I am a do-it-yourself project fanatic. I frequently make my own laundry detergent, bath salts, cleaning products and nut butters. It is always easy (and super convenient) to buy something form the store, but an extra level of satisfaction comes from making it your self. Plus you have the opportunity to regulate the ingredients going into your products making most DIY products safer to use and significantly less expensive than store-bought items. After becoming a mother, I have been hyper critical of the ingredients in the items I frequently purchase. Many of them contained unnecessary chemicals that were harmful for everyone in my family. With that in mind, DIY projects became a necessity. I am now always on the hunt to find natural substitutions for the items we use daily.
I was in a craft store years ago and walked down the aisle filled with items to make your own soap. It seemed super simple: you melt glycerin, add a few ingredients for fragrance and added moisture, pour mixture in a mold and let firm. I picked up the glycerin base that was vegan-safe and relatively inexpensive. Since then, I have been making my own unique soaps.
The trick in making vegan-friendly soap is to find a good vegetable-based glycerin. There are many products online, but I usually have the best luck in an actual craft store. I have noticed that there is still a huge discrepancy between what stores sell online and what is actually in the stores. The key to buying glycerin is to read the packaging carefully. Many of the glycerins that I have seen in the past have said, “vegetable based,” “vegetarian/vegan friendly.” There are many brands that have these labels on the label. If it does not have these phrases, it is safe to assume that the glycerin is animal-fat based.
I absolutely love lavender and coconut oil and wanted to combine the two into a wonderful soap. I use this bar of soap on my skin and on my daughter’s skin daily. The coconut oil keeps us moisturized for hours and the lavender has a soothing fragrance to help us relax at the end of the day.
The trick with making soap is to find a nice balance between your added ingredients and the actual glycerin. Many of us are conditioned to think that soap needs to produce bubbles in order to truly clean. This, of course, is not completely true but bubbles are always a fun bonus to bathing! 🙂 Make sure that your soap mixture is 3 parts glycerin to just under 1 part added moisturizers.
There are many items that you can buy to make soap but there are truly only a few key items that you need:
1. Plant-based glycerin: Only purchase the glycerin in block form. This type needs to be melted on the stove. The liquid glycerin will not harden later no matter what you add to it. The bonus is that most plant-based glycerins already have added moisturizers such as aloe vera and vitamin E in them so pick other items in addition to those.
2. A mold: I purchased a nine bar aluminum pan that makes the perfect sized bars of soap.
3. A large glass, measuring cup: You do not need to purchase a separate one if you already have it but it is key that your measuring cup is glass. You do not want to add extremely warm liquid to a plastic cup.
4. Additional ingredients: I like to keep vitamin E oil, olive oil, shea butter, aloe vera and a variety of herbs and essential oils on hand. I try different combinations and different scents constantly.
Coconut Oil and Lavender Soap
32 oz. plant based glycerin
3/4 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of fresh or dried lavender blossoms
The liquid from 12 vitamin E capsules
1. Warm the cup of coconut oil, vitamin E and the lavender blossoms in a small pot on low heat for an hour. Stir occasionally to prevent from burning. You can let this sit overnight and run the coconut oil through a sieve to discard the flowers (which can get caught in your drains) or you can wait until it cools and blend it on high for a few seconds which is what I did. The lavender blossoms get broken down to so fine that they will not be a danger to your drains, plus the lavender fragrance will be stronger.
2. Cut the entire 32 oz. of glycerin into smaller pieces and add to a medium sized pot. Turn fire to low heat and stir until melted.
3. While the glycerin is still warm, add the coconut oil/lavender mix. Stir well.
4. Once mixed well, immediately add to molds. The liquid should take 3-4 hours to completely harden.
Have you tried making your own soap? What fragrance / oil combination besides this would you try?
By Sorina: Rosemary Green Tea Lemonade
Photo: Sorina Fant