It’s been one of our missions here to share homemade soap recipes with tips and tricks on how to keep your cleansing routine natural and healthy. It’s fairly obvious that making your own soap comes with a slew of benefits in the way of skincare and overall wellness, but today I want to explain a little more about why this is something I love to do and not just a practical health choice.
[The video below is a little "behind the scenes" demonstration of this recipe in the making.]
I believe the desire to create is a foundational part of being human. To invent something, to form it with your own mind and hands, and then to share it with other people is one of the most gratifying and challenging experiences in life. Whether it’s writing, painting, cooking, building, starting a business or decorating a house — something visible, tangible and usable is being produced to communicate something deeper about the maker.
I’ve often heard people talk about themselves as not being creative or artistic. I think part of this is due to how easy it is to compare creative outlets and deem some of them “more artsy” or “better” than others, but at the root they’re all the same. Something inspires an idea which results in the desire to make that idea come to life. There are no limits on what that can look like. What matters is that at the bare base, something is being made.
Soap making drew me right in because of how many ways there were to infuse something entirely necessary and basic with so much of my own design. The color, the feel, the scent, the shape, the origins of the ingredients — all of it gave me the ability to compose recipes that would inspire not only health, but beauty, simplicity, and a challenge to question even the most primitive things in life and see if they can’t be broken down and altered.
The break down aspect is what makes soaping so much fun. Coffee lovers like us can break down a favorite latte and turn it into a bar of soap. Nature lovers can break down the fragrance of a pine forest in summer and turn that memory into a bar of soap. Foodies can break down a slice of pumpkin pie or a trip to the apple orchard on a crisp fall day and turn it into a bar of soap. We can discover a new favorite brewery, break down a marvelous craft beer and turn that into a bar of soap. Sky’s the beautiful limit.
The recipe I’m sharing today was inspired by a vanilla bean latte, and it’s the first time I’ve used fragrance oil in a soap recipe. I really love the result because a strong coffee scent is hard to produce without a fragrance oil, and this one from Nature’s Garden is just phenomenal. Double strength coffee with beans from FreshGround Roasting provides the perfect base for the coffee layer in this bar, and real ground vanilla beans speckle the lighter layer.
I’m curious to know — what inspires you? Do you consider yourself creative? Have you struggled with the vulnerability aspect of becoming a maker? Please share in the comments below. I’d love to discuss!
For a detailed tutorial on Cold Process Soap Making, click here! This tutorial will give you all the information (including safety!) that you need to complete any of the soap recipes we post!
Vanilla Bean Latte Soap
Yields about 80 oz. of soap
*This recipe is divided into 2 parts: the coffee base and the vanilla bean base. You’ll have to measure and mix each part separately, and layer them in your loaf mold at the end.*
The Coffee Base
8.5 oz. double-strength coffee – [to make double strength coffee, pour 2/3 cup course coffee grounds into an 8-cup press and pour 4 cups of simmering water over the grounds. Let it sit for 4 minutes, then press and pour into a pitcher to cool. Save the excess liquid for iced coffee!]
4 oz. lye (sodium hydroxide)
To add at trace…
2 oz. Fresh Brewed Coffee Fragrance Oil (Nature’s Garden)
1. In a heat-proof pitcher, slowly add the lye to the coffee while stirring, until the lye is completely dissolved. Cover and set the pitcher aside until the temperature drops below 125 degrees F (but stays above 100!)
2. Add all the Base Oils to a large bowl and microwave in short bursts until the oils have almost completely dissolved. Stir to finish melting, as you don’t want to over heat the oils. Set the bowl aside until the temperature drops below 125 degrees F (also staying above 100!)
3. Once everything comes to temperature, add the lye solution to the base oils and mix with a stick blender until the mixture thickens and reaches “trace” (a light, pudding-like consistency that leaves marks on the surface of your soap – pictured in the video!)
4. Once trace has been reached, add your coffee fragrance and mix again with the stick blender until the fragrance oil is fully incorporated. Pour the soap mixture evenly into a lined loaf mold, cover and set aside.
The Vanilla Bean Base
8.5 oz. water
4 oz. lye (sodium hydroxide)
5 oz. mango butter
9 oz. coconut oil
12.5 oz. sunflower oil
1.5 oz. shea butter
To add at trace…
2 tbsp. vanilla bean powder
1. Follow steps 1-4 from “The Coffee Base” instructions, substituting water for the double-strength coffee, and vanilla bean powder for the coffee fragrance oil.
2. Slowly pour the Vanilla Bean Base in an even layer on top of the Coffee Base in the loaf mold, and tap the mold on the countertop to release any trapped air bubbles. Cover and set aside in a cool, dry place for 24 hours.
3. The next day, de-mold the soap loaf and cut into squares or rectangles, whatever your preference! Place each bar of soap end-up on a cookie sheet and store them in a cool, dry place to cure for 4-6 weeks. You can test your soap after 2 days, but give them a long cure so that they harden properly (allowing all the moisture to evaporate).