Charcoal Cedarwood & Pine Tar Soap
This forest-scented charcoal and pine tar soap lathers well and washes off cleanly. It’s a favorite with the guys in my family!
Pine tar is a fantastic ingredient in soap, renowned for clearing tough-to-treat skin problems, but it can have a strong smell that’s off-putting to some.
When a relative requested a pine tar soap that needed to be appealing for a diverse group of people, I came up with this recipe, and it was a hit!
The amount of pine tar is reduced to 1% in this recipe (compared to 10% in my normal recipe), and blended with cedarwood and fir needle essential oils for a natural clean woodsy scent that won’t overwhelm.
Ground oats were added for gentle exfoliation, and bentonite clay’s purpose is to leave your skin feeling extra clean. (Both of these are optional though; feel free to leave them out if you’d like.)
Charcoal draws impurities from your pores, while sea salt helps harden the soap.
Some links on this site are affiliate links; I only recommend products I personally use and enjoy. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you’ve never made soap before, please visit my article, Soap Making 101, and study the art of soapmaking first.
You may also find my Natural Soapmaking Ebook Collection helpful!
- 8.81 oz (250 g) distilled water (2.1 to 1 water:lye ratio)
- 1 tsp salt (mix into distilled water)
- 4.19 oz (119 g) sodium hydroxide (lye) (5% superfat)
- 1/2 tsp bentonite clay (mix into hot lye solution)
- 9 oz (255 g) olive oil (30%)
- 7.75 oz (220 g) coconut oil (25%)
- 4 oz (113 g) sweet almond (or sunflower) oil (13%)
- 3 oz (85 g) cocoa butter (or lard/tallow) (10%)
- 2 oz (57 g) avocado butter (or shea) (7%)
- 2 oz (57 g) castor oil (7%)
- 2 oz (57 g) mango butter (7%)
- 0.25 oz (7 g) pine tar (1%)
- 1 tsp charcoal (blend into warm oils)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground oats (blend into warm oils)
- Essential oils: 1.13 oz (32 g) cedarwood Himalayan + 0.37 oz (11 g) fir needle
Directions to Make
Stir the 1 teaspoon of salt into the distilled water. This helps the soap release from the mold easier and is especially helpful if you’re using silicone molds.
Make sure you’re wearing proper safety gear of goggles and gloves.
If you’ve never made soap before, stop and study the process before proceeding. (My Soap Making 101 article is a good starting place.)
Once the salt is stirred in, pour in the lye and mix until dissolved. This mixture gets hot fast and for a few moments will give off strong fumes that you should avoid breathing in.
Stir in the bentonite clay.
Set the lye solution aside to cool for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it’s under or around 100 degrees F.
While the lye is cooling: Prepare your mold and weigh the liquid oils in a stainless steel or heat proof plastic container.
Melt the solid fats (butters, coconut oil) until they turn liquid and combine with the liquid oils.
Set the oils aside until they’re around 100 to 110 degrees F. (The oils and lye do not have to be the same temperature.)
Blend in the charcoal and oats with an immersion blender.
When you’re ready to make the soap, add the pine tar to the warm oils and stir until blended.
Make sure you’re wearing gloves and safety goggles for the next step.
Pour the lye solution into the oils/pine tar mixture and stir by hand with a heavy duty plastic or silicone spoon or spatula for about 30 seconds.
Add the essential oils.
Since pine tar soap is prone to seizing up (thickening too fast and becoming unworkable) only use the stick blender in brief bursts, mainly mixing by hand. This also helps reduce air bubbles.
Once trace is reached, pour the batter into the mold. After about 15 minutes, and again at 30 minutes, I spritz with a generous layer of isopropyl alcohol to help minimize soda ash.
Cover the mold with plastic wrap or wax paper.
Unmold after 24 to 48 hours. When the soap is easy to handle, slice into bars and let cure for at least four to six weeks.