Lemon Soap Recipe

A balanced cold process soap recipe with fresh lemon zest for color and shea butter for moisture, this lemon soap recipe is refreshing and beautiful.

3 bars of homemade soap with lemon zest

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Fresh and pretty. This is a great bar of soap to keep next to the kitchen sink. It is gentle enough to be used over and over on your hands and because the lemon zest is so refreshing and beautiful to look at.
  • Palm-free. This is a palm free recipe and it does have a large percentage of olive oil, which means it will seem slightly soft and sticky at first but will firm up nicely over a few weeks.
  • Beginner-friendly. This is not a difficult recipe and is suitable for beginners, as long as you first read up on the basics of the soapmaking process.
ingredients on concrete surface: coconut oil, olive oil, lemon zest, lye, and castor oil

Nurture Soap is a great source for soap-making supplies. They carry the oils, fragrance, and molds you need for this project.


Step by step

Step One: Measure ingredients in a safe place

Before you take out your first ingredient, make sure you have set aside enough time to do this project. You want be to be able to work distraction-free and not rush. Soap making requires time and precision. If you are rushed or distracted you will make mistakes and can hurt yourself.

Work in a well-ventilated area when you combine the water and lye: either next to a window, or outside. Make sure you have all. the ingredients and supplies you need so you aren’t leaving things unattended to grab what you need.

Put on your googles, gloves, and long sleeves.

Step two: Make lye water and melt oils

grid of 4 images: cup of lye water, pot of oils, lemon zest added to oils, lye water being poured into oils

First measure out the lye and water, separately, using a digital scale. The water in soap recipes is flexible and anywhere from 8-11 ounces is fine for this recipe. It has a high percentage of olive oil, so the lower amount will help it cure faster.

Combine the lye and water by adding the lye to the water, never the other way around. To remember this, use the saying “snow floats on the lake”. This will release a lot of fumes, and the lye water will become very hot. Stir until the lye flakes dissolve, and put the cup aside someone to cool. Choose a place where it will not be disturbed. This is very important, as if the cup spills it will ruin. your kitchen surfaces, burn skin very badly, and can cause blindness. It can be fatal if someone accidentally drinks it.

While the lye water is cooling, measure out the oils. It is best practice to measure them out in separate containers and then combine them in a pot. Put one teaspoon of lemon zest in the pot with the oils. Melt them over medium low heat until fully melted and 130 degrees in temperature. Set the pot aside somewhere to cool.

Step Three: Cool, blend, and pour

grid of 4 images: stick blend in soap batter, stirring lemon zest in by hand, soap batter in mold, unfolded soap being sliced

About an hour later, check the temperature of the lye water and the oils. You want them to be anywhere from 90 to 110 degrees before blending. It is best if they are very close together in temperature. If all is well, it’s time to start blending. If not, let them cool more or heat up the oil just a tad more if it has cooled too quickly.

The lemon zest is added in stages: first to the oils. This zest mostly gets blended into the soap and adds beautiful yellow color. The rest gets stirred in by hand to give the speckled, lemony look to the bar.

Before blending, make sure you have your goggles on to protect your eyes. Pour the lye water into the pot of melted oils and begin to blend with the stick blender. Blend with the motor on for a few minutes, then turn it off and stir by hand for a minute to avoid burning it out. You will see the lemon zest become pulverized and the oils may become more yellow in color.

Keep stick blending until the soap batter reaches trace. This occurs when the solution thickens and no longer acts as a pure liquid. If you pick up your stick blender, you will see a trail or “trace” of soap batter resting on the surface rather than sinking immediately down into it.

When trace has been reached, add in the remaining lemon zest and stir by hand. If you would like to add fragrance or color, add them at this point as well.

Immediately pour the soap batter into your mold. This recipe will fit. perfectly into a 10-inch. silicone mold. If you are using a different shape or size, make sure you have an extra one to catch any overflow, just in case.

This soap does not usually gel. Put in a turned-off oven or another draft-free place to allow it to cure for 1-2 days.

When you un-mold it, it is a bit softer and stickier than you may be used to because of the high olive oil content. If it’s too hard to get cleanly out of the mold, give it another day to cure.

When it’s ready, slice into bars and allow to finish curing in a well-ventilated space for a few weeks. Make sure you store the bar on a breathable soap dish, such as a soap saver, to allow it to dry fully between uses.

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2 bars of soap with lemon zest on white wood surface

Lemon Soap Recipe

A balanced bar with lemon zest and nourishing shea butter.  A beautiful hand or shower soap.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 2 hours
Serving Size 3 pounds soap


  • digital scale
  • safety equipment (goggles, gloves, mask)


  • 4.27 ounces lye
  • 9.5 ounces water
  • 11 ounces olive oil
  • 11 ounces coconut oil
  • 6 ounces shea butter
  • 2 ounces castor oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest divided
  • 0.4 ounces sodium lactate
  • 3 tablespoons of fragrance oil optional


  • Measure out the lye and the water in separate, non-reactive containers, using a digital scale.  Combine the lye and the water and stir until dissolved.  The lye solution will heat up as the result of a chemical reaction.  Be careful of fumes, heat, and the corrosive solution.  Set the cup aside to cool in a very safe place.
  • Measure out the oils in separate containers and place them in a pot.  Add 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest. Melt over medium low heat until fully melted and about 130-140 degrees.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Check the temperature of both solutions after an hour or so.  Before proceeding, they should be around 90-100 degrees.  It is best if they are within ten degrees of each other.  Add the sodium lactate to the cooled lye water.  Before blending, have your soap mold, last teaspoon of lemon zest, and fragrance ready.  Put on gloves and googles.
  • Pour the lye solution into the melted oils and blend with a stick blender until you reach trace.   Trace is reached when the soap forms a batter and the stick blender leaves a trail when dragged across the top of the pot.  Once trace is reached, add the fragrance and remaining lemon zest and stir in by hand.  Immediately pour the soap batter into the mold.  Place in a turned off oven or other draft-free place and allow to set for 24 hours.
  • Turn out the loaf of soap and slice into bars.  Allow to bars to cure in a well-ventilated space for at least 2 weeks before using.  Since this soap has a high percentage of olive oil, it will last longer if allowed to cure for 4 weeks.


Be sure to observe all soap safety precautions!  Always work in a well ventilated space, free of distractions.  Wear eye protection, gloves, and long sleeves.  Lye water and raw soap batter are both extremely corrosive and can be fatal if consumed, cause blindness if splashed in the eyes, and will ruin clothing and kitchen surfaces.
To resize this recipe using a soap calculator, here are the percentages you will need: coconut oil 36.67%, olive oil 36.67%, shea butter 20%, castor oil 6.67%.  6% super fat
Lemon Soap Recipe

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I added 1 and 1/2 tsp of poppyseeds. The Awaken FO / EO blend smells absolutely divine! You were right about the loaf being a bit sticky, so I kept it in the mold for three days before cutting it. My only regret is that I didn’t use the sodium lactate, but I’ll do that next time! Thank you!

  2. I never thought making soap could be so easy! Can’t wait to try this refreshing lemon soap recipe.

  3. Hi sassy senior
    New to soaping loved Recipe, it came out fine with a little bit of orange pekoe with the zesty lemon as well. Other than that it was awesome.

  4. If lye is so dangerous, why would you use this product on your skin. Can I use something else instead of lye?

    1. Sandy there is no raw lye in the finished product. it is dangerous to handle as an ingrredient but the bar is perfectly safe. there is no substitute for lye; the process of soapmaking is a chemical reaction. if you don’t want to handle it, investigate melt and pour recipes (but all real soap is made with lye)

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I am now hooked on making soap. I made lavender, rose geranium and lemon. I mixed lemon and lime zest. We’ll see how that turns out. Thank you also for your videos. They are extremely helpful. Keep doing this.

  5. 5 stars
    Hello! I made this soap the other day but with my own ingredient %. I really was drawn to this due to the lemon zest. Wondering, do you dry your lemon zest? I freshly grated it and put it directly in the soap after doing a quick pat with a paper towel to remove some moisture. Now the lemon in my soap is a deep orange. Curious if you dried yours first and that’s what I did wrong? I also added lemon fragrance(does have some vanillan) and also taxi cab yellow mica pigments. Thanks!

    1. Hey taylor… i don’t dry it! and I’ve never had it turn orange. I’m not sure what happened other than the vanilla, which will always discolor a tad.

  6. I made this and I don’t think I had enough lye on hand.
    And it came out too soft. How would I rebatch it? And how much lye would I need to add.

    1. 5 stars
      Love the soap. Wasn’t sure about drying the lemon zest, but I did just in case.
      It’s a really nice soap but as it was curing the edges turned white. Not sure what I didn’t wrong.

  7. 5 stars
    Hey Katie!!! I would love to make this recipe.. thank you so much! Could I add 2table spoons of goat milk powder to my oils without having to recalculate the your recipe?
    Thank you!

  8. Hi!
    How does the soap smell? The smell of “just soap” isn’t appealing to me and I am very sensitive to fragrances. But lemon is a smell that I can use. What happens if you put in lemon juice in the water to and not just use the zest? Than adding lemon (orange) EO? It would be nice to get your opinion of that.
    Thanks for a nice reading! 🙏💕

  9. Hello! Super excited to try your recipe! You have 3 tablespoons listed for fragrance oil. Would that be a different amount if using essential oils? I feel like 3 TB is a lot. But I’m new to soap making and could just be naive and that may be plenty!

    1. Hi Essence! So each essential oil will have a different amount that’s safe to use. I’d recommend searching tablespoons per pound of oil for (NAME OF OIL) in soap”. you’ll have to do a little math but you should be able to find what you need 🙂

  10. Hello! What are the percentages for the oils? I’m assuming you are using 5% superfat? And what is your lye percentage? I’d would to try out your recipe this weekend. 🙂 Thank you!

  11. Thank you for the detailed recipe and steps.
    can you please explain how can we evaluate if the soap is good and safe to use ,of course after 3 weeks from the making date.

    1. safa, 3 weeks is definitely enough time. usually the process is complete after a few days and thee extra time just helps the bar dry out. you can purchase PH strips to make sure if you are very concerned. but i wouldn’t worry about it. 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    Thank you for your lemon soap recipe, but can this soap be turned into liquid dish soap or is there any way at all to make a liquid dish soap?

  13. I do not have sodium lactate. What can I use instead?

    And may you please post your recipes as %? I would like to make soap but in smaller quantities.

    Thank you

    1. you can leave the sodium lactate out, the soap will just be softer and take a bit longer to cure. There is also a way to just salt water, but I have never tried it. if you look at the bottom of the recipe card, below the heading “print it out here”, you will see the percentages listed in the “notes” section.

  14. Hi Katie, In your Christmas soap I tried to pull up the spiced orange soap recipe and it just wouldn’t do it. Some of the others wouldn’t either??
    Also no sound on the Lemon soap video???
    Love your soap. Thanks for all the recipes.


    1. hi Deborah! yikes!! I’m fixing the links now. The lemon soap video that pops up in the corner has no sound. but if you go to the soap “recipe” at the bottom of the page, there is a video you can play and watch with sound. 🙂

  15. What percentage of lye did you use please? Im trying to recalculate the percentage on SoapCal and its also asking me for the percentage of the lye to oil.
    Greatly appreciated! ps: If you use a different Soap calculator please let me know the link.