Longer lasting homemade bar soap

Longer Lasting Bar Soap

I was thrilled with my first batch of homemade bar soap, but found that it was used up more quickly than I expected (or wanted).  I set out to make a bar soap that lasted longer than my first batch, but still had the nice lather and silky feel.  Longer lasting soap means that the soap bar is harder.  I found All About Soap-Making Oils to have some very good high level information about selecting oils for making soap.  The Secret to the Absolutely Best Soap Recipe offered suggestions about increasing soap bar hardness, including increasing the ratio of hard to soft oils, and adding sodium lactate.  How to Make Handcrafted Soap Harder discussed ratio of hard to soft soaps, using castor oil, decreasing superfat %, adding sodium lactate or salt, all of which can increase the soap bar’s hardness.  I haven’t tried sodium lactate or salt in my recipes yet, but plan to in my next batch.  I’ll report on that after my experiments!


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through these links.  There is no cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 


After doing my research and raiding my closet to see what oils and butters I already had on hand, I went over to soapcalc.net and formulated this bar soap recipe.  It is fragrance free, 3% superfat, water as a percent of oils 38%, and I decided to use black tea in place of water.  I made this recipe cold process.

longer lasting homemade bar soap

Why use tea instead of water in soap making?  Maybe some of the antioxidants in the tea survive the soap making process and my skin can benefit from this.  Even if not, I experimented with something new, and ended up with interesting colored soap!  

This recipe is for a 2 kilogram batch of homemade bar soap.  You can adjust the amount of soap you make by keeping the same ratios I have listed, and using soapcalc.net to calculate the amount of water and lye needed.

Black Tea Soap
Fragrance-free soap made with olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, and black tea
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17016 calories
58 g
0 g
1928 g
20 g
700 g
2774 g
45 g
2 g
1 g
1154 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
2774g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 17016
Calories from Fat 16902
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1928g
2966%
Saturated Fat 700g
3501%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 157g
Monounsaturated Fat 997g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 45mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 58g
19%
Dietary Fiber 33g
133%
Sugars 2g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
16%
Iron
116%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 760.00 grams distilled water (26.81 oz) or liquid of choice (I brewed tea with 4 black tea bags)
  2. 290.20 grams Sodium Hydroxide (lye) (10.24 oz)
  3. 100 grams Castor Oil (3.53 oz) (5% of oil weight)
  4. 100 grams Cocoa Butter (3.53 oz ) (5% of oil weight)
  5. 600 grams Coconut Oil, 76 deg (21.16 oz) (30% of oil weight)
  6. 1200 grams Olive Oil (42.33 oz) (60% of oil weight)
Supplies
  1. immersion blender
  2. large glass, ceramic, or steel container for mixing soap
  3. glass, ceramic, or steel bowls or measuring cups for measuring ingredients
  4. microwave, crock pot, or stove for melting oils
  5. kitchen scale
  6. silicone spatula or wooden spoon
  7. soap mold (can be as simple as a box or pringles tube lined with wax paper)
  8. gloves, safety glasses
Instructions
  1. 1. If using tea in place of water, the day before you plan to make soap, brew the tea. Measure slightly more water than needed in your recipe, and heat to a boil. Remove the water from heat and place tea bags in the water. I used 4 regular size tea bags, and let steep for about 1 hour. I wanted dark tea for the color. Remove tea bags, and leave the tea at room temperature, or place in the fridge to chill. From my 2 batches, chilled tea resulted in darker finished product.
  2. 2. Prepare your soap molds.
  3. 3. Measure the tea by weight, pouring into a glass, ceramic, or steel vessel. If you do not have enough tea, add distilled water until you reach the desired weight of liquid. Ensure that your tea is room temperature or cooler (see note below).
  4. 4. Place the container with the tea in a well ventilated area where it will not be disturbed. I use my sink with the nearby window open. Wearing safety glasses and gloves, carefully measure the lye. Slowly pour the lye into the tea and stir gently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to dissolve.
  5. 5. Measure the oils into a large glass, ceramic, or steel container. Heat slowly until the solid oils are fully liquefied. I use the ceramic pot from my crock pot, and heat either in the crock pot on "warm" or "low", or I microwave the pot with oils.
  6. 6. Carefully pour the lye solution into the oil solution. Using an immersion blender, blend the solution until achieving trace, typically 3-5 minutes. Trace means that all of the lye is fully mixed in with the oils, and is achieved when the solution has a cake batter to pudding-like consistency; when the blender is lifted out of the soap and drizzles on the surface, traces of the drizzles stay on the surface.
  7. 7. Pour the soap into molds and place somewhere that the molds can be left undisturbed for 24 hours. I have used a closet and my microwave. At this point the lye is still present in the soap, so use care not to touch it.
  8. 8. After 24 hours, you may test the soap to determine if it has fully saponified. I use the "tongue test" - touch the tip of your tongue to the soap. If you feel a zap - like touching your tongue to a 9 volt battery - the saponification process is not yet complete, and you should leave the soap for several more hours.
  9. 9. Remove the soap from molds and cut to your desired size. The soap is still somewhat pliable at this point, so be careful not to make undesired marks with your tools or fingers. You can also use this time to smooth edges on your soap.
  10. 10. Place the soap bars to dry. I line a large shallow box with waxed paper and stand the bars up on end with space between each bar. Allow the soap to dry at least 6-8 weeks before using. Longer dry times should result in harder soap bars that last longer.
Notes
  1. If the tea is chilled in the refrigerator before combining with the lye, it will result in a darker bar of soap. If you use room temperature tea, the bar will be a tan color, but lighter than cold tea soap. Please NEVER use hot tea as the reaction of water (or tea, in this case) and lye is exothermic (produces heat), and starting with hot liquid could result in boiling lye-water, increasing the danger of working with lye.
beta
calories
17016
fat
1928g
protein
20g
carbs
58g
more
http://www.mygreenerliving.com/
Ingredients

760.00 grams distilled water (26.81 oz) or liquid of choice (I brewed tea with 4 black tea bags)
290.20 grams Sodium Hydroxide (lye) (10.24 oz)
100 grams Castor Oil (3.53 oz) (5% of oil weight)
100 grams Cocoa Butter (3.53 oz ) (5% of oil weight)
600 grams Coconut Oil, 76 deg (21.16 oz) (30% of oil weight)
1200 grams Olive Oil (42.33 oz) (60% of oil weight)

Supplies

immersion blender
large glass, ceramic, or steel container for mixing soap
glass, ceramic, or steel bowls or measuring cups for measuring ingredients
microwave, crock pot, or stove for melting oils
kitchen scale
silicone spatula or wooden spoon
soap mold (can be as simple as a box or pringles tube lined with wax paper)
gloves, safety glasses

Instructions
  1. If using tea in place of water, the day before you plan to make soap, brew the tea. Measure slightly more water than needed in your recipe, and heat to a boil.  Remove the water from heat and place tea bags in the water.  I used 4 regular size tea bags, and let steep for about 1 hour.  I wanted dark tea for the color.  Remove tea bags, and leave the tea at room temperature, or place in the fridge to chill.   From my 2 batches, chilled tea resulted in darker finished product.

    Room temperature tea made the bars on the left, chilled tea made the bars on the right
    Room temperature tea made the bars on the left, chilled tea made the bars on the right
  2. Prepare your soap molds. 
  3. Measure the tea by weight, pouring into a glass, ceramic, or steel vessel.  [Measurement by weight is critical for soap making, to ensure you do not end up with unsaponified lye in your soap.  If you don’t have a digital kitchen scale, I personally love and recommend this American Weigh Scales digital kitchen scale.]  If you do not have enough tea, add distilled water until you reach the desired weight of liquid.  Ensure that your tea is room temperature or cooler (see note below). 
  4. Place the container with the tea in a well ventilated area where it will not be disturbed.  I use my sink with the nearby window open. Wearing safety glasses and gloves, carefully measure the lye.  Slowly pour the lye into the tea and stir gently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to dissolve.  
  5. Measure the oils into a large glass, ceramic, or steel container.  Heat slowly until the solid oils are fully liquified.  I use the ceramic pot from my crock pot, and heat either in the crock pot on “warm” or “low”, or I microwave the pot with oils.  
  6. Carefully pour the lye solution into the oil solution.  Using an immersion blender, blend the solution until achieving trace, typically 3-5 minutes.  Trace means that all of the lye is fully mixed in with the oils, and is achieved when the solution has a cake batter to pudding-like consistency; when the blender is lifted out of the soap and drizzles on the surface, traces of the drizzles stay on the surface. I didn’t get any pictures of this, but if you’re unsure if you’re there, read this SoapQueen post.  
  7. Pour the soap into molds and place somewhere that the molds can be left undisturbed for 24 hours.  I have used a closet and my microwave.  At this point the lye is still present in the soap, so use care not to touch it.  
  8. After 24 hours, you may test the soap to determine if it has fully saponified.  Several methods are described here; I use the “tongue test” – touch the tip of your tongue to the soap.  If you feel a zap – like touching your tongue to a 9 volt battery – the saponification process is not yet complete, and you should leave the soap for several more hours.
  9. Remove the soap from molds and cut to your desired size.  The soap is still somewhat pliable at this point, so be careful not to make undesired marks with your tools or fingers.  You can also use this time to smooth edges on your soap.  
  10. Place the soap bars to dry.  I line a large shallow box with waxed paper and stand the bars up on end with space between each bar.  Allow the soap to dry at least 6-8 weeks before using.  Longer dry times should result in harder soap bars that last longer.  

    black tea soap drying
    black tea soap drying

Note:  If the tea is chilled in the refrigerator before combining with the lye, it will result in a darker bar of soap.  If you use room temperature tea, the bar will be a tan color, but lighter than cold tea soap.  Please NEVER use hot tea as the reaction of water (or tea, in this case) and lye is exothermic (produces heat), and starting with hot liquid could result in boiling lye-water, increasing the danger of working with lye.  

Cost

Castor Oil- $9.49 for 16 fl oz (470.6g) on Amazon. (100g/470.6g)x$9.49=$2.02
Cocoa Butter- $15 for 1 lb (453.59 g) on Amazon. (100g/453.59g)x$15=$3.31
Coconut Oil – $14.99 for 54 oz (1458.99 g) at BJ’s Wholesale Club. (600g/1458.99g)x$14.99=$6.16 (or $16.99 on Amazon)
Olive Oil – $13.99 for 1.82 liters (1688.96 g) at BJ’s Wholesale Club. (1200g/1688.96g)x$13.99=$9.94 (or Amazon)

Distilled water – $0.98 for 1 gallon (3,785.41 grams) at Walmart.  (760g/3785.41g)x$0.98=$0.20

Tea Bags – $3.99 for 100 black tea bags at Ocean State Job Lot. (4 tea bags/100 tea bags)x$3.99=$0.16 (Amazon)

Total cost is $21.79 for 2 kilograms or 70.5 ounces.  This equates to $0.309 per ounce, or $1.24 for a 4 ounce bar of soap.  For comparison, I can get Kirk’s coco castile soap for $3.28 for 3-4oz bars at Walmart, which is $1.09 for a 4 oz bar.  A 6 pack of Dove 4 ounce bars is $6.88, or $1.15 per 4 oz bar.  This soap costs marginally more, but feels nicer on my skin, and has only high quality, chemical-free ingredients.  Well worth the price, to me!

Have you ever made soap?  Do you have any favorite recipes?

How to make liquid castile soap (uses potassium hydroxide lye)

Earlier this year I posted my recipe for making liquid soap from a bar of castile soap.  While I have been using that soap daily as a hand and dish soap and still like it, I have found it just does not compare to real liquid soap.  It works well for hand soap, but leave that soap residue and does not have the same cleaning power as my potassium hydroxide soap.  


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through these links.  There is no cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 


I use Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile soap in several of my home made recipes, and it has been my safety net since I had an allergic reaction to a body soap a couple years ago (after a full body allergic reaction to a scented soap I was afraid of pretty much any chemical in my body products, so I exclusively used Dr. Bronner’s as a hand soap and body wash for a couple months).  Now that I have successfully made bar soap, convincing myself that I am capable of working with caustic chemicals without burning myself, I decided it was time to give liquid hand soap a try.  My goal was to make a liquid castile soap that I could use interchangeably with Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap.   So far I have used my liquid castile soap as a hand soap, face soap, dish soap, in my dishwasher, and in my laundry detergent.  As far as I can tell this soap cleans everything as well as Dr. Bronner’s, when diluted in the same way that I dilute Dr. Bronner’s (for reference, my face and hand soap is a 1:3 ratio of soap to water, dish soap is a 1:1 ratio of soap to water, and I use just 1-2 teaspoons in my dish washing machine (combined with a pre-wash and vinegar rinse – I’ll post that recipe later)).

All soap is made with lye.  Soap is made by the chemical reaction called saponification, during which lye dissolved in water (or another water-based liquid) reacts with oils.  Bar soap uses lye called sodium hydroxide (which is used as a drain cleaner and can be found in hardware stores).  Liquid soap uses potassium hydroxide as the lye (it’s harder to find; I bought mine on Amazon).  

When I decided I wanted to make my own Dr. Bronner’s equivalent soap, I decided to peruse the internet to see if anyone else had success, before taking the time to experiment with multiple batches of my own.  I was in luck, finding an awesome recipe from Erica on Northwest Edible Life.  Since I had the same desire for an end product as Erica, and after reading her post a couple times, I decided my first attempt at this liquid soap would be using Erica’s recipe.  I double-checked the ratios of ingredients using soapcalc.net’s soap calculator and got the same ingredient amounts (for reference, this recipe is 3% superfat, oil ratio is 60% olive, 40% coconut, and water as a % of oils is 80%) 

Liquid Castile Soap
Yields 1
Liquid castile soap comparable to Dr. Bronner's unscented liquid castile soap
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9925 calories
0 g
0 g
1134 g
0 g
486 g
2041 g
14 g
0 g
0 g
603 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
2041g
Yields
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 9925
Calories from Fat 9925
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1134g
1745%
Saturated Fat 486g
2432%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 80g
Monounsaturated Fat 523g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 14mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 0g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
3%
Iron
22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 907.2 grams distilled water
  2. 265.0 grams potassium hydroxide 90%
  3. 680.4 grams olive oil
  4. 453.6 grams coconut oil
Tools
  1. Immersion blender
  2. heavy silicone spatula or wooden spoon
  3. large crock pot - at least 6 Qt, larger is better
Instructions
  1. 1. Measure the oils and pour into the crock pot. Turn the crock pot on high.
  2. 2. Measure the water (use room temperature or cooler) into your large mixing bowl and place in a deep sink.
  3. 3. Put on safety glasses, rubber gloves, and long sleeves/long pants and closed toed shoes to protect yourself from the lye. Carefully measure the potassium hydroxide, and slowly pour into the water. Stir gently so all of the potassium hydroxide dissolves. Note that this reaction is exothermic - it will produce heat - and the fumes are toxic. Do not breathe over the bowl and stand away as you stir.
  4. 4. Carefully pour the water-lye solution into the crock pot. Using an immersion blender, blend for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is uniformly opaque.
  5. 5. Every 30 minutes or so, for the next 3 hours, blend the mixture to help thicken. If your mixture is too thick to use the immersion blender after your 30 or 60 minute check, turn the temperature to low (or warm if you're already on low). My crock pot is extremely hot, and it frothed a lot, the volume increased to fill the crock pot, and when I stirred I noticed that it began to gel in less than 1 hour.
  6. 6. Once the mixture is too thick to immersion blend, use your spatula to fold the mixture over itself. Keep folding every 30-60 minutes for 2-4 hours (or longer if needed), until the entire mixture is a uniform, translucent gelatinous mass.
  7. 7. Dilution. Once you have a saponified, gelatinous glob of soap, you need to dilute it to use it. Lower the crock pot temperature to warm. Add 6-10 cups of distilled water to your crock pot (ultimately you need 10 cups, but my crock pot only had space for 8), and gently stir/mash the soap into the water. If you're able, stir/mash every hour or so until the glob is fully dissolved. This should take 4-8 hours if you're stirring frequently. You may turn off the crock pot and let sit at room temperature overnight. Stir well in the morning and heat on warm if needed to finish dissolving.
  8. 8. Turn off the crock pot and allow the soap to cool to room temperature. Strain if desired, and pour into a clean 1 gallon vessel (I used my now empty distilled water bottle). If you have less than 1 gallon, add more water to fill the gallon bottle and gently swirl to uniformly mix the water and soap.
  9. 9. Use your castile soap as you would Dr. Bronners!
Notes
  1. 1. All measurements are by weight, not volume. This is required to ensure complete saponification. If your measurements are not precise you may end up with unsaponified lye, which can burn!
  2. 2. Use only sturdy glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers, and heavy duty silicone or wood spoons (I prefer silicone). NEVER allow anything with lye to contact aluminum.
beta
calories
9925
fat
1134g
protein
0g
carbs
0g
more
http://www.mygreenerliving.com/
This recipe makes 1 gallon (128 fluid ounces or 3.785 liters) of liquid soap.

Ingredients

907.2 grams distilled water

265.0 grams potassium hydroxide 90%

680.4 grams olive oil

453.6 grams coconut oil

Tools

Immersion blender

heavy silicone spatula or wooden spoon

large crock pot – at least 6 Qt, larger is better

liquid castile soap
ingredients
Notes

1. All measurements are by weight, not volume.  This is required to ensure complete saponification.  If your measurements are not precise you may end up with unsaponified lye, which can burn!  If you don’t have a digital kitchen scale, I personally love and recommend this American Weigh Scales digital kitchen scale. 

2. Use only sturdy glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers, and heavy duty silicone or wood spoons (I prefer silicone).  NEVER allow anything with lye to contact aluminum! (If you don’t believe me, watch this video of a potassium hydroxide-water solution or this video of a sodium-hydroxide-water solution dissolving aluminum foil)

Instructions
  1. Measure the oils and pour into the crock pot.  Turn the crock pot on high*. (*my crock pot runs very hot, so I went through this process using the low or warm settings.  If things are moving quickly you can reduce the heat.)
  2. Measure the water (use room temperature or cooler) into your large mixing bowl and place in a deep sink.
  3. Put on safety glasses, rubber gloves, and long sleeves/long pants and closed toed shoes to protect yourself from the lye.  Carefully measure the potassium hydroxide, and slowly pour into the water.  Stir gently so all of the potassium hydroxide dissolves.  Note that this reaction is exothermic – it will produce heat – and the fumes are toxic.  Do not breathe over the bowl and stand away as you stir. 

    liquid castile soap
    water with lye dissolving
  4. Carefully pour the water-lye solution into the crock pot.  Using an immersion blender, blend for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is uniformly opaque.  

    liquid castile soap
    oils water and lye after blending
  5. Every 30 minutes or so, for the next 3 hours, blend the mixture to help thicken.  If your mixture is too thick to use the immersion blender after your 30 or 60 minute check, turn the temperature to low (or warm if you’re already on low).  My crock pot is extremely hot, and it frothed a lot, the volume increased to fill the crock pot, and when I stirred I noticed that it began to gel in less than 1 hour.
    liquid castile soap
    45 minutes after adding lye to oils. Thick and almost expanding out of the crock pot: a sign my crock pot was too hot.

    liquid castile soap
    Significant volume decrease after stirring. Only minutes after the last picture was taken,
  6. Once the mixture is too thick to immersion blend, use your spatula to fold the mixture over itself.  Keep folding every 30-60 minutes for 2-4 hours (or longer if needed), until the entire mixture is a uniform, translucent gelatinous mass.  

    liquid castile soap
    1, 2.5, 4.25, and 5 hours after mixing the lye and oils. My soap was sully saponified after 5.5 hours.
  7. Dilution.  Once you have a saponified, gelatinous glob of soap, you need to dilute it to use it.  Lower the crock pot temperature to warm.  Add 6-10 cups of distilled water to your crock pot (ultimately you need 10 cups, but my crock pot only had space for 8), and gently stir/mash the soap into the water.  If you’re able, stir/mash every hour or so until the glob is fully dissolved.  This should take 4-8 hours if you’re stirring frequently.  I let my soap sit overnight and stirred/mashed the remaining gelatinous blob in the morning.  Due to 8+ hours ignoring my soap, this process took about 14 hours. 

    liquid castile soap
    diluting the soap
  8. Turn off the crock pot and allow the soap to cool to room temperature.  Strain if desired, and pour into a clean 1 gallon vessel (I used my now empty distilled water bottle).  If you have less than 1 gallon, add more water to fill the gallon bottle and gently swirl to uniformly mix the water and soap.

    liquid castile soap
    finished soap ready to store
  9. Use your castile soap as you would Dr. Bronners!

    liquid castile soap
    finished product
Cost

Potassium hydroxide: $12.99 for 2 lb (907.2 grams).  (265g/907.2g)*$12.99=$3.70

Olive oil: $16 for 3L (2784 grams). (680.4g/2784g)*$16=$3.91

Coconut oil:  $14 for 54 fluid ounces (1530.87 grams). (453.6g/1530.87g)*$14=$4.15

Distilled water: $1 for 1 gallon (3,785.41 grams). (907.2g/3785.41g)x$1=$0.24

Total: $3.70+$3.91+$4.15+$0.24=$12/gallon

Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap is $18 for a 32 oz bottle.  That’s $4 more for 1/4 the volume!