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Monday, July 28, 2014

First Stab At DIY Liquid Castile Paste

Coconut and olive oil soap paste and liquid
Coconut and olive oil soap paste and liquid
Liquid Castile Soap Paste

I started investigating and accumulating products and information about making a clear liquid castile soap about a year ago.  Finally... finally started my first batch, which was a conglomeration of instruction and methods, but basically the same tools.


  • Stick blender
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Stainless steel spoon(s)
  • Pyrex measuring cups
  • Kitchen scale
  • Spray bottle of vinegar


The first reference is Catherine Failors book, Making Natural Liquid Soaps: Herbal Shower Gels, Conditioning Shampoos, Moisturizing Hand Soaps, Luxurious Bubble Baths, and more, where the basic recipe was found.  I ran it through a Lye Calculator at the Brambleberry site which reduced the lye (KOH) from the original 12 ounces to 11.21 based on 0% superfat.  Failor's book is for creating transparent soaps, so appearing to be a bit excessive in lye was purposeful.  This is explained fully in an soapmaking post.  My modified recipe is:
  • 652 grams (25%, 23 ounces) 76 degree coconut oil
  • 708 grams (27%, 25 ounces) extra virgin olive oil
  • 318 grams (12%, 11.21 ounces) KOH (potassium chloride)
  • 947 grams (36%, 33.4 ounces) of water
Self-labeled vinegar tottle
Self-labeled vinegar tottle
A note about lye (KOH).  People aren't kidding when they talk about being careful with it.  I measured it out in the kitchen, but regretted it.  Even the fumes from pouring it from the original container to the pyrex cup on the scale caused some skin irritation.  I highly recommend all lye activities be performed outside, upwind of the lye and keeping a handy-dandy spray bottle loaded with vinegar in the ready.

I found another recipe at a favorite site of mine,  The author recently posted her very cheerfully written article about how to make liquid soap the super easy way.  It was very motivational, but I was looking for something more castile-like and more likely to be transparent (being a novice, I stuck with a Failor recipe for transparency).  

And then there was the lazy me, that went for the crockpot method.  The Wiki site recipe didn't specify the type of lye being used, which is a big issue for me.  The type of lye is the difference between liquid soap and bar soap.  I also wasn't interested much in the recipe itself, just the process.

coconut and olive oil liquid paste, batched
coconut and olive oil
liquid paste, batched
And the process went a bit like this:
  1. Oils were measured and added to a crock pot on the 'high' setting.  Always measure ingredients by weight rather than volume (if you see a site measuring ingredients by volume, do not use the recipe unless you can convert it to weights and percents).  
  2. Water and KOH (lye) was measured and transported outside.  The water was in a stainless steel pot and the lye was slowly added in while stirring with a stainless steel spoon.
  3. The emptied lye container was sprayed down with vinegar while stirring the water/lye solution.
  4. After the lye completely dissolved, the lye was slowly added to the crock pot oils and mixed with a stick blender.
  5. The paste mixture suddenly became pudding-like after about 10 minutes.  I switched to the stainless steel spoon, and not too soon.  
  6. The paste mixture became difficult to stir by hand, so the crock pot lid was put on and the gloves, stainless steel pot, and pyrex measuring cup were collected, sprayed down with vinegar, then brought back inside. Then I got tired, so I turned off the crock and went to bed so I could resume the next morning.
  7. The next morning, the crock was turned back on, and the previous evenings tools were cleaned. And I waited, checked every 30 minutes, stirred and then tried a recipe for 100% olive oil castile bar soap with cold process (next post) to use the remainder of my olive oil and because for some reason I just like the idea of castile soap (moisturizing and many other uses).  
  8. About 10 hours later, the paste finally became similar to Vaseline, with translucence.  At this point, I
    coconut and olive oil liquid paste
    coconut and olive oil liquid paste
    was thinking maybe I would prefer the short and sweet method.  
  9. I didn't think I would do it, but I did.  The zap test.  I touched a bit of the soap to my tongue, and no battery zap.  Good to go!
  10. I separated the batches in three 1lb parts and a 12 ounce part.  I set aside three portions and started the second cooking process with the fourth part.  I'm looking forward to this soap because I do like that natural green color of the extra virgin olive oil.  
  11. The paste was stored in clear plastic jars with plastic lids.  
  12. The crock pot was started up again, and 32 ounces of water was added for the start of the soap solution.  And we waited for the paste to dissolve in the water.  A check 30 minutes in confirmed the water portion was completely clear (no cloudiness at all!), and the rest was just waiting for the melt to complete.
  13. Once the melt was completed, I added 21 grams (3/4 ounce) of Borax to 42 grams (1 1/4 ounce) of boiling water and then stirred the dissolved mix in with the liquid soap to thicken and neutralize.  Phew...  all done.
In the future, I will try again with only olive oil, and add sugar and/or salt to the lye solution for sudzing action in the final product.  I did find it odd that I ended up with an amber soap from the green paste.

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