Oatmeal in Handmade Soap
Many soapers, including me, like to use oatmeal in their handmade soaps. This post highlights a few of the different options you have when using this wonderful ingredient.
- Relieve inflammation
- Soothe itching
- Balance pH
- Create a skin barrier
- Slow the effects of aging
Based on those wonderful qualities, it is clear why so many soapers choose to use it in their soaps. Well, what are your options for using oatmeal?
1. Ground Oatmeal
I often grind oatmeal in an inexpensive coffee grinder until it is between coarsely and finely ground, but not a powder. This preserves a little of the grittiness so that when used in soap it acts as an exfoliant. I usually make my soaps via hot process, so I add oatmeal after the soap is done cooking. You can see the specks of oatmeal in this soap.
2. Colloidal Oatmeal
This very fine oatmeal essentially dissolves in soap so you get all of the benefits without the exfoliation. Some people with sensitive skin find the ground oatmeal option to scratchy so the colloidal oatmeal is a better option. The production of this oatmeal is more involved, and according to this site, "Colloidal oats are first ground, boiled, and steamed to keep its natural oils fresh. Oat grains are further milled into a fine powder." As a result, this is a more expensive option relative to others listed in this post. However, colloidal oats are a wonderful additive to soaps so it can be worth the cost. In addition to being used in soaps, many people with a host of skin issues like to take a warm bath with colloidal oatmeal added to help soothe the skin irritation they suffer from including poison ivy & eczema. While it looks a little clumpy in the photo below, it actually is a very fine powder.
3. Oat Flour
This is basically a homemade version of colloidal oatmeal. I make mine using my Vitamix blender, and while it is much finer in texture than ground oatmeal, it is not colloidal oatmeal. I can tell in my soaps that there are a few very small grains still in there which is not really a big deal, but did provide me with evidence that true colloidal oatmeal is finer in texture (I sometimes plane the front of my soaps and can tell when there is a spec of anything harder than the soap in there).
4. Oat Milk
Many soapers think this is the ideal solution for a smooth soap that leverages the benefits of oatmeal at a low cost. Put 1 cup of raw oats into 4 cups of water and let it sit overnight.
Blend using the best blender you can (I used my Vitamix which was perfect for this) and it will turn into a milky white liquid. Strain this liquid to remove any oat pieces and use in place of the liquid in your soap making. Some HP soapers like to add oat milk after the cook. I like to mix water with lye (to dissolve the lye) and add my oat milk prior to cooking (so that my water + oat milk = total liquid). I learned from other soapers that mixing lye into oat milk creates a gloppy mess but I have not tried this myself.
In my research for this post, I also learned that some people cook whole oats in water and then strain out the cooked oats and use that water in their soap. I have not tried this yet but plan to. Have any of you? How did it compare to other ways of using oats?
I hope this post helps clarify a few options for how to use oats in soapmaking. Are there any I missed? Feel free to comment if there are any other ways you have used oats in soap and what the benefits are.