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A Better Recipe For Cold Process Salt Bars

positano salt bar 2The first time I tried making salt bars, I was just a beginner at soap making. I only used a 10% superfat and the soap made my skin really dry. Ever since then I’ve been kind of iffy about trying salt bars again. And I resolved that if I did try again, I was going to use less coconut oil, even if the lather suffered for it.

So I stalked some Facebook groups for conversations on salt bars and found that not everyone uses 100% coconut oil in their recipes. Yay! So armed with that knowledge, I came up with a new recipe, dropping my coconut oil down to 75%; and I came away with a soap I really enjoy.

75% Coconut Salt Bar Recipe
I had planned to use all white salt when I made this soap, but discovered I only had about 12 ounces of regular sea salt. Oops! But I had this other pink Himalayan salt, and since the pink salt would color the soap, I decided to do a two-tone soap instead of a solid pale pink bar.

After combining the lye and oils, I added my fragrance and split the batch in two. I added my mica to one half and added the white salt to it. Then I filled each soap cavity halfway. After that, I added the pink salt to the other half of my batter and filled the cavities the rest of the way.

And you know what? This soap has lots of lather and just the right amount of exfoliation. I love it! I think I could have cut the coconut oil to 50% and it still would have worked. I guess I’ve got an experiment for another day, but I’m going to roll with this recipe for now and make some more scents with it.

If you’d like to try this soap before you make it, I’ve listed them for sale here.

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Soleseife Soap Recipe – German Brine Soap

soleseife soap recipeA few months ago, a “new” kind of German brine soap was all the rage on soap making forums, so of course I had to try it out, too. It was called soleseife (zo•luh zigh•fuh). People spelled it all different ways and many were mistakenly treating this soap like a regular salt bar, even though the outcome is very different. Soleseife is different, because the salt is dissolved in the water instead of stirred into the soap batter; so you get the benefits of bathing with saltwater without the exfoliating dimension of using undissolved salt. I think salt is too scratchy for soap, and prefer sugar scrub bars instead, but I was intrigued by the idea of a different kind of spa bar.

I developed my own soleseife soap recipe after dissecting two others that I found online:

Both of these seemed just like any other soap recipe, except for the sea salt mixed into the water and that the coconut oil was on the higher end, at 25-30% (my usual recipe is only 15%). Saltwater and sea salt soaps tend to have less lather, so that is why these recipes have more coconut oil. I couldn’t find any resource that told me how to know how much salt to use, so I just did some math to figure it out. If you divide the ounces of salt by the ounces of water, both of the above recipes used what came to 25% of their water amount for salt concentration. So that is what I went with, also. By the way, don’t try to do this soap recipe using the hot process method. The salt in the water causes it to dry out and harden up very quickly, so the results are unattractive. I used cavity molds for my soleseife soaps.

Soleseife Soap Recipe

Yield: 36 oz (oils)

  • 9 oz Olive Oil (25%)
  • 9 oz Coconut Oil (25%)
  • 5.4 oz Avocado oil (15%)
  • 4.7 oz Shea butter (13%)
  • 5.4 oz canola oil (15%)
  • 2.5 oz castor oil (7%)
  • 2 T goat milk powder (not required)

Lye solution:

Fragrance:

  • 2.25 oz essential or fragrance oil

I scented mine with a mix of peppermint, lavender, tea tree and Himalayan cedarwood essential oils; and as you can see, it turned out very white. It was fun to try a soap recipe from another country – I wish they were easier to find! While I’ve only made this recipe twice, I have started using brine water in my Dead Sea Mud Facial Bar recipe – I use a lot less salt, just over 3% for this purpose, but my skin absolutely loves it.

Have you made soleseife soap? What did you think? Do you have another favorite recipe from another country?

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Grapefruit Ginger Cold Process Salt Bar Recipe

I’m a member of a Facebook group with a bunch of other soap makers, and when I first joined the group, everyone was in the middle of a salt bar soap exchange. Salt bar? What the heck is that? So I read up on it a bit and decided that I must make some of these myself!

What Is A Salt Bar, Anyway?

Simply, it’s bar of soap that has sea salt added to it. The reason people do it, is for the properties the salt adds to the soap. Sea salt is full of minerals, and just as taking a salt bath can help to soothe pain and inflammation, it would seem that washing with a salt bar may have similar positive effects. I don’t know if I buy all of that, since you would soak in a salt bath for about 20 minutes or so, while soap is just washed away. However, the claim is also made that washing with a salt bar can regenerate and hydrate the skin, while removing toxins and impurities. I think this is more easily believed, since the salt is a bit exfoliating.

I learned a few things from my first couple of batches, and I wouldn’t make that first recipe again, for a few reasons – mainly because my superfat was too low. There is room for experimentation with these. You can use up to 100% coconut oil in a salt bar, and the same goes for the amount of salt you use – I prefer half my oil amount, but you can use up to 100% of your batter amount. The reason the coconut oil is so high, is that the salt reduces lather and coconut oil will still lather in salt water; and the reason the superfat is so high, is because the coconut oil can be drying. It’s all about balance.

The recipe below is a pretty standard salt bar recipe. Feel free to tweak it to your preference – but always run it through a soap calculator afterward, to make sure your lye amount is correct.

salt bar recipe

Grapefruit Ginger Salt Bar Soap Recipe
Yield: 1 pound

You’ll want to use a mold that has individual cavities (or a slab mold with dividers), because salt bars harden very quickly; and once your soap hard, you can’t cut it into bars without them crumbling all over the place.

Add your colorant to your oils and blend a bit before adding your lye water. Once your soap reaches trace, mix in the essential oils. Now stir in the salt (at this point, you should be using a spoon instead of a stick blender). As you are pouring the batter into your mold, make sure to keep stirring, so that the salt is distributed evenly, or you’ll end up with your first bars having very little salt and your last bars having lots!

I used yellow Brazilian clay to get this color, but any kind of soap colorant would work.

Salt Bar Variations

Cucumber & Aloe – I used about 35% aloe vera juice and 65% pureed cucumber in place of my lye water and left the soap unscented. The cucumber scent came through very faintly at first in the finished bars, but it faded over time. I would use a cucumber and aloe fragrance oil next time.

Soleseife – I learned that you could make a different kind of salt bar by dissolving the salt in your water before adding lye to it. I have tried this a couple of times, and I will talk about that in a future post.

Final Thoughts on Salt Bars

I would like to try making a salt bar with less coconut oil and see what happens. Either with one of my standard recipes or just using less coconut oil. I don’t think salt bars have to be 100% coconut oil and I intend to prove it. Have you ever tried salt bars? What did you think?

Sources: Lovin Soap and David Fisher