How to make hemp soap at home?
Soap may be a mundane and everyday item, but the process of making it is a chemistry lesson in and of itself.
Soap is a salt, or a compound formed by the reaction of an acid and an alkali. In soap-making, oil (fatty acid) provides one half of the reaction, and lye (a strong alkali) does the rest. The reaction between oil and lye is known as saponification, from sapo, the Latin for soap. There are many different oils used in soap-making, each with their own set of properties. Hemp oil is known for being intensively moisturizing, as well as having protective and regenerative properties.
Techniques for making homemade soap
There are various ways to make soap at home: the most common procedures are the cold process and the melt-and-pour method. Of the two, melt-and-pour is by far the simpler, as it involves using pre-bought soaps which are melted down, mixed with new oils and scents, and then poured into new molds to set once more.
However, pre-made hemp soaps are still hard to find, despite the proliferation of hemp skincare products in recent years. Therefore, methods which allow more flexibility with the choice of ingredients are more suited to making hemp soap, and this is where the cold process comes into its own.
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Care must be taken to ensure safety at all times
It is important to note that when following this recipe, some highly dangerous chemicals are needed, most notably lye (also known as caustic soda). It is vital that correct safety precautions are carried out, including use of gloves, goggles and long-sleeved clothing to avoid alkali burns. The work area must be clean and dry, and the equipment used must be made from ceramic, steel, or good-quality, heat-resistant plastic. All dangerous chemicals must be clearly labelled, and stored safely when not in use. Most of the necessary equipment can be found in the home or from the hardware store.
- Gloves, rubber or similar
- Safety goggles
- Kitchen scale (must be accurate)
- Stove or other heat source
- Large, non-stick cooking pot
- 2/3 litre jug, pitcher or mixing bowl (x2)
- 2/3 litre pitcher or beaker with tight-fitting lid
- Long-handled spoon for stirring
- Soap mould
- Electric blender (handheld/stick)
- Measuring spoons/cups
- Small dishes or tubs to store ingredients
- Whisks, spoons, spatulas, cloths, napkins
Always use stainless steel, ceramic or heat-resistant plastic for mixing chemicals. Once all equipment is checked and ready, and the work-space is clear, it is safe to begin working with the ingredients. Although known as the “cold” process, some stages of the recipe require use of a heat source, so the kitchen is the obvious location. This is what you will need:
- Lye – NaOH (caustic soda) or KOH (potash – more commonly used for soft or liquid soaps)
- Water (distilled is preferred)
- Oils/fats (see below for more info)
- Fragrances/essential oils
- Dye, natural or synthetic
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Oil combinations and ratios
The choice of oil is the key to making a good-quality soap. Hard fats like tallow or palm oil provide a stable, long-lasting base for the soap, ensuring it sets correctly. Oils like castor or coconut oil are essential for lathering, and olive, sunflower and canola oil provide a softening and moisturizing effect. A fourth category of oils is informally known among soap-makers as super-moisturizing, or simply “luxury”. Hemp oil sits comfortably in this fourth category, due to its intensively softening and uniquely penetrative properties.
It is possible to make soap from just one or two oils, but experimenting with different ratios for various purposes is immensely rewarding. A ratio of 30% hard, 25% lathering, 35% moisturizing and 10% super-moisturizing oil is widely thought to be a sensible basis for a good-quality soap, although these percentages can be tweaked in numerous ways.
It is usually preferable to limit a heavy oil such as hemp to no more than 15%, due to the risk of greasiness and more rapid spoilage, although some recipes can work well with slightly higher ratios. An excellent resource on the properties of soap-making oils can be found here.
Determining the oil:lye ratio
Now that the work-space, equipment, and ingredients are ready, a recipe must be decided on, and the lye solution must be made and left to cool. The process for making lye-water is simple, yet care must be exercised. Simply stir the lye into boiling water until fully dissolved, then leave aside to cool.
The required amount depends on the combination of oils, and can be determined by using an online lye calculator – or for the arithmetically-inclined, Miller’s Homemade Soap Pages provide full saponification charts.
For beginners, there are plenty of soap recipes available online that can be tweaked to your requirements – this is sensible, as determining the lye/water ratio is difficult for those with little experience. Below is a standardized, basic recipe that will take very little skill or effort to follow:
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SIMPLE SOAP RECIPE
- 900g/32oz Palm Oil (34%)
- 765g/27oz Coconut Oil (29%)
- 450g/16oz Hemp Oil (17%)
- 425g/15oz Olive Oil (16%)
- 113g/4oz Blend of essential oils (4%)
- 1-2 tsps. of glitter, petals or seeds to decorate
- 370g/13oz Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
- 850g/30oz Distilled Water
The saponification process
The oils must be measured out by weight and placed in containers ready for use. In soap-making, all ingredients are measured by weight, whether solid or liquid.
Hard fats can be placed directly into the cooking pot to be gently heated; once they are liquid the remaining oils (except fragrance and essential oils) can be added.
When the oils are fully mixed and liquid, and the temperature is at around 100° C (212F), the heat must be turned off, and the lye-water may be added slowly to the pot. Remember to stir the pot constantly throughout.
As the mixture cools and the lye reacts with the oils, the liquid in the pot will become cloudy and increasingly viscose – this is the saponification process beginning. At this point, blend the mixture in short bursts (around 5 seconds) with the electric mixer, gently stirring and scraping the sides in between each burst. With every blend, the mixture will become ever more viscose.
The finishing touches
When the mixture is almost cool, the essential oils and fragrances can be slowly mixed in, using the spoon rather than the blender. After this, any decorative items such as petals, seeds or even hemp leaves can be blended in. By now the true scent of your finished product will be apparent.
Finally, colorants can be added, with a range of techniques and methods for added visual appeal. To achieve a marbled effect, pour a little of the soap into a mould, and add dye to it, mixing well. Then gently pour more soap from the pot into the mould, using a spatula to achieve the desired level of intermixing. Soaps may be left in the mould for a few days until they fully set, and must be cured for up to three weeks more to remove all traces of lye from the saponification process.
The simplicity and flexibility of this method has won many fans, and there much benefit in having control over what is contained in skincare products used everyday by ourselves and our families. The recipe above does not contain any of the worrisome additives such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), which is ubiquitous in commercial products and has been implicated in health and environmental problems.
As well as peace of mind, making one’s own skincare products can represent a substantial yearly saving, and can be a rewarding experience to share with friends and family. Once the soap-making technique has been mastered, there are plenty of recipes for hemp-based shampoos, lotions, massage oils and moisturizers to try. With a little time and effort, it is possible to create an entire skincare range, and avoid ever having to buy commercial products!
How to make hemp soap at home? Soap may be a mundane and everyday item, but the process of making it is a chemistry lesson in and of itself. Soap is a salt, or a compound formed by the
CBD Soap Recipe – Pain Relief Soap with lavender essential oil
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I’ve had everyone from relatives, co-workers, to people online ask me if I would make a hemp oil or CBD oil soap. After all, it’s supposed to do wonders for joint pain when applied topically.
I put together a hemp soap recipe when I first started making soap, back before it was even popular, because I wanted to make a hippie soap. I know, but I also made beer and bacon soap as well. Now I focus on health benefits of oils and essential oils when putting together my recipes (though the silly recipes are fun to do as well). And a CBD soap recipe seemed the next soap to tackle.
CBD and Hemp Oil
Cannabis is a plant that can be utilized for its benefits, or abused like many other plants or substances. Though I do think the more recent fascination of cannabidiol or CBD came from those who wished to push the legalization of “medical marijuana” use, I absolutely agree that there are a lot of benefits to topically using CBD while avoiding the side effects from medical marijuana. Soap making is just one of those ways.
CBD comes from the hemp plant (a cousin of the marijuana plant), is a cannabidiol, and is just one small aspect of the plant. The CBD oil that many consider to be the best choice is called “full spectrum”, because it contains cannabinoids, terpenes and essential oils.
In vitamin shoppes or online you will find bottles labeled hemp oil or CBD oil. Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seed only, where CBD is extracted from the whole plant. Neither one of them is cannabis oil which contains large amounts of THC.
When purchasing CBD or Hemp oil, make sure the label says the plant was raised organically or the oil was tested for contaminants. Also, check out the total milligrams of CBD in the bottle and compare per ounce to other brands because it will vary in potency.
Benefits of Topical CBD Oil
There have been a lot of studies that now show the topical benefits of CBD, showing how it is readily transdermal; rapidly passing into the body through the skin. BUT, it is hydrophobic and doesn’t go into the blood stream and pass through your whole body. Instead, the cells in the area of application absorb it and it works with your own body systems to lower inflammation.
The oil can be mixed into salves, lotions, creams, soaps, even lip balms, or simply used as a massage oil into sore joints. Various studies show benefits for arthritis, inflammation, or headaches (1, 2).
So how can you reap any benefits from CBD soap?
In other words, is the soap in contact with the skin long enough to bestow any benefit? We are definitely able to reap the benefits of other ingredients in soap. Soap doesn’t just change pH levels and so help dirt to be washed away in water. Different soaps can moisturize and cleanse. We can deep level disinfect and help balance oils when using activated charcoal, bentonite clay, and/or tea tree soaps (like this one) to help acne stop and heal faster.
CBD oil within soap still contains those elements help relieve pain so all it needs is contact for a transference to occur. This doesn’t mean that a longer contact time is unnecessary. I’ve found that to really reap the benefits of CBD in soap, you will need to use it liberally and often. Lather your body or hands in soap and shave your legs or soak those hands or feet in the water.
The small amount of interaction with the CBD daily in soap can help reduce chronic inflammation over time. It’s another step to your pain free regimen.
Does the saponification process destroy any benefits?
To put your mind at ease, the saponification process does not destroy CBD. Lye bonds with salts in fatty acid chains and doesn’t attack vitamins, minerals, and other elements that are found within plants. A breakdown can be found from heat, but as soap only heats up to around 110 degrees Fahrenheit (and doesn’t even harm the essential oils that are added) this is not an issue.
CBD Soap Recipe
I’ve found that CBD or Hemp Soap tends to go bad faster than other soaps. Use these soaps within 4 months for freshest quality.
I’ve made this recipe with a higher superfat content of 20%. I decided to use lavender essential oil as it is relaxing and beneficial as an anti-inflammatory, but you may replace it if you have another scent in mind. I’ve made this soap already with hemp oil, so if you’d like to try it out check it out here in my shop.
Yield: 12 four ounce bars, or 3 pounds of soap.
- 10 ounces coconut oil
- 5 ounces CBD or hemp oil
- 5 ounces cocoa butter
- 5 ounces shea butter
- 5 ounces castor oil
- 5 ounces avocado oil
- 11.9 ounces filtered water
- 4.1 ounces lye
- 1 ounce lavender essential oil
- For more detailed instructions in soap making click here.
- Prepare your mold by lining if necessary.
- Combine coconut, hemp, cocoa butter, shea butter, castor, and avocado oils in a large stainless steel pot and heat on low until they are all melted. Stir to combine well.
- Outside and with proper safety gear (goggles, mask, and gloves), pour the lye into the water, stir until dissolved without breathing in the fumes, and let cool to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When oils and lye water are around 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit, pour lye water into the pot of oils and blend with a stick blender (hand mixer if you don’t have one) until light to medium trace (For more information on trace click here).
- Add essential oils and blend.
- Pour into prepared mold, using a rubber spatula to scrape out of the pot and level in the mold.
- Cover and insulate for 24 hours before removing, cutting, and letting cure for 4-6 weeks.
If you want to try one of these bars already made, I have them in my shop now.
Click here to go to my Etsy shop and check out this soap and others.
I've had everyone from relatives, co-workers, to people online ask me if I would make a hemp oil or CBD oil soap. After all, it's supposed to do wonders for…