Lye to me


Today I was going to make a batch of soap for general household cleaning (Grandma’s lye soap, essentially). I went to measure out the lye and I was an ounce and a half or so short. Bummer! After a minute I remembered that the other batch of soap I wanted to make used less lye and decided to use up the last of my lye (and pretty much all of my coconut oil on hand) making coconut oil salt spa bars.


These bars are heavy and dense. They are supposed to produce luxurious lather and be detoxifying due to their extremely high sea salt content. I colored them with swirls of gold shimmery mica and they are pretty. Even unscented, they smell nice; they are the first unscented soap I’ve made that smells really simple and like nothing at all, no carry over from the oils it was made from.


There’s something to be said for coconut oil. Personally, I like getting clean with 100% coconut oil bars, but I know other people worry that they are too harsh and drying. These bars should be mild due to the extra fat content, which works as a moisturizer, and the salt.


Until I order more sodium hydroxide, this is my last batch of bar soap. I may do more liquid soap concentrate soon, as I have plans for what little bit I have left. Unfortunately, I find myself tight on money after my last few trips to the grocery store (are groceries getting more expensive?!?) and may have to curb extra spending for things like lye for the time being and focus on other stuff. There’s plenty to do around here and no more space for soap anyways until I sell some.

Geeky rant

Meanwhile, I continue to search online for DIY ideas for a co-wash conditioner, including the long hair blogs and Reddit. I have ideas formulating, but am skittish about spending money on ingredients when I’m not sure it will work. If it does work, I’m…approximately out the cost of three bottles of store brand co-wash with the ability to make 10 or more bottles. If it doesn’t work…I wasted money, time on development, ingredients, and more time on all the research. However, I do believe in “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, at least within moderation.

I have my old bottle and have been breaking down the ingredients precisely but that is taking time and research. As far as I can tell at a glance, it’s a conditioner with a cationic quaternary compound as an emulsifier that has an especially long carbon chain, which helps it adsorb (yes, adsorb and not absorb) to your hair and bring moisture and fatty acids from oils in the conditioner with it. The emulsifier and the oils make up the conditioning part, and the “oil will bind with and clean other oils” part. In addition, there’s a mild surfactant in there; not a detergent like SLS or anything harsh and bad for you (it’s a coconut based surfactant, and I can actually get a similar and even more gentle ingredient to try out). There are humectants and stuff like cetyl alcohol, which works with the emulsifier to stabilize it and also condition the hair follicle. All in all, it’s totally something I can duplicate, only with safer, and more healthy ingredients. If it weren’t for the silicone derivatives, I would be sorely tempted back to the dark side, I admit, just for convenience. I loved washing my hair with conditioner and my hair loved being washed with conditioner.  My hair type doesn’t need a shampoo bar often, only after using a lot of products (like, never) or stretching a “no-poo” out to a week or something. Wish me luck as I do my mad scientist act over the next few weeks and create this monster, 100 grams at a time.

Note: working in tiny batches saves waste, and working with 100 grams or 100 ml at a time makes working with percentages a cakewalk. I know, I cheat.

Sorry. Geeky rant over. If I do get a co-wash to work, you’ll be the first to know. I’ll even share the formula. In the meantime, the spa bars only need two weeks to cure out because I used a 40% lye solution (do not do this unless you are ok with quick trace!).


Author: scseery

Soap, bath and beauty, jams and jellies, and unique upcycled gifts. That's what I make and talk about here. A lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s