When you’re starting off you’re probably not going to be wanting to make soap from scratch. While it’s not a particularly complex process, most people don’t want to begin using something as caustic as lye when they’re just starting out making their own products.
If you research DIY soap recipes online, you will find that many of them call for liquid castille soap. Authentic castile soap is based on recipes invented long ago in the Castile region. Castile soap is a name now used loosely in English-speaking countries for olive oil based soap or vegetable soap that contains no animal fats.
The best part about using castile soap is its multi-tasking ability. Those that sell us these things have us thinking we need a separate product for every use but liquid castile soap takes care of soap, shampoo, and body wash, as well as laundry, dishes, mopping floors, and plenty more. So in this post I’m going to tell you how you can replace some of your most used products with a basic olive oil soap bar.
The principle is this, take one natural soap bar, liquify it (there’s your liquid castile), vary the thickness and add an extra ingredient or two depending on what you’re making, and you’re set to go. This is exactly how I started and those I’ve showed have found it easy and quick enough to make transitioning to non-chemical products a fun endeavor.
- Plain olive oil soap bar
- grate your soap bar down (just simple saponified olive oil, no added ingredients) It doesn’t need to be perfect but the smaller your shavings the quicker they will melt so try not to have big lumps of soap thrown in.
- mix it with a couple cups of cold water in a pot. One cup of soap shavings with a couple cups of water is fine to start, this doesn’t have to be perfect measuring, you’ll see why in step 5.
- heat while stirring. You don’t want it boiling, just hot, and you don’t need to stir constantly, you can leave it on low stirring occasionally while choosing your oils, gathering your bottles, etc.
- let it cool.
Once all your shavings have melted into a nice smooth liquid, let it cool.
- Alternative to 3&4: You can skip the heating and cooling by simply mixing half a cup of soap shavings to a cup of water and leaving it over night when the shavings should be soft enough to mix into a smooth liquid. While I have heard this works fine, I have also had reports of this producing a liquid that’s more likely to crust which can cause problems if you’re dispensing with a pump.
- Add water. The soap will thicken as it cools so you really need it to be fully cool before you can tell if it’s the consistency you want. If it’s too thick when it’s hot certainly add a bit of extra water before it cools, but definitely wait till it’s fully cool to judge the final consistency and at this point you can add extra water if you find it too thick.
- Bottle. Grab yourself a funnel or freehand it if you’re steady and pour it into your favourite dispenser/bottle.
- Add scent (and extra water for some products) You can do this before bottling if you’re just making one product but if you’re making a batch of soap to make a few products like I do then adding to the bottles is easier. In this case don’t fill your bottles all the way to the top, if you leave some space when adding the essential oils and/or extra water you will be able to mix it all together quite easily by turning the bottle from end to end and side to side.
What you add to your products will depend mainly on personal preference, and over time, experience. Here are some basic instructions based on my products, I will do individual product recipes with different variations etc but I want to show you briefly just how easily this one technique can replace an awful lot:
This one I do just a little thinner so that it dispenses better from a pump, and add eucalyptus essential oil for the antibacterial/antiseptic/antiviral (plus astringent/deodorant/much much more) properties, plus an extra oil (mint/orange/whatever you like) for scent
This one I keep the thickness I make it, and add calendula for the skin care properties, and usually find something for scent that has a nice smell as well as properties for the skin depending on particular needs.
This one I make quite a bit thinner, these soaps don’t foam in a way you might be used to and I find making the shampoo thinner helps to be able to cover the head. I add rosemary to this one because of it’s list of hair and scalp improving properties.
(One thing to note is that yes you will go through the greasy adjustment stage when switching to this shampoo, when I write a full shampoo post I will explain why this happens, discuss the baking soda/vinegar method, and introduce a dedicated product, but I wanted to mention this here as I’ve used this diluted soap for years with great improvement over any store bought shampoo.)
Because this liquid soap is all natural it is perfectly acceptable for washing your dishes, you can mix in some soda crystals with the soap shavings in step 2 for some really powerful grease cutting stuff.
You can use your liquid soap for handwashing or even put it in your machine, use soda crystals for prewash on heavily dirty items and you’re good to go.
Mix up your liquid soap with baking soda and it will make an excellent soft scrub for surface cleaning