The Green Life

Hand Soap Experiment

I was going through the house filling up the soap dispensers yesterday and ran out of this industrial sized Shea butter soap that I’d bought a few months ago.  It was so super cheap that I had no choice but to buy it and I actually liked it a lot because it cleaned well and felt moisturizing.  But since it has the typical sulfates (no es bueno)  and lye (which all soap has in some form or other) in it, I’m pretty sure it’s not really all that great.  Well that PLUS the fact that Shea butter isn’t even on the ingredients list!

So today I decided to make my own hand soap instead of buying more – partly because I know that any hand soap I really want to get will cost me a mint, and partly because I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making some anyway.  Everything I needed to try this was already in my pantry and/or vanity so I am already pretty geeked up about that.

Thing is… there was no real method to my madness, no scientific formula I followed.  I just did what kind of made sense in my head for what I was going for – cleaning power that’s non-drying.  So we’ll just have to see how it works out for us.

Here’s what I did:

  1. put 35 oz of water on the stove and bring to a simmer
  2. grate the bar of castile soap while waiting on the water to simmer
  3. add grated soap to simmering water and stir until almost completely dissolved (this took longer than I thought it would)
  4. turn off the burner and continue to stir until soap is completely dissolved.
  5. add about 1/4 cup of coconut oil and 1/8 cup of olive oil (or evoo blend)
  6. stir it up, remove from burner and allow to cool completely
  7. add essential oils (optional – this smells so freshly clean already)
  8. walk away and just let it sit for a while…. a long while

So here’s where my anticipation and impatience got the best of me…. I just could not wait for this concoction to cool off, soooo into the fridge it went.  Can’t hurt right?  Once cooled, pour into container and, for me, repeat step 8 above (since I didn’t do it the first time and it IS actually pretty important to get the consistency right!).

Couple of notes:

  • My measurements are based on 2 things:
    • the container size I’m using – I am reusing the original Shea soap container which is 40 oz.
    • the consistency I want to achieve – a thick soap with lots of moisturizing properties
  • My choice of oils is based on the consistencyandmoisturizing properties I want as well
    • coconut oil is thicker (it’s actually solid at low temperatures) and my skin absorbs it really well and quickly
    • evoo is “oilier” but very moisturizing
  • I added just a couple of dashes of lavender & tea tree EO for the added boost of anti bacterial properties

Based on these 2 factors, I wanted to use more coconut oil than evoo and decided a 2:1 ratio is as good as any.  And to get enough of both oils into the mix, I figured I better start out with less water so the bottle won’t overflow (AND so it won’t be too runny).  This way when it’s all done, I still have room to adjust the consistency by adding more of whatever is needed.

I’ll update this in a day or two after we’ve had a chance to try this out.  The test for me is if no one in the house asks “what’s up with this soap?!”   Stay tuned…..

***UPDATE***

8/5/2013 After finishing the batch of soap in the recipe above, I filled 3 bathroom dispensers with it and no one seems to have noticed ANYthing at all.  NO ONE!  And we used it all – it’s not completely gone from the pumps yet, but there’s none left to refill.

So I made another batch but this time I used some Yardley Oatmeal & Almond Soap ($0.97).  This batch came out VERY different.  It’s super thick.  So I kept adding more and more water until I had 2 32 ounce bottles and a 16 ounce bottle of soap.  And it was STILL not the right consistency for me.  In fact, it was quite gross… like little kid mucous gross, but not MY kid’s.  It is absolutely NOT okay to wash my hands with some kid’s “snot” – just gross.

So off I went to scour the natural and DIY boards to see if anyone else in has experienced this.  I came across this post – http://www.savvyhousekeeping.com/how-to-turn-a-bar-of-soap-into-liquid-hand-soap/.  The comments are GOLD – pure web GOLD!  Seems the solution is simple…. more water.  I’m working that out and looks like I won’t have to buy hand soap for a year (except the occasional BBW – sometimes I just gotta have it)!

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