Burst of Caffeine Shower Soap (aka Homemade Coffee Based Lye Soap)




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People who know me, know I need my coffee.  Not just in the morning, although I am a better person when I start my day with some, but in the afternoon, in the evening, and of course a cup at night (I'm one of those odd people who fall asleep with caffeine). 

I can't just wake up with coffee, I need a good hot shower in the morning, however it can be  really difficult to keep the soap and water from getting into my coffee cup. I had to come up with a way to have my coffee and my shower and not miss a minute of the day.  That was when I began making my coffee soap, whats better to get you going than coffee and a hot shower all at once!

Heres what you need to make this fabulous rich soap that helps keep your skin at that perfect pH balance, and makes you feel like your soaking in a big hot cup of coffee!

Safety Gear: this is very important as you will be using caustic materials
1. Heavy duty rubber gloves
2. Goggles
3. Mask (not as important, but still recommended)
4. Baking Soda (this is to neutralize your utensils and any accidental spills of the Lye)
5. Phenolphthalein to test the soap's alkalinity (this can be purchased online through soap making sites, chemical suppliers or where I get mine - Wine making Sites.)

The Ingredients:
4 ounces NaHCl - Lye
22 ounces Olive Oil
10 ounces Sweet Almond Oil
12 ounce Strong Coffee (brewed with spring water is best, if your water is alkaline you can use bottled drinking water or distilled)
2 Ounces Castor Oil
1.5 ounces of essential fragrance oil - COFFEE of course!
4 ounces of powdered goats milk

small plastic container to be used for the lye
large measuring cup or glass jar for mixing lye and liquid
Large Stainless Steel or enameled cooking pot ( WARNING! Never use aluminum pans or utensils when working with Lye as this will contaminate your soap)
2 Thermometers
Large Wooden or Plastic Spoon
Plastic Spatula
Hand Blender (not necessary but definitely nice to have as it cuts down stirring by 75% at least)
Non-Stick cooking spray
Mold (I made this sosp mold from left over laminate scraps when I removed my  kitchen counter, but a small plastic bin will do or even a shoe box lined with wax paper).

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Step 1: Getting Started - the Recipe and Preparing the Lye Solution

I want to make this instructable as complete and comprehensible as I possibly can. When I first began making soap I wish I could have found some good information on how to do it safely.  I read all I could, but there was no one around I could ask the many questions that I had, so some of it was trial and error, and some of those errors are why I am adamant about using safety materials when making soap.  I can attest that even a tiny little granule of lye can inflict some really bad pain!

  • Safety equipment is NOT OPTIONAL it is a MUST HAVE!
  • Measure, measure and measure. Exact measurements are very important.  From something simple as the  soap not setting up right to it being caustic and unseeable. You don't want something to literally clean the skin off the user.
  • EQUIPMENT MUST BE NON-REACTIVE. NO ALUMINUM OR GALVANIZED METALS. I use an enameled pot that I must check before every use to make certain there are no chips or cracks in the enamel s this would make the pot unusable. I never use non-stick coated pans although I am not certain if they are safe to use. I am not going to take the chance just to find out,
  • HAVE FUN WITH YOUR SOAP MAKING!!! There are literally thousands of various combinations of oils you can use and just ad mny resulting soap properties as there are mixtures.  There are hundreds or essential oils and fragrances to whose from and even is and match. Keep a log of each batch of soap you make, the ingredients used, any special additives and how the soap performs after its cured. Do you like the lather? Hw does ir leave you skin feeling? Did you like the scent and did it linger on your skin,   This way you can repeat a batch that you particularly like or see if there are parts of the press's you want to change.
Get all of your materials together (as a chef would say- mis en place- I just like saying that, about the only French I know :)
Make sure you have plenty of room for a work surface. 
Fill a pan or bucket with some lukewarm water and about 1 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water. Mix this well. It will come in handy to neutralize utensils and to pour over spills in case of accidents. 
During nice weather,  I will make my lye combinations outdoors.  This keeps the fumes dispersed and when the weather is cooler it helps the solution cool back down to proper temperature faster.  However since I lived in a very windy area of the country I tend to measure my lye indoors. 

**Lye and soap calculators can be found online to help you develop your own recipes.  They take all the math our of calculating saponification values and make life much easier for the every day soap maker.

I measure all my soap making ingredients on a digital scale - after all this is chemistry and not roll the dice and hope for the best.
Using a good quality scale, carefully measure out 4 ounces Sodium Hydroxide into a non-reactive container using a non-reactive utensil.

Step 2: Mixing the Lye Solution

I wanted to make sure this part of the process was highlighted in some way since it can be one of the most dangerous parts of soap making. 
Be certain to wear protective gear at all times when working with lye as it is a very caustic substance. ALWAYS add the lye (whatever form).  If you reverse the process and add the lye into the liquid it may cause a volcano like eruption and the caustic mix can overflow onto the work surface. floor and you causing serious damage.  This is when having the container of baking powder near can come in handy.  Anytime you spill the lye or lye mixture the baking powder can be used to neutralize the spill. 
As soon as the sodium hydroxide and the liquid begin to mix the reaction begins and the temperature rises quickly. Depending on the ambient temperature and the t type of liquid being used you mixture may reach upwards of 250°. 

The liquid lye mixture and the Oil mixture will need to be within 10°F  from each other and around 110-125° before combining to make the soap. This is why it is best to mix the lye first since it will cool down and the oil came be warmed up the necessary temperature.

Step 3: Prepare the Mold

WHile the lye is coolng is the perfect time to prepare the mold. For this "ible" I am using the mold I made from lumber scraps from mY kitchen remodel.  The 4" laminate boards that were once a hideous backsplash, found a new and productive life as a mold for soap. One benefit of using these 1 x 4" boards, besides keeping them from feeding the landfill, it makes a great mold that creates the perfect size bars to place in a standard mitre box to be sliced.  
There are several ways to prepare the mold.  Just as you might want to try different molds you should experiment different ways to prepare your molds. For a Castille soap, such as this, I have found a simple spray of non-stick cooking spray works well.  You can also line the mold with parchment or wax paper.   Set the mold aside so it will be handy when the soap is ready to pour. 

Step 4: Time to Make These 2 Liquids Into 1 Fine Soap!

For this step:

Lye solution at approx 115°
Warmed Oil at approx 115°
Hand Blender (or large wooden or plastic spoon if you don't have a hand blender)
2 ounces Castor Oil for Supper Fatting *
1.5 ounces Essential Fragrance Oil 
4 ounces powdered goat milk 

Wearing safety gear, begin stirring and stream the lye solution into the oil. The lys should always be poured into the oil to avoid splash back to the lye out of the pot and onto you and the surrounding area.  Using a hand blender will significantly reduce the amount of time stirring the soap but a proper spoon will make a perfectly good soap.  
After about 2-3 minutes stirring with a hand blender you will notice the a faint smell that reminds you or soap, and also the soap beginning to thicken and leave a trace behind where the blender had been moved through (called tracing this is a step which marks time to add the remaining ingredients and prepare to pour the soap into the mold).
If stirring manually it might take up to 10 minutes or more to reach trace.  The cooler the mixtures are when combined, the sooner they will come to trace and certain essential oils will bring the soap  almost immediately, so keep records of any that cause this reaction to you can be prepared to pour or make adjustments to your recipe. 

Once the soap is at trace, add the castor oil anid mix in well. * superfatting leaves a small percentage of oil readiy available so the skin can be moisturized immediately.  The oil that has been mixed into the lye will have already partially gone  through saponification and will not be readily available in the same way. 

The essential oil and powdered  goat milk can also be added at this time. After all, a spot of milk in can make a wonderful improvement in your coffee. 
Mix well after all the ingredients are in, and prepare to pour the soap into the mold. 

Fill the mold, adjusting the retention bar to keep the soap at the desired depth.  Cover with several towels to keep the soap well insulated and place it in a warm draft free area to begin the curing process.  80-90% of saponification has occurred during the mixing process, so if done correctly the remaining chemical conversion into soap will complete during the next 24-36 hours while in the mold.  

Step 5: Un-Molding & Cutting the Soap

Your soap has set in the mold for about 2 days, and finally it's time to take the soap out of the mold and let it finish the curing process so it is really a soap! 

With this box mold soap, you simply remove one of the sides and slide the bar of soap out and onto a cutting board or other hard surface.  Like I mentioned, this mold allows you to place the soap into a standard mitre box to guide the slicing and make even and equally sized bars,  I use the hacksaw that came with this. $2.99 mitre box, but at this point the soap will slice like butter- so any thin edged blade will work.  You don't need a saw.  

This is also the perfect time to make an impression on your soap.  You don't need some fancy stamp, but s simple impression on your bars can make a great impression on the people who use your soap!

Stamps, like those used for scrap booking, do quite well for personalizing your soap. 
Just place a freshly cut bar on a hard surface,  decide where you want it located and using firm equal pressure.  Lift the stamp straight up and off and there you have a personalized bar that makes the soap even ore special!!

Place the bars on a flat surface in single layers. The soap will need to finish curing now, a process that can take one week to several weeks,  It may seem to be a long wait, but the wait is well worth it.  

Once you have set your soap to cure you should turn the bars over every two days so that any shrinkage will be even and the soap will not become lop-sided or oddly formed,   You wil also need to begin checking the soap for neutrality when you turn it.  

A drop of phenolphthalein on the soap will show if the soap is still alkaline or if it is ready to use. The liquid will turn pink to red to show the alkalinity of the soap, the darker pink the more alkaline the soap is.  When the drop no longer turns any color, it will be ready to use.  

**The chemical reaction may take a longer time in some soap recipes, so don't jump to the conclusion that the soap ready to use until you have waited several minutes to be certain.  Using an alkaline soap can damage the skin, making is dry, scaly, rough and peeling.  

Step 6: Are You Ready for SOAP!?

You have done all you are supposed to do, turned the soap, let it set to cure and been diligent in checking the soap for alkalinity.  The day has finally come when you place a drop of the phenolphthalein on the soap and nothing happens.  You wait and check again, and HURRAY! You have a useable soap!

Now you can use it however you like, or course I ALWAYS test a bar to make sure its worth sharing with others. So.....
Kick your significant other out of the bathroom.  
Decide if you want a shower or bath and that there is plenty of hot water for whichever you chose.
Candles and music are optional, but they do make for a nice relaxing bath.

**Ok so the soap I am using isn't the soap from this recipe, but the soap from the recipe wasn't quite ready when I wanted to add these photos.  This soap is my Mochaccino Latte soap.  But notice the fine silky bubbles that a homemade lye soap produces? If you could only smell the wonderful scent it leaves behind and how soft your skin will feel, you would be truly experiencing the bliss of a homemade soap!  

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    26 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You've still got it both backwards and correct, and it's totall unclear, but for anyone wondering : ADD LYE TO LIQUID, NOT LIQUID TO LYE.

    Please clarify the paragraph about sodium hydroxide safety. Always add the lye to the water. If you add water to the lye, it can boil and splatter the highly corrosive mix.

    Also, baking powder will do basically nothing to neutralize sodium hydroxide, and is unnecessarily expensive. I assume you meant baking soda, which is similarly ineffective, but at least cheaper. To clean up an alkaline spill like this, you need to use vinegar.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, this sounds like a soap I would love, seeing I'm one of those who can drink coffee and fall right asleep too. My only question is can I replace the castor oil with any other oil that will keep the superfat content.?? That's 1 oil I don't have in my collection. I do have - Olive of course, vegetable oil, soybean, safflower, sunflower, grape seed, almond, avocado, walnut, flax seed oil, coconut oil, oh and creamed coconut, hey do you think maybe the creamed coconut would be good for moisturizing exfoliate? (has tiny bits of dry coconut in it, I tried making homemade creamed coconut but it didn't liquify all the way) I am new at this but want to make my own soap and such too just little nervous. :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I wonder if you could make caffeinated soap with plain ol' melt and pour soap base. I have mischievous pets in the house and I don't really want to take the chance of them somehow escaping their cage and getting underfoot when trying to make the soap.

    Maybe a few milligrams of powdered caffeine added into the base, and then coffee grounds for exfoliating... maybe a little vanilla fragrance.

    (before anyone says anything, yes, I know you have to be very precise with powdered caffeine. I've been doing a lot of research lately into making my own energy drinks.)

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago

    yes you can just grinde the coffee up into a fine powder and use that to colour and add it to the soap base as the coffee use coffee fo and add extra caffeine :) done well that's how I would lol

    Sounds like a very interesting idea. I have never had any good results with melt and pour soaps. Coffee grounds do make a great exfoliant. I have put them in some of my coffee soap recipes. Not too harsh on the skin but incredible for removing dead skin cells and coffee is a great odor remover. I honestly have never experimented with adding powdered caffeine to soaps, but I have made a few energy drinks with it. I cant say for certain, but I'm betting you don't have to be nearly as exact adding it to soaps. Melt & pour variety it would go in immediately after melting and cold-process soaps right after trace along with any essential oils and such. Hot-process I don't know much about. Tried it a few times and the soap was always too soft.
    Good luck and if you try it let me know how it goes!
    BTW I have 4 yorkies that I have to make sure don't get underfoot when I'm doing just about everything. They are notoriously nosy and demanding, so I understand wanting to keep your pets safe.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I used to have the same problem ("I'm one of those odd people who fall asleep with caffeine"). It's due to dehydration, I was told online, so I drink 1-2 Cups of water before I drink the coffee, and it works as it should. TRY IT! You'd be amazed! Lol

    Please don't take this as snobbish or as disrespectful, but you got your chemical formula for lye wrong- NaHCl isn't lye- NaOH is; sodium hydroxide- OH is a hydroxyl group. There is no Cl. Also, I would like to point out that baking soda is alkaline just like lye is- not as powerfully, but you would be MUCH better off neutralizing an alkalai with an acid like vinegar- bases don't react with each other much at all- all you'll get from lye and baking soda is a REALLY caustic mixture of lye and baking soda. Again, please take this as helpful, constructive criticism, not hate-mongering or the like.

    1 reply

    Ha ha. Never take things as snobbish unless they ARE snobbish. Thanks for the correction. Just goes to show you can't believe everything you read. I actually got that from a book I had purchased when I very first started making soap. So I should probably make sure my notes all have either NAOH or KOH (potassium hydroxide is used for making liquid soap).
    Since I am no chemist, I'm not certain about the use of baking soda as a neutralizer. It is what I use most often and have never had a problem. I have used it to neutralize acid seeping from batteries as well. I guess since I never thought much about it, I have kept on using the same as when I was a child and my father would use baking soda on car batteries. But using an acid to bring up the pH makes more sense than using another base on a base. I think I will pull out my old chem book from college and do some studying. Not that I don't believe you, I just like understanding the "why" behind things. Thanks for the comment!

    Oh nooooo! Stupid MS got me here ( and hoping out in just a few), it was actually the MS that made me get even more into making my own products. Seems I was becoming allergic to just about EVERYTHING until I cut out a lot of processed store-boughtroducts. I'm still eluded by how to make a good working anti-perspirant though). I was always aware that things were dangerous in the products people use most everyday, but it was a big eye opener when I started realizing just how much of what we eat or put on remains in our bodies forever, and what havock they can wreak. Makes me wonder why anti-depressants and ADHD drugs are such huge money makers when I really think they can be avoided a lot.
    Worst I've ever had happen with the soap making, has been a small, but incredibly painful, lye burn on my finger when I stupidly swept some off my work counter with a damp bare hand. That small granule and the pain it created have kept me honest in adhering to my own rule of SAFETY FIRST. I don't even want to imagine how some in the eye, or a big splash on the skin would feel. And as for the potential of a "volcanic" over flow from putting the liquid into the lye, I've done that and moved faster than i ever thought I could!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Nope, I understood you to mean multiple sclerosis. It's a pain to type, same with fibromyalgia which is why I tend to go with fibro or FM. Do you tolerate tea tree oil at all. I will often use that neat if it's really hot out as it kills the nasty stink producing germs quite well.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have fribromyalgia and the chemical sensitivities that go with it. I've given up on antiperspirant and now go for anti-stink :D. A little rubbing alcohol to kill the stink producers and a bit of my favourite essential oil mixed with jojoba and I smell sweeter that any of my antiperspirant using friends.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The MS is a big reason a started making things to live a bit more chemical free. Unfortunately I am allergic to alcohol (of all kinds). I found a decent and tolerable deodarant called Obao by Garnier but haven't had much luck making my own deodarants. What really bites is I can no longer drink my wine I make- dang it!! ;)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable but you might want to reword step 2
    Right after "ALWAYS" you said "add the liquid into the lye whether you are using powdered lye such as this, liquid or granular. If you reverse the process and add the liquid into the lye, it will form a volcano like eruption" You are saying "add the liquid to the lye" both after "ALWAYS and after "If you reverse the process". In my experience both in soap making and in an industrial chemical factory you add lie to the water not the other way around..
    I hope what I said made sense.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you and stoeff both for pointing this out. I felt like a total reckless goober for putting that the wrong way. I had even proof read it all and I didn't see that.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You're very welcome. As we both know, soap making can be fun but only if it is done safely. Thanks for the patch.

    Hope you are feeling better.


    I'M HOME!!! YIPPEEE!!! I am hoping now to be able to "clean up" this mess of an "ible". I really appreciate all the comments made, and I do hope to be able to clarify anything in this so that others can experience the enjoyment of creating your own homemade soap.
    As much as I would love to win a prize, I would rather share something I know how to do so that others can join me in doing it.
    Now if someone would just great an "instructables app" that would be so great!! **HINT HINT** for any of you programmers out there. :)


    7 years ago on Step 2

    ALWAYS add lye to the liquid ;)