Soap and Lotion Making

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The Best Cold Process Soap Recipe

This cold process soap recipe is the best ever. It makes a moisturizing yet cleansing bar with tons of lather.

three bars of pink homemade soap stacked up on white surface

I love the process of making soap, but what I love even more is developing recipes for it. Every oil brings its own properties to a bar of soap, and finding the perfect soap recipe is a balance of those things. You have to walk the line between cleansing and moisturizing, long lasting and high lather, and all the other different characteristics that make a good bar of soap.

What makes the best soap recipe?

In my mind, a good cold process soap should clean well, not dry the skin, and have a noticeable fragrance. But mostly improtantly, there should be plenty of lather and big bubbles. This is most people’s complaint about homemade soap, and this recipe takes care of it.

What size mold works with this soap recipe?

This recipe makes forty ounces, which nicely fills a good sized wooden mold.  I also use it with a 10-inch silicone mold but it fills it to the top and then some (you see in the video). The bars with a ten inch mold are oversized but you can still get the full recipe in there.  

Of course, if you have individual bar molds it works fine with them as well. It is a bit softer at first than some recipes, use sodium lactate if you are using a mold with any detail.

You can resize this recipe, or any other, by using a soap calculator like this one.

Simply enter in these percentages and it will calculate the ounces of oil you need for this recipe in whatever size you need:

  • Avocado Oil: 9.76%
  • Castor Oil: 9.76%
  • Coconut Oil: 26.83%
  • Mango Butter: 4.88%
  • Olive Oil: 21.95%
  • Palm Oil: 21.95%
  • Sweet Almond Oil: 4.88%

Step by step cold process soap making

The basic soap making process is the same no matter what recipe you use. This recipe does require a lot of different oils, so if you don’t want to invest in all of these oils before you get comfortable making soap, try my homemade cleaning soap or mango butter hand soap first.

But it is no more difficult to make this recipe than any of the others. It’s still the same process.

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 to the water, stir it until it dissolves, and set it somewhere it will not be knocked over, drank, or otherwise messed with.

lye being poured into water for cold process soap recipe
add the lye to the water: snow floats on the lake!

Then you measure your oils, using your scale, zeroing out the scale before each addition. 

soap making oils on digital scale in stainless steel pot

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.

Blend….

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.  

Add color and fragrance and stir by hand or slowly with the stick blender.

Then pour everything into your prepared mold.

pink batter for cold process soap being poured into white silicone 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.

finished cold process soap bars laying on old dish towel

My favorite soap making tools:

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8 bars of pink homemade soap

Here’s the recipe:

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

The Best Cold Process Soap Recipe

Prep Time30 mins
curing time1 d
Total Time1 d 30 mins
Keyword: best cold process soap recipe, extra lather cold process soap
Author: Katie Shaw, Heart’s Content

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 3 T. of fragrance for a strong scent, vary this to your preferences

Instructions

  • Using a digital scale, measure out the lye and water in separate glass containers.  Combine them by adding the lye to the water.  (Remember: snow floats on the lake.). Stir until the lye dissolves.  The temperature will shoot up.  Place this in a safe place to cool.
  • While the lye solution is cooling, measure out the oils and butters and combine them in a large stainless pot.  Melt them over low heat and heat them up to 130-140 degrees.  Set them aside to cool.
  • After 2 hours, check the temperature of both solutions.  They should be around 110 degrees.  (A range of 100-120 is fine.). If not, allow them to cool longer.
  • Prepare your mold and measure out any fragrance or color you will be adding.  (For best blending of colors, mix some color into a few drops of melted oils.). If using sodium lactate, add it to the lye water at this time.
  • Pour the water and lye solution into the pot with the melted oils.  Blend with a stick blender until thin trace is reached.  The soap batter will noticeable thicken and a trail of soap will sit on top of the liquid rather than immediately sinking in.  (This will take about 1 minute.). Add the color and fragrance and stir by hand.
  • mmediately pour the soap batter into the mold.  Place in a turned off oven or wrap with blankets to insulate the soap.
  • After 24 hours of curing, unmold and cut into bars.  The bars may seem slightly soft but will harden considerably during the curing process. Allow to cure at least 3 weeks in a well-ventilated place.

Notes

Follow standard soap making safety guidelines!
12 bars white cleaning soap in basket

Homemade Cleaning Soap

A very simple three ingredient soap recipe that produces a hard, strong bar of soap for cleaning or laundry. Not for skin.

8 bars of off white soap

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking on a link I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What makes this different from regular soap?

Homemade cleaning soap is one of the most useful products you can have to save money on cleaning supplies. Although it is way too harsh to use on your skin, is perfect for household chores

This is the easiest soap recipe you can make.  It is designed for making laundry and cleaning products.  it only contains coconut oil, water, and lye.  

If you are new to soap making, you need to know that all soap is a combination of oils, water, and lye.  A chemical reaction occurs and soap is produced.  At first it is a batter, then you pour into molds where it sits overnight and becomes a bar of soap.

The oils you choose affect the outcome of your soap.  Some are extra cleansing, some are moisturizing, etc. This recipe uses only coconut oil, the most drying and cleansing oil of all.  It is calculated to have NO superfat so that it doesn’t leave any type of residue.  (The things that make it terrible for your skin make it perfect for cleaning!)

This recipe contains no color and no fragrance.  When I mix it up into household cleaners I add fragrance at that point if I want it.  But you could certainly add fragrance and color to the soap batter.  

 

Tools and ingredients you’ll need:

Step by step

We begin, like with all soap recipes, by mixing up the lye and water. This will create fumes, so do this outside or near an open window. They will shoot up in temperature. Set it aside to cool in a safe place.

Next, melt the coconut oil over low heat on the stovetop. When it’s melted, it will look like any other cooking oil.

melted oil for soap in pot

Everything needs to cool now for a few hours until they are about 110 degrees.

Get everything ready to go before you blend. You’ll need your mold out, and any color or fragrance if you’re using them.

Put on your safety gear (goggles and gloves), and blend the soap. It will come to trace very quickly, since it is all solid oils.

soap batter in pot

Immediately pour the soap batter into bar molds.

soap batter being poured into mold

Let it sit for about 24 hours, then unmold.

It doesn’t need much cure time, since it is such a hard bar and you aren’t using it on your skin. Store in a dry, cool place.

This is a versatile and easy recipe! As you get more comfortable with soap making, try a shower soap or hand soap too!

Ideas for using your cleaning soap:

  • Spot cleaning upholstery or bedding. You can get the bar wet or spray the fabric with water. Then rub the bar onto the stain and follow with a wet rag. If just a small stain gets on a quilt or bedspread I will often do this rather than washing the whole thing.
  • Use it as a dish soap. Simply keep a bar with a wooden scrub brush and dish rag by your sink, get soap on you brush or rag, and clean your dishes.
  • Rub the bar directly on any laundry stains before you put them in the washer. A little water and some scrubbing with this soap will effectively pretreat stains very well. It is especially good for greasy or ground in stains that resist stain sprays, like ring around the collar or kid’s dirty sleeves around their wrists. I keep a bar in each bathroom so that whenever someone gets undressed I can spot treat their clothes.
  • Make soap flakes with a box grater or the shredding disk of your food processor. Mix in a mason jar 2 parts soap flakes to one part borax. You can add a few drops of fragrance oil or essential oil if you like. This makes a nice scrubbing cleanser for the bathroom toilet, shower, or tub. You will need to rinse well after using it, so don’t try this on your mirror or floor.
  • When you travel, take a bar with you to hand-wash small clothing items in the sink.
  • (I don’t like homemade laundry detergent. I just don’t think it cleans well, regardless of the recipe. But if you like it, this bar works as well as any other, such as Zote or Fels-Naptha. I’ve tried them all.)
cleaning soap in white and blue tea towel lined basket

Print the recipe:

Homemade Cleaning Soap

A coconut oil soap designed specifically for cleaning.  Perfect for spot removal on upholstery, laundry stains, and use as all purpose cleaner.
Prep Time30 mins
cure time1 d
Total Time1 d 30 mins
Keyword: cleaning soap recipe, coconut oil cleaning soap, homemade cleaning soap
Author: Katie Shaw

Ingredients

  • 30 ounces of coconut oil
  • 10 –12 ounces of water
  • 5.52 ounces of lye
  • OPTIONAL: color and fragrance

Instructions

  • Measure out the lye, coconut oil, and water, in separate containers using a digital scale. 
  • Add the lye to the water, taking care to avoid breathing in any fumes.  (NEVER add the water to the lye.)   Stir with a butter knife to make sure all the lye dissolves.  The solution will get very hot.  Carefully set it aside to cool in a safe place.
  • Place the coconut oil into a pot and melt over medium low hot on the stovetop.  The oils must be completely melted and 130-140 degrees before proceeding.  Once it has reached the temperature, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool in a safe place.
  • Check the temperature of your oil and lye after an hour or two.  You can use a thermometer or feel the side of the containers with your hand.  They should be comfortably warm, but not at all hot.
  • Pour the lye solution into the melted oil pot and blend using a stick blender.  The soap solution is very caustic at this point and can cause burns.  Make sure you are wearing gloves and goggles.   Have everything ready before you start.  Blend until your soap reaches trace. This means that when you drag your blender through the solution, it leaves a trace.  If you lift up your stick and soap batter comes off of it, it will not immediately flow back in like a liquid, but will sit on top for just a second, like a thin batter.
  • As soon as trace is reached, immediately pour the batter into the molds.  If you take too long, soap will start forming and hardening right in the pot.
  • Put your mold out of the way somewhere to let the soap saponify (turn in to soap).  It will need to sit about 12-24 hours
  • After the waiting period, turn the soap bars out and store them in a ventilated spot such as an old tea towel on top of a dresser.  Allow to cure two weeks before using.

Video

https://youtu.be/Y0Ei6ty_oEU

Notes

Remember that this soap is not safe for skin.  It is much too drying.
Can be used to rub onto stains, clean spots on the carpet, or rubbed onto a damp cloth for cleaning counters, appliances, or anything else.

Want to see more soap recipes?

You can browse all my soap and lotion recipes here.