I made this soap last year, at the end of a long, cold winter. I was excited and ready for spring and had even planted out some pansies and broccoli and then…. we got a surprise late snow that stuck around for several days.
I moped about it for a short bit, but then figured it was the perfect time to try out this idea for making soap with snow that I first saw over at Modern Soap Making. It made a wonderful soap that I loved!
While I’ll share my recipe below, you can use snow in place of water in any cold process soap recipe that you’d like. The form changes, but not the weight – a big bowl of snow that weighs 12 ounces will melt down into water that also weighs 12 ounces, so they can be used interchangeably.
- 2 ounces (57 g) castor oil
- 10 ounces (284 g) coconut oil
- 18 ounces (510 g) olive oil
- 6 ounces (170 g) shea butter
- 4.98 ounces (141 g) lye (sodium hydroxide)
- 12 ounces (340 g) fresh snow
- 2 tbsp (29 ml) peppermint essential oil, optional
- 1/2 tsp indigo powder, optional
- pinch of silver mica, optional
All measurements are by weight. You need an accurate scale to make soap. These directions only give an overview of the process. If you’ve never made soap before, check out my Soap Making 101 post for more information. You may also find my Natural Soap Making ebook helpful:
I made this in a homemade box mold I have, with inner dimensions of: 15 x 3.5 x 2 inches.
I sourced (light) olive and coconut oil from my local grocery store, castor oil from Mountain Rose Herbs (that’s an affiliate link) and refined shea butter, indigo powder and silver mica from Bramble Berry.
Weigh the coconut oil and shea butter, add to a small saucepan and gently melt them over low heat. While they’re melting, weigh the rest of the oils and place them in a stainless steel or enamel lined pot or a heat proof plastic or glass mixing bowl. Prepare your mold by lining it with parchment or freezer paper.
Once melted, add the coconut oil and shea butter to the other oils. This will warm them a bit higher than room temperature.
Scoop up a clean bucket of fresh snow. Bring it inside and weigh out 12 ounces in a heat safe plastic or stainless steel pitcher. I did not filter my snow, but if you want to, the directions to do so are at the original idea HERE.
Wearing proper safety gear (gloves, goggles & long sleeves), weigh out the lye and add it to the freshly collected snow, stirring well until fully dissolved. The lye will cause the snow to melt and heat up. This is similar to making milk soap, but you don’t have to worry about scorching here! Just as if you used water, this step will give off strong fumes that you don’t want to directly breathe in. Work in a well ventilated area.
Using a stick blender, combine the lye mixture and oils for several minutes until you reach trace. (“Trace” means when you drizzle a small bit of the soap mixture over the surface, it will leave a faint pattern or trace before sinking back into itself.) (Click HERE for a close up photo demonstrating this phase.)
If desired, add peppermint essential oil at this stage and stir well.
Pour most of the soap in your mold, but reserve a small portion (around 1/2 cup), if you’d like to add colored accents.
Step 4, optional:
Stir 1/2 cup reserved soap batter with 1/4 teaspoon of indigo powder. This is a lovely blue-jean shade that you can buy HERE at Bramble Berry. It’s one of two blue options that I know of for naturally coloring soap. (The other is Cambrian blue clay, which you can buy HERE from this Etsy shop.)
I put my blue soap batter in a plastic squeeze bottle (also from Bramble Berry) and made snowflake designs over the top of my soap. My art talent peaked around second grade, so that’s about as skilled as I get in the fancy soap decorating department!
I was in the mood for sparkles too, so I sifted a little bit of silver mica over the top.
Lightly cover your mold and let it sit for 24 to 48 hours, then unmold and slice into bars. Let your soap cure for at least four weeks before using.
My odd-sized homemade mold made around 7 bars.
Remember, I skimmed through these steps. For a more complete step-by-step tutorial, check out Soap Making 101!
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