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The Beginner’s Guide to Making Cold Process Soap with Recipe

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Have you ever wanted to make your own cold process soap? It may seem daunting at first, but with the right materials and a bit of practice, anyone can make quality cold process soap! In this blog post, we’ll break down the basics of making cold process soap from scratch.



Step 1: Gather Your Materials

First, you’ll need to gather all the necessary items for your soap-making project.

You will need a digital scale, a soap mold, a stick blender, a thermometer, and lye safe mixing bowls and utensils. You will also need ingredients like lye, distilled water, solid oils (like coconut or palm oil), liquid oils (like olive oil or castor oil), essential oils or fragrance oils if desired, and any additional ingredients like herbs, micas, and clays. Make sure to use proper protective gear like goggles and gloves when handling lye. Please check out our article on lye safety or watch this video before making your first batch of soap.



Step 2: Mix Your Lye Solution

The next step is mixing your lye solution. Using a lye safe container, measure out your lye using a digital scale. Next, measure out the distilled water in a separate lye safe container. Once both are measured out, carefully pour lye crystals into the distilled water—never add water to lye! Add the lye crystals slowly while stirring continuously until all the lye has dissolved into the water. Once again, be sure to wear safety goggles, gloves and clothing that covers your arms and legs, as lye is caustic and can cause serious burns when handled improperly. Additionally, always mix your lye solution in a well ventilated area free of pets, children, or those that need supervision.


Always pour your lye into the water. Here, I am using polypropylene cups from Dollar Tree as my lye safe containers.


Step 3: Measure Out Your Oils

While the lye solution cools, in a separate heat-safe container, measure out your solid and liquid oils. Heat this mixture until the solid ingredients are fully melted. In a small container, measure out your fragrance oil or essential oil and set aside.


Step 4: Create Your Soap Mixture

Once your oil mixture and your lye solution are both in the 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit range, it’s time to make soap! Start by slowly pouring your cooled off lye solution into your oils and mix with a stick blender/immersion blender, making sure to avoid introducing air bubbles. Blend for about 20 seconds or until the oil and lye solution are mixed together then add any fragrances, herbs, clays, or colorants you want to use. Begin mixing again and keep blending until the mixture reaches a trace, which is when it thickens and leaves a trail on the surface.

At this point, the mixture has formed an emulsion, meaning that the lye solution and oil mixture can no longer be separated.

You can test trace by drizzling some soap mixture over itself. This mixture has a medium trace.


Step 5: Pour the Mixture into the Mold

Pour the mixture into the mold, making sure to remove any air pockets by tapping the mold gently on a hard surface. Then, cover the mold with the lid or cardboard to insulate the soap, allowing it to set for 24-48 hours.


Slowly pour soap into soap mold

Step 6: Cut and Cure the Soap

Once the soap has set, remove the soap from the mold and cut it into bars with a knife or a soap cutter. Then, place the bars onto a drying rack and let them cure for 4-6 weeks. During the curing process, the soap will harden, and the chemical reactions will complete, making it safe to use.


Let your soap cure on a shelf with space between each bar

Making cold process soap requires patience but once you understand how each ingredient works together it becomes easier over time. As you become more experienced, you can experiment with different ingredients and techniques. Remember to store your soap in a cool and dry place and enjoy your beautiful and personalized soaps. Happy soap making!


Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3.92 oz - Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)

  • 7.95 oz - Distilled Water

  • 18.20 oz - Olive Oil

  • 7.00 oz - Coconut Oil

  • 1.40 oz Castor Oil

  • 1.40 oz - Cocoa Butter (I use deodorized cocoa butter)

  • 0.88 oz - Fragrance Oil

Directions

  1. Gather your supplies. Put on your gloves, safety glasses, and long sleeves. Be sure to be in a well-ventilated area free of pets, children, or those that need supervision.

  2. Measure out the required amount of lye into a lye safe container. Measure out the required amount of water into a separate lye safe container. Slowly pour the lye into the water and stir. Set aside to cool.

  3. In a heat-resistant bowl, measure and melt cocoa butter, olive oil, castor oil and coconut oil. You may need to microwave mixture in order to get it to 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit for the next step. Also, measure out your fragrance oil in a separate container and set aside.

  4. Once your oil mixture and your lye solution are both in the 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit range, slowly pour the lye solution into the oils and mix with a stick blender until it has formed an emulsion (can no longer be separated). This typically takes just a few seconds.

  5. Add fragrance oil and mix with a stick blender until you get to a medium trace then immediately pour into soap mold. Be sure to scrape sides of the container with a spatula or other utensil in order to get all of your mixture into the mold.

  6. Use a small spoon to add texture to the top of the soap or leave flat topped.

  7. Spray 99% isopropyl alcohol on top of the soap in order to help prevent soda ash. This step is optional.

  8. Let your soap sit in the mold for 24 to 48 hours then unmold and cut into 1 inch bars. Allow your soap to cure for 4-6 weeks on a drying rack or wax paper in a cool, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.



Download the SoapCalc recipe here

beginnersoaprecipe
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