30 December 2017

Basic Bastille Soap Recipe with Essential Oils

If you or your family have sensitive skin, then this basic bastille soap recipe may be the answer to alleviating some of your skin care issues. Formulated with a high percentage olive oil in combination with additional soapmaking oils, Bastille soap is a modern twist on traditional Castile soap which is made using only olive oil.

What is Bastille Soap?

While traditional Castile soap contains 100% olive oil, modern Castile soap has a looser definition in which Castile soap is defined as any hard soap made from olive oil in addition to other fats and oils. However, purists reject any soap not made with 100% olive oil as Castile soap and instead term soaps made primarily, but not wholly, with olive oil as Bastille soap. 

Like Castile soap, bastille soap still entertains a high percentage of olive oil. Any cold process soap made with at least 70% olive oil is considered a Bastille soap. However, because Castile soap has low lather and requires an extended cure time, Bastille soap makes a wonderful substitute that results both in a better lather as well as a harder bar.

Additionally, as olive oil historically creates a gentle soap that is well suited for sensitive or delicate skin, bastille soap tends to be gentler on skin than other types of soap. This includes many commercial soaps and beauty bars made with detergent foaming agents and poor quality ingredients. With bastille soap there is also less of a chance that you might develop an allergic reaction to the ingredients used as typically the ingredients for homemade soaps are chosen for their purity and benefits in skin care.

My basic bastille soap recipe that I'm sharing with you today is comprised of 80% olive oil. I also have included coconut and castor oil for better lather and cocoa butter to make a harder soap bar, thus shortening the cure time considerably over Castile soap.

While making homemade soap from scratch using fats (soapmaking oils and butters) and an alkali (lye or sodium hydroxide) involves a bit more know how than crafting your own melt and pour soaps, getting started with a basic recipe isn't as difficult as one might presume. In fact, this basic bastille soap recipe can made in about hour and is a lot like baking a cake in many ways, though with weights rather than liquid measurements.

There are however, certain safety precautions you should take to avoid harm when working with a caustic material such as lye. These include wearing gloves, safety glasses and a safety mask that covers your mouth and nose. Nature's Garden actually has a wonderful article on soapmaking safety where you can learn more about how to best protect yourself when working with lye.

If you've never made cold process soap before, I have an in-depth cold process soapmaking tutorial on my blog, Soap Deli News, here that instructs you on how to get started making homemade soaps from scratch. In addition, you can also find a plethora of soapmaking videos on YouTube, something that wasn't available when I first started making soap many many years ago. So hopefully you'll feel comfortable diving right in once you have a grasp of how it all works. 

I know this information can seem like a lot at first for someone new to soapmaking, however, I promise you that once you start you won't want to stop. Not only are cold process soaps a blessing for troubled skin, but they also make beautiful and functional homemade gift ideas for friends and family. 

My basic bastille soap recipe yields approximately six 3.5 oz. soap bars.

Basic Bastille Soap Recipe


1.6 oz. refined coconut oil (10%)
.8 oz. castor oil (5%)
12.8 oz. pomace olive oil (80%)
.8 oz. cocoa butter (5%)

4.85 fluid oz. distilled water (30.5% of oil weight)
2.05 oz. sodium hydroxide (8 % super fat)

1 Tablespoon sodium lactate (60% solution), optional
.5 oz. essential oil (or essential oil blend) of choice



To make this basic bastille soap recipe, you'll begin by measuring out the water into a non-aluminum, heat safe container. Next, using a digital scale, weigh out the lye.  


In a well ventilated area, slowly pour the lye into the distilled water, then stir until all of the lye has dissolved. Now set the lye-water aside to cool. 


Meanwhile, while the lye-water cools, weigh out and combine the soapmaking oils (coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil and cocoa butter) in a non-aluminum pot. Then heat on the stove over medium-low heat until all the oils have melted. 

Remove the soapmaking oils from heat once the oils have melted and allow to cool.

Once both your soapmaking oils and lye-water have reached about 90° - 95°F you're ready to make your basic bastille soap recipe!


If desired you can add one Tablespoon of sodium lactate (60% solution) to your lye-water prior to making soap for a harder bar and to give your soap an additional boost in lather.


Now slowly pour the lye-water into the liquified soapmaking oils then blend with a stick or immersion blender until you reach a light trace.


Weigh out the essential oil you've chosen to use, if a fragrance is desired, then add to the soap batter.

Continue mixing with a stick blender until you reach a medium trace, then pour the bastille soap batter into a six-cavity rectangle silicone soap mold.


If desired, you can add flowers or decorative salt to the tops of your freshly poured soap. I added blue cornflowers to the tops of my basic bastille soap bars.


Cover the soap lightly with plastic wrap then set aside in a safe location for 24-48 hours. 


Once your bastille soap bars are no longer soft, remove them from the mold and allow the bars to cure in a cool, dry location for four to six weeks.

If you need to resize my basic bastille soap recipe to fit another soap mold, or to make a larger batch, you will need to run the recipe back through a lye calculator prior to doing so. You can find more information on how to use a lye calculator as well as additional information on how to create your own custom soap recipes here.

Additionally, you can also explore more of my cold process soap recipes, including another beginner cold process soap recipe by visiting Soap Deli News blog.

If you enjoyed my basic bastille soap recipe, I hope you'll visit me online for more of my of homemade soap, bath, body and beauty recipes at Soap Deli News blog. You follow can also find and follow me on all of your favorite social media platforms including G+TumblrFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Or subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

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Rebecca D Dillon
Rebecca D Dillon

Cari lives on a small farm in Ohio with her husband, three kids, two dogs, two cats, five goats, several chickens, and homing pigeons. She loves Gilmore Girls, coffee, and her kids. Not in that order.