Health and Beauty

It’s all about SOAPS ! Flax seed oil and Shea butter soapmaking

I’m fascinated with soap making processes at the moment, and I have been looking up dairy soaps and olive oil soaps, which both sound amazing! I am ordering some ingredients and will be sharing more detailed recipes soon. Basically there are four options for soap-making :

– the Cold Process : mixing lye and oils

– the Hot Process, similar to the first one, but during which the soap is cooked

– using a Melt and Pour base: melting a pre-prepared solution and adding fragrances and oils

Rebatching, with means reusing soaps and adding new ingredients to transform them.

Savon de Marseille - Traditional soap making using olive oil
Savon de Marseille – Traditional soap making using olive oil

I am a big fan of ‘Savon de Marseille’, soap traditionally made in the Marseille area in France, and the famous Aleppo soap, both of whom are usually made with olive oil. Many soaps nowadays contains sulfates (in particular sodium sulfates) which dehydrates the skin. I have some ghassoul clay, Moroccan Argan oil and Flax oil which I would love to use in a soap. Goat milk soap is also popular at the moment: it is hypoallergenic, moisturizing, and great for sensitive skins.

I chose a very simple recipe to share with you as I am a beginner with soaps myself, but hopefully I will get more adventurous once I get the hang of it. I have chosen to follow the Cold Process method and I have used sodium hydroxide to make the lye, as this is the most natural and traditional way of making soap. It is also easier to check exactly what goes into your soap, as Melt and Pour often contain a long list of ingredients.

Flax seed oil and Shea Butter Soap 

For the Lye:

25 grams of caustic soda

65g of distilled water

For the oils:

150g of Flax seed oil

50g of Shea butter

Flax seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and have many cosmetic benefits : they help to smooth the skin and to clear acne
Flax seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and have many cosmetic benefits : they help to smooth the skin and to clear acne

You will also need two glass containers to combine and heat the ingredients, a spatula (I used a silicon one), a whisk or hand mixer, and moulds. It is important to protect yourself with gloves and goggles in case of a reaction, as caustic soda can be dangerous. Don’t leave within reach of children! Also remember to not use aluminium utensils as they react with lye.

– Carefully weight and prepare the ingredients.

-Add the solid caustic soda to the water (Never ever do it the other way around as it will ‘erupt’). This will heat, so put on the side and leave to cool.

– Combine the Flax seed oil and the Shea butter in the 2nd glass container and place in a pan of hot water until completely melted. Remove and leave to cool.

-Once both liquids are at room temperature, pour the lye solution into the oils and start mixing with a whisk or mixer. After around 15 mins, the mix will start solidifying into a custard consistency. This is called ‘tracing’: a drop into the mix will leave a trace. At this stage you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil.

– You can then pour the mix into your moulds, and set aside. After a few days, the soaps should be hard enough to be removed from the moulds, and are now ready for curing! It is recommended to leave the soaps cure for about 6 weeks, until the Ph levels have gone up (above 7), which means they are not acid anymore and can be used on the skin. You can use Ph strips to check if they are ready. Pictures of my experiments coming soon!

You can create your own recipes easily using a soap calculator such as the Sage.

My first batch after curing :

My first batch of soap: flax seed oil and shea butter
My first batch of soap: flax seed oil and shea butter
Health and Beauty

The benefits of Black Soap (Savon Noir)

I talk about the wonders of oil, in particular olive oil, in a previous post, in particular about their health and beauty benefits. Well Black Soap, produced in North Africa, is like a condensed version: it is made out of oil, often using the famous Moroccan Argan oil, and macerated olives, and it is thus packed with therapeutic qualities. Black soap is particularly rich in vitamin E and is known for deeply purificating the skin, as well as preparing the skin for exfoliation. In Morocco, women often use it in the hammam (public baths) before peeling their skin with a loofah. It should be applied on wet skin and left a couple of minutes to rehydrate and purify the body, before being rinsed off.

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Black Soap or Savon noir from Morocco

Don’t be fooled by its aspect: its texture is more like butter than regular soap, but it is all natural, works with all types of skin and has a light scent. The damage of chemical perfumes added to soaps, shower gels and shampoos on the skin and hair is well documented:  Black soap is a great, 100% natural and organic alternative, usually made the old fashioned way by small producers. If you want to try making your own black soap, try my basic black soap recipe.

Black soap can also be diluted with water and used as a cleaner and detergent. It has tons off properties: it can be used to clean floors and tiles, windows and leather furniture, it removes grease from ovens, baking trays or plates, and it is also used as a stain remover.

Furthermore, it can also be used in the garden to help get rid of parasite. Just spray diluted black soap on affected plants and leaves. It is a great product before it acts as a natural repellent without destroying the environment as would do traditional pesticides. In fact, black soap has so many different uses that I can’t list them all! Stay blessed!