Solid shampoo bars are becoming very popular in upscale soap boutiques. They are great to use when traveling, easy to store and are a natural alternative to liquid shampoos. The best part of making your own is you can scent them with any of your favorite fragrances or use essential oils to make your own hair and scalp treatment shampoo.
Things You'll Need
Making Solid Shampoo Bars
Find a clean and clutter-free working space to make your solid shampoo bars. A kitchen counter near the sink is your best bet, but a kitchen table will also do. Cover your work space with a plastic garbage bag and a few layers of newspaper to protect the surface from spills.
Next gather all your ingredients together, double checking that you have everything that you will need at hand.
Put on your safety gear, including long sleeves and long pants, shoes, eye protection and gloves.
Now weigh out your lye using your scale and place the lye into a plastic container.
Weigh your water and place that into another plastic container.
Now very slowly and carefully pour the lye into the water (never the water into the lye!) and mix thoroughly until the lye is completely dissolved. Try to avoid splashes as the lye is caustic and will burn anything it comes into contact with. If your skin comes into contact with the lye mixture, immediately rinse with cool water. Surface spills should be wiped up immediately.
Now place the lye and water mixture aside. It will have become very warm and will need to cool to between 90 and 100 degrees before using. Place one of the thermometers in the mixture to monitor the temperature.
You will now be melting and mixing your oils. Weigh out your coconut, olive, caster and wheat germ oils (not the essential oils) and place them into your large pot which is placed on the stove. Heat until the coconut oil is just melted. You will want your oil mixture and your lye mixture to be the same temperature (between 90 and 100 degrees) before blending. Place the other thermometer into the oil mixture to monitor temperature. If need be you can adjust one or the other’s temperature by placing them in a sink filled with cool water until the desired temperature is met.
While you are waiting for the two mixtures’ temperatures to regulate, you can ready your essential or fragrance oils and soap molds. Weigh out your essential or fragrance oil and have it ready to go. If you are using one large wooden soap mold for your solid shampoo bars, line the mold with wax paper for easier shampoo bar removal later on. If you are using individual molds for your solid shampoo, double check that they are clean and free of any debris.
Once the lye mixture and oil mixture have reached the desired temperatures, slowly and very carefully pour the lye mixture into the oils, stirring continuously. Continue stirring using a wooden spoon or stick blender until the mixture has thickened (a stick blender will speed up the process) and you see “tracks” where you have just stirred. This is called reaching “trace” and you must achieve this stage before continuing with your solid shampoo bars.
Now that you are at the “trace” stage you can add your essential or fragrance oils and colorant. Pour in your fragrance and colorant and continue to stir thoroughly.
Your solid shampoo bar mixture is now ready for the mold. Carefully pour the mixture into your mold(s) and cover either with the mold’s lid or wax paper and a piece of heavy cardboard.
Wrap your molded shampoo bars in a thick blanket and store, undisturbed, for 18 hours.
After the 18 hour time period is up remove the blanket and lid and allow the solid shampoo bars to sit for another 12 hours.
Your shampoo bars are now ready to be removed from the mold(s) and cut (if necessary). Put on rubber gloves (the soap is still somewhat caustic) and place an old towel onto your kitchen counter and carefully place the mold(s) face down on the towel. Tap gently a few times to remove the shampoo bars. If they don’t come out easily, place the mold(s) in the freezer for about an hour and try again.
Once you have your soaps removed from the mold they are ready to be cut (if the shampoo bar is one big block). Use a sharp knife to carefully cut small, hand sized bars of the solid shampoo.
Your solid shampoo bars now need to cure for a minimum of two weeks before using. Place the shampoo bars on a drying rack or in a large box, making sure the soaps do not touch one another.
After two weeks your solid shampoo bars are ready to be used, but leaving them longer will make them milder and harder (which means they will last longer).
Store your solid shampoo bars in a cool, dry place until ready to use.
Choosing Essential Oils for Your Shampoo Bars
You have the choice of using essential or fragrance oils when scenting your shampoo bars. Fragrance oils offer a wide variety of scents and can be fun to experiment with. If you are looking to make your solid shampoo bar as hair friendly as possible, you may want to use an essential oil. Essential oils are natural oils derived from plants and possessing beneficial properties.
Use peppermint essential oil in your shampoo bars for a invigorating and eye opening experience. This oil will cause your scalp to tingle as it promotes blood flow to the scalp. If you have very sensitive skin you may want to avoid this one as the tingling sensation may be irritating.
Rosemary essential oils is an excellent choice for your shampoo bars. It helps alleviate dandruff and promotes healthy hair.
Tea Tree essential oil is used in professional dandruff shampoos. It helps eliminate dandruff and an oily scalp while promoting good blood flow. It can cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. If your scalp is sensitive use another essential oil, or lessen the amount you use in your recipe.
Lavender is a popular, tried and true essential oil. Not only does it smell wonderful, it is great for irritated and problem scalps. Lavender is also good for putting people in an uplifted mood, so if you really hate getting up in the morning, try adding this to your shampoo bars and maybe those morning showers won’t be so rotten.
- Always be sure to know the properties of any essential oils you plan on using before adding them to your shampoo bars. While most essential oils are user friendly, some are toxic. See the resource box at the end of this article for a link to essential oil information.