One of the items I’ve crossed off my 30 by 30 list is “make soap,” and it has been such a fun little hobby! A fun little hobby that has resulted in our household having way more soap than we’ll ever be able to use ;-)
My first batch was super-basic, just trying to learn the process itself, but for my next three batches, I’ve played around with additives like scent and exfoliants. The second batch, I added peppermint and lavender essential oils, and ground oatmeal, and the third batch was a fun, seasonal apple cider soap.
The most recent batch that’s finished curing in my morning room is one I’m especially excited about – a soap made with earl grey tea and extra Bergamot essential oil… the Star Trek nerd in me has decided to call it “Tea. Earl Grey. Soap.”
Getting into how to make cold process soap would be a bit of an undertaking, and I’d want to do several posts to be sure I got it all right and didn’t miss any important info. It involves handling extremely caustic lye, and I’d rather you learn it from someone with more experience teaching soaping! ;-) So go check out this four-part tutorial from Small Notebook - she gives great, clear instructions that’ll have you comfortable and confident in your soaping abilities in no time.
Once you’ve got the process down, give this recipe a try!
I used the lye calculator at Bramble Berry to calculate the weights of each oil to add up to the weight of oil my mold would accommodate, and then the amounts of liquid and lye needed to turn that oil into soap. Amounts will be different for every mold, so it wouldn’t be helpful for me to give you specific weights.
My base recipe in percentages is:
- 50% olive oil
- 25% coconut oil
- 20% sunflower oil
- 5% castor oil
- (with a 5% superfat)
Instead of using water in my lye solution, I made very strong Earl Grey tea (around double-triple strength) and chilled it overnight. It’s important to use very cold tea, or your soap can overheat and get all messy. Read this article for more information :-) My tea and lye mixture too on a gorgeous dark amber color, but it didn't really persist in the finished soap. Don't panic if it looks funny!
I saved the used tea leaves and dried them in the microwave to use as an exfoliant.
For each pound of soap, I used 0.12oz of Bergamot EssentialOil (Bramble Berry also has a fragrance calculator so you can calculate "medium" strength for your own total soap amount). For those not familiar, Earl Grey tea is simply black tea with added Bergamot oil, so the extra Bergamot oil I added ensured that if that characteristic Earl Grey scent from the tea faded, it would still really stand out in the finished soap. I got this oil from New York Biology on Amazon, and am very pleased with how the scent has stuck in my finished soap. It was also very reasonably-priced, and Prime eligible! Yay!
When my soap reached medium trace, I added the Bergamot oil and blended until the oil was incorporated. Then I quickly spread about a third of the soap into my lined mold, sprinkled most of the dried tea leaves in a thin but full layer on top of that, then quickly layered on the other two thirds of the soap mixture. I textured the top with a spoon and sprinkled a little pinch of tea leaves on top, just for prettiness :-)
New York Biology also has some of the best prices you can find on other fun essential oils that I can’t wait to try out in new soaps soon! Maybe something with Frankincense for Christmas time? :-)