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
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’s 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°F (38°C). 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°F/ 24°C so it will melt quicker than you think. Don’t 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°F (38°C). 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°F (38°C), 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!
* 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.