Bar soap for beginners
There are two methods for making bar soap from scratch:
- Hot process. In hot process soap-making, external heat accelerates saponification. Most soaps can be used the next day, though it’s ideal to wait 1 week if you want a harder bar.
- Cold process. Cold process uses the internal heat that’s naturally produced during saponification. The bars will completely harden in 4 to 6 weeks.
Below, you’ll find instructions for hot process soap and cold process soap. These methods are beginner-friendly. This recipe is good for beginners. It makes 30 ounces, or 7 to 10 bars. All depends of desired size of soap bars. Note: this recipe has been ran through SoapCalc.
- 20 oz. coconut oil
- 10 oz. olive oil
- 11.40 oz. water
- 4.78 oz. lye
- 20 to 40 drops of essential oils, or 0.94 oz. of Fragrance oil (optional)
- colorants (optional)
- dried herbs or flowers (optional)
- embeds (optional)
- 2 tsp sodium lactate (optional; if you want the soap to harden quicker)
- 99% isopropyl alcohol (optional; doing so helps to avoid soda ash from forming on the soap.)
Hot Process Directions
- Measure your ingredients and put on your safety gear.
- Set the slow cooker to low.
- Add the coconut oil to the slow cooker. As it melts, prepare the lye solution. Slowly add the lye to the water. (Do NOT add water to lye; this is unsafe. You should always add the lye to the water)
- With a spatula, carefully stir the solution as you add the lye. It’ll become hot and release fumes, which is okay but please do not directly breath in the fumes.
- Set aside the lye solution. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Check the oils. If the coconut oil has completely melted, add the olive oil. Stir well.
- Check the temperature of the oils using the candy thermometer. Once the oils have reached 120 to 130°F (49 to 54°C), place the immersion blender on the side of the slow cooker.
- Gently pour in the lye to avoid splashing. Stir slowly.
- Set the blender to low. Stir the mixture, moving in circles. Keep the blender immersed to avoid air bubbles.
- Continue blending and stirring for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soap has reached trace. This is when the oils and lye solution have thickened and look like pudding.
- Cover the slow cooker. Cook on low for 50 minutes. If the mixture bubbles, stir it gently.
- Turn off the slow cooker. Let cool until the mixture drops below 180°F (82°C).
- Add essential oils/fragrance and colorants, if you are using them. Mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the soap mold. Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Tap the mold onto your work surface to eliminate air bubbles.
- Top with dried herbs or embeds, if using.
Cold Process Directions
Notes: Cold process and hot process are nearly the same with slight differences!
- Carefully add the lye to the water and gently stir until the lye has fully dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool.
- Combine the coconut oil and olive oil (remember to fully melt the coconut oil first).
- Allow the lye water and the oils to cool to 130 degrees or below (ideally within 10 degrees of each other).
- If you’d like a harder bar of soap that releases faster from the mold, you can add sodium lactate to the cooled lye water.
- Place your stick blender into the oils. (May want to tap the blender to release any air trapped)
- Gently pour the cooled lye water down the shaft of the stick blender and into the oils.
- Turn on the stick blender and pulse several times. Alternate between using the stick blender to stir the mixture, and pulsing the stick blender. After about 30 seconds, test for trace.
- Once your soap has reached medium trace, add any coloring and the pour in fragrances and stir until combined (Remember that some essential oils and fragrance oils can accelerate the batch. If it starts thickening quickly, work quickly!)
- Pour into mold until all the soap is in the mold.
- Once the soap is all poured into the mold, firmly tap the box on the counter. Doing so will help bubbles within the soap to come to the surface.
- OPTIONAL: Spray the top of the soap with 99% isopropyl alcohol. (This helps pop any air bubbles on top of the soap and also helps with soda ash!)
- Allow the soap to sit in the mold for 18 hours to 2 days. Or until completely hardened.
- Unmold, and cut into bars.
- Allow the soap to cure for 4-6 weeks. If using the oven method, cure for 2-4 weeks.