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!

Page with Comments

  1. What does it mean when the soap is sweating oils like you showed us in the video?

  2. Thanks Amy for sharing us your experiments. I like all your 3 soaps but the blue one is my favourite!
    Thank you.

  3. @Vicki – I have a theory that it’s because I’m cutting it so soon and it’s just not fully saponified. The oils all pulled back into the soap, so I don’t think it’s a problem.

    @Natalia – The blue one did turn out really pretty, didn’t it? The texture was the nicest for cutting since it had less coconut oil too.

  4. I love salt soap and my customers are loving them more and more. I market them for folks feet as they work so well to keep them clean and soft. But YOURS are so beautiful. Adore them

  5. I think I will be sitting this one out. I made 2 batches of salt/spa bars and since I don’t sell my soaps I have more than enough for myself. I did make them during the challenge time. Maybe I can re-introduce them 🙂

  6. Hi,

    I am new to soaping and I only have three cp batches (2 bad and 1 possible) under my belt. I would like to join in on the challenges, but would like to start with week one until I can catch up. Will I be able to still post my pictures in the link ups?

  7. @Yvonne – You are welcome to go back to week one and work your way through – in fact, I think that would be a great idea! But only the most current link-up is open.

  8. Every batch I have made with Shea butter has virtually been lather free but I have had success with cocoa butter.
    Friend of mine makes one with Monoi de Tahiti oil that is OMG! kinda wonderful.

  9. I hope you can put a sheet together, Amy, regarding the different soaps. I went to the SoapDish forum, read through the archives and there was a whole range of possibilities of what people like and disliked. I left the forum more confused than when I entered.

  10. Once again, thank you for your experiments. I use 80 % coconut and the rest with castor and shea. This time I used coconut milk for a bit of difference and I used a little less salt. I love salt bar!

  11. I’m curious what other oils you used with your coconut oil. I made one with 80% Coconut Oil, 10% Shea and 10% Castor and 20% SF and I made another one that I lessened the Shea and Coconut Oil a bit to add in 10% OO. I’m not really liking the one with OO much. Doesn’t make hardly any lather. But, my skin feels pretty good afterwards so I guess that’s a good thing.

  12. I made a batch of CP Sea Salt soap. I used individual silicone molds so I wouldn’t have to cut the soap. Now that it has been 24 hours I have tried to unmold the soap and the bottom half is very crumbly. I was wondering if I could put this in the oven (at what temp) to heat it up and maybe unmold it sooner. Do you have any suggestions?

  13. @Tiffany – The only temp I’ve put my soap in the oven is the lowest setting possible – 170 degrees. In fact, I heat the oven, put the soap in, turn the oven off and leave it overnight. You could probably unmold sooner with salt bars though.

  14. Hi all
    I made a salt bar that went all funny… maybe some of you will know what I can do.

    so i made a basic recipe with 100% coconut oil with a 20% lye discount (leaving 20% of oils unsaponified) and I add 2% beeswax
    I used grey sea salt at the same wight of oils to 1:1 ratio
    Water usee was lye weight x3

    I made the soap in winter weather so the coconut oil being cold and solid had to be warmed up on a double boiler with the wax.

    As everything was warming up i placed the lye solution container in with the oils on the double boiler so the lye and oils will reach roughly the same temperture.

    So far so good…

    then the trouble began…
    I poured the lye into the oils and as expected usual normal saponification started.
    After sturing for a few minuts with a spoon on the stove I removed the bowl with oils and placed on the countertop and started to stick blend.

    then the horror…

    for a minut it was fine coming to trace as expected.
    …then in seemed to rice so i stoped blending and went back to the spoon…
    …then it took on the consistancey of mashed potatos…

    at that stage trying to stay calm… (im soaping… funny stuff can happen somtimes. You know…) I added my essensial oils blend and keep mixing.

    …then I added the salt wich made it change into a wet mass with the consistancey of good soap batter or panckake batter thickness. Maybe a bit less.

    at that stage I start to glop it into idividual molds.

    4 single muffin cacities in the batter starts to thicken again and turns into crumbs that im packing into the rest of the molds.

    now Ive got 4 beutiful salt bars that set in minuts and more molds full of crumbly unsuable soap that i have to reprosses…

    the next day I checked the crumbly soap and it kinda holds but if i slightly squeeze it crumbles… so no good…

    what can I do?

    It all happened so fast I had no time to work. This is my 1st salt bar to be made. Ive made 3-4 other soap/shampoo bars befor without problems.


  15. @Reuben – Easy. You hot-processed your soap. Not sure why you added beeswax, as it increased the melting point of your entire soap batch. And lye water on a double-boiler? That was likely super hot too. Temps should have been no more than 100 or 110 degrees max. I like to combine oils & lye at around 90-95 degrees. The salt will speed up saponification even faster, so you really had a “hot mess” as they say! 🙂

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