After a few weeks of some fancy-pants, layered-up, Christmas themed soaps, I fancied a bit of a rustic break. A simple to make, quick-to-assemble, low-fuss bar soap made with some lovely oils and butters, lots of creamy clay, and no timers or pomp and circumstance. This is what I devised. It’s a lovely, simple Gentle Hemp and Shea soap that’s perfect for more sensitive skin and skin that just doesn’t get along with these colder, wintry days. You can whip ’em up pretty quickly once the lye water and oils have come to room temperature, and in three weeks you’ll have yourself some slabs of sudsy goodness. Score.
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This Gentle Hemp and Shea Soap gets its lovely, soft green colour from unrefined hemp oil, which is naturally a dark green hue—at just 17% it’s dark enough to tint our entire batch! I love letting the natural colours of oils shine through as it really meshes with my preference for the laziest way to achieve what I want. Score. Other oils I’ve tried this with include sea buckthorn berry oil (the fruit/berry oil is much darker than the seed oil), and buriti. Both are really orangey-red in the bottle, and great for getting varying hues of yellow through orange in soap batters. Buriti is especially potent, so I usually add it like a liquid dye after trace rather than working it into the oil blend from the get-go.
As is becoming normal for me whenever I make soap, I added a lot of white kaolin clay. Yes, I really do mean that much! That is not a typo! I use even more in my Lots and Lots of Clay soap, and I wanted to share this comment from Julie to help convince you how awesome the lots of clay + soap combo is:
“Thank you for posting this recipe. I made a batch of this soap, and after a good long cure, finally started using it last week. Wholly cow! I will now be adding kaolin clay to every recipe I make. I can not believe how creamy and wonderful the lather is! My only problem is that I just can’t stop soaping up my body! It’s like a bubble bath right there in the shower… I don’t usually do such large batches of bar soap because I only make for myself and my loved ones, but I plan to dig out my 3 lb mold and make this soap again in larger quantity. Don’t want to chance running out. Thanks again.”
Once you’ve reached trace, all you’ll need to do is dish out about a quarter of the batter, blend in some titanium dioxide, and then layer the green and white parts in your mould. I scoopy-sculpted up the top into a soap-hawk (soap mohawk!) and topped the whole thing off with some hemp hearts to really seal that hempy deal. And voila. Gentle Hemp and Shea Soap! You should make some 😉
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Gentle Hemp and Shea Soap
Calculate to a 5% superfat
Per 500g (1.1lbs) fats:
- 3 tbsp white kaolin clay
- 1/2 tsp titanium dioxide, dispersed in ~1 tsp of olive oil
- ~1 tbsp hemp hearts
Kick things off by calculating out your recipe for the amount of soap you’re making to get the finite amounts of the fats, lye, and water. Unsure about how to use SoapCalc? I made a video to walk you through it! Please ensure you’re familiar with standard soap making procedure before diving in.
You’ll also want to prepare your mould, and measure out all your additives into small bowls so they’re ready when you need them.
Prepare your soap batter and bring it to trace with your immersion blender. You can use standard cold process soap methods, or room temperature (I used room temperature and that’s what’s in the video). Once you reach relatively light trace, blend in the clay until smooth.
Measure approximately 1/4 of the batter into another bowl—this will be our white middle layer. Add a bit of the titanium dioxide/oil mixture to this part and blend it in, adding more titanium dioxide as required to get a noticeably paler colour; check the video to see what mine looked like.
Once you have a contrasting colour that you like, pour half of the darker green layer into your mould, and smooth that out as best you can. You can rap the mould on the counter to help that happen—I didn’t as I find my dividers tend to slip and fall over if the other half of the mould is empty when I bang it on the counter. Add your pale layer, smooth that out, and top the whole thing off with the remaining dark batter.
Leave the batter to set up a bit for 15–20 minutes, and then sculpty-scoop up the top into a sort of mohawk formation. Sprinkle the hemp hearts down the raised-up centre, cover the soap, and leave it to saponify for 24–36 hours.
Once the soap is done saponifying, remove it from the mould and slice it; you’ll want to slice it from the side, rather than from the top down, so you don’t drag hemp hearts through the soft soap, leaving grooves through it. After that, all that’s left is leaving your soap to age for a minimum of three weeks before using it. Enjoy!