Tag Archives: Fil-Castile

Rice Water Fil-Castile

A friend of mine introduced me to making porridge with glutinous purple rice, and ever since then, I would buy a small pack whenever it makes its sporadic appearance in the supermarket. The high amount of amylopectin is responsible for its sticky quality –  yielding a thicker and richer porridge compared to one made with regular rice.

As I was preparing to cook some glutinous purple rice last month, I remembered reading somewhere that rice water, or the water used for washing rice, was good for the skin and has been used by Chinese and Japanese women for centuries.  Without doing much research, I went ahead and soaked rice in distilled water at a 1:1 ratio.

Purple Rice 7

Purple rice water

I also had some shikon roots going through a second infusion. It was much lighter than the first infusion so I thought if I used it together with the purple rice water, I might get a lavender-colored soap.  Wanting to keep things simple, I decided to use these 2 ingredients in my 2-oil Fil-Castile formula.  And instead of my usual unscented Fil-Castile, I added essential oils of lavender and rosewood (all-natural blend since the real thing is endangered and too costly.)  At the last minute, I added bamboo charcoal to have some kind of design for the top.

Purple Rice 1

Purple Rice 3

In stark contrast to the dark purple colour that I got with my Shikon and Bamboo Charcoal Soap, this second-infusion batch had a greenish hue when it was wet, and dried out to a greyish bone colour.  The colour I had hoped for was not there, but it smelled nice and expensive. 😀

Purple Rice 2

Purple Rice 4

I finally got to test a bar a few days ago.  It was slimy, pasty, and barely bubbly.  If I really wanted to, I could create a little lather by coating my hands with wet soap and rubbing them together for a few seconds.  But if I just glided the bar on my body, there was no lather and the soap was so slippery that it kept jumping out of my hands. Because I like using soap with a good lather, this soap rates low in usage pleasure, but it leaves my skin feeling very soft.  My conclusion is that I used the wrong type of rice, but rice water is certainly good for the skin.

As for my sticky purple rice porridge, it was delicious. After cooking it and adding enough water to make it into the consistency I wanted, I seasoned it with a little himalayan salt, added coconut milk for richness, and coconut nectar for sweetness. I forgot to include it in the photos, put I also like to sprinkle it with toasted Japanese sesame seeds, either the white or black variety. Yum.

Purple Rice 5

Glutinous purple rice, coconut milk, coconut nectar/syrup, himalayan salt

Purple Rice 6

Glutinous purple rice porridge.



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. 🙂



Fil-Castile Soap Embeds

As I mentioned in my last post, I only had 8 bars left of the Fil-Castile soap because this was where the other 7 went:

1.  Peppermint Avocado – I am one happy girl when avocado is in season. I love eating it, soaping with it, and slathering it on my face with honey and yogurt for a moisturizing and skin-refining face mask.  Avocado was the first fruit that I incorporated into my soap and it remains to be one of my favorites. To see my first avocado soap, please click here.

For this soap, I used about 10% (of oils) fresh avocado mixed with some water to make into a smooth purée. When using fruit or vegetable purées, I always let it go through a fine mesh strainer to ensure smoothness. For color contrast, I utilized the moringa sludge left behind from the oil infusion for my moringa facial soap, and for scent, I added peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils.

I took this photo a day after unmolding the soap:

Avocado Moringa 3

The actual soap was greener than what the photo above shows. Three days later, I took the photos below.  The bottom part with the moringa had become a bit lighter, but due to the lighting, it appears lighter than it actually is. I suspect the green will fade out or morph into a light yellow brown color. It is worth noting that after 2 months, the moringa facial soap with infused oil is still green although lighter.  

Avocado Moringa 1

Avocado Moringa 2

Avocado soap with peppermint, eucalyptus and moringa

Across my house, there are 3 eucalyptus trees. I decided to use some of the leaves as props. I never noticed before that some of the newly sprouted leaves were purplish red.

Eucalyptus Leaves

Eucalyptus leaves at various growth stages

Here in the Philippines, moringa grows everywhere. Once picked, the leaves tend to curl up and look wilted so it’s a good idea to dip the stems in water.

Eucalyptus leaf side by side moringa leaves

Eucalyptus leaf side by side moringa leaves

2. Orange Patchouli with Red Clay – I have read other people rave about orange and patchouli together. I now know what they’re talking about. The combo is a deep, complex and haunting scent. It’s divine! I have to admit though that it took me a while to appreciate patchouli. It does smell like dirt, but it blooms when mixed with other scents. I am crossing my fingers that the scent will hold!

For 1250 grams of oils, I used only 1/4 tsp Australian red clay to get a pale terra cotta-like color.  That stuff is potent! The actual color is a little bit darker than the photos. Red Clay Soap 3

Red Clay Soap 4Red Clay Soap 2

Red Clay Soap 5

Orange Patchouli Soap with Red Clay



Fil-Castile Soap: The Best of Two Worlds

The first soap I ever made was an olive oil soap with a  touch of castor oil. I messed it up because I failed to reach proper emulsion. I read too many warnings about soap turning solid or “seizing” that I didn’t dare turn on the stick blender long enough. Now that I know that olive oil takes forever to reach trace, I can simply laugh about that experience.  It has been one year and one month since that first soap.  I am making it again, this time with local virgin coconut oil, and calling it Fil-Castile. Hmmm…I feel that a new classic is born. 🙂 The name is a representation of the best of both worlds and the long history that they share. 

Fil Castile 3

Fil-Castile Soap: made with olive oil and virgin coconut oil

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan – in the service of the king of Spain – came to our shores in 1521 and introduced the Catholic faith. It was also here where he met his death in the famous Battle of Mactan. Other Spanish explorers came after him, and by 1565, the Philippines (named after King Philip II) had become a colony of Spain, and stayed on to be for the next 333 years or until 1898 when the Americans came.  Spanish influence is thus inextricably woven into the fiber of Philippine society and culture.

The Crusaders have been credited for introducing soap to Western Europe when they brought back with them Aleppo soap  in the 11th century.  It wasn’t until the following century that soap production using locally available olive oil gained momentum throughout Italy and Spain. Of all the soap-producing regions, it was the Kingdom of Castilla (now a part of modern Spain) that became famous, hence the term Castile for soaps made with 100% olive oil. It is a mild and gentle soap that produces a low, fine, and creamy lather. It has a tendency to feel slimy, but it is wonderfully soothing for sensitive and dry skin.  It is a natural humectant and skin regenerator due to olive oil’s high oleic acid and vitamin E content.

Coconut trees abound in the Philippines and it is called the Tree of Life for good reason. Every part of the tree is usable in the form of food, fuel or shelter.  According to Coconutoil.com, these are benefits of coconut oil:


The most common form of coconut oil is extracted from sun-dried mature coconut meat, called copra. This oil is refined, bleached, and deodorized (RBD) and is yellowish in color.  On the other hand, virgin coconut oil is cold-pressed from fresh mature coconut meat and  expeller-processed to separate the water from the oil, keeping intact all the nutritional benefits. It is completely clear and colorless when liquid. Taken internally or used as a topical application, virgin coconut oil is without a doubt far more superior than the RBD kind.  But does it really make a difference after saponification?  It would be interesting to hear it from a scientific point of view.

For my Fil-Castile soap, I used 95% olive oil and 5% virgin coconut oil, and left it unscented. To make a hard bar of soap, I used a 40% lye concentration, and added a little sodium lactate and salt. I also included a small amount of sugar to help it bubble up better.

Fil Castile 2

I blended the oils and lye solution intermittently for several minutes yet it remained very thin. I poured it anyway into the mold. I wanted to try Auntie Clara’s inverted stamp technique, so while I waited for the soap batter to thicken to the right consistency, I made a masterbatch lye solution.  Batter was still too thin.  I proceeded to make 2 other batches of soap, and by then, the batter was still not thick enough to hold shape! It was only after about 75 minutes before the batter was ready, but even then, it was still on the soft side and as you can see, the marks are not very pronounced. I didn’t have wires and pliers, so I used acrylic dividers to make the lattice design.

Fil Castile 4

Inverted stamp technique

Even with the water discount, salt and sodium lactate, I expected the soap to be soft during cutting, but after 11-12 hours, I was surprised that it was perfectly hard already.  The sound that the string cutter makes as it is pulled and subsequently released by the soap as it cuts through it gives me an idea how hard the soap is.  The higher the pitch, the harder the soap is and the  closer the string is to breaking. 🙂

What surprised me the most were the pock marks. Are they air bubbles? I was careful with the way I stick blended the soap batter. I was very disappointed with the appearance so I started chopping off the bars into small cubes to be made into embeds, until I realized I was just being too fussy.  There is nothing wrong with the soap:  it is very fine and smooth to the touch, and a lovely bone white.  Despite being unscented, it smells pure and clean to me.  Luckily I was able to save 8 bars from being chopped up, but I am also loving the soaps made with the embeds – post to follow very soon!

Fil Castile 1

Cut surface has pock marks, but otherwise the texture is very smooth to the touch.