This instructional tutorial will teach learners how to make all-natural soap from botanical oils using the cold process method. The tutorial is intended for beginner audiences ages 16 and up. There are three primary steps to making your own cold process soap:
1. Measure and prepare the lye solution.
2. Combine oils with the lye water and blend to trace.
3. Add fragrance oil and pour mixture into the soap mold.
I will provide the list of materials and equipment you will need as well as guide you through the steps of the soap making process.
Liability Statement - These instructions are for reference only. The author is not responsible for any injury or damage to the user, or the user’s real or personal property.
WARNING: This process requires lye to mix with oils in order to produce soap. Lye is a caustic substance that may cause chemical burns on your skin, eyes, and /or clothing upon contact. It is also an irritant if inhaled. Lye is also poisonous; do not ingest. You must wear personal protective equipment throughout the soap making process.
Gear Up for Safety:
- Wear safety glasses/goggles to protect your eyes.
- Wear a long sleeve shirt to protect your arms.
- Wear latex gloves to protect your hands.
- Be sure to work in a well-ventilated room.
Notice: Preparedness is knowing what to do in response to an emergency situation. Before we begin, be sure to read and familiarize yourself with the lye manufacturer’s treatment recommendations for exposure or emergencies.
- 1 ea. Glass or Stainless Measuring Cup
- 1 ea. Large Glass Bowl (2 Quart recommended)
- 1 ea. Glass Bowl (1 Quart recommended)
- 1 ea. Silicone Spatula
- 1 ea. Weigh Scale
- 1 ea. Whisk
- 1 ea. Electric Stick Blender
- 1 ea. Thermometer (food grade recommended)
- 1 ea. Cutting Utensil
- 1 ea. Soap Mold
- You will also need a power source for the mixer and a microwave (preferred) to melt the solid oils.
- 18 oz. Vegetable Shortening
- 10 oz. Olive Oil
- 10 oz. Coconut Oil
- 2 oz. Castor Oil
- 5.66 oz. Lye (Caustic Soda)
- 13.20 oz. Distilled Water
Step 1: Measure and Prepare the Lye Solution
1. Place the glass bowl onto the scale and zero out the weight.
2. Pour 13.20 ounces of distilled water into the 1 qt glass bowl.
3. Next, place the measuring cup onto the scale and zero out the weight.
4. Pour 5.66 ounces of lye into the measuring cup.
WARNING: Never pour water into lye. To avoid serious injury, ALWAYS pour lye into water.
Caution: Stand back, at arm's length, when pouring and mixing the water and lye mixture to avoid inhaling the fumes.
5. Pour the lye crystals into the water.
6. Stir the water+lye solution with the silicone spatula until the crystals are dissolved.
7. Place the thermometer into the lye solution and monitor the temperature until it reaches approximately 100 deg. Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Combine Oils With the Lye Water and Blend to Trace
1. Place the measuring cup onto the scale and zero out the weight.
2. Fill the measuring cup with 18 ounces of vegetable shortening.
3. Scoop the shortening from the measuring cup into the large 2-quart bowl.
4. Return the measuring cup to the scale and zero out the weight.
5. Pour 10 ounces of olive oil into the measuring cup.
6. Pour the olive oil from the measuring cup into the 2-quart bowl.
7. Return the measuring cup to the scale and zero out the weight.
8. Fill 10 ounces of the coconut oil into the measuring cup.
9. Scoop out the coconut oil from the measuring cup into the 2-quart bowl.
10. Return the measuring cup to the scale and zero out the weight.
11. Fill 2 ounces of castor oil into the measuring cup.
12. Pour the castor oil from the measuring cup into the 2-quart bowl.
13. Place the 2-quart bowl into the microwave and heat up for 2 minutes, or until all the solids are now liquid.
14. Remove the 2-quart bowl from the microwave and whisk the oils together to get a homogenous mixture.
WARNING: At this point, the lye solution is no longer producing obnoxious fumes, however, it still can burn your skin, eyes, and clothes. Make sure you have your latex gloves and safety glasses on before proceeding.
Ideally, the temperature of the oils and the temperature of the lye solution should be right around 100 +/- 5 degrees Fahrenheit before mixing the two together. If the temperatures are under 90 degrees, that is still ok, as long as they are within 5 degrees of each other and the oils have not begun hardening.
15. Ensure the temperatures are at an ideal range by taking a reading of both the oil mixture and lye solution. (It is ok to reheat either solution in the microwave if either has become too cold).
16. Slowly pour the lye solution into the oils to prevent splashing.
17. Using the stick blender, manually begin mixing the oils and the lye solution together.
18. Using your stick blender, pulse the blender for 10-15 seconds at a time to mix the ingredients.
19. Alternate between manually mixing and pulsing.
20. Monitor the oil & lye mixture for trace.*
* This last step is tricky and it takes some getting used to! Trace occurs when the oils and lye are well blended and the saponification process (where the mixture is becoming soap) is well underway. You'll want to mix until you have reached a light trace - where the mixture is not runny but also not a solid. Trace is a thicker consistency than when it was just the oils, yet is it still pourable. An ideal trace has the consistency of pudding; not the top crusty part, but the gooey center. When you've reached trace, STOP THERE. Don't continue to stick blend as you would with a chocolate cake; otherwise, your soap will harden right there in the bowl.
Step 3: Add Fragrance Oil and Pour Mixture Into the Soap Mold
1. Place the measuring cup on the scale and zero out the weight.
2. Fill 1.7 ounces of fragrance oil into the measuring cup.
3. Pour the fragrance oil in the measuring cup into the soap mixture.
4. Use the whisk to blend.
5. Pour the soap mixture slowly into the soap mold.
6. Allow the soap loaf to solidify inside of the soap mold for a minimum of 24 hours.
7. After 24 hours, remove the soap loaf from the mold.
8. Use the cutting utensil to cut the loaf into bar sized soaps.
9. Allow 6 weeks for bars to cure before using.