How to make soap with lye
How to make glycerine melt and pour soap
How to make liquid soap
How to make soap using the cold process method
How to make soap using the hot process method
How to make olive oil soap
We are often asked how to make soap. We have included a recipe here that makes about six bars of wonderfully moisturising, creamy soap. Don’t let the inclusion of lye put you off – if you handle it correctly, you will be fine. Watch one of our soap making videos if you are a little unsure of how to create and handle the lye.
Ingredients for lye solution phase
176g water – plain tap water will do nicely although spring water, distilled and deionised are also good to use
70g sodium hydroxide
Ingredients for oil phase
128g coconut oil
30g shea butter
85g palm oil
227g olive oil
Ingredients for creative phase
9g essential or fragrance oil
Equipment you will need
Heat source – electric or gas ring
Saucepan – stainless steel but NOT with a non-stick lining DO NOT USE AN ALUMINIUM SAUCEPAN
Spoons – for stirring the ingredients
Handheld stick blender for mixing ingredients (optional)
Glass Jug – used for sodium hydroxide/water mixture
A set of scales – to weigh sodium hydroxide and water
Safety wear – apron, goggles, rubber gloves as necessary
A towel or a blanket to keep the soap mould warm for the first 24 hours
Mould – any container that can hold l iquids and where the top is at least as wide as the bottom (or you won’t get your soap out) This recipe yields approximately 650g soap so you will need a mould that can hold at least 700g / 700ml liquid
Mould liner – cling film or a thin plastic sheeting
Prepare your mould by placing mould liner (cling film or other polythene) in your mould and fixing it in place by using pegs or sticky tape. The mould liner should be deliberately too big for the mould as it will also be used to fold over and cover the soap once it has been poured into the mould.
Prepare the lye solution
Weigh the water into a glass jug and set aside. In a separate bowl, weigh the sodium hydroxide
Carefully add sodium hydroxide to the water in the jug carefully stirring until the sodium hydroxide is fully dissolved and has no ‘grainy’ feel to it when you stir.
ENSURE THAT YOU ADHERE TO THE SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS while making up your lye solution.
Once the sodium hydroxide is fully dissolved, set the lye solution aside somewhere safe to allow it to cool.
Prepare the oils
Place the palm oil, coconut oil and shea butter into a stainless steel saucepan large enough to hold at least 1.5 litres of liquid. Place over a low heat and melt the oils and butters very slowly.
Once melted, add the olive oil to the saucepan. Stir until fully mixed into the other oils. Remove saucepan from heat.
Combining the two liquids
Slowly and carefully pour the lye solution into the saucepan away from the heat. Once empty, set aside the jug that held the lye solution (or place it straight into the dish washer if you are using one)
Stir the lye/oil mixture well to ensure that all the liquids are mixed well. Keep stirring for two minutes.
Tracing the liquid
Stir fairly briskly being careful not to splash the liquid. The mixture will turn opaque and start to look a little like a runny custard.
Stir until a light ‘trace’ is formed. A ‘trace’ is when you when you can see the mixture start to thicken and if you drizzle a little of the mixture onto the surface of the solution, a trail is formed across the surface before it sinks back into the mixture.
If you find that you are stirring for what seems like ages and no trace is apparent, you can speed up the tracing process by using a handheld stick blender. Please be careful not to splash the mixture out of the saucepan if using an electric stick blender.
Adding the Essential Oils
Once you have reached the trace stage, add your chosen essential/fragrance oils and continue to mix so that the essential/fragrance oils are thoroughly combined with the lye/oils (soap mixture).
You may notice that the soap mixture starts to get a little thicker.
Pouring the Soap
Carefully pour the soap mixture from the saucepan into the mould. Use a spatula to scrape out any residue from the sides of the saucepan. REMEMBER THAT THE SOAP MIXTURE IS STILL CAUSTIC SO CARE MUST BE TAKEN NOT TO GET IT IN CONTACT WITH THE SKIN
Cover the soap mixture with the overhanging mould liner. You will need to put your soap (in the mould) somewhere undisturbed for 24 hours. Decide where you are going to put it and then place it there and cover in a towel or blanket for 24 hours to insulate it. NO PEEKING DURING THIS TIME!
Unmoulding the soap
24 hours later you may have a peek at your soap. If it feels ‘hard’ it is ready to take out of the mould. Carefully remove it from the mould and remove the mould liner and discard (the mould can be used again).
You can cut your soap into bars at this time, but please take care as the soap will still be a little caustic.
Curing your soap
Now the difficult part! You need to place your soap somewhere for at least 4-5 weeks until it has gone through its curing process. During this time, the soap will become harder and all traces of anything caustic will disappear. A dark, cool, dry cupboard is good and hopefully help you avoid the temptation to keep touching it!
After 4-5 weeks your soap will be ready. Do the happy soaper’s celebration dance before you use the first bar and reward yourself with a long fragrant soak