Herbal Apothecary: Homemade Soap

I ran out of soap, so I made some more.

I decided to go with a melt-and-pour, because it is easy. I didn't quite have it in me to deal with lye and saponification calculators (yet, anyway), so I ordered an organic base and splurged on a soap mold (an upgrade from sour cream cups, which I have used in the past with no problem, but I thought it would be nice to have soap without a recycling symbol on top). I got these from goplanetearth.com, although without the mold their shipping would have been expensive. In the future I'll probably go with Organic Creations in the future.

The soap base is very simple: just palm and coconut oil, lye, water, and some sorbitol (a sugar alcohol for moisturizing). I picked it because there's not all the other chemicals that are in most commercial soaps – it had the fewest amount of ingredients I could find. 

Anyway, I cut off a half pound block and melted it in my ersatz double-boiler (a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water):


I don't usually bother with the double-boiler, but I read that slow melting was important for soap, so that it doesn't get too brittle when it hardens back up again.

As it melted (which took a while, since I didn't cut it into smaller pieces), I added a tablespoon of my comfrey-infused olive oil:


The comfrey oil should help heal and keep skin soft. I also ground up 1/4 cup of oats to stir into the melted soap:


I wanted to make a soap with some exfoliating power, and I decided on ground oatmeal as my scrubber because oatmeal is already good for skin (think of all those Aveno products, for example, or how you had to take a weird oatmeal bath that time you had the chicken pox in kindergarten). 

After the soap melted and cooled back down a bit, I stirred in the oats and added a 1/2 teaspoon of tangerine essential oil. I chose that scent because it's nice and wakeful for my very early morning showers. Plus it's what I had lying around. 

Then I poured the soap into the molds:


Each of these soaps is about 4 ounces, so with 8 ounces of base, you get two. I let it cool for a few hours (a big advantage of melt-and-pour – fast results!), then popped them out of the mold:


As you can see, the oatmeal mostly sank, so it's formed a layer at the top of the soap. I think that looks nice, but I'm wondering if, over time, my exfoliation plan is going to work or not. I suppose I could pour in a layer, let it cool, then keep layering so that the oatmeal was better distributed throughout the bar ... but that sounds like a big pain. If it's not very scrubby after that layer wears off, I may just switch to making some sea salt shower scrubs instead.

The golden color is from the olive oil, I think. There was just enough of my dark green comfrey oil to change the color from cream to yellow. 

This morning's shower was the first use, and so far I'm happy with it. It smells nice, although the tangerine smell isn't so strong that it perfumes your skin when you're done using it. I could probably use more essential oil in the future. It's not a super lathery soap, but that doesn't bother me. It left my skin feeling soft, not at all dry, and I liked the way the oatmeal layer felt on top for a gentle scrub. A winner so far!

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