Activated charcoal is derived from bamboo, and also known as bamboo powder. It is harvested and "carbonized" at extremely hot temperatures to increase it's surface area, and therefore it's absorption capabilities, allowing the charcoal molecules to absorb large amounts of impurities (dirt, toxins, oils) that clog pores. Oh, and odors. Woohoo. The charcoal also has antiseptic properties that can help to heal wounds (aka ZITS), and is used for everything from industrial water filtration to medicinal supplements. Sounds pretty awesome, huh? Oh yeah, and it's a terrific, all-natural and reliable soap colorant. :)
Fun fact: it is said that one teaspoon of activated charcoal has the surface area of 10,000 square feet! Holy moly, my 2 pound batch of soap has two teaspoons of this black goodness mixed in.....20,000 square feet!! That's a lot of soap....
So by special request from my weekend coworker (who did some charcoal research of her own), I ordered some (okay, a lot) of activated charcoal online for this soap project, as well as a combination mask with clays and essential oils (more on that later...like, when I actually make it!)
|That's a lot of charcoal!|
(photobomb by junocat)
I did some looking around for oils that would be best to use in an acne or facial soap, or in particular a charcoal soap recipe. It seems that the general consensus was that any basic recipe would do, and offer most of the same properties. Alternatively, some specialized and more expensive oils, or even ones with not-so-pleasant odors all their own. We'll see, another time perhaps.....
I was very very low on grapeseed and avocado oils, which I wanted to use. :( So I used a basic olive, coconut and palm oil recipe, added in some soothing aloe vera liquid, the charcoal of course, and tea tree and lavender essential oils for their anti-acne and antibacterial qualities. And cuz they smell good yo!
I added a few dollops of uncolored and unscented soap to the top of my loaf, and gently pushed them down and around with a silicone whisk for a slight decorative touch.
Here is a charcoal soap from LUSH (who I love but, geez louise 13 bucks!!!) Yeah, mine'll be more to the tune of five dollaz. And more ounces to boot! (Quite a bit of harsh and artificial ingredients in there too, despite their reputation for the contrary...)
Lavender essential oil is known to form a dusty (yet harmless) layer of soda ash on the surface of soaps, so this was my opportunity to try out a steaming technique for sort of polishing that off without a ton of scrubbing that would've messed up my "delicate" design. I put a pot of water on the stovetop to boil, and held the soaps over the steam for a minute or two each, simple as that. I used a paper towel to hold the soap bars with, because they can get a bit slippery, and also to sort of protect my fingers from all that hot steam. I kept another paper towel close by to also dab a bit of the moisture off the bars afterwards. Here is a photo I took of a bar I'd steamed already versus what they originally looked like with the soda ash on top.
|Steaming the tops of the soap.|
Of course, like all other cold process soaps, these will need to cure for at least 4 weeks, so we have a bit of a wait before we can try out this much acclaimed charcoal soap. :( I will try another batch in hot process either this evening or tomorrow though, to see how that goes, which will only need a one week cure. Yay!
What do you guys think?