Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Aloe Vera and Cucumber Soap

I have been wanting to make Cucumber soap for quite a while but waited till we had some growing in the garden. As we now have quite a few Suyo Long Cucumbers grown from seeds bought from Green Harvest it was the perfect opportunity to make up a batch based on a recipe in Jan Berry's book Simple and Natural Soapmaking.



 We also have heaps of Aloe vera growing so the first step in the process was to weigh both the Cucumber and Aloe vera ....
 

 ....juice and then strain it to get out the bits and pieces. It was then chilled and was quite a nice green colour but unfortunately once the lye was added ....
 


 ....it turned brown :-( That's the way it is with natural colours much of the time.





First I filled up my favourite moulds...



...and then poured the rest into one of the very first moulds I bought when I started making soap. It is very difficult to get the soap out of these particular moulds even though they are expensive so they need to go into the freezer for a little while to make the process easier.


I had heard that they eventually go brittle and that is what happened which was a shame as the thistle soaps are quite lovely and remind me of my Scottish mum. However, I might be able to cover the mould on the outside with glad wrap to contain the soap batter when I use it again. If you are new to soapmaking the silicone moulds are much easier to use but I didn't realise that when I was starting out. 

If you haven't made soap before and are keen to start this year you might like to read through an old post of mine 'Do you make your own soap?' You can read more about how to make your first batch on Rhonda's blog as she has a number of posts about soap on this page. She does use a Mixmaster in one of those posts but I am pretty sure she would use a stick blender these days as that is the norm for the majority of soapmakers.

 Soap Queen also has a Free Beginners Guide to Soap Making and YouTube videos on the Basics of Cold Process Soapmaking. However, to avoid confusion I found it easier in the beginning to just stick with one set of instructions which were from Rhonda's book 'Down to Earth'. I printed the instructions out and read them through a few times to make sure I understood what to do. The main thing to remember is to add the lye to the water not the other way around and I kept saying to myself  'Add the lye to the water' just in case I forgot. LOL! 




Once you have made your first batch of soap you will have the confidence to keep going. Just treat the lye with respect as you would a hot stove or boiling water and you will be fine. Unless you make a huge mistake, even if your soap doesn't look too wonderful, it probably will be just fine to use once it has cured after six weeks. I didn't start experimenting with scent and colours until I had mastered the basic steps but everyone is different and you might like to start off early in the piece with them  but make sure you do some reading first about how those additives might impact on your soap. 

For those who are interested here is the recipe I used for the Aloe Vera and Cucumber Soap which, as I have mentioned, was based on one in Jan Berry's book. Check out her website as she has lots of good stuff there and the book is excellent too. 

My favourite mould


Aloe Vera and Cucumber Soap

50g chopped Aloe vera
28g chopped cucumber
85g water. More water as needed to bring the total up to 248g
111g lye
1t olive green clay mixed with 1T water
198g coconut oil. I used copha which is made from hydrogenated coconut oil and is cheaper than coconut oil. 
454 olive oil
113g sweet almond oil. Can be replaced by sunflower oil.
28g castor oil. The cheapest place I found to buy castor oil was from N-essentials
25g Lemongrass and Persion Lime Fragrance Oil from Gavin's Little Green Workshops but you could use essential oil instead of course. 

The Spruce has a list of equipment you can buy for making soap.  I wear my glasses and rubber gloves. Accurate scales are essential and a stick blender is a real help but you can use milk containers etc. as moulds so it doesn't have to be an expensive outlay. 

I look forward to hearing how all the beginners are going so do leave a comment down the track so we can all congratulate you! 






17 comments:

  1. I think they are all beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I used your Meddar root soap (I hope I spelled that right) over Christmas, and it was a real treat! I don't know what fragrance you used, but it had a lovely, lingering, subtle smell. Also, were there calendula petals in there? I just wanted you to know I used those ones first, and they were wonderful.

    As I imagine, are your cucumber and aloe soap. Let us know when you get to use them, if they're softer than your normal soaps. Because I imagine the aloe and cucumber have a soothing effect, which are their natural properties. I love aloe gel, and glad to have an infestation of aloe plants growing here!

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    1. Chris the soap with the madder root had a combination of scents as I had a little bit left of a few scents. I can't remember what other ones I gave you but I do have some soaps with calendula petals in them so probably gave you a sample of them. Glad you liked them.

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  3. as usual they look great! pity about the colour being lost in the lye but they still look good, bet they will be so soothing to use!
    thanx for sharing

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    Replies
    1. Yes I imagine they would feel nice on the skin, Selina. It is interesting to use different soaps as some feel more luxurious than others depending on the oils used.

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  4. Replies
    1. Looking forward to seeing your first batch, Jenny.

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  5. Nanna Chel,
    Soap making has been on my to do list for a while. I've only made re-milled soap ( grated re-batched soap). I'll get to try it eventually. I have one of Jan Berry's books 101 easy homemade products. Very good read so far.
    Hope you are enjoying the cooler weather.
    -Shiralee.

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    Replies
    1. Shiralee, I have that book too but I like the new one even better as it is full of soap recipes with ingredients that are easy to get in Australia.

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  6. I’ve seen that mold in Micheal’s. If it ever stops snowing and blowing, I hope to go buy it. (With a coupon, of course!) I usually go with a basic slab and slice it.
    I have Jan Berry’s new book; wonderful! I’ve been making soaps for over twenty years. In the past few years, i’ve started adding more plant material and different oils. This old dog is learning new tricks! You do a great job of explaining what you’re up to and the highs and lows of the process. Soapmaking is definitely an addiction!
    Debbie

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    1. Hi Debbie. Yes it can become addictive I must say. I like experimenting with plant materials and hope to experiment with a couple of other recipes in Jan's book using tomatoes etc.

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  7. Oh I've been wanting to try that recipe! I actually love the colour :)

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  8. The colour isn't too bad, Liz. As you know it will fade like the spirulina. Next time I buy a green clay I will get a different one though.

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  9. Your new look blog page looks great Chel. I intend to try soapmaking this year, but I think I need to wait for the weather to cool down until after Easter. I like the idea of using cucumber and aloe vera, but what a shame the colour changes, although your soaps always look professional. Pauline.

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  10. I intend to try soap making this year. I've added it to my list of "things to make", which also includes candles. Cheers Lyndie

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