This is my absolute favorite soap recipe. It is is better than any bar soap you can buy at the drug store, and I prefer it to to any other cold process type I have tried.
This recipe makes forty ounces, which nicely fills a good sized wooden mold. Mine is from Brambleberry. It will also fill a silicone bar mold, like the 16 bar one I have. You can’t easily do swirls in a silicone bar mold, but it is easy to pop out your soap and you don’t have to cut it. I started with that and bought the wooden one after I was more comfortable.
If it is your first time making soap, I would recommend the 100% coconut soap that I posted earlier until you are comfortable with the process. If having soap for cleaning does not interest you, you could do a basic recipe that is 30% olive, 30% coconut, 30% palm, and 10% of a “luxury oil” like avocado or shea butter.
But honestly, it is not that much more work to measure out a few more oils, and it is worth it to have a product you will be excited about.
Another thing you MAY want to skip is color and fragrance. I would certainly not attempt a swirl your first time, but doing a single color is probably ok. I do not like unscented soap, so I wouldn’t both making one without fragrance, but it is not necessary if you don’t like it.
The basic process is melting oils, adding lye to water to create a chemical solution, then blending those together to make soap. While the soap is still liquid, fragrance and color are added if desired. It is then poured into a mold to set, and cured for a few weeks. That’s it. It requires a lot of special ingredients, but actually doing it is no harder than making a cake.
Here’s the recipe:
11 oz. coconut oil
9 oz. olive oil
9 oz. palm oil
2 oz. sweet almond oil
4 oz. castor oil
4 oz. avocado oil
2 oz. mango butter
5.83 oz of lye
10-15 oz. water
4 T. of fragrance (for a strong scent, vary this to your preferences)
All my oils I ordered from Brambleberry, except my olive oil which is from Costco.
First measure your lye and water separately using a digital scale, then carefully combine them. Pour your water into a cup you don’t care much about, then add the lye, stir it until it dissolves, and set it somewhere it will not be knocked over, drank, or otherwise messed with.
Then you measure your oils, using your scale, zeroing out the scale before each addition.
The coconut oil and palm oil may need to be softened before you can get them out of the bag. I do this in the microwave. It the summer it is not necessary.
Melt them on your stovetop, bringing the temperature up to around 140.
Now everything needs to cool to about 110 to 120 degrees. It will take a few hours. Check with a thermometer.
Once your temperatures are right, it is time to combine. BEFORE you do this, make sure any color and fragrance you want to add are ready to go, and that your mold is prepared. A wooden mold needs to be lined with freezer or parchment paper. A silicone mold requires no prep.
Until everything is combined and you have reached a thin “trace”. This means your soap had thickened up JUST a little. If you were to drizzle a bit of soap of top, it would stay instead of sinking in. I started out liking a thicker trace, but have come to like it thinner so I can do swirls. Either is fine, and does not really affect the final product
Here is where I added my color and fragrance. I don’t have pictures, but stir BY hand, not using the motor of your blender.
Then pour everything into your prepared mold.
Wrap in some old quilts to keep it warm, OR put in an oven set to 140 degrees or less. Let the oven run for an hour and then turn it off, leaving the soap overnight. Or just leave it wrapped up overnight.
The next morning or afternoon you take it out and cut it into bars. Use three or four weeks later. You will love it.