I believe that finding real Marseille soap in Gozo turns out to be mission impossible. I’ve looked everywhere, but I’ve never found some. So, I’ve decided to go to great lengths by making my own homemade Marseille soap.
Well, I’m taking all the credit, but it was actually Gleb’s idea. Like me, he has a strong taste for homemade and artisanal products. He’s the one who cooks the most at home ! We wanted to be able to make our own liquid detergent, black soap, baby soap, dish soap… basically everything that can be made with homemade Marseille soap.
Making your own Marseille soap is not complicated, and the ingredients can be found easily. On the other hand, it’s necessary to take a few safety precautions, and above all you’ll have to be patient. Marseille soap is quick to prepare, but it must dry for at least four weeks before it can be used.
Nevertheless, making homemade Marseille soap is really worth it. In addition to the satisfaction of having made an organic product of excellent quality yourself, you also contribute to the well-being of the planet. And to the well-being of your wallet ! With this homemade Marseille soap recipe, I made about 1,1 kg of soap, for a total cost of 6,36€.
I’m sure that after all this, you’re dying to learn how to make homemade Marseille soap ! Ok, I’m exaggerating, but I’m still going to teach you how to make your own organic soap. And you will be surprised at the simplicity of the task !
Making homemade Marseille soap : ingredients and equipment
To start, you need to put together a few simple ingredients and equipment. During the making of the soap, this equipment will come into contact with caustic soda – or sodium hydroxide -, a highly corrosive product. Like sulfuric acid, caustic soda burns the organic tissues with which it comes into contact. For this reason, the equipment you will use should be used for soap making only.
The equipment :
- A large glass jar, big enough to use a food mixer inside.
- One or two regular glass jars (pickles jar, for example).
- A few utensils : two or three spoons, a knife… As for the rest, these utensils will have to be used for soap making only.
- A food mixer (I’m using an old mixer from Lidl).
- A silicone mold, preferably in a rectangular shape to make Marseille soap.
- A cooking scale.
- Safety glasses.
- A safety mask.
- A pair of gloves.
- A thermometer for liquid preparations. I managed to do without, so it’s not absolutely necessary, but it will make things easier for you.
It’s important to use glass containers, for two reasons. First, caustic soda may react poorly with certain types of plastic that are not intended for this purpose. Secondly, the chemical reaction occurring during the mixture of caustic soda with demineralized water (see step n°1) heats up a lot and could melt a plastic container.
Also, do not use metal containers.
- 527 grams of organic extra virgin olive oil.
- 162 grams of organic coconut oil.
- 40 grams of castor oil.
- 173 ml of cold demineralized water (put it in a glass jar in the fridge beforehand).
- 98 grams of caustic soda (sold in hardware stores).
It’s possible to make Marseille soap with 100% of olive oil. I tried, and it works too. But the real Marseille soap recipe only contains 72% olive oil, supplemented with another vegetable oil (here, coconut oil). In my recipe, castor oil was added to increase the foaming power of the soap.
Homemade Marseille soap recipe, step by step
Before you start making your homemade Marseille soap, free up space on your work surface and prepare your equipment and ingredients. Arrange the exact amounts in containers. Remember that everything that will come into contact with the caustic soda must be reserved for soap making. You will have to act fast during the process because saponification starts very quickly, so be sure to have everything at hand. Put the safety goggles, mask, and gloves.
Important precaution : keep some white vinegar nearby. It will not be used in the recipe, but it can save your skin if it comes into contact with caustic soda. Indeed, white vinegar, thanks to its acidity, has the power to neutralize the action of the soda and stop its corrosive power. Otherwise, lemon juice also works.
If you receive a splash of caustic soda, neutralize it with white vinegar then rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Step n°1 : mix demineralized water with caustic soda
– In the glass jar containing cold demineralized water, very carefully pour the 98 grams of caustic soda, using a spoon. Mix well.
– The chemical reaction will strongly heat the mixture. This is why the demineralized water must be cold (to limit the heat). If the jar becomes too hot, place it gently in a bowl filled with room temperature water.
– Let the mixture cool until it reaches 40 to 45°C. The thermometer will be useful if you have one, otherwise you can assess by hand, by touching the jar (it should be a little warmer than a bath). Cooling should take about ten minutes. Meanwhile, go to step n°2.
Step n°2 : heat up the oils
– Mix the oils (olive, coconut, castor oil) in a saucepan and heat everything until it reaches 40-45°C. Be careful, it’s very fast, less than a minute is enough. If you do not have a thermometer, take the temp with your finger, carefully. You should be able to put your finger in the oil as if it was a very hot bath.
You can use a conventional cooking pan to heat the oil, as the soda will not come into contact with this container.
– Once the mixture of oils has reached the right temperature, pour it into the large glass container.
Step n°3 : mix the oil with the caustic soda
– Your warm oil mixture is poured into the large glass container. Gently add the water + soda mixture, which will have previously cooled down to around 40°C.
– Make sure you wear your glasses, mask, and gloves. With the food mixer, mix everything for one to two minutes. The mixture should thicken slightly and take on the texture of homemade mayonnaise. When you remove the blender from the container, it should leave a mark on the surface. That’s how you know it’s thick enough. You can see the result in the photo below.
Step n°4 : mold the soap
– Very quickly, pour the mixture into the mold, using a spoon.
– Tap the bottom of the mold on your tabletop so that the soap spreads evenly. Flatten the top with the back of a spoon or the edge of a knife.
Step n°5 : wrap it up
Step n°6 : unmold and cut
– After 24 hours, you can unmold the soap and cut it into slices or blocks. However, it must be left to dry for four weeks before it can be used. Let the slices air dry, covered with a clean cloth. You will notice that they will harden and lighten during this time.
I hope you enjoyed this homemade Marseille soap recipe ! If so, I have good news : I will post more recipes soon ! Because the good thing about homemade soap is that the possibilities are endless : with milk (or almond milk), honey, essential oils, herbs…