My husband is very picky about his shaving soap. Which is totally cool. He’s one of those guys who has to shave every day – and so I can absolutely understand being particular about ensuring whatever he’s using works well, feels good, and doesn’t create a huge mess.
Shaving soap also happened to be the final item he needed in his personal care arsenal in order to be ENTIRELY natural, homemade, and chemical-free. Yup… he’s rid of all personal care store-bought products at this point. The shaving soap was the last hurdle to conquer!
While I still have to figure out how to switch all my makeup over to natural and homemade products, I am thrilled this recipe worked so well. It’s a bit of a beast to make – so I would highly recommend starting with the olive oil castile soap if this is your first foray into soap-making.
While the steps are the same, the ingredients are a little more high maintenance, the trace happens more quickly, and you’ve got to move fast to get everything molded! It’s totally do-able. But use the castile soap as your training wheels before you hop on the shaving soap Harley. 😉
* * *
This recipe makes a lot of soap – which is awesome – but it also means you’re working with a full blender. So be extra careful. If you’re not sure what safety precautions you should take, I highly recommend reading this post first – and even grabbing a book or watching some YouTubes before you start.
Soap-making is not super hard… but is does call for precision, focus, and alertness. I like to read the instructions for any soap through several times before I start – and then I keep the info handy as I go in case I want to double-check something along the way! This recipe is adapted from one I found online, which you can locate here.
- counter-top blender (make sure the mixing jar is glass, not plastic)
- digital scale
- glass container (a clean jar works very well – just be sure to use something heatproof)
- spoon or chopsticks for mixing the lye (make sure you don’t use anything aluminum) and for testing trace
- gloves (I use a pair of old leather driving gloves)
- eye protection
- kitchen towel or cloth
- soap mold(s) (see the note in the Process section below)
- rubber spatula
- 4.5 oz lye
- 12 oz distilled water
- 11 oz palm oil
- 10 oz coconut oil
- 7 oz castor oil
- 1 (very heaping) Tbsp bentonite clay powder (I got mine via Amazon)
You’ll need something to mold the soap once it’s reached trace. I used an old set of teacups because I had one that was cracked and figured it would make a good reusable container. I had so much soap, however, that I ended up molding some in a cleaned out milk carton – and then simply cut it into pieces small enough to fit into the cup. Ironically, the soap circles also ended up fitting perfectly into my husband’s empty store-bought container. And since it is plastic, he felt safer storing that up in the medicine cabinet.
Prepare your molds before you start making the soap! If you are using something that cannot be torn off, be sure to use plastic wrap to line each container so that the soap can be removed before you let it cure.
- Measure the lye and water using your digital kitchen scale. (Remember to zero the scale for whatever container you are using to hold the lye before you move to step 2.) The scale should read exactly 4.5 oz for the lye. To measure your water, you can either measure using the scale (after zeroing with your container) or you can use a liquid measuring cup. Either way, you want as close to 12 oz on the nose as you can get.
- Mix the lye and water. The best way to do this is to either use a funnel to ensure you don’t spill, or carefully spoon the lye bit by bit into the water. NEVER PUT THE WATER OVER THE LYE. You’ll create a very unfortunate volcano. This process will create some fumes and a lot of heat – so it’s best to be near an open window or even move outside as you transfer the lye. This is the time to wear your gloves! The glass container will get hot, so touch it sparingly – and stir the water carefully (once all your lye is in). Then set aside for at least 5 minutes. (You want the water to change from cloudy to clear before you add it in step 4.)
- Check your blender one more time to make sure it’s ready to go. Double check the bottom to ensure it’s threaded properly, and do a test run of the motor to ensure everything is set. Have your towel handy for covering the lid – and your spoon ready for testing trace.
- Get your oils ready. This will take some time, since you’re working with three and they all have slightly different consistencies. The castor oil will be in liquid form already… but palm oil and coconut oil have different melting points and in cold weather are more likely to be solid. (A little trick: A day or two before making the soap, place your containers of oil in front of a vent or in a place you know stays warmer than 72° F. That way, it will already be liquid when you need to measure it and you won’t have to fuss with the microwave!) Measure out each on your scale carefully, and add it to the blender.
- Add to the lye/water to the blender (make sure it’s clear). You should definitely wear your gloves and goggles when you do this – just to be safe. This recipe is quite big, so your blender will be super full already. Pour the lye/water slowly and carefully, then put the lid on the blender. Cover the lid with a towel or cloth to give you extra protection from splashing.
Mix until you reach trace. (Trace is the stage you want your soap in where it’s thick enough to mold but not yet thick enough to set up.) This is the trickiest part because there is no set time for mixing – and this soap reaches trace pretty darn fast. The easiest way to make sure you go long enough without overdoing it is: Mix for 30 seconds and check your mixture for trace. (You can do this by dipping in your mixing spoon or chopstick from step 2 and then letting the soap dribble off the spoon back into the blender. As soon as the surface of the soap holds memory of the dribbles (you can see the spoon’s path or the lines/swirls don’t sink back into the soap and disappear), it’s time to mold. Until then, just mix in 10 second increments – checking each time for trace. This way you are sure not to miss it!
- Mold your soap – quickly! I know it’s a bit stressful, but for this soap, you’ve got to move quickly once trace has been reached to get it into the molds. The most important part: DON’T PANIC. Even if you end up with little hills or lumps… so what?! Just keep a steady pace and fill each container you’ve prepped until you’ve got nearly everything out of the blender.
- Clean up all of your equipment and soap-making ingredients carefully. (Keep your gloves on for this. The raw soap is caustic until it has cured.) Use a paper towel to remove any leftover soap from your blender and dispose of it in the trash. Wash everything with warm, soapy water (and then I usually run it in the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle just to be safe).
- Your soap should be ready to remove from the molds after 24-48 hours. It hardens up very quickly, but you can check its readiness by pressing gently with your finger. (If it is still wet enough to show a fingerprint, allow it to sit another day and then recheck.) Remove each bar from the plastic wrap if you used containers for molding a shape… or peel and cut your milk carton away and cut into small bars/shapes in the size you require.
- Set the bars on a drying rack (like a cookie cooling rack) and cover with a clean towel (this will ensure they stay dust-free). This soap has to cure (i.e., sit untouched) for 6 weeks before it is cured. Using it prior to that time can cause you harm… so even though it’s maddening to wait so long to test your results, please be sure to give it the full 6 weeks!
- Once it’s cured, you can store it however you please (I stuck our extras in an old cookie tin) and use at will. Hope you enjoy it!