I eagerly awaited the right time of the year to make my olive oil soap, having put to one side some dregs of oil from the bottom of one of our barrels, and then missed it by a couple of months!
You can also use old frying pan oil, any which you would normally throw away. I would hesitate to use any oil that I`d fried fish in though!
September is the usual time of the year for making the soap, being the ideal temperature to mature afterwards. I`m a little late, but all it will mean, is that my soap will require more maturing time.
I used the “cold method”
3 kilos of olive oil
1050 gr of water preferably distilled
387 gr caustic soda
30 drops essential oil, or dried herbs of your choice
It is preferable that the procedure is carried out outdoors and you wear gloves and goggles.
First prepare your mould. You can use an old wooden drawer, or crate. I lined mine with some old material. This allows the excess liquid to drain off. Place the mould in a position which will prevent any drips coming into contact with your feet or legs when you pour in the mixture.
Measure out the ingredients into independent utensils. Sieving the oil for impurities. In a stainless steel pan or bowl, dissolve the caustic soda into the water, using a wooden spoon or stick. (The caustic soda will eat away at your spoon, so make sure it`s not your best one. I`ve been told you can use silicon utensils, but haven`t put this to the test). The mixture of water and soda will generate heat. Leave the mixture to cool down to tepid.
Pour this mix carefully into the container where you have the olive oil, avoid inhaling any of the fumes, stirring continuously and thoroughly, up to the edges and corners of the container. Keep stirring as you add your chosen essential oil or flavourings, until the mixture becomes thicker than porridge and pulls away from the edge of the container slightly.
Pour this mixture into the prepared mould and allow to stand to set for a while. You can sprinkle extra essential oil over the surface if you want. When you are sure there are no further drips, move the mould to a sheltered room, with no direct sun or breeze and leave for a couple of days. When it has set further, carefully lift the soap out using the material. If the mixture allows you to cut into soap sized pieces, then do so, otherwise check again in a couple of days. Once cut into pieces, leave to mature.
The time required will be dependent on the overall temperature and atmosphere of the storing place. It will usually be always more than 5 weeks and could possibly take 12 weeks.
Freshly made soap is unsuitable for use because it still holds caustic soda and will sting the skin.
As the soap is maturing, it will develop a white powderish coating, which is the soda, and is a sign that the soap is almost ready. The soap will improve with age.