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. I made two honey soaps over the last few weeks. This one is a low foamer and is very gentle for sensitive skin. In a few days, I will post the second honey soap, that is a little more bubbly and cleansing.
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. To make the colour reminiscent of honey, I used turmeric powder.
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 can also heat soap batter, so there is a risk of it thickening too fast. In this soap I used 15g of honey 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 is known for being good for hyper-pigmented skin and acne scarring, but in soap, it is a very good natural colourant that will give a yellow to orange hue depending on how much is used. I used 4g premixed in a drop of the oil from the measured oils. This allowed it to mix easily with the soap batter. This is optional as some people prefer to mix powders directly in the batter.
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.
The base is a combination of olive oil, coconut and shea butter. The beeswax was melted with the oils before combining with the lye.
Water and Lye
|Tumeric powder||4 Grams|
|Honey Extract||1 Gram|
LYE DISCOUNT: 6%
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 noxious vapour. Keep the room well ventilated but you want to avoid any gushes of air as this can cause the steam 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 the 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 the idea originated.
- 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. If you find some of the fats solidify, just give it a quick blend with your immersion blender.
- Add the honey and honey extract to the oil.
- 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.
- 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. The combination of water and sodium hydroxide is called lye.
- Once the oil and the lye are cool, carefully pour the lye into the oils and gently stir before stick blending. It will quickly emulsify and become thick. As soon as it is emulsified pour half of the batter into the oil/turmeric mix and stir.
- 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 (1) at this point.
- 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.
- After cutting your soap leave to cure further for another 4-6 weeks.
This is how I made the Honeycomb Soap. Next, I will show you how I made a variation that is foamier.
Have you ever made a honey-based soap? If so what advice would you give for working with honey?
(1) Trace is the point in which the soap batter has started to emulsify. You will know this if you drizzle the mixture and it leaves a trail on top of the batter.