by Tammy Taylor~
I recently shared with you the recipe for our Lavender / Rosemary cold process soap we made to include in our Christmas gift baskets. Today I’ll share the recipe we used to make a vanilla-scented shampoo bar. Whaaaa??? A bar of soap you can use as shampoo?? Oh yeah! As a matter of fact, I haven’t used commercial shampoo from a bottle for several years. I love the creamy lather this bar makes, and you know I love that there’s no plastic bottle of shampoo for me to buy and then send the trash to the landfill. And these vanilla-scented shampoo bars were very well received by our gift recipients.
Now just as I mentioned in my previous post sharing a soap recipe, please remember that you’re dealing with lye and chemical reactions here – you MUST use caution! Please do your homework first and proceed at your own risk. I’m no soap-making expert and don’t pretend to be, but below are the precautions I shared with the other recipe post – these are precautions that RancherMan & I take each and every time we’re making soap:
- Making cold-process soap relies on measurement by WEIGHT, not by volume, so you’re going to measure all oils & lye on a digital scale, not rely on what a measuring cup reads!
- Make no substitutions to either quantity or type of oils unless you consult a trusted soap-making oil calculator. Oils must be combined per the recipe in both type as well as quantity measured by weight to result in a safe product. (I’ve used oil calculators before to tweak a recipe but I typically follow this tried-n-true recipe and just tweak my scents or dried botanicals for variations.)
- When mixing lye water – be sure to measure (by weight) the water first and then measure (by weight) the lye and carefully sprinkle the lye into the water to keep from splashing caustic liquids. Never pour water into measured lye – always sprinkle measured lye into measured water.
- Lye is caustic – be sure to wear eye protection, rubber gloves and a paper painter’s mask to protect yourself.
- Always make soap where there is adequate ventilation to avoid inhaling caustic lye fumes.
- Never use metal utensils or containers for caustic lye solutions – opt for wooden spoons, glass or plastic containers and porcelain-lined pans.
- Raw soap must cure for at least 6 weeks – longer is better.
- Follow directions carefully.
- Proceed at your own risk.
RancherMan & I typically set up a work station out in the garage when we’re making our soap – we have all the garage doors & windows open which offers a nice cross breeze. We have our safety goggles, protective painter’s masks and rubber gloves to protect ourselves.
Gather Soap-Making Supplies
So now it’s time to get down to the brass tacks of making our soap. RancherMan & I assembled our soap-making tools:
- Rubber Gloves
- *Paper Painter’s Mask
- *Safety Goggles
- *Digital Scale
- Wooden Spoon (not metal)
- *Glass Measuring Cups
- *Plastic Bucket for Lye (no metal)
- *Porcelain-Covered Pot for Soap (no exposed metal)
- Small Plastic Containers for Measuring Botanicals & Essential Oils
- *Stick Blender
- *Soap Mold for Raw Soap
- Plastic Wrap
- Thick Towels
This shampoo bar recipe is a large 4-lb recipe so it makes about 18 bars, depending upon how large you cut them. Here are the ingredients I gathered to make these shampoo bars:
- Mint-Infused Rainwater
- Castor Oil
- Mid-Grade Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Lye crystals
- Vanilla and Sweet Pea Fragrance Oils
Although the measurements & ingredients are somewhat different than the previous recipe I shared, the procedure is the same as the other soap we made. So I’m sharing the procedure again in its entirety for the benefit of those that may not have yet read the other soap-making procedure I posted. The recipe and more abbreviated instructions are below.
Making The Soap
We mixed our lye solution by measuring the water FIRST, then sprinkling the lye crystals on top of the water and stirring with a wooden spoon. The water and lye will cause a chemical reaction so we were sure to have our eye protection, rubber gloves and paper mask and kept away from the fumes. We stirred the lye/water mixture gently with a wooden spoon until the lie completely dissolved. The chemical reaction caused the lye water to heat up quickly, we used a glass candy thermometer to measure the temps – we needed it to cool down to about 100 – 110 degrees.
As the lye water was cooling it’s time to get started with the oils. We measured (by WEIGHT) the liquid oils and added them to our measured solid coconut oil. I poured them all into a large glass measuring cup. Then I heated them in the microwave until the coconut oil melted and the oils measured around 100 – 110 degrees.
When the oils and the lye water are both between 100 – 110 degrees it was time to get to blending! We carefully poured the lye water cooled to 110-110 degrees into the melted oils heated to 110-110 degrees and gently stirred with a wooden spoon to get everything blended.
Now it was time to make some soap! You’re wanting to get the mixture of oils and lye water to reach something called “trace”, where the soap changes from just an oily mixture to a thicker almost pudding consistency. Here’s where I incorporate my shortcut, my secret weapon, my SANITY! Stirring with a wooden spoon will eventually give you trace, but it takes quite a bit of time and lots of elbow grease. I can get the soap to reach trace much quicker – only about 20 minutes – using a stick blender.
Now you can get false trace by just turning on the stick blender & going to town, if you do that your soap won’t turn out correctly. What you want to do is turn the stick blender on and stir about 2-3 times around your pot, then turn it off & just use the stick blender itself to continue stirring manually to remove the bubbles that have been created beneath the surface. When the bubbles are gone give it another blast with the stick blender then turn it off and use it to stir again. Your mixture will become thicker over time.
It’s reached trace when you can drizzle the liquid soap across the top of the mixture and have it leave a little trail for a few seconds before disappearing beneath the surface. When it reached trace it was time to add the fragrance oil, giving everything a final stir to get it all blended.
Place Raw Soap In Soap Mold
Now the raw soap is ready to be poured into a soap mold. Although we used a smaller silicone baking dish for the 2-lb batches, for this larger 4-lb batch we used the wooden box RancherMan made for me, It measures 9″ x 10.5″ x 2″ deep & we lined it in plastic before we poured in the soap to make it easy to remove soap when it cooled & hardened.
We poured the thickened soap into the mold, smoothed out the top with a plastic spatula and covered the top of the soap with a piece of plastic. Then we topped the whole thing with thick towels to keep it all insulated and allow it to cool slowly and harden.
We left the soap in the mold for about 24 hours before removing it and placing the whole soap block on a wire rack to air dry for another 24-48 hours or so. We then cut the soap into bars & placed them on a wire rack to fully cure several weeks. You must cure the soap for at least 6 weeks. But the longer you allow the bars to cure, the harder your soap will be and the longer it will last.
Here’s my recipe for the Vanilla-Scented Shampoo bar that RancherMan & I made using the cold process method. We love these shampoo bars and so will you.
Vanilla-Scented Shampoo Bar Recipe:
(4-Lb Recipe, about 18 small bars)
- 19 oz. Olive Oil (mid-grade is fine & even preferable)
- 12 oz. Coconut Oil
- 12 oz Castor Oil
- 16 oz. Mint-Infused Rainwater
- 6 oz. Lye Crystals
- 1 oz. Vanilla / Sweet Pea or other Scent Fragrance Oil
(read precautions above first)
Mix lye solution by measuring the water first, then sprinkling the measured lye crystals on top of the water. Stir with wooden spoon until the lye is completely dissolved. Mixture will heat up, so allow to cool to about 100 – 110 degrees.
In the meantime measure liquid oils and add them to measured coconut oil. Pour all into a porcelain-lined pot and heat to 110 – 100 degrees. (Or into large glass bowl & heat in microwave)
When the oils and the lye water are both between 100 – 110 degrees, carefully pour the lye water into the melted oils & gently stir with a wooden spoon to get everything blended.
Continue stirring until mixture reaches ‘trace’.
At trace, add measured fragrance oil and stir to blend
Pour raw soap into 9″ x 10.5″ x 2″ deep soap mold, top with a piece of plastic wrap & then cover everything with thick towels. Leave undisturbed for 24-48 hours
Carefully remove soap from mold and place soap block on a wire rack to air dry for another 24-48 hours.
After this time, cut into approximately 18 bars (depending upon size). Place bars on a wire rack exposed to the air to fully cure for at least 6 weeks. The longer you cure the soap the harder the bar will be & the longer it’ll last in the shower.