodium hydroxide solution into the oils. Stir gently, then blend. Take care not to splatter caustic solution.

Step 7- When the oil and caustic solution have started to react and are like a thick custard (at trace) pour into prepared moulds. Shallow moulds are better if the soap is poured at around 3 cm depth is much less likely to overheat and volcano out of the mould than a thicker pour. You can do it but you need to be much more careful.

Step 8- Just cover lightly with glad wrap or a light tea towel. (Don't insulate heavily). Lift the mould of the surface on a cake rack or similar to allow air to circulate underneath. Ensure there is good air movement. Small batches I pop under the range-hood with the fan on. Larger batches I place outside. Make sure no children or pets can assess the soap.

Step 9- This reaction is fast and over in a few hours. You will notice the soap will go through gel. The reaction creates so much heat that the soap mix melts itself. Once this has happened it will slowly cool and become solid again.

Step 11- After reaction the pH of the soap will have dropped from pH 14 to around 9-10. You will need to check this.

Step 12- You can keep some soap in solid blocks to rub on stains. However you will probably want to use it grated. Ideally do this while the soap is still a little warm. It is much easier as it becomes very hard once totally cool.


This produces a very cleansing soap suitable for laundry/kitchen use in areas with soft to moderate water. If your water is a little hard you can use 1 cup of washing soda to every 2 cups of soap. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon or so of you favourite essential oil to the wash to add scent if you would like.

You can dissolve some in water and use it in a squirt bottle at the kitchen sink. This makes a good cleansing soap for hand washing dishes. It is a little harsh on the hands so I would use gloves while doing the dishes.

In areas of very hard water where you don't soften your water before use. I would suggest using a eco friendly detergent instead.

For woollens and silks using a gentler olive oil soap or gentle detergent would be a preferable option. Protein based fabrics are susceptible to damage with very cleansing soaps.


Lilac essential oil soap

Well not really. As much as some people would like to advertise soap as lilac essential oil soap there is no lilac essential oil.

However if you love essential oils like me then there is no need to despair you can get very close to the scent of lilacs using a blend of Nerolina oil and a touch of ylang ylang oil.

What is Nerolina oil you ask. It is steam distilled oil from the leaves of broad leaved paperbark Melaleuca quinquenerva which contains high levels of linalool and nerolidol making it a gorgeous floral scented oil. The oil by itself has a gorgeous floral scent with a strong lilac note not at all what you would expect from a tea tree.

Lilac soap

Monday, 20 August 2012

Wintergarden Design Market - August 2012

The market is held upstairs in the gallery
I had a wonderful market at the Wintergarden Design Market on Sunday. Most of these were taken early before the customers were around

Watch out for more information, as they are thinking of having a pre Christmas market in November.

The cafe downstairs was flat out all day.

I struggle to fit everything on a six foot table as I'm used to working a larger outdoor site.

Handmade glass cufflinks.

Wonderful Australian hand felted wool.

Busy with a customer.

One of a kind upcycled dresses.

Crocheted sea creatures fluttering in the breeze though the window.

Smiling stall holders

Chainmaile by Maille Fantasy eery single link in these is joined by hand.

More information on the market can be found through https://www.facebook.com/WinterAtTheWintergardenMarketSeries

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Point Lonsdale Market

I grabbed my camera to take along to the Point Lonsdale Market today. I needed a couple of shots of my stall for a couple of market applications and didn't have current ones. Point Lonsdale market is a mixed market with a load of locally made and grown products.

While I was there a snapped a few shots of the market early in the morning while everyone was setting up. I thought I'd share a few of them. Watch out in the next month or two the Point Lonsdale market will be moving back onto the original grounds and the indoor stall holders into the new building. I'm rather exicted about that.

Some of my soap photos.
 A few of the stalls setting up. Local honey, olive oil, fresh bread and lots more.
Delicious rhubarb has been so good this winter. I love rhubarb and apple crumble
The biggest fruit and vegetable stall of any of the markets I do.

Happy stall holders setting up.

These guys have lots of unusual herb plants and lots of spices and herbal teas to buy.

What more could any little girl want new clothes for their dolls.

I couldn't resist taking a shot of all these colourful flax plants at one of the many plant stalls there.
 Colourful shoes I love this bright yellow tent. It makes me smile every time I see it.

There are lots of clothes at the market too. This bright red cloak took my eye.

Fresh bread my family love the Turkish bread from here.

Indoors in the school. If you haven't ventured indoors you should sometime. Today there was handmade cakes, fudge, local artists, handmade candles, cards, my soap, teddies, jewellery and more inside.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Soap - To Package or not?

Every now and then I get asked why do I package my soap at all.

This was one thing I tossed up when I first set up my business. Legally all cosmetics have to to have the ingredients available at point of sale. 

One of the things I always wanted was to have the ingredients listed fully for allergy sufferers, to be able to check if they were given my soap as a gift. This meant I needed to attach the ingredients to the soap somehow. So for me totally naked soap wasn't an option for this reason alone.

Simple cigar bands made out of paper or light cardboard are the easiest way to do this. I initially trialled cigar bands when I started selling soap. But apart from the fact that as soap continued to cure and shrink a little the bands would become loose and fall off - very annoying. This option also offered little in the way of protecting the soap from the environment.

Simple protective packaging cellophane bags
 with paper labels
I'm now using genuine cellophane bags (not the "cello" polypropylene bags that are often sold) to enclose the soap in. This packaging protects the soap from the environment extending its life. This packaging is produced from cellulose so is from renewable sources. It's totally biodegradable. It is allows water vapour to move through it preventing soap sweating. But cellophane excludes the passage of oxygen into the soap preventing oxidation and degradation of the soap over time. The scents also don't pass through the packaging well either so the soap retains its scent much longer.

How can packaging protect the soap?

1. The correct packaging helps retain the scent in the soap a lot longer. Essential oils and other fragrances are comprised of volatile chemicals (natural or otherwise depending on what is used to scent your soap). You can smell them as the chemicals are gradually evaporating from the soap. I found that the packaging I'm using now means the soap retains it's scent about 3 times as long as unpackaged soap. The downside is that it's harder to smell what the soaps scent is like through the packaging

2. Oxidation.
Soap is made from fats and oils and like these may eventually oxidise or go rancid. This may take weeks or many, many years depending on a large number of variables.

These variables includes which are oils used in manufacturing the soap. Those that have a short shelf life in the kitchen have a shorter shelf life in the soap too. I've avoided short shelf life oils in my soap for this reason.

Some additives or contaminants can increase the problem, iron and some colorants may do this. Choosing the colours carefully and using distilled or rainwater (my choice) instead of town water is useful.

Added antioxidants can help prevent oxidation the most common additive in commercial soap is the chelator ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA). This works well but has some potential environmental issues to to its stability in the environment. I don't use EDTA or any other added antioxidants preferring to avoid oxidation other ways .

How dry the atmosphere is. Free moisture sitting on the surface of the soap in warm humid spots will promote oxidation. I'm talking about stored soap not soap in use, where there is a fresh layer of soap being constantly produced. Packaging that soap can sweat in accelerates the problem.

Light can accelerate the process.

BUT the one thing that absolutely must be present for oxidation to take place is oxygen. So packaging that excludes this is ideal.

3. Colorants fading.
Whether or not to use light excluding packaging is an interesting one. I'm not as I like to be able to display the swirls and colours of the soap I produce. But it does mean that eventually some of the colours I use may fade if exposed to bright light. Indigo, annatto and paprika extracts will do this.

4. Personal hygiene.
True soap is actually a very, very poor medium for bacteria to grow on. However having soap packaged means that if it is being handled in a retail environment that it's not ending up covered in grime and viruses that might otherwise be deposited there.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Testing Floral Waxes in Soap

Some very expensive perfumes are made from absolutes. These are incredibly expensive to buy. From my wholesalers you are looking at fragrances like rose, jasmine and mimosa starting at around $20 for 2 ml and these aren't even the particularly expensive ones. Obviously unless you have very deep pockets you aren't going to use them in soap. For those of you that don't make soap the rate of essential oil use in soap varies depending on the oil but is generally in the vicinity 2-6%.

A by product absolute production these floral waxes are full of lovely phospholipids and of particular interest to me they still retain a significant amount of the scent too. Last year I had the opportunity to import some through a co-op buy with some lovely US soap makers to try them out.

There isn't a lot of information around on using them is soap so I thought I'd just let you know my experience.

I'd received 4 waxes Jasmine sambuc, rose and mimosa from The Perfumery (previously the Essential Oil University) and narcissus from Premier Specialities.

Clockwise from top left - Narcissus, mimosa, jasmine, rose
The first 3 were strongly scented the Narcissus only weakly so.

Thoughts on the scents smelt straight up.

The mimosa smelt softly green with a slightly floral/lilacy scent. The scent was soft but very persistent. I quite liked it but found that it wasn't popular with customers in general.

The rose smelt very much like fresh green moss roses rather than heady floral rose. Lovely in a blend but perhaps not what someone would automatically expect as a straight rose.

The jasmine, extra strong heady jasmine sambuc with the musky notes from the indoles.

Anyway, I melted these in the microwave and added them in the thin stream while stick blending the soap at light trace. This seemed to incorporate them well. The melt point is relatively high so they start to re-solidify at room temperature very quickly, so ideally need melting immediately before use. The saponification value for them was very low. Even lower than beeswax so I ignored this when calculating the amount of sodium hydroxide for the batches and treated them purely as a fragrance.

I tested them all at 3% of the oil weight. At this the scent of the narcissus was lost completely. The rose was quite strong (about right), the mimosa a bit too soft and the jasmine overpowering only those that like their soap super scented would like it at that level.

Jasmine wax soap coloured with charcoal
The jasmine wax noticeably discoloured the soap to a light yellowish tan as shown in this photo. The colour of this soap base is typically off white. The other waxes discolouration wasn't noticeable.

Since I did the initial tests I've been using them in blends with quite a bit of success. If I get the opportunity again, I'll certainly buy the jasmine and rose waxes as they add to the range of affordable scents I can use in making my soap.

Mimosa wax soap with French green clay.
The mimosa I simply can't work out what to do with enough in soap to purchase again. Although if you were into making lotions I could see it being useful.

Note. None of these straight floral wax soap is left to sell. There are a few for sale containing the waxes in blends.

Random Winter Photos

New Holland Honeyeater
Willie wagtail
I had an hour to kill this morning before an appointment. So I decided to walk up to Kingston Park with my camera as it was a beautiful clear sunny morning.

I was thinking it would be quiet up there but the birds were all out and making a racket. Lots of cute lorikeets in the canopy. My camera is not ideal for birds as I don't have a big enough lens but here are a few of the locals that were around.

The New Holland honeyeater calling out to the rest of its family there are loads of them locally.

The black and white Willy Wagtails who never sit still and when nesting in their cute little cobwebby nests scold and chase away birds 10 x their size.

Eastern Rosella
Crested pigeons

Eastern Rosellas we have lots of these resident in the area. They nest in old eucalyptus tree hollows locally.

These plump crested pigeons I never noticed here before the last drought but now you see them all the time feeding around the local football oval.

Nest box

My husband last school holidays downloaded plans for a nest box to build with the kids. This one is aimed at the Eastern Rosellas but there are plenty of other hollow dependant animals and birds that could move in. We are still waiting? We've got lots of hollow dependant parrots around here  so hopefully someone will move in.

Dusty Miller - Spyridium sp

The dusty miller in my garden is still flowering, seriously I think it has flowers on it 12 months of the year.

Golden wattle

Johnny Jump Ups
There was some golden wattle flowering but mostly it was like this one just days away from bursting into fluffy golden balls.

I love these cute little Violas and how they just spring up in random spots to brighten the garden.

A surprise yesterday I found these (just slightly LOL) out of season roses flowering in the garden.