Lebanese Olive Oil Soap

Ingredients

  • 1,000  grams olive oil (1 litre of oil = 920 grams)
  • 340  grams water
  • 124  grams lye (also called caustic soda or sodium hydroxide)
  • Laurel leaves

Tools

  • 2 large plastic containers – one for the lye, one for the water
  • Large stainless steel bowl for mixing the oil and lye
  • Pot for heating oil
  • Stainless steel spoon
  • Container for pouring the soap int the moulds
  • Two kitchen thermometers (one for the lye, one for the oil)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection

Instructions

Pour the oil in a pot and warm slowly to 45 °C.

Lye is extremely toxic, so wear a long sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, mask and eye protection when working with it. Also, have a bottle of vinegar handy, so if you splash the lye on yourself (which is alkaline), you can immediately neutralize it by wiping it away with the vinegar (an acid).

Measure the lye into one container, and the water into the second container. Slowly pour the lye into the water and stir with a stainless steel spoon. IMPORTANT: be sure to add the lye to the water, not the other way around. If you pour the water over the lye, it can bubble up. Allow lye mixture to cool to between 35-51 °C.

When both liquids are at the same temperature, pour the lye into the water, and mix with a wooden spoon for a few monutes.

Switch to a stick blender, tilting the bottom of the mixer on an angle to avoid suction against the bottom of the pot.

Blend until soap looks like the texture of pudding, or when you can see lines or “traces” when you run the mixer through it, about 8-10 minutes.

Put laurel leaves in the bottom of your soap moulds, then pour the liquid soap into the moulds. Cover tops with cardboard, wrap towels over top, then leave for 24-48 hours. If you can make a dent in it with your finger, leave it another day or two. When the soap is firm, remove from mould, then stack to allow the air to circulate freely around the bars, and allow to dry for at least 4 weeks on a rack in a well-ventilated area.

NOTE: When washing the dishes, wear gloves in case there are any lye crystals clinging to anything

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