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10 Feb 2017

How to make traditional pine tar soap

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February 10, 2017 Category: Beauty Posted by:

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Many report the use of pine tar soap has a soothing effect on their skin, which is why, after centuries, it is still sought after, according to Jim Champion.  There are scores of outlets that sell pine tar soap. However, there are also those electing to make their own. Following is one of Champion’s favorite pine tar soap recipes: 

Pine Tar Soap Recipe


  • Lard – 13.5 ounces
  • Olive oil – 13.5 ounces
  • Palm kernel oil – 8.2 ounces
  • Sunflower oil – 5.8 ounces
  • Pine tar – 7.2 ounces
  • Lye – 5.9 ounces
  • Water – 15.8 ounces
  • Essential oil blend – lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus and Siberian fir – 2 ounces
  • 1 tbs. sugar – add to the water for the lye solution, before you add the lye


Preparations for Pine Tar Soap

Making pine tar soap is pretty standard and equivalent to making any other batch of cold process soap. But it is going to come to trace very quickly, so you need to make a couple of adjustments to your standard.

When you are learning about soap making “trace” is a word you will often hear. What does it mean? It is very important to correct mixture of your soap, and failure to achieve trace will leave you with a mess. Trace occurs when you are mixing your ingredients together and they become mixed well enough that they thicken and will leave a “trace” or trail of the mixing.  If you do not achieve trace when mixing your fats and lye, the mixture can or will separate and will not form a soap.

  • Mix at low temperatures—use lye at room temperature and oils at about 85 degrees.
  • Use a lot of water for this recipe the water is calculated at 2.5 times the amount of lye.
  • Adjust your recipe to be slower to trace. Include slow-to-trace oils like lard and olive and remove quick-to-trace oils like castor and palm.
  • Be careful with fragrance or essential oils that may speed up trace. Lavender tends to slow down trace.
  • Don’t use a stick blender – just whisk it to mix it.
  • The first thing to do, while you’re measuring out your other oils and such, is to put the can of pine tar in a large bowl of very hot water. This will help make the pine tar easier to scoop or pour when it is added the soap pot.   


  • Melt the Hard Oils for Pine Tar Soap
  • While the pine tar is warming in the hot water, measure your hard oils and begin melting them.
  • Add the Liquid Oils and the Pine Tar Pot

Once the hard oils have been melted, remove the pot from the heat. Add the liquid oils. Now  add the pine tar, which is very sticky. Measure it from the can directly into the soap pot, or place the pine tar soap into a pot, place it on a scale, and carefully measure the correct amount of pine tar into the heated oils. Stir the oils and pine tar well. Mix at a low temperature.

Adding Essential Oils to the Soap Pot

This recipe will come to trace quickly, therefore add the essential oils to the liquid oils before you add the lye. Normally, you would do this at trace, to lessen exposure of the essential oils to lye because, at this point, temperatures are low, and the mixture will thicken quickly. Remember to add the essential oils first.

Pine tar has a smoky, pungent scent, so consider complimenting it with 2.2 ounces of essential oils:

  • 7 ounces lavender essential oil
  • 5 ounces eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 ounces Siberian fir essential oils
  • 4 ounces tea tree essential oil

The combination of the essential oils and the pine tar create a great scent.

• Adding lye to pine tar soap pot

Once you’ve mixed the essential oils well into the oils and pine tar, slowly add the lye solution to the pot. Do not use a stick blender. Just whisk the mixture together.

• Stir the Pine Tar Soap with Whisk

After a few stirs with the whisk, the soap mixture will begin to turn more opaque and lighter color. This is your soap beginning to saponify, which is the conversion of a fat into soap by treating it with an alkali.

• Finishing the Stirring – Ready to Pour the Soap

With the whisk keep stirring for several minutes. The soap will thicken to the consistency of thick chocolate pudding or cake batter. To identifying the trace instant will be difficult. But it is important to achieve complete and thorough. Keep stirring until mixed. Don’t let the mixture to too thick to pour.

• Pouring the Pine Tar Soap into the Mold

Pour the soap mixture into the mold. Use a rubber spatula to remove it from the pot and drop the mold on the counter to release any air pockets or bubbles.

• Adding a Decorative Touch to the Soap

With a spatula, smooth the top of the soap flat or use it to make some waves and swirls on top of the solid bar. It will give the final bars a decorative look.

• Pine Tar Soap – Finished and Unmolded

For this recipe, it is recommended that after 24-36 hours, you unmold and cut your soap. Normally a soap with the amount of water for this recipe would require several days before it set and becomes ready to cut. This batch will be firm enough to cut the next day.

Some prefer to let the soap cure for several weeks, which allows for a harder soap.

The completed product, according to Champion, will provide a wonderful scent in the kitchen and any bathrooms, which will smell of pine and a delicious smoky essence.

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