Learn how to make homemade pine tar soap with this simple pine tar soap recipe.
Traditionally, pine tar soap is used to treat problematic skin conditions that include psoriasis, eczema, dandruff and skin inflammation. It can also be used to soothe and treat symptoms of poison ivy, oak, and sumac and it helps to relieve itching caused by bug bites. I also found that using pine tar soap to bathe my dog calmed and soothed his flea dermatitis.
I was a little hesitant about making pine soap for the first time as I’d never worked with pine tar before and wasn’t sure what to expect. However, the pine tar was something like the consistency of real maple syrup and not at all difficult to use. I did make a small 12 oz. test batch first just to go through the process and get a feel for things. But it was absolutely not necessary. Just remember to allow your lye-water and oils to cool to around 80° F and hand stir with a spatula rather than a stick blender. It’s a pretty steady process with the soap batter gradually reaching trace in about the same amount of time a regular soap batch with a stick blender would. Nothing seized or went awry so you shouldn’t feel rushed to get the soap into the mold.
Since I created two batches of this soap – one 12 oz. batch and one 16 oz. batch – I figured I’d go ahead and share both of those recipes with you. On my test batch I threw some turquoise mica in a small amount of the soap batter and spread it on top just to see what it would do. The color held, though I don’t think the turquoise was particularly pretty against the natural brown color of the pine tar soap. However, if you’d like to color your pine tar soaps so they aren’t a drab brown, it is an option if you’re using mica.
I’ll share my 16 oz. pine tar soap recipe first followed by the smaller 12 oz. recipe. The 16 oz. recipe fits into this Ozera 6-Cavity Silicone Soap Mold quite nicely and will give you uniform bars that don’t need to be cut. The two recipes are incredibly similar. However, I like the 12 oz. recipe the best and found it hardened up much faster.
Pine Tar Soap Recipe (16 oz. batch)
5 oz. distilled water
1.9 oz. sodium hydroxide/lye
Here’s my pine tar soap recipe from where I ran it through a lye calculator. This recipe doesn’t have any palm oil so you really need to add the sodium lactate to firm it up. It’s rather soft without it. Also I do recommend discounting the water a little further which is why my pine tar soap recipe differs slightly from the screenshot of what I initially came up with. If you don’t discount your water further or your soap doesn’t gel, it may need an extra day or two in the mold so it comes out clean.
If you’d like to start with a harder bar right off the bat, you can use around 30% sustainable palm oil in your pine tar recipe – though keep in mind palm oil does speed up trace a bit – or you can use lard. Of course there are many many other variations of oils and butters you can experiment with, but for the sake of creating a beginner recipe, I left it simple.
I have also been considering, however, making this again and including neem oil in the recipe since it also helps with many of the same skin issues. I’d likely reduce the amount of pine tar to 10% and use 5% neem oil, although 15% pine tar and 5% neem oil could work as well.
This pine tar soap recipe, which is basically the same as my test best but with the addition of tea tree, is mild with a nice creamy lather just several days after unmolding. However, for the mildest bar possible and a harder bar that will help your soap last longer, I highly recommend resisting the urge to use these a week in and let these cure a full four to six weeks.
The essential oil of course are optional. But I added them for their skin and hair care properties. In regards to fragrance, the essential oils make very little difference in the scent of the soap. The final soaps still smelled very reminiscent of the pine tar in the can. my 16 oz. pine tar soap recipes yields six bars of soap when using the Ozera 6-Cavity Silicone Soap Mold.
To make your pine tar soap you’ll follow your basic cold process soapmaking instructions for the most part. Begin by making your lye-water. Measure out the amount of water needed into a heat proof container.
Then, using a digital scale, weigh out the lye. Slowly pour the lye into the water in a well ventilated area, stirring until the lye has dissolved completely. (You’ll want to take proper safety precautions when working with lye. Gloves and eye protection are recommended.)
Next, use your digital scale to weigh out the olive, coconut and castor oils as well as the pine tar. (I specifically used the Bickmore Pine Tar which is creosote free.) Heat in a non-aluminum pot over medium to medium-low heat until your ingredients have melted completely. Alternately, you can heat this one rather quickly at 50% power in your microwave as well in a large glass Pyrex measuring cup. (Note that I did not heat my oils and pine tar in the Pyrex on the stove.)
Once your ingredients have melted, remove from heat and set aside.
Allow the lye-water and your oil and pine tar mixture to cool to room temperature or around 80°F.
Now measure out the sodium lactate and stir it into your lye-water.
Weigh out the essential oils, if you like to use them, and stir them into your melted oils and pine tar.
Prepare you soap mold by placing it on a wooden cutting board or similar for easy transport in case it’s necessary to move your soap prior to it being ready to unmold.
Now slowly pour the lye-water into the melted oils and pine tar and stir by hand until you reach a medium-heavy trace.
Pour the soap batter into your mold cavities.
If desired, level the tops of the soap you just poured with your spatula or the back of a butter knife.
Set your soap aside in safe location where it won’t be disturbed. Wait at least 24 hours before attempting to unmold your soap. If after 24 hours your pine tar soap does not seem like it will come cleaning out of the mold, simply wait another day or two.
Unmold your pine tar soap and set aside in a cool dry location to cure for four to six weeks.
Whew. That was easy. Now here’s the test batch recipe.
Pine Tar Soap Recipe (12 oz. batch)
3.9 oz. distilled water
1.45 oz. sodium hydroxide/lye
Follow the same directions as with the previous pine tar soap recipe mixing the lye-water and oils at around 80°F. My 12 oz. recipe yields four bars of pine tar soap and will fill four of the Ozera 6-Cavity Silicone Soap Mold with a bit to spare.
Once your soap reaches trace, pour it evenly into four of the mold cavities leaving a little room at the top if you want a colored top. Mix the mica to suit into the remaining soap batter, then fill the molds the rest of the way with the colored soap batter.
Unmold after 24 to 48 hours. Your soap is ready for use in four to six weeks.
I went a little heavy on the mica just to test the result I’d get. It did make the lather green, but it didn’t stain my skin or the tub. (This is also the version I used on my dog, Jasper, that calmed his skin. Neem oil soap also works well for this.)
If you’re still not ready to make your own pine tar soap, you can buy it online here from The Village Soapsmith as well as from many other talented soapmakers on Etsy. For more handmade soaps and other bath and body products you can buy, be sure to visit Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen here.
For more of my homemade soap recipes, be sure to follow my Simply Soapmaking board as well my DIY Bath and Body board on Pinterest. You can also find and follow me on G+, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Blog Lovin’, and Instagram. Or sign up to receive new posts to your email via FeedBurner so you never miss a post.