Monday, April 6, 2015

Aleppo Soap - Laurel Soap

Aleppo Soap refers to savon d'Alep, or laurel soap, or Syrian soap. It was said to be originated from Southwest Asia Levant region (around Lebanon, Israel, Syria, etc.) then moved into Europe. It was usually done by hot processing 100% olive oil then infused with laurel berry oil at the end before molding into it's final shape.  Aleppo soap needs a long curing time, from 6 month to a year, like aging a good red wine, the older the better.  It usually starts with natural green color and aged into more rustic olive khaki shade.  The percentage of laurel berry oil used in the soap can range from 2-30%.  Obviously the more laurel berry oil content the more expensive the soap would be.  Laurel berry oil is not easy to source here in the US.  I've only got a small jar from one of my soaping friends.  I decided to make my version of Aleppo soap (cold process) using 20% of laurel berry oil and 80% herbal infused olive oil.
 I was afraid I would end up with dull khaki green so I decided to add a pinch of nettle leaf powder and chlorella to help the green color along.
Here are some interesting observations I got from making my very first Aleppo soap.  The first impression of laurel berry oil is that it smells a little like rotting herb, or dirt mixed with garden herb.  I wouldn't say it's a pleasant smell but it does not stink as much as carrot seed oil or neem oil thank goodness!  The smell is so strong it really troubled me on what to add to "compliment" or deter the original scent.  I finally added a little bit of sage and sandalwood fragrance into the batter hoping the rotting herb scent would mellow out a bit.  The 2nd impression is that it sure is a very thick oil, almost like a mixture of paste in oil.  What surprised me the most is when I poured in the lye solution and started stick blending the mixture.  Usually high olive oil recipe takes much longer to reach trace (emulsification between lye & oil).  But this one went kind of fast, within a minute (or less) the mixture is emulsified and started to turn a little gelatin like, shinny and appeared slightly translucent.  I had to hurry and pour into the mold.  I swear I was doing it as fast as a soaper can be but it still solidified faster than I expected, during the pour!  And I was only making 4 cubes!!!  At the end I had to use a spoon to pulp and push it into all corners of the mold trying to avoid any air pocket forming.
 After only a few days of curing I got impatient and took the scrap from the soap pot to do a test run under my kitchen faucet.  I can't say I'm not disappointed that it did not lather much.  It does not feel slimy like most of the high content olive oil soap, it feels very astringent, no wonder this kind of soap usually need to be cure for 6 months to a year.  I will have to stash these away, at somewhere I don't usually visit, or curiosity will kill this cat fast, I won't be able to keep my hands off these cubes!

38 comments:

  1. Oh, those cubes are so lovely! I've never heard of laurel berry, I guess we don't have them here in Finland. If you cannot get oil there, you can order it from Canada instead? At least this site offers it: http://sinfullywholesome.com/laurel-berry-oil-canada-usa.html

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    1. ...need to add that I found out what laurel is. It doesn't grow here, but we use leaves as spices. But I didn't know that there are berries too, and oil made of them.

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  2. Laurel trees line Cull Canyon Creek Road out of Fremont, CA Mission district. It is interesting how quickly this OO soap moves when cold processing into soap. I used a touch of Bay Rum to compliment the laurel berry herbal aroma. Mine also moved like lightening and I rebatched it in a crock pot the second day as there was seepage. Looking at my oil thismorning I see it has seperated much like a salad dressing that has come out of emulsion. Solid the bottom 2/3 and liquid like water consistency the top 1/3 of the bottle. Interesting soap and once cured I'm looking forward to using it.

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    1. Hi Pam, you are in the Bay area too. I did my first Laurel berry soap today, 20% LO, 80% OO, during the CP it was fine, then i decided to go for HP and it turned out to be a bad idea. were you using CP or HP?

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  3. Another site for it in the states: http://bescented.com/shop/butters-carrier-oils/laurel-berry-oil/
    It does smell kind of funky but not unpleasant. I'm not a fan of high OO recipes either. I'm adding a tad of castor and babassu (total under 10%) to try and give it a little bubble

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  4. I would love to make an Aleppo type soap but can't find the sap value for the Laurel berry oil. Could you please direct me to a link? Thanks

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    1. Go to soapcalc.net: http://soapcalc.net/calc/soapcalcwp.asp use laurel fruit oil

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  5. Hi I have been trying to make Aleppo soap as well (I have lots of olive oil available) and have come across similar things (quick setting, etc though i don't mind the smell of Laurel Berry Oil as much). I have sourced my Laurel Berry Oil direct from the source in Turkey (http://www.laurelberryoil.com/) and have found the people from Atra very reliable and very efficient (price also very good) as well as the oil is of great quality, for those who are interested. I like the cubed shape you have given to your soaps and am wondering if you could share how you got it. I was thinking of using a brick mold (also given how quickly it sets) and then cutting it into cubes but your ones look very nice. I am also dabbling the question on how long to cure 6 months or 12? What are your thoughts? i have used a ratio of 80-20 for olive oil-laurel berry oil and it seems to be a good balance. What have you used? Sorry to be so inquisitive but it is hard to find someone who has been interested in Aleppo soap. Cheers and thanks

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    1. The cube mold I used is from BrambleBerry: http://www.brambleberry.com/25-Cube-Soap-Silicone-Mold-P5124.aspx?bb=25 There's a 9 bar version if this one is too big for you: http://www.brambleberry.com/9-Cube-Soap-Silicone-Mold-P5229.aspx?bb=25 I have a real 2-year old Aleppo soap from Syria (bought it in France) but I have no idea how many % of laurel is in the soap. To be honest I'm not impressed about the quality of the Syria Aleppo soap, I rather like mine better, so maybe they didn't put that much laurel oil in it? I've only cured mine for 6 months, will have to leave some to cure longer to see if there's a significant difference. The smokey laurel scent is fading a bit, not as sharp as it used to be. I also just made another batch with added lemongrass essential oil and it actually complemented the smoky laurel, I actually like it! I also use 80% olive oil and 20% laurel oil. I don't think I would increase laurel, sometimes more is not better, if you know what I mean.

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    2. I made an Aleppo soap with 30% Laurel Berry Fruit Oil using the hot processed method...it turned out to be a disaster. When it dried, it crumbled as I sliced it....too much water or oil. I don't know which. However, I got a ph of 8. I ended up making liquid shampoo by rebatching it. It is marvelous!

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  6. Thanks for that, so you are happy with your soaps? Do they lather enough? I was reading a thread about salting out Aleppo soap and I am wondering if it was necessary to achieve a more authentic Aleppo soap. What are your thoughts? I like the idea of adding lemongrass essential oil to the mixture

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    1. For my understanding salting out is an old technique back when lye is not as consistent and pure as what we have now so they salt out the soap to prevent the possible excess lye in the soap making process. Now we don't need to do it in hot process then salt it out anymore because our lye is lab made. They do use sea water to make Aleppo soap and if you want you can use salt water instead of distilled water to make Aleppo soap. Salt will help harden the soap as high olive oil content soap tends to be softer. I personally don't care much about being authentic, I just want to make good soap. I use sodium lactate all the time in my soap, it helps harden the soap to last longer and it increases lathering. Sodium lactate is a humectant, I use it a lot in my hair conditioner and body lotion/cream.

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    2. I was thinking along the same lines however i was also curious because i saw a video on Aleppo soap making in Syria and the soap appeared to go through a double process (CP at the beginning and then some sort of reprocessing later which may be a salting out?). I am really curious though on your use of SL in soap making. What percentage do you use? My first batch of Aleppos is still curing (2 months) so i am not sure what the result will be

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    3. PS, I am going to try the Lemongrass addition on my next batch, I think is a great idea

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    4. I only use about 1% sodium lactate in soap, the more is not better, use too much and you would end up with brittle edges. It really helps harden the soap and makes peeling off soap from silicone mold so much cleaner and easier.

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    5. Thank you so much for your insight on this topic, it has saved me hours trolling over the internet! I have a question on a different topic (shampoo soaps) for you, should i add it to this thread?

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    6. You can message me on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ShiehDesignStudio Or you can email me at shiehdesignstudio@gmail.com

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    7. thank you for sharing your experience. I made a version of allepo soap using full milk as liquid, steep discount and 22% Laurel fruit oil. I did mine hp method and brought the Olive oil to emulsification first....and then adding the Laurel oil. After 4 weeks of cure I find it still very astringent for my skin. So my take away is no matter the process used to make an allepo inspired soap...the Laurel Oil is very strong and a long cure is essential - 6-12 months.

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    8. question...did you heat up the laurel berry fruit oil first before adding it to the olive oil

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    9. No, I don't heat up laurel berry oil, I shake the container well then just pour out the amount I need. I do strictly cold process.

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  8. HI Margo Yes I heat up the laurel berry oil to make it more fluid and the add it to the olive oil. I then warm the oils in a Bain Marie while the lye cools down so that they all reach the same tmeperature. When I mix the lye it takes about 2 minutes to reach a light trace and then I pour. I have been curing my soaps for a year and they are now perfect!

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  9. I make mine with a ratio of olis 20/80 I tried a HP but was not too impressed with the look of the soap. I read somewhere though that you can add your laurel berry oil at the end of the HP and just use olive oil to saponify. I guess you will have to re evaluate the lye percentage? i am not sure how that would work. Got any ideas?

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  10. Yeah, well that's how I messed up my soap by adding the Laurel Berry Fruit Oil after the Olive Oil had saponified in the crock pot. What a mess. I plopped it into the mold and then decided it had not cooked enough because I saw excess oil. Then I re-cooked it and re-poured it.
    I cut it and it crumbled and stuck to the blade of the soap cutter. That's when I got the idea to make shampoo from it.
    Next batch, I added the Laurel Berry Oil to the hot saponified olive oil in the crock pot and didn't heat it up enough. The result was tiny white specs of saponified olive oil in the soap. Thankfully, I only made a small batch of 2 rounds.
    Next batch, I cooked it until it was very thick and tested ph-8 before I removed it from the crock pot. Not bad but it looks like rustic hot processed soap.
    Next batch: I am going to hot process it, bring the olive oil to a light trace then add the hot laurel berry oil and stir it in very well.
    Then immediately pour it all into the mold, cover the top of the mold and oven process it at 170 degrees for 1 hour. Shut the oven off and leave the soap in it overnight. THIS HAS GOT TO WORK; I WON'T GIVE UP
    I plan on making my

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  11. Wow! that's impressive and quite helpful I have to say. I only did one batch of HP Aleppo soap and did my usual by mixing heated laurel berry and olive oil first then adding lye and wishing to a light trace then cook in the crock pot. Like you said it looked quite rustic and not as nice and smooth as with CP. I have been making CP Aleppo soaps for over a year now and they are really good but you have to wait (in NZ for 1 year!) until they already or they will be all jelly in the shower. Mind you everybody loves them so it is worth my while but I wish I could speed up the process of curing. I'll be interested to know how you get on with the oven process. Do you put a silicon mould in the oven? And what would you use to cover it? I use square mounds for my Aleppo soaps so am wondering if I could put that in the oven

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  12. you can cover with saran wrap or parchment paper, however, it you use tape on parchment paper, it won't stick. I do know that your mold must be covered or insulated. I guessing that a towel won't really burn. Silicone molds can be placed in the oven but remember to place them on a cookie sheet before filling them. This method is supposed to accelerate the curing process, but, I have yet to try it and test the ph. I will keep you posted, however, I won't be attempting to make more for awhile.

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  13. Hello,

    We are supplier of Laurel berry oil and Laurel Berries and Laurel leaves.

    You will get the best price. If interested please feel free contact.

    Best Regards,

    http://www.gharsoap.com/

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  14. Well, I finally succeeded in making the Aleppo soap using the CPOP method. The only problem I had was unmolding the soap even after placing the molds in the freezer. The problem with the unmolding was that I used some small round pitcher containers which I purchased from the dollar store. Even though I greased them, before pouring in the soap, the soap was really tough to remove. In any event, the soap turned out wonderful with a ph reading of 7.5 with lots of creamy lather. These are ready to use, however, I will age them for a few more weeks or more.

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    1. Hi Margo, can i ask you if you added the laurel berry oil (hot) at the end (after saponifing the olive oil) or did you mix the oils together before adding the lye? Thanks

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  15. Margo Conklin may I ask did you use the 80% olive oil and 20% laurel ol that others have mentioned? Did you add anything else? Just asking because you mentioned "lots of creamy lather" unlike other results I've read. I am going to be ordering some laurel berry oil and can't wait to try this.

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  16. Yes, I did. Nothing else added. I also made a liquid shampoo with 30% Organic Laurel Berry Fruit oil. Be sure to use Organic Laurel Berry Fruit Oil which is quite different from Laurel Oil. One is made from the fruit; the other made from the leaves (same tree)

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  17. I just made a batch of it. I used 60\40 olive to Laurel. It was a fast trace. I used no sodium lactate or salt. Did a 1:1 lye to water ratio. Fast trace. Turned out wonderful. Super hard bars. I'm curious why the long cure time. You can get the Laurel oil more reasonable at Bescented.com.

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  18. I used the CPOP method and my batch was ready to use within a week.

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  19. Like I mentioned in the blog, high olive oil soap usually produces very little to no suds unless it's cured for a certain period of time. Also, laurel berry oil is considered more "cleansing" type of soaping oil, the more you use the longer it needs to cure to mellow and get as gentle as Castile or marseille soap. You can do washing test yourself, one week later, one month later, 3months later, 6 month later, a year later and see for yourself if there's any difference in feel.

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  20. I cure mine 80/20 for a year and they need it

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