The Best Cold Process Soap Recipe

This cold-process shower soap recipe is the best ever. It makes a moisturizing yet cleansing bar with tons of lather. Please read below the recipe for tips on substations, safety, and storage, as well as step-by-step photos. If you’re brand new to soapmaking, there’s a lot to learn! You’ll want to watch the video and read the whole post before you start.

The Best Cold Process Soap Recipe

A super bubbly homemade soap with great cleansing and moisturizing properties. Once you try this recipe, it will be all you want to use!
Prep Time 30 minutes
curing time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 30 minutes



  • 11 ounces coconut oil
  • 9 ounces olive oil
  • 9 ounces palm oil
  • 2 ounces sweet almond oil
  • 4 ounces castor oil
  • 4 ounces avocado oil
  • 2 ounces mango butter
  • 5.83 ounces lye
  • 10-15 ounces water
  • 3 tablespoons fragrance oil for a strong scent, vary this to your preferences
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate optional, for a harder bar
  • colorant or mica optional


  • 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.
  • Immediately 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.


Follow standard soap making safety guidelines!
stack of pink soap bars

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Perfectly balanced between cleansing and moisturizing: Every oil brings its own properties to a bar of soap, and finding the perfect soap recipe is a balance of those things. This recipe does it.
  • Tons of lather and big bubbles. This is most people’s complaint about homemade soap, and this recipe takes care of it.
  • Suitable for beginners. Yes, it has a lot of oils, but the basic process is the same as any recipe. If you’ve never made cold-process soap before, you should read my Beginners Guide to Soapmaking first.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on counter

You’ll need the following for this bubbly bar:

  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • palm oil
  • sweet almond oil
  • castor oil
  • avocado oil
  • mango butter
  • lye
  • water
  • fragrance and color (optional)
  • sodium lactate for a harder bar


Step One: Measure water and lye

pyrex cup with lye on top
Remember “snow floats on the lake”: the lye goes on top

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.

Step Two: Measure, melt, and cool the oils

oil and butter 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.

If you’re using sodium lactate, add it now to the cooled lye water.

Step three: Blend to trace

stick blender combining water and oils

Once your temperatures are right, it is time to combine.   Pour the lye water into the pot of oils and stick blend.

Important: Before you do this, make sure any color and fragrance you want to add are ready to go, and that your mold is prepared. Things will move very quickly and you don’t want your soap batter hardening in the pot. 

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 on top, it would stay instead of sinking in.  

Step Four: Add color and fragrance and pour into mold

pouring pink soap batter into loaf mold

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

Then pour everything into your prepared mold.

Step Five: Cure and cut

cut bars on tea towel

Let the soap cure in a warm, draft-free place (such a turned-off oven that has been warmed to 140 degrees, then turned off), or wrapped in quilts.

The next morning or afternoon you take it out and cut it into bars.   Let it cure for 3-5 weeks before using in the shower

🥫 Storage Instructions

Once fully cured, homemade soap should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated spot. I like to put it in shoe boxes in the closet with layers of newspaper in between the bars.

While it is in use, use a soap saver to keep your bar dry. It will last much longer.

🔍 FAQs

What kind of mold did you use?

A 10-inch silicone mold. It’s my favorite for most soaps.

What type of color is this pink?

It is a pink mica from Nurture Soap. You can find it here.

Can I use this recipe in individual cavity molds?

Yes, absolutely. I’d recommend using sodium lactate since it can be a bit soft when unmolding it.

What are the best soap fragrances?

This is 100% personal preference (except for the fact that florals are more difficult to work with). My personal favorites are Comfort and Joy from Nurture Soap and Mango Mango from Brambleberry

Will this recipe work with swirls or embeds?

Yes! I used to swirl it all the time before I got too lazy. 😊

Can I resize this?

You sure can. You’ll need the following percentages:

Coconut Oil: 26.83%
Mango Butter: 4.88%
Olive Oil: 21.95%
Palm Oil: 21.95%
Sweet Almond Oil: 4.88%

Enter them into a soap calculator with the desired size of your batch and it will give you the correct amounts.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Working with lye is dangerous and you must be in a well-ventilated, distraction-free workspace. Wear goggles and gloves to protect yourself and keeps kids and pets away.
  • You must follow soapmaking recipes exactly. If you’re going to make changes or substitutions, you must first run the recipe through a lye calculator and accept that you’ve created your own recipe at this point.
  • Castor oil is the “secret” to big bubbles. Don’t substitute!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi Lori, I’m a newbie. I’m wondering how much water to use. 10-15 oz seems like a wide range and I don’t know what the effect would be of using more or less. Thanks.

    1. For your first time, go with 12.5. More water will come to trace slower and give you more time to add mix-ins. Less water will move a lot faster but as a benefit it will cure and dry faster. The middle is the good start )

  2. I am having a problem with my soap loosing it’s scent during curing. After about 2 days it smells like playdough. The bars come out beautiful looking but they do not smell good. What can I do about my ever frustrating issue? I follow recipes to a T.

    1. Just increase the amount of fragrance oil. it will be quite overwhelming at first but as the soap cures, it will fade. you can also try kaolin clay mixed in to get the scent to stick. )

  3. 5 stars
    I made this soap a few days ago. I haven’t been able to use it, of course, but I am pleased with the bars. I do have these comments.
    The recipe was too much for my standard silicone loaf pans, around 42 oz. I believe. Amazon sells one that is over 60oz. so I will probably get one of those for the next batch. I mixed the lye water and oils at 120 degrees. I did not add the sodium lactate, or any fragrance or color, but the mixture went to a pretty hard trace more quickly than I was expecting. Next time I will allow them to cool to 100 – 110 degrees. Could that temperature difference make a difference? I put the loaf in a warmed oven (turned off) and it was great. I was surprised at how warm the oven was several hours later. The next morning, the soap looked great and I am excited to use it! Thank you for this recipe!

  4. Katie, thank you for posting this recipe. I made the recipe for beginners from Bramble Berry and liked it very much but I wanted to add a little more to Ann Marie’s recipe, and was thinking what to add. I just happened to come across your site and was very pleased to see your recipe for this lovely bar of soap. I will definitely try your recipe. So thank you again.

  5. The first 2 times I made this recipe, my soap was perfect! I loved this recipe.. i just made 2 new batches and neither turned out very well. With 5 seconds ( if even that long) of adding the lye to the oils, the mixture was hardening! Looking at your recipe above, I realized I put 3 teaspoons of sodium lactate to my lye solution, instead of 2. Could that be the cause of my failure?

    1. yes more sodium lactate will cause it to harden faster, but I’m not sure a teaspoon would be that dramatic of a difference. have you tried a new fragrance? that can have a huge effect. especially floral fragrances will cause the batter to hardenr right away.

      1. Ok i have another ? i bought coconut oil at hobby lobby but its the liquid is that ok to use or should i get the solid. and out of all the oils you put in this recipe should any of them be solid. thank you so much for getting back to me i appreciate it.

  6. Hey, I’m new to soap making and have been having trouble with what scents to use. I just bought P&J scents and they’re really small, and not enough. So, I was wondering if you could send me the link to the website where you get your scents from and the amount of scent you use in a batch. Thank you!

    1. Don’t like negative comments like the one in here. However I have been doing soap for awhile now and love it. Its the easiest way to make mothers day, birthday, and Christmas gifts and still have a wonderful gift to give someone. However, I came across yours and thought, you were using more oils then most of the others and I think this will be fun to try. I wanted one that had more fat or at least enough fat. I have psoriasis arthritis and my skin hates me so, I’m gonna see if this one helps. I’m hopeful ☺️ I will let you know thank you for sharing with us.

  7. I haven’t made this recipe yet but wonder if I can substitute shea butter for the mango butter? The only reason for this is that I already have shea butter on hand.

  8. The oddest thing happened when I made a batch of this. I measured exactly, waited for both oils and lye/water solution were at 110 degrees. Mixed both together for a quick second and then added my essential oils. I used lemongrass and sandlewood. It came to trace super super fast, looked like cottage cheese in a split second, so I transferred to my mold. I knocked out what I thought were as many bubbles that could surface and stepped back to be thoroughly disappointed. I cleaned my tools and went back to transfer the ugly batch of soap to my waiting area and the entire batch was liquid. I went ahead and stirred it until it started to setup, covered it in towels and walked away. Not sure what will come of all of this, but I’ve never had any of your recipes act like this. Any ideas? I’m at 7,000 ft altitude and I’ve always wondered if a batch of stuff (like cooking) doesn’t work out it is because of the altitude.

    1. Hi Jan, Are you using a new fragrance oil by any chance? Sometimes one with a lot of florals in it will cause your soap to seize up (the cottage cheese texture you described), but it hadn’t fully come to tract it would stay liquid. That’s the only thing I can think of. I hope it set up for you!

      1. No new fragrance, same essential oils I normally use. It setup after 24 hours and I was able to cut the bars. It was the weirdest thing. The bars are not all uniform in structure, some areas more translucent than others. Now to wait and see how it cures. Thanks for the reply, I’ll let you know how they turn out. BTW, Your recipes turn out better than most I try. Thanks for the awesome resources.

  9. 2 stars
    To be honest – by look at this recipe… soap will be drying. No way that soap with almost 27% od coconut oil won’t dry you out, unless you superfat it at about 8-10%… and then there will really small lather. Too much expensive, useless oils. I bet that my basic much more simple recipe will beat this soap.
    When I was starting, I thought that more=better… in soapmaking it is opposite.

    1. That’s a very arrogant comment about Katie’s recipe especially if you can’t produce yours for viewers to test.
      If you can’t walk your talk then shut up… Just saying😜

      1. This is a wonderful recipe- I do trust her recipes and if there has ever been a problem- it was operator error. ME. You are a good person Lelani- arrogant trolls are everywhere. So is envy- a very ugly thing indeed. I Love love love watching Katie’s videos.

    2. Andrzej Strzelecki, that was a very rude comment you made about this recipe. I’ll bet you didn’t even try to make it did you? How in the world can you say anything about Katie’s recipe unless you try making it? Very poor behavior. “I bet that my basic much more simple recipe will beat this soap” So rude and bragging on yourself is disgusting to read. Just how old are you, son ?

  10. Approximately how many bars will this make? I don’t know whether to size up or down because I don’t know how much it makes. What size mold makes a huge difference, but as an average size bar goes, 2×3″ or thereabouts.

    1. Measure your loaf pan you are using length x width x height = volume x .40 = oil amounts needed and take to and enter the percentages and you will come up with the exact amount of each oil to use in grams or ounces, whichever you prefer. Watch YouTube for how to make soap for beginners and when you feel confident, you can make this recipe. Hope this helps a little.
      Kathy M.
      PS You can watch Soap Queen, MoRiverSoap, Jerika Zimmerman Soap Making tips and many more. Good luck.

  11. 5 stars
    I used this recipe for my first try at soap making. I am so pleased with the results that I can’t image ever being without this soap. I calculated an 8% super fat and used no coloring or scent.

  12. Hi Katie I did make your The Best Cold Processed Soap recipe and have received nothing but compliments on it! About to make another batch tonight. My question is how did you get it to turn pink? My soap turned out an orange color I think due to the organic palm oil? I also added calendar flowers throughout the soap and it truly is amazing on the skin! Thanks for all your hard work and recipes that you offer I truly appreciate them!

  13. 5 stars
    Hi enjoyed your soap making the pretty pink of your soap caught my attention I will definitely make it thank you.

  14. 5 stars
    New to soap making. Love your recipe. 2nd batch I used 14 oz of water, no sodium lactate but it still got too thick too fast to swirl. Any suggestions?