Other than making my own food, I love to just make....stuff. I regularly bread, mayonnaise, granola, granola bars, kombucha, ricotta and yoghurt. But more recently, I have been trying to further decrease my plastic usage by making my own cleaning products.
As a family of 5, we use quite a lot of soap. Hand soaps, body soaps and shampoo. That's quite a lot of plastic bottles to go through each and every month. I decided to try my hand at it last year and have been playing around with a few recipes, and I have finally found what works best for us.
I first tried a liquid soap that was made of a mix of Olive oil, Coconut oil, Jojoba and almond oil. It was nice, but I just couldn't get it to lather as much as I would have liked. So I have tried just making a liquid soap from just coconut oil (great for lathering and cleaning but can be drying) and just olive oil (Liquid Castille Soap) which is great for moisturising but not great at lathering . I tweaked the recipes just a bit and found that by having the two separate soaps, I am able to mix them in ratios that works best for us and what we want to use it for.
Here is the recipe for:
Coconut Oil Liquid Soap.
(slightly amended but Based on the recipe from, https://thethingswellmake.com/homemade-liquid-coconut-oil-soap/)
907 g coconut oil
244 g KOH (Potassium Hydroxide)
731 g water
Melt the coconut oil in a Thermomix 70 degrees C, speed 2 for 5 mins/or a slowcooker on medium heat.
Meanwhile, add the room temperature water to a medium sized bucket. (I used a 4L large detergent container, which I chopped off the top and repurposed as a bucket.)
In a clean dry bowl, measure out the potassium hydroxide (KOH).
In a very well ventilated area (like a balcony), set up your area where you will pour the KOH into the water mixture). Use gloves and even goggles. (I used sunglasses!)
Pour the KOH into the water and glycerine mixture. (& not the other way around!!). Being careful of the fumes, Mix well until the KOH is fully dissolved into the water/glycerine. It will be cloudy at first, but will clear up. Mix with a non corrosive stirring utensil. (I used plastic chopsticks!)
If using a thermomix- Carefully pour the KOH mixture into the thermomix jug of warm coconut oil, and slowly mix them together, 70 degrees C, speed 6, 5 mins. Watch this mixture through the MC. (MC on).
Thermomixers beware- for coconut oil soap, the mixture can start expand and may want to grow. If this starts to happen, take the mixture out and put it in the slowcooker to complete the process.
If using a slowcooker- Carefully pour the KOH mixture into the slowcooker pot warm coconut oil, and slowly mix them together using a stick blender on medium speed. Keep blending for a a few minutes, it will thicken.
A few minutes later, the mixture will begin to look grainy. Continue to blend. Continue blending the mixture and you will hear the texture changing to a thicker substance. When it gets too thick to mix, stop the thermomix or blender and pour the slow cooker.
If the mixture becomes too thick to blend, switch to mixing with a wooden spoon, or even a stainless steel fork, if need be. Unlike the olive oil soap, which I was able to blend with the blender throughout the entire process, with the coconut oil soap I did have to stop blending with the blender and switch to a wooden spatula and stainless steel fork. (You can read more about that above.)
The mixture will continue to thicken and will become more translucent. We are working on making a soap base paste to dissolve into a clear liquid soap. The process will take 3-4 hours, and you should check it and stir it up every half an hour or so. See note ***
To check for "doneness," test your mixture by dissolving a 1/2 tsp of paste into a glass of warm water. It should dissolve into a completely clear liquid soap.
If the liquid is cloudy, continue to cook the soap in the slow cooker. Stir it up and let it cook for another half an hour before checking on it again. If it dissolves clear, you are finished making the soap paste.
If it isn't dissolving clear and you find you can't be there to babysit the paste- have left it cooking in the slowcooker overnight and tried it in the morning. It's normally ready by then!
Your liquid coconut oil soap paste is now ready to be stored or dissolved into liquid soap as needed.
Dilution: I start with a dilution of paste to filtered water at 50:50 and then if i need further dilution, I can increase the paste:water content to 30:70. It depends on how much lather you want and what your intended use is. For the water at our place (its quite minerally, so its hard to form a lather- I use 40:60 for just coconut soap.
Add your favourite essential oils to the soap. My kids love to design their own blend.... and so do I!
This recipe makes ~2kgs of soap paste which can be diluted to 4 litres of soap or more, depending upon desired concentration.
Keep in mind that liquid soap is not as thick as commercial gels and surfactants. Liquid soap is of a thinner consistency. You don't need to keep it thick for it to be concentrated and work well.
I find using a foam soap dispenser to distribute the soap, works best.
Olive Oil Liquid soap recipe post coming! (or try this recipe (contains glycerine) : https://thethingswellmake.com/easy-beginner-diy-liquid-castile-soap-recipe/)