It’s almost the New Year, and many have plans to try to rejuvenate and find a healthier, happier medium to their current approach to wellness. After the holidays pass, I always feel a sort of relief – although I don’t find myself shopping these days for gifts (we actually ditched that route a few years ago in favor of experiences), the holidays are stressful for many.
Just having the ability to start fresh for a New Year is quite refreshing – and this soap is exactly the medium to do just that.
This soap is part of a larger batch I made for late Feb/early March – it smells terrific and is pretty incredible for the skin. It includes activated charcoal which is great for skin due to its oil-absorbing properties. It binds to dirt in the skin and brings the gunk to the surface to wash away. We used listea cubeba essential oil to give it a fresh, bright smell and I’m looking forward to using it once it’s completely cured.
Although we typically use raw milk in our soap, for this recipe, we chose water. Any soap recipe can use water or milk interchangeably – if you choose to use milk, then you’ll take a different approach to the soap-making process (see our milk soap here).
Activated Charcoal Cold Process Facial Soap
This cold process soap recipe results in a 2 lb loaf, at 5% superfat.
Oils and Liquid:
- 2 oz castor oil
- 13 oz olive oil
- 8.0 oz coconut oil (76 degrees)
- 4 oz avocado oil
- 3.5 oz shea butter
- 4.21 oz lye
- 10.07 oz water
- 2 tsp activated charcoal
- Listea Cubeba essential oil
- Thermometer (one that you don’t use for food)
- Tall silicone mold (I love this one at Bulk Apothecary)
- Pyrex 8 cup measuring device , heatproof
- (2) 4 oz cups for dividing soap, heatproof
- Immersion Blender – you don’t have to spend oodles but you will want something reliable with a metal stick, not plastic.
- Digital Scale to measure your ingredients
- Protective safety goggles (we got ours at Home Depot for $3)
- Rubber gloves
- long sleeve shirt and pants
Find some of our favorite soap making supplies here at the bottom of our last post.
Weigh all your ingredients. Set on the rear of the counter away from small hands. Make sure you wear your safety gear.
Make your lye and water solution. With your safety gear on, slowly pour the cool water into the lye until it dissolves. We use our kitchen sink because it’s relatively deep, and I have a window behind it that I can open up. I also try to place a fan behind me to blow those fumes towards the window and out to the side yard.
The lye mixture will be very hot – once mixed, put the container in a dish, surrounded by ice, to bring the temp down to around 100-110 degrees.
Prepare your oils/fats. Warm your shea and coconut oil to liquid, then and combine with the rest of the oils (castor, olive and avocado oil) into a large pail or bowl. Wait for your oils to cool (around 100 degrees or so).
Measure out the charcoal, and essential oil in separate dishes. Set aside. (Bramble Berry has a really handy fragrance calculator).
Slowly add the lye solution to your oils. Use your immersion blender to pulse off, then on, until you reach a light trace – about 2-3 minutes. Add in the essential oil at this time and stick blend to combine.
Separate the batch. Once at medium trace, separate the mixture into two different portions – 1/3 is your regular soap, and the other 2/3 is the soap that you will be adding activated charcoal into. Stick blend the regular batter until it’s at medium trace; then, gently lift the immersion out and into the portion with charcoal and mix that thoroughly.
Prepare your mold. Grab your mold and layer each – first the dark, then the light, then the dark, and finally a little light – until exhausted. Swirl it with a stick or a spoon, making sure to push the mold down on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles lurking in there. There is no right or wrong way! If the batter isn’t thick enough to texture the top of the soap, allow it to sit for a while then texture once it gets a little thicker.
Allow it to sit for 24 hours to go through gel phase. Depending on your temps in your home, you may want to place it on a folded towel, and cover well to keep it insulated and warm.
Soap Queen has some neat tips and tricks to read if you aren’t familiar with gel phase – if you are soaping for the first time or are new, the tips can be helpful.
Allow the soap to sit, undisturbed for 24-48 hours. Un-mold and cut into bars – allow the bars to cure for 4-6 weeks before using. The longer the bar sits the harder the final bar will be.
(If you are using milk in lieu of water for this soap, the procedure will be a little different – see how we used milk in our milk soap on this post & adapt as necessary).