This refreshing handmade soap smells like walking through a spruce forest on a winter day! Made using the hot process method, it gives a lovely lather with a fresh, clean hand feel.
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This last Christmas, most of my gift-giving centered around hand-crafted things that I really enjoy making. It was such a fun holiday season!
One thing everyone got (from family to friends to the postman), was handmade soap. I made many, many pounds of soap this winter and gave away every last bar of it...and I had so much fun in the process!
I gave myself permission to really play around with various combinations of essential oils, and natural additives for both color, and cleansing properties.
Here are some of my favorites, all lined up and ready to give!
Close friends and family got bars of every kind I made, so it was fun to hear which types of soap were people's favorites!
This Black Spruce soap was a favorite with almost everyone. It's pretty to look at, lathers beautifully, and it smell just so good.
When you close your eyes and take a whiff, it really does make you think you're standing in the middle of bright spruce forest, on a sunny winter day.
Black Spruce has many benefits when it comes to aromatherapy, and just the scent of it has a wonderfully calming, centering effect.
If you like to be intentional about your filling your home with a sense of peace and positivity, this is a soap that will definitely complement that! Traditionally, Black Spruce is also linked to prosperity, which is kind of neat.
This is a recipe that I'm going to be making again and again, and I'm really happy to be able to share it with you!
If you've ever made soap before, this is a really easy recipe. It's a good basic soap recipe that makes a strong, hard bar, with good lathering and cleansing properties.
Never made soap before? That's ok!
Honestly, this recipe is so easy, you'd be fine just going for it. However, you really can't go wrong by jumping over to my friend Heidi's excellent tutorial on hot process soap making, just to get comfortable with the steps involved in soap making.
Once you've got an understanding of how to make soap, this is a REALLY easy beginner recipe to follow!
Some frequently asked questions
Can I substitute different oils for the ones in this recipe?
No. Different oils have different properties, and soap recipes need to be calculated exactly. The amount of lye in this recipe is exactly calculated based on the specific oils listed in the recipe, and substituting could result in an improperly saponified mixture, which could be caustic.
However, if you're talking about swapping out different essential oils, go for it. You can use this basic recipe with any type of essential oil you'd like.
Is this a strongly scented soap recipe?
I tend to make my homemade soaps on the well-scented side. I'd call this one "medium" when it comes to scent level. That said, if you're used to working with fragrance oils rather than essential oils, the scent of this recipe may seem mild. On the other hand, if you're very sensitive to scents, even natural ones, you may want to cut the essential oils in half for a very mildly scented bar.
Can I use this recipe to make cold process soap?
Yes. Most soap recipes can be made using either process. Just don't forget to let it cure fully, for 4-6 weeks.
Do you have any other questions about making this hot process soap recipe? Ask away in the comments below!
Black Spruce Hot Process Soap Recipe
- Crock Pot
- Soap mold
- kitchen scale
- Immersion blender
- safety glasses
- long latex gloves
- non-reactive stirring spoon
- non-reactive measuring containers
- 12 ounces coconut oil
- 12 ounces olive oil
- 4 ounces shea butter
- 4 ounces castor oil
- 12.16 ounces water
- 4.61 ounces lye (sodium hydroxide)
- 1 ounce black spruce essential oil
- .75 ounce fir essential oil
- 4 capsules activated charcoal (or about 1tsp)
Prepare your workspace
- As with all soapmaking sessions, prepare by clearing your workspace and ensuring that you have more than adequate clear counter space. Don't allow pets or children to wander through your work area.
Making this hot process soap recipe
- Start by putting all of the oils/butter into the crockpot. Set it to LOW, and allow it to warm until all of the oils are melted. The shea butter will take longest to melt, and you can give it an occassional stir to help it along.
- Weigh your water into a heat-safe, non-reactive contatiner, with plently of additional room to mix in the lye.
- In another non-reactive container, weigh out the correct amount of lye.
- Slowly pour THE LYE INTO THE WATER (never the other way around), stirring slowly until all of the lye is fully disolved into the water. The lye mixture will immediately begin to warm up. (Unlike with cold process soap, you don't have to wait for the lye mixture to cool to a certain temperature. As long as all of the oils are fully melted, you can actually pour the lye into the oils as soon as it's mixed.)
- Carefully pour the lye mixture into the melted oils.
- As soon as the lye is poured into the melted oils, use an immersion blender to bring the lye and oil mixture to trace. When the mixture reaches trace, you'll know, because it will look like vanilla or butterscotch pudding. When you lift the immersion blender, it will leave a gentle peak in the mixture, and any drops will linger on the surface as little blobs. It REALLY looks like pudding.
- Put on the lid of the crock pot, and let the mixture cook. You'll see the mixture start to get translucent around the edges and start to "crawl" up the side of the crock pot. Definitely give it a stir if it threatens to flow over the edges, and it doesn't hurt to give it the occassional stir even if it doesn't.
- The soap needs to cook until until it's no longer caustic, which takes about 40-50 minutes. It will go through several phases - translucent around the edges, then lumpy and cloudy looking (I've hear this called the "mashed potato stage" and it's really what it looks like!) Then the soap will start to get translucent again. It's a good idea to give the whole thing a stir about once every 10 minutes, to keep it all cooking evenly.
- When the soap starts to get evenly translucent again, you can go ahead and test it. I use the "zap test", recommended by Heidi at Healing Harvest Homestead. Take a little bit of soap between your fingers, and rub it around. Does it feel waxy? If it's feeling waxy, go ahead and touch your tonge to it. If it "zaps" and tingles your tounge, it's not quite done yet, and needs to cook a little longer. If it just tastes like soap. You're ready.
- Once the soap is done, go ahead and turn off the crock pot and remove the lid. Let the soap cool for 5 minutes. You want a little of the heat to escape before adding those wonderful essential oils.
- Add the essential oils. Still well until the mixture is evenly blended.
- To make the darker swirls (Optional. Skip if you don't want swirled soap): Scoop out about 1/4 of the mixture into a 2-cup measuring cup. Add the activate charcoal and mix well until the soap darkens evenly. If you want even darker swirls, it's ok to use more charcoal - just add slowly. A little goes a long way!
- Now, spoon 2/3 of the lighter, main batch of soap into your mold. (This 2lb recipe fits perfectly into a 2lb loaf mold. This is the one I use and love)
- Using a spoon or spatula, add all of the darker soap in blobs onto the soap in the mold. Use the remaining 1/3 of the light soap to fill in around the dark soap. Take a knife, and swirl through the soap--back and forth and accross, until the soap looks nicely swirled. This is really a lot like making a chocolate and vanilla marbled cake, but thicker!
- THEN, lift the soap mold and firmly tap it on the counter several times to release any bubbles, and make sure the soap is well tamped down into every corner of the mold. (I honestly THUMP it really hard on my countertops - it's not very graceful, but does an effective job at getting good solid bars of soap!)
- Now, let the soap just sit and cool for at least 8 hours, before unmolding it. If you really need to rush it, you can put it in the fridge, and get away with unmolding after about 4 hours.
- While the soap is technically read to use right away, I like to let it sit and harden for a day or two after it's unmolded, before slicing the soap loaf. Then, once it's sliced, I usually let the bars of soap sit for another day or two to harden up a little more, before I package them. That said - there's no rush to cut your loaf of soap, and it's actually a great way to store the soap if you're not using right away. You can just leave it as it is, and slice of bars of soap as you need them.
- To make your bar soap last well, be sure to use a well-draining soap dish that lets your bar dry in between washings. Sitting in a puddle of water drastically reduces the life of your soap. Enjoy!
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