Thursday, 20 February 2014

A new soap experiment

Since I started making my own soap I have always wanted to experiment with adding oats but wasn't sure how to do that and, having had success with using olive oil, rice bran oil and copha I simply used the same tried and true recipe most of the time. However, I did try something different with my last batch and made Castile Bubbles using olive oil and castor oil. That batch is now ready to use after six weeks so it was soap making time this week.

 When I need advice about soap making, growing plants, herbs, cooking etc. I usually ask the members on the Down to Earth Simple Living Forums as there is a wealth of information there. So when I asked about adding oats to my soap, Sandy, one of the very experienced soap makers advised me to add it to my soap at trace. Sandy makes fabulous soap and is registered to sell it so if you would like to buy home made soap check out her Facebook page Soap by Sandy or, if you are like me and have never signed up with Facebook, you could email her at I just had a look at the photos of Sandy's soap and realise I have a long way to go to turn out beautiful looking soaps like that.

Anyway, we all have to start somewhere don't we.... so back to the soapmaking experiment. After discussing some issues regarding the amount of lye I used in the soap recipe I posted on the forum, it seemed that there was a discrepancy in the one I had been using and, instead of using the 230g of lye as it says in the recipe, it should have been 203g. I hadn't actually had any problems with my soap using the larger amount but thought I'd give 203g a try.

 So I added the lye to the water as per usual ....

...heated up the oils...

...and added the rolled oats that I had ground up in the food processor when it got to trace. I don't know if it was because of the smaller amount of lye or because of the humidity which I believe can effect soap, but it seemed to take longer to get to trace and then I may have ended up beating it a bit longer than was necessary before adding the oats.  Oops!

 The moulds were then filled up and wrapped in towels overnight.  (Sorry about the photos but the kitchen is no photo studio)!

Oatmeal soap, Castile Bubbles, Calendula soap

On turning out the moulds the next day I was quite surprised to see how brown the soap was. It also felt oily at first but has since dried out a little. I noticed that when I made the Castile Bubbles the soap also felt quite different from the previous soaps I had made using the additional oils

So it's all a learning curve and it will be interesting to use the soap when it has dried out in six weeks time. Lately I have been using the silicone moulds as it is a breeze to get the soap out of them but, as I had bought a couple of the more expensive moulds a while back, I used one of those for a change.

With these moulds though it is necessary to put them in the freezer for a while in order to get the soap out. I didn't read the instructions before using them for the first time and, when I couldn't get the soap out, I took to them with a knife and nearly wrecked them. It does help to read the instructions sometimes. :-) 

I know there are a few beginner soap makers out there like myself and maybe if we keep on practising we might end up making soaps like Sandy does one day. One can only hope eh? Check out her black oats soap! Amazing!

If anyone is interested, this is the recipe I used:

Oatmeal soap

600g   rice bran oil
460g   olive oil
440g   copha
570ml water
203g   caustic soda
1 1/2c ground rolled outs (added at trace)

I will add this recipe to the others on this page so that all my recipes are on the same page which also helps me if I can't find my hard copy. My next attempt will be making soap using goat's milk. Have you tried making soap yet? Go adventurous like me! :-)


  1. Thanks Nanna Chel, My first batch of soap is in use at present. It was a trial so no fragrances or pretty moulds. It smells a bit rancid when its dry but when in use it is lovely. I'll have another go and try some of your alternatives next time.

    1. Barb, I have never added essential oils to mine for fragrance. I don't think the men would like that. :-) Mine is always fairly plain.

  2. I see you use copra in your soap, I have only used coconut oil. I too put 230grs in my soap so next time I might try the 203. Why are you putting oats in your soap does it work as a scrub...they all look so nice

  3. Mandy, Copha is hydrogenated coconut oil and I read on Rhonda's blog that she had started using it instead of the normal coconut oil as it had become so expensive. The 230g was in her book. We have had a discussion about this on the DTE forum and apparently it was meant to be 203g and then she changed it to 213g for the reprint but apparently the 230g will result in a harder soap so I will go back to that as I found this last batch a bit soft and had an oily feel. I know it isn't a good time to make soap when it is very humid or rainy. The soap is a lot drier today thankfully.

    1. Mandy, I forgot to add that the oats act as a skin soother apparently.

  4. Thank you for the encouragement. I'm not making my own soap yet; still taking baby steps with other things ( like growing food, baking and crocheting). But I know I will eventually get there. Once something has become part of my routine, i will be able to easily add a new aspect of simple living.

    1. Damaria, I am sure you will enjoy making soap when you get around to it. It is a lot of fun.

  5. This is such an informative post - thank you for sharing your journey. Soap making is one of the few things of this genre I haven't tried yet but you made it look very easy!

    1. Hannah, as long as you are careful with the caustic soda and take the necessary precautions it is easy to do. My soaps are very basic so they aren't hard to make. Give it a try sometime.


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