Most soap makers create recipes that balance carefully between cleansing and moisturizing. Cleansing is accomplished by the abundant bubbles of coconut or palm kernel oil, while moisturizing is achieved through combinations of normal base oils, like olive oil, and also with luxury oils and butters.
However, some people, young and old, have sensitive skin that can be irritated by the extra cleansing power of coconut and other oils, so they will opt for a soap recipe that is more in line with pure Castile soap with 100 percent olive oil, or Bastille soap that has a preponderance of olive oil, but also includes other oils as well. This is one of those Bastille recipes. It contains mostly (70 percent) olive oil, but gets a bit of lather help from a little bit (15 percent) of coconut and some castor (5 percent). It also gets some hardness and a moisturizing boost from some shea butter (10 percent).
Because the olive oil takes a bit longer to harden in the mold, use a single cavity mold. It allows you to let the soap sit for longer without unmolding it, but if you leave it too long it's still easy to unmold.
You can add an optional mild essential oil blend or just a bit of lavender essential oil for the fragrance. Folks who are sensitive to regular soap are often sensitive to the fragrance oils, so they can be left out.
Follow basic soap making procedures. This batch, especially if you leave out any fragrances or colorants, will be especially easy.
For this 12-bar (3.6 pounds) recipe, use:
- 28.7 ounces olive oil (infused or regular) (70 percent)
- 6.2 ounces coconut oil (15 percent)
- 4.1 ounces shea butter (10 percent)
- 2.1 ounces castor oil (5 percent)
- 5.48 ounces lye (an 8 percent lye discount, which is a bit higher than normal to make the soap extra mild)
- 10.6 ounces water
- 2 teaspoons sugar (in the lye solution)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt (in the lye solution)
- Optional: 1.8 ounces fragrance or essential oil
- Make up your lye solution as you normally would, adding the salt and the sugar to the water before you add the lye. Make sure both the sugar and the salt are completely dissolved before you add the lye. Set the lye solution aside to cool in a safe place.
- Measure out your hard oils and the shea butter and melt them in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Measure out the liquid oils and add them to the melted hard oils. This is a great recipe to use oil infused with a healing herb like chamomile or lavender. Use the infused oil as you would your normal olive oil.
- When the oils and lye water have cooled to about 100 F, it's time to mix. Mix the lye water and the oils together and give it a few short bursts with the stick blender.
- Once you've reached trace, if you are not adding a fragrance or essential oil to the soap, it's time to pour it into the mold. If you're adding a fragrance, add it here and stir well. This would also be the time to add in any additives like chamomile flowers or lavender buds.
- Pour the soap into your mold, and you're done.
A high olive oil soap like this will be soft initially, but after four to six weeks of curing, will get really nice and hard. The lather will be milder and less bubbly than a bar with more coconut oil in it, but this soap will be super mild for sensitive or baby soft skin.