" Blog da Horta Biológica: Olive Oil Soap: How To Make It and Its Benefits

Olive Oil Soap: How To Make It and Its Benefits

Today we bring a recipe of olive oil soap and we talk about the benefits of using it. Please check the step-by-step video at the end of this post. 

Olive oil has many uses and, fortunately, it is something we have in abundance every year due to our ancient olive trees that we love to care for. It's been many years since we published a post showing how we pick olives. If you are curious to see what it's like, visit this post: Olive Harvest.

Back to soap, the first thing you need to know is that making soap is an exact science and requires much care.  Let's do it by steps!

What Is Soap?

In a very simple way, soap is a salt of fatty acids that is obtained through the chemical reaction between a fat and alkali. This reaction is called saponification. Thus, the mandatory materials for making soap are alkali (sodium or potassium hydroxide), fats (oils, butters and waxes) and water (distilled - do not use tap water).

A little curiosity. Olive oil soap was invented thousands of years ago in Aleppo, Syria, where it was made with olive oil and laurel. It is said that it was brought by the Crusaders to the region of Castile in Spain, where it was then made with olive oil only, and became known as Castile soap.

Cold Process

This recipe is made by the cold process, in which all the ingredients are handled at low temperatures, in contrast to the hot process in which a crock pot is used.
In the cold process it is easier to control the final result. However, the time to cure is longer.

What Is The Cure?

The cure is the necessary time for soap to lose water, stabilize the pH, and become tolerant to the skin. The cure time for a 100% olive oil soap is 4 months.

How To Know The pH?

Soap, in a cold process, is alkaline and the pH varies between values 8 and 10, so that it can be smooth on the skin. During the curing process, pH measuring strips can be used to know whether the soap needs to cure for a longer time.

For more info, visit our post: How To Test the pH of Soap

Mandatory Safety Equipment

  • Long-sleeved lab coat 
  • Rubber gloves
  • Mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Closed footwear

Ingredients For This Recipe

  • 850g Olive oil
  • 247g Distilled water
  • 105g Caustic soda - Sodium Hydroxide 99% (NaOH)
This recipe will give you a 1200g soap bar. Weight will always vary after curing.

Material Needed To Make This Soap Recipe

  • 1 Stainless steel pan
  • 3 Measuring containers. One for olive oil, One for water, and one for soda (glass, stainless steel, or plastic - do not use aluminum) 
  • 1 stainless steel spoon
  • 1 Silicone spatula
  • 1 Kitchen scale
  • 1 Digital Laser Thermometer
  • 1 Hand blender (exclusive for this purpose)
  • Cling film
  • 1 cloth
  • 1 Wooden or Silicone mold
  • 1 Soap cutter (optional)
  • Ice + 1 large container for cold water bath*

* This container is optional, as the cold water bath can also be made in the sink, if it has enough space.

Important Safety Rules

  • Work without distractions. Do not eat, drink, smoke, watch TV, listen to radio, answer the phone. Have no children and pets around. 
  • When weighing ingredients, always round the values down, never up.  
  • Never use aluminum, as it reacts with caustic soda.
  • Handle the hydroxide in a well ventilated area, using the safety equipment. 
  • Have vinegar at hand because, in case of spillage, it cuts the soda effect.  
  • Wash utensils only 48h later. Use gloves, as it will still be very caustic.

Step-By-Step (Video At The End)

  1. Gather all the material;
  2. Weigh the olive oil and put it on heat.
  3. In different containers, weigh the water and the hydroxide. Very carefully add the hydroxide over the water, never the other way around! 
  4. Dissolve the o hydroxide with a stainless steel spoon. Never aluminum!
  5. Measure the temperatures of each solution and use a cold bath to control the temperatures. 
  6. As soon as both solutions are at 45ºC (both must be at the same temperature or with a maximum difference of 10ºC), add the water to the oil. Never the other way around! 
  7. Mix with the hand blender (exclusive for this purpose) until you hit a thin trace
  8. Pour the batter into the molds and wrap with a cling film and a cloth to help maintain the temperature. 
  9. Isolate for 48h, without disturbing, until it solidifies. 
  10. Unmold and proceed to cut (if it's a bar). For this purpose you may use a soap cutter. If in silicone molds, place in the freezer for 1h before unmolding so that the soap is not dented.
  11. Apply stamps (optional).

What Is the Trace?

The trace is the point in the soap making process when oil and lye water have emulsified, that is, the point where water solution and oil mix together and form a viscous batter in which it is possible to identify lines (trace) when passing the spatula or hand blender through. The thin trace is when the batter shows the first emulsion sign and is still very liquid. In this recipe, this is the ideal point to pour the batter into the molds.

How To Store?

During the 4 months of curing of olive oil soap, the soap bars should be stored in a place without direct sunlight and without dampness. The bars must be rotated, so that they can cure evenly.

It is very important to make a label with the date the soap was made and the approximate date of the cure, for better guidance.

The soap should only be wrapped after it has cured, using natural materials. Paper, fabric, cardboard or cotton bags can be used, so that the soap can maintain its quality for a longer time. The first sign that the soap is deteriorating is when yellow stains appear with a rancid odor.

If the soap is used immediately after the cure, it should be placed in soap dishes, so that water can drain and the soap can last longer. If left in water, the soap will easily breakdown.

Some Suggestions To Store Soap

Benefits Of  Olive Oil Soap

Olive oil soap is economical, ecological and healthy, with many benefits for the skin. Because it is made of olive oil it is so natural, and it has moisturizing properties that help to improve the quality of the skin, leaving it smooth, clean, and looking wholesome. It is also eco-friendly with minimum environment impact, also allowing for great savings by not having to buy synthetic products at the supermarket.

Regarding the skin, here are some benefits:

  • Can be used on all skin types. 
  • It is suitable for sensitive skin of babies (and adults too).
  • Soothes irritated skin.
  • Relieves and softens dry skin, improving elasticity.
  • Balances oily skin.
  • Helps in prevention and treatment of some skin problems, such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
  • Can be used to remove gentle make-up.

Materials We Use And Recommend For Their High Quality

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