What could possibly be hiding in this DIY soap?
Today, we are delighted to introduce you to an absolutely Loofabulous homemade soap! At first glance, it looks like a classic bar of soap, with pretty swirls reminiscent of hibiscus flowers and a gentle floral scent. But after a few uses, you’ll discover that it holds a little secret: an exfoliating loofah sponge! What a wonderful surprise!
We love this soap recipe because it offers a welcome change from the usual exfoliating ingredients, like coffee or plant seeds. What’s more, loofah sponges are natural and biodegradable, as well as being gentle and non-damaging. Since it’s important to be kind to your skin whenever you exfoliate, we chose vegetable oils that yield a lovely lather that’s oh-so-gentle on your skin.
Try it and you’ll see: this homemade soap is a Loofabulous pleasure!
How to make soap with a loofah
Before you begin
- This recipe calls for a loofah sponge, which needs to be rehydrated before use. We recommend doing steps 1 and 2—rehydration, cutting, and re-drying—the day before you plan on making your soaps, so that the sponge has time to fully dry out again after rehydration.
- This homemade soap uses hibiscus aromatic essence. Since this aromatic essence speeds up trace, you’ll be working at extra-low temperatures, around 25–30°C. You’ll also use the immersion blender as little as possible, to help slow the appearance of trace.
- This recipe uses mini measuring spoons. Each quantity listed in all caps (DASH, SMIDGEN, etc.), corresponds with one of the measurements listed on the mini measuring spoon set.
Sodium hydroxide solution
Oil and butter mixture
- 105 g (15.16%) coconut oil
- 66 g (9.53%) castor oil
- 190 g (27.44%) olive oil
- 66 g (9.53%) avocado oil
Scents and additives
- 3 g (0.43%) titanium dioxide
Light red soap
Deep red soap
- Small stainless steel bowl
- Large stainless steel bowl
- A spray bottle containing 70% isopropyl alcohol
- Components to make a double boiler
- Three small silicone spatulas
- Regular-sized silicone spatula
- Scale, accurate to 0.1 g
- Immersion blender
- Three measuring funnel pitchers
- Personal protective gear
- Large Pyrex cup or high density polyethylene (HDPE) jar for the sodium hydroxide solution (minimum capacity of 500 ml)
- A jar, for weighing the sodium hydroxide
- Rectangular silicone molds
- Set of five mini measuring spoons (for quantities given as PINCH, DASH, and SMIDGEN)
Good to know!
- The saponified oils provide your homemade soap with these wonderful properties:
- Coconut oil hardens your soap, cleanses, and provides great lather.
- Olive oil makes this soap very mild on your skin.
- Castor oil makes the soap milder and adds stability and creaminess to the lather.
- Avocado oil makes your soap mild on your skin.
- Because you’ll be hiding a loofah sponge in this soap, you’ll have to work at light trace and stick close to the surface of the soap when creating your swirls. This is to help prevent air bubbles from forming. If they do form in spite of your best efforts, don’t worry. It’s merely an aesthetic concern and your soap will be just as good to use.
- This soap recipe uses a 3-to-1 ratio of water to sodium hydroxide. This helps slow down trace, which is necessary because the recipe uses an aromatic essence that speeds it up. However, this high ratio of water to sodium hydroxide means that you’ll have to wait longer to unmold the soap and that it will take longer to cure. This soap is superfatted at 8% through the “lye discount” method, which involves reducing the volume of sodium hydroxide.
Steps to follow
- Soak a piece of loofah sponge in water to rehydrate it. Once it’s expanded, cut it into pieces that will fit into your molds. Here, we cut our sponge into four rectangles measuring 7 cm by 5 cm.
- Leave the loofah sponge to dry. If it’s not flat and doesn’t sit nicely at the bottom of the mold, set it under a weighted-down board; place books on top of a cutting board, for example.
- The following day, prepare and disinfect your equipment and workspace.
- Take the necessary precautions for handling sodium hydroxide safely.
- Spray your sponges with a bit of isopropyl alcohol and set them in the molds.
- Prepare the sodium hydroxide solution: weigh the water in a Pyrex measuring cup or HDPE jar, weigh the sodium hydroxide, pour the sodium hydroxide into the water, mix well, and set aside to cool.
- Weigh the coconut oil in the small bowl and melt it on the double boiler. Once it has melted, remove the bowl from the heat.
- Weigh the rest of the oils (olive, castor, and avocado) in the large stainless steel bowl. Add the melted coconut oil to the large bowl. Mix well.
- Weigh the colourants in the three measuring funnel pitchers, one colour per pitcher.
- Add one tablespoon of the oil mixture (from step 8) to each pitcher. Disperse the colourants thoroughly using a small spatula. We recommend having one small spatula for each measuring funnel pitcher to avoid mixing the colours.
- When the oil mixture and the sodium hydroxide solution have both cooled to 25–30°C, pour the sodium hydroxide solution into the oils.
- Mix well for 4–5 seconds with the immersion blender. It’s important to go slowly here so that you don’t reach trace too quickly. Then, alternate between mixing by hand (with the regular-sized spatula) and mixing with the immersion blender, until the batter is homogeneous: 4–5 seconds in total should suffice here as well. The batter should slightly whiten.
- Add the scent before you reach trace. Mix with the spatula until homogeneous. Do not use the immersion blender.
- Pour 50 ml of the soap batter into pitcher for the deep red soap and 50 ml into the pitcher for the light red soap. Pour the rest of the batter into the pitcher for the white soap.
- Mix the soap batters in each pitcher using their respective small spatulas to disperse the colourants. The batter should still remain rather liquid with just a light trace.
- Pour the white soap batter into the four molds containing the loofas. The sponges should be covered with the batter. Save some white soap in the pitcher to make your swirls.
- Take the deep red soap batter and pour two dots into each mold near the surface. It’s important to keep your pitcher close to the surface of the soap as you pour, so that the deep red batter doesn’t sink too far down into the white.
- Take the pitcher containing the light red soap batter and pour a dot into the centre of each dot of deep red batter. Here again, take care to pour the light red batter close to the surface of the soap. Repeat with the white soap batter.
- Repeat steps 17 and 18 until you’ve used up the soap batters in each pitcher. You can alternate the colours as you desire.
- Now it’s time to make swirls. Very gently dip the tip of the thermometer into the centre of one of the two dots. Slide the tip of the thermometer outwards towards the outer edge of the circle, then gently pull it out of the soap. Repeat this movement in the opposite direction, from the outside of the circle to the centre, offset from the first pass by a couple of millimetres. Repeat this pattern around the whole circle, drawing as many lines as you like depending on your desired result.
- Repeat this process for making swirls with all the circles of coloured soap in each soap mold.
- Gently tap each mold on the table or countertop. This will help yield a soap with a smoother surface.
- Leave the molds at room temperature in a dry, dark place. Unmold the soaps after four weeks and leave to cure for a further 2–4 weeks, for a total cure of 6–8 weeks, also in a dark, dry place at room temperature.
Use and conservation
This homemade exfoliating soap is formulated for all skin types. Since it is superfatted at 8% and contains mild saponified oils, it will gently exfoliate your skin without being too rough.
When made in optimal sanitary conditions, it will keep for at least 12 months.