Olive oil soap, best known as Castile soap, is a classic among handmade soaps. It’s one of the simplest soap recipes, great for beginner soapmakers! No need to purchase Castile soap when you can – easily – make it at home.
Olive Oil Soap – The Mildest Soap of All
Olive oil soap, also known as Castile Soap is one of the most traditional and well-known among handmade soaps. Actually, a soap is considered a Castile soap if it contains more than 70% olive oil in its recipe. This recipe is 100% olive oil.
Technically, we can use any type of oil to make soap, but in fact each one of them contributes with different properties to the final soap. For example, coconut oil contributes to hard bars and abundant foam, while sunflower oil contributes to softer and more moisturizing bars. However, too much coconut oil makes the skin “dry” and too much sunflower oil makes the soap bars too soft. Check out all about oils properties for soap bars in Soap Making Oils Chart.
There are few oils that, used in 100% of the recipe, are able to produce good soaps: olive oil, animal fat, palm oil, coconut oil, babassu oil, rice bran oil. The purer the oil, the more natural and better the soap will be. For this reason, it is advisable to use extra virgin olive oil.
By itself, olive oil gives good bars of very gentle and nourishing soap for the skin without being dry, so it is especially suitable for sensitive skin. It produces a not very abundant foam that some may find “slimy”, others will find it creamy. It does not generate abundant foam filled with bubbles like coconut oil, but there is nothing as moisturizing, silky and smooth as a bar of natural olive oil soap.
It’s also the perfect recipe to start soapmaking at home. Due to its natural characteristics, you can learn about this thing called “trace” that soapmakers speak about so often, as this soap traces very slowly.
And it has a small list of ingredients: olive oil, lye, water and salt. You probably have them all at home right now! In addition, the end soap is delicious, very mild and conditioning, a huge difference compared to the bath gels and soaps you buy in stores.
Find Where to Buy Handmade Olive Oil Soap (Castile Soap)
If you’re not yet ready to try to make this recipe at home, but you still wish to enjoy a natural castile soap, you can find handmade olive oil/castile soap in the following links:
- Sweet Orange Castile Soap (Etsy)
- Lavender Lemongrass Castile Goat’s Milk Soap (Etsy)
- Pure Castile Soap (Etsy)
- Dr Stamlers Real Castile Soap (Etsy)
- More about Vegetable Oils: Soap Making Oils Chart
- More about Essential Oils: Essential Oils for Soap Making
- More Soap Recipes: All Natural Cold Process Soap Recipes
- More Recipes for Beginners: Homemade Soap Recipes For Beginners
Watch These Videos Before Starting Your Recipe
Olive Oil Soap Recipe
- 225 g extra virgin olive oil
- Wear goggles and gloves! Look at “Safety Recommendations” in the video above or in How to Make Soap From Scratch
- Watch the video above about "Cold Process Soap Making Tutorial" or read the post How To Make Soap by Cold Process Step-by-Step for instructions on cold process soap making before starting. These are generic but important steps for all recipes.
- Assemble everything: ingredients, equipment, safety equipment. Prepare your workstations. Measure all the ingredients. Don’t start the recipe without having everything ready!
- The essential oil is optional. It adds scent to soap. I have suggested lemongrass for this soap, but you can choose your favorite between peppermint, litsea cubeba, tea tree or lavender, or a blend. Just don't exceed the quantity.
Prepare the Lye Water
- Make the lye solution according to How To Make Lye Water. If using fine salt, add it to the water and dissolve it very well before doing the mixture. Add the lye and mix it until the vapors start to dissipate and the water clears. Strain it to catch any undissolved lye crystals.
- If using sodium lactate, add it in cooled lye water (below 55ºC – 130ºF) and mix well.
Heat the Oils
- Heat the olive oil to aprox. 35ºC – 40ºC (95ºF – 104ºF). This step is only to speed up trace, you can actually use it at room temperature.
Make the Soap Batter
- Use as a target temperature 35ºC-40ºC (95ºF – 104ºF) for the oil-solution mixture. This recipe has a water discount to reduce trace time and cure time. Higher temperature also helps to reach trace. However, I've made this soap at 30ºC room temperature (it was a hot summer day) and took me 11 minute to reach trace.
- Mix the lye water with the oils. Pour carefully using a spatula.
- Reach trace with the immersion blender. Recipes of 100% olive oil soap take time to reach it, you may need to use the stick blender for about 10-15 minutes. In the end, it should be a liquid opaque pale yellow batter.
- After trace, add the extract and essential oil. Mix with a spatula.
- Pour the soap batter in the molds with a pitcher (I don't recommend using box soap molds for olive oil, only silicone ones). Sprinkle with alcohol or witch hazel. You can put in pre-heated oven for gel phase.
Molding and Curing
- 100% olive oil soaps take time to solidify. By using sodium lactate or fine salt, your soaps will solidify faster. However, it is advisable to leave it in molds for up to 7 days, because of soda ash. Let the soap set in molds for 2 to 7 days (depending on your patience 🙂 )
- Unmold and let the bars cure for 8 weeks minimum. Some soap makers state that Castile soap bar is optimal at 6 months. Maybe because I always use sodium lactate or salt, mine are good to go after 2 months. See How To Cure Handmade Soap.