Handmade Essential Oil Soap for Christmas #1: Frankincense & Myrrh
Frankincense and Myrrh oils are famous for being gifts for Our Lord Jesus on the day of his birth from the Three Kings. Both of these oils were more valued than gold in those times. These days, they are revered for their health benefits, and Frankincense, in particular, for its anti-aging and skin healing properties. I've added some Moroccan Red Clay to give this soap a lovely light pink/brown color and also for the extra benefits for your skin. I love giving Frankincense & Myrrh Handmade Hot Process Soap for gifts during the holidays! I'm sharing this hot process recipe with you so you can be ready with an awesome handmade holiday gift!
Making hot process soap is very easy!
I'm not going to add a lot of process pics in this post, but if you want to see two really good picture tutorials of the whole hot process soap making method, see this post and/or this post. They're both detailed with pictures and instructions.
You can also check out my eBook, Hot Process Soap Making: How to Make & Customize Your Own Natural Hot Process Soaps for lots more soaping ideas for gifts and everything you need to know about making your own hot process soap!
Note: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I'll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping support Healing Harvest Homestead---Heidi
What does my Frankincense & Myrrh Soap smell like?
It's kind of hard to describe, but the Frankincense has a kind of buttery mild piney/woodsy scent, and the Myrrh has a deep, earthy, smoky scent. I added a touch of the Peppermint essential oil to sweeten the scent and to bring out the thinner Frankincense notes. I'm obviously not a "perfumer," but my nose "knows" what it likes! I've played around with this combination a lot, and this blend of essential oils makes a lovely, long-lasting scent in your soap.
Here's the Recipe to Make Frankincense & Myrrh Hot Process Soap:
NOTE: This is for a 3 pound batch of soap. If you want less or more, just make adjustments.
15 ounces distilled or filtered water
7.2 ounces food grade sodium hydroxide (lye)
15 ounces organic Coconut Oil
15 ounces organic Olive Oil
12 ounces Sweet Almond oil
6 ounces Shea Butter
1.5 ounces Castor Oil
Fragrance & Color
2 tablespoons Red Moroccan Clay
1.5 ounces Frankincense Essential Oil for soap making
.5 ounce Myrrh Essential Oil for soap making
.5 ounce Peppermint Essential Oil
NOTE: I'm a terrible measurer, and I tend to have a "heavy hand" with my oils. I just like the scent on the strong side. If you are sensitive to scents, just reduce!
Where Do I Get My Butters, Oils, and Essential Oils (for Soap making)?
When I first started making soap, this was a BIG question. Where do you get all the stuff? Essential oils, especially are super expensive, especially when you're using them in terms of ounces, not drops. Here's a quick rundown of my favorite places I buy soap making supplies:
I have found that Costco has the best prices on Organic Olive Oil. Once in awhile, I'll buy Coconut oil there for making soap too, but I have found the best place to buy oils, butter, and essential oils (for soap making and room sprays) is online at Amazon, Starwest Botanicals or Bulk Apothecary. They have a huge selection of every thing you need. I believe the essential oils at Starwest are of better quality overall than Bulk Apothecary, but either are fine for making soap.
About essential oils: I use doTerra for direct application on skin and for inhalation because their oils are of therapeutic grade. So, if you're trying to solve a health problem, go doTerra.
However, the prices for therapeutic grade, highest quality essential oils are honestly prohibitive for making soap. That's why I buy my essential oils for making soap from Starwest Botanicals. The quality is still excellent, but the price is much better. For soap making, they're perfect.
How to Make Hot Process Frankincense & Myrrh Soap
1) Gather your tools:
* Crock Pot You'll want a large crock pot, in case things get REALLY frothy--my soap has been known to tumble out of the pot once or twice--NOT a good thing. A simple crock pot is fine. You don't need anything fancy. I recommend dedicating a crock pot to only making soap. I have two for soap, and one for cooking. People say, when then walk into my kitchen, "Boy, you sure have a lot of crock pots!" Oh well. :-)
* Wooden Spoons for stirring
* Kitchen scale I have two scales, actually. This one (Ozeri) is great, and I also use a Cuisinart. I'll try to put that one below.
* Measuring cups and pitchers I use Pyrex because it's a great product. ALSO and more importantly, the lye solution needs to be poured into a heat resistant container as it's VERY hot.
* Large knife OR
* Soap Cutter (optional)
* Hand Blender This is an absolute MUST have. It will take FOREVER to get your mixture to trace without it. See the directions below.
2) Add the oil mixture (NOT the essential oils) and the clay to the crock pot.
3) Now get your lye solution ready.
ALWAYS POUR THE LYE BEADS INTO THE WATER....NOT the other way around. You could get seriously hurt by pouring water into lye. ARE YOU WEARING YOUR GLOVES & GLASSES? Sorry for the all caps! I cannot emphasize how important this is. Also----use a heat resistant container for this part!
Also, I should mention that you need to keep the lye solution away from children and pets. I know that's probably obvious, but they could be badly burned by both the heat of the mixture (it gets REALLY hot from the chemical reaction) and also the caustic nature of the solution itself.
If you happen to accidentally get any on your skin, rinse with cool water. I've used vinegar before, but water is better I've heard.
Let this solution sit and cool down a little while the oils are melting in the crock pot.
4) Blend your Essential Oils
While you are waiting for the oils to melt, get your essential oils blended. Set aside. You won't use these until the very end.
5) Combine lye solution with the oils in the crock pot
6) Mix the oils & lye solution
Get out your dedicated hand blender, and mix away (Got Your Gloves & Glasses on?). You will need to mix it until it's the consistency of pudding. This is called "trace."
7) The Cook---
Put your crockpot lid on, and hang around for 20 - 45 minutes---maybe even less. You will see the chemical changes in the oils as the lye solution "saponifies" them into soap! You'll see some different stages:
First Stage, the mixture will turn hard and opaque
Second Stage, it will start bubbling and rising---getting frothy. Once a lot of it is frothy, STIR, STIR, STIR it down. It will calm right back down. You may still have some opaque pieces. That's ok. Just cook some more.
Third Stage, you may see another "froth" rising up, especially if you still had a lot of opaque bits. Just stir it well again. Some people call this the "mashed potato" stage, because that's kind of what it looks like.
Fourth Stage, eventually, it will turn a bit waxy and translucent. With the clay added, it's a little harder to see the translucency, but you can pretty much tell. Now is the time to test it to see if it's done.
8) Test the soap to see if it's done.
Take a small bit (careful, it is VERY hot) and roll it around between thumb and finger. It should feel just like wax. If this is the case, then do the "ZAP" test. Place it lightly on your tongue. If it "ZAPS" you (you'll KNOW if it does), then it's not done, or perhaps you made a mistake somewhere (this has happened to me, and I talk about it in this post).
9) I LOVE this step. Add your essential oils---
Here is where you turn off the crock pot and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then pour in your essential oil blend and stir like crazy until it's mixed in well. If you are using a pungent oil, you may need to look away while you do this part because it can be pretty strong. Your house will smell AMAZING for a LONG time!
10) Put the soap into your mold.
Now, using a wooden spoon, put the soap into your mold. I use a silicone soap mold. Push it in there really good to be sure there are no air bubbles. You may have a "top" like a loaf of bread.
You can cut this off when it cools down after about 45 minutes if you want a nice smooth top. My husband and I cut this top up and use it. We don't care if it's pretty or not. The other thing you can do with it, if it's still warm, is mold the loaf top into soap balls---these are also great for gifts!
11) Cool your soap, then remove the loaf from the mold
I let my soap sit overnight so it's completely cooled down. The nice thing about silicone molds is that you can just peel it away from the sides of the soap very easily. You can go ahead and cut it up now, OR just leave it in loaf form and cut up as needed. It lasts a LONG time this way!
This whole soap making process takes about two hours, not counting the time it takes the soap to cool down in the mold.
I just love this soap. In fact, I make this soap throughout the year because it's such a nice-scented soap--not too sweet, not too manly, not too anything---I think it's perfect! For making and giving as gifts for the holidays, it's a great choice!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! I'd love to know about your soap making adventures.... Please leave comments! Especially if you have questions or other great ideas, we'd love to know what you think!
Hugs and Self-Reliance!
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Disclaimer: These are my simple directions. Please do extra research on soap making and take all the precautions needed. I'm not responsible for mistakes or injuries.
Jan Berry's website, www.nerdyfarmwife.com, was also instrumental in getting me into making soaps. She has some really great ideas, tutorials, and recipes.
Here is the other kitchen scale I have. Both the Ozeri and this one are great! This one is a little easier to keep clean.