Cold Process Soap Making for Beginners!

About 2 years ago I went on a skincare health kick. I don’t remember exactly what set it off, but it was probably after watching some doomsday documentary about the monsters living in our moisturizers. I’m pretty gullible when it comes to stuff like that, but I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry! I started off by cross-checking almost every bath & body product I was using on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This is a great resource if you have a favorite product and want to know its potential hazard rating. I only felt comfortable using products with a rating lower than 4.  As helpful as this was, I started feeling less trusting of the companies behind the labels. The cosmetics industry does have certain standards to live up to, but you can never know for sure if a label is completely honest! I know this mindset can send me off the deep end where I move into a tree house and eat leaves for the rest of my life, so in the interest of REALISM, I decided to take on a new hobby: SOAP MAKING!

The idea of knowing exactly what was going into my most frequently used bath product was definitely appealing, to say the least. I set out on a mission to create a moisturizing, cleansing, fragrant, all natural soap with quality ingredients. It also doesn’t hurt that quality handmade soaps make WONDERFUL gifts!

There are a few different methods of soap making, but the one I ended up loving was Cold Process (CP). This method has a short prep time and a long cure time.  The cure time (4-6 weeks) is frustrating if you’re in a hurry to use your soap, but a long cure is necessary to produce the best quality. Making a batch of Cold Process Soap takes 1-2 hours initially and then an additional 4-6 weeks before you should use or gift it. This is how long it takes for the water to completely evaporate, resulting in a harder, longer lasting bar of soap. One misconception about CP cure time is that the soap is unsafe to use within the 4-6 week time frame because it hasn’t “saponified” yet. Saponification is the chemical reaction between fats, lye & water that produces the substance we call soap! It actually only takes about 2 days for saponification to complete. So technically, you can use your soap after 2 days, but it will be very soft and will most likely fall apart in the shower. “Aging” your soap is definitely encouraged! The long wait was annoying at first, but it allowed me to walk away from the project for a while, thus avoiding burnout (which I am 100% prone to) AND giving me something to look forward to!

Researching a topic like this can be extremely tedious, so I’m hoping to save budding CP soapers a little bit of trouble by consolidating everything I learned into this post. By the end, you will be equipped to try your first batch of CP soap!

A word of warning: CP soaping requires the use of lye (Sodium Hydroxide), which is a caustic substance that can cause severe burns if it’s inhaled or makes contact with skin. It’s EXTREMELY important to do all of your soap making in a well-ventilated room while using rubber gloves, goggles and a surgical mask. It’s also wise to wear long sleeves so that if any splashing occurs, your arms are protected.

In this giant tutorial I’ll be covering the following topics:

•    Supplies
•    Formulating Your Own Recipe
•    Beginner’s Test Recipe
•    Cold Process Instructions

Let’s get started!


Note: any supplies that make contact with lye should be devoted to soap making! Don’t use them for cooking once you’ve used them for soaping!

•    Rubber Gloves
•    Plastic Goggles
•    Surgical Mask
•    Stick Blender (aka Immersion Blender – you can get one of these for $20-$30)
•    Candy or Oil Thermometer
•    Tupperware Measuring Pitcher (with a lip for pouring, and a lid)
•    Heat-Proof Stirring Spoons
•    Measuring Cups & Measuring Spoons
•    1 Large Microwaveable Bowl
•    1 Small Bowl
•    Electric Scale that measures ounces and grams
•    Soap Mold(s) – you can order some cute ones from The Sage, one of my favorite suppliers!
Mold Tips:
– If you want a more rustic looking hand-cut bar of soap, purchase one of the “loaf” molds rather than the individual cavity molds. If you go the loaf route, you’ll need a sharp knife or soap cutting tool. I made my own loaf mold, if anyone wants a tutorial on this please let me know in the comments!
– If you don’t want to purchase a mold right away, just devote a 9×12 or 9×9 inch baking pan to soaping, and be sure to line it with parchment before pouring!
•    Parchment Paper (if you’re using a loaf mold)
•    Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) – you can order Sodium Hydroxide from a few places, but the prices do vary a bit depending on the location and the quality. Here is one of the best deals I could find: The Lye Guy
•    12 oz. Canola Oil (test recipe ingredient)
•    8 oz. Coconut Oil (test recipe ingredient) – You can get this in small quantities at the grocery store, but for larger quantities I order here, from the Fixed Oils section of You can find pretty much all of your Base Oils here.
•    8 oz. Olive Oil (test recipe ingredient)
•    1.6 oz. Orange Essential Oil (optional test recipe ingredient – use this if you want to scent & color your soap!) – I order mine here, from the Essential Oils section!

Formulating Your Own Recipe

Choosing Your Base Oils

CP soap is made by combining fats (base oils, aka fixed oils or carrier oils) and Lye Solution (Lye + a liquid of choice, we’ll use water for our test recipe). The Base Oils you choose will determine the qualities of your soap. For example, using Coconut Oil will produce a very bubbly, cleansing lather and a very hard bar of soap, but too much Coconut Oil will make your soap too drying. You’ll want to balance out the coconut with a more moisturizing base like Olive Oil. There are dozens of Base Oils to choose from, but understanding the chemical reaction that produces a quality soap can get complicated, so until we all earn our Ph.D.’s in chemistry, pre-made charts are our best friends! This chart is extremely helpful. It explains the fatty acid properties of Base Oils and what they each contribute to a bar of soap. They also recommend percentages of use in soap recipes. For example, next to Coconut Oil, they tell you not to use more than 30-35%, because using more than that will dry you out. You can compose an entire recipe using this chart! For our test recipe, I chose to use 42% Canola Oil, 29% Coconut Oil and 29% Olive Oil. This will produce a creamy, stable lather. I converted the percentages to ounces based on the capacity of the mold I’m using.

Calculating Your Lye Solution

Now that we’ve chosen our Base Oils, it’s time to calculate our Lye Solution. Again, I’m not a chemist, so I rely on a super handy Lye Calculator to do the hard work for me! There are a few out there, but I always use this one from You can save your recipes here, or just use this page to create your formula. I prefer to write everything down on paper but either way, make sure you record all your amounts.

First you’re going to select the unit of weight measurement (in our case, ounces), then choose the type of lye you’re using. For CP soap, you will always be using Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). Next, enter your liquid of choice. We’ll be using water for our test recipe, but it’s possible to use other liquids such as goat’s milk, coffee, tea, etc. Further down the page you will see a list of Base Oils. Find your oils and enter the number of ounces you’ll be using next to each, then click “Calculate Lye”.

The next page will tell you how many ounces of water you need in your Lye Solution. They give a small range for the water amount, so I usually pick a number that falls in the middle of the range. On the right-hand side it will show the total weight of your oils and a chart with 2 columns: % excess fat and Lye Amount. Here is where you can choose how much you want to “superfat” your soap. Without superfatting, your Base Oils will be cancelled out by your Lye Solution during saponification. This means many of the moisturizing benefits of the oils you used won’t survive the chemical reaction. Superfatting is when your Base Oil to Lye Solution ratio is imbalanced just enough that a percentage of your oils will remain intact during saponification. This allows your soap to maintain the properties of those oils. If you go lower on the % excess fat column, you will have a dryer, harsher soap. If you go too high, your bar will be very moisturizing but it will also spoil faster because of the excess oil. I always stay between 5% and 7%. The number to the right of the % excess fat you choose shows exactly how many ounces of lye you need in your Lye Solution. Write down the water and lye amounts and that’s the formula for your Lye Solution based on the oils you entered.

Adding Scents, Colors & Exfoliants

These are the last ingredients to go into your soap. As you’re creating your own original recipes, always remember to write down the exact amounts of everything you’re using. When you create that magical batch of soap with the perfect color and scent, you really want to be able to replicate it! I can’t tell you how many times I rushed through a batch and miraculously nailed it, only to realize I never wrote down how much Cocoa Powder I used to get that delicious color! FRUSTRATING! Anyway, the theme here is natural, so for scenting my soaps I only use Essential Oils (EO). You can look into using Fragrance Oils but I’ve never worked with them in my recipes, so I can’t give a formula for those. The formula for Essential Oils goes roughly like this:

•    0.7 ounces per pound of Base Oils for most Essential Oils
•    0.9 ounces per pound of Base Oils for Citrus Oils
•    0.4 ounces per pound of Base Oils for more pervasive oils like mints and spices

The “per pound of Base Oils” is referring to the total weight of your oils. For our test recipe, the total weight is 28 ounces, or 1 lb. 12 oz. (16 oz. in a pound). If you make a batch and find the scent too weak or too strong using this formula, you can make slight adjustments for future batches.

For colors, keep it natural! Some great natural Colorants are dried ground herbs, clays, Essential Oils (like orange), cocoa powder and spices (be sure they’re not skin irritants!). When it comes to coloring your soap batch, you’ll have to do a bit of trial and error. There is no formula for this, so just have your Colorant on hand and be sure to write down the exact amount you end up using. Add Colorants with measuring cups or measuring spoons. This makes it easier to keep track of your amounts. Colors can change a bit during the curing process, so you can’t be sure how vibrant or dull your coloring will be until the 4-6 week cure time is over. This doesn’t really bother me though because the natural ingredients result in natural-looking tones and they don’t need to be very specific.

For Exfoliants you can add as much or as little as you want. Whenever I add Exfoliants like seeds or oatmeal, I go by how it looks and what I want the bar to be used for. For example, a foot massage bar would have a coarse Exfoliant in a high concentration. A more gentle body massage bar would have a finely ground Exfoliant at a lower concentration.

Beginner’s Test Recipe

Orange Olive Soap

Here’s a basic recipe with Base Oils you can get at the grocery store! To practice with the Lye Calculator, plug in the 3 Base Oil amounts and see how I got the water & lye amounts and total oil weight from the calculation page. Also see how I calculated the amount of Orange EO based on the total weight of the Base Oils:

Base Oils:
Canola Oil – 12 oz.
Coconut Oil – 8 oz.
Olive Oil – 8 oz.
Total Base Oil Weight: 28 oz. – or 1 lb. 12 oz. which means, since we’re using a Citrus Oil (referring back to the Essential Oils formulas, a Citrus Oil should be added at .9 oz. per pound of Base Oils) this recipe will call for about 1.6 oz. of Orange EO.

Lye Solution:
Water – 8.5 oz.
Lye – 3.99 oz.

Essential Oils (EO): (to add at trace – the stage of mixing where your soap reaches a thin pudding-like consistency)
Orange – 1.6 oz

Cold Process Instructions

There are 3 steps of preparation to complete before the curing process begins:

Step 1 – Making your Lye Solution & Melting Down your Base Oils

Get your measuring pitcher (with the lid nearby), put on rubber gloves, goggles & mask, and make sure you’re wearing long sleeves. Put the pitcher on a scale, and set the scale to 0 ounces. Add water until you reach the correct weight according to your recipe. Once the water is measured, reset the scale back to 0 ounces and slowly sprinkle the lye into the water until you reach the correct weight. The mixture will heat up rapidly to about 200 degrees F. Stir with a heat-proof spoon for a good 30 seconds so that the lye is fully dissolved and doesn’t cake up on the bottom of your pitcher. DON’T inhale directly over the pitcher, as the fumes can burn your throat & sinuses. Once you’ve stirred enough, put the lid on your pitcher and place it somewhere it can cool down safely. If you have kids or pets in the house, put the pitcher somewhere it won’t get knocked over. Check the solution with your thermometer about 30 minutes later by placing the probe in the center of the liquid. The temperature you’re looking for is between 100 and 125 degrees F. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to reach this temp, depending on how much Lye Solution you’re working with.

While the Lye Solution is cooling, get a big microwaveable bowl and measure your Base Oils on the scale the same way you measured your Lye Solution. When you’re done measuring, melt down the oils in the microwave. Because a lot of the Base Oils you’ll use in CP soap will be solid at room temperature, the melting process can take up to 15 minutes. I usually just do 2 minutes at a time on high heat in the microwave, and stir to finish melting. You want to avoid over-heating the oils. Your Base Oil temperature should be between 100 and 125 degrees F when you mix it with the Lye Solution. Make sure the oils bowl has enough room for you to add in your Lye Solution and any other Essential Oils or Exfoliants.

While you’re waiting for your Base Oils and Lye Solution to finish cooling, line your mold with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Some molds don’t require lining before pouring, so check with the manufacturer of the mold you purchased.

Once your mold is lined, measure your Essential Oil(s) on the scale in a small bowl and set aside. This is also the time you’d want to prep any other additives you’re going to be using like oats, seeds, etc.

Step 2 – Combine the Base Oils, Lye Solution & Essential Oils/Colorants/Exfoliants and Pour

Once the Lye Solution and your Base Oil temperatures drop below 125 degrees F, slowly pour your Lye Solution into the bowl of melted oils. Mix with the stick blender on a low setting, keeping the blender near the bottom of the bowl.  You don’t want to splash the soap mixture out of the bowl, since saponification has not taken place yet and the solution is still caustic. The mixture will become cloudy and then start to thicken. After about 3-5 minutes of mixing, what you’re looking for is “trace” (pictured above on the right). This is when the solution reaches a runny pudding-like consistency. If you lift the blender out of the soap and it leaves marks on the surface, you’ve reached trace.

Now you’re ready to add your Essential Oils. Mix in the EO with the stick blender until it is fully incorporated, then add your Colorant and distribute evenly with the blender. In the Beginner’s Test Recipe, our Orange Oil will provide both scent and color, so you can skip adding a Colorant in this case. Lastly, add your Exfoliant (optional). If you’re using something like oats and you want the chunks to stay whole, you will want to stir them in by hand using a heat-proof spoon. If you’re using something tiny like seeds or ground oats, you can use the stick blender. Try to work quickly during these last steps because once trace has been reached, your mixture will be hardening more rapidly. Now you’re ready to pour.

Remember to keep track of the Colorant & Exfoliant amounts you end up using so that you can replicate the recipe later. Once the soap has been poured, you want to tap the bottom of your mold against the countertop to let any bubbles escape. Next, you can smooth the surface with the back of your spoon, cover the mold with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours in a cool, dry place.

To clean your supplies, first rinse and wipe down the pitcher and spoon you used for the Lye Solution and set them someplace to dry. Then you can rinse and wipe down the rest of your bowls before the soap residue starts to harden. Once your bowls have been thoroughly rinsed you can run them through the dishwasher, but this isn’t really necessary since the soap residue you rinsed off cleaned the bowls.

Step 3 – De-Mold Your Soaps and Let Them Cure!

The next day you can de-mold the soaps and space them out on a cookie sheet to cure for at least 4 weeks. If you used a loaf mold, you need to cut the soaps before putting them on the cookie sheet. The more surface area of each bar is exposed, the better the cure will be. I usually put a label on the sheet with the recipe I used & the date I stored them so I don’t forget. Remember, a long cure means a top quality bar of soap!

Well that’s it! If you made it this far, CONGRATS and welcome to CP soaping! I look forward to hearing about your own soap-making endeavors! If you have any questions or anything to share, please leave a comment!

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  1. Great tutorial! I’ve thought about experimenting with soap-making, but I got overwhelmed trying to figure out the process. Where do you store your soap while it’s curing? Can it be stored pretty much anywhere? Also, yes, would love to see your DIY for the loaf mold!

    • Thank you!! I hope this makes it seem less scary :D I usually store the soap in a closet or cabinet where it’s out of the way, cool & dry! I’ll definitely get together a post about how to make your own soap mold. Soaping really is such a fun hobby, I hope you try it and love it as much as I do! :D

  2. You had me at “I watched a scary documentary about soap, so I decided to make my own.” I’m more of an I-watched-a-scary-documentary-about-soap-and-muttered-‘someone-should-do-something-about-that’-then-took-a-shower type of guy.

  3. This is a wonderful tutorial- so well explained and with great resources, too. I’m starting to feel like soap-making is something I could actually try!

    I found your blog through craftgawker, btw :) I love it so far; please keep adding recipes and diys.

  4. Thanks for the rcipe and tutorial it is a great one.I have been nervous about trying to make soap,now I think I wll try.

  5. Nice job on your site and instructions. I am a soap maker and think you did a great job. After you have been doing it awhile you will learn about discounting your water and then your soap will not be so soft and you can use it sooner. It is harder to do on the small batches you make, but for instance on my 9 lb batch today I used 20 oz lye and 30 oz water That percentage will work on any soap amount it is 1 and 1/2 times water as amount of lye. The sage recommends 36 to 54 oz of water for that recipe. So you can see it is quite a discount. Your soap will be much harder out of the mold. Just a tip, Nice job

  6. Hi Tiffany,
    Love your site, I am thinking of making soap to use in gift baskets I am making for Christmas. How did you know what your oz quantities were for your base oils to plug them into the lye calculator? Are those quantities the size bottles you have on hand of each?
    Thank you :)

    • Hi! Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog! :D To figure out the ratios of oils, I used this chart and then I scaled the amounts so that the total weight fit the capacity of my soap mold! In the section “Formulating Your Own Recipe” (in this blog post), you can find the details of how I chose my oils and amounts! :) Christmas gift baskets of homemade soap are going to be a BIG hit!

  7. We have been making soap like this for a number of years, its lots of fun and the soap is wonderful, if you use it every day, it keeps mosquitoes and gnats from biting so much..the thing i learned quick is not to put your lye and water in a glass container.. i did the first time it got so hot it shattered…i almost had the big one..

      • You can use glass containers for mixing your lye and water if it is a container for cooking such as anchor glass or pyrex glass. I just started making cp soap and was advised to use anchor glass. It is available in a variety of different styles that make soaping easy. I have two large glass bowls with spouts and lids. I also have three different sized bowls I have been using. Silicone spatulas and whisks are heat resistant enough to use with lye safely also. I am just getting started with soaping but I am looking forward to my first batch finishing curing so I can use it! I enjoyed your tutorial. Thanks so much!

        • Great information! Thank you so much for sharing! :) I’m SO glad you’re getting into soaping and thrilled that you enjoyed this tutorial! :D

    • What do you think they used in the old days to put the lye mixture in? They didn’t have plastic in the 1700s. Cast iron or heavy ceramic?

      • They used iron pots, but they also didn’t use the same kind of lye we use today. The chemical lye we use is much more concentrated so the tools and methods we use have more safety measures than they did back then. They used to make their own lye by running water over ash and collecting the remaining fluid. They would then mix this fluid with rendered animal fats and cook the mixture in a pot for several hours. The resulting soap was never very hard because this “lye fluid” wasn’t very strong, but it did produce a soft soap with sufficient cleansing properties!

        • They sometimes added salt, to the lye mixture, turning the potash and water to sodium hydroxide. I love your blog! This has been one of the best I have run into for quite a while.

      • I remember helping my grandmother make soap—she used a huge cast iron kettle set outdoors. Amazing–the process–or rather the ingredients–hasn’t changed much!

    • For mixing my lye solutions, I use a glass coffee pot I purchased at a thrift shop. The handle is a must and I’ve never had a problem worrying about the glass. It’s perfect for the job!

  8. Can you make this without a stick blender? I’m currently living out of the US and a $20US stick blender ends up being closer to $50 here, which is a bit out of my budget. I’m guessing you could just use a wooden spoon and stir (a lot) during the saponification process like they did in the old days…right?

    • Glass isn’t safe because the lye can leave minuscule etchings on the glass. Over time, the glass becomes weaker until it breaks. That, and the possible temperature shock if you use ice cold/ frozen water, and dump the lye in all at once.

      • That’s really good to know, thank you so much for sharing! Drastic temperature changes would definitely break the glass, but I had no idea lye could weaken it!

    • Don’t use a wooden spoon. The lye will turn it black and splinter the wood. You don’t want tiny wood splinters in your soap, ouch! Silicone spoon or stainless steel.

  9. Storage space is pretty tight in my house, so I’d like to make my bars in something I already have rather than buy a mold specific for the purpose. I was thinking muffin tins seemed about the right size, but I think it might be quite a bit of work to cut parchment paper to line them. Do you think the commercial paper liners would work, or would they just get stuck into the soap? Some of my muffin pans are silicone, would they work better?

    • Muffin papers should do just fine! They would work the same way parchment does, which is what I use. You can also use a rectangular (or square) baking pan lined with parchment and cut your bars by hand. Those would end up looking just like the ones cut from an official loaf mold. :)

      • Milk and Orange Juice cartons work very well. When your ready to be fancy on a budget, LOL, my favorite go to mold is a Pringles can. It makes a beautiful round soap that’s easy to hold on to in the shower. As lovely as my loaf mold soaps are, you’re in a world of hurt if you drop it on your foot in the shower.

        • Irene – surely one can use a pan for the mold, that is also used for food? I mean, by the time you are pouring into the mold, saponification has taken place, and it’s soap, right?


  11. Thanks so much for this tutorial! Takes some of the “mystery” out of CP soap processing for me. I do wonder if it is OK for me to use my stick blender that I use for food or do I need one that is dedicated strickly for soap making? Thanks so much!

    • You’re welcome! :) I’m so glad you found it helpful! The only problem with using your stick blender for both soap and cooking would be that because you start mixing before your oils have fully saponified, your mixer will be in contact with full strength essential oils that can be absorbed into the plastic of the mixer. Those flavors (of soap and oil) would then get into your food. It would be very hard to be sure you cleaned the mixer to the point that it wouldn’t affect the flavors of your food.

  12. I just finished reading your tutorial and I’m excited to get started, but could you explain how you coverted your percentages to ounces.

    • I just take the total capacity (in ounces) of my soap mold, and multiply it by my oil percentages. For example, if my loaf mold has a total capacity of 60 ounces, I would first subtract a few ounces to leave room for the lye solution and other additives, so lets say 50 ounces (you don’t have to do this if you don’t mind having a little extra soap mixture at the end). So with a total capacity of 50 ounces, let’s say my recipe called for 30% olive oil, 30% coconut oil and 40% palm oil. I would multiply 50 (ounces) x .30 (for 30%) to get my total for both the olive and coconut oils, which equals 18. Then I would multiply 50 (ounces) x .40 (for 40%) to get my total for the palm oil, which equals 24. Now I know I need 18 ounces of olive oil, 18 ounces of coconut oil, and 24 ounces of palm oil to fill my mold. When these numbers are added up, they equal 50, which is the total capacity I wanted to reach. I hope that made sense!! Enjoy creating your first batch of soap! :)

      • I have figured out my size mold…17×2.5×4.5 =184 rounded up .I believe this will hold 3 #s. sooo, here is where I need help. By my calculations, I need 17.28 oz of oil. For my recipe, I am using olive 12 oz and coconut ….5.28 oz — if I am wrong, please tell me. I have been trying to figure out how much lye and water and do not want to mess up. Please help!

  13. Thank you SO much for a thorough, detailed tutorial! I have been reading/researching this process for weeks and I learned more from this one post than from all my other reading combined. Great job! Can’t wait to test your recipe out :)

    • I’m so glad you found this helpful!! I love to hear that because I had a really hard time gathering information when I was learning and I wanted to prevent others from going through the same thing! :) Enjoy making your first batch of soap!!

  14. I am hoping to try this soon. I also check EWG’s website for our skincare products and its pretty scary the stuff that goes in those bottles.

  15. I’ve used melt and pour soap making process for several years. I now want to try the cold process method. I love your instructions. My question is: where do I store my lye? Do it have to be in a certain type of container and atmosphere? Also, I do have some nice heavy duty soap molds. Can I use those molds, when I chose to, to put my cold process soap into? If so, will it stick or pop out of the old easily?

    • I just keep my lye in the container it comes with, and I store it in a cool dry closet where it’s unlikely to be knocked over or opened accidentally. The containers the lye comes in are usually heavy plastic of some sort! As long as the molds you have are specifically made for soaping I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t work for cold process! How easily they would pop out would depend on the recipe you used. Harder bars would probably come out nicely, but softer bars might have to sit a little longer. I hope that helped! :)

  16. Sorry for the spelling above. ;-) I meant to ask, “Does the lye have to be in a certain type of container and atmosphere, and will the soap pop out of a plastic heavy duty mold easily.

    • I also use big plastic molds, and to get it to pop out easily, I grease the mold with Crisco. I usually let it sit for a day or two more so it is a little harder.

  17. Awesome tutorial! I was curious…I see where you would only use your stick blender for soap making…does this go for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer as well? I see lots of people use it, but I’m not sure if you can then use it for food? Thanks!

    • I wouldn’t use a stand mixer for soap making because of the metal bowl and the fact that it’s more cumbersome and harder to clean. I’m more comfortable using my plastic bowls and cleaning just the mixing attachment from the stick blender. Also, if soap residue did start to build up because I wasn’t cleaning thoroughly enough, I’d rather have to get a new cheap plastic bowl or cheap stick blender rather than a new stand mixer. :)

  18. Hi! Awesome post! I’ve been thinking about it for a while and am really excited to start making my own soap! I love how you keep your scents, colours, and exfoliants all-natural!!! Something I’ve become increasingly concerned about recently is consuming (or absorbing through my skin, like with the soap) things that are genetically modified. Because of this concern, I want to avoid canola oil – would substituting canola oil for something like sunflower oil or grapeseed oil work the same? Thanks again for posting such a great step-by-step! I really appreciate it!

    • That’s great!! You can use olive oil in place of canola oil. Olive is way better but some people prefer Canola because of the price! It’s so smart to avoid putting genetically modified ingredients on your skin! Happy soaping! :)

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  20. I have been wanting to make soap for so long but it seemed so hard, complicated, and expensive. Then I stumbled upon this post, then it didn’t seem so far fetched for me to try! So I just made soap, like 5 min. ago. I can’t wait to cut it tomorrow! Thank you so, so, so much for this post!

    Cherub ayers

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  22. This is a great tutorial! I’ve been through the rest of your soap recipes, and I don’t know if its the pictures you take or the soaps itself, but I’m really itching to try it myself now. :P

    I have a question though. Is it possible to add perfumes into soaps? I do not know where to get cosmetic grade fragrances, and I would prefer not to buy online, regardless of how reputable the websites are.

    In Malaysia where I come from, they do sell fragrance oils in places such as Lovely Lace, as well as reed diffuser fragrances. However, I am afraid of what side effects they might have on the skin as I don’t think they are cosmetic grade.

    I did find some local perfumes (the concentrated, roll on kind) in Watsons. Would it be possible to add them to the soap instead, as those are probably already tested for side effects? Alternatively, could I just spritz a couple of drops of regular spray-type perfume into the soap mixture?

    • Essential oils are best for use in Cold Process soap because they are all natural. The only time you can experience side effects from an essential oil is if it’s an irritant, like a lot of spice oils and some mint oils. Citrus oils in high concentrations can stain the skin too, so it’s best to avoid overusing those (refer to the formula I posted and you’ll be safe!). As far as synthetic fragrances, as long as they are skin-safe to begin with, they should be okay to use in your soap making. However, if they don’t contain high quality oil-based fragrances, the scents may not survive saponification. Scents also change during saponification, so you’ll have to do some testing to see if the results are desirable. This is why I stick to essential oils because they are more pure and predictable. There are non-organic fragrance oils specifically formulated for soap making but I’ve only seen them online. has some great ones!

  23. Soap making is a skill that I believe everyone should learn. I started making soap after a severe reaction to commercial soap. I make all of the soaps and shampoos used in the household, even my dishwashing liquid. Different oils, produce different results. I simply love homemade soap. My skin is in such better condition.

    • Yes!! You’re so right. The skin absorbs everything we put on it, so all kinds of soaps and detergents would be best homemade!

    • Can I have your recipes for shampoos, dish soap and do u have a recipe for laundry soap? I would appreciate and love all the recipes u can give to me so, I can make them myself. Thank you so much in advance for your generosity! Happy soaping!!

  24. I’m a soaper and make lots of skin care products out of fresh goat milk that I obtain from my Nubian and ND goats. Your soaps are very pretty!!! I’m not the prettiest soap crafter, but I use only the best oils, essential and fragrance to make my soaps therapeutic. Good luck!

    • Goat’s Milk soaps are amazing! I made a batch a couple years ago and loved it! I need to get my hands on more milk :) Thank you for calling the soaps pretty! The health benefits are definitely the most important part though so your soaps seem spot on! :)

  25. Hi! Love your tutorial!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve recently become obsessed with the whole world of soapmaking, but lye scared me :( So I’ve been hand-milling some unscented and colour free soaps. I’ve done an oatmeal and coconut milk, almond and honey, and today lemon and ginger. But I would LOVE to make my own soap totally from scratch and after reading your post, lye doesn’t sound so scary anymore. Can’t wait to try cold processing!!!!!! Thanks so much :)

    • I keep a large bottle of vinegar on hand to neutralize any lye that could possibly be spilled. I shook the first time I made soap (several years ago). Now mixing lye is easy. Just be sure to use proper safety equipment. It is as easy as following a recipe.

    • Thank you, I’m so glad you like the tutorial! Lye has a mysterious stigma, but for the average responsible person, it’s really not that dangerous. I think when people write up tutorials, they’re imagining a person who will be flinging the lye around with kids and pets waiting to catch it in their open mouths or something haha! THAT person needs all the lye warnings.. but I’m positive you don’t! :P In general, just don’t inhale the fumes repeatedly, and try to keep it off your skin. I’m SURE you will love making your own CP soaps from scratch! :)

  26. Pingback: The gentle art of soapmaking (amateur edition) | Made in Oxford

  27. Pingback: Soap Making: Homemade Lemon Herb Soap | Musings of Moss

  28. Hi
    Just wondering about your tuturial for making your own mold. Could you share that with me please.


  29. What a wonderful how-to article! Well done! I made my very first CP soap last year and gave out many as presents to friends and family. I will be using your article for my next CP project. This time im infusing Calendula in olive oil for two weeks and will add crushed Calendula leavs into the soap.
    Thank you

  30. i want to use silicone moulds with individual bars , what size mouls woulld i need and how many 100g bars would it make??

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  32. I am new to soap making and this recipe does look like the easiest I have seen so I am going to try it. Question: Since I have goat milk can I use goat milk instead of water to mix with the Lye? I think I have seen other goat milk soap recipes and that is what they do but wanted to get your advice first before I do something wrong. Thanks.

    • If you use goat’s milk, you need to freeze it first, or mix it in a bowl that is sitting in ice. If you don’t do this, it will burn. Since the lye mixture isn’t clear, I put mine through a strainer, just to be sure there are no dangerous chunks of lye. Maybe Tiffany has some more tips.

      • Thanks, i thought I read that you should freeze it first so I have been freezing all my goats milk. So I guess it is ok to substitute the goats milk for water. Can’t wait to try it out when I get a chance. If you wanted to make the soap a little abrasive like a scrub what would you add?

        • I don’t usually make exfoliating soaps, but I make a facial scrub that works great. I use one teaspoon of sugar and add olive oil to cover. It makes my skin wonderful. I have made oatmeal soaps (put the oatmeal in a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder) that are mildly exfoliating. I add a squirt of honey to the mix.

      • Thanks, Motivated in Ohio! That’s exactly right! Sonya, you can absolutely substitute any kind of milk for water, you just have to be sure that the dairy is frozen or very cold before mixing with lye. :) For light exfoliating soaps, I like to grind up some oats for a slightly grainy soap texture, gentle enough for the face!

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  34. Tiffany, you have a nice blog, I’m book marking it :) Need a help from you. I mixed my oils & lye solution at a high temperature and it started showing false trace, and i poured it in 2 different moulds. On one mould oil is floating on top ever after 3 days, and other one is having white surface on top. Can i re-batch it ? If yes, how?

    • I just did that too. I poured the soap too early with a false trace. What I did, was take the soap from the mold, and rebatch it in a crock pot. I cooked it for a couple of hours. It turned out great!

      • I made two batches of soap and in both I didnt reach the trace (was mixing for an hour). both baches turned into very nice n hard soaps :) I dont thing teace is necessery as my experience shows.

        Nice blog!

        • On my soap, there was something obviously wrong. The soap didn’t turn hard after a couple of days. Usually, I just get a light trace, and that is enough.

    • Hi! I’m so glad you like the blog! If you mixed at too high a temperature, it will take a really long time to reach trace. If you pour too soon, the soap will not have saponified enough which means the chemical reaction that binds the oils and lye together will not have completed. This would definitely result in separation after pouring. Try mixing at a lower temperature next time, and make sure the room you’re working in is cool and ventilated. Mix until the soap comes to a thick pudding-like consistency, which leaves solid marks on the surface of the mixture. There are definite variables in how quickly the soap will trace/harden — some of which are altitude, humidity and air temperature. I hope this helps!! Thank you for your input, Motivated In Ohio and Che Guebuddha!! :)

  35. Tiffany!
    Got interested in soapmaking after a lady came to work and sold us some of hers. It smelled so good and my skin never felt smoother! Then I thought “I can do that!” so about a month ago I decided that I would try it and started (as I always do when I have a new interest) with my research phase. Now after about 5 websites and 4 books later, your instructions are the easiest to follow and most thorough! I make my first batch yesterday morning and can’t wait to go home and slice them up! It looked really good so I’m hoping they come out good. Thanks for such a great site. I really want to try your lime scented soap next time!
    Question: If I use citris zest in my soaps, do I need to dry them first?

    • Thank you for the kind message!! I went through the same headache when I was first starting out. I swear I had about 10 websites bookmarked and I’d have to jump around so much just to make sure I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I’m really happy you found this post thorough and easy to digest! I hope your first batch turned out well!!

      For citrus zest (or any moist vegetable, fruit, or tea leaf), it’s best to dry them before adding them to the soap because the colors can bleed and the extra moisture will reduce the shelf life of your soap overall. If you don’t dry them, it won’t be a disaster. Just expect some color bleed and try to use those bars up first! :)

      • OK, so it’s been 9 days and a bar that I brought to my office is covered with yellow spots (DOS). But the bars at home are not. I followed the recipe exactly, all my oils and supplies were new. The only thing I can think of that was different is that the bar at my office is exposed to a lot more light, and the ones at home are not. Could that be it?
        Also, after they’ve cured, is it ok to put them in celephane bags with ties, or do they still need to be exposed to air? thanks!!

        • Hi there! Those spots can be due to excess humidity or heat in the office. If they’re sitting under or near lights that give off some sort of heat, this can definitely happen! The other cause for this can be too much superfatting in your recipe, but if the bars you have at home look fine, I’d say it’s probably a heat/humidity issue.

          It’s best to let the soaps breathe once they’re cured. If they’re completely sealed up, they will sweat and spoil much faster. Wrapping with a cigar band works great! :)

  36. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together! It makes it a little less daunting when you’re just starting out.

    • You’re welcome! I’m so happy you found this tutorial easy to follow! :) Welcome to soaping!!

  37. Pingback: I made my first ever CP soap and it worked! - Page 2 - The Goat Spot - Goat Forum

  38. I’m fascinated by soap and I’m definitely going to give it a try. Curious about the wooden mold: do all the sides have to come down? I’m assuming yes, and also assuming that it helps with cutting the soap. Just curious . . . .

    • Only the long sides need to come down, but having all 4 sides come down works as well! I like to lift my “loaf” of soap out of the mold with 2 sides collapsed and place it on a flat surface for cutting. I find that easier than trying to cut bars while still in the mold. You should definitely give soap making a try, you’ll love it! :)

      • OMG. I have all my supplies, but I’m nervous. Just lined my wooden mold that I made myself. I calculated that it holds 86.4 oz or 5.4lbs. I am using your basic soap recipe and adjusted the amount of ingredients to fit my mold. Question: Should the base oils equal 100% of ounces that the mold can hold? In other words, I am using 29% coconut oil, 29% palm oil, and 42% canola oil. That equals 100%. It also translates to 25.1 ounces each of coconut and palm oil, and 36.2 ounces of canola oil. Add those all up and I get 86.4 ounces (what the mold holds). Did I do this right? That doesn’t leave any room for lye, water, or any additional ingredients. Thanks so much for your help and wisdom.

        • Hi! Congrats on your first soaping adventure!! :) You’ll definitely want to leave room for the ounces of lye, water and additives in your recipe. I usually let the base oils take up no more than two thirds of my total mold capacity.

  39. I love the idea of this palm-oil free soap, I think it will be the first recipe I try. I’m wondering though, as 1 lb seems very small, how you would calculate for a 3 lb or 5 lb recipe? Would you just times the ingredients by 3 or 5 accordingly or is it more complicated than that? I love the color and look of this soap, of all the pictures I see of crazy swirls and different glitter and stuff, I seem to prefer the simplest looking soaps the best. Thanks again.

    • This recipe yields about 2 1/2 lbs. of soap. There is 1 lb. 12 oz. of base oils + the lye and the water which adds another pound and a half-ish. There’s nothing tricky about increasing the volume of a recipe though, the only thing that will vary is the amount of time it takes for your lye and oils to come to temperature (the more you’re using, the longer it will take), and the amount of time it will take for your soap mixture to reach trace. The rest should be about the same! :)

      • Thanks for the tip, and thanks for this palm oil free beginner recipe! I did try this as my first go and it worked out fine and didn’t trace too fast. Soap making requires some patience of which I have none, I tried lathering it up with some scraps after I cut it, and had my first bar in the shower after a week, soaps up great! Can’t leave it in the shower though or it gets too soft, but I’m sure as the bars cure they will get much harder. Love palm oil free and the orangutans send you hugs :)

        • Oh I’m the same way. ZERO patience haha! I like to steal a few bars right away and let the rest cure properly. :) Hugs to the orangutans!! Yay palm oil free! :)

  40. Pingback: Making soap… | Anachroneironaut

  41. so happy to have found your site, such a help as i begin making soaps. so exciting. thanks a million for taking time to put this information out.

  42. Thanks for the recipe and all the tips. I have one question, what does it mean you have done wrong if there seems to be another reaction eg: it starts bubbling up after you have poured the soap in the molds?
    It was looking really good and reached trace as you had said??

    Cheers Nicky

    • Hi Nicky! If the soap starts bubbling after you’ve poured it, it could just be the soap settling and releasing air pockets that formed during the pour. I would just tap the mold against the counter until the bubbles stop surfacing, and then cover and let cure as usual!

  43. Hi Tiffany, just love your enthusiasm for your soap-making and the tutorial is easy to understand. As i live in Botswana, Africa, we use the metric system, so i will have to work out all the metric values. I currently work in a Eco-friendly tourism organisation, so this soap-making is right up our ally. I want to try it out and then teach the local women around here to do it as well and maybe make enough to be able to supply lodges and hotels…..Thanks for the great ideas.

    • Hi Kiddy! Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the tutorial and I hope you don’t run into any issues converting the measurements. It would be so amazing if you were able to teach women how to make soap! It’s such a wonderful sustainable practice! Good luck to you and I hope you come back for more recipes! :)

  44. Hi, this is an amazing tutorial and I’m inspired!!! Quick question – can I use something other than a microwave to heat as mine is very tiny :-) ie can I use a large container on the hob?


    • Hi!! I’m so glad you’re inspired YAY!! :) You can definitely heat your oils in a regular pot or container, just be aware that the oils will leave a film that will be difficult to remove. It’s best to have a dedicated container for heating your oils, whether it’s a tupperware bowl (like I use for microwaving), a pot, or something else! :)

  45. OMG!
    Thank you for making this tutorial! You explained so much. I can’t wait to get started. My husband and I make M&P soaps and also lotions, body butters, yadda yadda….. But now I cant wait to try CP. You are awesome! <3

    • You’re welcome!! I’m so glad you’re going to try out CP. It’s a LOT of fun. Since you’ve been doing your own bath + body stuff, you already understand the joys of DIY skincare — but there’s something SO special about creating a bar of soap from scratch! Good luck to you and please feel free to come back and share how it’s going!! I’d love to hear! :)

  46. This is a great tutorial! Thanks so much for putting it together. I am new to soap making and this recipe is perfect. What I love the most is that I can get all these oils in the grocery store. I am curious about the canola oil. I read on another soaping site that it can make soap hard and crumbly and takes longer to get to trace. All the other recipes I have found online call for palm oil instead. I am hesitant to use it because it is hard to find in grocery stores and because most common brands are not harvested in a sustainably responsible way. Have you had any issues using canola oil in your recipes? Should I be concerned if the oil is GMO? Also, I’ve seen some recipes with castor oil in them. What are your thoughts on that? Sorry for all the questions! But you are truly the best resource I have found online and your photos are amazing!

    Thanks so much for this awesome blog!!

    • Hi!! Thank you for such a kind comment!! I’m so glad you found this tutorial helpful and enjoyed the pictures! :) You’re definitely right to avoid palm oil! Canola was used in the Beginner’s Test Recipe simply because its affordable and readily available. If you mess up a batch with canola oil, you’re not out much! :P I haven’t had any problems with canola in my recipes, but you can easily substitute sunflower oil if you’d rather avoid the controversies altogether! Sunflower can be found at most grocery stores and doesn’t have an insane price tag (from what I’ve seen). Castor is great for cleansing, bubbly lather and conditioning, but keep it under 10% of your total base oils as it can result in a sticky/soft bar if you use too much. I hope this helped and good luck soap making!! :D

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  48. I’ve recently been trying my hand as a newbie with goat milk soap! Does anyone have advice on whether to add the lye to frozen goat milk or add the lye to water then the milk to the oils? Also to gel or not to gel with milk soap?

    • Hi there! I’m not sure which recipe you’re following, but typically the goat’s milk replaces the water in your lye solution. So you would take your frozen goat’s milk slush, put it in your mixing pitcher, put the pitcher in an ice bath, then add your lye and stir. The ice bath + the milk slush keeps the overall temp in an ideal range for the dairy ingredient! I’m not sure what you mean about gel though. I hope this helped some!! :)

  49. Hi! i found today your blog, it’s wonderful. i have one (or many but fot now just one) if i want to add vitamin E how much and when do i have to put?


    Sorry about my english. it is not my natural languaje :P

    • Hi! I’m so glad you found us! :) Try adding 2 tbsp. of Vitamin E per pound (or per 500g) of base oils AT trace. Vitamin E is such a high quality oil with so many health benefits, you don’t want to lose and of that during the initial lye/oils reaction. Adding it at trace will preserve most of its properties, and will result in a fine and silky lather.

  50. Could I use one of those paint mixers that attaches to a drill to mix? I’d like to give soap making a try because I think it would be a fabulous gift idea for teachers and Christmas gifts. Handmade soaps always look so pretty.

    • You can use anything you want to mix your soap! You can even mix by hand, it would just take a REALLY long time to reach trace. :P Just be sure that your method of mixing won’t splatter your soap mixture out of the bowl, as it will still be caustic in its liquid state!
      Soaps really do make great gifts and are always a hit!

  51. I made this recipe and I am so excited to cut it into bars. What I am curious about is if I can make another batch either this one or a different recipe and add it on top of my batch I made yesterday and I have not yet cut. The reason I am asking is because my soap is very shallow in the container I am using. I want it to be a nice size when I cut it. I am not sure if the second layer will adhere or would it ruin the “already curing” soap? This was my first time ever making soap-now I know what size of container I need for the next time. Thank you for the great recipe ideas!

    • A second layer added on top of a layer that has already hardened will adhere a bit, but not entirely. It will break in half more easily than if you poured the 2nd layer while the 1st was still soft.

      I’ve poured soap mixture into a container too large for the quantity I had, and ended up with a shallow layer that I ended up cutting flat, which works too!

      So glad you tried this recipe and I’m so excited for you to enjoy your first bars!! :)

  52. In a hot climate the base oils at room temp are in liquid state. Do they still have to be heated up?? Or is this only for cold climates?

    • They do need to be heated to between 100 and 125 degrees F in order to blend with the lye solution properly. If the oils are already melted down, this will just make the task less time consuming! :)

  53. Pingback: The Wake-Up Bar | Don’t Judge A Soap By Its Color

  54. Thanks for the recipe! I have kind of a bizarre question. I made this soap recipe 5 weeks ago and it actually overflowed my 3-lb silicone mold and filled another container about 10 ounces. I made the same recipe again tonight and it just about filled the very same 3-lb silicone mold and reached trace wayyyy faster than the last batch. Whaaa?

    There were a couple of differences: I used tea-infused water this time instead of plain water. I also didn’t add any essential oils in this batch (though I only added about .6 ounces in the last one). Other than that, I’m pretty confident it was exactly the same. Has this ever happened to you before? Did those changes make that much of a difference? Am I crazy?

    • Oh wow that is interesting! I’ve never noticed a volume change like that before! I know that I’ve confused measurements before without knowing how I did it, but hmm. That’s all I can think of! Hopefully the batches both turned out ok!

      • Crazy, right? I rechecked the recipe like 10 times to make sure we didn’t leave out one of the oils or something. I think we must have messed up the 1st batch, since we ended up with so much extra and it took like 30 minutes to trace. It worked just fine, though it might have been a little soft even after 5 weeks. This batch filled my 3-pound mold and traced in just a couple of minutes. We’ll see when I unmold it and let it cure!

    • Hi! Crumbling soap can be cause by a recipe that is too lye-heavy. If you have a batch that crumbles when you cut or press it, you can melt it down and try adding more oils. Hopefully a re-batch will fix the problem!

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  57. Hey your page is a great resource and i have bookmarked it. I am a beginner and was wondering if anyway the lye finishes the properties of soap why not add the more expensive base oils to only superfat the soap? Also, the EO will add to the super fat in the lye calculator right so then is it advisable to have the total soft percentage more than the 10% max recommended percentage if say one uses 3 ml of so for a 100 gm bar?

    • Hi there! Welcome to soaping!! You have some great questions! Although the majority of your base oils’ moisturizing benefits are cancelled out during saponification, the extra 5-7% (superfat) will essentially be “borrowed” or skimmed off the top of the cancelled out oils. Since there’s really no way to control which oils survive saponification (unless you add them at trace, but this should only be done in very small amounts with ultra-moisturizing oils like shea butter [because of how soft they can make your soap] ), if you want the healthy moisturizing properties of high quality oils to survive saponification as your “superfats”, you need to use those same oils in your base. The base oils you use also greatly affect the texture and lather of your bar. Certain oils will result in a very creamy and rich lather, while others will give a more dry and fluffy lather. Some oils will result in a very soft bar of soap, and others (like coconut and palm kernel) will result in a very hard bar. It’s fairly easy to avoid using expensive oils in your base recipe unless they would contribute a specific property to the texture and/or lather you’re looking for. My most frequently used base oils are coconut oil and olive oil. You can get those pretty cheap!
      As far as essential oils affecting your superfat percentage, every base oil you use in soap making has a SAP value. The SAP value is a number that represents the amount of Lye needed (in milligrams) to turn 1 gram of that oil into soap. The presence of lipids in an oil is what makes that chemical reaction (saponification) possible. Because essential oils contain no lipids, they don’t have a SAP value, so they don’t participate at all in the saponification process, and shouldn’t be factored into your superfatting percentage.
      I hope this helped!! :)

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  60. Hey! Just about to make my first batch using your recipe and wanted you to know that I found Lye at Lowe’s! It’s labeled Roebic Laboratories, Inc. 32 oz Drain Cleaner Crystals but it’s actually 100% Lye and says so on the label. That saved me some shipping and waiting time! Thanks for this incredible tutorial!

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  62. Hi! I have a question about the essential oil proportions. I want to make a batch of cold process bars using this recipe, but would love to combine a couple of essential oils besides orange. Should I still use the full 1.6 oz for citrus, and 1.2 oz for other essential oils? I am thinking of mixing orange, grapefruit, and cedarwood (as suggested on The Sage!). I don’t know if 1.6 oz of orange, 1.6 oz of grapefruit, and 1.2 oz of cedarwood will be too much oil total, and if instead I should figure out a proportion of each…? Thanks! Sorry for the confusing explanation.

    • I would definitely keep the total oils in each scent category under the recommended amounts. If you were using just orange, it should be 1.6 oz. of orange. If you were using orange and grapefruit, it should be 1.6 total, so maybe .8 oz. orange and .8 oz. grapefruit. These are only general recommendations though. When it comes to scent, you may prefer something a bit stronger or a bit weaker, so definitely tweak the recipes as you see fit! :)

  63. When the soap is poured into the mold, you said wrap in plastic and let sit. Did you mean Saran Wrap? Do you need to insulate with towels to let it continue to wait your 24 hours? Referring to your beginners batch olive oil, canola, and orange eo

    • Yes, you can cover it in Saran Wrap, or you can just cover the mold with a towel, etc. If you use plastic wrap, it’s ok if it makes contact with the soap before it hardens, but if you use something like a towel or tin foil to cover overnight, just make sure it isn’t touching! :)

  64. As a professional soap maker and cosmetic formulator, I just wanted to mention that EWG Skin Deep site is unfortunately not really as reputable or reliable as you might think. They promote unwarranted scare tactics and their site contain numerous errors with regards to how certain chemicals are used in cosmetics. A better starting point to get verifiable hard facts about cosmetic ingredients is
    “As a staunch advocate for sharing the truth and dispelling rumors on issues related to the personal care products industry, Personal Care Truth remains committed to providing a vehicle for the dissemination of accurate, scientific information, while also encouraging an open discussion and dialogue among its readers.”

    • Thanks for that information, Leann! It’s really helpful to have multiple resources on this subject. It’s so hard to know what goes on behind the scenes of the cosmetics industry, as everyone seems to be biased in one way or another. Bookmarking that site for sure! :)

    • If the soap isn’t tracing, I would guess it’s either because a measurement is wrong (though if you are sure you followed it exactly, this wouldn’t be the case), or you just didn’t mix long enough. It can take as long as 5 minutes sometimes for the mixture to trace. The temperatures of the oils and lye solution are also very important. If you start mixing while one or the other is too cool, trace can take much longer.

      • You have that backwards, heat speeds up trace, for the most part. Certain formulas will take longer to trace than others, particularly a formula with a high percentage of olive oil.

          • Ok so I mixed for roughly 30 mins, never got a trace, poured into molds, and now the soap is cracking dry. Did I mix for too long?

          • Is it possible that you started mixing too late? If the temperatures dropped below 100 degrees F, the mixture wouldn’t get to trace. Mixing for too long would just get the soap thicker and thicker until it hardened, so I don’t think that was your issue.

          • Your directions say, “Put the pitcher on a scale, and set the scale to
            0 ounces. Add water until you reach the correct weight according to
            your recipe.” The lye calculator says, “For the size of fat batch that
            you are using, we recommend that you use approximately 7 to 10
            FLUID OUNCES of liquid.” I checked to see if 8.5 fluid ounces was the same as 8.5 weight ounces and it’s not. When measuring water, do I use weight oz or fluid oz?

            Could this be the reason my soap is so dry?

          • I always measure my liquids and oils by weight, so if you measured by weight you shouldn’t have had a problem with trace. I’m not sure why they have fluid ounces on there, as in soap making everything is measured by weight, not volume. If you didn’t use enough water in your lye solution, it would definitely result in a harsher, drier soap.

  65. Thank you so much for this in-depth tutorial! It’s the best I’ve found. Cold process always seemed a bit…much…but your instructions and helpful links make it seem so much less daunting. THANK YOU!

  66. Pingback: Best DIY Finds » DIY Basics: Cold Process Soap Making

  67. So complete the description, I liked how you try to explain all the process. More than a doubt I need an orientation, I love all about natural products (specifically vegetables soaps) How to begin? How you did it? I don’t look be rich with thisI just wanna do what I enjoy, but I don’t have a big place and scares me the idea that doesn’t work my attempts. Maybe you can give me tips or Recommended books or videos, thanks

  68. Hi,

    I’ve recently gotten into making my own cold process soap at home. the first few batches that i made according the recipes that i found on the internet worked quite well. But i’ve tried using soapcalc to create my own recipes and its been a bit a disaster. I’ve gotten hold of concentrated stearic acid and lauric acid which I hoped to use to boost the hardness and cleansing capacities of my soap but it hasn’t worked and I’ wondering if its because of the added stearic acid and lauric acid?
    the first one I made is way too soft, it actually looks like a sub-solid gel bar!
    And with the second batch – the lye actually curdled when I added it to the oils! Could that have been because my temperature were too low? (approximately 30 degrees this time. I usually mix at around 40-50 degrees…)

    Any help will be welcomed!

    • Hi Sharon! I have never used stearic or lauric acid in my recipes, so I’m not experienced with the consistency results. If you tried the Beginner’s Test Recipe and the soap turned out too soft, the added acid could be the culprit! I haven’t experienced lye curdling either, but as long as your temps were between 100 and 120 degrees F, that shouldn’t have been the problem. If you’re looking to boost hardness and cleansing without the use of acid, you can just up the coconut oil percentage! Coconut oil makes the hardest bars of soap and the lather is SO fluffy and cleansing. I just love it! You can use up to 30% coconut oil in a recipe without it being too drying. I hope this helped! Happy soaping! :)

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  70. Oy! I just made my first batch about 90 mins ago and as I’m sitting here watching it (yep, I’m watching it) it is changing color in the center. It looked really creamy and opaque at first but now it looks dark in the middle and the pan is still really hot. Is this normal? I didn’t have orange oil so I subbed lemon and don’t think I even used enough because I had a tiny bottle…
    Another thing- the edges where it is still creamy beige feel harder than the dark weird colored center, which feels soft when I press the top with my finger. It’s covered in Saran Wrap so not sure if I’m steaming it or what?! Thanks in advance …

    PS- Your blog is my new obsession, I’ve been dreaming of lather and soapy x-mas gifts for the past week!


    • The soap has to go through a chemical process to turn from oils and lye into soap. This phase includes the soap getting really hot and turning color. Probably by the time you read this, your soap will look like soap again. It will be ready after a few weeks. I think you will love it.

    • Hi Leslie! MotivatedinOhio is exactly right! As the soap cures and the moisture begins to evaporate, the color will definitely go through some changes. The reason the center is dark and soft is because that’s where most of the moisture and heat is concentrated. As the loaf saponifies overnight, the color and texture will even out a bit more. Then when you cut the bars and let them finish curing, everything will continue to settle. I usually cover my loaf loosely with tin foil for the first night. If you seal it completely with plastic wrap, the moisture will be trapped a bit longer. The initial covering is mainly to keep anything from falling into the soap while it’s still wet.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog! Happy soaping! :)

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  72. Hi ladies! I’d just like to complement you and let you know that you’ve inspired me to begin making soaps as well! (It’s very addictive!) I’ve been using… get ready for it… an old shoe box as my soap mold for the past year and it’s high time that it retired :-/ Your wooden soap mold looks wonderful and I’ve had some trouble getting the dimmensions right on my own. I’d like a tutorial on making a soap mold, pretty please! :)

    • Haha I love that you’ve been using an old shoe box!! Creativity wins the day! I’ll definitely be putting together the soap mold tutorial soon. It’s been on the list for a while!! So glad you love soaping!! Yay! :)

  73. Thanks for the tutorial. I would love to get your directions for making the wooden soap mold please. Also I put your recipe into the lye calc like you said for practice and I see that you got your 3.99 lye amount by choosing 5% super fat. I’m not sure how you came up with the water amount since it said to use 7 to 10 oz of water? Also would I round my lye amount up to 4oz or will my scale (which I still need to buy) weigh out the exact 3.99oz amount for me?

    • Hi Mary! A soap mold tutorial is definitely on my to-do list!! I’ll try to get that together fairly soon. The water amount I chose is 8.5 oz. which is in the middle of the 7-10 oz. range the calculator gives. I always pick a number in the middle. Since rounding up to 4 oz. of lye would put you slightly under the 5% superfat range, I would round it down to 3.9, just to be safe and keep your soap moisturizing! :) Happy soaping!!

  74. I have to second the folks above who think this is the best site ! Have been researching for weeks and gathering supplies. Very lively discussion the comments and very nice that you answer all queries. Thanks so much. I am going to make the recipe that you posted above !

    • Aww thank you so much! I’m so glad you found this helpful! If/when you give it a try, don’t hesitate to comment with any questions/concerns/success stories you may have!! :)

  75. Thanks you thank you thank you! Guess what I’m making for Christmas gifts this year! I love this and its the most comprehensive guide that I have found on making soaps. Thank you for going to the effort to explain it so nicely. I will let you know how it turned out!

    • I’m so so glad you found this tutorial helpful!! Welcome to soaping!! :) (You will have some very happy gift recipients this year!!)

  76. Seriously? Who keeps lye around the house? I clicked on this link, because it said “Uses ingredients you have in your home”. Yeah right. Great idea though. Just need to buy lye……

    • Hi there! I’m not sure what link you clicked on, but yes you definitely need to purchase lye in order to make soap from scratch. :)

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  80. hello, i would like to know if anyone can help me with this recipe for dog soap. i plan to use a melt and pour base and add these essential oils to it: eucalyptus essential oil, tea tree essential oil, cedarwood essential oil. but im not sure how much of each essential oil i should use. i would appreciate the help. thanks

    • Hi Elle! I’m not sure what the essential oil percentages would be for a M&P recipe, but for Cold Process, you would use about .7 ounces per pound of base oils for each of those oils individually. I hope this helped!! If you need more information on melt & pour, this is a great resource.

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  82. How do you calculate and why it is different than in oficialnym form?

    soapcal say:
    Water 10.64
    Lye: 3.93

    You say:
    Water – 8.5 oz.
    Lye – 3.99 oz.

  83. I would love to learn how to make my own soap box(es)!! I’ve printed this off & it’s been my “Bible for soap making”!!! Thanks so much. It’s been fun. Look forward to receiving instructions on molds. Thank you, Kim

    • Oh I’m so glad this tutorial has been a good resource for you!! I will be putting together a tutorial for the soap mold sometime in early 2014! It’s been on my list for a while and I just have to get to it. Can’t wait!! :)

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  85. Hi Tiffany,
    You have the best tutorial ever!
    I have a question about using antioxidants in formulation, in particular Tocopherols (Vitamin E) and Rosemary Extract. What is the bast ration per batch or total weight of base oils to use?
    Thank you in advance,

    • Hi Helen! Thanks so much!! I’m so glad you’re enjoying this tutorial! I would add 1 tsp. of Vitamin E oil per pound of base oils at trace! If you add it before trace, the lye will eat up a lot of the health benefits of the oil. Adding at trace preserves a lot more of them! The same goes for Rosemary Extract. :) I hope this helped!

  86. hello to all people that make here ….i am very new at this and i am trying to very small batches of soap like 2 ounces to see if i would enjoy it and i cant fugure out lye to water to palm oil mix plus others…..i trying to use the math catilors and i am getting all mix up…..56.699 grams is total of soap i want to made ..that 2 ounces ..we have lye and water and oil and the scale and rest of stuff…..i want to put in some color and fagances as well……so sorry about my spelling…..thank in advance if anyone can help with this….i do have other oils are to work as well….thanks everyone

    • I’ve never done a batch that small, but you might want to try doing a 12 ounce batch and then divide it into smaller bowls once it reaches a light trace, add in your colorants and essential oils, and then pour into individual cavity molds. This would let you try out some different soaps without doing such a small base batch. I hope this helped!!

  87. I’m so excited! I just made this recipe tonight for my first ever soap! The idea of it sounded so daunting but the process was so simple! Thanks so much for this tutorial. I have been researching for the last 2 weeks on soap making and this website is by far the best! I did have a question when I take the soap out of the mold to cut and cure it do I still need to be wearing gloves or is that only while it is in liquid form? Thanks so much! I do not know how I am going to wait 4 weeks, I am so anxious to try it out!

    • I’m so glad you made your first batch and that this tutorial helped!! You don’t need gloves when you’re cutting the soap. Once it’s reached trace, it is only mildly caustic. When it’s hardened, you’re not in danger of burning yourself at all. You can try the soap out after a day or 2! It just won’t be very hard, so only use bars that young for self-testing. Don’t gift them until the full cure time is up! :)

  88. lnfact, you did well & God will never let you down. Please l will ask 4 questions; *since the oil is 100%(i.e 42+29+29),hope the base oil for scent will not afect the reactlon i.e(28%), will it not make it 128% oil instead of 100%? *for how many minute l supose to mix if l’m using stirrer & not blender? *can l use plastic as mold without patching? *ls it desame way to make washing soap & if so which other xmcal must b added e.g soda ash is for what?

    • Paul, both fragrance oils or essential oils are not really “oils” per se, so no, they do not affect your oil quantity. They are solvent based and not in a “carrier oil” so be sure tou are purchasing from a Soapmaking supplier. The typical usage for most fragrance oils is anywhere from 1/2 oz to 1 oz per pound of your soap oils. Your supplier should be able to provide the suggested usage rates

    • Hi Paul! Leann is exactly right! Essential oils do not contain the fatty acids that carrier or base oils do, so they shouldn’t be included in that part of the calculation. If you’re stirring by hand, it would definitely take more than 5 minutes. I’m not sure how long exactly, as I’ve never stirred by hand! I wouldn’t recommend using plastic, but a silicone soap mold or a wooden soap mold like the one I show in the tutorial. I haven’t made a laundry soap yet, so I can’t comment on that formulation. I hope this was somewhat helpful! :)

  89. I’d love to see how you made your soap mold, I am just looking for simple square bars, and I have a cutter. You’ve given me everything else, here, to get started! FYI, I’ve been ordering a lot of my materials from Bulk Apothocary and they’ve been excellent: service, quick shipping and great prices. Thank you!

  90. sir,how am l going to calculate for water since it’s not in %. For instance, l converted lye and oil to mass by multiplying it with the mass of the container,how l’m l going to know amount of water since it’s in mililiter. Thank you

  91. lnfact,l appreciate your reasonable & gudlook soaps you made to encourage and empower us.Wishing you and your family God’s favour, grace, joy, peace, love and prosperity throughout the New Year and beyond… what about the liquid soap?

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  93. Great tutorial! Can’t wait to try this when my Bramble berry order arrives! Made soap mold that you mentioned 18″ long..does this recipe fill that and how many bars do you get from this recipe..I know

  94. Thank you for this awesome tutorial!!

    A few questions…
    To wash any materials that have come in contact with lye, could you use dish washing soap to clean it or will it spark a chemical reaction with the lye?
    In any case something hazardous or bad occurs, what steps should you follow to ensure safety and protection? (ex: if lye spills or any other possible scenarios)
    Is one window in the kitchen enough to act as ventilation in the room?

    • Hi there! You can use regular dish washing soap to clean your materials, absolutely! And wear rubber gloves while working with any kind of un-saponified lye solution. If lye does spill or come into contact with the skin, rinse it right away with cold water! I’ve gotten lye solution on my skin before and there was no serious injury, just some redness and itching that faded after a few hours. If a LOT of lye gets on the skin or spills, I would definitely try not to inhale directly over it until it’s all wiped away, and after rinsing call the doctor! One window is enough to act as ventilation, but if you don’t have a lot of good air circulation in the room, aim a fan towards the window. That should help!!

  95. Hello. I have a question for anyone that would know the answer. I tried this recipe and all seemed to go well. This is my first time at making soap so the “tracing” is new to me. I wasn’t sure if it met when it thickens enough to see it keep form? Like pudding? Or if there was a color change in the trace…. so I think I might have blended longer than I needed. I poured in a sheet pan and put in a very cool dry place. As I checked on it I saw no change. I checked the first 6 hours repeatedly and it never got to a gel like center or anything that I have read. It is solid now. Its soft but not falling apart. My question is did it do what it needed to do? Is it going to be safe if it didn’t go through that process of going “gel-like”? Is there a way to tell that the Lye is gone or worked in? Should I rebatch and if I do what else can I do besides rewarm and pour again. I almost wonder if I let the oils get too cool? Would that do anything? Sorry for all the questions but I am stumped. I do not want to keep making if I am not getting the process complete. Thanks Jess

    • Hi Jess! It sounds like you did everything right. As long as you mixed the oils and lye solution in the correct temp range of 100-120 degrees F, and blended until they did reach that pudding-like stage.. the mixture definitely wouldn’t be set for a full 24-48 hours. So the runny consistency you saw after 6 hours is normal. The center would be the last thing to set up, and usually that can discolor a bit (get darker) before lightening up and looking more even after a week or so! When you cut the bars after a day or 2, they will be on the softer side, but as they sit and cure, they will harden and release the rest of the water/moisture. I hope this helped!

  96. THANK YOU for this informative compilation! I made my first batch of soap yesterday – it was fun, I think I did it right, and nobody got hurt in the process!
    Can’t wait to try more. Love all the links to calculators, suppliers, etc. You are wonderful!

  97. I’ve made soap a couple times and I’ve noticed that after pouring the soap into a mold the top gets oily then it sets after 48 hours. Is this normal?

    • Hi Lisa! Absolutely! A little bit of the oil will settle on the surface of your bars, but after the full curing process, this will have set up. Sometimes if I notice that there’s a little too much oil settling at the top, I’ll pat it off with a paper towel. :)

  98. Hi Tiffany!

    I made a batch of soap today following your recipe, and it seems to have gone well! Thanks so much for posting the recipe! I can’t wait to check it out tomorrow and slice it up.

    I had a question about it… when I was cleaning up, I expected my mixing bowl to get sudsy when I cleaned it out. (I mean the bowl that I used to blend my oils with the lye/water mixture.) After I poured my mixture into my mold, I cleaned the bowl, and there were no suds at all. It was kind of oily in the bowl. I was surprised… I was thinking it would be like a mini bubble bath! :) Is this normal to not have bubbles from the left over stuff in the bowl?



    • Hi Tiffany.. I am a new soaper also and wondered the same thing when I first started. I have found that until its processes for a day it’s really not very lathery? I don’t know if this is exactly true but maybe the ‘saponification’ hasn’t occurred yet. I was worried at first but my bars always lather if I steal a sliver to try after a couple of days. Hope this helps.

    • Hi Alison and Tiffany!! Tiffany, you’re right! If you let the soap residue harden a bit before cleaning your bowls, you will definitely get the sudsy lathery result while cleaning. If you rinse while everything is still very soft, the oils won’t have combined with the lye to form “soap” yet, so you will definitely have a more oily substance to wash off. I like letting it sit for a bit so I do get to clean my bowls with the new soap. :D But sometimes you just have to clean it right away, in which case adding some dish soap helps with the oil! :)

  99. I have used this recipe since Dec, and absolutely love that (besides the Lye) they are all basic store bought ingredients and there is no palm. The question I have, is there anyway to make the bar a bit harder? I seem to use it up pretty quick compared to some palm recipes I have used in the past. I was thinking of increasing the coconut oil, and decreasing the canola, to make a firmer bar. I of course would re-run it through MMS, but wanted some thoughts on this?

    • You can absolutely increase the coconut oil to make a firmer bar! As long as you don’t go over 30-35% coconut oil, the moisturizing properties will be maintained! :)

  100. I love your blog and the tutorials you posted here. I’d like a tutorial on making a soap mold please. I finally made my 1st batch using this recipe on 2/25. My soap comes out dry, hard as a rock and crumbles when cut. I followed the recipe (except: not using any EO) and mixed my water+ lye to my oils at 110F, it took long to reach a trace since I use hand mixer instead of stick blender (about 30 minutes). I added ground oatmeal (3tbs), mixed and finally poured into my mold at light trace. The next day…. I got the result as I said above :( I did a zap test yesterday to see if I perhaps poured too much lye, I didn’t feel anything. My soap tastes like soap and feels like soap, a long lasting soap with great lather. What did I do wrong? Did I add too much ground oatmeal? Should I replace the amount of 1.6 oz. of Orange EO I didn’t use with any oils? I’m not sure what to add if I rebatch the soap, more water, more oil or both? Thank you in advance :)

    • Hi Natalia!! I’m so glad you’re getting into soaping! :) When bars crumble, it’s usually because they are lye heavy (which you checked), or they’re full of tiny air bubbles. I’m thinking using a hand mixer instead of an immersion (stick) blender could have caused this. When you use an immersion blender, you’re mixing below the surface, which prevents thousands of tiny air pockets from forming. But when you use a hand mixer, you’re essentially “whipping” the mixture, which would set up differently and potentially cause your bars to crumble. I would try using a stick blender next time, and carefully weigh all of your ingredients to be sure you have the correct amounts of lye, water and oils. As far as the additives (oatmeal and EO), you shouldn’t have to compensate for skipping them, and the oatmeal shouldn’t have caused an issue unless you REALLY loaded it in there. But you can definitely go lighter on the oatmeal next time just to be sure that wasn’t the issue! I hope this helped!! :)

  101. your blog.can you help.3 times since i made soap.everytime i add my essentials oil,my soap goes instantly to ‘ricing’ and ‘accelerating’.it is so thick that i can’t pour it evenly in my mold.the top is not smooth and is granulated.difficult to tap off the air from mauritius,we dont have fragrance oil here.soapmaking is not common here.since you use only essential can you help me with that?

  102. Thanks so much! I just tried my first batch of soap using your test guidelines. I added a bit of honey, oatmeal and vanilla, then sprinkled the top with a few more oats. I think it’ll be ok, but I don’t recommend adding vanilla! It turned kind of a strange orange color, when I had hoped it would be a soft brown. Also got a bit of lye vapor in my eye. I’m standing downwind next time. Live and learn! Thanks again for putting together this wonderful resource!

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  105. I am interested in your soap box mold. Could you please email the directions? Does the basic orange tea tree recipe fill this mold? Thanks!

  106. Hello, my question is regarding Canola oil. I’ve read it’s unstable and can cause DOS if used more than 15% of your oils. How has your experience been with this oil?

    • Yayy I’m so glad you enjoyed it and that you’re getting the hang of soap making!! :)

  107. please help me any time i make soap it doesn’t become hard. i use coconut for my soaping and also the lye solution is not hot when i pour in to the molds

  108. Wow! What a great tutorial and comments section! I’m gathering info from the comments and about to read the tutorial again before I start gathering my ingredients and tools! I’ve been making my own laundry soap for about a year now and have been tossing around the idea of soap making for quite some time and I’m feeling VERY motivated, Thanks for the time and effort you put into all of this. It’s obviously a great hit!
    Your new Fan! Lyn

  109. OK, so i don’t have a microwave (yup, threw it out -literally – quite a while back). I assume it’s OK to use the stove top to melt my oils. My question is…is it safe to add the lye solution to the stainless steel pot that I melt my oils in?? Will this change my soap chemically?? Am I the only person in the world that no longer uses a microwave??? :) Thanks for your input!

    • From what I have been reading, stainless steel is fine but aluminum is not. One other thing to consider is that you do not want to use lye in the same utensils that you use for cooking. I heat my oils up on the stove and then pour them into a container that I only use for soap making. I add the lye solution to the oils in that particular container.

  110. Hi Tiffany!
    I am trying to make soap for my wedding as favors. I need to make about 200 bars. I am having a hard time figuring out how much of everything I need. Like for the oils. In this test recipe that you have here, how many bars did that yield?

    • Hi Chelsey!! When calculating for large batches, I always assume that the final weight of each bar will be from 3-4 oz. from there, you just multiply until you hit the total number you want! That should be the total weight of your base oils + additives! You may end up with a few extra bars doing it this way, but it won’t be many and you’ll definitely have backups in case any of the bars get chipped or dented somehow. You should be able to get 200 (3 oz.) bars from 10 (60 oz.) batches. You can even cut them smaller and reduce the number of batches you need to make. I hope this helps! :)

  111. After sifting through other DIY soap pages for the last hour, I finally found yours and it all makes sense! I appreciate that you made it easy to follow and understand without making me feel stupid. :) (Sorry, I just got a cold, impatient vibe from some if the other blogs.) I’ve always been fascinated by the homemade soaps I’ve found in local gift shops and this tutorial makes me feel like I could really make my own. And then while searching for the instructions for your mold, I stumbled upon the vanilla latte recipe. WOW! Now I HAVE to try this out! Thank you!!!

    PS-The vanilla latte video is beautiful.
    PPS-I coudn’t find any info on how you made that mold.

    • Hi Temesia!! I am SO glad you stumbled across this tutorial and found it helpful!! Researching soap making can be incredibly daunting, so I’m thrilled this saved you from some of that! I actually haven’t posted the mold tutorial yet but I do hope I’m able to get one up at some point! It was a simple project, I just don’t have a workspace large enough to create another one currently. I will try though!! It’s been requested a lot!! :D Anyway, happy soaping!!!

  112. Hi, I have a question about measuring. So When I put my glass measuring on the scale to weight the lye, water and oils, the scale does not weight the actual measuring cup but just the content inside it? Sorry but I have never used a scale and I wanted to ensure that the weight of the measuring cup or bowl are not calculated. Also, when washing out the lye solution, do I need to be careful and have gloves on. I will be making this in my kitchen so I want to take all the precautions when washing the lye solution after in my skin.
    can use a silicone baking loaf as my mold? I want to use coconut milk powered instead of actual milk, have you used powdered milk before?
    Lastly, have you heard of spraying the soap with alcohol to avoid air bubbles?
    Thanks so much! I am a newbie and I just want to be safe before I get started!

    • Hi there! When you put your glass on the scale, you have to zero it out just to be sure the weight of your container isn’t being measured. Usually there’s a button for that right on the front part of the scale! You do need to be careful when rinsing out your lye solution because it’s very caustic! I would wear gloves for this, and rinse the gloves too! You should be able to use a silicone mold as long as the manufacturer states that it’s heat resistant. I’ve never used powdered milk before, but if you google it I’m sure you’ll find some quick information! I haven’t heard about spraying soap with alcohol to avoid bubbles, but I haven’t had any bubbling issues thus far!! :) Good luck soaping!!

  113. Thank you so much for this tutorial!! it has been he most helpful one I’ve seen! I’m just curious,did you ever read a beginner’s soap making book to help you get started? did you find it useful? would you recommend any in particular?

    • You’re welcome! I’m so glad you found it helpful!! I didn’t read any books, but I read a LOTTT of blogs. I would recommend the 2 I linked out to in the tutorial for the percentages and calculator! They’re great!! :)

  114. Thank you for freely sharing this information with us. It is wonderful!
    I can’t wait to get started on soap making.

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    • It’s just “sweating” as the moisture leaves the soap. This is part of the curing process and it’s what produces a nice, solid bar! :)

  116. Wow! Thank you for this thorough tutorial. I just started soapmaking (here’s my post about my first experience!! and your blog post has hit on almost every single question I’ve had. I really appreciate the advice on how to create your own recipe – it’s been hard for me to find information related to soap making recipes, so this is awesome!! I’m going to try my first recipe tonight, in fact! Thank you!!

  117. Thanks for posting this!!
    I ventured into making a batch of this last night. It looks beautiful – 6 weeks is a lonnnnnng time to wait. Idk how I’ll last ;)

  118. Hi there. I’m new to soap making. I would just like to know if you can use a plastic stick blender or would the mixture be too hot for this. I once made pumpkin soup and blended straight away and it smelt like the plastic got a bit hot. I could smell the plastic. Mind you, the soup was just off boiling. Thanks.

  119. I like the helpful information you supply to your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again right here frequently.
    I’m rather sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here!
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  121. Hi, thanks for such great info! I want to try this so much. Hopefully I can this weekend. I was wondering, how do you “de-mold” the soap bars? Just by airing them out? I wasn’t clear on that part. Thanks again,

  122. Thanks for this. I’m a beginner and it has been extremely difficult to find a “How To” that doesn’t already assume you know certain things. This post was exactly what I was looking, extremely helpful.

  123. Just made my very first batch of cold process soap following your recipe – I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for providing such an informative tutorial! I took the soap out of its mold today and it turned out perfectly :)

  124. Like you, I’m on a mission to find skin care products that are healthy and natural. I and my daughters have sensitive skin and a myriad of skin issues. I like the idea of making soap but don’t want to deal with lye. Can you recommend a good natural healthy melt and pour product that we could begin with?

    • I’m not very experienced with melt & pour, but Nature’s Garden also has some great information on kits that don’t involve lye!! I hope that helps!! :)

  125. Hi, the link for the “Choosing Your Base Oils” % chart is dead, any possibility of getting an updated link please ;) thanks!

    • Hi there! I just tried the link and it seems to be working! Let me know if it still won’t load for you!

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  127. Yah know, I had to go back in the lye calculator several times to see where the 3.99 was. I don’t understand how you arrived at that. Unless those numbers in the “green” are what one is supposed to be using. Also, the liquid portion stated 7-10 oz. I didn’t see how you arrived at 8.5. That isn’t written anywhere. Unless I am blind as a bat out of hell. I hate confusion. If you used the amount of water you said you used, it should have been reflected on the entire calculation. No wonder I am stagnated at trying to make cold process soaps. I haven’t even begun with it because I am still doing my “homework”. At this point, it looks like I will never get to do this unless these explanations and calculations are crystal clear.

    • Hi Diane! I can definitely help clarify! In the portion of this tutorial under “Formulating Your Own Recipe”, below the heading “Calculating Your Lye Solution”, the third paragraph talks about how I came up with those numbers. The 3.99 came from the Lye chart, at the top of the green rows on the right, which puts it in the %5-%8 excess fat (or superfatting) range. This will result in a more balanced, moisturizing bar of soap. The 8.5 falls in the middle of the 7-10 fluid ounces of water range. This is my explanation from the same paragraph on why I chose to use 8.5 ounces of water: “They give a small range for the water amount (7-10), so I usually pick a number that falls in the middle of the range.” I hope this helped!!

  128. Hi Tiffany! I came across your site via Pinterest…I love it, this post made putting together a recipe a lot easier! My question is….when will you do the mold tutorial? Yours look really good and I’ve been wanting to make my own!

    • Hi Bryan! I’m so glad you found the blog on Pinterest! :) I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do the soap mold — but hopefully I can get it together sometime soon!

  129. I tried to make a batch, but I can’t get it to trace. I used your orange olive soap recipe .What did I do wrong?

    • Hi there! Were you able to track your temperatures correctly? Sometimes if you mix while the oils and lye are too hot, they will take a very long time to trace. If your measurements were off at all, this could also have caused a problem!

      • I had the temp, but I gave up on it and when I looked at it later it had oil on top. I really would like to make soap. And your recipe looked easy to follow , I like how you had everything step by step.

        • Ohh, sometimes a bit of oil can pool at the top if things are slightly off, but this won’t ruin the soap! Once it’s finished curing you can just wipe the excess oil away. Maybe give the test recipe one more try and see what happens?

  130. Hi, Love this tutorial. I do however have a few questions. First could you send me the tutorial to make the wooden soap box?! Second, How many bars of soap does this one batch make? Third, could you tell/show me how they do all the pretty layers of colors, the swirls, grated pieces, etc on top….I am still a little lost on the measurements of everything but I am sure over time I will get the hang of it.

    • Hi there! I don’t have a tutorial for the wooden soap box yet! This batch makes about twenty 3 oz. bars, but you can cut them larger or smaller based on your own preference! For swirls, you can pour one color first, then layer the next color on top, then take a knife or skewer and gently swirl it through the mixture in an up and down motion. I know the measuring part is overwhelming at first, but the more you study the test recipe and play with the lye calculator, the easier it will get! :) Happy soaping!!

      • Where did you get your orange essential oil from that made it change to an orange color? or do they all do that?

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  132. I’m working on gathering my supplies for my first batch of soap. I had googled beginner cold process recipe and found one that was equal parts coconut oil, palm oil, and canola oil. I have the coconut and canola, but I also have on hand some professional grade massage oil that is made up of sunflower, jojoba, coconut oil. Can I substitute the massage oil for the palm oil equally or does the amount have to be different because of hardening? Your tutorial is awesome, the easiest one I’ve found and your pictures are really helpful. Thank you!!

  133. I don’t want to sound crazy, but I read how you said to do it. but when Iooked at the pictures, the first one looks like it has hard white stuff in it. I know that all the oils are liquid right, so what is the white stuff…I’m sorry just asking, I really what to learn how to make soap.

  134. I’ve made about 6 different soaps so far and the main problem I have it trying to figure out how much (3 pounds, 5 pounds????) my batch will make. Is there some calculation I can use to determine this? I’ve got two 5 pound molds and if the recipe isn’t 5 pounds I end up with very skinny soaps! Help! Thanks :-)

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  139. I love this tutorial I have been looking into soap making for a while & with your help I feel prepared enough to start the journey. im just unsure where to get potent essential oils from. I would rather get something a little more strong so the sent can last and I may not have to use as much. Anyways, please help if you can. Thank you.!

  140. Thank you for the awesome tutorial. I have been doing melt and pour soap making but am very interested in cold process. It sounds like you have more freedom with customizing the soap.

  141. On your basic recipe can you add Shea butter and less olive oil? If so how much? Thank you for your time and help VERY new to soaping and don’t want to mess things up.

  142. Thank you for the awesome tut. I was interested in your comment that “base oils will by cancelled out by saponification” . Does this mean that it would be wise to use cheaper base oils such as canola and sunflower, and then superfat with the more expensive oils like shea butter or grapeseed oil?

  143. I really enjoy this simple recipe. I actually even made a home made soap box similar to the wooden one in the picture. This is the second time I have tried making home made soap and both times it hasn’t turned out. It is really brittle. It breaks apart easily and has a crumbly texture. Please help.

    • I’ve been waiting patiently too for soap mold tutorial. I’ve been making soap for over a year now. It al started with this great soap making tutorial.

  144. Hi Tiffany, I just read your post and I thank you for sharing and helping out with all this wonderful information. I still do have one question if you don’t mind.
    I have a lye calculator on my iphone and it always asks me the % of water I am using, and my questions is how do I figure that out? I feel confused because even following the simple recipe you have posted here my calculator doesn’t match with it. I saw the one you use from the and I like it, but it still doesn’t tell me how to figure out the % of water I need it only gives me the range of oz I should use. can you please help :/ and thank you

  145. Great article! It is really nice to have all this information in one place instead of 10 different bookmarked websites ;) Been there done that haha.

    I just wanted to comment on something. I can’t see where anyone else addressed this but a surgical mask, dust mask, construction mask or anything related will NOT protect you from harmful vapors and fumes! The only piece of equipment that can protect against harmful vapors is a respirator, or “gas mask”. Surgical masks and the like are designed to protect against fluids and airborne particulate.

    That being said, its not necessary to use a gas mask while making soap :) Soaping in a well ventilated area is adequate.

  146. So I tried this guide for my first soap making attempt. I altered some of the oils and the scent, simply because I ran out of orange oil and added some oatmeal. Go big or go home right? Holy cow was that fun! I think I just found a new addiction. Just waiting for it to cure! Thanks so much for this tutorial! Made the process much less intimidating! Very happy I have soap for myself and my kids, and I know what went in it! ;)

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  148. Was wondering if it’s possible to reheat the lye solution if it cools off before you are ready with the oil mixture? Or should I just stick to doing the water lye mixture first and being real cautious not to overheat the oils? I suppose it will be easier once I get a thermometer.. But my lye got cool so fast! I am hoping my little mini batch turns out okay even though my oils were noticeably hotter. Any advice on this would be much appreciated! And thanks for the simple outline on this site! :)

    • You should be fine soaping at LOW lye temps. Only thing to watch for is that your lye water is completely mixed–the lye completely dissolved. You can soap very low, but watch for a “false trace” when you add your oils. It will appear thick too quickly, but don’t let it fool you. Mix on for several more minutes, you’ll notice it thin out as it heats up. THEN you can watch for trace. Don’t worry about reheating your lye. I’ve talked to people who have left their lye solution out overnight with little to no problems making soap the next day, only problem was the lye recrystallizing (not dissolved) and water evaporation effecting the concentration.

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  150. I just finished my soap letting it set for 24 hours…will see how it turns out. I came upon this site while trying to find another and this one was so much better. I used the lye calculator and wow so easy to use. I wanted to try soap making out before I went out and bought soap making supplies so I used what I had on mold is a loaf pan lined with a plastic garbage bag. I hope this turns out fine but will keep you posted. I had a blast making it. Thank you for posting such an awesome tutorial. Will definitely bookmark this site and recommend others to it. Thanks again.

    • It sat a bit longer than 24 hours but came out of mold fine. The only problem was as I was cutting it, it was a bit crumbly at the bottom. Not sure what happened to it but other than that was fine. If anyone can let me know what caused it to crumble I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks again for the awesome tutorial.

  151. Just finished reading your instructions on soap making. I am so excited…and scared to try this!!! I have been wanting to give soap making a try for a while now, but been apprehensive…until now! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for a simple/easy to follow approach. I now have enough confidence to go for it! Yay!!!

  152. Very educative. I have been searching for a source to make my own soap, and I am sure now. Thank You.

  153. I am so glad that you showed what to do if we get separation!!! I thought I was going to have to throw a whole batch away!!!

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  156. I know there is only a very slim chance my question will be answered, but Im wondering how your Orange EO held up over your cure time? I’ve been wanting to use it but everything I’ve ready has said it fades almost completely out. I considered HP, adding the Orange EO after the cook, but don’t know the flashpoint, so it might get cooked off anyway. Option #3 is to do a scentless CP, let sit 8 hours, then rebatch it, adding in the scent at low temps. The lye would be cured out enough it shouldn’t effect it, but again, I’d be dealing with the temp of the soap at the time I add it (and a BUNCH of work rebatching) ugh….

  157. Hi, great tutorial. Was wondering if any liquid like aloe Vera juice could be used in place of water and how do I use fresh fruit in soap such as papaya or pineapple and how do I know how much lye or oil to use. Would really like to try my hand at soap making. Thanks

  158. Hi, thank you for all the info. I do have a question, when you superfat, I don’t understand how to calculate it. Eg, 20% of total oils, do you deduct the % before you calculate the lye amount? And how do you make the calculation. .
    Not quite sure how else to say it. Thanks

  159. Question about saponification:

    I’ve made many batches of cp soap (all my own recipies) and with the exception of one batch curdling on me (seizing) I have had amazing success. But tonight I came really close to curdling again because I forgot to add eo’s early… but was lucky that with some blending it became smooth enough to pour into the log mold. However this batch was already hardened enough to cut in literally just a couple hours (sea salt and seaweed bars) and out of fear that the bars would be too hard to cut in 24 hours I went ahead and removed them from the molds and cut. To try to be on the safe side I put the cut bars back into the mold (and the others were molded in a Pringles jar so I couldn’t put them back in that mold since you tear it open to get the soap log out… So I put those back into log shape and wrapped with bath towel). My question, I guess is…. Does it REALLY matter if you unmold them in an hour or two if they are hardened enough to cut and if you aren’t gelling? I mean many have told me it must be 24 hours or it won’t saponify but that isn’t logical since even after 24 hours most take soap from molds and cut and it still goes through saponification another 24 hours as cut bars. Is leaving them in mold for minimum 24 hours just for gelling purposes and/or to make sure its hard enough to properly release from the mold?

  160. Hi.. myself imran shaikh from mumbai.. India.

    Firstly… thanks for your such a wonderful method of soap making.

    As I am very new (beginner) to this task of soap making, I really need more information or as I can say guidance or help for the start of my project.
    I am looking forward tomake the same in large quantity, so that I can start up my small scale business.. here in mumbai.

    Please let me know if I can start with it.

    Thank fully…
    Imran Shaikh.

  161. When you cure your soaps do you keave them exposed or do you put something over it. I would be worried if dust starts settling on it.

  162. thank u so much for ur polightness, am looking forward to try this ur method cause am always frustrated each time I try producing bar soap. the tracing always give me headache nd the curing. so don’t really know whether this ur method can really work bcoz u av not mention many ingredients as I was thought.

  163. Awesome tutorial, but i caution you on using the microwave, if you’re spending the money on natural & organic ingredients the microwave is making it useless. Heating your food in the microwave can strip away its original nutrients. What may have started as a nutritious plate of food has now evolved into “dead food” due to the dielectric heating of microwaves. The water molecules rotate rapidly in the microwave and in the food in high frequencies which creates molecular friction and heats up your food. This causes the molecular structure in your food to change, and as a result diminishes the nutrient content in the food. Just a word of caution.

  164. hi i’m angel from manila, philippines and I just want to say THANK YOU for all the knowledge that is in your website. I have been self teaching myself how to make soap for almost two months now. i’ve read on (entirely) about 20 websites (yours is one of my favorites) and last weekend I made my first batch of soap from Tomato and basilI. I have an enormous supply of dried basil in the house and then i used hi quality tomato paste from the grocery. oils i used (and are the only ones available to me here) are olive, palm & coconut.i hope it turns out well. your website is really cool.

  165. I’m new to soap making. Bought a couple books and having a hard time finding some of the oils called for in the recipes. I have almost everything for this recipe which is good. Any help is appreciated. I wouldn’t mind knowing how you made that soap old as I know it would come in handy. I am also kinda stingy and don’t want to spend 60$ to buy one. Though I’m not sure what the cost of making it is I am curious. Let me know if there’s any other information or tips you could give me that you didn’t know would help you in soap making. I would really like to turn this new found passion of mine into a business. I’ve only made one batch so far, but I’m already hooked. Just a basic recipe using olive oil and canola oil. So no scents or anything have been purchased just yet. All the tools minus a good mood is all I have.

  166. Love your summary and this site! And someone’s post about discounting the water to make the soap harder sooner. Without the discounting, I know it’s good to wait the 4-6 weeks before using the soap to increase hardness. Does the soap need to be uncovered (not wrapped) for that to happen or will it still happen if wrapped in cellophane after a week or two? I want the soap to retain as much of the essential oil smell as possible while creating a hard bar and want to know when I can wrap the soap (assuming no water discount).
    Water Discount Question: Does doing the water discount (water = 1.5xlye) affect when trace happens and does it affect the ability to add essential oils and have it mix well?

    Thanks so much!

  167. I wanted to write and tell you that I laughed hysterically when I read the first few paragraphs of your blog. All you would have to do is substitute my name for your name since I’m currently going through the same thing. While I’ve been purchasing the necessary items to get started in my cp soap making adventure, I’ve been working my way up with all natural bath salts and bath bombs and have been loving it! I look forward to using your starter recipe next week.

  168. Dear friend I love these récipe, how can I adjust it to fit my 3 1/2 Wood soap mold? I am new in cold process soap making. Thanks.

  169. I have been melt & pour soaps for about a year and want to move on to CP.
    Question: Can cold press soaps be poured into small individual molds?
    Looks like a great recipe and I’m anxious to try it.

  170. Wow! I just made this and it was by far the easiest base recipe ever! It fit my mold exactly and it was so easy to make. I made a lavender/ sandalwood soap, dyed with iron oxide and cobalt to make it purple. Added in some kaolin, old fashioned oats, and lavender buds on top and voilà! My first batch of soap! Thank you so much! I didn’t want to use palm oil and I swear ever other recipe uses it!

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  172. I Have a lot of friends obsessed with soap making, and they always want me to go in on an order from and i always say no. But not today! Bam i am going to make this soap! your tutorial was amazing! thanks so much

  173. Wow, thank you so much for putting so much work into sharing this process and knowledge with people! I have been really wanting to try making my own soap from scratch and have not only had a hard time finding a clear recipe but have been terrified, not having clear step-by-step instructions on how to do it, exactly. This is amazing. Thank you for being so generous. I cannot wait to follow this tutorial and utilize the tools you’ve shared!

    You ROCK!