Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.

From 2015 onward, new posts will appear only here: http://www.sierraclub.org/greenlife


The Green Life: DIY Natural Soap: Pink Grapefruit Soap

« Jessica Alba Loves Kids, Hates Chemicals | Main | Sprays To Keep Bugs (and Bears) at Bay »

September 06, 2012

DIY Natural Soap: Pink Grapefruit Soap

Pink Grapefruit SoapHeidi Corley Barto started dabbling in soap-making when her younger daughter started to experience skin issues. The Natural Soap Chef is the product of those experiments. Homemade soap allows you to control what goes into your soap, so that you can get clean while keeping nasty chemicals out of the environment and away from your skin. This week, we'll share some of our favorite recipes from The Natural Soap Chef  — just follow the step-by-step directions for make your own eco-soap at home!

Soap #3: Pink Grapefruit Soap

This bar has a great scent to wake you up! Paprika gives the soap a pinkish orange color, but it’s up to you whether you want to go through the extra step of making the paprika-infused oil ahead of time. Without the paprika, the bar will be white. Just use regular olive oil if you decide to leave the bar uncolored—it will still smell awesome.



  • 170 grams shea butter
  • 170 grams palm oil
  • 113 grams coconut oil
  • 113 grams paprika-infused olive oil (see directions below)

Lye mixture

  • 78 grams sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
  • 215 grams distilled water

Add at trace

  • 34 grams pink grapefruit fragrance oil


1. Measure your fragrance into a small glass container and set aside. Measure the oils into a plastic container. Place the container in a larger pot and pour in enough hot tap water that the container begins to float. Set the pot on the stove and turn the heat to warm. Insert a thermometer into the oil.

2. Goggles and gloves on!

3. Measure the distilled water into a heat-safe glass container. Measure the lye crystals into a separate small glass container. Slowly add the lye crystals to the water, stirring with your spatula as you do so. Do not inhale above this container—there will be fumes that can take your breath away. This mixture will heat up quickly. Insert a thermometer into the lye mixture.

4. Monitor the temperatures of the two containers. You want both to reach 115°F. As needed, refresh the hot water bath or turn the stove burner higher to raise the temperature, or use a cold water or ice bath to bring the temperature down.

5. When both the oils and the lye mixture are at 115°F, pour the lye mixture into the plastic container with the oils. Blend with your stick blender until the mixture reaches a light trace stage (it will drizzle like pancake batter and leave a faint trail that stays on top for a bit before sinking down). Add your fragrance. Blend until the mixture reaches medium trace (it will be like thick gravy, and drizzled trails will stay on the top).

6. Pour into your chilled mold (or a clean, dry, quart size milk carton with the top cut off). For the top shown in the photograph, tear off small pieces of fresh grapefruit peel, trim away any excess pith (white part), and lightly place shiny side down to cover the loaf top. Lightly cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

7. Remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature.

8. Unmold 24 hours after pouring into your mold, cut into bars, spritz with isopropyl alcohol, and place in your curing area.

Paprika-infused olive oil: In a heat-safe glass container, combine 2 teaspoons of paprika with 125 grams of olive oil. Set this container in a larger container, pour in just enough hot tap water that the inner container starts to float, and cover. Leave overnight, then strain through a coffee filter. The oil will be a bright orange, but the end result in your bar of soap will be a pinkish orange.

Makes 8 3½-oz bars


Mixing lye with a liquid causes an exothermic chemical reaction. This means that lye will heat up any liquid to which it’s added. A room-temperature liquid can heat up above 200°F with the addition of lye.

Always add the lye crystals to whatever you’re using as your liquid. Never add liquid to your lye crystals! Adding liquid to the lye will cause a volcanic reaction—the surest way to get burned. This is a major no-no in soap making!

Always store your lye container tightly closed in a cool, dry place out of the way of animals and small children.

Saponification (the chemical reaction in the soap-making process) uses up the lye, so that there is no lye left in the finished soap. You need to leave your soap to cure in order to make sure all the lye has reacted, and that you have a sturdy finished bar of soap.

It is a good idea to reserve a few tools for soap making, such as an immersion blender, and any containers you use for lye and mixing your soap. You don't want to contaminate food with lye or fragrance oils (despite how tasty they may smell!).

--recipe by Heidi Corley Barto; reprinted from The Natural Soap Chef / image courtesy of The Natural Soap Chef


DIY Halloween Makeup

Brain Tumor Survivor Creates Healthier Cosmetics

5 Eco-Toothpastes

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top