Soap Challenge Week 8

Did you check out all the beautiful gradient soaps from last week? I am so happy to hear that this was a favorite technique for several participants! So many beautiful soaps!

This week’s challenge is to formulate a salt bar recipe. (This will require that you have a working knowledge of a soap calculator, such as SoapCalc.) Salt bars are their own little category of handmade soap! They are reputed to create a super-hard, long-lasting bar of soap with a very creamy and moisturizing lather. Some will end up feeling like a polished stone after just a few uses. Now, here’s the downside: salt inhibits lather, so if you want your salt bar to have any lather at all, you will have to use a rather high percentage of coconut oil – the only oil that will produce lather in salt water. This can create another problem: hard, crumbly soap that is drying for your skin. Most people who make salt bars on a regular basis recommend anywhere from 80-90% coconut oil with 15-20% superfat, and salt can be added at up to a 1:1 ratio with the amount of oils. Ladybug Soapworks wrote a tutorial with a recipe in this range. Not everyone subscribes to this philosophy, however, so in doing my own testing, I created three different recipes:

Recipe 1: 40% coconut oil, 8% superfat, coarse kosher salt at 75% of oils, liquids: half aloe vera juice, half coconut milk

Recipe 2: 90% coconut oil, 15% superfat, fine sea salt at 75% of oils, liquids: 100% coconut milk

Recipe 3: 80% coconut oil, 20% superfat, fine sea salt at 75% of oils, liquids: 100% beer

Check out my video to see how my three recipes turned out:

In Saturday’s link-up post I will do a follow-up video showing how each of the three soaps perform – both their lathering qualities and how they feel on my skin. I understand that a good salt bar is like a good castile soap – it gets better with age. In fact, just like castile soap, some people cure their salt bars for up to a year! So while I may not get the results I would get from a proper cure time, I will at least be able to compare the three soaps and make an initial judgment.

Tips: All three of the liquids I used (aloe vera juice, coconut milk, and beer) are great lather boosters, as is castor oil. Shea and cocoa butters have also been recommended to increase moisture. Any oils or butters you choose to add to your recipe are up to you! I believe the more variety of oils you use, the better the soap will turn out – which is why I created the first soap with just 40% coconut oil. I was able to add 5 additional oils and butters.

Just remember – do NOT use Dead Sea salt, as it will cause excess sweating. I do know what I’m talking about. Either kosher or sea salt will work just fine, and best of all, you can find them at any grocery store or Walmart.

One more thing: If you want to be able to cut your salt bar, it is highly recommended that you use the CPOP (cold process, oven process) method, and put your soap in the oven on the lowest setting for one and a half to two hours, and cut it as soon as it’s set up (anywhere from 3-6 hours after putting it in the oven). Otherwise, it will be hard as a brick. If you happen to let it set up too long and can’t cut it, you can always return the soap to the oven and warm it up again. The only other way around this is to use individual molds so that you don’t have to cut the soap at all!

For the challenge, you can create one recipe, or several. It’s really up to you. I would love for you to share how much coconut oil you used and superfat amount, and any other information you care to share. Perhaps by compiling all our data, we can decide which ingredients and superfat amounts will create the best salt bar! Don’t be afraid to push the envelope – let’s get creative!