Eco-Friendly Cold Process Soap Recipe + Instructions

Simple and natural cold-process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils, easy-to-understand soap-making instructions, and a DIY video.

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Today it’s back to basics with a simple cold-process soap recipe. The bars you make with it are gentle on the skin, palm oil free, and eco-friendly. I even share how to reuse a drinks carton as a mold. The finished bars are a creamy white, and the lather is light and fluffy. Everything about this recipe ensures that the end product is good for you and the planet.

Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking

I know that many people are hesitant to make homemade soap, so I’ve made the recipe as easy to follow as possible. It includes only four soap-making oils, water, and sodium hydroxide. No fragrance, no additives, nothing extra. Simples. Soap making can be expensive, so the fewer ingredients you use, the more money you’ll save. It makes the soap-making process easier too. This cold process soap recipe is also the main recipe in the Lovely Greens Guide to Natural Soapmaking. It’s a 68-page guide that teaches you how to make natural handmade soap and includes recipes toward the end.

Eco-friendly Cold Process Soap Recipe

One ingredient that you’ll come across a lot in cold process soap recipes is palm oil. It’s linked to deforestation, climate change, and obesity (as a major ingredient in junk food). I avoid it altogether in this recipe, though I’d argue that using sustainable palm oil is not a bad thing. It’s also a Vegan recipe since there are no animal products included. If you’d like for the recipe to be even kinder to the planet and your health, use organic oils. Buying and using them supports sustainable agriculture and healthier ecosystems.

Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking

Another way I’ve tried to make this recipe low-impact is by using a recycled mold. Not a purpose-made soap mold but an old drinks carton that would have probably been discarded. Though Tetrapak is technically recyclable, it’s debatable whether it’s worth the effort. Reusing them this way gives them a second life.

Great for Naturally Coloring Soap

There’s another reason that I’m sharing this recipe. The bars of soap it creates are nearly pure white and absolutely perfect for coloring with natural ingredients. Many soap recipes include oils and butters that are naturally a deep yellow or even greenish-yellow in color. This color of the oils survives the soap-making process, so any additional color you add could blend with it. For example, if you added blue woad powder to this yellow oil soap recipe, you could get green soap! However, with the soap recipe below, you’ll get white soap bars, meaning soap colorants will come through true and bright.

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How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart
Use natural soap colorants if you want to color this soap recipe

If having pure white bars is important for you, make sure to use pomace olive oil instead of extra virgin olive oil in the recipe. The latter is not only more expensive but is far darker in color. Plus, I think pomace olive oil is more eco-friendly than EVOO in soap making. It’s extracted using a technique that squeezes every last drop out of the olive pulp, ensuring nothing goes to waste. Though it’s lower grade for food, it’s perfect for soap making. There’s nothing worse than waste.

Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking
This is what ‘Trace’ looks like. After this point, you pour the soap into the mold.

What is Trace

There are only ten real steps in the recipe below. I don’t count the prepping step or the last item that explains shelf-life. That means only ten steps to make eco-friendly cold-process soap from scratch. The most difficult step to understand is what ‘trace’ looks like and when to put down your stick blender. Trace results from oil and water forming an emulsion and kickstarting the saponification process. The photo above should help you see what the soap should look like at that stage.

Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking
This recipe creates up to eight bars of simple unscented soap

Adding Scent to a Bar of Soap

This recipe is unscented, and the scent is clean and like pure soap. If you want to add essential oils for additional scent, I recommend using this chart to figure out how much to use. Typically, for a small batch like this, you’ll use about three teaspoons of essential oil to scent it. Essential oil is typically added at trace, but you can also stir it in at the same time as adding the lye solution. You can also use fragrance oils to scent soap, but please be aware that they are synthetic and not particularly eco-friendly.

Use this essential oils for soapmaking guide to add scent to soap recipes

Cold Process Soap Making Instructions

Making handmade soap is both art and science. There are a few ways to make soap, including hot process soap making, but cold process soap making is my favorite. It involves mixing fats such as tallow, lard, mango butter, cocoa butter, and avocado oil with a lye water mixture. You can use almost any fat, both vegetable, and animal, to make handmade soap. It’s all down to personal preferences and either choosing a good recipe or learning how to formulate your own.

The chemical reaction that results transforms the ingredients into a new natural compound that we know as soap. In a good soap recipe (always put new ones you find through a lye calculator), there is no lye left in the soap at the end. It transforms into the soap itself! I’ve tried to make each as easy to understand as possible but if you’re still unsure, have a read through the Natural Soap Making for Beginners Series:

  1. Natural Soap Ingredients
  2. Soap Making Equipment & Safety
  3. Beginner Soap Recipes
  4. The Soap Making Process
Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking

Eco-friendly Cold Process Soap Recipe

Lovely Greens
Natural Vegan and palm-oil free simple cold process soap recipe. Technical information: 1lb / 454g batch — 5% superfat — 35.7% water discount
5 from 23 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Curing time 28 d
Total Time 1 hr
Course Soap recipe
Cuisine American
Servings 8 bars

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Lye water

Solid oils

Liquid oils

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your workstation with your tools and equipment. Put on rubber gloves, eye protection, and an apron. Carefully pre-measure the ingredients. The solid oils into the pot, the liquid oils into a jug, the water into another heat-proof jug, and the lye in another container.
  • Prepare the recycled soap mold. Rinse out an empty drinks carton and let it dry upside down. When fully dry, cut out the side that the pouring spout is on. A cutting blade is better for this than scissors. Use the cut-out paper to block the open end of the carton. I fold it over the bottom of the carton and then fit it inside the top of the carton. This helps to create a flatter surface on that side of the mold rather than a pointed shape from what was the top of the carton.
  • Next, dissolve the lye (Sodium hydroxide) crystals in water. In an airy place, outdoors is best, pour the lye crystals into the water and stir well. There will be a lot of heat and steam, so be careful. Try not to breathe it in. Leave outside in a safe place or in a shallow basin of water to cool.
  • Melt the solid oils in a stainless steel pan on very low heat. When melted, remove from the heat and set on a potholder. Pour in the liquid oils. If you have the olive and castor oils in the same container, stir them together first before pouring them into the pan. Castor oil is pretty sticky, and it's easier to pour when mixed with lighter oil.
    Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking
  • Measure the temperatures of the lye solution and the oils. You should aim to cool them both to about 95-100°F / 35-38°C. Use an infrared thermometer or digital kitchen thermometer*.
    Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking
  • Pour the lye solution into the pan of oils. I recommend pouring the liquid through a sieve to catch any potential undissolved lye. You can also pour the lye solution against the side of the stick blender if you'd like to reduce the chance of air bubbles forming in your soap bars.
  • Dip the stick blender into the pan and with it turned off, stir the mixture. Next, bring it to the center of the pan, and with both your hands, hold it on the bottom of the pan and blitz it for just a couple of seconds. Turn it off and stir the soap batter, using the blender as a spoon. Repeat until the mixture thickens up to 'Trace.' This is when the batter leaves a distinguishable trail on the surface. The consistency will be like thin custard.
    Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking
  • Working quickly, pour the soap into the mold. Give it a tap to settle it.
    Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking
  • For a truly pure white soap through and through, place the soap in the refrigerator and leave it there overnight. You can also leave the soap sitting on the counter during this time. If the house is warm, there's a small chance of the center gelling, and your bars having slightly darker centers, though.
  • The next day, take the soap out of the fridge and set it somewhere to rest for another day. Once 48 hours have passed, you can take the soap out of the mold and cut it into bars using a kitchen knife. You can get six to eight decent-sized bars of soap from this batch.
    Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking
  • Cure it for 28 days. Curing means leaving the bars spaced out on a protected surface out of direct sunlight and in an airy place. This allows the extra water content to evaporate out fully. Here are full instructions on how to cure soap.
  • Once made, your soap will have a shelf-life of up to two years. Check the oil bottles that you're using, though. The closest best-by date is the best-by date of your soap. If your handmade soap is destined as gifts, here are some pretty and eco-friendly soap packaging ideas.
    Simple and natural cold process soap recipe. Uses four eco-friendly oils and includes easy to understand soap making instructions #soaprecipe #coldprocesssoap #soapmaking

Video

YouTube video

Notes

* I’ve had questions on whether or not you can use an analog candy thermometer for soapmaking. Yes, you could, but it’s not quick enough for my liking. Digital thermometers give you almost instant readings.
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145 Comments

  1. Hello!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe and clear instructions.
    I am out of the country and have access to limited ingredients. Would it be possible to use shea butter and omit the coconut oil and use olive oil without the castor oil?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Ale, soap recipes are formulated to have different oils to create various properties in the final soap. The amount of lye in a recipe is also specifically calculated for the types and amounts of oils in that particular recipe. If you don’t have the oils needed for this one, I recommend that you simply find another soap recipe that has the oils that you have, such as this castile soap recipe. Here’s more on the ins and outs of changing and customizing soap recipes.

  2. Hi, Im looking forward to trying this recipe out.
    I was just wondering how much soap does this make? I have one of those silicone loaf molds that have a capacity of 1200grams

  3. Catherine says:

    Hello. I am new to soap making and I put the recipe through the soapcalc and it asked for more water. May I ask why this recipe asks for less water? Thank you:)

    1. Water amounts are variable when making soap, and the default amount in the SoapCalc is far too much for most cold-process soap. Remember, the SoapCalc is for making hot process soap recipes too! The amount I calculate for you in this recipe is ideal for coming to trace quickly and helping stop soda ash from forming on your bars.

      1. Catherine says:

        Thanks so much for explaining to me this I appreciate it and am keen to understand and learn as much as I can about soap making. :)

  4. Thank you for pointing out palm oil is not sustainable. So-called ‘sustainable’ palm oil is not recommended either, as there is no way to really tell if your palm oil came from a sustainable source or was poached. It is better to just avoid it altogether.

  5. Thank you so much for this recipe. I just had a question. We live abroad and its expensive and tough to find the different oils. I can’t even find lye only potash. I have to order the lye elsewhere. Is it possible to make this with like a coconut and sunflower oil only and if so do I just double the amts of both?

    1. Hi Ang, too much sunflower oil in soap recipes usually leads to the bars having a much shorter lifespan. Depending on how much you use, it can cause soap bars to go rancid within weeks. Alternatively, you could make this 100% coconut oil soap recipe.

  6. Hi there,
    Can I use normal sodium hydroxide/caustic soda or should it be food grade?
    Thanks again,
    Alex

    1. It’s best to use food-grade sodium hydroxide since it will have no surprise contaminants. The ‘caustic soda’ sold for cleaning drains is permitted to have small amounts of metals/minerals which, in soap, can increase the chances of soap developing DOS (going rancid).

  7. kinder joy instructions says:

    me sirvio muchisimo…

  8. Hi, so far I’ve had no problems with making this recipe. I’ve just tried to make a natural purple. I boiled some mulberry’s in water then strained the pulp. It was a lovely deep purple colour. I used this and mixed in the soda. Straight away it turned orange. I’ll be making lavender soap and before I continue with this, will the lye change back to a purple during the process at some point? Thankyou

    1. I’m afraid that your soap will likely turn out a light brown to beige color. It will still be good soap though :)

  9. Hello!
    Thanks for all of the great content. I have made this recipe 5 times and each time it worked perfectly. However, today my soap seized when blending and was unworkable (no EOs/FOs used). I’m trying to figure out what was different today, and noticed in my notes that I used different ingredient amounts when making this same soap recipe previously (64g NaOH, 120g water, 145g coconut oil, 55g shea butter, 225g olive oil, 30g castor oil). Has the recipe changed at all since last year? I might just be going crazy XD but I thought I’d ask to be sure!
    Thanks,
    Emily

    1. Hi Emily and yes it’s updated to be more sensitive — the previous recipe was a little high on the coconut oil and I adjusted down and upped the shea. This change wouldn’t have been a reason that your recipe seized though.

      1. Okay great to know, thank you!

  10. Hi can someone please help me out I have sweet orange essential oil in a peppermint essential oil how many grams of each of these can I add to this bar

  11. Hi there
    Thank you for sharing your amazing posts!

    Is it okay if I put this recipe through gel phase?
    My mold won’t fit in my fridge and our house is hot due to summer.

    Thanks!
    Natasha

  12. 5 stars
    Hi there! I’ve made this recipe 3 times now, once unscented and twice with essential oils. The unscented batch went great! The scented batches… not so much. I added the essential oils at the time of using the emersion blender, and almost immediately the mixture became hardened and really didn’t have the time to even get it into the mold. I still got soap out of it, but in very strange/ugly bars:) is there a trick to when to add the essential oils in the process? I assume this happened because of the temp difference in the EO and the oil mixture?

    1. Hi Amanda and I would put money on it that you have used fragrance oils instead of essential oils. The effect you’re describing is called ‘seizing’ and FOs are often the culprit. A very few essential oils can cause it too, but only a few and most of those are uncommon in soapmaking. When purchasing essential oils in the future make very certain that they are essential oils and not synthetic fragrances. There are fragrance oils that can be used in soap successfully but quite a few (including diffuser type FOs) are harmful to your skin.

  13. 5 stars
    This soap makes the most delicious lather and is crazy moisturizing! Easy to follow and modify with scents. Thanks for sharing!

  14. In regards to the Eco-Friendly cold processed soap recipe, can you add essential oils to it? And if you put it in the fridge, should you cover it? If so, with what?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Wanda and yes you can customize it with your choice of essential oils, natural colorants, and botanicals. No, you do not need to cover it in the fridge but you can do it if you’re worried about anything falling into the soap. I’d avoid placing it next to any uncovered food, too.

  15. Hey! Can I add honey to the melted oils in this recipe?

    1. Yes, or you can add it at trace, or to the lye solution. The latter will color your soap brown and have it smell like caramelized honey. I use 1 tsp of honey PPO (so for this recipe)

  16. Hi!
    I made this soap 4 days ago.
    It feels greasy to the touch. Will it go away after curing?

    1. Your soap has not cured for the full month yet. After that time is up, the soap will be dry and non-greasy to the touch.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi, I have made it twice and it turned to be really good, its so easy to make it, I just wonder if I can add a super fat portion at the end of trace? Like yogur or mango butter? Thanks

        1. Hi Mariela, there’s already a 5% superfat built into this recipe. You don’t have to add it at a certain stage — all it means is that there’s more oil in your recipe than the lye can transform into soap. If you add anything else into the recipe as an additional superfat it may affect the hardness, lather, and other soap properties. Also, yogurt doesn’t give much (if any) of a superfat. It can also turn your soap brown if you don’t take precautions to cool the soap in some way.

  17. Hi Tanya,

    Can I replace the sunflower oil with jojoba oil in these recipes? I don’t have sunflower oil on hand at the moment, so I’m trying to improvise.

    Thank you, and lovely website.

    Best,
    Siera

    1. Hi Siera, Replacing oils like that isn’t that simple. Soapmaking is chemistry, and if you change the oils, you need to recalculate the properties of the soap and how much lye you’ll need. There’s more information over here, but what I’d recommend to you, as a beginner soapmaker, is that you wait and buy some sunflower oil :)

  18. Hi, I love your recipes they are simple and elegant. I am new to CP and was wondering if I could use the chamomile infused water from your other recipe for this recipe.
    Thank you

  19. Taras Harasymiv says:

    I’m concerned about your recommendation of using pomace olive oil. I’m new to soap making but, from what I have read, pomace olive oil is created with the use of solvents and there have been warnings by governments around the world (including Britain) about the dangers of the contaminants that pomace olive oil contains. In contrast, pure olive oil is exactly that, the pure oil that is extracted by simply pressing the olive fruit.

    1. Hi Taras, and it’s a good topic to discuss. I personally always use olive oil pomace in soapmaking, opposed to extra virgin. First of all, extra virgin is best for cooking and eating with — it also adds a darker and more yellow color to soap. Pomace olive oil is lower grade, but I very much support using it since it reduces an incredible amount of waste in olive oil production. It’s not as good for using in cooking and soap is a perfect use for it! Remember that after heating and processing it via saponification, it is no longer olive oil either, and would not retain all of the great health benefits of the original ingredient. It becomes sodium olivate, the compound called olive oil soap. Lastly, any small amounts of contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are far more dangerous in edible products than wash-off soap suds. To summarize my view on the matter, choose EVOO for eating, and whatever type of olive oil you’d like for soapmaking. If choosing organic is important to you in skincare, then choose EVOO. If food and material waste is important to you, choose pomace olive oil.

  20. Hi. Thanks for a beautiful recipe which turned out delightfully. I’d like to replace the water with goats milk. Would I be able to do this by simply replacing the original water amount with the amount of goats milk? Thank you very much

    1. Hi Angela and thank you :) Yes, you can do that, but please keep in mind that milk scorches when it heats up with lye and can turn your soap brown (and a bit smelly to some). I show how I make pure white goat milk soap here though, and you could use the same method if you wish.

  21. Can I use the extra virgin olive oil, the one used in foods, in place of the indicated olive oil?

  22. Leena Philip says:

    Hey Tanya,
    I have made a number of your soap recipes which I love, but I am finding that the soap recipes that are not coloured, when they cure they very uneven in their colouring – yellows and creams – for example. Can you tell my why this is, and if there is a way to have them cure so that they are just a solid colour?
    Thanks!
    Leena

    1. Hi Leena, and what I suspect that is happening to your soap is a partial gel. When the outer parts of the bars are lighter in color than a circular area in the middle that’s darker. To avoid this, you can put your soap in the refrigerator as soon as it’s poured. This will stop the gel from happening. Otherwise, you can ensure the soap gels completely. You can do this by soaping at a little higher temperature (120F/49C) and insulating the soap by wrapping a towel around it. You can also oven-process your soap. Hope this helps :)

  23. 5 stars
    Hi. Can I use extra virgin olive oil? The one used in food

    1. Yes you can, though the final color of the soap may be a little creamier rather than white.

  24. Alexcia Lohmann says:

    Hey this is my recipe
    Hard Coconut oil 33%
    Olive oil 64%
    Castor oil 3%
    Sodium lactate 1 teaspoon
    Can u please help me with lye and water percentage for a lb of of soap?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Alexcia, there’s further information on how you can change and customize soap recipes over here. It will help you with formulating your own recipes :)

  25. Megan Blaker says:

    5 stars
    Can I put coffee grounds or oatmeal in this recipe

      1. I tried this recipe for my first soap batch ever and The lye solution (88F) cooled faster than the oils (98F) but I still mixed them even though both weren’t within the temperature range in your recipe. 2 days later I tried cleaning my pots and containers that I used, and they were hard to clean as if the oils and lye never soaponified ( didn’t lather at all) and it was just solidified oils. Could this be due to the soaping temperature? I’m leaving the soaps to cure so haven’t tried if they lather/work well. Thanks!

        1. Hi Lydia, since the soap solidified, and you’re now curing it, I suspect that you made the recipe just fine. Keep in mind that soap in its first week doesn’t lather easily at all. The residue in the pans won’t either. It takes the full four-week cure time for the lather to develop its fluffiness and the soap to be mild enough to be comfortable on your skin. Wait until the soap is cured and try it then :)

  26. Hi Thanks for the recipe. This is the first time I tried making a cold process soap . The soap looks good but Iam getting a pungent smell from the soap,its been 2 days since I made the soap. Can you help me know what could have gone wrong
    Thanks

    1. Hi Sarala, soap can sometimes have a scent at the beginning of its cure time but it dissipates over time.

  27. hi! I love your site and think you are amazing! I tried this recipe. I am making it for my cousins party as favors. She is vegan so it is perfect! I added mica powder 1 teaspoon of navy blue and 1 teaspoon of raspberry .5 teaspoon of gold mica (because these are the colors she wanted with the white background so the colors are just a swirl) and 30 ml of lavender essential oil for a 2.5 LB batchit comes out to a 40 bar equivalent for your recipe but for my loaf mold it only makes 8 bars. It traced nicely and was ready finally ready to use on Wednesday I tested it out today and my skin feels very dry after using it. Do you think this is because of the mica? The lather is very nice, the soap itself felt very soft when washing. I just want it to be perfect so I thought I’d reach out for advice to see if there is anything I can do to make it more moisturizing? I’m nervous because I added the mica and the essential oil that I could have changed some components even though I have read about adding mica and essential oil and think I have do it correctly….. Please help me if you can. Thank you for your time!

    1. Hi Danielle ? You did use an awful lot of mica but I’m not sure that’s the issue. The essential oil amount looks fine though. As far as your increasing the batch size, the recipe widget helps you to double or triple the batch but not to increase it by 2.5 times. I’m not sure where you’re getting the 40 bar equivalent either? So I wonder if you indeed used this recipe or maybe got it mixed up with another recipe? If you did use this one, then it’s likely that you worked out the amounts manually to create a 2.5x batch. Doing things manually can sometimes mean you can accidentally end up with incorrect calculations.

      1. Thank you so much for your response. I did manual calculate it a little bit but tried to use as much information from you as possible. So it is definitely a me issue then. I will revise with just a regular 2 pound. I’ve also never used mica before. I normally just do all natural. Do you know what the least amount I can use and still get the correct color is or an approximation for 2 pounds? Thank you again for your time and help I really, really appreciate it!

        1. Hi Danielle, with micas oxides and ultramarines, the amount you use is very much dependent on the type. Personally, I tend to use between 1/32 tsp to 1/2 tsp PPO when working with them. The smaller the amount, the lighter and more pastel the shade. Please also keep in mind that micas sometimes misbehave in cold process soap — meaning that the color doesn’t come through true.

  28. 5 stars
    I made this soap and I’m waiting for it to cure before I test it out. With that being said is this soap drying to the skin?

    1. I cured for 6 weeks before trying just to get a nice, super hard bar. The recipe was a bit too drying for me. I’ll have to study more on changing oils to see how I can make this a little more friendly to my skin. Great beginnet recipe, though. It was the first soap loaf I’ve ever made from scratch. It was awesome!

  29. 5 stars
    Hi there! I’m very new to soaping and wanted to try this formula. I wanted to know, if I want to add a fragrance oil in the mix, what percentage should I add it in with and do I need to diminish the amount of the other oils? Thank you!

    1. Hi Alicia, fragrance oils will come with specific instructions on how much to use in cold-process soap. If you don’t have it on hand, contact the manufacturer to check. Please also be aware that fragrance oils (synthetic fragrance) comes in variants that are safe for soap and those that are meant for candles, and are unsafe for skin contact. Always double-check!

  30. 5 stars
    Can i use liquid coconut oil?

    1. Fractionated coconut oil cannot be used to replace solid coconut oil in soap recipes. It doesn’t give the soap the same qualities and it also has a much different saponification value. Meaning, it needs a different amount of lye to convert it into soap. If you change any of the oils in a soap recipe, the entire recipe will need to be re-evaluated and the lye amount recalculated.

  31. Why light colored olive oil?

    1. Because extra virgin has a yellow-green color that comes through in the soap. I recommend this recipe for people experimenting with natural soap colorants and for those to work their best, they need to be used in white soap.

  32. Jazeena Baeza says:

    5 stars
    Loving this recipe! I was wondering if I can add activated charcoal to this recipe for coloring? If so, how much would I add?

    1. Yes of course! A teaspoon of activated charcoal can give you a gray to blue-gray like this soap, but three teaspoons will give you something closer to black. The lather will be grey with darker-colored soap, though.

  33. Crystal Pointer says:

    Wanting to make a bigger batch of this soap. Do I double all the amounts or do I have to change anything?

  34. I’m loving all your recipes!! Is this an ideal soap for baby’s? Or is there another you can recommend I make for my baby?

    1. Kerry Chadwell says:

      Hi Tanya,
      I am planning on making soap this weekend and really excited to try your recipes!
      My question…are your soap recipes good for people with eczema issues? My husband has had good luck with the homemade soaps that I have purchased, but when comparing her list of oils on the paper wrap to your recipes I found that she used a combination of most of the same oils. Olive oil, Coconut oil, and shea butter, but she also used soybean oil which I have not seen in your recipes. Do you think that will make a difference with his eczema? Just curious…I will be using your recipes anyway though…Thank You!!

      1. Hi Kerry, soybean oil is a cheaper oil that’s used as a filler oil (to make soap cheaper) rather than an important main soaping oil. There’s nothing wrong with using it in a recipe, but there’s nothing special about it :)

  35. Hi!
    Thanks for the reciepe and the inspirering video!
    Coconutoil (and maybe also olive oil) feels very cleansing/drying to my skin.
    Would it be a bad idea to tweak the reciepe with
    25% coconut
    35% Olive
    35% Shea
    5% Castor.
    ?
    Would it make any difference to the drying feeling to add coconutmilk?
    Best Regards,
    Camille.

    1. Hi Camille, adding coconut milk could make your bars gentler, but it really sounds like your skin is too sensitive to soap in general. This is a very gentle recipe and great for most people. I’d recommend that you look into soap-less cleansers, and cream cleansers, especially if you’re looking for face cleanser.

  36. Can you use another type of oil in place of the Caster oil?

    Thank you for all your great tips!

  37. Melly Bee says:

    I’m very new to soap making – made 6 batches so far. I made this recipe the first and it went through gel phase – didn’t like the translucent look of my swirls, but the bar was a perfect hardness. Made two more batches and made sure they didn’t go through gel phase, but the soap was very soft and after 5 days I forced them out of the mold. Can I do a 20% water discount on this recipe and/or add sodium lactate to lay water for harder un-gelled soap? Love that this recipe doesn’t call for palm.

    1. Feel free to add sodium lactate to help harden the bars. It’s a natural and vegan ingredient derived from lactic acid and you can use 1 tsp in this recipe. Stir it into the lye solution once it’s cooled.

      1. lovelygreens,

        Is the 1 tsp of sodium lactate you suggest adding in the crystal form or has it been diluted in water or some other liquid? If so, at what percentage?

        1. The sodium lactate is completely optional and when I make this recipe I never use it. If you wanted to use it, use 1 tsp of the liquid form of sodium lactate. If you purchase the powder, dissolve 1/2 tsp sodium lactate in 1/2 tsp warm distilled water. Stir it well before adding to make sure it’s completely dissolved.

  38. Lydia Steele says:

    5 stars
    Hi Tanya,
    I love this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. Its from this website that i have learnt to make soap.
    would adding milk to this soap change the color?
    Thanks,
    Lydia

    1. Thank you Lydia :) And you could definitely add milk and keep that creamy white appearance. Follow the instructions on my goat milk soap recipe and simply adjust the water/lye solution steps in this recipe for the milk method. Good luck!

      1. Hi , in India, we don’t get solid coconut oil. How do I substitute the liquid with it? Thanks

        1. It’s possible that coconut oil liquifies in your climate. Check to see exactly what type of coconut oil it is with the manufacturer.

  39. Hi mam my formula
    50g causti
    119g distilled water
    626g 4oils (palm coconut caster olive)
    I have quick trace what I do?

    1. This isn’t an accurate formula — for example, how much of what oils are you using? As a beginner, I recommend that you make simple beginner soap recipes like this one that you’re commenting on. Plenty of others to explore here on Lovely Greens too :)

  40. Hi. Thanks so much for this recipe. I just made my first soap ever. Everything well except the bar weighs more than 454g. I weighted all ingredients in grams. My bar weighted 600g instead of 454g. I am not sure why. Maybe I had to measure the liquids in ounces… What kind of impact would this have in the soap?

    1. Hi Sonya, the 1-lb (454g) weight is the base oils used only. It doesn’t account for the weight of the lye and water and essential oils if used.

  41. HI!
    Can I add to the coconut recipe some coconut fragrance? and how much for the quantitites you used?

    1. Hi Ioana, and yes, if you wish to add fragrance, you can stir it in at trace (when the recipe thickens). Usage rates vary between fragrance oils and essential oils but in the case of fragrance (synthetic parfum) there should be a specific usage rate available for the product. Also, keep in mind that not all fragrance oils are skin-safe.

  42. Hi Tanya!
    I’m so glad I found your website :) I’m a newbie in Soap making. I like the fact that most of your recipes don’t call for other hard to find oils such as Tallow or Palm oil.
    My first batch was a Kit from Bramble Berry, the oils have been pre-measured.
    For my 2nd batch, I used this recipe and added Lemongrass-Sage fragrance. But I think I forgot to add the Castor Oil :( Will it affect the final product? Is it safe to use or just toss it? How about if I rebatch it, will it work? The bar looks really beautiful and smells great!
    I’ve also made my 3rd batch the other day using this same recipe, scented with Pumpkin-Brown sugar. This time I made sure, I got all the oils needed. I can’t wait to use them :D
    Thank you!
    Mhel

    1. Hi Mhel, and I’m so pleased that you’re doing so well learning to make soap. I also share almost all of my soap recipes as 1-lb batches to make them easier, and less expensive, for beginners. To answer your question about forgetting to use castor oil in this recipe — it will likely be harsh on your skin. Without the castor oil, the bubbles and lather will be different from the base recipe, and the superfat will only be 1%. That means that there’s only a tiny amount of free-floating oil in the bars and the soap will be over-drying. You could rebatch this recipe to make it gentler, but the lather quality won’t change.

      1. Thank you so much. I can’t believe I forgot to include Castor oil :( It was my first Soap from scratch, I was overwhelmed I guess. I don’t plan to give it away yet and I don’t want to take a chance, so I will just disregard the soap and make a new batch using the same Lemongrass-Sage scent. Again, thank you and I can’t wait to try the other recipes :D
        Mhel

  43. Anita Sumics says:

    5 stars
    Hey,
    I looove your recipes, I’ve already made a few, including this one. :) This one is a little drying for my hand in the winter, but apart from that it’s perfect. I have one question though – would you use this soap for dishwashing? I’ve also made castille soap with your recipe, but it’s still curing and I don’t have soy wax to make your dish-soap recipe.
    Thanks,
    Anita

    1. Hi Anita, this soap isn’t suitable for washing dishes with as it has a 5% superfat. You need soap that has 0% superfat, otherwise the soap will leave an oily residue on your dishes. Here’s my recipe for dishsoap

  44. 5 stars
    Love your site! I’m a new soaper and have successfully made several of your recipes, including this one which produces a lovely hard white bar. Can’t wait till I can actually use it. Note: I do read all the comments from beginning to end to make sure I’m not asking a question that’s already been addressed. I did try this recipe with cold refrigerated brewed coffee as full water replacement, and 2 tsp dried coffee grounds (used) to the batter at trace. Everything else was the same as the first time I made the recipe. But the bars are a bit soft, even a week later. Why might that be?

    1. Very strange, and one I had to google. I don’t see using coffee, as liquid or grounds, pop up in any main soapmaking issues mentioned by other soapers. I did, however, come across someone having your exact issue and commenting about it in another site’s coffee soap recipe. It took longer for the soap to firm up and cure but I think it hardened eventually. It’s a new-to-me coffee issue that warrants a look at, but that I can’t offer an answer for now. If you make the soap again, try making it with a little more of a water discount to see if that helps?

      1. Thank you. I did quite a bit of research as well prior to my asking for your thoughts and I couldn’t come up with a solution either. I will try a bit of a water discount next time. And, yes, there will be a next time. I love your recipes!

  45. Hi Tanya

    It mentions that for the first 24 hours you can put it in the fridge. Will this affect my food that’s already there from a toxicity point of view? Can’t wait to try this recipe tomorrow.

    Thanks
    Julie

    1. Hi Julie, and as long as you don’t accidentally spill the soap into your food, it will be fine. It would be a good idea to cover the soap/mold with clingfilm to keep essential oils in and food out though.

  46. Sarah Pearce says:

    Hi :)

    How much soap will this recipe make? I have a 1kg mould – will the 1x recipe fill this mould or will I need to make more?

    1. Hi Sarah, this is a one-pound (454 g) recipe, and 1kg is the same as 1000 g

  47. Joy A Kimbrough says:

    5 stars
    Hi, I made this recipe and added coffee grounds to it. (the coffee grounds where already used and dried out.) I left it in the mold for two days and removed/cut. It was pretty soft at first but its completely hardened up already and its been a week. I loved how easy this was to make and am going to feature some bars in a boutique.

  48. 5 stars
    Hello, Thank you for all of your lovely tips and recipes. I have been using this base recipe during learning CP and I have had no issues with it! I was wondering though, If I wanted to add goats milk (powder) to this recipe, would I simply make my frozen milk base with the current amount of water and substitute? Please advise the best way to incorporate goats milk in this base recipe. Thanks!

    1. Yes Eva you could :) I’d recommend making the soap at about 95F though and refrigerating it after you’ve poured it into the mold. That will keep the soap from heating up and discoloring. Sugars (milk included) has a tendency to do that.

      1. If using goats milk powder as full water replacement, it is necessary to prepare with water, freeze the cubes and then mix with the lye; or could the full water amount in recipe be used as written and then the goats milk powder (just the powder, no water) be mixed in at trace (like adding a clay)? Does it make a difference in the quality of the finished product?

        1. You can add the goat milk powder at trace if you wish, but it needs mixing in a little liquid oil or it will be clumpy. Please be aware that using goat milk powder like this doesn’t give you the creamy bars that real goat milk can. I’d recommend that you use my goat milk soap recipe if you’d like to make simple and successful goat milk soap. It’s not a full water replacement but much better for beginners working with milk.

  49. Hi. I’ve just made my first CP batch with your recipes, and I love it. So, thank you so much first.
    The question is, when adding puree for coloring, do I need to recalculate oil and lye solution amounts?

    1. No, purees are not part of the chemical makeup of the soap bar. Puree, botanicals, and other additives stay as they are within the soap. They are dispersed, not chemically bonded.

  50. Hi! Thanks for this post, I’m using it to make my first ever bar of soap. :)
    I was sort of reverse engineering this recipe in my head so I could try to better understand how to make up a recipe in general, and I think I’m thinking about it the wrong way. This recipe is 35.7% water. But if I take the amount of water (113g) and compare it to the total amount of substance in the whole recipe (631g) it makes up 17.91%. When we talk about there being 38% water in a standard recipe, or a 37.5% discount in this case, how do we actually arrive at that number? The same question applies to how we calculate percentages of any of the ingredients in a recipe. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Allegra, the lye solution is at a 35.7% concentration of lye to water. It’s moderately water discounted :) SoapCalcs can also give you an option to have water as a percentage of oils, but this method of calculating water isn’t accurate. It’s better to see how much lye is in a recipe and create a controlled lye concentration. The most common water discount is at 33% so that means one part lye and two parts distilled water.

  51. 5 stars
    Hello – Thanks so much! I followed the recipe exactly except I added lavender EO and the batch turned out lovely. Thanks for all of the great content you put out!

  52. 5 stars
    Hello! Thanks so much for sharing this great starter recipe. I would also like to try this and add an essential oil for fragrance. I read your article on making soap with essential oils, and want to confirm that once I know how much essential oil to add, I can just add it into this base recipe and I don’t have to recalculate the original ingredient amounts? Thanks!

    1. Hi Emily, this is a 1-lb batch of soap (as most of my recipes are) so use the recommended amount of essential oil from the chart. No need to recalculate your recipe :)

  53. 5 stars
    Hello. This recipe looks great! I was wondering if you knew the ph of this bar soap by any chance? I can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

    1. I’ve not tested the pH but all natural soap is alkaline — ph 8-10 ish :)

  54. 5 stars
    Hi Tanya,

    I have been starting some soap making and enjoy using your recipes. I have dried some herbs and want to use some as a colourant, specifically mugwort. I see lots of mugwort soaps on the again market, but never any english recipes and how to use it. do you have any experience or guidance on using a dried powdered mugwort to use in soap, as in, when to add it and possibly how much? thanks for any help,

    1. Mugwort has been a trendy skincare ingredient for the past two years — it started getting really big with Korean skincare products in 2018. I’ve never used it in soap but I imagine that the colour wouldn’t be that exciting. I’ve had a look at some examples made from other people and it seems to give soap a brownish tone unless another colorant is used to counteract it.

  55. Humaira Isane says:

    5 stars
    Hi there,
    I’d like to know if I could use this recipe for all my cp soaps and just add essential oils, natural colour and clays to make it a different soap.

    Please advise :)

      1. Hi,
        Thanks so much for your article. It’s really educative and informative. I’m a starter in the soap making industry. I learnt from a friend and I’m not convinced that I have gotten adequate knowledge.
        If i want to add additives to my soap ,what’s the right quantity to add to each soap production.
        Thanks

        1. Hi,
          I have been reading a lot regarding CP soap making on the net and learnt that the most preferred percentage for coconut oil use in the recipe should be not more than 20% otherwise the soap gets very drying to the skin ( 5%superfat off course)
          What I noticed in all your 3 basic recipes the coconut oil % is 29.93% ( 120gx100/454g)
          Won’t the soap with this percentage of coconut oil be very drying to the skin.?
          I am heading to make my first soap ever using your recipe after all the learning on the net regarding CP soaping.. I found your recipes very clear and good but had this question .. requesting you to please clear my doubts .regards.

          1. Hi Vee, cold-process soap recipes tend to have up to 33% coconut oil and it’s a personal preference really. If you have dry skin use 25% or less coconut oil though. The reason I use almost 30% in the beginner recipes is that it will create a hard enough bar that will be easy to unmold for beginners, doesn’t use palm oil or tallow (for those who want to avoid both), won’t go off due to oils that go rancid quickly, and that won’t be drying for most skin. They’re good all-rounder recipes but if you make a batch and think it’s too cleansing for your skin, use a recipe that has less cleansing power.

  56. Hi! I’m new at making soap, and this might be a silly question, but I was wondering how you calculate the lye and water ratio? I used the bramble berry calculator for this recipe and it says to use more water. Could you explain why you use a 34,8%/65,2% ratio?:)

    1. I water discount all of my recipes — using less water reduces the chance of soda ash on the soap and speeds up tracing.

  57. 5 stars
    Hi there and thanks for the recipe. I find the smell of olive oil covers up any essential oil by the time the soap is cured. Can I use sunflower oil instead of olive oil? I read it has the same SAP value (0.134) as olive oil so the % of each ingredient should stay the same, right? Thanks!

  58. Helly Newton says:

    5 stars
    This sounds like a great recipe, I’d love to add fragrance to it though, how much fragrance oil would you add to this?

  59. Hi Tanya,

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m wondering if this soap will be moisturizing enough without adding an extra superfat oil after?

    1. The superfat is built into the recipe — no need to add extra at the end :)

  60. Thank you so much for your great videos and recipes.
    I was testing a recipes with
    35%coconut, 5%castor, 10%almond, 50%olive oil (5%superfat). They all did greeeat! Except with poppy seeds which always gave DOS… i guess it is an interaction with the seeds…
    When I made a 100% coconutoil soap with poppy seeds it didn’t gave DOS..

    Do you have any experience with poppy seeds and DOS? and do you have an idea for a recipe with high coconut oil amount and e.g. 10% almondoil and 5% castoroil? I can’t figure out how to superfat it (because with the coconut oil I usually have a 20% superfat)…

    Learning in gratitude from you as the expert!
    Thank you very much

    1. Hi Lot, and no I can’t say that I’ve had issues with DOS and poppy seeds. Do you mean poppyseed oil? Also, thanks for sharing the soap recipe that you’ve been testing. 35% coconut oil (with only a 5% SF) is much more than most recipes call for. Usually they include under 30% coconut oil. Did you find your soap overdrying at all?

  61. Vicki Farley says:

    Hi Tanya! Thank you for this recipe! If I don’t have Shea Butter, can I use the same amount of Cocoa Butter instead? Or would it require a different weight?

  62. Vicki Farley says:

    5 stars
    Hi Tanya!
    If I’m out of Shea Butter, can I substitute Cocoa Butter or would I have to recalculate the formula?

    Thanks,
    Vicki

  63. Christina says:

    Hi. just wondering, if i use 76 coconut oil instead of refinedwould it change the whole recipie .

  64. Denise Killingsworth says:

    Could this recipe be used as a melt and pour base once it has cured?

    1. Melt and pour soap is made in a different way than cold process, so the answer is no. M&P is made in a complicated process and there’s not much information about it online. There is, however, a book that describes how you can make M&P soap base in your kitchen. Here’s the link to it: https://amzn.to/2T5P6vg

  65. Would this recipe be good for shampoo bar?? Or the olive oil recipe?

    1. Most people are not aware that many ‘shampoo bars’ are not real soap — they’re solid detergents. Unfortunately, cold process soap does not make great shampoo bars in my opinion. In fact, the longer and more treated your hair, the more likely that soap will leave it ending up like a bird’s nest. That’s why I don’t share recipes for them — I don’t want people to have a bad experience.