Rosemary Peppermint Soap Recipe
What does a creative person do when they start feeling guilty about all of the money they spend on art supplies?
They make USEABLE ART! At least, that’s what I did. I was an art major and now I am a stay at home mom and I find that my artistic side has been coming out in so many more ways than I’d thought around our house. One of those ways is in soap making.
I just don’t feel bad spending money buying ingredients to make soap. Homemade soap is so good for you and if you grind up your disasters/ugly batches for laundry detergent – then you’re saving a LOT of money too.
Handcrafted soap doesn’t have all the awful chemicals and detergents that you find in most commercial soap. In fact, store-bought soap usually has the natural glycerin removed to put in more expensive products like lotions. Homemade soap keeps all of the natural glycerin that is so moisturizing and protective.
It’s a way for me to do something good for our family and get my creative “itch” out of the way.
Warning: This is a very addictive hobby! (Just ask my husband. He thinks I’ve gone a little crazy.)
So let’s get started:
Large pot (I use my 8 qt stock pot)
A few bowls/buckets (I have found that I use a bowl to mix my lye and water and then a 5lb bucket to mix my oils. To each their own.)
Food scale that can read to the tenth of an ounce (I can’t stress the importance of this one enough!!! You measure out ALL your ingredients by WEIGHT!!!)
Stick Blender (This is also practically a must unless you’d like to hand stir your soap for 50 minutes instead of about 3.)
A Soap Mold (You can buy many different types online or make one like I did – You need one that can hold around 3 lbs of oils)
Freezer Paper (To line your mold, if needed)
Two thermometers (One for oils and one for lye)
Spoons and Scrapers (I have a small assortment and always end up using the same two.)
Measuring cups (I was amazed at how much of the kitchenware I could find at the dollar store for cheap.)
Nitrile Gloves (Another must-have!! Lye is very corrosive and can be very dangerous. I found my gloves at Home Depot)
Protective Eyewear (Also Important!!! Always, always, always cover your eyes when working with lye.)
Protective Surface Covering (I found a pretty vinyl at Wal-Mart that was fairly inexpensive)
Paper Towels (Even though we are switching to fabric for napkins and rags, I recommend paper towels for soap cleanup. Lye and raw soap are just a little too corrosive on anything you want to keep around.)
A couple of old Towels that you wouldn’t mind ruining.
A piece of Cardboard large enough to cover the top of your soap mold.
Basic 3 Oil Soap
24 oz Olive Oil
14 oz Coconut Oil
6 oz Castor Oil
16 oz Distilled Water
6.2 oz Lye
**Optional** I couldn’t stand the plain old boring soap recipes when I first started. I wanted something fun and great smelling! That’s the whole point, right? So here’s the ingredients you need to add scent and color to your soap if you’d like.
0.8 oz Peppermint Essential Oil
0.8 oz Rosemary Essential Oil
0.4 oz Sage Essential Oil
1-1/2 tsp Spirulina (to help keep the green from fading over time, you can also add in 1/8 tsp moss green oxide mineral colorant)
2 large pinches dried parsley, chopped finely (parsley doesn’t turn black from lye like peppermint does so I’ve switched to adding parsley in for my herbs)
Here’s What You Do:
First thing’s first – Line your mold. You can look up lots of directions online or if you want to wait just a day or so, I will be adding a post about lining a soap mold. Yes, it needs it’s own post.
Lay out your protective covering on your counter and get out all the ingredients you’ll need.
Fill your large pot (stockpot) about 1/2 to 2/3 the way full of water. Heat on high to get water boiling while you do the next step.
PUT ON YOUR GLOVES AND PROTECTIVE GLASSES – Measure out the lye into a measuring cup on the food scale. Make sure and use the “tare” button. (That’s where you put the empty cup on the scale and it will register it’s weight. You don’t want the weight of the cup included so you push “Tare” and it will zero out the scale. You can then measure out the weight of the lye into the cup.)
Measure out your distilled water into a bowl.
***VERY IMPORTANT*** ALWAYS add lye to water. NEVER add water to lye – it can erupt and cause terrible things to happen.
Slowly add the lye to the water while stirring. This creates some harsh fumes so I always do this in my sink with the window open. Don’t breathe in the fumes. Some people prefer to do this step outside. I find that the fumes dissipate fairly quickly and it’s fine if the window is open.
You’ll notice that the lye/water mixture heats up quite a bit. It usually seems to hit up around 180˚-200˚. You want the lye solution to cool to around 90˚-100˚. I usually sit mine in a shallow ice water bath in the sink to cool quickly.
Measure out the oils into a bowl (or bucket). The easiest way to measure them out is to set the bucket on the scale and then zero it out. Add your first oil and then push “Tare” to zero it out again. Repeat with the other three oils. Set your bucket into the stockpot of heated water to create your own double boiler. This will gently heat the oils. You want to get them to 90˚-100˚. That’s right, you want the oils and the lye to be close to the same temperature. It doesn’t have to be exact but you want to strive for within 10˚ of each other.
While you’re waiting for the oils to warm up and the lye to cool down, go ahead and measure out the essential oils into a small bowl. Remember, you measure by weight and not volume!
When you get the oils and the lye to the desired temperature, it’s time for the fun part. Slowly add the lye to the oils while hand-stirring with your stick blender. You don’t want to turn it on right away, just stir it around to get the lye and oils initially combined.
With short bursts of the stick blender, stir for several minutes. You will notice the soap thickening and you will reach what is called “trace”. Trace is what you get when you lift your blender or spoon out of the soap and the drizzle that comes off of it leaves a trace on the surface of the soap. This can be very light and hardly noticeable or if you keep going, it will get very thick and pudding-like. Here is an example of soap at trace:
At first you’re just aiming for a light trace. Once you get there, add in your essential oils for scent. Again, stir them in by hand and then blend lightly. You can end with this if you’d like and pour everything into your mold and skip the next 2 steps.
If you’re more adventurous and feeling frisky, follow along for some fun!
At this point, separate your soap into 2 batches. (This is where having several bowls/buckets on hand is key). Add your spirulina to one of the batches and combine well. Besides being a superfood, I’ve found that spirulina is a great way to naturally color soap a nice green. Evenly pour your green batch into the mold.
Next, add the dried peppermint leaves to the remaining half of your un-colored soap and mix well. Gently pour the speckled half onto the green half in the soap mold. I have found that if you want a better 1/2 and 1/2 bar, you can halve the recipe and make one batch first and it will set up while you make the 2nd batch. If you want to marble your bars a little more than I did, just pour from higher up and run a skewer through the soap in a swirling pattern. Don’t swirl too much though or it will mix together without the neat marbled effect.
I started this soap-making journey with my dear friend, Yvonne. I definitely recommend soaping with friends – it’s so fun! Sadly, Yvonne recently moved away to greener pastures and we’re going solo with our soap. Such are the lives of military wives – we become really good at keeping in touch over long distances!
When Yvonne and I did our first batch, we were very excited about our soap as we got it all “put to bed” and began clean up. As you’ll notice if you try soap-making, you check on your soap. A lot. About 30 minutes and almost as many peeks later, we were horrified to find that our soap looked like it was melting from the inside out!!! It had gotten very dark and went from opaque to translucent. We just knew we had screwed everything up. Well, I guess our research wasn’t as thorough as we thought. Soap goes through a GEL PHASE. And it’s a very apt name because it looks just like gel. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the saponification process and by the next day, it will look completely opaque and normal again!
At this point, you’re pretty much done (yay!) and it’s time to clean up. This is my least favorite part of the whole process. Make sure to keep wearing your gloves and protective eyewear. New soap is still going through saponification and is still corrosive. You also don’t want to pour large amounts of leftover soap down your drain. Wipe your bowls or buckets out with paper towels into the trash and then wash everything up well with dish soap.
Now comes the hardest part . . . wait for 12 – 24 hours.
I usually un-mold my soap the next morning. I’m impatient and can’t wait the full 24 hours.
You’re all set to start cutting! I have found that the miter box that we keep around the house for woodworking works really well for making straight cuts. I have a straight bladed pastry scraper/chopper that fits right in the miter box. Just lay your soap in and push it past the cutting line as much as you’d like it to go and slide in your cutter! Or, you can always eyeball it with a big knife. (That’s how I started but I can’t cut straight worth a darn!)
Once your soap is all nicely cut, it needs to cure. For 3-4 weeks. I know, I know – that’s no fun! But it’s important to cure your soap so it is completely saponified and to shed the excess water. The more water that leaves the soap, the harder the bar and the longer it will last.
Lay your soap bars on cheesecloth covered cooling racks (again, great dollar store buy) with space between each. It is important to flip them over at least once a week so that all the sides dry equally. Your house will smell amazing and you will find yourself constantly checking on, picking up, and sniffing your handcrafted soap!