You cook with olive oil, you eat olive oil, so you might as well bathe or clean yourself with olive oil as well, right? You’ve searched around online for olive oil soap to buy, but you figure it might be more fun to make your own. Also, by going the homemade route, you have control over the ingredients and scents in your soap. How do you make olive oil soap?
To make olive oil soap—also known as castile soap—as a bar, you need to do the following:
- Create a lye solution
- Heat up your olive oil
- Trace the soap
- Cure the soap
- Add scents or colors
In this article, we’ll explain in more detail how to make hard castile olive oil soap. We’ll even throw in a recipe for liquid olive oil soap should you want to make that as well. You won’t want to miss it, so keep reading!
How to Make Olive Oil Bar Soap at Home
If you’re making homemade olive oil soap, it also has another name: castile soap. You can create solid castile soap or liquid castile soap right at home. The main differentiating factor between castile soap and other soap types is that the former lacks animal fats and uses only vegetable oils, olive oil among them. Castile soap is named after Castile, Spain, were the soap was first produced.
Compared to other types of vegetable oils, olive oil soap doesn’t trace as quickly. For a soap to trace, it simply means the soap becomes hard in your mold. With olive oil soap, prepare to wait upwards of two to four days for tracing to occur. Curing is also a lengthier process; this is a type of aging that gives the soap the right feel and texture.
With all that said, let’s get into the recipe for making your own castile or olive oil bar soap.
- Your favorite scent (3 tablespoons)
- Extra virgin olive oil (16 ounces)
- Sodium lactate or fine salt (1 teaspoon), although this is not mandatory
- Distilled water (3.7 ounces)
- Sodium hydroxide (2.05 ounces), aka lye
- Goggles or another form of protection for your eyes
- Rubber gloves
- Fine mesh strainer
- Plastic jug (make sure it’s heat-proof, please!)
- Pan (stainless steel)
- Silicone soap mold with at least six cavities
- Immersion blender
- Digital kitchen scale
- Digital thermometer
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients and equipment, you’re ready to begin. For each step, as unfamiliar concepts crop up, we’ll take the time to explain them.
Step 1: You want to begin by creating what’s known as a lye solution. Lye is also referred to as sodium hydroxide or caustic soda. Now, you can either water down your lye solution somewhat or you can avoid doing that.
If you were to skip the extra water, you get a stronger concentration of lye. It could produce irritating steam that you should not inhale. Also, you’d have to avoid getting too close to the lye while it’s steaming, as it can cause burns on your skin. If you’re working with a stronger concentration of lye, then make sure you’re outdoors in the yard or somewhere indoors with really good ventilation.
Step 2: Should you have decided to add salt or sodium lactate to your olive oil soap, you want to include it in your mixture now. By this point, your lye solution should have crystalized, a totally normal part of the process.
Step 3: Grab your safety gloves and goggles and put them on. Now you’re ready to take your lye mixture and dump it into the water. You should do this whether you watered down your lye concentration earlier or not.
Step 4: Stir slowly yet concentratedly, taking your time all along to avoid getting too close to the steam emanating from your soap mix. Don’t be surprised if the water temperature increases once you add in the lye, often to quite a hot degree.
Step 5: Keep mixing the ingredients until you can’t see any traces of the lye anymore. This can take several minutes.
Step 6: Once your lye and water are completely blended, transfer the mix to your basin or pan. Once the mixture has reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s ready to work with again.
Step 7: Next, you want to turn your attention to the as-yet-untouched olive oil. Take the extra virgin olive oil in the quantity recommended in the ingredients section and then pour it into your stainless steel pan. You want to heat it up until it gets to 100 degrees. Your oven can warm the oil, as can your stovetop, but keep the heat setting on low to avoid scorching the olive oil.
Step 8: Take your fine mesh strainer and pour the lye through it into the bowl of heated olive oil. Do a bit of stirring with your spoon and then use your immersion or stick blender on the lye and olive oil mixture.
This will begin the tracing process. As we said before, this means your olive oil soap will harden. Before it reaches that point, it may look more like a pudding, which is perfectly fine at this stage.
Step 9: To test if your soap is ready to work with, take some of the batter and pour it onto your countertop or another hard surface. Can you see a trail of soap left behind? Then you can move on. If not, then wait a while longer and come back to your soap. Remember, castile soap made with olive oil takes a lot longer to trace than using other vegetable oils. Be patient!
Step 10: Now’s the time to add in your essential oil(s). While lavender is one recommended scent, it’s far from the only one you can use. Have fun and truly make the soap your own during this step!
Step 11: When your soap is ready, grab your silicone mold and pour the soap mixture into each cavity.
Step 12: Put the mold in the fridge or leave it on your countertop if you want. If you’re doing the latter, make sure the environment you select stays at room temperature.
Step 13: Wait two to four days. Once the soap is firm, you can pop it out of the mold.
Step 14: Next, you want to cure your olive oil soap. What does this mean? To cure soap, you let it age a bit before you begin washing your hands or body with it. During this process, the water within the soap will evaporate. You’re then left with a milder, harder soap compared to uncured castile soap.
In the case of your olive oil soap, you should wait four to six weeks for curing to complete.
Step 15: You’re all done! Begin using and enjoying your new homemade olive oil bar soap.
How to Make Homemade Liquid Olive Oil Soap
If you remember from earlier, we said that castile soap can be hard or soft, aka liquid. If you had fun making the bar soap using the recipe and steps above, then you might want to try creating the liquid variety at home as well.
Saponification, or what happens when lye mixes with fats, still occurs in liquid soap. That said, you want to make sure you have potassium hydroxide for liquid soap recipes, so don’t reuse the same lye you did for the bar soap recipe. That’s sodium hydroxide, and it will create a solid soap, which is not what you want in this case.
With potassium hydroxide, you get a smooth lather and a bubbly texture when washing your hands.
One more thing, and that’s that this recipe uses a combination of coconut oil and olive oil, with the latter in a greater quantity.
- Distilled water (10 to 12 cups + 32 ounces to mix with the lye)
- Potassium hydroxide lye flakes (9.35 ounces)
- Coconut oil (16 ounces)
- Olive oil (24 ounces)
- Digital scale
- Immersion blender
- Crock-pot (at least 6 quarts)
- Bowl (stainless steel or glass)
- Goggles or other safety wear for your eyes
- Rubber gloves
- Wooden spoon or silicone spatula
Double-check that you have all the ingredients and equipment you need and then you’re ready to get started! Here’s what to do.
Step 1: Take your crock-pot’s bowl or container and mix your coconut oil and olive oil into it. Then, plug your crock-pot in and turn it up to its high setting. The oils will begin heating up.
Step 2: Grab your goggles and rubber gloves and put them on. Next, pour in the lye or potassium hydroxide into your glass or stainless steel bowl.
Step 3: Add the water to the lye, again watching out for the steam that can rise from doing so. Don’t inhale this. Also, keep your face away from the hot steam.
Step 4: Transfer the bowl or container to your kitchen sink. Add your lye flakes and stir these in slowly yet carefully.
Step 5: The coconut and olive oils should have heated up by now. You’re ready to add them to your lye solution, but don’t turn the crock-pot off yet! You’re not done with it.
Step 6: Plug in your immersion blender, using it on your lye and oil mixture. Let the immersion blender run for at least five minutes. By then, you should have a slightly thick, opaque-looking mixture.
Step 7: Over a half hour, you want to stir the liquid paste in five-minute increments. That means mixing it about six times. Each time you do, you should notice the consistency thickens up. It should almost be like a glue by the time you’re done. Your immersion blender should also strain to keep mixing the soap.
Step 8: Turn your immersion blender off and take the mixture out. Now you want to transfer it back to your crock-pot, which should still be set to high. Let the crock-pot do its thing for three hours.
Step 9: Don’t just leave your kitchen during those whole three hours. Check on the liquid soap in 30-minute increments, using a wooden spoon or a heat-resistant spatula (typically made of silicone) to stir the ingredients. This ensures an even texture for the entirety of the liquid soap.
Step 10: Check the soap’s texture, too. It should start off runny, then become taffy-like, and finally finish translucent and thick. The color may also morph from white to yellow.
Step 11: Do a clarity test on the liquid olive oil soap. You want to take an ounce of the stuff and pour in some hot water, even boiled water, about half a cup. Keep stirring until you don’t see anymore soap paste. Give the soap some time to come to room temperature or cooler. If you see oil scum at the surface of the water, it needs another hour in the crock-pot. The same is true if the soap looks opaque.
Step 12: Once your soap becomes transparent, you can begin diluting it. You want to use the 10 to 12 cups of water, dumping these straight into the crock-pot. Start with less water and add more later if necessary. Continue stirring your soap paste as you go along.
Step 13: Now, set the crock-pot to warm and put the lid on. Let it go overnight or, at the very least, for eight hours. It’s okay if you can’t watch the soap with an eagle eye, but if you can, stir it every now and again.
Step 14: The liquid olive oil soap may look a little chunky or even like it has a skin. You may have to add in more water at that point, but no more than two cups. That should help with the weird texture.
Step 15: With no chunks left, you’re free to bottle your liquid olive oil soap and begin enjoying it right away. No need to let it cure!
What Are the Benefits of Using Olive Oil Soap?
Why use olive oil soap over other types besides a personal preference? We’re glad you asked. The soap also happens to bring with it a variety of awesome benefits. Let’s talk about these in more detail now.
Whether you have a teenager at home who’s battling breakouts or you’re dealing with adult acne yourself, those pimples could develop due to the soap you’re using. Olive oil soap won’t clog up your pores, and it isn’t greasy, either. It feels great on your skin and won’t irritate it.
Great for Many Skin Types
In fact, almost all skin types can use olive oil soap. Whether you have sensitive skin or even dry skin, olive oil soap won’t dry it out or make it red and angry. The soap has even been found to be appropriate for newborn babies! Of course, if you do know of any present skin conditions, it is important to consult with a medical professional in order to ensure optimal skin health.
May Help with Psoriasis and Eczema
Acne isn’t the only skin condition for which olive oil soap is recommended. Those with psoriasis and/or eczema may also switch to olive oil-based soap for less redness and irritated skin in accordance with their doctor’s recommendation.
May Help Reduce Skin Inflammation
If you have a bad sunburn, reach for the olive oil soap. The same is true if you’re suffering from a skin rash or even some painful abrasions. Given the anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil soap, it can reduce the pain associated with irritated skin and give you some relief.
Healthier, Younger Skin
Want your skin to look better? It could all be in the soap. The antioxidants within olive oil soap can trigger the generation of new skin cells while lessening free radical damage. This adds to your youthful visage in a great way.
No Harsh Chemicals Needed When Taking off Makeup
If you end each day using chemical scrubbers or creams for cleaning off your makeup, you don’t have to anymore. A dollop of olive oil soap will cleanse your skin of foundation, highlighter, and even eyeliner. Just don’t get it in your eyes, of course.
Can you use aluminum bowls or pans to make olive oil soap?
We recommended stainless steel pans and even glass bowls for making both hard and soft olive oil soap. What if you don’t have either? Instead, you’ve got aluminum cookware. You figure this will suffice, right?
Not exactly. Saponification is a chemical reaction, and it’s one that can cause particularly adverse effects to aluminum. Not only will your pan or bowl be destroyed, but the soap won’t come out right, either. Please stick to either stainless steel or glass only.
Does olive oil soap clean?
You may wonder why we used coconut oil with our liquid olive oil soap recipe above. Is it due to the smell? Not entirely. Coconut oil adds to the lather, which is very minimal with olive oil soap on its own. That makes it feel like this soap cleans more effectively, even if olive oil soap can clean just fine when used alone.