The Fairest of Them All

If you look at the photos of the soaps I’ve made since I started blogging last May 2013, you may notice that I never had one that was a perfect white. Even the ones with titanium dioxide (TD) were off-white, partly because of the fragrance or essential oils used and partly because of the carrier oils.  Achieving a white-white soap was not important to me, so I always used less TD than the recommended 1 tsp per cup of soap.

Early last month I made soap with 95% olive oil and 5% virgin coconut oil that I named Fil-Castile. It didn’t contain any TD but it turned out a gorgeous white which came as a complete surprise.  The only problem I had with it were the pockmarks.  I tapped the stick blender to “burp” the oils but somehow I still got a lot of trapped air bubbles.

First batch of Fil-Castile Soap with plenty of air bubbles.

First batch of Fil-Castile Soap made last May. Notice the pockmarks from the trapped air bubbles.

Because of the high amount of olive oil, the Fil-Castile soap batter takes more than an hour to reach trace. When I made another batch a week ago, I did not immediately pour the batter into the mold after stick blending it into an emulsion. I left it in the mixing bowl while I made other soaps, hand stirring it every now and then. After about an hour or so, the batter finally reached light trace – similar in consistency to light creme anglais. I slowly stirred it for another couple of minutes before pouring into the mold.

The result is soap as smooth and fine as porcelain. It still has a few air bubbles, but hardly noticeable.

F-Castile 3

F-Castile 2

F-Castile 1

New batch of Fil-Castile Soap: perfectly smooth.

I get it now why it’s important for some soap makers to achieve a white-white soap.  It is beautiful in its simplicity and purity.  Just to see what kind of white I could get using TD at full dosage, I made a batch using a normally off-white formula containing olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter.  I chose a clean-smelling yet feminine FO that is colorless and non-discoloring. It has notes of ozone, watery greens and white florals: smells soooo good! I am calling it Aqua, and for Christmas, I am thinking of adding some peppermint and/or eucalyptus and naming it Snow.

Aqua 3

Aqua 2

Aqua 1

Aqua: perfectly white using 1 tsp TD for every cup of soap batter

Fil-Castile is almost as white as Aqua, but the TD in Aqua makes it brighter. Here they are side by side:

Aqua 4

Top: Aqua; Bottom: Fil-Castile

I wish you all a happy week. 🙂



29 thoughts on “The Fairest of Them All

  1. Heather

    I am curious, with your 95% olive oil soap, how long did it need to sit in the mold before you could unmold it? I make 45% olive oil soap and need to remind myself to be patient so that I don’t smash up my soap trying to unmold it. 🙂

    1. soapjam Post author

      I used a high water discount (40% lye solution) and I also used a little sodium lactate and salt to help it harden up. 12 hours in the mold was sufficient. 🙂

      I find that it is the amount of liquid, not necessarily the type of oils used, that determines how soon you can unmold your soap.

  2. Jennifer

    Love it. My pure castille soap has only 2 active ingredients: extra-virgin, organic olive oil and water and I also get a aweseome white. But it is difficult to cut and stamp without sitting beside it for 3 days to know the exact moment…. but I have never achieved that perfect white you got from TD! How do you incorporate your td, and how are you measuring exactly, not understanding 1 cup of soap… I usually go by quantity of oils? And have incorporated my td in water then adding at trace. Also, can you imagine what other colourants will do when added to soap that white? Like Indigo for example? Wow. Looks wonderful! and so smooth. xo Jen

    1. soapjam Post author

      Hi Jen! I normally go by the quantity of oils too, but for coloring soap, I have been using Amy Warden’s guide:
      I weigh my ingredients so 1 cup of soap means 250 grams. 1 tsp of TD is around 3 grams. Going by the weight of the soap batter is useful if using more than 1 color. But if you are going for all white, just get the entire weight of your soap batch, divide that by 250 and multiply by 3 to get the amount of TD required.
      I get my TD locally and the supplier does not indicate whether it’s water or oil soluble. After several trial and errors, I believe it is water soluble. I dissolve the TD with double the amount of water. I do this just before starting to soap because if I leave it to sit, it has a tendency to dry out at the edges, and this results in white specks in the soap.
      If it is an all-white soap, I incorporate the dissolved TD into the oils before adding the lye solution. This yields the most homogeneous result. If I am using several colors, I add the TD at very thin trace. I do so by “tempering” the TD solution with a little soap batter by mixing with a wire whisk, and returning the “tempered” soap to the rest of the soap batter, still whisking continuously.
      I don’t have indigo but I can imagine it would look gorgeous with some TD. I hope you are planning to make and blog about it so we can all see. 🙂

  3. DivaSoap

    Sooner or later, we all wish to make a white soap, it’s so simple and neat. I always like to see soap white,the whole or partly, and I think you have two beautiful white soaps there. Though, my olive oil ,not even the virgin one never gives me such a whiteness, I need to use TD to make it whiter.

    1. soapjam Post author

      I remember your beautifully white Milk soap. 🙂 I think you just have to experiment with different kinds of olive oil to see which one produces the whitest soap. 🙂

  4. ecovioletsoap

    I do love the purity of the your white soaps. I have not experimented with this too much – the color I have is usually due to the color olive oil I use. I have noticed with my olive oil DOS experiment that the soaps actually get whiter over time if exposed to light at room temperature (20C). I have verified this using Kevin Dunn’s % saturation measurement. This may change over several months though we’ll see. I was expecting the soaps to get more yellow or orange. I also want to try using the TiO2 to adjust the whiteness of my soaps.

    1. soapjam Post author

      I’ve noticed too that soaps tend to get whiter with age and they don’t even need to be exposed to light. Except for clays, I think all natural colorants fade over time. I know you’ve been very busy, but I hope to read about your olive oil DOS experiment. 🙂

  5. Gordana

    Gorgeous soaps! This is white Fil-Castile is really amazing. Does it leather? I’ve planned to try the similar recipe for a long time, but this really inspired me!

  6. soapjam Post author

    The Fil- Castile soap produces a fine lather when taking a bath with soft water. I added a little sugar to help with the suds and the small amount of coconut oil helps too. We have very hard water where I live, so we installed a water softener in our house. This has helped tremendously. I doubt though if it will lather much in hard water. 🙂
    I hope to read about your version soon! 🙂

  7. Veronica

    I love the simple elegancy of this soap. It is simply beautiful. I haven’t tried making a castile soap, as I have read that it can take months to be ready. But you have inspired me to try. I don’t use TD, so my soap will probably be more the colour of the olive oil….just thinking I might try using some white clay in it….time to play

    1. soapjam Post author

      Thank you, Veronica. The Fil-Castile soap I made does not contain TD yet it came out white. If you discount your water heavily (i used a 40% lye concentration), the soap will be ready in a month. The addition of white clay sounds good! Good luck! I hope you give it a try. 🙂

  8. Roxana

    What a beautiful soap! it’s so creamy 🙂 I made a bastille soap once and it came out pretty white without the use of TD, I was so in love with it!

  9. Deirdre

    Wow, I love how both look and it’s nice to see the naturally white Fil-Castile side by side with the TD coloured Aqua soap. The Aqua fragrance sounds divine and your Christmas idea is perfect – that soap looks like a peaked mountain covered in snow 🙂

  10. Jenny

    What a gorgeous white soap, Silvia! It is so beautiful in its simplicity and purity. A bright white Snow- or peppermint-scented soap would be perfect for Christmas!

  11. Vicki

    Wow – isn’t it amazing how beautiful a plain white bar can be?! I often use TD in my soap but never the full recommended amount as I found it seemed to cause crackling / glycerine rivers. I’ve been recently asked to make a plain white soap though so I may have to be brave and just go for it!

  12. soapjam Post author

    Thank you, Vicki. If you discount your water (I use a 36-37% lye concentration), you will have less chances of getting glycerin rivers. Clara of Auntie Clara’s did some controlled tests and wrote about it in her blog. 🙂

  13. Pingback: Holiday Soaps | SoapJam

  14. Madame Propre

    Hi Sylvia ! As I was reading this old post over again, I realised that salt may have helped to get the soap white. I noticed salt soaps turn out much clearer even at low concentrations on salt.

    1. soapjam Post author

      I think you are right, Madame Propre! I’ve always wondered why my Fil-Castile soap is the only one that is naturally white (more bone white than bright white).


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