How to make homemade soap from olive oil

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By Rachel

homemade soap from olive oil

You can prepare a 100% natural and bioactive homemade olive oil soap: it is a bit more complicated and time consuming with regards to Aleppo Soap, but the end result is definately worth it.

Some attention must be paid during preparation as the procedure requires the use of caustic soda, a hazardous material that must be handled with extreme care. It is absolutely essential to always use rubber gloves, goggles and to wear a mask covering the nose.

When diluted caustic soda produces corrosive fumes:  For this reason the soap must be prepared in a ventilated room or near an open window. If you should inhale the fumes or the caustic soda should come into contact with your skin you must seek medical attention immediately. That said, caustic soda is the key ingredient in soap (you will find recipes without it, but they will produce other non-soap products). During the process of saponification it reacts with acids, neutralizing and disappearing. In the final product, therefore, there will be no trace of caustic soda!

You can use shea butter, coconut oil or sunflower oil as a fatty substance in the soap. In this recipe we have decided to use olive oil due its emollient properties. In general, distilled water is used to make soap but some people opt for milk which requires a longer process.

There are two methods for preparing homemade soap: the hot method and the cold method. As we have already mentioned, be extremely careful when using the soda as it is dangerous and make sure you follow the precautions we have suggested.

So, how to make homemade soap from olive oil?

To make olive oil soap, you need:

  • 350 grams of water, preferably distilled water (for hot method)
  • 280 grams of water, preferably distilled water (for cold method)
  • 1 kg of extra- virgin olive oil
  • 134 grams of caustic soda

When meausing we advise you to use an electronic scale as they are more precise. Use wooden spoons, Pyrex heat-resistant containers and stainless steel (resistant up to 90° – Celsius degrees) containers. For the saponification itself, a cooking thermometer , an immersion blender.

Begin by putting on the goggles and gloves so that you can begin handling the soda. Start by weighing the correct amount and put it in a Pyrex container. Pour the water into a steel container and then pour the caustic soda in the water (never the other way!). You will see that the temperature of the liquid will rises 80 degrees. Stir the liquid with a wooden spoon to mix the soda. Let it cool in a ventilated place (outside is perfect) for about 15 minutes until the temperature drops to 45 degrees.

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In the meantime, pour the oil into a large stainless steel saucepan. It must be able to contain twice the volume of the oil. Heat to 45°. Once removed from the heat carefully pour the mixture of water and soda (45°) into the oil container and mix with a wooden spoon.

To eliminate lumps and ensure a smooth mixture, whisk for about 5/10 minutes with an immersion blender, stopping and restarting several times. Do not overheat. At a certain point the mixture will reach the “tape phase“. This happens when drops of the mixture that fall from a spoon leave a trace on the surface of the mixture in the saucepan.

At this point the real hot saponification process begins, which will neutralize the caustic soda. Place a large stainless steel pot in water bath. Put the oil cream, soda and water in the pot. Take care to place enough water between the stainless steel pot and the surface of the waterbed to avoid direct contact with the heat of the flame.
Cover the pan and heat over low heat. Every half hour check on the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. The water should not boil (if it does then turn of the heat for 5 minutes before turning it on again).

After about two hours of slow cooking, when the mixture becomes thick and semi-transparent, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.

This is also the time to add any extra ingredients such as essential oils and micro-granules or dyes to make special soaps (you can also use lavender, orange peel, pieces of cinammon, rice etc ) because the texture is still soft at this point. After adding the ingredients, mix them well with a wooden spoon before beginning the cooling phase.

Pour the soap into molds, or you can use a rectangular aluminum pan. You can always cut ‘slices’ once the soap solidifies.

Tap the mold on a flat surface to evenly distribute the mixture and remove any air bubbles. Place the mold in a cool place for at least 3 days to solidify. Once ready, carefully remove the soap from the molds, using a piece of paper to cover the soap bars. The soap can be deformed if it is removed too quickly. You can use a knife at the edges of the mold or keep it in the freezer for a while to make sure it is very firm.

homemade soap from olive oil
Enjoying some homemade soap from olive oil.

The bars are not yet ready as the caustic soda is not yet fully neutralized. It needs an aging period of about 2 months in a dry place before proper use.

If you prefer to use the cold method you will need less water. This method is also easier to follow (for 1 kg of oil always use 280 grams of distilled water and 134 grams of soda).

After having reached the “tape phase“, you can quickly add the ingredients you like, and pour the mixture directly into the molds (preferably a silicone one), which is then wrapped in an old blanket to keep the heat and allow it to cool slowly. Open it after about 48 hours. Always wear gloves because the soda is not completely neutralized.

You can cut the soap into the size you prefer and wrap it with sheets of paper and then leave in a cool place for about 2 months.

The result will definitely impress you!


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