Today’s a project is a simple, no-heat hand wash that I’m making 500g at a time these days because I can’t seem to keep hand wash around for long. There are just six ingredients, and since nothing needs to be heated up it’s a very easy weigh-mix-voila project—perfect if you’ve just run out of hand wash and need more, stat!
Our surfactant blend is simple and gentle; non-ionic Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside and amphoteric Cocamidopropyl Betaine—both coconut derived surfactants. They come together to create a mild, bubbly blend with a naturally skin-friendly pH. We blend surfactants with different charges to create a more gentle end product, which is why there are two surfactants here. If you don’t have Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside you could use coco glucoside instead, but you’ll need to adjust the pH of the end product. The pH of Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside is 5.5–6, while the pH of coco glucoside is 11.5–12.5. We want the pH of our end product to be around 6, so you will need to adjust the pH downwards if you use coco glucoside.
After our surfactant blend we’ve got some moisturizing glycerin and a whole lot of water (making this a pretty inexpensive recipe to make, too). We’ll top that off with our preservative and something that smells pretty. Mine is scented with a juicy, fresh citrus medley fragrance oil called “Citrus Mist“. You could also use a blend of citrus essential oils, like tangerine, lemon, mandarin, orange, and lime, but you’re also welcome to further mix it up if citrus isn’t your thing. It’s up to you! Just keep in mind that altering the fragrance or essential oil blend can impact the thickening of the end product, so make sure you’re adding your scent before you start thickening.
In addition to being a gentle surfactant, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside is also quite a good solubilizer, so that’s what is doing the majority of the work keeping our fragrance or essential oil blend solubilized in the hand wash. If you choose a different surfactant (like coco glucoside) you’ll likely need to incorporate an additional solubilizer, like polysorbate 20, so keep your scent blend thoroughly incorporated.
The whole lot is thickened with Crothix before transferring it to two 240mL (8 fl oz) pump-top bottles. If you don’t want to thicken the hand wash you can pour it straight into foamer bottles, and that’ll work beautifully as well! All in all, if you need a lovely, gentle, effective hand wash ASAP, this recipe is right up your alley. Happy sudsing!
Citrus Burst Hand Wash
50g | 10% vegetable glycerine
342.5g | 68.5% distilled water
Weigh the surfactants into a 1L (4 cup) glass measuring cup. Gently stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate. Add the glycerin, stir, and then add the water in two or three additions, gently stirring between additions.
To weigh out the fragrance and preservative you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to at least e0.1g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of hand wash on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a couple tablespoons of the hand wash, and then weigh the fragrance and preservative into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of hand wash. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of fragrance and preservative lost to the secondary container.
Now it’s time to thicken! You’ll want to add the Crothix a wee bit at a time (5g or so), gently stirring between additions to incorporate, and leaving it to sit for 5–10 minutes between additions to ensure you’re getting an accurate idea of how much thickening has happened. I ended up needing 14g Crothix for this version of the recipe, but a version I made a few months ago with a different fragrance needed 26g, and the only difference between the batches was the fragrance.
Once you’ve achieved the thickness level you want, transfer the hand wash to a pump-top bottle or two. I used two black 240mL (8 fl oz) pump-top bottles from Voyageur. I bought a dozen of these bottles over a year ago thinking they’d be amazing, but it turns out I like to be able to see into my bottles—at least a little—so I haven’t been all that smitten with them. They do look pretty sleek on my bathroom counter, though.
Because this hand wash contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project is likely to eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 500g.
- You can use coco glucoside instead of caprylyl/capryl glucoside, but you will need to adjust the pH of the end product (read the post for details)
- If you use coco glucoside instead of caprylyl/capryl glucoside you will also likely need to incorporate an additional solubilizer, like polysorbate 20, to keep the fragrance/essential oils solubilized. Start with approximately twice as much solubilizer as the scent blend, removing that amount from the distilled water.
- You could use ~20% hydrosol in place of some of the distilled water
- Feel free to scent as you want; just keep in mind that the amount of Crothix you need can change with the fragrance/essential oil blend you choose.