Exfoliating soap adventures


A while back, Maree, from Around the Mulberry Tree, asked whether I had ever made sand soap.  To be honest, I had never heard of it. Thank goodness for Google.  I soon came across Pearson’s Carbolic Soap:

Pearson’s celebrated Pumice Sand Soap

Pearson’s Soap is a unique product for scrubbing and reviving timber floors, decks, benches & tables. Cleans and shines Chinese woks, pots, pans, copper, brass, iron and tin.  Also cleans soiled hands and removes stains and mildew from bathroom tiles. Ants, fleas and other unhealthy pests will be discouraged in households where this unique invention is habitually employed.

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.  Every householder should use it.”  Use on a scrubbing brush or rub directly onto surfaces.  Pearson’s celebrated Pumice Sand Soap contains soluble glycerine to protect hands.

This clearly was what Maree was asking about.  My first thoughts for a recipe were:

  • beef tallow – all soap, until very recently, was (and most commercial soap still is) made with animal fat.  Tallow produces a hard bar of soap which, I am sure, old fashioned sand soap would have been;
  • pumice – that was a no-brainer – it is on the label;
  • clay – it wouldn’t have been pure pumice.  I read somewhere that the pumice was taken from a river bed.  I went with Bentonite clay as it is highly absorbent and draws oils and toxins which would be perfect for cleaning chopping boards, etc; and, as the soap supposedly kept fleas at bay,
  • tea tree oil and, maybe, a bit of eucalyptus oil.  Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil have antiseptic and antibacterial properties and I am sure fleas wouldn’t like the fragrance.

Maree also mentioned the soap would be similar to Solvol soap which is used by mechanics to wash oil off their hands.  Off to Google I went and came up with a site which indicated that Solvol was 50% beef tallow and 50% coconut oil.  Coconut oil contributes to the hardness and cleansing ability of soap.  Soap made with this formula would be very hard, very cleansing but drying on the hands.  Sounds right for a kitchen soap 🙂

Maree also thought the soap should have a lot of pumice in it.   So here is my recipe:

  • Beef tallow 50% – 600g
  • Coconut oil 50% – 600g
  • Water – 371g
  • NaOH – 186g
  • Pumice  – 250g
  • Bentonite Clay – 2 tsp
  • Tea Tree essential oil –  30g
  • Eucalypus essential oil – 10g

In the end, I didn’t make the soap.  One of my searches lead me to this post, a recipe for foot soap.  When I read it, I got really excited.  I had bought some ground pumice with the intention of making the kitchen soap but didn’t think it would be that popular. I thought a soap for feet, which I am sure would also be good for mechanics and gardeners, would have wider appeal than a kitchen soap.

Here is the recipe.

  • Olive Oil 40%  – 480g
  • Coconut Oil 35% – 420g
  • Palm Oil 20% – 240g
  • Shea Butter 5% –  60g
  • Water – 456g
  • NaOH – 175g
  • Pumice –  200g
  • Bentonite Clay – 2 tsp
  • Tea Tree essential oil – 30g
  • Eucalypus essential oil – 10g
  • Indigo powder dispersed in olive oil –  1 tsp
  • Ultra Marine blue dispersed in olive oil – a touch

This soap is the subject of the top photo.  These soaps are one of the most favourite I have ever made.  Nothing strange happened. I love the colour and I can just tell they will be great to use.  I even like the mix of tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils.  Clearly, my foot soap is perfect for mechanics and gardeners but I intend to market it as a foot soap.  As I said to Maus, not everyone is a mechanic but everyone has feet.  I am naming this soap “Happy Feet”.


When doing all my reading on sand soap, I got hits for all sorts of exfoliates.  One which kept coming up, and was decribed as a gentle exfoliate, was ground walnut shells.  As I had some walnuts in the shell, Maus and I tried to grate one on a rasp file but walnut shells are bloody hard.  We decided, in the circumstances, it was wiser to just buy the ground product.  Sometimes it just ain’t worth making it yourself.

After a bit of thinking, I came up with this design.  I am going with the name Potted Colour which most gardeners would appreciate.  This soap was not  as successful as Happy Feet.  The batter went very thick, very quickly.  I don’t know why this was the case.  The fragrances I used don’t usually accelerate trace so I wonder whether it was the walnut shells.  Or maybe I just mixed it too much.  I mixed the batter to a medium trace before I added the walnut shells because I didn’t want them to sink.  I also mixed it quite a bit after I added the walnut shell, concerned the shell might clump.  I really battled to get the batter into the moulds and, because of that, they are a bit blotchy.  Next time, I will mix the walnut shell with a bit of the oil and add it at light trace.    Here is the recipe.

  • Rice Bran Oil 40% – 480g
  • Palm kernel Oil 20%  – 240g
  • Coconut Oil 20% – 240g
  • Palm oil  10% – 120g
  • Shea Butter 10% – 120
  • Water  – 347g
  • NaOH – 173g
  • Arabian Spice fragrance oil – 50 mils
  • Sensuous Sandalwood fragrance oil – 26 mils
  • Ground walnut shell – 8 x 15 mil tablespoons

Stay tuned for more soaping adventures.


19 thoughts on “Exfoliating soap adventures

  1. Well it had the word ‘adventure in the title so I was hardly likely to ignore this one. I love the idea of an exfoliating soap. Something really good to get rid of that grime or smell. I had completely forgotten about Solvol but now I can hear the ad “Wash your hands Geoffrey…

  2. Love the sound of your pumice foot soap. And your ‘Potted Colour’ reminds me of when I did the markets and my stand was next door to a garden lady who sold ‘potted colour’, in a loud voice, from the time we set up at 7.30am until knock off time at 1.30pm. It used to drive me potty.

      • Ditto, I also thought potted colour was a rip off, however she was always sold out by the end of the day. It amazed me how people were absolutely charmed by the one plant in the tiny pot and didn’t mind paying for something that would be short lived.

        Your ‘potted colour’ on the other hand is good value, longer lasting, useful and very sweet.

  3. Woo hoo!!! You legend, looks great. Many years ago there was a foot lotion called happy feet that was brilliant. Can’t get that anymore but I’m sure yours will fill the brilliant slot perfectly.

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