Soap Making for Beginners: 3 Easy Soap Recipes
Easy soap recipes that are simple to make and use all-natural ingredients. Includes a recipe for floral soap, herbal soap, and a simple 3-oil soap recipe plus printable instructions. This is part three of the Natural Soap Making for Beginners Series that shows you start to finish how to make handmade cold process soap from scratch.
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In the first two parts of this series, you’ve learned about common soap making ingredients, including oils, lye, and essential oils. You’ve also learned about the equipment you need to make soap and safety precautions. Now it’s time to get to the fun part — making your first batch. This piece shares three easy soap recipes including a simple flower soap, a simple herbal soap, and a simple three-oil soap recipe.
Each easy soap recipe is printable so that will make them easier for you to refer to as you’re making the soap recipe. Another thing that’s printable is my new Natural Soapmaking Ebook. It’s 68 pages of beginner soapmaking information, including six soap recipes, using different types of natural ingredients, at the end.
- Natural Soapmaking Ingredients
- Soapmaking Equipment & Safety
- Easy Soap Recipes
- Step-by Step Cold Process Soap Making
Easy Soap Recipes are often Small Batches
Many of the soap recipes I share on Lovely Greens are for 1-lb (454g) batches. These are GREAT for beginner soap makers because they’re small and thus inexpensive to make. Many recipes you’ll find online or in books will be for larger batches and these can be expensive if you make a mistake. Making small easy soap recipes that give you six bars at a time is plenty.
Smaller batches give you room to learn to make soap without the world ending if you mess up. Best of all, making one-pound batches is great for trying lots of recipes rather than just one big one. If you like any of my recipes and in the future want to make more, rest assured that they can be doubled and tripled. You could even make a lot more than that at a time. For now, keep it simple and small scale.
Use the Right Sized Mold
There are several options open to you for 1-lb soap molds. First off, the recycled route. The mold you’ll see in the Simple Flower Soap is a plastic take-away container. It’s the same kind that your rice or noodles arrives in when you order take-out. Line the insides with baking paper, shiny side up, and pour your soap in and it will fit perfectly. The overlapping flaps of paper will help you to lever it out when it’s time to un-mold.
You can also use a standard size paper milk carton. Rinse it out and open the top — no need to cut it open. Pour your soap in that top opening, allow it to harden into a block. After a couple of days simply rip the paper carton off your soap to get it out. You can chop it into bars afterward.
Lastly, I can recommend this six-bar silicone mold. It’s one that I use regularly and again it will fit 1-lb batches perfectly. The added benefit of silicone molds is that they last a long time and the bars they produce look really professional. Plus the bars come out without needing the additional step of cutting.
Begin with Tried and Tested Easy Soap Recipes
One thing that I really would like to emphasize is that beginners should use tried and tested recipes. Just like a beginner baker will use an existing cake recipe, so too should you use recipes that have already been formulated. Creating your own is far more complicated than just throwing a bunch of oils together and pouring in lye solution. There are all kinds of things to consider that you really don’t need to think about just yet. If you are curious, have a read of my piece on changing and customizing a soap recipe.
I’m giving this bit of advice based on experience. At the beginning of my own soap making journey, I had a grand plan to make my own recipes from the get-go. What a disaster. Batches didn’t firm up, the bars I produced weren’t hard enough, and weird things kept happening. If I weren’t so stubborn I’d had given up. Eventually, I found a good basic book on soapmaking and re-started from there.
You’re going to be smarter than me and stick with recipes you know will work. That way, you’ll be pretty much assured of success. If anything does happen, you’ll also know that it’s probably down to human error rather than the recipe. It gives you a good starting place when trying to troubleshoot.
Coconut Oil in Soap Recipes
One question that I’ve had recently is about the percentage of coconut oil in these recipes. The general rule with using coconut oil is to not use more than 25% in a recipe, as using more can be too drying. However, other soapmakers, recommend that you can use up to 33% if you balance the recipe with a higher superfat. The amount of coconut oil in a recipe really comes down to personal preference and skin type. As an aside, you can make pure coconut oil soap if you give it a high enough superfat.
All three of the recipes I’ve shared below contain 29.7% coconut oil for several reasons. The first of which is that it creates good hard bars that unmold easily within two days. It also helps you to use fewer oils (spending less money) in a beginner soap recipe while maintaining a solid bar with fluffy lather. They’re also not drying for most skin types. However, if you have dry skin, use a recipe that has lower cleansing power such as my eco-friendly soap recipe which has 25% coconut oil. If you have very dry skin or eczema, try a very mild 100% olive oil soap recipe.
Three Easy Soap Recipes for Beginners
I’ve shared a few recipes for you to begin with below. The directions on how to make these recipes can be found in the next part of this series. I go through the ins and outs of soap making with you and illustrate the process with quite a few photos. All three of the below recipes should be made at around 110°F (43°C) and can be gelled by insulating. Gelling the soap is optional though and you’ll read about what it is and how to do it in the next part.
For even more soap recipes for beginners check out my other recipes. Most include individual instructions geared for that particular recipe. I also have many palm-oil free soap recipes and an article on why I support the use of sustainable palm oil.
Simple Flower Soap Recipe
I give in-person soap making lessons here on the Isle of Man and most people end up making a variation of this recipe. It’s palm oil-free and uses oils that will create a good hard bar with plenty of bubbles and moisture. The recipe can be customized to include the floral essential oil of your choice and I give several examples. The 14g of essential oil is based on essential oils that have a 3% usage rate in soap. If you’d like to use a different essential oil with this recipe then please check it against these essential oils for soap making chard.
Although optional, a cosmetic clay can give a really lovely shade to your bars. The type used in the photo is rose clay but you can get clays in many different shades.
Simple Flower Soap Recipe
- 64 g Sodium hydroxide 2.27 oz
- 128 g Distilled water 4.52 oz
- 145 g Coconut oil (refined) 5.11 oz
- 49 g Shea butter 1.73 oz
- 120 g Olive oil 4.23 oz
- 120 g Sunflower oil 4.23 oz
- 20 g Castor oil 0.71 oz
- 1/4 tsp Colored clay* (mixed with 1 Tbsp distilled water) (optional)
Add after Trace
- 14 g Essential oil**
- Dried flower petals***
- Use the basic soap making instructions along with these additional steps specific to this recipe. Soaping temperature 100°F/38°C
- * Mix the clay and water up before you begin making soap. Add it to the melted oils by pouring through a sieve/strainer. Cosmetic clays come in a range of colors including blue, green, pink, and brown. Here are various natural soap making colorants to give you inspiration.
- ** You may use a maximum of 3 tsp of essential oil total in your soap choosing from these scents: chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), neroli, palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini), rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), or ylang ylang (Cananga odorata).
- *** Dried flowers are a pretty way to decorate handmade soap but unfortunately they can turn brown on contact. Calendula petals will stay yellow but for others there are two options. You can lightly sprinkle them on once the soap has firmed up slightly. The parts that don’t come into contact with the soap will stay colored, at least for a while. The other option is to wait until your soap is fully cured. After the 28 day waiting period, spray your the areas you want flowers on your soap with witch hazel or denatured alcohol. Sprinkle the dried flowers on top and wait for the alcohol to dry. When it’s fully dry, the flowers will be adhered to the soap. Neat huh?Decorate your soap with rose petals, lavender buds, calendula petals, dried chamomile, and other skin-safe dried flowers and leaves.
Simple Herbal Soap Recipe
If you grow your own herbs, this could be the recipe for you. You can use your own chopped mint, lemon balm, or other herbs in combination with a zesty blend of herbal essential oils. This recipe also only uses four main soaping oils so it will be less expensive to make than the floral soap above.
Although you could potentially customize the blend of this too, I’d advise caution. Many herbal essential oils are safe to use in making handmade soap including rosemary, peppermint, lavender, and marjoram. Some are less safe though so either stick with the amounts and types in trusted soap recipes or do your research.
Simple Herbal Soap Recipe
- 62 g Sodium hydroxide 2.19 oz
- 124 g Distilled water 4.37 oz
- 136 g Coconut oil (refined) 4.8 oz
- 23 g Shea butter 0.8 oz
- 204 g Olive oil 7.2 oz
- 91 g Sunflower oil 3.2 oz
Add after Trace
- 1 tsp Finely chopped herbs* rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, peppermint, lavender
- 5 g Rosemary essential oil 5.59ml / ~ 1 tsp
- 5 g Lavender essential oil 5.5ml / ~ 1 tsp
- 4 g Peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil 4.5ml / ~ 1+1/4 tsp
- Use the basic soap making instructions along with these additional steps specific to this recipe. Soaping temperature 100°F/38°C
- * For your finely chopped herbs I’d recommend to use 1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 tsp dried. The herbs add speckles through the soap but no noticeable scent.
Easy 3-Oil Soap Recipe
This one is for those of you who want an easy, sensitive, and inexpensive soap recipe. There are only three main oils and no added colors or scents to add. It’s also very gentle on your skin and can be used by the entire family including those who have skin issues or very delicate skin like babies.
Although the other two soap recipes don’t include palm oil, I’ve introduced it for this one for three reasons. First of all, it creates a good hard bar with plenty of lather. Secondly, even the most expensive palm is less expensive than most other oils.
The last reason is that I strongly feel that all of us, including soap makers, should support the Sustainable Palm oil industry. It’s very controversial and confusing but I’ve written a piece on why boycotting palm oil could threaten the environment even more than using it. Saying that, always make sure that the palm oil you’re using has RSPO certification. Dirty palm oil is killing the rain forests and no amount of soap can wash your hands clean of that.
If you’re still unsure about using palm oil, I have a simple eco-friendly soap recipe that will be right up your street.
Easy 3-Oil Soap Recipe
- 64 g Sodium hydroxide 2.27 oz
- 128 g Distilled water 4.5 oz
- 113 g Coconut oil (refined) 4 oz
- 159 g Sustainable Palm oil 5.6 oz
- 181 g Olive oil* 6.4 oz
- Use the basic soap making instructions along with this additional advice. Soaping temperature 100°F/38°C
- Please ensure that your palm oil is certified by the RSPO as being sustainable.
- *You may use pomace olive oil or extra virgin olive oil (evoo) for the ‘Olive oil’ ingredient. EVOO will result in soap that is more yellow in color.
Natural Soap Making for Beginners Series
If you’re interested in even more cold-process soap recipes, there are loads in this piece and you can also browse these soap recipes. First, I recommend that you continue on to the fourth part in this soap making for beginners series. You’ll learn the basic principles of how to make the easy soap recipes in this piece and any others that you come across:
- Natural Soapmaking Ingredients
- Soapmaking Equipment & Safety
- Easy Soap Recipes
- Step-by-Step Cold Process Soap Making
I have always wanted to make soap and it was great
Simple and straight to the point! Excellent blog Ma’am. :)
Hi there :) thank you for the small batch recipes! I’m new to making soaps and curious to try a coffee soap. If I were to use the 3-oil soap recipe, but replaced water with coffee, and then added in coffee grounds, would that work? Or would you say it is too advanced. I have only completed one batch in the past – it was shea and olive oil.
I’d say give it a go :)
I have recently become interested in all things wax, and now I’m spreading out to soaps, balms, chest rubs, etc. I’m having good results so far, but need to learn more and practice! Your site is very engaging, very professionally done, with lots of linking conveniences. I love that we can multiply the recipe online… very smart of you. This is the most professional and engaging site I’ve found, and I’m here and thank you for the pleasure!
Thank you so much for leaving this feedback, Connie. It’s very much appreciated, and I wish you great success with your herbal and DIY journey!
Hi, firstly just wanted to say thank you so much for your website. I do like the soapcalc app but I am also new to the beautiful world of soap making. Where is the amount for lye when you put in everything else lol. I think I missed the boat on that one :)
Thank you so much!
Hi Patricia, you put the amount of oils/fats in and the superfat level you want to achieve then the soapcalc calculates how much lye you need.
I used this recipe twice. The soap is great. It has excellent lather.
Hello from Perú! I have just found your website and i love it. Tks for all the tips, i will try to do some of what i have read.
I have one doubt, i was reading about homemade soaps, and found out that some recipies use coconut, shea, olive and cocoa butter, all together, but also glycerin. Wold you recomend using glycerin with all the butters and oils listed before?
Hi Fiorella, cold process soap making produces glycerin naturally. That’s why I don’t add extra glycerin to my recipes.
Hello there! I have just begun my soap making adventures and have created your Simple Herbal Soap, 3 Oil Soap and Eco-Friendly Cold Press Soap so far. Now I wait…. As there are just soooo many variations, and it’s rather overwhelming, I think what I’d like to do for now is stick with one or two tried and true, gentle on the skin soap recipes and then add essential oils/colours to individualize them. What are your thoughts on that? Could I do that to the Simple Herbal Soap and Eco-Friendly Cold Press Soap? Which of your recipes do you consider to be the most gentle and effective? How much essential oil could I add without disturbing the recipe? On another note, have you created a natural deodorant? Thank-you so much. Your website is fantastic!!! Linda
Hi Linda and welcome to soapmaking :) Each person will have a different opinion on which soap recipe is the best. One of my favorites is the one used in this hot process soap recipe. The eco-friendly soap recipe is another favorite because it’s so versatile and creates a good standard soap. You need to try various recipes first and decide which one you like! Then having a base recipe, you can customize it with essential oils, natural colorants, and botanicals.
Can I substitute another oil for the sunflower oil in the Simple Flower Soap Recipe? This looks fantastic, can’t wait to make it.
Hi Nancy, and I’ve written a piece on changing and customizing a soap recipe that I think will help you :)
This was such a lovely recipe. Simple and easy. I did use a powder blue mica to turn it blue for a baby shower in November. Will do powder pink ones as well. I am super excited for these to cure and be used. Thank you. Something so elegant about simplicity.
I absolutely love this website and youtube….you’re a wonderful human being sharing all your recipes and wisdom. Im so excited as im doing an on line soap making business course my sister got me in lock down, about to buy the ingrediants, for nxt assessment to make soap from scratch…scared/excited !! but i love these recipes above to try out too…. im just worried about all the legal side & how to do it all / labels etc…..thankyou for sharing !! eager to try them out x big love x
You’re very welcome!
Tried the herb recipe and absolutely LOVE it! It smells so good I can hardly wait for it to cure. New to soap making so I appreciate your easy to follow instructions. The lye really is not intimidating after the first batch and I look forward to trying more recipes.
Marvelous, Krista! So great to hear that you made the herbal soap recipe with no issues, and that you love it :)
Hello from Sweden!
I wonder, if you don’t have a crock-pot, can you still make the hot process soap in another way?
Thanks for exciting reading!
Hi Tone and yes, you can do it over a double-boiler on the stove. I’ve never tried it this way, but it is possible!
Hi from Tasmania :). I have downloaded your ebook and its marvellous. I do have one question though. In the recipe section it says ‘The flower petals go in the lye solution just after it is mixed together’. I just want to clarify, do you mean when the lye and water is mixed together i,e. You put the flower petals in that mixture, or do you mean after the lye is mixed with the oils. Thank you for your response Robyn
Hi Robyn and thank you :) What I mean is that you mix the lye and water together and while it’s hot, add the flower petals. It helps to infuse some of the color out of the petals and into the lye solution. Alternatively, you can add the petals after trace, but the base soap color will be much lighter than if you added the petals to the hot lye solution.
I’ve made the first two recipes so far and both have turned out great! I was wondering if you could shed some light on the difference between palm oil and palm kernel oil? And could I possibly substitute palm kernel oil for palm oil in this recipe? Thanks so much!
Hi Melissa and great to hear! Palm oil and palm kernel oil come from the same tree, Elaeis Guineensis. Palm oil comes from the fruit and palm kernel oil is extracted from the seeds. They cannot be used interchangeably in soapmaking though since they have different saponification values — they need different amounts of lye to convert them into soap. If you ever do use either, ensure that it comes from a sustainable source. Here’s why.
I tried this recipe and after 7 days the soap is still really soft and quite oily. Followed the recipe exactly. Any advice please?
Soft and oily doesn’t seem right. It may be that you didn’t bring the soap to trace (or emulsion) before pouring it into the mold.
I am doing some prep work to make dandelion soap! Can’t wait, it is so beautiful! I was wondering how you dry your petals? Do you cut off the bud when drying the petals? I have some drying but I did not cut off the bud and the flowers close up. Thanks!
Also, my Eco FRiendly soap is curing. It looks like it may not be the same shade of white throughout. If it does not dry consistently, is it still OK to use and what could I have done wrong? Any tips are appreciated!
In addition to my questions below, I have one other. I have a bunch of small yogurt containers that I think would make great sample soaps. Although you can squeeze the sides of the cups, the top is stiffer. I am just wondering if you have used Yogurt containers and if they work OK? Just not sure if I would have trouble getting the soap out, or if there is something I can do to make it easier to get the soap out.
Hi again Leena. Thin plastic like yoghurt pots can be used, but they are not ideal for soapmaking. They can easily melt and warp with heat and also be difficult to get off. Here’s a guide to soap molds that you might find useful.
Good morning Tanya!
It’s Leena again! I have two quick questions. I have four batches of soap curing. The Eco-Friendly soap looks like it may not be the same colour of white throughout…but it is still curing. If it is not even in colour when it is done, what is that a sign of and is it still OK to use?
I am really looking forward to making Dandelion Soap! it is so beautiful! I am just waiting on some supplies and prepping my dandelions. Just wondering, when you dry your dandelion petals do you cut off the bud and separate the petals for drying? Or do you leave on the bud. I have some drying but I left the bud on and the flowers close up. So I am just wondering what your preferred method is.
Thanks so much for all your help! Your wonderful website has me so excited to make all kinds of soap!
Thanks for that! Leena
Hi Leena, if the color is darker, it’s probably because the soap gelled (heated up after you poured it into the mold) or you used olive oil that is richer in color. Like extra virgin olive oil. The color is not an issue though :) As for dandelion soap, I’ll be sharing a recipe next week. You can use fresh dandelion flowers if you wish but if you do dry them, dry the entire flowerhead.
Hi Tanya, thank you for all the information on your website, it’s so informative! I’m just looking at ingredients to try soap making for the first time, please can you let me know the best place to source these in the UK? Thank you
Hi Claire, I use the Soap Kitchen for a lot of ingredients. Soaposh too!
Thank you, just received my order from Soap Kitchen…!
I’m new to soap making. I have made 3 batches so far: Lemongrass, eco-friendly basic soap, and tonight I made the Simple Herb Soap. I think that I may have stopped blending it a bit too soon. I had slight trace and I stopped. Just wondering, if I did stop a bit too soon, do you know what will happen to the soap? It’ll take 28 days to cure, so I am just wondering if it will turn out ok?
If it firmed up and you’ve cut it into bars then I’m sure that it will be fine, Leena :)
Hi there. Thank-you so much for the detailed and most helpful information. Could you please tell me, when using a milk carton for the mold, what size do you suggest? 1L or 2L? Thank-you!
Hi Linda, I usually use a standard 1-litre (1-quart) carton for a 1-lb batch of soap
I am new to soap making and I am just in the process of ordering my supplies so that I can get started. Your website is amazing! You do such a good job of explaining and demonstrating how to do things! Thank you! I am so excited to get my supplies and give it a try!
I am sure that once I get started, I will be sending you questions. But in the mean time, thank you for the video on soap making and the simple recipes to try. I can’t wait!
You’re very welcome Leena :)
Hi, I love your website. Btw is it possible to use normal tap water instead of distilled water? Thanks
It’s possible but not recommended. Ordinary tap water has impurities that can cause soap scum and can cause your soap to go off quickly.
Great recipe! The soap has rich silky leather, doesn’t dry the skin. I will use this recipe often.
Hi Tanya. I have made my first soap today using your simple herbal soap recipe. I was wondering if I can make this again using the hot process? I am keen to experiment and learn from what difference it makes.
Yes, absolutely :) Just make sure to use 186 g water instead of the amount listed. My instructions for making simple hot-process soap are here.
I would like to do this too. For hot process, is that the only change we need to make to the flower recipe, use 186g of distilled water? Could I still add yogurt at the end? I made the flower recipe cold process and it’s lovely! I then made the simple hot process recipe, but I didn’t have mango butter so I incorrectly substituted it with shea butter. Now I’m trying to follow the recipe exactly as I’m having a lot of fun and these are making fantastic gifts!
That’s right Stacie, you can make the floral soap recipe using the hot process method too. Just make sure to use the full water amount :)
Quite informative content! I usually mixed my essential oils in liquid soaps cause I didn’t know how to make DIYs. Thanks to you, I can try making soaps with my recently ordered natural essential oils!
Can any essential oil be added to the Easy 3-oil recipe after trace? I made some soap for my son with sensitive skin last year using a mix of olive oil and coconut oil and it worked great. Sadly I cannot find the recipe so wanted to try something as gentle, but with a bit of scent.
Hi Aimee, yes, you can change the essential oil used for the recipe but please follow the usage rates and guidance laid out over here.
I want to make the Simple Herbal Soap Recipe and I’m wondering if I use all 3 essential oils or choose one from those 3? My daughters have specified that they want a soap with lavender in and another that’s zesty. Not lavender and lemon together.
Hi Gemma, you can fully customize the essential oils for any soap recipe with the usage rates and guidance over here.
Hi Tanya! Tq for this lovely recipe. In my country it’s hard to find solid coconut oil. We can easily find liquid coconut oil only. Can I use it in the recipe and follow the same weight? Or how can you help me with this please ??
Hi Mira, Liquid coconut oil is generally ‘Fractionated coconut oil’ and will have different properties and a much different SAP (saponification) value. That means it needs a different amount of lye to transform into soap than ordinary solid coconut oil. To answer your question, no, you cannot use your liquid coconut oil as a replacement for solid coconut oil in cold-process soap recipes.
Hi, I’m a newbie to soap making so have decided to start the easy way using the ‘melt & pour’ method for now. I’d love to try some of your flower soap recipe (and others) but these use the cold process method. Can they be adapted for melt @ pour?
Hi Vicky, Melt-and-pour soap is completely different from cold-process (from scratch) soap making. However, you could get inspiration from some of the essential oil blends and floral decoration :)
Thank you for all the beautiful soap recipes you share to all readers. I would like to know how to make liquid face soap. Would you be able to send me some recipes or if not please add to your this post and i will pick it up from here,
My second question is, can i use live Aloe Vera from my garden to make a liquid face or hand soap?
Thank you very much,
I’m very sorry but I don’t have a liquid face soap recipe available. My liquid hand soap recipe is over here: https://lovelygreens.com/how-to-make-liquid-hand-soap/
As for aloe vera, yes, you can use it to make a type of liquid soap. You can find a good recipe for that over on my friend’s website here https://gardentherapy.ca/aloe-vera-soap/
Hi, Tanya !!
Thanks for the useful soap making recipes, I just made my first batch of herbal soap I waited 2 days to unmoulded it and when I did it I Noticed that the soap is oily and has tiny bubbles , I’m sure I did not do something right, Ill wait a month to cure to see if it helps but I’m not sure.
You’re very welcome Yerlin :) The tiny bubbles are likely from your stick-blending method. If the air trapped in the head of the blender is allowed into the soap, then the air can be captured in bubbles in the finished product. It’s only an aesthetic issue but to avoid it, always introduce the blender at an angle. Also make sure that the stick blender head is always submerged. As for the oiliness, that may be just your interpretation of your first batch of soap. It will be moist until the bars fully cure.
Hello! Thank you for all the work you put into this wonderful blog. Was just wondering – could you halve the beginner soap recipe quantities? I’d love to make lots of very small batches to try out lots of combinations. Many thanks.
Hi Caitlin, almost all of the recipes I share are for small batches of just 1-lb (454g) of oil. Half-pound batches are certainly do-able by halving all of the ingredients of a 1-lb batch but could be a lot more fiddly and messy. I don’t really recommend making them, but there’s no reason you can’t.
Hi, I really want to try this, but one quick question first. Can I substitute avocado oil for sunflower? Just because I already have a lot of good quality avocado oil. This tutorial is wonderful, thank you so much!
Hi Alison, replacing an oil with another in a cold-process soap recipe isn’t easy. Have a read of this piece to understand why, and to learn how to customize a soap recipe: https://lovelygreens.com/change-customize-soap-recipe/
Hi. I am new tit his. I have glass Measuring cups and small measurement spoons (the ones you listed). I notice the measurements are very specific; ex: 7.8 oz. Do you put the liquid oils in a container and place that container on the scale? I would obviously measure the glass container first and then subtract from the weight with the oil in it. Just curious. Thank you!
Hi Athena and welcome to soapmaking :) It’s really a very easy answer — digital scales have a tare function. You can place your container on the scale and press tare to set the scale to zero.
i made a shaving soap, but accidentally the superfat goes up to 10% and after two days in silicone mold, i can see the extra oil and the bars are very soft. can i do something to save them?
It’s likely the soap will be too soft and not have good lather, even after it cures. You could make another batch of shaving soap at 2-3% superfat then rebatch them together in a crock-pot. Good luck :)
I have made your simple flower recipe using lavender essential oil, the soap is curing and is 10 days in. The scent has completely gone, is there something I can add to the recipe in future to hold the scent and how much ? I love you soap recipes. Thank you
Hi Amanda, three teaspoons of essential oil in a one-pound soap recipe is quite a lot. For comparison, I only have my soap making students use 1.5-2 tsp of scent per batch. The only thing I can figure is that you could have used the wrong measuring spoon or that there was something wrong with the lavender oil. You could have also added the lavender oil too soon. You stir it in as the very last step before molding. Have a go at making it again and good luck :)
I can’t believe that I could make my own soap! I can customize it based on my kids’ preferences.
Thank you for the recipe! Easy to follow and great results! Im so thrilled I was able to get it right. I had to use canola oil instead of sunflower seed oil, so I hope it turns out ok.
First to all thank you for all information.
I live in Argentina in a small town and is hard to found shea butter and sustainable palm oil, how can replace them?
Thank you very much
Hi Mirta, if you’d like to change or customize a soap recipe, please read this piece for guidance: https://lovelygreens.com/change-customize-soap-recipe/
Hello and thanks for this beautiful blog! I’m going to try to make soap for the first time ever and am going to try you Simple Herbal Soap Recipe. I have a question about the lye. I can only find lye crystals. Is the lye you used liquid already? How do I adjust this recipe for lye flakes?
That’s the right stuff to use :) The lye you use for soap making comes in flakes or grains, and you use water to create a lye-solution.
I love all your soap recipes, they always turn out perfect, never had a failed batch. I made soap for my daughter in-law’s wedding shower favors, made 55 full size bars and they turned out beautiful. Now I’am hooked on making home made soap there is nothing better for my skin. Also now many family members are coming back to ask for more soap but my oldest daughter is allergic to Shea butter so I have made your Castile soap recipe for her.
Could I substitute mango butter for the Shea butter in the other recipes?
Thank you so much for the lovely feedback Lucy :) Whenever you want to change a soap recipe, you should put the original recipe into the online soapcalc, check all of the information, then make your substitutions and check again to make sure it’s safe and good. Here’s further guidance: https://lovelygreens.com/change-customize-soap-recipe/
New to Soap Making!!!
Gathering ingredients for my first batch….exciting!!
Question: Some recipes call for colored clay which I assume is a powder. I’m considering a soap colorant but it is sold in liquid form similar to essential oils. Your opinion is appreciated.
Soap colorants sold in liquid form are almost always dyes — they’re not natural but do work. Here’s more information on natural soap colorants: https://lovelygreens.com/how-to-naturally-color-handmade-soap/
Hi! I couldn’t find Palm oil for the 3 oil recipe. I did find avocado oil and sunflower oil. Can I substitute one of those oils for palm? I tried the soap calculator without luck lol. Please help!
You can substitute tallow (beef fat) directly for palm oil, but there are no other direct substitutions. Sorry, but you’d need to create a completely new soap recipe if you omit palm from the recipe. There’s loads of other recipes on my site though, including these palm-oil free recipes: https://lovelygreens.com/tag/palm-free-soap-recipes/
Hi Tanya thanks so much for your lovely newsletters.
As someone fairly new to soap making I am scared to death of lye so prefer to make it with melt and pour. Can the recipes above be made with melt and pour please and if so how would I work out quantities? Thanks so much x
I’m sorry Sue but these are cold-process recipes. Melt and pour soap is already pre-made, and all you do is melt it, add fragrance/color/other extras and pour it into a mold. Cold and Hot process soaps create soap from scratch :)
I’m so thankful for you! I have fallen IN LOVE with soap making and gardening ❤️You make my life so much easier, thank you and God bless
Thank you very much for seeing good information.
Hello! I’m a beginner soap maker here and am so happy to have found your site, recipes, and tutorials as a helpful guide :)
Are refined and unrefined coconut oils interchangeable? I realize unrefined will have a coconut scent to it, but as far as consistency in the recipe will they react similarly? For instance, can I use unrefined coconut oil in your simple 3-oil soap recipe? I wouldn’t mind a subtle coconut scent, however may not achieve this even with unrefined. Thank you for your time! :)
Unrefined (Virgin) coconut oil may have no extra scent at all in the final soap. It’s also WAY more expensive than refined. You can choose to use it but in my humble opinion, unrefined is much better for cooking than using in soap.
First of all, thank you so much for your blog with all your precious advices to success in making first batches of soap – which I did ?
However, I have a question about which oils/butters I may use : does refined or unrefined suit better for saponification?
Have a lovely day!
Refined generally means that it’s been processed to be odorless and/or light in color and it usually refers to solid oils and butters. Both saponify just fine but I do recommend using refined coconut oil for soap making. It’s much less expensive than virgin coconut oil and the scent won’t carry through either. It’s also great for healthier frying/roasting and doesn’t taste like coconut so you can use it for both soaping and in the kitchen. Another oil that I prefer using the refined version is shea butter. Unrefined shea has a very characteristic scent that some people don’t like.
I am trying some of your recipes, and some call for distilled water, and some just clean cold water. Would it make a difference if I used cold, filtered instead of distilled ? Thank you
It really comes down to the water in your area — if it’s hard, has added chemicals, etc. If your water is soft and you filter it, it should be fine to use.
I am looking to purchase lye and I see different purity percentages. Will I need to adjust the amount of lye used or other ingredients due to different percentage of purity or does this not affect the recipe measurements (example: 99% purity versus 98% or 97%)?
Only ever use lye that’s 99% Sodium hydroxide. The others may be adulterated with unwanted or unsafe ingredients.
Hi, I’m a student and I’m currently having a project where I’m trying to find out if pineapple peels’ extract is effective for removing dirt on clothes. My problem is that, I’m going to make a cleansing bar soap, but the essential oils may affect the entire purpose of my project. How can I make a soap that will really focus on the properties of the extract and not the oils? If it’s possible, what will be its measurements? Your reply could really be a huge help thank you!
Soap in itself is a cleanser so your experiment wouldn’t be able to determine if the soap or the extract is at work. I’d focus on making a spot treatment for stains with pineapple peel extract and testing it from there.
Can you swirl the recipe to use as the base for another recipe?
I don’t completely understand the question. Could you elaborate?
Now is the curing thing just when you create the base like this or do you have to wait for it to cure when you have a premade soap base as well?
If you’re using melt-and-pour soap you do not need to cure the soap. These instructions are for cold-process soap, and it always needs curing.
Such an interesting guideline for those who want to make their soap creation. I love this receipe.
It helps beginers to start making soap easily. By explaining step by step process of soap making, they will achieve their first soap.
Thrilled to have found you Tanya.Im a soaper /gardener as well.❤️I’d like to use my rosemary, thyme, Melissa, mint etc in my soaps.I noticed on the herbal soap recipe you mention using either fresh chopped or dry herbs.Before Trying it I wanted to check with you if you’ve tried them both ways? I do not want to make a batch and have a fail…like end up with browned specks in it from the fresh herbs having turned off colour.I did have a batch of rose soap I decorated with buds and sadly turned off colour.I plan to make a batch of herbal soap and wondering if should dehydrate my herbs first.Can you share your experience please?Blessed,
Hi Nora, anything that is leafy and green including herbs and spinach, will eventually turn brown to yellow when mixed into soap. I like the effect of the little specks of dark throughout, but if you don’t, then simply leave them out. You could always dehydrate your herbs, then decorate the tops of your soap after it’s poured. The parts of the leaves that don’t touch the soap will stay green, but where it does touch, expect the area to eventually discolor.
Your recipes look lovely. I am new to soap making and would like to add that even newbies should find a good lye calculater and use it for every recipe. Even often used recipes can be off and it’s good to get in the habit of checking the calculations with all lye soaps. Thank you for sharing these recipes.
I was hoping to see the recipe for the beautiful purple soap st the beginning of this pin..what happened to that?
Hi Denise, I’ve moved the lavender recipe to its own page along with tips on customizing color, fragrance, and additives. The variation you’ll want to use is coloring soap with Ultramarine violet — more info over here: https://lovelygreens.com/simple-lavender-soap-recipe/
You’ll also be interested in this purple lavender soap recipe: https://lovelygreens.com/poppy-seed-lavender-soap-recipe/
I am new to and excited to try soapmaking. I live in Canada, and we have sea buckthorn trees on our property, and would like to know if it’s possible to make soap from the whole fruit and leaves. I can’t find information on how to do this.
What a fun opportunity. I’ve not used fresh sea buckthorn berries in soap before but imagine it could give the soap a similar colour that the oil does — yellow to orange. If you wanted the soap to retain as much of the berries’ beneficial properties I’d not make cold-process soap though. Instead, use a good organic melt-and-pour or remill your soap and add the berry juice to it instead of water. I don’t think the leaves are much used in skincare though they are used in herbal medicine.
I just happened to stumble on your website.
I love your recipes and video on soap making.
Do you have any video and recipes on making soap using a soap base?
Not yet but thanks for the positive feedback :)
You are amazing, love your recipes.thank you so much for sharing you soap recipes with us .i have tried some of them and soaps turned out amazing.im in love with your blogs.
I want to learn how to make soaps…pls help
Thanks for your loverly blog ?
I was wondering if i could still add some essential oils to this simple 3 oil soap recipe?
I would love some fragrance but also like the minimalist recipe…
I’m assuming you mean the 3-oil soap recipe and yes you may. Use the essential oil suggestions for the other two recipes or my piece on making essential oil soap to work out your own: https://lovelygreens.com/make-soap-with-essential-oils/
Just a note of thanks.
You also have a mistake? Your essential oil recipe says lemon balm but your ingredient list calls for peppermint!
Cheers for that, just a little typo in the soap description. You could of course use lemon balm (Melissa) essential oil instead of peppermint too.
Hi. I have a question about blending the ingredients. I dont now which compounds shoud use at first, second and etc. Please help me dear
Hi Tanja, amazing blog!
I have a question, I love your Lemongrass recipe! Can I just exchange the colour and the essential oils and use and repeat the recipe? would it work for any other as well as with the lemongrass.
Thank you for your time,
just starting making soap so all just a bit new to me!
Yes, pretty much :) Some essential oils should be used at smaller quantities though so please refer to my piece on how much essential oil to use in soap recipes: https://lovelygreens.com/make-soap-with-essential-oils/
Some common essential oils that you can use the same quantity in are: lavender, peppermint, rosemary, litsea cubeba, and geranium
I am very new to soap making but I have already experimented in making my own cosmetics and I regularly make my own lip balms for myself and presents. I already have a few supplies and organic oils and essential oils. I would love to try a soap recipe with using what I already have. I looked into buying Grapefruit Seed Extract to make the “Herbal Soap Recipe” but it seems quite expensive. Is this essential oil interchangeable? Or is it recommended in this recipe because it has certain properties to make this a successful soap? Could I switch it for organic peppermint essential oil for example? I will follow the rest of the recipe accordingly :) Thank you for any feedback (and thank you for so many amazing recipes & lots of info on here!).
Hi Lisa — the grapefruit seed extract acts as an antioxidant and helps give your soap a longer shelf life. It’s an optional ingredient though. Happy soaping :)
Thank you! I think I have read your blog in it’s entirety this week – I absolutely love it! I also saw that you had mentioned that GSE is very helpful to keep soaps from going rancid :) I found it cheaply online in the end. I have been eager to make soaps for years but I moved around often so I never got all the materials together. Now I have relocated from Canada to southern France and have a wonderful garden going and your blog matches my lifestyle very well! I also worked with an alternative art supply company and have lots of left over natural mineral pigments that I can finally put into use :D I had bees last year (sadly they were attacked and didn’t survive) but I look forward to having a well-rounded lifestyle where I can mix my interest in crafting things, gardening, and animals/bees. I am pretty obsessed with my dehydrator and have been drying everything I can get my hands on – including lots of wild flowers. I am pretty surrounded by wild flax and elderberry in my area, I am curious if anyone has tried either of those out in soaps? I also think Alkanet may be in my area so I need to explore that option for dyes too! Anyway – a big thank you for sharing your wealth of information (I am not a blog person at all normally!) but found all your blog posts super, super helpful.
I’m just waiting for a few oils to arrive in the mail and ready to get soaping!
Your new life in France sounds amazing Lisa! Enjoy every moment of it :) Sorry to hear of your bees — was it the asian hornet that attacked them? Also I’m VERY jealous that you may live in an area where Alkanet grows. Is it on a commercial scale? Happy soaping!
Thank you for sharing your knowledge! I am thinking about trying to do soaps for myself and your page is full of valuable information. Thank you!
You’re very welcome Viivi :)
Thanks. I am from India (Tamilnadu).
Can we use sesame oil (Gingelly oil) rather using olive oil. Please suggest
The scent of oils stays in the finished soap recipe. You can use sesame seed oil but do take this into consideration. You can’t use it as a replacement for any soap recipe either — you have to create one specifically for the oils you’re using.
Are you okay?
if I put caustic soda in the soap does it stop being vegan?
Caustic soda isn’t made from animal products so it’s Vegan.
i have read a books but every time i think it’s difficult and when i saw your site it’s seems to me realy so easy with your explanation and your site is like inspirations for me/ thank you
You’re so welcome! I’m happy to help :)
Hello Tanya. I have a question on the “superfate” I can not understand where he is. If it is incorporated in a calculator for example 7%, this means that it is already in the composition of soap oils or it needs to be added separately already on the trace. Thank you
Superfat can be a difficult idea to understand, especially in the SoapCalc. All it means is the percentage of oils that exceed the amount the lye needs to be completely used up. Any or all of the oils in your SoapCalc recipe can be your superfat.
There are at least two ways to go about creating a superfatted soap. The first is to expose ALL the oils in your recipe to the lye solution. What happens in this case is that a proportion of each of the oils you use will end up staying in your bars as unsaponified oil.
If you want a particular oil to be your sole superfat, then you hold back the oil until the very end. That way, the lye interacts with the oils you want it to, and when you pour your superfat oil in at Trace, it will stick around without turning into soap. Hope this explanation helps.
Thank you very much, Tanya, for your explanation. As for first way i understand. As for second if am whrite understand when i make a recept in calculator i put 7% “superfat” for example and after i start preparation i separated these 7 % particular oil and add them just in trace? Thank you.
It’s entirely up to you if you want to separate 7% of your oil out and add it at Trace. If you do, the chance that these oils will stay in your soap as the superfatting oil is higher. If you put all your oils in the pan before the lye-solution (so before before you even start stick blending) then your superfat in your final bars will be a little of each oil from your recipe. Does this make sense?
Thank you very much Tanya
Thanks, Tanya, for the useful tips!
Tanya, thanks for this very comprehensive and useful article.
Can I make a half recipe to begin with? First of all, because I’ve never made it before. Also, will a half recipe reduce my stirring time to reach ‘trace’? I’ve not yet bought a stick blender.
Another question — can I use ALL palm oil? Because, where I live (India), olive oil is expensive, and the coconut oil is not deodorised — I don’t like that strong smell in soap. I don’t mind if the bar is hard from using just palm oil — I’m thinking of adding some orange zest to it.
Hi Nandita, An all palm oil soap would not be a good recipe because it would be neither bubbly or cleansing. You can check all of your recipe ideas in this online soapcalc: http://soapcalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp
As for half recipes — yes you can. Be prepared to stir by hand for at least an hour to hit trace though.
I just made my second batch of soap: Coconut, olive, shea butter and castor oil. Upon rereading your website I realized I needed to also add an antioxidant. Will my soap go rancid?
It will probably be fine Marlene. A lot of soapers don’t use one at all but I’d recommend that you use your soap within a year to make sure your extra oils don’t go off.
Hi Tanya, I want to try making a basic soap but I can not understand how to use the lyecalk’s ? I want to make a small amount . I have coconut oil, caster oil and olive oil my lye but no idea what quantities to use . Please help , Julie.
Hi Julie! You can play around with the soapcalc but a good recipe might be 30% coconut oil, 60% olive oil, and 10% castor oil. Pop those into the calc and give it a 6% superfat. Once you have the percentages in, click the radio button on the other side of the percentages column — it will be lbs, oz, or g. Then at the top under number 2, select your preferred value and put the total weight of the batch size you want to make. Press ‘Calculate Recipe’ then ‘View/Print Recipe’ to see your recipe.
Love all the information in your blog. Starting my own adventure in soap making. For the calendula soap, when do you add the Shea butter – at the beginning with the ‘hard’ oils or after trace ?
It’s entirely up to you! If you put the shea butter in with your hard oils then your soap will have a superfat of all the oils in your recipe. If you add the shea after Trace then it’s more likely that it’s the shea butter that superfats your soap.
Thank you so much for all the information! I love your nature oriented life style and admire you for it. I was wondering if the soap recipes can be doubled or tripled. Thank you!
Thank you Diana :) In regards to doubling or tripling batches — absolutely. Just be aware that the tracing time will take a little bit longer with larger batches. Also, I’d recommend that the soaping temperatures are dropped about 10 degrees F if you’re using larger moulds.
Hi Tanya, thank you so much for this blog it’s the best one out there! I’m not sure if this has been asked before, but for the Honey, Oats and Beeswax Soap recipe, if you want to get the lovely brown colour you say to add the honey in lye solution. However, in the Part 4 you say not to have any sugars, such as honey, in the lye solution as it can result in a mini explosion. At what point would you add the honey? Is it once the water and lye have been mixed together and the lye is cooling down? Many thanks :)
Sorry, I forgot to ask, I have a silicone mould with individual soap cubes, and I noticed you advised someone to use a higher temperature (55C/130F) with this type of mould but with using honey in the recipe I should stick to lower temperatures. What do you think would be best? Thanks again!
When you have sugars in your soap recipe (like honey), your soap will naturally become hotter once its poured into the moulds. Stick with cooler soaping temperatures when you’re working with sugars.
Hi Jana! Yes do add the honey to your lye water to get a rich brown colour for the Honey, Oats, and Beeswax soap. In part 4 I say that you can have a mini volcano if the water/infusion you mix with your lye has both sugars in it AND is more than lukewarm in temperature. Hope this helps :)
Hi, I noticed all the recipies require pomace olive oil!! I live in the middle east where organic vergion olive oil is available in abundance , we have millions of olive trees here in Jordan and it’s the only olive oil we have and know :) my question is can I use it instead of the pomace kind? thank you
Yes of course! Crack on with your lovely local organic olive oil :)
Thank you for a great series of articles – I have been making soap for a couple of years just for my own use and to give to family as presents – I have been thinking about maybe selling them. I have been told in order to sell them each recipe needs to cosmetically tested to comply with EU regulations’ – this is not cheap around £49 to £65 each one. You must have been though this process Just wondered if you could share your experience and offer any pointers or a good cheap tester – many thank for a great resource
I fortunately had my soap recipes certified before it started getting too expensive. These days yes, it can be pricey depending on how many variations you have in mind. The best advice I can give you is to get in touch with a reputable EU certified chemist and get a quote.
Your website is a fantastic resource for us soap makers. Thank you for being so generous in passing on your knowledge. I have a question that follows on from this query. You use (I think) herbs and flowers you have grown in your garden. I am applying for the certificates for my own recipes, but am wondering how I can use the herbs from my garden and sell the soap, and abide by the EU regulations when the products won’t have the relative MSDS and allergen certificates etc. I know it’s a long shot to ask you, but how did you go about that? Thanks again for an amazing web site. I get lots of inspiration from it!
Years ago I spoke to the chemist who does my own safety assessments about this very thing. It is perfectly fine to use your own homegrown herbs and flowers in handmade soap. What you’ll need to do is create a record of your harvests though. Each harvest should have a batch number, harvest date and a MSDS sheet. You can create your own MSDS by literally copying the information from another MSDS sheet for the same herb. Also make sure that you have that ingredient included in your safety assessment and to stick by the maximum usage percentage. Hope this helps :)
In one of the recipees above the instructions say, ’10g (0.4oz) Essential oil (approx. 1 tsp) – Match to your selected herb’, my digital scale measured this as about one tablespoon (tbsp) rather than 1 tea spoon (tsp). Just wanted to clarify for others incase they found the same thing. Thank you for your lovely instructions :-)
these look awesome!!
I’m sorry if I’m repeating a question from earlier … what is the shelf life for homemade products?
If you’re selling it, your shelf-life will be the expiration date of the oil you’re super-fatting with. If it’s just for home use, then there really isn’t a general one in my opinion. Soap stays soap a long time and though the fragrance might fade, the soap will still clean :) Saying that, if it smells strange, has weird growth on it, or is generally icky then don’t use it. Keeping soap stored in an airtight container will help prolong its life/scent too.
Thank you so much for these priceless information!!?
great resource. thank you. I have a question. I am unable to find palm oil . Do you know if there is a substitute in your lavender soap recipe?
Palm oil is fairy easy to find in bulk food shops or wholesalers. Sustainably sourced is more difficult! A very easy substitute is beef tallow but if you wish to make a vegetarian soap then a new recipe will be needed. You could use the base recipe for this one: http://lovelygreens.com/2015/03/lavender-rosemary-hand-soap-recipe.html
This is a wonderfully well written and researched series of articles. Just what I was looking for. Thank you!
Is Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) also called caustic soda?
It is, yes.
I’ve found your soap making tutorial and am going to give it a go! The only thing I am confused about is the oils in making my own recipes. I have the soap calculator and the 3-4 oils I want to use, but I don’t understand how to decide the % of oils to use. Is there a guideline as to which solid or liquid oils need to be in %? And does this include the superfatting oils? That was also one thing I didn’t understand – in the soap calc, it asked for the super fat %, but I am hung up on how to figure out how much of each oil to use! I’ve chosen coconut, olive, sunflower and either shea or cocoa butter but am unsure of how to figure out the amounts to use of each. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!!
deciding which percentage of oils to use – experienced soap makers will know this but your best bet is to think olive oil first, then coconut, then other oils. Those first two will make up the bulk of most soap recipes. You’re going to have to play with the calc to get a good result though.
Superfat oil – this is an area that the soap calc does need work in my opinion. What I do is take the percentage of oil that I want superfatted out and set that aside. For example if you’re making a 800g batch and your superfat is 6% then choose the oil you want (shea butter for example) just use 48g of it at the end. Or if there isn’t 48g of it in your recipe, just set what you have aside for the end. The lye can only combine with so much oil so whatever is left after will superfat your bars no matter if you add it in with the lye or at the end. The reason you would set aside a specific superfat oil for the end is to stop it from combining with the lye and becoming soap itself.
Hi Tanya. Thank you for your wonderful, easy-to-follow tutorials! I can’t find ultramarine violet to purchase in small quantities here in New Zealand, but I found this purple mica trademe.co.nz/crafts/other/auction-976853831.htm – would that be a suitable substitution? I’d hate to end up with something that looked fake and tacky! Do you think the quantity required would be similar? Many thanks :)
You could use purple mica as well but be careful about the proportions. You might need less than the amount listed for the ultramarine purple so I’d recommend you do a test batch(es) first.
Hi again, Tanya.
Hurrah! I have now made 4 batches of soap and am well on my way to being dangerously addicted ;) Christmas presents are sorted for this year haha! I’m just struggling to get my head around a couple of things. Firstly, I bought a silicone mould with 12 individual bars instead of a loaf, and am struggling to get it to gel. Either that or I’m just not recognising gel when I see it. I’m wrapping it up with 3 or 4 towels and heating the oils & lye to 45C. Ought that to be hot enough for individual moulds?
I also have a question about trace. It seems different soapmakers have preferences as to whether they blend to light, medium or full trace before pouring. I am just wondering what difference this makes to the final soap? Does a lighter trace mean longer setting/curing time, or does it make no difference?
Thanks again for your wonderful wealth of knowledge :) If I lived in the UK I would so come to one of your classes!!
Yay! Soapmaking is addictive…but it’s a useful addiction, especially at Christmas time :) As for your questions:
Gel with individual soap moulds – you’re probably going to need to use a higher temperature (55C/130F) for mixing and then pop them into a well insulated box wrapped with towels. If you have a wooden box that the mould and towels will fit in, all the better!
Trace – the thicker your trace, the less likely it will be that your soap develops ‘Soda Ash’, that white powder that sometimes develops on top of soap. Thicker trace is also preferred by soap makers who like to create textures on the tops of their bars, fluffy meringue-like spikes and the like. Personally, I prefer a medium trace but that’s just me :)
I have been reading your 4 part series and noticed where you mentioned antioxidants you mentioned using either Grapefruit seed extract or rosemary oleoresin extract, however in all the recipes it lists using vitamin E or Grapefruit seed extract. Is vitamin E an acceptable antioxidant to use and can you use the powdered form or liquid form?
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant so you can use it as well. Use a high quality liquid form – many bottles of inexpensive Vitamin E are mainly carrier oil and contain very little of vitamin e.
Thank you so much! I have decided to try my hand at soapmaking and this info is by far the best and most informative that I have found.
I have a lot of frozen goats milk that I would like to use in my soap. I do not want to use Palm oil or Tallow. I would like to stick with coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, beeswax and goats milk. Is this doable? What are your suggestions?
I’d use the Soap Calc to see what it says but your ingredients will work. Note that you should only use a tiny amount of beeswax in your recipes (only 1-2%) and that the goats milk should be added to the lye in your recipe slowly and in its frozen state.
How Can I replace shea butter if it isn’t available for me ?
Place the recipe into the Soap Calc tool mentioned in the post, make note of all the figures for ‘Soap Bar Quality’ then edit the recipe to your heart’s content.
For the honey and beeswax recipe, when should the beeswax be added? Is it melted with the other oils or added separately? I think I’ve seen some instructions that it is melted separately and added after lye and oils are combined?
You can add it with your other oils to melt down or afterwards – either works. If you add it afterwards though, there’s a higher chance of the beeswax not saponifying and staying in your bars as-is. Personally I think adding the wax during the melting phase is better since beeswax is better used to harden bars rather than moisturise the skin. Other ‘superfatting’ oils like shea butter and cocoa butter are better to add at the end.
I realize this post is a bit old but I’m curious about the broken link on this page under ‘Coloring and Decorating Soap Naturally’. Could you update your post to reflect the corrected link — if it still exists? Thanks for sharing your work! =)
Hi Tanya. I have just made the honey and oat soap you have posted in this page. I only realised toward the end, that I had mixed all the oils together, instead of leaving the superfatting oil aside to mix at light trace. So for next time which is the superfatting oil and what are your thoughts on 10% superfatting?
It’s alright to add all the oils in at the same time – you’ll still have your percentage of superfatting but it will be a mix of all the oils you used rather than just one key oil of your choice. As for a 10% superfat, you’re running the risk of your soap being too soft and oily. Saying that, it could turn out to your liking though so give your recipe a go! Just try making a smaller test batch first :)
Hey Tanya, thank you for the info, your posts have been so valuable on my soaping journey! I noticed the links on this post are broken, any idea on where else to get the information you were trying to share because I am about to try to create my first recipe and i need all the help i can get! Thank you in anticipation of your response.
Hi Deenie and thanks for the heads up on the links!
This is very informative for any kind of DIY products. I was wondering if anyone can shed some light, suppliers do not list that the stock is food safe, but things like cacao butter should be edible also correct? I can’t find any info on that and it would be nice to get everything at once!
Also, Saffire Blue has become less reputable over the years but I hear good things about Candora Soap.
Hi There! Lovely post! I've been making soap for about a year and a half now, and I've been using a wire multi-cutter, which leaves bumps and grooves on my soap. What kind of mold and cutter do you use to achieve the clean edges of you natural lavender soap above? Thanks!
can you advise on a nice soap with lard and maybe 2 other oils also can you give me some advose on colouring as my soaps all come out wrong colour
Can I substitute extra virgin olive oil for regular olive oil in these recipes?
You can do, but it's said that extra virgin takes a lot longer to 'Trace'…and it's also more expensive and not necessarily all that much better for your skin once it's transformed into soap. I'd recommend 'Superfatting' with extra virgin but probably not using it as the entire quantity of olive oil needed :)
Hi, this blog of yours it's awesome. You explain so clearly and i just want to thank you for sharing. I'm a beginner at soap making, and all your advices aré really useful.
Have a nice weekend!
Thank you and I'm so pleased I could help :)
Hi Tanya! I'm making soap for the first time this winter and just wanted to run my recipe by you to see if you have any advice you could offer. I have been living in South Africa for the past year and so was thinking of using rooibos tea in place of the water, pairing that with orange essential oil. I was thinking of using coconut (60%) and olive oil (35%) as the bulk oils, with cocoa butter as the superfatting oil (5%). Would you recommend different ratios in the oils?
Hiya! Coconut oil is amazing stuff…especially if you use it directly on your skin. When it's made into soap though, it creates a very hard bar that is very cleansing and bubbly. Personally, I wouldn't use a recipe that was so high in coconut oil for fear of the soap stripping my skin and leaving it feeling dry and tight. What I'd recommend doing is swapping the percentages of Olive oil to Coconut oil for a much gentler bar of soap. Also love the Rooibos tea idea for natural colour – it will range from tan to dark brown when finished. A caution on the orange essential oil though…it will evaporate very quickly from your bars leaving them smelling unscented. Have a great time making your soap and good luck :)
Thanks so much for your advice! I've made several attempts to research soap-making, and your tutorial is the most balanced and practical that I've found.
I have a crazy question for you. My six-year-old and I collected a bunch of acorns, and on a whim I decided to make flour with them – which involved leaching the tannin from the nuts first. I boiled down the water into a concentrated tannin-rich solution. I'm working to perfect a recipe that uses this solution in place of water.
I'm hoping the tannin-rich solution will produce a soap that will be cosmetically beneficial.
Have you ever tried anything similar, or heard of anything like that? Could all my work be for naught – for instance, could the heat of the production process render the tannins ineffective?
I have over a gallon of the tannin solution, and would like to justify its presence on our countertop to my wife….
Hi Jason and I'm pleased to hear you've found my tutorials helpful :) Regarding Tannin water soap…please give it a miss! That water leftover is acidic and not only will it stop your soap from lathering but it can also burn your skin. If I were you, I'd listen to your wife and dispose of it from the counter top! haha
And thank you for all this great information on your site!
Tanya, May I ask a question about the soap calculator on soapcalc.com? how do you figure out step 2, the weight of the oils? I tried to use this two weeks ago and botched it. I don't get it. Thank you
That's a step you can use to tell the Soapcalc how much soap to make. So if you have a mould that can only hold a 1 lb batch (the weight refers to the weight of the oils only) then you choose 'lbs' and input 1. Then you toggle the oils units to % and the resulting recipe will fit the amount you require. Hope this helps :)
Tanay – What does it mean Coconut oil 76 degrees / 92 degrees and fractionated? I just order a tub of coconut oil – and have no idea what it is?
There are two main types of refined Coconut oil – one melts at 76 degrees and the other at 92 degrees. Fractionated coconut oil is created to be liquid at room temperature and is used in lotions and as a carrier oil. Hope this helps :)
WOW- so much great information. This is just what I needed to dive into soap making. I would love to link to this post if you didn't mind.
Feel free :)
You are doing such an amazing job with this series!! So thought out and so fantastically written. Such a great resource!
Forgot to click the NOTIFY button. LOL.
I just started to gather supplies in the last few weeks. No one working here so the majority of the stuff will be Christmas presents. :)
Thanks for the tutorial and can't wait for the rest.
Susie in northern NY
This is fascinating Tanya! Looking forward to exploring the rest of your blog. Particularly liked the blue Burmese (??) enjoying the radiator on the last post – although it made me a little guilty because I didn't buy beds like that for my three when I saw them for sale recently! Looking forward to more…
This is so great Tanya. Are you do soap making gift sets in your shop?? Would make wonderful presents with just the right amount of everything for people to have a first try and making soap.
I have bookmarked it, I have some fat stored and some that needs rendering as well. I am not going to attempt the wonderful bar that you sent me but just want to do something simple at first. I will start getting stuff together.
Animal tallow can directly replace palm oil in a recipe (for you Sunnybrook and for those reading the comment above). It has the same soapmaking properties and palm is often referred to in soapmaking as vegetable tallow.
Olive oil pomace is chemically produced. Might want to look into that.
It’s extracted using a solvent but the end product is pure oil. Personally I like to see all of the olive oil from a harvest used – waste not, want not – and keep EVOO for preparing food.
Can I sub caster oil instead of Palm oil?
Good question. I'd be interested to hear the reply.
Castor oil cannot be used to replace the exact same quantity of Palm oil in a recipe because it takes a different amount of lye to convert it into soap. You do not need to use palm though – check out the section in the series on using the soapcalc :)