Soapers who make vegan friendly handmade soap often get a little stuck in their soapmaking. Without additives like honey, milk, or silk, it can be a little trying to get a nice creamy addition to a recipe.
Even though animal milks are off the table, plant milks aren’t!
Enter Coconut Milk!! Coconut milk makes incredibly creamy and silky vegan soap, and is one of my favorite water replacement additives. Time for a…
Lemongrass + Coconut Milk Soap Recipe and Tutorial!
I was a little inspired by thai food in this tutorial, and chose to use lemongrass, ginger, and coconut milk as the main components.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Soap Formula Used
- 12 ounces Coconut Oil
- 10 ounces Rice Bran Oil
- 6 ounces Avocado Oil
- 6 ounces Shea Butter
- 2 ounces Castor Oil
- 4.9 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
- 5 ounces Distilled Water
- 5 ounces Coconut Milk
Essential Oil Blend Used
- 34 grams Lemongrass Essential Oil
- 8 grams Fresh Ginger Essential Oil
PREP WORK: Weigh out all your ingredients. Mix up your lye solution. I add my coconut milk (or other alternative liquids) to my oils directly and use a 50% lye solution with sodium hydroxide and distilled water. This helps prevent any color changes or burning of sugars in alternative liquids.
A note on coconut milk: Not all brands of coconut milk are created equal! Try to snag one that has little to no additional ingredients. It’s hard to find one without a thickener (like guar gum), but some also include preservatives, emulsifiers, and more. As a general rule of thumb, the more additives in the coconut milk, the more likely you are to run into acceleration.
Prep your colorants. I add my essential oil blend to my main soaping pot before beginning.
Once you are ready to get to work, bring your soaping oils, coconut milk, and lye solution to an emulsified state (not quite trace).
ADD A DASH OF COLOR: I chose dill as a natural colorant for this soap because of it’s shape. It’s like miniaturized lemongrass (visually and that’s all!)
I poured a quarter of my raw soap into a separate container and colored it with wheatgrass powder. Wheatgrass is a lovely muted green. However, it does fade over time to a very muted sage brown.
SWIRL IT: I’m using an in-the-mold swirl on this batch (ITMS).
It starts off by pouring half of the main raw soap into the mold. Next, I randomly pour the wheatgrass colored portion in the mold. And then top it off with the remainder of the main batch. I pour from a moderate height to encourage the pour to break through the layers of raw soap in the mold.
As you can tell by the photos, the soap was thickening rapidly due to the coconut milk. (The ginger essential oil also contributes to this!) This is why it’s important to initially mix to an emulsified state rather than trace. And any further mixing is done with a spatula.
THE FINISH LINE: Once it’s all in the mold, it’s time to pretty it up. I textured the tops by dragging the corner of my spatula from the outside of the mold towards the middle on both sides. I finished it up by sprinkling a little wheatgrass powder over the top.
Once you are all done, insulate your soap. Unmold after 12 to 24 hours. Cut and cure!
The lemongrass + coconut milk soap recipe featured in this tutorial is a Modern Soapmaking original. It is palm-free & vegan friendly. It uses a 7% superfat and a 33% lye solution strength. Feel free to adjust as necessary!