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How to Make Pure 100% Coconut Oil Soap (Cold-Process Recipe)

Use just three ingredients to make this simple coconut oil soap. It uses a 20% superfat stops the bars from being too drying and is one of the bubbliest soap recipes to make. You can even make it without an immersion blender.

Soapmakers are taught that to make a good bar of soap, you need to choose several oils. Olive oil is a common one, as is shea butter, but probably the most common is coconut oil. The idea is that coconut oil soap is very hard and very bubbly but that it can be overdrying, so you need to balance the recipe with milder oils. This recipe blows away that principle and shows you how to use just coconut oil to make a really good bar of soap.

This cold-process soap recipe uses just three ingredients including coconut oil, lye, and distilled water. That’s it! The result is very hard white bars with excellent lather and that doesn’t dry out your skin. Coconut oil soap is also a recipe that traces quickly so you do not need to use an immersion blender to make it. Stirring alone is enough to bring the ingredients to trace.

Use just three ingredients to make this simple coconut oil soap. It uses a 20% superfat stops the bars from being too drying and is one of the bubbliest soap recipes to make. It doesn't even require an immersion blender #soaprecipe #coconutoil #easysoaprecipe

Single Oil Soap Recipes

The vast majority of soapmaking oils do not make good soap when used in single oil soap recipes. The bars can be soft enough to squeeze like putty, the lather can be poor, and the cleansing ability is too drying or not cleansing enough. Each oil and fat has a different price-point and sustainability level too, which deters us from using some, or at least, using a lot of one in a recipe.

For example, palm oil on its own can make a decent bar of soap, but many soapmakers, and soap customers, refuse to use it as an ingredient due to its huge environmental toll. Olive oil makes an excellent single oil soap recipe, called Castile soap, but it can be an expensive oil and the bars need a long cure time. Tallow is another fat that makes really good soap on its own, but being that it’s beef fat limits your market since many people will only use vegetarian or Vegan soap.

Use just three ingredients to make this simple coconut oil soap. It uses a 20% superfat stops the bars from being too drying and is one of the bubbliest soap recipes to make. It doesn't even require an immersion blender #soaprecipe #coconutoil #easysoaprecipe
Pure Coconut oil soap is very hard with fluffy lather

Can I make soap with just coconut oil?

Coconut oil is a very popular soapmaking oil because it helps create hard bars with fluffy, stable lather. It’s also inexpensive for many of us and readily available. However, because it’s seen as drying, most soapmakers won’t use it at any more than 20-30% of a typical soap recipe. At that rate, it contributes the best of its qualities without drying out your skin.

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It turns out though that soapmakers have been wrong all along, though. You CAN use more than that amount of coconut oil in a soap recipe. The trick is giving the recipe a 20% superfat and the finished bars an extra-long cure time. This recipe accounts for both and will give you hard white bars that lather well and that are gentle on your skin.

Use refined coconut oil to make coconut oil soap

Which Coconut Oil to Use in Soap

Another thing that can confuse people is what type of coconut oil to use in soap? This recipe calls for refined coconut oil. It’s a less expensive type of coconut oil used for healthier frying and does not smell of coconut. You can get a large quantity of it, and if it’s food-grade, feel free to try using it to roast potatoes and cook with.

I don’t advise using delicious and more expensive virgin coconut oil in soapmaking. There’s no point really since the coconut scent does not survive the soapmaking process. Better to use virgin coconut oil in food or natural skincare. Also, do not use fractionated (liquid at room temperature) coconut oil for this recipe. It has different properties and a different saponification value to solid coconut oil.

Use just three ingredients to make this simple coconut oil soap. It uses a 20% superfat stops the bars from being too drying and is one of the bubbliest soap recipes to make. It doesn't even require an immersion blender #soaprecipe #coconutoil #easysoaprecipe
Coconut oil is easy to make but needs to cure for 10+ weeks

Coconut Oil Soap with 20% Superfat

One of the most surprising aspects of this soap recipe is that it needs a 20% superfat. Say what?! Yes, that much. Soap recipes are calculated to have enough oils/fat for the lye to use up plus a little extra to create the superfat. It works by using less lye than is needed to transform all of the oils in the recipe into soap. You do this by increasing the superfat amount in whichever lye calculator you’re using. The extra oil left in the bars helps make the soap feel mild and conditioning on your skin.

When we make soap with multiple types of oil, the superfat will be a mixture of all of those oils. The way it works is that lye saponifies with whatever oils are around them. The oil is left after the chemical reaction finishes, and the lye is used up, is left free-floating in the soap. Having a higher superfat (more than 8%) risks some of those oils going rancid. It’s especially a problem with oils like sweet almond, sunflower, canola, and many other oils.

Most oils, in fact, but not coconut. That’s why it’s safe to use such an exceptionally high superfat in this recipe. And in case you’re wondering, that superfat does not make the soap soft. Coconut oil soap bars are very hard.

Use just three ingredients to make this simple coconut oil soap. It uses a 20% superfat stops the bars from being too drying and is one of the bubbliest soap recipes to make. It doesn't even require an immersion blender #soaprecipe #coconutoil #easysoaprecipe
This recipe uses 20% more coconut oil than the lye needs to turn into soap

Benefits and Disadvantages of coconut oil soap

The soap that you’ll make in this recipe is simple, unscented, and unadorned. Coconut oil soap has a lot of benefits! It’s pure and natural and perfect for everyday use, especially if you have allergies to essential oils and other fragrances. It’s also quick to trace, meaning that you do not need to use a stick blender (immersion blender) to make it. Depending on your region, this could be a very inexpensive soap to make too.

There are a few disadvantages to coconut oil soap too. Because it traces quickly, I would not consider it a candidate for making swirled soap. A simple one-color natural soap colorant would be okay though, and I have a list of color ingredients over here.

Coconut oil soap also needs to be cured for a full ten weeks before it’s gentle enough for your skin. That means that you need patience and that it’s not great as a last-minute gift idea (this other soap recipe is). Curing is more than about saponification and water evaporating. It’s a process where the soap crystals inside the bars more fully develop. Use soap too early and it can be over-cleansing. Curing is better explained here.

Use just three ingredients to make this simple coconut oil soap. It uses a 20% superfat stops the bars from being too drying and is one of the bubbliest soap recipes to make. It doesn't even require an immersion blender #soaprecipe #coconutoil #easysoaprecipe
Coconut oil soap curing in an airy place out of direct light

Make homemade coconut oil soap

This is a very simple soap recipe easy enough for beginners but you could customize it too. The coconut oil and sodium hydroxide ingredient amounts must remain the same, but you could replace up to half of the distilled water with coconut milk. If you do so, I recommend adding the coconut milk after you’ve brought the soap to trace. That way you can avoid it scorching and turning your soap brown. Adding coconut milk may change the color of your bars from white to cream though.

You could also add desiccated coconut as a botanical decoration, though this is probably only best if you live in a region that is not humid. Though there is no such thing as coconut essential oil, you could use coconut soap fragrance oil, if you wish.

Coconut Oil Soap Recipe (Cold Process)

Lovely Greens
¬†A 100% coconut oil soap recipe using the cold-process method. Makes hard, white, unscented bars with a fluffy lather and gentle cleansing action on your skin. 16 oz / 454 g / 1 lb batch — 20% superfat and a 30.5% lye solution
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Curing time 70 d
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 6 bars

Ingredients
  

Lye solution

Solid oils

Instructions
 

Soap Making Preparation

  • Ensure that your soapmaking station is set up with all of the equipment, materials, and tools you need. Pre-measure the ingredients using a digital scale. Take care to wear gloves when measuring the lye.

Make the Lye Solution

  • For full information on soap-making safety and equipment please¬†head over here. It‚Äôs important to read it before trying to make soap the first time. Put on your rubber¬†gloves¬†and eye protection (goggles) and set yourself up in an area with good ventilation. Under a hob, on the doorstep, or outdoors is perfect.¬†Pour¬†the¬†sodium hydroxide¬†into the water and¬†stir¬†with a stainless steel¬†spoon. Be careful not to breathe in the fumes.¬†
  • Stir well and leave someplace safe to cool to 100¬įF (38¬įC). I tend to set the jug containing the lye solution in cold water in the sink.

Melt the Coconut Oil

  • In a stainless steel pan, heat the¬†coconut oil on very low heat until just liquefied. Coconut oil has a low melting point of only 76¬įF/ 24¬įC so it will melt¬†quicker than you think. Don‚Äôt be tempted to turn up the heat.
  • When fully melted, take the pan off the heat and cool on a potholder. Stir every few minutes, and cool to 100¬įF (38¬įC). Although the recipe does not call for an essential oil/fragrance you could add one to the melted coconut oil at this point if you wish*

Make Coconut Oil Soap

  • Get the soap mold prepared and double-check that your goggles and gloves are on and that you won't be disturbed for the next ten minutes.
  • When the¬†lye¬†solution and oils are both about 100¬įF (38¬įC), pour the lye solution into the pan of oils. Pour¬†the¬†lye¬†solution against a¬†spoon held in the oils as this will reduce¬†air bubbles in your final bars.
  • Next, blend the lye solution and oil together until it reaches trace. I don't recommend using a stick blender for this recipe if you're a beginner. At least, not at first as it can trace (thicken/emulsify) quickly. Instead, gently stir with a silicone spatula or stainless steel spoon. If the soap does not trace as quickly and you are stirring after a few minutes, feel free to dip your stick blender in the pot and give it a few pulses.
  • The soap will be at trace when the consistency looks about the thickness of warm pudding. It will not have a purely flat surface, but a light texture, especially if you drizzle batter down on top of it.

Mold the Coconut Oil Soap

  • Pour¬†the soap into your¬†mold, and I recommend a silicone mold with cavities. That's because coconut oil soap hardens quickly, and may be difficult to cut into bars if you wait too long to cut it.*
  • Leave the soap on a kitchen counter or someplace similar (out of reach of kids and dogs) out of direct sunlight. Leave the soap inside for 48 hours before popping it out and curing it.

Cut and Cure your Soap

  • Leave your coconut soap bars someplace airy and out of direct sunlight to¬†cure¬†for at least ten weeks. This sounds like a lot of time, but if you use the soap before the time is up it may over-cleanse your skin, making it feel dry and uncomfortable. After ten or more weeks, coconut oil soap is mild enough to use as any other body soap. More information on curing is here.
  • At the end of the cure time, the soaps will be hard and white. For full¬†instructions¬†on how to¬†cure¬†handmade soap head over here
  • Once made, your soap will have a shelf-life of up to two years. Check the coconut oil best-by date though, since that will be your soap's best-by date too!

Notes

* Adding essential oil after trace, as is usual in soap recipes, might be difficult for beginners in this recipe. Coconut oil soap can trace fairly quickly, and leave you without much time to add it after it thickens.
* If you do use a loaf mold, you should take the soap out of the mold and cut it as soon as you can. This can be as soon as two hours after pouring but don’t wait any longer than 12 hours. Wait any longer and your bars can crumble and/or be difficult to cut. After cutting, cure as instructed.
Keyword pumpkin, soap, soap recipe, squash
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Use just three ingredients to make this simple coconut oil soap. It uses a 20% superfat stops the bars from being too drying and is one of the bubbliest soap recipes to make. It doesn't even require an immersion blender #soaprecipe #coconutoil #easysoaprecipe
Coconut oil soap is quick and easy to make

More Simple Soap Recipes

Coconut oil is a quick and inexpensive soap to make! With the lashings of extra coconut oil in these bars, they’re mild and perfect for everyday use. Though you might have seen coconut soap recommended as laundry detergent before, I do not recommend it for this recipe. All those extra oils can get into the fibers of your clothing and linens. Instead, treat this soap recipe as a typical soap recipe for bathing and washing hands.

The majority of the soap recipes I share are very easy to make and use all-natural ingredients. The batch sizes are small too, and perfect for beginners! If you’re looking for more soapmaking inspiration check out the ideas I’ve recommended below. You can also browse all of my soap recipes.

7 Comments

  1. This is one of my favorite soaps. It washes nicely and is not drying. I have used it up to 30% fat with not problem. Its my go to out of all others.

  2. Love me a one oil soap recipe! Would this recipe work in hot process soap making? Just curious…thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

    1. Hi Mala, and no, it won’t ruin them at all :) They obviously won’t be white if you color them, but they will be the same bar of soap that just smells lovely and in a different shade.

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