Most soap makers create recipes that balance carefully between cleansing, which usually is accompanied by the abundant bubbles of coconut or palm kernel oil, and moisturizing, which can be gotten through combinations of normal base oils like olive, but also with more luxury oils and butters.
However, some people, young and old, have sensitive skin that can be irritated by the extra cleansing power of coconut and other oils, so will opt for a soap recipe that is more in line with pure castile soap with 100% olive oil, or "bastille" soap that has a preponderance of olive oil, but also includes other oils as well.
This is one of those "bastille" recipes. It contains mostly (70%) olive oil, but gets a bit of lather help from a little bit (15%) of coconut and some castor (5%). It also gets some hardness and a moisturizing boost from some shea butter (10%).
Because the olive oil takes a bit longer to harden in the mold, I recommend using a single cavity mold like this one from Bramble Berry. It allows you to let the soap sit for longer without unmolding it - but if you leave it too long...it's still easy to unmold!
I often add a mild essential oil blend or just a bit of lavender essential oil, but the fragrance would be completely optional. Folks who are sensitive to regular soap are often sensitive to the fragrance oils so they can be left out.
Follow basic soap making procedures - this batch, especially if you leave out any fragrances or colorants, will be especially easy.
For this 12-bar (3.6 pounds) recipe, I used:
- Olive oil 70% (infused or regular) - 28.7 ounces (70%)
- Coconut Oil 15% - 6.2 ounces (15%)
- Shea Butter 10 %- 4.1 ounces (10%)
- Castor Oil 5% - 2.1 ounces (5%)
- Lye - 5.48 ounces - an 8% lye discount (a bit higher than I normally go - but I wanted this soap to be extra mild)
- Water - 10.6 ounces
- Sugar in the lye solution - 2 tsp.
- Salt in the lye solution - 1.5 tsp.
- Fragrance or essential oil (optional) - 1.8 ounces
- Make up your lye solution as you normally would, adding the salt and the sugar to the water before you add the lye. Make sure both the sugar and the salt are completely dissolved before you add the lye. Set the lye solution aside to cool in a safe place.
- Measure out your hard oils and the shea butter and melt them in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Measure out the liquid oils and add them to the melted hard oils. This is a great recipe to use an oil infused with a healing herb like chamomile or lavender. Use the infused oil as you would your normal olive oil.
- When the oils and lye water have cooled to about 100°, it's time to mix. Mix the lye water and the oils together and give it a few short bursts with the stick blender.
- Once you've reached trace, if you are not adding a fragrance or essential oil to the soap, it's time to pour it into the mold. If you're adding a fragrance, add it here and stir well. This would also be the time to add in any additives like chamomile flowers or lavender buds. I generally leave batches of soap like this pretty pure - with no color, additives or fragrances added.
- Pour the soap into your mold, and you're done.
A high olive oil soap like this will be soft initially, but after 4-6 weeks of curing, will get really nice and hard. The lather will be milder and less bubbly than a bar with more coconut oil in it, but this soap will be super mild for sensitive or baby soft skin.