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 fruit 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 white kaolin clay (USA / Canada). 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
10% unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)
30% beef tallow or lard (why?)
25% refined coconut oil (USA / Canada)
5% castor oil
17% hemp seed oil (you want the dark green stuff)
13% olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
Calculate to a 5% superfat
Per 500g (1.1lbs) fats:
- 3 tbsp white white kaolin clay (USA / Canada)
- 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!
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I cannot thank you enough for you wonderful blog but in particularly for this recipe, it’s so simple by yet gorgeous. I do have a technical question regarding hemp oil. Since this is an oil that is quite delicate, is this an ingredient that you would recommend using in hot process soap? or it’s best to stick to the cold process one? thanks
Honestly, both hot and cold process soap is hard on all the ingredients that go through saponification—hot process soap is going to be a bit harder because of the higher temps, but I wouldn’t count on the delicate aspects of any ingredient surviving saponification.
More clay! More clay! More clay!
I just ordered a few kilos of kaolin clay as I usually put about 5tbsp per 500g of soap that I am not doing funky things with. And if I am doing funky things with it, I go for 3tbsp.
Love the clay!
Yeahhhh, clay. Swoon.
Do you always put your clay in at trace? I’ve heard many people put the clay in before the lye and I’ve also read that people put clay into the lye water. What do you recommend as a standard practice? And, why? I’d really appreciate a response, as I’m a bit baffled that it will work all three ways. Could it be that certain clays, like rose clay, give better color when put into the lye water? Also, while we’re on the subject of clays, is there a bentonite recipe you’d recommend that’s good for shaving? Thanks SO much for your time! You’re always so incredibly considerate about writing back!
I’ve done all three (lye water, fats, trace) and all work well with no noticeable difference in the end product. The biggest difference is whether you add the clay before or after trace—if you blend it in after reaching trace, the batter will continue to thicken from blending in the clay, so that’s not a great choice for soaps that require a very thin trace. However, if you’re new to soap making and not super familiar with trace you might find adding the clay before trace obscures your ability to recognize trace, so adding it post-trace might work better for you.
I’m afraid I haven’t soaped with bentonite 🙂
Where do you find the spatulas that are long and skinny? They look very useful. Thank you! I love watching your videos!
You can get them on Amazon! I love ’em 😀
Thanks so much!
I have difficulties finding some of the ingredients, like titanium dioxide…..and if I find it, they do not ship to Bulgaria……So, can I miss it or can I use food colorings?
You can leave it out, but you will not get that white layer in the middle. Don’t use food colouring, we have no way to know how that’ll react during saponification and you could get a totally different colour.
Hi Ivelina! Somebody did this for me a few years ago, so now it’s my turn! I’d be happy to send you some Titianium Dioxide if you would be ok with it. Let me know!
It’s a very generous gesture. I’ll be very happy if you do that. Give me your e-mail and I’ll send you all the info you need. Mine is email@example.com
p.s. I’ll be glad for even a online shop that ships internationally and it doesn’t cost a fortune.
A fellow Bulgarian cosmetics enthusiast 🙂 I have been using this online shop and it seems to have a great selection of ingredients: http://domashensapun.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&view=productdetails&virtuemart_product_id=140&virtuemart_category_id=17#tab_1
Hope this helps!
Marie, I love love LOVE your blog – I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe!
Thanks, Lina! I’ve added this site to my big list as well 🙂
You’re awesome, Penny!
Hi, I’ve made a couple batches of this soap, but find that after several months or a year the soap starts turning a little brown. Is this from the hemp seed oil? Thanks in advance!
Yup, I had the same thing happen to me and the only consistent variable between this bar and others that don’t get spots or brown bits is the hemp seed oil 🙂
I am trying to formulate a hemp soap to sell and was wondering if the turning brown of the soap enough to effect sales? Thank you.
Thank you so much for your fab recipes. I’m a newbie soaper, and am planning on making this, but I just wondered what the titanium dioxide is ‘for’? Is it merely cosmetic, or does it fulfil another purpose (like being good for skin?!)…and can I replace the kaolin with bentonite clay (I haven’t got any kaolin, but have bentonite here). Thank you!
Hey Rebecca! The TD is purely cosmetic. I never recommend replacing kaolin with bentonite or vice versa and I made a video to show you why 🙂 Happy soaping!
i just made this today. . .and oh no. ..i have a few questions. this “set up” much faster than i expected. i followed your instructions to the letter so i’m at a loss. i used “white cosmetic clay” (from mt. rose) instead of kaolin. could that have anything to do with it? also needed to stick blend quite a bit to get the clay well mixed (no lumps). i’m sure that accelerated trace but what to do instead. when you poured yours into the mold it was just right. mine had to be spooned and spread. any thoughts? i also soaped at room temp (well. . . both were at 94). degrees)
Hey! You snuck the key part in right at the end there 😉 The big thing about “room temperature” soaping is that you are working at, well, room temperature… and unless you live in the Australian outback with no air conditioning, 94°F is not room temperature! And even if you did, that would still be too hot—you want something closer to 70°F. The hotter your soap, the faster everything happens. Try soaping at true room temperature, it should work better 🙂
Hi, This soap is gorgeous. Could extra virgin or plain olive oil be used in place of the olive oil pomace? Thanks so much for any help.
Cant’ wait to try this. Thanks for posting the recipe.
Definitely, but it is more expensive 🙂 Happy making!
THANK YOU- that’s the answer!!
also i wrote to you some time back and asked if you would help me with a lip balm “hack.” dr. hauschka makes the best lip balm ever but i’m at a loss as to how to (re) formulate it. I’d love you to take a look
I got it, and it’s in my massive box of recipe requests. With recipe requests, I’ll either post a blog on it, or not, but I don’t have the time to develop recipes that I’m not going to publish. I also get hundreds of recipe requests and have my own ideas that I want to work on, so even if I do publish it, it could be quite a while; next month I’m publishing a recipe request from 2014! Sorry, but that adage of “free, good, fast—pick 2” definitely comes into play here 🙂 You can always try it yourself, taking a recipe you like and adjusting the ingredients until you end up with something you like—less wax/more wax, a different liquid oil, etc. 🙂
THANK YOU again and understood.
Just one more question about the soaping at room temp thing. . .if you choose not to soap at room temp. and go back to the “old” method, you mix when your oils and lye are at roughly the same temp. This is what I did only the temps were much lower than the “traditional” method. I wonder, then, what the science is about that. Is it that you must either soap when the oils and lye are really warm or really cool (room temp), but not in between? If so, I wonder why.
Honestly, it’s all about the recipe and really has nothing to do with the temperature needing to be either high or low, but not in the middle. This recipe is fast-tracing, thanks to all the shea and tallow. If you want to work with hotter temperatures and a thinner batter, this is not the soap base for that; I’ve had to adjust my base recipe to eliminate the shea for the fancier soaps I’ve been experimenting with lately. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the great recipe. I changed up the oil percentages a bit (ran everything through the soap calc) and added powdered goat milk. I also scented it with Eucalyptus EO and Peppermint EO. It was my first ever soap and it turned out great. Can’t wait to make more!
Woohoo! Congrats on your first batch of soap 🙂 I hope you enjoy it, and may those three weeks of aging time pass quickly 😉 Thanks for reading and DIYing with me!
Hey Marie! I’ve read about why I should use tallow instead of some other ”hard” oils but I still somehow don’t feel like (yet) – maybe in some time, thank you for broadening my horizons anyway.;-) What do you think about taking 40% shea butter (instead of 30% of beef tallow used in the recipe) and using some of sodium lactate which you use in some soap recipes to harden the bars? If you think that could work, how much of tha latter should I use? Thank you so much for your answer. All the best, leeloohla
Hey! I highly recommend running that through Soap Calc and watching the “hardness” numbers, tweaking away to get something within the recommended range 🙂 You might also want to leave it to age for longer; you can make almost any soap recipe work in that sense if you let it age long enough!
Just wondering where you age your soap. Would a temperature regulated wine room be a good place? Thanks!
I age mine in my basement, which is dry and cool. Assuming your wine room is very dry, that would be a good place 🙂
I made this soap a couple of days ago, but I changed something. I used Rhassoul clay instead, and didn’t use TD. Needless to say my bars don’t look like yours (yours look so classy!), but I don’t see that as a problem. I followed the link to the store for this soap, and when I read the ingredients list I noticed that sunflower and soybean oils are listed but they are not part of your recipe above. What difference do they make in the soap?
The biggest difference they make is using up my sunflower and soybean oils 😛 I’ve made the bars both way and noticed no difference.
I cant figure out the weight of each thing or do you take the 1.1 pounds and calculate 10% percent or the other amounts for this recip. Also what amount of lie. Please help because I would really like to make this recipe.
I’ve got an FAQ for you 🙂
How long does this soap have to stay in the mold before it is ready to cut?
24 hours should be fine 🙂
I’m trolling through recipes that include clay and I’m having difficulties. I find that the soap ends up kinda grainy when cut. I’ve tried dispersing the clay in water but still only a little better. It goes hard quickly in the recipe I’ve don and easy out of Mould in about 8 hours. I also stamp my soap and I find it grainy and sticks to the stamp and so I can’t put my mark on the soap… I’ll be catching up with you in Australia soon and was going to ask then bu can’t wait… what do you suggest? Susanne
What kind of clay are you using? This sounds like it might be bentonite, or something significantly more absorbent than kaolin? Are you doing a water reduction in the soap?
I’m using Australian kaolin clay … trying to use Australian stuff
Hmm. Is there a chance the soap is lye heavy? Or perhaps a false trace or very cool temps?
It’s not lye heavy it tests at a0h of 8%….. I put in two teaspoons of clay but didn’t disperse clay I. Water …. it’s funny cause once cut it washes up smooth but I can’t stamp it … soap is amazing …. I put in a whole banana and honey do you think that could dry it? It’s basically only a cutting problem and stamping…. so frustrating cause I’m in love with the clay
I suspect it’s the honey and the banana; both would have quite a lot of sugar in them, which would cause the soap to heat up—I’ve definitely made very crumbly soap with honey in it, and the honey was the culprit!
Titanium dioxide? Are you nuts? https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/01/20/titanium-dioxide-nanoparticles-health-risks.aspx
If you read the article you’ve linked more closely you will see that it is the NANOPARTICLES that is the problem, not the titanium dioxide. This recipe (and all my recipes) use NON-NANO titanium dioxide. One should avoid inhaling insoluble nanoparticles of any variety. You can read more here.
Can I add sodium lactate to the lye water? Am really looking forward to making this!
Yup, that’s exactly where you’d want it 🙂 Happy soaping!
So fun fact – I made a version of this soap (this exact recipe except I used palm oil instead of tallow) and found that it got orange spots pretty quickly. DOS, dreaded orange spots – you know the ones. I made a lot of batches of soap around the same time with the same conditions and set of ingredients, and this was the only one that got that way. Maybe the high percentage hemp oil did it?
I very much enjoy your blog, by the way. Lovely pictures.
It’s definitely the hemp oil; I’ve found that unless the hemp oil is very fresh it’s hard to get more than a year shelf life out of these bars.
Thank you for a great tutorial. I was just wondering if you could substitute green European clay powder to add more green color?
You could, but you wouldn’t want to put it in the middle section since that’s supposed to be not-green 😛
Lovely looking recipe – thank you.
I have a lot of hemp seed oil so would really like to make this but I can’t get hold of any kaolin clay right now. Can I leave it out or instead use either bentonite clay. green cosmetic clay or dead sea mud?
If you need to swap out the clay you’ll really want to use a clay with a similar consistency to kaolin—something like French green or zeolite. Bentonite clay is MUCH more absorbent than kaolin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRqdFwwAaR0), and dead sea mud isn’t really well suited at all. I don’t know what sort of “green cosmetic clay” you have—if it’s French green, that’ll work. Otherwise, just leave the clay out 🙂
Thank you for posting your recipes! I made this soap and it came out perfect. Your recipe was well written and easy to follow.
I’m thrilled to hear it! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
I about to try this for the first time . Im so excited i can find the grams of lye and water anywhere could you please help?
You’ll need to calculate it yourself—it’s the first step of the instructions 🙂 It’s really simple though, I swear—watch the video to see how. Happy making!
What can I use to replace tallow please? I do not use animal fat.
This question is answered both in the FAQ (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/faq/) and the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) entry on tallow 🙂
I see that you use clay in a lot of your soaps. Is there a reason for that? Could it dry out a very sensitive skin? I’m not sure if I could just leave it out.