Castile Soap

Castile soap, which originates from the Castile region of Spain, is a type of soap made from plant oils. It is a “true soap” and not simply a chemical detergent. It’s sensitive on skin, it’s bio-degradable and Earth-friendly making it a wonderful product to use when making your own household products.

Castile soap is incredibly versatile and can be used as a major ingredient to make all kinds of products, from natural beauty items to natural cleaning supplies.

On this page, I will reveal how you can ditch many of the most toxic products in your home and replace them with Castile soap, plus a few other natural ingredients, for  cheaper, more natural alternatives.

I have learnt how to make my own Castile soap using olive oil and distilled water which can be found in the next few pages. Making your own soap is both cost effective, extremely therapeutic and provides endless presents for friends, family as well as cleaning products for your home, all natural and environmentally safe.  What more could a modern Eco warrior ask for?

However, I am still perfecting my soap making and I still regularly give my whole family a luxury by treating us to one of Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap bottles, my favourite is lavender.   Not only is the soap magnificent and versatile I love its marketing and the positive words on the packaging.  It’s not the cheapest but it’s well worth the buy in my eyes especially as it can be watered down for hand wash purposes.

There are other good natural and oil soaps that have not had chemicals, perfumes or other nastiness added. Etsy has some great natural products and if you look hard you can find them.  Be aware of labelling, learn what is normally added and before making a purchase study the ingredients.  There are loads of organic stores selling products that are not totally organic or all natural.  The legal requirement for organic product labelling is to have ten percent organic ingredient in the product.  That is it, so beware.

Here are all the things you can make using Castile soap:

  • Hand Wash
  • Homemade Laundry Detergent
  • Homemade Dishwasher Soap
  • Homemade All Purpose Cleaner
  • Homemade Glass Cleaner
  • Homemade Tub Scrub
  • Homemade Face Wash
  • Homemade Shampoo
  • Homemade Hand Soap
  • Homemade Dog Shampoo

How to make your own Castile Soap Bar:

A lot of the recipes above require liquid castile soap so you can simply grate your Castile bar and mix with hot water for the uses as above or make your own. Below are recipes for both bars and liquid.

How to make Castile Soap

Here are the basics:

Most important is that you ensure you have the right balance of lye and oil.  The type of oil is also important.  Ensuring the correct combination of these two ingredients will make the soap harden and lather with the correct acid/alkaline balance.  1 is most acidic, 7 is neutral and 14 is most alkaline.  You can purchase a pH meter from farm or garden shops and test your soap as it dries out.  When you first make it, it will be extremely alkaline due to the caustic soda but this drops as it sets.

The recipe will make approximately 12 bars. I have suggested a list of essential oils which you can choose from to add to provide fragrance to the bars.

What you will need:

565 ml / 1 pint organic olive oil

376 / 13 fl oz coconut oil

250 ml /9 fl oz cooled boiled or distilled water

125 g /4.5 oz caustic soda (lye crystals)

Good quality plastic gloves

Protective goggles and apron

Food thermometer

Tough plastic bin liners to protect your work surface

Measuring jug

Long-handled wooden spoon

Old stainless steel pan, with the capacity to at least hold 2 litres/ 1 ¾ pints

Large glass or stainless steel bowl of the same capacity

Metal whisk

Smaller bowls for mixing your fragrances

Stainless steel flat dishes, trays or moulds at least 5 cm/2 inch deep pre-greased with olive oil

What to do:

To make the lye mixture, pour the water into the glass or stainless steel bowl.  Using the wooden spoon, mix the caustic soda with the water until the crystals have dissolved. Always add the caustic soda to the water and not the other way round.  Leave to cool.

Measure out the oils and put them in a separate pan over a low heat.  Heat the mixture until the temperature reaches 60°C (140F).

Add the cooled lye mixture to the hot oil and stir with the wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed.  Beat the mixture for approximate 20 seconds with the metal whisk.  The consistency should now be similar to that of thick custard so that if a line is drawn on the surface it will remain.

To fragrance the soap base you add essential oils at the end of the soap making process as your soap is cooling down.  Divide the base mixture into the required quantities of your choosing. For example, if you want two different varieties of soap, separate the mixture into two different bowls adding your essential oils stirring and smelling until you have your desired fragrance and properties.  Then pour or spoon the mixture into the pre-greased flat moulds or dishes. Cover with a cloth and leave to set for 24 hours.

While the soap is still soft enough to cut, you now need to divide it into the size of bars you want.  Wearing plastic gloves, remove the partially hardened soap from the moulds and separate into the size of bars you require using a cheese wire or knife. Arrange on trays and leave to dry out and harden fully.  This will take several weeks. During this time the pH value of the soap will drop, becoming more neutral and hence milder.  You may find that a whitish residue appears on the surface of the soap.  This can easily be scrapped off if desired.  The soap will continue to dry out for several months, depending on the weather, but the reduction of the pH value will slow down and remain stable after a few weeks.

Fragrance suggestions:

Refreshing Bar:

15 drops of lemon essential oil, 15 drops of grapefruit oil, 15 drops of citronella essential oil

Chill Bar:

40 drops of lavender essential oil, 16 drops of rose absolute, 5 drops marjoram essential oil.

Awake Bar:

1 tsp neem oil, 5 drops of Propolis tincture, 30 drops of lemon essential Oil, 40 drops of Palmarosa essential oil and, if you like, add 3 teabags of green tea (steeped at the boiled water stage).

Garden Clean-up Bar:

1 tbsp green clay, 4 crushed spirulina tablets, 1 tbsp bran or oatmeal & 30 drops of rosemary essential oil.

Going Out Bar:

10 ml/2 tsp avocado oil, 12 drops ylang ylang essential oil, 12 drops of geranium essential oil, 12 drops of clary sage essential oil, 5 drops of rose absolute 1 tbsp vanilla extract (this is optional for a black colouring).

Gentle Bar:

10 ml/2 tsp candula macerate, 25 drops of chamomile essential oil, 10 drops of lavender essential oil and 5 ml/1 tbsp evening primrose oil.

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