Over the past few months, soap-making workshops have been some of my most popular workshops out of the many I have on offer. The lovely Kathryn at my favourite little local store Mindful & Co got me thinking about running these workshops not so long ago when we had been chatting and realised just what a perfect storm it might be to combine a beautiful get-your-hands-dirty kind of creative workshop with a little bit of low-tox living and essential oils education.
I’ve attached here the basics for this DIY recipe. The beauty of making your own soap is that you can cater it to your specific needs or moods or emotions. I love to use lavender or lavender peace for a soothing/calming bath bar, or spearmint and wild orange for something more uplifting. Quality essential oils have the power to radically transform your mood and shift your emotions.
I use a silicone mould from Centaur Packaging that makes 6 bars (the recipe here will make approximately 12), but you can really use any kind of baking tin or silicone mould you have and line with baking paper for easy removal once the soaps are set. In some workshops we have even used big wooden vessels or old Tupperware lined with baking paper for some fun shapes and sizes.
You should be able to find Lye (sometimes called ‘Caustic Soda’ or ‘Sodium Hydroxide’) at your local Bunnings, or online if need be! Its important to know when dealing with lye that it IS a dangerous substance in its pure form and should be handled with care. Make sure you wear gloves and some sort of eye protection, and that there is proper ventilation in the area you are working in. Lye should be added to water and not the other way round. If any does come in contact with the skin, vinegar can be utilised to neutralise the reaction. When in contact with water, Lye produces an exothermic reaction (creating heat), so it is also important to make sure you are using an appropriate vessel (not glass or plastic)!
You can really be as creative as you like with this soap recipe and play around with it a little. I often use a higher ratio of coconut oil, or add some Shea butter for extra moisturising benefit. Dried flowers (rose petals, lavender, cornflowers and chamomile) tend to be my favourite way to add some aesthetic!