Thursday, October 9, 2014

Green Tea and Lemongrass Soap

This bar has been a real adventure in #soapmaking!  My intent was to make an unscented, vegan bastille #soap (heavy on the olive oil, but with some other oils included) that also excluded palm oil from the ingredient list.  We're not vegan, and I'm still not opposed to using sustainably sourced palm oil, but I wanted to try a recipe combination that might be popular in my local area near Seattle.

First, I infused some olive oil with fresh lemongrass.

Fresh lemongrass and olive oil.

I have a Crock Pot for use exclusively with soap making (I have a couple of soaps that are just begging for a rebatch), so I decided to try the infusion that way.

Lemon grass chunks in olive oil.  My funky Crock Pot makes it look
like I'm soap making in the Serengeti!
Since oil infusion supposedly works much better with dried herbs, I placed some paper towels just under the lid of the Crock Pot to catch any stray condensation.  We wouldn't want water droplets messing up the oil!

The paper towels caught most a lot of condensation that I didn't want in my infused olive oil.
Worked like a charm!
It only took a couple of hours on low, and my olive oil had a lovely, faint smell of lemon.  I refrigerated the oil until the next day.  When I was ready to get down to the soap making, I started by brewing a strong pot of green tea and reserving the spent tea leaves.

Now that's some strong green tea!
I used the green tea in place of water in my soap recipe, and my lemongrass infused olive oil for the olive oil portion of the recipe.  Since this recipe was olive oil heavy at 60% of the recipe, it took a while to get it to trace.  This was perfect, since I also wanted to play with my matte oxide colors that I got in from Bulk Apothecary.

I separated the soap into two containers, and mixed half with a lovely Woodland Green pigment powder.  I loved the color, and it couldn't have been easier to work with.

I had a design envisioned for this project, so I started by pouring some uncolored soap into the bottom of the mold.  I then sprinkled the used tea leaves on top of the layer of soap (after drying them as much as possible to remove any excess liquid).

First layer of soap with tea leaves on top, with Woodland Green lurking in the background.
Next, I carefully spooned the green soap on top of the tea layer.  This went way better than expected! I had saved just a little bit of the uncolored soap, which I drizzled on top of the green layer.  I then swirled away, taking care not to swirl too deeply into the soap so that I wouldn't disturb the tea leaf layer.

The finished product is taking quite a bit longer to dry than some of my others (probably because of the high olive oil content), but I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Tea time, anyone?
My husband specifically requested a non-scented bar, so I was hoping that the lemongrass oil and green tea might add a subtle, natural fragrance.  So far I can't sense even the slightest whiff of lemongrass, but there is a very faint "grassy" scent that I'm attributing to the green tea.  This one will probably take closer to six weeks to cure, but I really feel like my little soap making adventure paid off!