As I promised last month, I want to share the recipes of some of our recent soap creations. I’ll start with one of my new favorites, the French Green Clay soap. This one is naturally colored with French green clay, and contains luxurious Shea Butter along with beneficial Tea Tree essential oil. Powdered clay is a great natural additive to homemade cold process soap recipes. It is often used to add swirls or layers of color to soaps, but with this batch we aimed for a uniform green color throughout the soap.
Clays from all over the world are popular in spas and other posh settings, where they are believed to have the power of drawing out impurities and removing toxins from the skin. I won’t make any such claims here for this soap, but it is a good way to add natural color without adding any artificial ingredients. Many clays like kaolin and bentonite are used to add a silky, creamy feel to soaps, and others are mildly exfoliating. I think the French green clay adds a nice silky feel to the lather. And it doesn’t make green bubbles, in case you wondered.
For this batch we used PVC pipes for molds. Before pouring I lined the PVC pipe with freezer paper to keep the soap from sticking to it. I have seen plastic liners for sale online, and we may investigate using these in the future. For now the freezer paper works fine for us, though it can make for some minor surface blemishes on the log of soap.
There are many different ways to incorporate powdered clay into a cold process soap recipe. One way is to mix it into the base oils before the lye liquid is added. Or it can even be added to the lye water itself. What we did is remove a little bit of the soap mixture after it came to a very thin trace, then mixed in the clay until it was well incorporated and there were no lumps or clumps. Next we added the soap/clay slurry back into the pot with the rest of the soap mixture and used the stick blender to mix it in thoroughly. We could also have chosen to use the slurry to make swirls in the soap. We’ll save that for a later batch. Whatever method you choose, you want to make sure there are no lumps or clumps of clay in the finished soap.
We let the soap cure for a little over 24 hours before removing from the molds. If the soap should prove difficult to remove from the mold, you can pop it in the freezer for a bit, which hardens the soap and usually makes it easier to free from the mold. After unmolding we cut the soap into slices, then the soap was left to cure for about 4 weeks. Curing allows the pH to stabilize, and for some of the water to evaporate. The curing makes for a longer lasting, better lathering soap.
The recipe that follows is for a 450 grams/1 pound batch size (oil weight). It can easily be scaled up for larger batches. We chose to add Tea Tree essential oil to this one at the rate of 1 Tbsp/lb of oils, which is about 3% of the oil weight. Tea tree EO is generally considered safe and non-irritating for most people when used externally. The powdered French green clay is also added at the rate of 1 Tbsp/lb of oils. Though we used green clay and tea tree EO, this base recipe could certainly be used for other combinations of clays and essential oils. I can see using the green clay with lemongrass and rosemary EOs in the future, perhaps with a bit of dried ground rosemary leaves added.
This soap includes Shea Butter for its moisturizing qualities. It also makes for a harder bar of soap, with a stable, creamy lather. We use a small amount (up to 5%) of Castor oil in most all of our soaps for its moisturizing and lathering properties. Please refer to the cold process instructions here if you are new to making soap. Always take the proper safety precautions (we wear rubber gloves and goggles when mixing and making the soap).
For more recipes and soap information, check out my wife’s Soap Recipe page. I’ll be back soon with more adventures. Until then, Happy Growing (and soaping) from Happy Acres!
Your new soap turned out a beautiful color and I like the round disks!
Last week when I made Tea Tree Rosemary Lemongrass Soap I didn’t have dried lemongrass so I added some ground Rosemary and sprinkled a bit on top. Looks like it worked fine. The rosemary gave it some visual texture.
A Merry Christmas to you and Lynda!
Your soap sounds great Carla. Happy Holidays to you and Ed too!
I keep thinking of making soap, but then I think that my asthma and the lye are just too dangerous a combination. Maybe if I had a vented shield for it. I do occasionally get homemade soaps from a crafter friend of mine, but I’ve never made them myself.
The lye does make it stinky. I know some who mix it outside, but we just open a window in the kitchen. It’s too bad, because I bet you would enjoy the chemistry involved in the process. Well, enjoy and understand it too.
Like the round bars. Will have to try that recipe
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Many Thanks for the posting.
May I ask if I can use 100% Olive oil? Is it 1 Tablespoon per pound of oil?
is it ok to prepare less than 1 pound for test out. My soap mould is 14cm long, 5cm height and 6cm width. Not use how much oil to be used?
Please provide me some advice. Good day!
You can certainly make a soap using 100% olive oil, but you will need to run that recipe through a lye calculator. And I will say that it will take a long time to cure, and in my experience it was difficult to get out of a silicone mold.
As for batch size, you can also make less than 1 pound batches, but I have no idea how much your mold will hold. I would test with water, and use the weight of the water it holds to estimate how much soap to make.
Good luck with your soap!
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I am curious if you used Extra Virgin Olive Oil or just regular OO?
We use a food grade ‘pure’ olive oil for our soaps, which we get at Sam’s Club.
I just made this shaving soap last night. It is happily hanging out in my craft room, still in the mold. Will unmold tonight. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
I hope you enjoy it! It’s still one of my favorites.
Hello! I made a batch of this clay recipe & was wondering if you have ever encountered white spots all throughout the soap?? What did I do wrong? Help! please??
(I googled some possible causes … I brought my oils/lye to 100 degrees–do I need to increase the temp of oils & lye to 120 degrees?–maybe the oils aren’t staying hot enough & creating resolidified oils?? ….or… maybe I need to insulate my mold more to keep warm & make sure it goes through gel phase?? …or… caused by my wire cutter??
Thanks for any help!
Hi Connie, I’m not sure exactly what caused the white spots. We have learned that the temp of the lye and oils doesn’t usually make a whole lot of difference. And as for gel phase, we don’t encourage it or discourage it, and it really isn’t necessary for this soap. I am wondering if the clay was well mixed?
Thanks so much for you quick response, Dave! I mixed the clay with a small amount of soap, then use the immersion blender to blend it in the remaining soap…but will pay more attention to that detail. Thanks again!
Hello , I’m having a hard time finding French green clay ,I’m wondering if you could help me out ?
Mountain Rose Herbs has it, as does Wholesale Supplies Plus.