Making All-Natural Liquid Castile Soap

Hello! This photo-post is a walk through of the process we use to make our All-Natural Liquid Castile Soap.  This soap has changed our life!  We use if for everything in our home: dishes, washing the dogs, body wash, shampoo, hand soap (diluted in a foamer pump), to make our laundry soap recipe, to make window cleaner, to make soft scrub for the bathroom, to make all-purpose cleaning scrub, to make exfoliating scrub for cleaning out those stubborn blackheads, and more!  We starting making it when we had our first daughter and wanted an affordable way to get rid of all of the questionable cleaning and beauty products in our home, and the journey has been a great success.  I hope this post helps you in your soap making endeavors.  Feel free to ask questions, this is just the way we do it and it works for us, there are a lot of variations when making soap.  Warning: handling potassium hydroxide is dangerous as it is caustic and can burn!  Please show extreme caution when handling potassium hydroxide in soap making!

We make our soap using crock pots, a digital scale, stainless steel bowls and spoons, a hand held mixer, and rubber spatulas.  To dissolve our potassium hydroxide, we use a plastic pitcher.  While handling the potassium hydroxide we wear goggles and heavy duty rubber gloves as a safety precaution.  We use coconut, olive, and sunflower oils which we purchase in bulk from Soaper's Choice.  We scent our soap with Now Essential Oils, usually purchased from Amazon.com.  We also order our Potassium Hydroxide on Amazon.com through Essential Depot, Inc.  For our recipe, we could a 50% Olive Oil 30% Coconut Oil and 20% Sunflower Seed Oil Blend diluted to 25% and scented with 1% Essential Oils.  We calculate our formula based on the container size we are using (the size of the crockpot) using the Advanced Calculator on the Summer Bee Meadow website.  It is important to create a new recipe for each batch size you intend to make.  Now we're ready to get started! 

Measure out your oils using the digital scale, and pour them into the crockpot.  Scrape out any excess with the rubber spatula for the most accuracy possible.

Heat up the oils in the crockpot to approximately 160 Degrees F

In the meantime, weigh out your Potassium Hydroxide flakes and mix them with the proper amount of distilled water in the plastic pitcher.  Stir gently with a metal stick (we use a stainless steel grilling skewer).  The chemical reaction will create heat, and you will have to wait for the mix to cool down to about 160 Degrees F before mixing it into your warmed oils.

Pour the Potassium Hydroxide solution into your warmed oils in the crockpot and stir gently with the hand held mixer, before you turn the mixer on!  You don't want to risk spraying the solution everywhere.  After everything is stirred together pretty well, turn the mixer on.  You are going to blend the oils until they reach trace.

This is what trace looks like- about the consistency of pudding.  See how the mix is thick enough to leave waves and ridges at the surface when you stir.

Now we let the mixture cook in the crockpot on High.  This is what the mixture looks like after a few hours.  Make sure to stir the mix as best you can periodically with your stainless steel spoon, and wipe whatever is stuck to the spoon after mixing back in using your rubber spatula.  It will be very hard to stir at this point.

After another few hours in the crockpot, your mix should look like this.  It will be very thick, completely translucent like petroleum jelly, and golden.

Measure out your distilled water for dilution and start heating it on the stove.  Bring it to a boil and then turn off the burner.  Then add your Borax and mix, allowing it to fully dissolve.  Then add your soap paste.  We dilute our soap to 25%.  Make sure you put a lid on the pot while diluting so that you don't lose water to evaporation.

After a few hours of sitting in the water, the soap is about half-way diluted.  Stirring doesn't really help your soap dilute faster, you pretty much just need to wait it out.  It helps if you keep the mix warm during dilution either by wrapping it with a towel, or we set ours next to the wood stove if it's going.  If you made a small batch, it could potentially dilute in the crockpot.

The soap is now fully diluted and is ready to be scented!  Measure out your essential oils and add them now, making sure the soap is still warm to avoid clouding.  Then jar it up and you're all set to go!

We sell our soap at a local market, Prattscape's Garden and Gift Shop, as well as online in our Ben Kline Farms Etsy Store.  We also make a foamer pump with a mason jar and dilute our soap 3 parts water to 1 part soap for using as hand soap.  We have learned that our soap does not work well in very hard water, and are working on a potential solution to that, but it works like a dream for us because we have a water softener.  Every time we are out of softening salt, we know because we can't do dishes anymore for lack of suds!  Something to keep in mind if you have really hard water!  We worked out our formula so that the soap would be sudsy enough to do dishes, but not too drying to use as a body wash and hand soap, but with hard water you don't get any suds at all and it just turns the water cloudy.  Please don't spend hours making this soap if you have hard water!  We are going to start testing out zeolite tablets to help soften the water for use in laundry and the dish sink, but we haven't gotten that far yet.  If anyone has any knowledge about potential solutions to the hard water conundrum, please comment!