If you’ve decided to take the plunge and start making your own soap, look no further. Start your soapmaking journey with this simple soap recipe. You’ll be a soapmaking master in no time!
Ready to get your hands dirty? (Or clean, I guess, in this case).
Let’s make soap!
Today we are going to be making a hot process soap (stay tuned for more articles to learn about the differences between hot and cold process soap). What’s nice about hot process soap is that it’s technically ready to use right away. That being said, I still like to give it a week or two to cure and harden.
*I’ll let you in on a little secret, though – I scrape together the scraps and stuck-on stuff from the inside of my crockpot when I’m done putting the soap mixture into the mold, and I use that ball of soap right away.
So, you’ve got your supplies ready, your soaping area is free of children and pets, and you look like a mad scientist (yay for safety glasses!) – sounds like you’re ready!
Not sure if you have the tools you need to make soap? Here is an article that will explain everything you need to make your first batch.
The recipe that we will be going over today is a basic soap recipe, scented with Twilight Woods fragrance oil, and coloured with spirulina powder.
This scent is a popular one, but the wonderful thing about soapmaking is that once you have a basic recipe you can change or add to it over and over, and you’ll always create a new soap. They say that variety is the spice of life, and boy is that possible in soapmaking!
So, if Twilight Woods isn’t your cup of tea, how about something like Raspberry Rose, Jamaica Me Crazy, or Pumpkin Spice? The sky’s the limit when it comes to fragrance oil selection.
Let’s have a look at the recipe.
Soapmaking 101: The Recipe
Twilight Woods Soap
(30 oz. recipe)
13.8 oz. coconut oil
13.8 oz. olive oil
2.4 oz. grapeseed oil
4.45 oz. sodium hydroxide (lye)
10.9 oz. distilled or filtered water
Twilight Woods fragrance oil (or other fragrance oil or essential oil of your choice)
Spirulina powder (optional)
Soapmaking 101: The How-To
I like to mix my water and lye together first, since it needs time to cool down somewhat before we combine it with our oils.
- Using your kitchen scale, measure out the water in one container and your lye in another container.
- Then slowly pour the lye into the water (NEVER the other way around) and stir for a minute or two until the lye is completely dissolved. Let sit in a safe place to cool down.
Important! Always mix your lye and water in a well-ventilated area. For the first few seconds after you mix them together, they will give off very strong fumes – you don’t want to be breathing those in. I like to mix mine together outside in the breeze, and stand on the side away from where the fumes are going. The fumes will dissipate very quickly. Also, our lye/water mixture will heat up instantly, so be sure to use a heatproof container as your water container.
- Since this is a hot process soap, we will be using our crockpot, so let’s put it to use to melt our coconut oil.
- Turn your crockpot on to LOW, then measure out your coconut oil and put it into the crockpot to melt. Meanwhile, measure your olive and grapeseed oils and set aside.
- Once the coconut oil is melted, add the olive and grapeseed oils to the crockpot to warm up. By this time your lye/water should be cool enough to use. This is where your thermometer comes into play.
- Measure the temperature of your oils, and the temperature of your lye/water. They should be around the 110˚F-130˚F (43˚C-54˚C) mark, and within about 10˚ of each other.
- Add the lye/water to your crockpot and give it a stir with your stick blender. Alternate blending and stirring with your stick blender (and be careful not to splatter the mixture out of the pot).
- Pulse for a few seconds, and then stir for a bit. You will notice the mixture start to thicken. The time varies, but it often takes several minutes. When the lye/water and the oils have combined together, or emulsified, this is referred to as “trace”. You will start with a thin trace and then from there the mixture will continue to thicken. We want a medium to thick trace, where the mixture looks like pudding, and the soap drizzle sits on the surface of the mixture when you lift up the stick blender.
Once we get to that point, we can put the lid on the crockpot and let it “cook” for about 45 – 60 minutes (times will vary depending on your crockpot). During the cooking time the mixture may bubble up on the sides and fold over on itself. That’s perfectly normal – just keep an eye on the crockpot to make sure your mixture doesn’t bubble over (take it from someone who has experienced that!). Give it a stir if it tries to escape.
If you haven’t already had to stir the mixture down by the 30-minute mark, lift the lid now and see how it’s doing.
Some people don’t stir their soap mixture at all while it’s cooking (unless it tries to bubble over), while others, like me, like to stir it every once in a while.
You want the whole mixture to turn from creamy/white looking (the way it looked at the start) to Vaseline-y/gel looking. If you have some areas that are still creamy/white you can give it a stir and breakdown or mash up those areas to help them cook more quickly. Let it continue cooking.
- During this time, you can measure out any scents and/or colours that you are using, so that they’re ready to go when your soap is done cooking. Hot process soap starts to harden quite quickly once it stops cooking and starts cooling, so you want to have everything ready.
- After about 45 minutes give your soap a stir. It should have the consistency of mashed potatoes if it’s done.
You can test if your soap is done by doing the zap test. In the zap test you take a small amount of soap out of the pot, let it cool a bit (again, coming from someone with experience in NOT letting it cool down first, and then having a burnt tongue for the rest of the day), and then touch it lightly to your tongue. If it doesn’t zap you it’s done!
I like to remove the inner part of the crockpot at this point, put it on some hot pads on my table, then let the mixture cool for a minute or two so that it’s not quite so hot when I add my scent.
- Add your scent and take the time to stir well so that there are no pockets of liquid in your soap mixture.
In this particular soap I wanted to add some green colour, so I took about 1/3 of the mixture out of the pot and put it into a bowl, and then added a bit of spirulina powder to it.
Giving it a good stir, and working quickly (the mixture wanted to start solidifying), I put the green soap back in the pot beside the original mixture. Then, I stirred the two colours together, just slightly, for a marbled effect, and started scooping it into the mold.
For your first batch of soap, you might want to just colour the whole batch (or don’t colour it at all) to get the feel of things.
Now you really have to work quickly.
- Scoop a good layer into the mold and pat and press it into the
corners using your scooping spoon or spatula.
- Then pick up the mold and give it a couple of good taps on your work surface to settle the soap down and get rid of air bubbles. Scoop the rest of the soap mixture on top, and again pat and press and tap.
You can’t typically do anything too fancy with the top of hot process soap, but I usually try to give it some sort of character by patting and poking it with my hands.
Now it’s time to set it aside for 12 – 24 hours to cool and harden.
After it is cooled, pop it out of your mold and begin the exciting part of cutting it into bars to see what you have designed. I typically like to cut my soap into 4.3 – 4.6 oz. bars, so that after they have cured, they are still over the 4 oz. mark.
After you’ve “ooh-d” and “ahh-d” over your creation, move them onto your curing rack and let them sit for a week or two before using.
And there you have it! You’ve learned a new skill. And it’s something that is useful and fun to make. I hope you enjoyed the process. And if you love it as much as I do, your soapmaking journey has just begun!