I’m a big fan of Shea butter, and while it’s great in body butters, I find I like it best in soap. It’s nicely moisturizing and I find the lather is luxuriously creamy. It’s not a particularly hard fat, so soaps made with Shea tend to need some time to age, but once they do, they’re a thing if beauty.

My first batches of soap were made with Shea butter as the sole “hard” fat. I quickly learned that something a bit sturdier was in order, and I moved onto using beef tallow. But as those first few bars aged over the last 18 months or so, I fell in love with them all over again. Especially this beautiful lavender bar, which not only feels wonderful, but smells amazing (far more amazing than it did when I made it last June).

The unfortunate thing about your favourite soaps is that you use them up, and if time is one of the major ingredients, you’ll soon be out of soap and wondering why you didn’t make a bigger batch. Unfortunately the size of this batch was limited by the amount of coconut oil I had left, so the batch used 800g of oils, which was enough for 18 bars, which is still pretty respectable.

I scented the soap with lemon and cinnamon bark essential oils. It’s wonderfully bright, but also warm and spicy, just like autumn. Yum!

Autumn Shea Soap

40% olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
30% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
10% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
15% beef tallow
5% castor oil (USA / Canada)

30g essential oils of lemon and cinnamon per 500g oils

2020 update: Given the irritation potential for this essential oil blend, I’d recommend using an autumn spice fragrance oil rather than the essential oil blend. Please refer to supplier documentation for maximum usage rates for the particular fragrance oil you’re using when used in soap.

1 tbsp clay per 500g oils

Red and yellow iron oxides

Follow my basic soap making instructions, adding the clay and essential oils at trace. You’ll want a good, thick trace so you can get distinct layers. Divide the soap into thirds. Colour one batch red, one orange (red + orange oxides), and one yellow. Layer them in the mould with the yellow in the middle. Sharply rap the mould on the counter to knock out any air bubbles.