Simple sugar scrub for dry skin

Usually we only use the vegetable oil soap I make to clean our whole bodies. It’s cheap and simple to use the same product for everything, but sometimes I have to break out and use something decadent (and a bit more heavy duty). Not being able to wash my right hand and forearm for six weeks has resulted in a whole lot of dry, scaly skin accumulating on my hand and arm. It has given me an insight into how many skin cells we lose to our environment every day… a LOT.

This is my hand after six weeks of no soap and water.

I decided to make a sugar scrub to get rid of all that dead skin. I found a post with a recipe and whipped up a batch for myself and a jar for my daughters too.

Sugar scrub

1/2 cup brown sugar/raw sugar mixed

1/4 cup coconut oil (I used copha)

1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

Whiz the ingredients together in a food processor (I have a mini food processor, so the small amount was easy) until it is a nice texture that you can work with. Spoon your sugar scrub into clean jars and store in a cool place.

This is my hand after using my sugar scrub.

Because it was a cool day when I made this scrub, the coconut oil didn’t melt much. This resulted in a grainy consistency, but I don’t mind that. The scrub itself worked really well on my hand and my skin is amazingly soft too. I have gone on to use this scrub on my feet, on my legs and even on my face. I feel very… sweet.

Being able to wash my whole body again is amazingly restorative. I feel so much more able to deal with the world after a shower. Although the gains in flexibility from my daily sessions of shower yoga will be missed (keeping one hand in a plastic bag while trying to wash all over and scrub feet with a nail brush using only the left hand should be classed as a master class in yoga).

Make cheap dish soap

Some time ago I made some dish washing tabs, but everyone except me refused to use them. I am trying again with a liquid version. After watching a video that featured this recipe, I decided to make a liquid using most of the ingredients, but slightly different proportions. My recipe is below;

Dish soap

Dissolve 1 cake of soap in 1 litre of hot water.

Store this liquid in a sealed bottle for future batches. Now mix;

2/3 cup soap liquid

1/3 cup vinegar

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tblspn bicarbonate of soda

1 tblspn washing soda

All my ingredients gathered on my messy bench (I spilled water on it while making my coffee)

The mixture will froth, but subsides quickly. When it has finished frothing, store it in a sealable bottle. This mixture is used at a rate of 1/4 cup per sink full of water.

This is the mixture frothing up. I make it straight into the bottle. It is best to sit your container in the sink for this bit. Please excuse the coffee grounds in the sink.
The final product. This lasts us for about a week, but it is so simple to make, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t last that long.

So far everyone is using the liquid. I am getting grumbles about the low froth, but it works to clean the dishes, except that it doesn’t remove the oil on baking trays very well. Using an extra splash of the soap on the trays solves that problem though.

Make foaming hand soap

Due to not being able to work on anything at the moment, I am looking for things I can do. For a few years now, I have been buying Tirtyl foaming hand wash tabs. They certainly have saved a lot of plastic bottles in our home. I am the sort of person who will just use a cake of soap to wash my hands… but my partner is not. He prefers to use a foaming hand wash, and will go against explicit orders and buy it. That means I have to learn to make it. I looked around and found this recipe, I can use as a starting point.

First I grabbed all the small bits of soap left over from the shower and a lump of soap from the soap cache. I put a litre and a half of water in a pot with the soap and let it melt down and heat.

It is then just a simple matter of filling up the foaming hand wash bottle with 1/3 water and 2/3 soap liquid.

It works really well, and cost hardly anything to make.

Making hot process, vegetable oil soap

Yesterday I made soap. Some to sell and some for us to use. In the past I have found that making one batch every three months or so gives me enough soap for the family, for gifts and for selling at markets and such.
Soap making is an interesting (and sometimes dangerous) pastime, but it is economical and useful (for the cost of buying four cakes of vegetable oil soap I can make forty two cakes). I thought I would share my basic soap recipe and some tips I have discovered over the last decade or so…….

Basic Soap Recipe
250g coconut oil
100g beeswax
2650g sunflower oil

409g caustic soda
5 cups water

Add caustic soda to the water in a large heat proof container (stir carefully and add caustic soda slowly).

Combine oils and waxes in a stainless steel boiler and heat to 38 degrees Celsius.

When both solutions are the same temperature (use a candy thermometer to test this) slowly pour caustic solution into the oils. Stir this mixture for several minutes with a long spoon (being careful not to get the liquid on bare skin).

Blend the mixture with a stick blender until it thickens (reaches trace).

Pour the mixture into molds and leave (covered) to set for two days.

Remove soap from molds and stack (with cakes not touching) for six weeks to cure in an airy, dust free environment.

Oil, bees wax and caustic soda, waiting to be soap. 

Water and the kitchen scales, all set up and waiting.

Oil and wax combined and heating in the boiler.

My you beaut, flashy, expensive soap mold. It makes 42 approximately 100g cakes when you use the amounts in my recipe.

I line the mold with a thick plastic sheet because the caustic soap would damage the wood of the mold.

The perspex grid divides the soap mixture into neat little cakes. I pour the mixture into the wooden mold, then push the grid down into it.

The soap mixture after stirring but before blending.

Blending in action. You don’t need to blend the mix to make soap, but it does make the process much quicker.

See how the mixture changes colour as it begins to become soap. You can see the soap is now thickening; the dribbles from the blender stay on the surface for a while, that is called ‘trace’.

Neat little cakes of soap, hardening slowly.

Useful Tips
Gather all the ingredients together before you start. Rushing around the house looking for the thermometer or the blender tends to mess with your equilibrium.

Use a good thermometer. I use Fowlers Vacola thermometers for my soap, but while the backing is stainless steel and the thermometer itself is glass, the ties that hold the thermometer to the backing are just alloy; this often results in the thermometer falling from the backing into the mixture as the caustic eats through the metal.

Use stainless steel and heat proof glass and plastic to make soap. The caustic soap solution will eat through just about anything; I have made interesting patterns on my old wood table with spilled or dripped mix (it is useful to clean the black stuff off the backs of baking trays though).

Wear shoes, long clothes and gloves while making soap. I have spilled soap mix on my feet before and given myself an accidental chemical peel (on the up side, my feet looked ten years younger for a year or so).

Be careful with the caustic and water mix, the fumes can be very strong and they are dangerous. Make soap in a well ventilated area and keep children, dogs, husbands/ wives/ partners and stray feathered friends well clear (I had to lure Roadie the butcher bird away with meal worms and cheese).

Don’t leave the cakes to air outside or in an exposed position (Currawongs think they are cheese and fly off with them). Store the cakes in a well ventilated but safe area to ‘cure’.

Finished cakes, waiting to be stacked to cure.

Have you made soap before? Have you ever wondered at the miracle of chemistry that happens so we can be clean?

Apparently, soap was discovered in ancient Greece (by women, of course). The temple of Zeus on Mount Sapo sacrificed bulls regularly by slitting their throats and burning the bodies, over several thousand years the fat from these sacrifices mixed with ash and seeped down to a pool beside the river. Women coming to the river to wash clothes discovered that the slime from this pool made the washing extra clean and eventually figured out where the slime came from and how to make it. Soap was born.