How To: Honeycomb Soap

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As you may know I do like a honey product, and as I am revising all of my off-the-shelf products, I have decided to start with all things honey! At the moment I have a honey powder cleanser, gentle honey cleanser and a honey mask. I will be adding to these in good time with a few other products for moisturisation, toning and hydration.  But for now, I want to add a free tutorial to the line in the form of a honey soap.

This soap contains beeswax, raw honey and a natural, very potent, honey fragrance.   I wanted it to look like a honeycomb so used some bubble wrap as the liner and to make reminiscent of honey, I used turmeric powder.

Honey

Honey is known as a humectant and due to its low pH it is also a good gentle exfoliator, but what does it do in soap?  Honey is supposed to add greater lather when added to cold processed soap. Due to the high sugar content it is also helps harden it, so there is a risk of it thickening too fast.  In this soap I used 15g of soap as apparently, the optimum level is approximately 1 teaspoon per pound of soap batter. My batch was just over 1 kilo which means that 15g would have been about right (10ml of honey is approximately 14g).  I added the honey to the  melted oils and just before adding the lye I mixed with a stick blender to disperse it.  Honey is water soluble so it was a case of working quickly, just to make sure the honey was momentarily dispersed before emulsification. Once the lye is added it combines quite well and you will notice that it thickens very quickly even at room temperature.

Turmeric

Turmeric is known for being good for hyper-pigmented skin and acne scarring but in soap it  is a very good natural colourant and will give a yellow to orange colour depending on how much you use.  I used 4g premixed in a drop of the oil from the main recipe.  This allowed it to mix easily with the soap batter.

Beeswax

Beeswax will make a harder bar of soap but there is also a risk of it thickening the soap too fast so it is probably best to start with only 2% of your oil amount.

Other Ingredients

The base is a combination of  olive oil, coconut and shea butter.  The beeswax was melted with the oils before combining with the lye.

The Formula

Oils

OIL             QUANTITY        %
OLIVE OIL       523.86          60.00
SHEA BUTTER     174.62          20.00
COCONUT OIL     157.16          18.00
BEESWAX         17.46           02.00

Water and Lye

INGREDIENT      AMOUNT
NaOH            115.18g
WATER           300.00g

Additives

INGREDIENT      AMOUNT USED
HONEY           15g
TUMERIC POWDER  4 Grams
HONEY EXTRACT   1 Gram

LYE DISCOUNT:  6%

honey soap collage.png

Safety

Always wear gloves, goggles, a long sleeved top and an apron to protect you from splashes from the highly corrosive lye.  I also sometimes use a gas mask when working with large amounts.

When initially mixing the lye always avoid the vapour which is highly caustic. Keep the room well ventilated but you want to avoid any gushes of air as this can cause the vapour to travel up your nose.  Stay safe and keep children and animals away when you are making soap.  You need to work carefully with caustic soda/lye/sodium hydroxide as it is highly corrosive and will burn your skin, this is why treating it with respect is of utmost importance.   In the event of splashes to your skin, wash well with water. If you manage to get the solution in your eyes or mucous membrane, again, wash well with plenty of water and seek medical attention.

Don't use anything aluminium while making soap, this includes your stick blender and any pots and pans you may use.  I  have used plastic buckets and stainless steel.  Avoid glass when mixing water and lye as the rapid rise in temperature can cause glass to break.

Lining the Soap Mould

I lined the ends of the soap mould with baking paper. I then lined the rest of the mould with bubble wrap, ensuring the bubbles were facing up where the soap batter would be poured (see above.)  This is a well known method of creating a honeycomb design, however I don't know where it originated. 

Process

  1. Weigh and melt the coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax together.  Once fully melted, add them to the room temperature olive oil, and combine well. This will drop the temperature of the combined oils and butters.

  2. Add the honey and honey extract to the oil.

  3. Take a small amount of oil and add the turmeric to create a loose paste.  This will stop it from forming clumps and will be easier to mix, though you could try just mixing it in slowly to your batter.

  4. Weigh out your water. This recipe allows for 285g of water.  It was increased to 300g to allow more time to mix the ingredients before it thickened.  Weigh the sodium hydroxide and sprinkle onto the water.  Always do it this way or you may find the mixture will become way too volatile and may splutter or even explode. Stir well to dissolve the NaOH and leave to cool.

  5. Once the oil and the lye (water and sodium hydroxide) are cool, carefully pour the lye into the oils and gently stir before stick blending.  It will quickly emulsify and become quite thick.  As soon as trace is reached pour half of the batter into the oil/turmeric mix and stir.

  6. Pour the turmeric batter and the white batter into the mould alternatively.  I poured along the length of the soap mould, but you could do it in any pattern you like.  The mixture will be at a thick trace at this point.

  7. Once you have poured all of the soap batter, leave to set and cure for 24-36 hours or when you can see the soap is hard enough to handle and cut.

  8. After cutting your soap leave to cure further for another 4-6 weeks.

 


 

Rebecca Wright