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How to Make Bamboo Charcoal Soap (Recipe with Pictures)
You might have heard about or read about the benefits of bamboo charcoal soap. This soap, which incorporates powder from bamboo charcoal (i.e. bamboo that has been burned into pure, black charcoal), is said to do a great job of removing impurities from the skin and leaving your skin feeling clean, without a sticky film. Many use it to exfoliate dead skin, and also deodorize the skin naturally, too.
But if you don't live in Japan, where this product is common, can you make it on your own? The answer is yes, and provided you have the right equipment, it's really not all that hard.
What you'll need
The list is really rather short:
- "melt and pour" soap base (or a soap-making kit) - 1 lb of soap will make about 6 bars (although that, of course, depends on how big your bars are going to be)
- soap molds (often included in kits)
- bamboo charcoal (or bamboo that you've burned in a controlled environment, until it turns into pure, black charcoal); I bought bamboo charcoal stalks that are sold as home air fresheners, although deodorizing bags of bamboo charcoal powder/pieces are considerably cheaper
- a powerful blender
- a mortar and pestle (if the blender does not reduce the charcoal into powder)
- Pulverize the bamboo charcoal into a powder. For 6 bars of soap, you'll need 1/4-1 tablespoons of fine powder per bar (i.e. about 1-3 tablespoons per pound of soap, depending on how dark you want your soap). A powerful blender should do the trick, but if you still have some unpulverized chunks, grind them down into powder using a mortar and pestle. Another option is to put the unpulverized pieces into a thick-walled plastic bag (like a gallon bag), and use a rolling pin to crush them into powder.
- Melt your soap base, following the instructions on the package (usually using either a microwave oven, or a double boiler). Note that molten soap is very hot and can cause serious burns, so be very careful!
- Mix in the bamboo charcoal thoroughly, until your soap base takes on a dark gray or black, tar-like color.
- Add fragrance or any other ingredient you'd like to add to your soap before pouring it to set.
- Pour the molten soap into your soap molds. If the soap has bubbles on the surface, you can spray it with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, which helps get rid of bubbles before they harden.
- Allow the soap to cool in the molds for a few hours.
- Pop the soap out of the mold and there you have it!
No matter how well you pulverize your bamboo charcoal, it will still have some "grittiness" to it. This is great as long as you treat this soap is a mildly-exfoliating one. I would not use it on sensitive skin, but it's great for your feet, for instance, or elsewhere where you want to burnish your skin a bit and give it some glow. I think it's terrific for your face.
The lather and residue will be gray-to-black, but don't worry; it won't stain your skin or any porcelain surfaces. However, if it does get on light-colored fabric, it should come out just fine in the wash. (The charcoal is not a pigment or dye)
I think the soap does a great job of deodorizing the skin, too.