|My Castile soap|
Castile soap is traditionally made exclusively of olive oil. A more typical soap recipe may include several different oils and butters in a single batch.
Ideally, Castile soap is left on the curing rack for much longer than regular soap. Curing allows the excess water in the soap to evaporate, creating a harder, longer-lasting bar. Soap also becomes milder as it cures. My typical soap recipe usually includes olive oil, coconut oil, and sustainable palm oil, along with a small amount of another oil or two (like avocado oil, castor oil, shea butter, etc.). After about 6 weeks, a typical batch is cured and ready to be used. Castile, on the other hand, is best enjoyed after a longer cure - I've heard four months as a minimum, with six months to a year as being even better. (But it seems that any soap gets better with age, whether it is Castile or not.)
Castile soap's lather improves as it ages. Olive oil on its own does not create a fluffy lather - you need oils like coconut or palm kernel for that. Olive oil does create a stable, conditioning lather, though. In my typical soap recipes, coconut oil is what creates big bubbles and abundant lather. Castile's lather consists of smaller bubbles and has a more slippery feel. Some folks refer to this slipperiness as "sliminess." Castile does seem to be a bit stickier and tackier than my other soaps, but I don't find the texture unpleasant.
An interesting thing about Castile is that it is made entirely with a soft oil. Often oils such as coconut and palm are included in soap recipes to contribute to a harder bar. Although olive oil is a soft oil, Castile soap becomes very hard over time. Initially, my Castile soap was very soft and I had to wait almost a week after making it before I was able to cut it. If I had done a steeper water discount, my soap would have hardened more quickly and I could have cut it sooner.
|Comparing the lather of my regular soap (l) versus Castile (r)|
Below is a short video that I made comparing the lather of one of my regular soaps with the lather of my Castile soap:
It's pretty much me washing my hands and sudsing up a shower pouf with each, but it gives you an idea of how Castile performs. In the video, I used my Orange Patchouli bar (made with olive, coconut, sustainable palm, and avocado oils) as an example of one of my regular soaps. The Castile soap had cured for 18 weeks by the time I shot the video. I made the Orange Patchouli soap soon after the Castile, so it had been curing for about that long, too.
|Castile's lather after 6, 12, and 18 weeks|
I believe that the way to best maximize the lather of any soap is by using a mesh shower pouf, and this is especially true with Castile. The pouf kicks up more of a lather, and it seems that the more you scrub, the more lather you get. In the shower, the Castile's lather doesn't seem too different from the lather I get from my regular soaps when I use the pouf. Less bubbly and fluffy, yes, but still creamy and dense.
So, it was a bit of a rough start, but Castile eventually won me over. It seems that most folks either love Castile or hate it. Those who love it enjoy its luxurious, creamy feeling, and those who hate it don't care for its lack of bubbles or its "sliminess." And although I wasn't sure what to think at first, I did find myself liking Castile very much after it had cured for a while. I think the four-month cure as a minimum is a good rule of thumb, and, if you have the time and patience, an even longer cure is probably better.
How do you all feel about Castile? Love it, hate it, never tried it?