Doesn’t it seem like activated charcoal is everywhere?! There are apparently a ton of uses for activated charcoal, including whitening teeth, cleansing and detoxing skin, treating drug overdose and poisoning, and filtrating water. You can read about its other uses here and here. Many people swear by activated charcoal skincare products, saying that it can fight breakouts, cleanse and exfoliate skin, minimize pores, and slow signs of aging.
There’s definitely no shortage of activated charcoal products on the market, including activated charcoal soap, that tout activated charcoal as a miracle ingredient. All this information has inspired me to create an activated charcoal soap that is loaded with detox and cleansing ingredients, and rich in vitamins and minerals that nourish our skin. In addition to activated charcoal, this soap is made with coconut milk, Mediterranean sea salt and calcium bentonite clay.
This activated charcoal soap is also a salt bar, because it includes a generous amount of Mediterranean sea salt. Mediterranean sea salt comes from the water of the Mediterranean sea, and it is full of minerals that are beneficial to our skin. Sea salt also creates an amazingly hard and long lasting palm-free all natural soap (I stopped using palm-oil and its derivatives due to environmental and social concerns). In addition to Mediterranean sea salt, I also use coconut milk, which is rich in skin nourishing vitamins and nutrients, and calcium bentonite clay, a healing clay that detoxes and heals our skin.
Cold Process Activated Charcoal Soap with Coconut Milk, Sea Salt and Calcium Bentonite Clay
Prep Time: 1 hour
Yields: about 35 oz of activated charcoal soap
Dry (Cure) Time: at least 4 weeks
Ingredients for Activated Charcoal Soap
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- Coconut Oil – 16.5 oz. I use Trader Joe’s Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, which is a few bucks at Trader Joe’s. You can also get Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil, Viva Labs Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, or Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil on Amazon. You can use any brand of coconut oil, as long as it’s pure coconut oil, not a coconut oil blend.
- Shea Butter – 2.5 oz. I use Unrefined Ivory Shea Butter. You can also try Ivory Raw Unrefined Shea Butter. I’ve also seen my local Whole Foods selling small quantity of shea butter in its handcrafted soap and bath product section.
- Olive Oil – 2 oz. I use Trader Joe’s Imported Olive Oil, which is $5.99 for a 33.8-oz bottle at Trader Joe’s. You can try Trader Joe’s California Estate Olive Oil, Bragg Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Zoe Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Any brand of pure olive oil will work.
- Sea Salt – 8 oz. I use Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Sea Salt (fine crystals), which is less than $2 at Trader Joe’s. You can try Whole Foods Sea Salt (fine crystals), Real Salt Sea Salt or Bob’s Red Mill Sea Salt. Sea Salt helps to make the activated charcoal soap harder and more long lasting.
- Activated Charcoal – 1 tablespoon. I use Hardwood Activated Charcoal Powder. You can also try Activated Charcoal Powder, Starwest Botanicals Charcoal Powder, or Coconut Activated Charcoal Powder. With a little bit of effort, you can also use the powder inside activated charcoal capsules that you can get from pharmacies and health food stores.
- Calcium Bentonite Clay – 1 tablespoon. I use Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, which I’ve seen available at my local Whole Foods. You can also try All Natural Calcium Bentonite Clay or Pure Food Grade Calcium Bentonite Clay.
- Coconut Milk – 7 oz. I use Whole Foods 365 Organic Coconut Milk. It’s a few dollars at Whole Foods. Amazon also offers Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk and 100% Coconut Milk.
- Lye – 2.6 oz. I use Food Grade Lye. You can also use 100% Lye Drain Opener sold at Lowe’s. If you go with the drain opener, please make sure it’s 100% lye.
- (Optional) Tea Tree Essential Oil – 1 tablespoon. I use Art Naturals Tea Tree Essential Oil. I’ve also used NOW Foods Tea Tree Essential Oil.
- (Optional) Clove Essential Oil – 1/2 tablespoon. I use NOW Foods Clove Essential Oil.
- Silicone Soap Mold. I use a 6-cavity silicone mold. You can also use an 8-cavity oval silicone mold or a 12-cavity mini silicone mold. Because this activated charcoal soap is also a salt bar, I would not use a mold that requires me to cut the soap. Cutting a salt bar often makes it crumbly.
Step-by-Step Instruction on How to Make Cold Process Activated Charcoal Soap
When you make soap at home, please, PLEASE, take all necessary precautions, including wearing your protective gear, and making sure no children or pets are around. When you work with lye, be sure to protect yourself and those who might be around or near you. Learn more about soap making safety here, here and here.
1. Make lye solution by slowly adding lye to frozen coconut milk in a well-ventilated area. Using coconut milk to create lye solution is tricker than using water. You must first freeze the coconut milk overnight, and then add lye to the frozen coconut milk slowly. You must keep the temperature of the coconut milk as low as possible to prevent the lye from scorching it. Making lye solution with milk, including coconut milk, is a slow process that can take around 10 minutes. The finished product looks like melted ice cream with a light yellow tint (see pic below). Learning more about using milk in soap here.
2. Melt all your oil and butter in a double boiler. You can create your own double boiler by placing a glass measuring cup in a pot of water.
3. Slowly add the coconut milk lye solution to the melted oil and butter.
4. Use a plastic or silicone spatula to mix the coconut milk lye solution and the oil and butter.
5. Use a stick blender until the mixture reaches thin trace (milk shake consistency). No need to thicken the soap mixture too much. After you add sea salt, it will thicken very quickly.
6. Pour the mixture into 2 glass measuring cups, and add activated charcoal in one, and calcium bentonite clay in the other.
7. Use a stick blender to mix everything well. I suggest mixing the cup with the calcium bentonite clay first. If you mix the light color first then the dark color, you won’t need to wash the stick blender between mixes.
8. Add Mediterranean sea salt to both the activated charcoal soap and the calcium bentonite soap. Mix everything well with a plastic or silicone spatula. If you want your soap scented, you can add essential oil to the sea salt before adding the sea salt to the soap mixture.
9. Pour the activated charcoal soap in molds. Be sure to bang the molds agains a hard surface a few times to get all the air bubbles out of your soap. If you want to be fancy, you can add a swirl to the activated charcoal soap.
10. Place the activated charcoal soap in the freezer for at least 3 hours before un-molding the soap.
11. Because this is a cold process soap, allow the activated charcoal soap to dry (cure) for at least 4 weeks before use.
12. At the end of the drying (curing) period, you will have beautiful activated charcoal soap that is loaded with skin cleansing and skin nourishing ingredients.
That’s it! Not too difficult right? You can easily whip this soap up in an hour. The dark and light colors make the activated charcoal soap look pretty striking, don’t you think? So, will you be giving this detox activated charcoal soap recipe a try? If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience, or any questions you might have. If you like this recipe, be sure to share it or pin it. Happy soaping!