Activated charcoal soap has become pretty popular lately and for good reason. Activated charcoal has a number of benefits and is especially useful for dealing with breakout prone skin. Sure, it may sound like the latest trend, with charcoal seemingly added to everything – charcoal icecream anybody? I mean, you can definitely go overboard. But when it comes to skin care like soap, it makes total sense to add it! If you would like to learn a few other ways you can add activated charcoal to your life, be sure to check out the recent post about my favorite lovely uses for activated charcoal!
While I have been adding it to face masks and tooth paste for a good while, I haven’t made soap with it – until now, that is. It’s something I couldn’t wait to try, because at upwards of $5 per bar, charcoal soap is not the most budget concious product, if you catch my drift. Here at our house we are just at the tail end of using up the last batch of soap I made, which made this the perfect time to finally give this a shot. I got even more motivated, when I came upon this while strolling around my fave craft shop the other day:
Yep, donkey milk soap. I had not heard anything about donkey milk in ages and I was quite surprised to find it in pour and melt soap base in a craft store! Better yet, I had a 40% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket which made it an outright steal for five pounds of soap! Reading the glowing reviews made me even more excited to give this stuff a try! What can I say, I don’t have the most thrilling life…
Apparently, Cleopatra used to take baths in donkey milk. Then again, what didn’t she bathe in? In any case, if it was good enough for her, it’ll be just fine for us, right? Of course you don’t have to use donkey milk soap. You can use any white kind of pour and melt soap you’d like, I am just being extra fancy here.
If you are interested in getting professional soap results without having to deal with scary chemicals like lye, never mind the long wait, and extra equipment, all the calculating and weighing, melt and pour soap is the Best. Thing. Ever. Would I love to know how to make my own soap completely from scratch? Absolutely, but to be honest, I just don’t need to get involved in another hobby. Besides, having to wait a whole month for soap to cure has a bit of a torture-y vibe, don’t you agree?
If money and time are important to you – and I am willing to bet they are, this is the way to make soap like a pro without the hassle and the wait. If you are still curious how to make your own soap entirely from scratch, I will list some helpful resources at the bottom of this post. But I bet once you see how easy and affordable melt and pour soap is, you probably won’t even think of trying to do this the hard way. Or maybe you are more of a die hard and this will be your gateway to more serious soap making adventures, who knows? Anyhoo…
Pour and melt soap base is the best of both worlds, as far as soap making is concerned. It is readily available in a number of different formulations and can be customized in numerous ways from scent to texture to color. Handling it and working with it is super easy as well and requires no special equipment. You are pretty much guaranteed a great outcome, something that is not always the case with traditional old time soap making techniques. Traditional cold process soap recipes are fairly easy, but there are still quite a few steps involved and the soap has to cure for 30 days before use. Hot process soap cuts down some on the wait time, but it still much more labor and equipment intensive. As I hinted above, I am more the instant gratification type when it comes to health and beauty products.
I have been making soap this way for a long time and love being able to customize it to my own likes and needs. No pesky artificial scents, colors or unknown chemicals for this gal! This tutorial is more of a short version. For more detailed instructions be sure to check out my first turorial on making homemade soap!
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Let’s get started making homemade charcoal soap!
Here are a few helpful tips before we dive into the process.
Melt and pour soap comes in a huge block, usually five pounds. While you can certainly work with all of it at once, as I did, I would not recommend it, especially if this is your first try. Melting that much soap takes a long time and keeping a large amount liquid is not all that easy. Therefore I highly recommend working with no more than half a block of soap in one sitting at most. Cutting the block in half is easy and it stores well for when you are ready to make more.
This stuff cuts like butter!
If you plan to make soap like this on a regular basis, you can purchase an inexpensive slow cooker to melt the soap. They are easy to find for cheap at thrift stores! Just make sure it has a low and high setting so you can have more control over the melting process.
To make cleanup easy, line a rimmed cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper to set the soap molds on. This allows you to move the filled soap molds while the soap is still setting up, if needed. You may not want to tie up valuable kitchen counter real estate for that long.
Make sure you have all your tools ready ahead of time and within convenient reach. You will need hot pads and/or oven mitts to pour the hot liquid soap safely.
Below I will list a simple, more budget friendly version as well as a”fancier” one, just to give you options. It’s totally up to you to choose the one that works best for you. I will show pictures for the option using soap molds, because that is what I personally like to use.
Here is what you will need to create homemade charcoal soap:
- white soap base of your choice like the donkey milk version shown here, shea butter or goat’s milk (the donkey milk soap lathers beautifully and is gentle for use on your face)
- activated charcoal caps or activated charcoal powder (the powder is easier to work in this case)
- silicone soap molds or a long narrow bread loaf pan lined with wax paper
- 2 tempered glass bowls- I keep a pyrex bowls from the thrift shop on hand for this – you’ll only need one bowl if you are making your soap all one color
- spoon or silicone spatula
- essential oils of your choice (find a list of skin friendly oils at the bottom of this post)
- other add-ons of your choice (completely optional) finely ground oatmeal would work – ground dried lemon rind has a nice scent and adds exfoliating properties or all natural colors if you choose a color other than white to go with the black charcoal soap
- bamboo skewer or spoon handle to create marble pattern – if desired
Cut soap base into about 1″ chunks and place in microwave safe tempered glass bowl. Don’t overfill the bowl. As stated above it is easier to work with a smaller amount of soap at the beginning. For bicolor marbled soap, you can still warm all of your soap chunks together at the beginning and divide the soap into two separate bowls once melted. And as I mentioned above, you can also do this in a slow cooker that will be used just for this purpose.
Place glass bowl over a hot water bath in a double boiler to gently melt soap while stirring frequently or microwave soap in 30 second increments, stirring well after each segment until the soap is completely melted and liquid. I used the microwave to warm my soap. Stir frequently to avoid chunks, which will make pouring difficult. Don’t overheat, as the soap can scorch. If using a slow cooker, keep soap mixture on the low setting and stir freqently.
After a little bit it will look something like this:
Continue heating and stirring until the mixture is completely smooth with no unmelted chunks remaining.
Melt all of the soap in one bowl, add charcoal powder to entire batch for all charcoal soap bars, mix well, reheat as needed. The amount of charcoal powder will vary. Start with about a teaspoon, stir well and add more in 1/4 teaspoon increments until the mixture has reached the color you want to achieve. It takes quite a bit of charcoal powder to create a totally black mixture. That is why loose powder is easier to work with in this case.
Once the soap is completely liquid, pour half of the soap into another tempered glass bowl. Add 25-30 charcoal caps or 1 teaspoon (more if a darker color is desired- see abouve) to one batch.
You will probably need to reheat the soap and charcoal mixture at this point. Once reheated, stir well to make sure the soap is well dissolved again. If using add-ons like lemon peel, add to the liquid soap mixture and stir well to combine. It is up to you to decide whether you want to use add-ons and if you want to use them in both the white and the charcoal soap or just one. Make it your own! You will need to keep reheating slightly to keep the mixture pourable.
In all my excitement, I forgot to get a picture of the mixed charcoal soap! You can see the color and consistency below.
Line loaf pan with two strips of parchment or wax paper to create a sling. To make sure the paper stays put, tape it down with some masking tape. This will allow you to lift the finished set soap out of the pan easily for cutting.
Here is what that looks like:
I do not recommend a silicone baking pan, because the amount of liquid soap used will cause it to bulge out too much, unlike the much smaller compartments of a silicone soap mold. Stay with a rigid loaf pan if this is the route you choose.
Gently fill the molds with half charcoal and half white soap – use the bamboo skewer to create a marble pattern. Tap each mold to release any trapped air bubbles. Here are some of the molds partially filled with the charcoal soap mixture:
This is where you get to have some fun and play around with different combinations if you’d like.
For both Versions:
Let the soap cool for at least 1 hour (2 hours if using a loaf pan) until it is completely solid. You can move the soap to the refrigerator to cool and set faster. This is where the wax paper lined cookie sheet comes in super handy. Once the soap is ready to unmold, remove from mold wrap in wax or parchment paper. Cut into 3/4″ slices if you created it in a loaf pan. Enjoy!
Each bar is unique. For the one on the left, I added lemon essential oil and ground lemon peel to the white soap and poured it on top of the black layer. gently stirring the two layers together gives the soap a pretty marble pattern on top. The bar in the middle is charcoal only, while the bar on the right just combines charcoal and white soap. You could also color the white soap with natural colors if you’d like. You see, completely customizable to your likes and tastes!
If you are specifically creating this to treat acne blemishes, add a few drops of high quality tea tree oil. Check out this post to learn how to buy quality essential oils.
This soap lasts for at least 6 months, that is if you don’t use it all up beforehand! I actually have a bar that I created nearly a year ago and it is still as fresh as the day it was made.
It is gentle enough to use on your face and also makes a lovely gift! Give it alone or combine it in a special gift basket with some of my other favorite goodies you can easily create yourself like lip and hand balm, sugar scrub or relaxing bath salts.
Find printable recipes for all kinds of easy to make body care products in the FREE Resource Library! Just sign up here and the password is on its way to your inbox!
This 5 lb block of soap yielded 18 bars of soap in the molds shown. Each bar measures 3″x 2″ and is at least 3/4″ thick. You can see that even if you use only half a block, you will not be running out to buy any soap for quite a while. If you purchase the soap block with a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby (I always load mine on my cell phone ahead of time), and use the same mold size as I did, you will wind up spending about 70 cents per bar. Most activated charcoal soaps retail for about $5 a piece! So yes, making your own is definitely worth it, even if you purchase the charcoal powder and invest in molds for the first time.
If you are considering creating your own soap, but have been too intimidated by the process, this simple melt and pour method is the perfect way to get started! Chances are you will love this method so much to just stick with it, I sure do. It gives you the best of both worlds, more control as far as unwanted chemicals are concerned without the equipment, tedious process and lengthy wait for the soap to cure.
But if you are still tempted to try creating your own homemade soap entirely from scratch, here are a couple of helpful links to get you started. Both sites contain a wealth of information related to making soap from scratch.
The Cold Process Method by SpruceCrafts.com
Hot Process Soap in a Slow Cooker by WellnessMama.com
Ideas for natural colors to use in soap making by Lovelygreens.com
Find a useful printable chart listing the best essential oils for soapmaking at thenerdyfarmwife.com
I hope this post will give you the motivation and the confidence to try your hand at making your very own version of homemade charcoal soap. You will be surprised by how easy it is and how much money you save in the long run. Treat yourself to the luxury of homemade soap and/or impress someone with it as a thoughtful gift. The choice is yours!
If you love creating your own body care products, be sure to check out my other posts and don’t forget to sign up for my Free Resource Library to get the printable recipes to keep.
If you try this method of soapmaking or have questions about the process, be sure to comment below!