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Soap From Organic Raw Materials

  • DIY
Organic Soap From Scratch_PermaTree

In this article we will dive into how to make organic soap from scratch with raw materials. Directly extracted manually, off the beaten path in the Amazon Region of Ecuador. From local organic vegetable & animal elements to produce the highest quality organic soap. With ancestral time-tested methods of soap making via cold saponification. Without harming any living beings.

A Bit Of History

Imagine a wonderful summer night, a prehistoric hunter, sheltered in a cavern, grilling his latest catch on a marvelous fire. The fat from the meat melts and starts to mix with the ashes of the crackling fire. Suddenly, it storms. And the rain flows gently and the mix of fat with ashes and water create the ashes (rich in lye). All the ingredients are now gathered for the soap to arise from nowhere. The first soap is born, allowing to clean the cooking pot !

The final organic soap made with 3 elements.

  • 1.) Saponification Method: Extraction of Ashes for Potassium Hydroxide and
  • 2.) Soursop Seed Oil Method Manual Cold Extraction
  • 3.) Beeswax (to make it solid)

A Bit Of Chemistry

The organic soap is a product of saponification. During the process, a fatty acid is mixed to a basis (Potassium/- Sodium hydroxide).

Two Organic Cold Saponification Formulas :

  • Liquid glycerin = “Lye”, Potassium hydroxide (KOH) + fatty acid (animal fat or vegetable oil)
  • Solid glycerin = “Caustic soda solution”, Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) + fatty acid (animal fat or vegetable oil)

Most of the cosmetic products in the market include also mineral components like petroleum extracts (damaging for environment and health). For example please do check the ingredients of the so called “Melt and pour soap” basis which is clearly not organic.

  • Mineral glycerin -> Basis + Petroleum extract + fatty acid (animal fat or vegetable oil) + etc…

Two types of basis exist : a lye solution (potassium hydroxide KOH) or caustic soda solution (sodium hydroxide NaOH) which are dissolved in water. Mixing while heated the fatty acid and the basis convert to soap, also called glycerin. Depending on the basis you get liquid glycerin or solid glycerin.

The Benefit Of Good Home & Body Care

A good hygiene allows to avoid microbial growth and reduce significantly the risk of infections and diseases. A good hygiene is the basis of a good health. Good food cares for the inside of the body, and good body care protects the body outside.

A Holistic Approach

At Finca Yantza, we are using each part of the plant to extract raw materials to make soaps. The seed, the flower, the leaf, the fruit, the peal, the branch, the trunk and the roots. Each element finds a use. There is no waste in a holistic approach.

Overview: Soaps Formulation Tab

Some Raw Soap Materials :

Potassium Hydroxide

Method: Extraction of Ashes

The potassium hydroxide is one of the two key elements of glycerin. The other element is a fatty acid of your choice. Both mixed together transform to soap.

The processes to make Potassium hydroxide (KOH) fluid with Banana peal and Cocoa Pods ashes and rainwater (important).

WARNING : “Lye” Potassium hydroxide (KOH) fluid must be purred into the the fatty acid (oil), and not the other way around. Unless you want to witness a chemical reaction resembling to a explosion. Also be sure to ware gloves, boots and glasses and a mouth protection!

POTASSIUM: Ashes of Banana peal and Cocoa Pods which are full of Potassium. The Potassium does not burn in fire and stays intact.

The chemical element of Potassium is with symbol K and atomic number 19. It can be isolated from potash, the ashes of wood. We made it with the resources available at Finca Yantza : banana’s peel and cocoa’s pods that are full of potassium. This meant to burn banana’s peel and cocoa’s pods in the adobe oven several times to obtain the above amount of ashes. So we did use a fair amount of firewood which was also used to cook delicious bread and cakes from Btina.

POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE: The final potassium hydroxide liquid after the chemical reaction of the saponification of water with potassium ashes.

Soursop Seed Oil

Method : Cold – Pressed Extraction

The oil is an essential raw material in the cosmetic care. Organic oils convey all nutrients and are therefore the purest oil quality you can get.

Practitioners of herbal medicine use soursop fruit and leaves to treat stomach ailments, fever, parasitic infections, hypertension and rheumatism. It’s used as a sedative, as well. But claims of the fruit’s anti-cancer properties have attracted the most attention.

The Soursop Oil Properties :

  • Rich in Vitamin C
  • Antibacterial action
  • Rich in antioxidants such as flavanoids, polyphenols and saponins.
  • Great scent of roasted nuts
  • Light oil, evanescent and not sticky
  • Rich in omega 3,6 and 9.

Video Manual Oil Cold Pressing

We recommend the cold pressed extraction method because it retains all the oil flavors, aroma, and nutritional value, making the oils great for skin care requirements. Therefore, it can be used as a care for the face, the body, the hair and also to fortify the nails. Cold pressed oils are naturally cholesterol free and have zero trans fatty acids. In addition, the carbon footprint is zero because its extracted manually by hand.

Photo: Air Dried Soursop Seeds
Soursop Oil, PermaTree, Ecuador
We have used the handmade cold process method to extract the oil from the seeds, while first removing their shell. The process is quite long but allows to collect an organic pure oil for the body and hair full of healthy nutriments.

Pure Beeswax

Pure Beeswax PermaTree

The Beeswax is a essential element to give more substance to the formula and bring the soap to a solid state. In addition, it also makes the soap softer in the handling and moreover, brings a sweet soft scent of honey to the soap. Beeswax obtained from the Estación Experimental El Padmi | Universidad Nacional de Loja, with whom we collaborate for various projects.

Lemon Grass Essential Oil

Method : Alembic’ Distillation

The hierba luisa (Lemon Grass) essential oil was a big surprise here. Not every odorous plant is able to give their essence through the distillation method. Why did I choose the Hierba Luisa among all the plants present in this generous biotope ? Well, at random ! Above all, for reasons of its natural marvelous scent at 5 o’clock, after a warm sunny day. Subsequently, we extracted a wonderful fresh floral water (the hydrolat), together with the pure essential oil of the plant. A great moment.

Distillation process of Lemon Grass with the miniature alembic
Drawing: Distillation Alembic Process – Art by Delphine Jaquemart
This final result: 5 Liters of transparent liquid floral water (the hydrolat). 15ml yellow liquid pure essential oil.

Lime Essential Oil

Method Ancestral Sicilian Expression

We pressed the skin of the bitter mandarin fruit to pierce the scent beads located in the small cavities of the skin. With a spoon as main tool, like it was done by the Sicilians long ago. Consequently, we then collected the liquid from this action that contains two fluids. A scented water and the scented essential oil of the lime.

Sangre De Drago

Method : Directly Tapping From Living Trunk

The substance called “sangre de drago” is one of the most concentrated solutions in the South American medicinal herbology knowledge. Dragon’s blood doesn’t come from a fire-breathing creature living in fairy tales. The liquid comes from the Croton Lechleri, a tree found in the Amazonian Rainforest Basin. There are 3 trees at Finca Yantza, and we had the chance to collect directly the red substance from their trunks. Making incisions in the bark and collecting the unique fluid in a vessel. This process is called “tapping”. The scent of the fluid is similar to the scent of ginger.

Video Harvesting Sangre de Drago

The Dragon’s blood has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in a number of studies. Consequently, the liquid is widely available in dietary supplement form, and is also used as an ingredient in skin-care products. It has powerful healing properties, and is perfect to soothe burnt or damaged skin. Applied locally, it will make disappear the most stubborn and inflamed blemishes. A drop of Dragon’s blood stops the fire!

Harvesting the “Sangre de Drago” directly from the trunk of the living tree by tapping the fluid.
Photo: The final Sangre De Drado / Dragon’s Blood Liquid Extract


On every soap’s sticker, you will first find a formula like “soidum…ate”. It indicates that you are in front of a saponificated vegetal or animal oil, that constitute a real good soap. In all other cases, the soap is made with detergent, a chemical component that comes from petroleum.

Some INCI examples :

  • Beef fat saponificated = Sodium tallowate
  • Coco oil saponificated = Sodium cocoate
  • Palm oil saponificated = Sodium palmate

Therefore, its up to you to check which one is the best, from an environmental point of view.

Detergent Impact On The Environment

The detergents are produced and used up to various billions of tones every year (56% for the laundry, 8% for the body hygiene, 36 % for the rest). Most importantly, their components are not biodegradable. They are dispersed in the aquatic environment. In conclusion, you can now deplore a serious damage to the aquatic environment, which is the source of the food supply chain. Only a strong individual awareness will reduce the impact of the detergents on the ecosystem balance.

Author: Delphine Jacquemart

Delphine Jacquemart
Delphine Jacquemart harvesting Sangre de Drago at Finca Yantza in Ecuador.

Parisian based beauty and fragrance expert. Research & Development Office in Paris, France. She holds master degrees in olfaction’s formulation, fragrance and cosmetic markets from the ISIPCA of Versailles. Additionally holds a masters of economy from the ESSEC University of France together with the Georgetown University of Washington DC in the US. She has worked and collaborated with high end organizations within the Beauty, Catering and the  Pharmacy sectors. Inspired by the scent of nature, she founded and directs R&D Office in Paris where she has a strong focus on innovation in the process, quality and raw materials sourcing. On-Demand perfume creations and derivatives.

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