Coconut-Milk Soap Recipe
Benefits of coconut milk soap
This recipe will produce a soothing, healing and moisturising soap ideal for sensitive skins. Coconut-milk soap can be used to wash hair also and makes a great, inexpensive gift.
Coconut milk is high in fatty acids and vitamin E, which give it cleansing and healing properties, making it ideal for those with dry, sensitive skin.
Containing no animal products it's also a great option for vegetarians and vegans.
All of the photos in this article were taken by me.
Vegan friendly and contains no palm oil
This soap recipe is vegan friendly as it contains no animal products. No palm oil is used, so you won't be contributing to the destruction of Orangutan habitats.
Table of Contents
Making coconut milk soap - safety first.
When making this soap it's important that you follow ALL of my instructions if you're not familiar with soap-making, right down to the type of materials to use. Don't skip any steps or alter this recipe in any way and you should end up with some nice, creamy, coconut milk soap. OK, if you like there is one way you can alter this recipe if you wish to do so - you can use a different kind of milk. If you wish to use goat's milk, cow's milk, rice milk, almond milk or soy milk instead of coconut milk, you can, but stick to 320g and use the full fat variety. Unpasteurised is fine.
Work in a well ventilated area such as a laundry room, garage or covered outdoor area. The fumes from the lye can get quite overpowering if there isn't sufficient ventilation.
Wear all of the listed safety equipment to prevent burns from the lye should any of it splash on your skin or into your eyes. Leave it on until you have poured the end mixture into the mold/molds.
Make sure young children and pets will not be running around you while you do this for their own safety and that you will not have any interruptions. When making soap you need to work fast and any interruptions could ruin the whole process.
Some soap-making terms
Saponification: The chemical reaction that occurs when oils/fats and a base such as lye react together to form soap.
Trace: The stage in the soap-making process where saponification is complete.
Other soap recipe I have written
I have also written a recipe for making Castile soap. Castille soap is the purest soap in the world.
Keep this equipment strictly for making soap, do not use it for cooking, kitchen scale excluded if you can't afford to buy a separate one for soap-making. Just place some plastic food wrap over it whenever you're making soap so that the surface doesn't get contaminated with chemicals.
- Stainless steel pot or plastic bucket with high sides - one foot deep.
- Mixing bowl of at least 1000mls capacity to prevent spillage. Something with a handle or two is ideal but you need to be able to fit it inside the large pot/bucket so that you can gently put the ingredients from the smaller bowl into the large bowl. I suggest something with a handle because it might become quite hot as I will explain later.
- Electronic kitchen scale.
- Molds - any will do, but not aluminium or tin. Wood, plastic, waxed cartons such as milk cartons are all fine. I used to use old milk cartons and cut the resulting loaf into bars. I recommend using non-silicone molds because silicone molds form airtight seals around your soap that makes it very hard to unmold your soap.
- Mixing spoon or spatula - again not aluminium or tin.
- Safety glasses
- Rubber or latex gloves
- Long-sleeved fully closed shirt with a high neckline
- Stick blender set to high
DO NOT use ANY aluminium or tin equipment as the caustic soda will react with it.
Ingredients for coconut milk soap
Ingredients - all ingredients are measured in grams.
- Olive oil 800g, Pomace or pure. Virgin or extra virgin Olive oil can be used but they take longer to trace.
- Coconut oil 200g, 76 degrees Fahrenheit coconut oil is best. Avoid virgin coconut oil.
- Coconut milk (from a can or home-made) 320g, Chilled. Full fat.
- Sodium Hydroxide 138g, Also known as lye or caustic soda.
- Shredded Coconut (optional) 150g
- Put on your safety gear, ie. eyewear and long-sleeved shirt with high neckline and rubber or disposable latex gloves.
- Measure oils and mix together in the large stainless steel bowl.
- Place chilled coconut milk in small mixing bowl and remove any lumps.
- Gently add caustic soda to coconut milk (not the other way around or the lye could erupt like a volcano) and mix gently until the caustic soda has completely dissolved. You will notice that it turns a caramel colour. It's the sugar in the milk caramelising. Don't worry about it, it will turn white again as it sets. This mixture will become very hot, so be careful when you pick up the mixing bowl for the next stage. For this reason alone I don't recommend using a stainless steel mixing bowl for this step as metal will conduct the heat very quickly to your hands. DO NOT leave this mixture to stand in the bowl as it will get very hot and could boil over, causing quite toxic fumes.
- Rinse the spatula and keep it close by, you'll need it again.
- Gently and carefully add caustic soda/coconut milk mixture to oils and mix with stick blender until the consistency is like custard and you can see traces of lines left on the surface of the mixture when your run the spatula through it. This is known as the 'trace' stage. This is the longest stage and can take quite a while. If you use pomace olive oil you should reach trace within 5 minutes. If you use pure olive oil you should reach trace within 10 minutes. On hotter days trace happens faster. If your blending stick gets hot, stop and let it cool down for no more than 10 minutes. You might even find that when you go back to it, you might reach trace very quickly. Sometimes the heat from the lye will help the oil saponify while it stands, then the quick mixing action of the stick blender will finish the process. Don't leave it standing more than 10 minutes as it might reach trace by itself and harden just enough to prevent a smooth pour into the molds. See video and photos below.
- If you have chosen to include shredded coconut, now is the time to add it to your mixture. Working quickly mix 100g of the shredded coconut into the mixture, once the soap has hardened it will act as a gentle exfoliant.
- Promptly pour the mixture into your mold/molds using your spatula again to scrape as much of the mixture as you can off the side of the pot. You want to use as much of it as you can, there's no point wasting good soap mixture. Once poured sprinkle the remaining shredded coconut on top for a pretty finishing touch.
- Leave your soap to harden for 48 hours. If you're using a loaf-type mold so that you can cut your soap into slices, do this at around 36 hours, if you leave it for 48 hours it will be too hard to cut cleanly and before 36 hours it will be too soft to handle. A bread knife is perfect for cutting soap.
- The soap will be ready to use after 48 hours but the bars won't be very hard or long-lasting and the pH will still be quite high so the soap might be harsh on skin. It's best to leave your soap to cure for at least 6 weeks so that you get some harder, longer-lasting bars that are gentler on skin. Place your bars on some paper towels and turn them over weekly until they're cured.
What 'trace' looks like
Below: This is what 'trace' looks like.
Below: This is a 'bad trace'.
Why did my soap turn light brown in colour?
Don't worry if your soap mixture turns a caramel colour. Your soap will whiten as it sets.
Coconut milk soap bars
I usually set all my dirty equipment aside and leave the soap on it to partially harden for 24 hours so that I have a ready supply of soap to clean it all with. Be sure to rinse your equipment off with clean water after you've washed it.
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I welcome your comments
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