When I started exploring natural products, not surprisingly I quite quickly came across many articles about making soap. Equally as quickly I decided I did not want to make soap from scratch without an actual person to show me how it is done. I love to experiment but experimenting with a caustic substance like lye was not something I wanted to do!
In my searching I found several old books with recipes for making soap from soap flakes. There are lots of fun recipes out there that use ends of your current soap bars or grated soap bars. I also found some eco friendly soap flakes at the health food store and started trying some of the recipes. They were great and I enjoyed making a few different soaps. I discovered that you can add a lot of different things to your soap recipes – like ground loofah or ground almonds, warming spices like cinnamon, skin softening agents like ground oatmeal, natural colouring made from oils infused with turmeric or paprika, and even things like cocoa powder.
Along the way I started altering the recipes and I eventually came up with a Chocolate Spice Soap that I love. Along with soap flakes, it contains ground oatmeal, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and the essential oils of nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange.
Last fall I finally had a chance to make soap from scratch using lye! While it still makes me nervous every time I make a batch of soap, it is actually quite a simple and straightforward process.
But now I had a problem. Should I really continue to make and sell a soap made from store bought soap flakes even if they were organic? I really wanted to use my own soap to mix up the Chocolate Spice Soap. So I decided to give it a try. Well the first few attempts didn’t work out so well. The regular soap that I made was just too soft and when it was grated it didn’t have the same kind of texture and look as my previous bars. Nothing really wrong it, it just wasn’t what I was after.
And then I had a revelation! Castile Soap!
Until last fall I hadn’t heard the term Castile soap and definitely didn’t know what it was. Castile soap is a very hard soap that is made solely from olive oil, water, and lye. We had made some in class and I had made several batches since then on my own. As it dries, it gets very hard. And it makes great soap flakes for my Chocolate Spice Soap! It takes some time to grate enough of it for a recipe but it is worth it. It has taken another couple of test batches, but I do believe that I have now managed to recreate my Chocolate Spice Soap using my own soap flakes!