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Dirty Jobs and Pretty Faces – an adventure in soap making

Dirty Jobs and Pretty Faces – an adventure in soap making

IMG_20140618_214258382Well, it’s that time of year when a lot of us are getting dirty. We are planting flowers, weeding gardens, hiking, fishing, and generally making a mess of ourselves. We are also sweating and clogging up those pesky facial pores. So what are dirty guys and gals to do? The answer is Cup ‘O Joe Soap.


Coffee soap??? I see you wrinkling your nose at me already, however, if you bear with me I will make my case. From Reader’s Digest, to Good Housekeeping, to; they all sing the praises of using coffee to deodorize both your body and your fridge. Additionally, if you have ever tried wine sampling or perfumes, chances are a bowl of coffee beans will be nearby to sniff and reset your olfactory system’s nasal palate. Google a coffee facial and you will find a plethora of articles on the rejuvenating, anti-puffying, softening qualities of coffee grounds. So for all of us who hunt and fish; folks with dirty kids; those with sweaty faces; and all you dirty footed, smelly handed summer loving people – let’s make some coffee soap.


First the recipe:


18 ounces Olive oil
6 ounces Crisco
9 ounces coconut oil
4.5 ounces lye
12 ounces distilled water
Coffee grounds (I used 6 Tablespoons for this batch)


**A word of WARNING: If you’ve not made soap before, please check out a good book such as Anne Watson’s Soapmaking before trying this recipe. You can NOT just mix all this stuff together in any order and you MUST protect your eyes and hands.


IMG_20140617_194111372_HDRFirst we will make very strong coffee. Since I have a coffee maker, I make 12 ounces of coffee with 6 tablespoons of grounds. You can also put whole coffee beans in water and let it sit over night or use instant coffee if you don’t have a coffee maker. Let the coffee cool before you use it in your soap. It should be room temperature. Why distilled water? If you have well water like me, certain minerals in your water can mess with your soap coloring and quicken trace.


IMG_20140617_201548384_HDROnce your coffee is room temperature, grab your safety glasses and gloves and head to a well-ventilated area. Add the lye to the coffee a bit at a time and stir until the lye is dissolved. Just a reminder – it is oh so important for you to put the lye into the liquid and not the other way around (imagine the baking soda/vinegar volcano). Once the lye is dissolved, cool the mix by placing the container in an ice water bath or use good old-fashioned patience and wait until it is between 90 and 110 degrees.




IMG_20140617_194907524Heating the oils is our next step and can be done over the stove or in the microwave. I measure all my ingredients with a digital scale. They aren’t that expensive and are more accurate than a measuring cup. After measuring the oils, they can all be heated in the same container. Depending on your room temperature the coconut oil may initially be solid; however, both it and the Crisco will melt as they are heated. Raise the temperature of your oils to between 90 and 110 degrees.


IMG_20140617_203706329Once both the lye mix and the oil mix are within the ideal temperature range of 90 to 110 degrees it is time to join them together to create the magic of soap. If you are like me and have 15 other things to do, grab a hand stick blender to quickly bring the mixture to trace. As always, stirring with a wooden spoon will get the job done. If you are new to soap making, Anne Watson explains a method of watching the temperature of the mix to determine trace which I recommend. Otherwise, keep stirring and watch for just the bare start of a runny pudding type look.


IMG_20140617_203946139When you’ve hit trace, go ahead and stir in the used coffee grounds if you would like a soap that will emulsify your skin and really get out that ground in dirt. After adding the grounds, it’s time to put the soap into its mold. This recipe will fit into a rinsed out 64 ounce cardboard milk/orange juice container or similar sized mold if you have a fancy one. Let your soap finish its processing and firm up for at least 24 hours and then cut into bars. Don’t forget to allow 2-3 weeks of time for your bars to ‘rest’ for the pH level to drop a bit and some of the moisture to evaporate.


Voila! You’ve done it! A bar of soap for the manliest man and the beauty queen – now go get dirty!


Stacey Gricks is a full-time mom, full-time project manager at an IT company, and part-time crafter and farmer. She focuses her talents on soap making, crocheting and quilting. When she’s not in her craft room you will likely find her in the woods, in her garden, or in the kitchen canning or baking. Stacey volunteers with a local 4-H club in which her daughters participate and speaks at local craft events. She is the owner of Beaver Creek Stitches on Etsy and can be found on Facebook at Beaver Creek Farm Shop. Stacey resides in her grandparents’ farmhouse located in south-central Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, 3 dogs, 6 goats and 50 chickens.

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