Saturday, October 29, 2011

Making Castile Soap

People stink!  A quick remedy for this, a shower with soap! more stinky people!  If you happen to have stinky people with sensitive skin, you could make them a bar of Castile soap, which is a pure olive oil soap, free from sodium lauryl sulphate; a.k.a. SLS
   This soap is a gentle and mild cleanser.  People who have eczema  as well as  sensitivity to (SLS), prefer this soap.

  I must stress that soap making can cause serious burns and that proper equipment is a must.  My soap kit contains heavy rubber gloves, safety glasses, a thick apron and long sleeves.  For equipment, I use a large stainless steel pot, a glass quart wide mouth canning jar,  a wooden spoon,  small glass dish,  a scale,  a silicon spatula,  a hand held stick blender, a large stainless steel mixing bowl,  and a homemade soap mold.

I gather all my ingredients to start.


 Weigh 11 ounces of cold water into a quart sized wide mouth mason jar and place in a stainless steel bowl.  I put the bowl and jar in the  kitchen sink.  If any spills, it will clean your drains.
  SEPARATELY weigh out  4 ounces of sodium hydroxide into a small glass dish. 
 Pour the sodium hydroxide INTO the water, not the other way around.  Fill stainless steel bowl halfway with cold water as pictured below.  This will help cool the sodium hydroxide mix quickly. Stir this with a wooden skewer until dissolved.  Make sure you are wearing your protective gear.  This stuff is dangerous.  Don't breathe in the fumes cuz it will make you cough.  Let the solution cool to 110 degrees.

Meanwhile weigh and pour 32 ounces of  olive oil into a large stainless steel pot. (THIS IS ONE TIME YOU CAN CHEAP OUT .  JUST USE PLAIN OLIVE OIL.  YOU DON'T NEED TO BUY THE EXPENSIVE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL.  VIRGIN OIL DOESN'T MAKE GOOD SOAP.)    Heat to 110 degrees. 

When both the sodium hydroxide solution and oil are at 110 degrees, pour the sodium hydroxide solution into the oil.   Stir this mixture for about 15 minutes with the wooden spoon.

Next step is to get out the stick mixer or you could be stirring for days.  Mix the soap until it reaches trace.  This means the mixture will change colors (a creamy off white) and will thicken.  It should be the consistency of vanilla pudding.  You can add your essential oil now (up to 2 ounces) and mix thoroughly with the stick mixer.  If I am making lavender soap, this is when I would add 1/4 cup of lavender seeds, stirring them in by hand.  You could add poppy seeds to lemon soap......etc. etc.

 Pour the mixture into the mold, scraping the pot out with a silicone spatula.  This mold was designed to hold this size batch of soap.  A mold can be made from a heavy cardboard box lined with plastic.  I would say a box about 10 inches long x 4 inches deep  x 3 inches wide.  You can build this from wood too.  This would be the better option if you are planning on making soap more than once.  Make sure you line your mold with plastic though, or your soap will get stuck when cured and could also leak out the sides when you pour it into the mold. 
 Your mold must be leak proof!

When the mold is full, cover exposed soap with plastic.  I use saran wrap.  Wrap in a blanket and let sit for at least 3 days to harden. 
When the soap is hard, remove from mold and cut into bars
 I use a cheese cutter that I modified with some sticks and epoxy so I could cut the soap in even bars.  (I see cheese cutters at the second hand stores all the time.)
 You can use a large sharp knife to cut your soap too.  Whatever you have!

The soap needs to cure for minimum 4 weeks.  I leave mine longer, usually 6 to 8 weeks as Castile soap needs a longer curing time.  I put it in a closet with wire racks so that air can circulate around the bars.

After it has cured,  the soap is sealed in shrink wrap to keep the essential oils from evaporating.  You can wrap it in fabric and tie with a bow, or in cardboard with a flower hot glued to the packaging, or just leave it in the air.  You will still maintain scent in your bar, but sealing it, keeps the smell stronger.

 I cheated!  I am showing you a bar of lavender soap (see the lavender buds). 
The blog batch is still curing.

Thanks to the amazing Inspiration Cafe for featuring my blog.  

Perhaps you would like to visit a few of my other posts:

The building of a bathroom

Building some wine storage

Homemade Linen Spray

Linking up With

DIY Club Tuesday To Do Party
The Enchanting Rose


  1. You have given me a new appreciation for homemade soap. I will not feel as hesitant to purchase expensive homemade soaps in the future. That looks like a lot of work. Thank you for sharing. Very interesting!

  2. I agree with SW Cottage's alot of work by the looks of it, but well worth the money when someone like you would make it.

    Nice job!
    Thanks for sharing :D

    Visiting from Crazy Cute Thur Linky Party today,
    Suzanne in NW Illinois

  3. Wow, I had no idea how involved it was to make soap from scratch. What a labor of love, though. I'm sure the end product is fabulous!

  4. I definitely want to give this a try!! Thanks for sharing your great soap tutorial at the Tuesday To Do Party!

  5. You are amazing, my friend! Thanks for sharing your fabulous inspiration with Roses of Inspiration :) Happy hugs!

  6. Hi! My mother-in-law has super sensitive skin and has the most luck with Jojoba Oil on her skin. Could I make this and replace the olive oil with jojoba oil? Thank you for sharing your process! It looks amazing! I can't wait to give it a try!

    1. Hi there. You can make any kind of soap with oils of your choice but you will need to calculate the lye amount. I use the MMS Lye calculator for my recipes. You can create your very own recipe and experiment on batches with different oils until you get one just right for you. Here is the website.....
      Good luck and happy soap-making! If you would like help with a custom recipe, you can email me at with the oils you would like to use and I could do the calculating for you! Cheers.

    2. Awesome! Thank you for the advice!

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Cheers to great words!