Cold Process Cucumber Soap (Palm Free)
This cold process cucumber soap is a palm-free alternative to my original Cucumber Borage Soap.
When creating this recipe, I started with my standard base of skin loving olive oil, plus a generous amount of coconut oil for great lather and hardness. (If you’re allergic to coconut, try using babassu oil instead.) I then added some rice bran oil, since I’ve really been loving it in my soaps lately – it’s a nourishing oil, rich in vitamin E, and makes a great stand-in for some of the olive oil in a recipe. (Plus it’s cheaper!)
Avocado oil contains essential fatty acids, while shea butter adds moisturizing properties and a bit of extra firmness that’s often needed in palm-free recipes. If you don’t have shea butter, or are allergic, try using mango or avocado butter instead.
French green clay adds a pale green color and combines with cucumber puree to make this bar extra soothing, and great at calming itchy or inflamed skin.
I used the lye calculator at Bramble Berry to determine lye amount for a 6% superfat. (Running it by my other favorite calculator at Majestic Mountain Sage though, it results in around a 7.5% superfat, so adjust to your preference.)
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For the majority of soap recipes on this site (and in my ebook – Natural Soap Making), I use a homemade wooden loaf mold (inner dimensions are 8″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″), this 12 Cavity Rectangle Silicone Mold (filling around nine of the twelve cavities) or this silicone column mold for round soaps (if using silicone molds, reduce the liquid by around 1/2 ounce so soap will firm up faster). You could also try using a sturdy shoe box or empty milk carton, lined with an inexpensive, unscented trash bag, to make a disposable mold.
Cold Process Cucumber Soap Recipe
Superfat is 6%. All measurements are by weight. You need an accurate digital scale to make soap.
- 1/4 (2 or 3 oz) of a cucumber, unpeeled
- 9 oz (255 g) cool or chilled water
- 3.83 oz (108 g) lye (sodium hydroxide)
- 12 oz (340 g) olive oil
- 8 oz (227 g) coconut oil (*or babassu oil)
- 4 oz (113 g) rice bran oil
- 2 oz (57 g) avocado oil
- 2 oz (57 g) shea, mango or avocado butter
- 1/2 tbsp French green clay mixed with 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) water
*Note: If using babassu oil instead of coconut oil, use 3.57 ounces (101 grams) of lye for a 6% superfat.
Step 1: Puree the cucumber with around 2 ounces of the chilled water. Strain. Pour the fresh cucumber juice into a heat proof plastic or stainless steel pitcher or container and add enough water, until it weighs 9 ounces (255 g).
Step 2: Wearing safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves, weigh out the lye and pour it into the pitcher of cucumber juice and water. Stir well to make sure the lye is fully dissolved. It will heat up quickly and give off strong fumes that you should avoid breathing in directly. I like to do this step in my kitchen sink, in order to contain any spills or splashes. Set the solution aside in a safe place, out of the reach of children and pets, and let cool for about 30 to 40 minutes. The temperature should drop to around 100 to 110°F (38 to 43°C) during that time.
Step 3: Weigh the coconut oil and shea butter into a small saucepan or double boiler. Melt gently over low heat, keeping a close eye on it. Weigh the other oils into your soap making pot or container and then pour the melted oils into there too. The melted oils should bring the temperature up to around 90 to 100°F (32 to 38°C), though you don’t have to get too hung up on trying to make the temperatures match.
Step 4: Now, you’re ready to mix! Working carefully and still with gloves, goggles and long sleeves on, pour the lye solution into the oils. Stir by hand for around 30 seconds then begin mixing with an immersion (stick) blender. Do not use a hand mixer – you want a stick blender that looks like THIS.
Step 5: Blend for around 30 to 40 seconds, then hand stir with the motor off for 30 to 40 seconds. Alternate until trace is reached. “Trace” means that your soap batter has gotten thick enough so that when you drizzle some of it across the surface of itself, it leaves an imprint or “tracing” before sinking back in.
Step 6: Right before, or when light trace is reached, stir in the French green clay and water mixture. If you also want to add essential oil for scent, do so now. (Bramble Berry has a handy fragrance calculator HERE to help you figure out how much to use for this 41 ounce batch.)
Step 7: Pour the soap into the prepared mold and cover with a sheet of wax paper, then the mold’s top or a piece of cardboard. Insulate the mold with a towel or small quilt, but peek every so often to make sure that the soap isn’t overheating. It will darken in spots and take on a gel-like appearance at some points (that’s all normal as it goes through “gel phase”), but if you see a crack developing down the middle, it’s getting too hot and should be uncovered.
Step 8: Allow the soap to stay in the mold for at least 24 to 48 hours. Remove from the mold and slice into bars. This recipe yields around 8 bars of soap. Let the soap cure for at least 4 weeks before use.