Friday, December 14, 2012


This past semester, I taught myself how to make cold process soap. When lye and oils are combined, the oils are saponified--that is, the react with the lye to produce soap and naturally occurring glycerin. Extra oil is added ("superfatting") so that no lye remains. Water evaporates from the soap and the pH of the soap becomes more mild, and after a minimum of 4 weeks, the soap is ready to use! Oh, what a wait. I am still figuring out all of the intricacies, but in the meantime, here are some of my more photogenic soaps:

cedarwood, clary sage, rosemary soap with charcoal & poppy seeds

patchouli, lavender, cedarwood soap with cocoa powder & kaolin clay

I made the two soaps above with recipe #2 from Lovin' Soap! They are incredibly moisturizing and make for a lovely bar. The second soap utilized a pouring technique from the Soap Queen blog.

lavender & clary sage with ground oatmeal and cinnamon

carrot bastile with cinnamon on top

Bastile soap, by definition, contains a high percentage of olive oil. This soap is 95% olive oil, 5% castor oil for bubbly lather. I got the idea to use carrot puree from this post, and intended to add a tiny bit of clove oil but forgot! Oh well. It still has a lovely scent and will likely be a very gentle soap. I won't know for another five weeks, as it is still curing!

If you're interested in learning to make soap, I recommend working your way through the Soaping 101 series of video tutorials. After spending so much time sewing and entrenched in other fibers-related endeavors, it's nice to have an alternate hobby!


  1. isn't it castile soap, not bastile? I keep wanting to try it, but I don't have a handy place to buy lye...and I'd probably splash it and blind myself or something, anyhow!

    1. Hello! Castile soap, traditionally, is 100% olive oil (plus lye/water and essential/fragrance oils if desired). Bastile soap is a nickname given to soap that is very high in olive oil, but has other oils too. I think bastile is supposed to mean "bastardized castile" actually!

      As to the lye, I found some at the hardware store (sold as drain cleaner--make sure it says 100% lye) and I have also bought it from, which has good prices on lye and essential oils. I watched Soaping 101 and Soap Queen TV videos on Youtube (linked above) til I felt comfortable with the process, and then I just went for it. If you invest in some goggles, gloves, and wear long sleeves/pants, you'll be fine! It really is quite fun.


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