The Good Soap soap making tutorial

How To Make Cold Process Soap, includes simple recipe

So you love soap, do you fancy having a go of making some yourself?

Soap making is a great fun and creative hobby, not everyone wants to turn it into a business, you may just fancy having a go of making a batch. In this article I will explain what cold process soap is and how to go about making some for your home. Obviously there are endless oil combinations you can use, with added colours, powders, scents, scrub ingredients and so on. Here we are just going to focus on a good basic recipe, to which you can add any of your own addtions. And for information this is not a recipe we use for our Good Soap soap bars, they are top secret. This is a little recipe I have come up with especially for this article ;)

Cold process soap making is the original, traditional method of making soap by combining fat or oil (animal or plant based) with sodium hydroxide (lye). This treatment causes a chemical reaction called saponification which takes up to 48 hours. Cold process soaps are then air cured for 4 weeks or more to allow the water to evapourate.

Curing is the process of allowing saponification to complete and for water to evaporate out. In this way, the soap is dry, harder, milder and the lye non-existent in the finished product. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for a soap to dry and the lye to be totally transformed.

Before you start you will need:

  1. Safety goggles
  2. Gloves, washing up gloves are fine
  3. 2 x thermometers
  4. A pan, or a bowl - use hob or microwave to melt your oils
  5. A jug, plastic or glass is fine
  6. Flat digital scales
  7. A hand held blender, the type you use to blend soup in a pan
  8. Access to water
  9. Spoon to mix lye into water
  10. Ladle to get soap into your mould
  11. Apron to protect your clothing
  12. Moulds, silicone moulds are best, they are washable and reusable and nice and flexible to push soap out of once set
  13. A bottle of vinegar is handy to have close just in case you splash any lye onto your skin - it's worth being prepared

The ingredients you will need are:

  1. Tap Water
  2. Oils (in recipe below)
  3. Lye - Sodium Hydroxide* (you can buy a small pouch)

* Safety notes - caution this is an alkili powder that when combined with water becomes extremely caustic, do not get any on your skin, wear gloves and goggles at all time when handling. If any is splashed accidentally on your skin do not rinse with water, apply vinegar first to neutralise and then wash thoroughly off your skin * When added to water Lye gives off fumes so work in a room with appropriate ventilation, window wide open or back door open if possible, take care not to inhale the fumes as you mix the lye into water.

Basic Recipe:

This recipe will make roughly 42 ounces of soap before it's cured (it will get a bit lighter in weight during the curing process) If you want less or more soap adjust by doubling or halving each ingredient exactly.

  • 12 oz Olive Oil
  • 8 oz Coconut Oil
  • 4 oz Castor Oil
  • 3 oz Sunflower Oil
  • 3.8 oz Lye
  • 10.26 oz Water in a jug
  1. Add your Lye to the jug of water, please remember safety points noted above. This mixture will get extremely hot, sometimes up to 180 degrees F or more
  2. Melt your oils all together, you'll want to make sure the temperature exceeds 130 degrees F
  3. Put your thermometers into your mixtures, one in the lye and one in the oils
  4. Plug your electric mixer in ready
  5. You will need to get the temperatures both to within the range of120-130 degrees F so watch the thermometres.
  6. Tip, if your oils cool faster than your lye you can pop the jug of lye inside a bowl of cold water to cool it quicker.
  7. When both mixtures are showing in the correct temperature range, between 120-130 (preferably towards the top end of the range) then pour the lye mixture into the oils and give a whizz with the mixer, don't over mix, it should be blended and look like runny custard!
  8. Ladle the mixture into your moulds (or mould if you are using a block mould)
  9. Leave to set overnight in the mould, the next day they will be ready to pop out of the moulds and leave to cure. Place them on white greaseproof paper with gaps inbetween the bars to allow for airflow. If you've used a block you can slice your soap after about 36 hrs ready to cure.
  10. Leave to cure for 4 weeks, your soap will then be ready to use

Adding essential oils:

If you are adding any essential oils then put them in at step 7. If adding essential oils to your recipe be aware that the total measurement of essential oils should not exceed 3% of the recipe total, so in this recipe 1.25 oz would be the correct amount.

We hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about how to make cold process soaps, it's a fun thing to do! If you still don't fancy having a go you can find a variety of soaps that we've made below! 

Article written by Dawn Rhodes, owner of The Good Soap - Let's Go Back To The Bar 


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