Want to know something crazy? When I describe this soap to people, they kind of cringe and curl up the end of their nose and say no thank you. But this soap, which has affectionately been dubbed, “Ass Soap” quickly becomes everyone’s absolute favourite soap. Even though, it really does smell like ass. This soap began with the name, “Happy Skin” and it was actually the signature soap of the business I had in China, named, “Happy Skin“. It was a great seller for a while, but then people just complained about the scent and stopped buying this glorious bar of Ass Soap. Just because of the way it stinks. But, the good news was, that it meant more Ass Soap for me and mine! I never wanted to share this soap by the way. So it was happily taken off the product list and hoarded. I’m actually investigating how to make this recipe in Ireland for sale because I love it so much!
This, is a semi-hard core neem soap recipe. When you make it you kind of want to dress up in a stink proof hazmat suit and guard your entire place against the stench. It truly is not a kind scented oil and most certainly not a pretty scented soap (you get used to it and actually come to love the way it smells to be honest. I don’t promise that though). And then when it is done? It looks like poop. The colour. Just looks like something assy. Not gassy, but assy.
But you are going to love me and think of me fondly when you use this soap. You know what they say? All the best things in life stink when you first get them. Babies, tomato plants, that ozone scent before a hard rain. Babies grow up to be adults who stop stinking after like 25. Tomatoes turn into pasta sauce. And then it rains making everything smell great! This soap after a three to six month age time, smells great! At least to my nose.
Many people add in tea tree essential oil when they make this soap as tea tree is a wickedly strong scented essential oil that won’t “mask” (hide) the neem scent, it will kind of work with it. But me being the somewhat… odd person when I make things decided in my infinite wisdom, why would I use an easy to work with essential oil with a tempermental carrier oil? Why not make this a super duper challenging recipe to work with? Neem oil somewhat accelerates trace. Tea Tree essential oil doesn’t. Silly me. That would be the logical and easy thing to do. But, I hate the scent of tea tree oil. I think it is über gross. So I tossed that tea tree oil idea straight out the window.
So I use clove essential oil. Another temperamental oil! So not just a little temperamental, but A LOT temperamental! Maybe I should have call this soap, Soap for the Masochist in Me. Are you with me so far? This soap is not easy to make. It’s not a soap for the beginner soap maker, but it’s the most amazing soap ever. I use two oils (neem and clove essential oil) which are both classified as HIGHLY accelerating. And that is why this recipe is under the Advanced DIY category. Clove Essential Oil is highly irritating to the skin, and I decided to only use it at .8% in this recipe. You will get a slight whiff of clove once the neem has dissipated a little.
I know, you are probably asking, if it is such a pain in the ass (pun totally intended here) soap to make, why bother making it at all? It’s my favourite soap. Full stop. There is always always always a bar of this in my shower. Anyone who tries it, falls head over heels in love with it once they get past the smell. It’s March while I write this post so I am still in China. My sister in Texas has been begging me for weeks to send her my stash as I can’t bring it to Ireland. Friends from five continents want more of this soap.
No amount of words can accurately describe how amazing this soap is.
So what makes it so amazing? Stinky neem. But before you decide to click the links and do your self learning about neem (and think how amazing it is and should totally use it internally), a wise word of caution;
A WORD OF CAUTION
Medicines from plants should, of course, be treated with the same caution as medicines from laboratories.
Neem is a powerful tree. It’s truly difficult to get scientific data on neem due to plants grown in different parts of the world have varying degrees of potency. Some papers claim it to be antifungal, antibacterial and and and and and. Some sources claim neem is good for mature and acne prone skin. And the more I read about neem for this post, the more I wish more studies were done on mature skin and neem. The general properties of neem sound like it is full of your omegas 6 & 9; anti-inflammatory, wickedly moisturising, antioxidant, antimicrobial and and and. All I know, is that I can feel a huge difference when I use Ass Soap compared to the other soaps I make. I find Ass Soap is just more moisturising, gentler, kinder, and it is the ONLY soap I will actually use on my face (I am a strong advocate about never putting soap on the face, but this is the one exception), and as a shampoo bar if I’m stuck for shampoo as it doesn’t strip my hair.
I heard about it ages ago after I first began soaping from that David Fisher guy on About.com. I was living in the deserts of Inner Mongolia at the time and the complex I was living in had a pond. In the desert. That meant the pond was just a massive area filled with water that stood still for ages and ages. Perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other nasties especially as it was the desert so the ONLY water source for miles and miles and miles. I was tired of being scratched raw. I found that this David guy posted about how this woman makes a 20% neem soap bar for her husband in the desert and that helps ward off the pests. And that’s where I got my idea from.
And by the coffee gods! Once I saw how my skin responded… I was hooked! There was no way I wasn’t going to make this recipe over and over again. I usually make 3kg of Ass Soap every year, and will let my soap age for at least three to six months before I use it. The aging is the most important part!
To get the most out of your neem soap, I suggest adding it in at about 20%. I have made neem soap from 5%- 45% neem, and 20% seems to give the most consistent results.
5% you get minor discolouration, makes the soap look like coffee cream (using titanium dioxide), no neem smell. Soaps are minutely more moisturising than usual ONLY with an extensive age/cure time. I wouldn’t waste my money on making soap with 5% neem. This soap would never touch my face.
10-15% your soap will look brown, TD will help with brightening your soap. Faint traces of neem scent even with using fragrance oils or essential oils. No hiding it now! Soaping with 10-15% neem does produce a nice harder than usual bar of soap, and it’s very obvious there is something special about the moisturising properties of this soap. This soap would never touch my face.
20% your soap is going to be a milk chocolatey brown. TD can help with swirling if you are successful at keeping your soap from accelerating. No amount of fragrance oils or essential oils can cover the stale onion fart scent that neem inspires. You’ll learn to love it (I don’t promise that). Wickedly awesome moisturising abilities, gentle enough for my face.
30-40% your soap is going to be a dark chocolately looking soap. More than likely acceleration will occur. The neem scent is unmistakable. No noticeable moisturising differences between this one and the 20% soap. I do notice a difference in that my feet weren’t so stinky in the summer, and I had less BO in general in the summer- but it was minimal compared to 20%.
- Prepare your work space, and wipe everything down with 70% ISP alcohol. Pull out and prepare your soaping equipment, including your safety gear. I’d strongly suggest having some extra gloves nearby.
- Into your lye solution pitcher, prepare your lye solution. Place into your lye solution into an ice bath to quickly cool it down.
- Into your heat resistant soaping container, weigh out your lard and coconut oil and place in your double boiler. Allow to melt. Remove from heat and weigh in your neem oil. Once incorporated, weigh in your olive oil and castor oil. Mix it with your immersion blender.
- Add in your kaolin clay into your oils and blend well.
- Once your oils and lye solution are at room temperature, combine and work quickly. Short, quick bursts from your immersion blender to bring it just before emulsion. Then add in the clove essential oil. And blend quickly. Use a whisk to slow everything down.
- Don’t let your soap come to a full trace otherwise you’re scooping it into the mould. Blend only as much as you need too then pour. I have found slabs easier than bars.
- Design your top.
- Keep and eye on it, you want the soap to be firm, but not overly firm otherwise cutting will be an issue. You need your soap to be like two day old castile soap and will probably get there in less than 12 hours.
This soap will of course be usable in a couple days, but please let it age a long time before you go to use it! I would suggest at least four to six months before first use!
Because I love this soap so much, I’ve been trying to find a way to get my neem oil soap assessed for selling. It turns out that not all neem oils are the same. Before you buy your neem oil, it is imperative to check with your supplier to make certain your raw material is a clarified hydrophobic neem oil. This means that it has been cleared of Azadirachtin which is the property that gives neem oil it’s pesticide properties and potentially could lead to poisoning or skin irritation.