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Soap Making for Beginners: Cold Process Soap Recipe


Soap Making for Beginners: Cold Process Soap Recipe

Soap making is a time-honored tradition that has been passed down through generations. Making your own soap can be a fun and rewarding process, allowing you to choose the ingredients and scents that you want in your soap. One of the most popular methods of soap making is the cold process, which involves combining oils and lye to create a chemical reaction that results in soap. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of cold process soap making and provide a simple recipe for beginners to try.

What is Cold Process Soap Making?

Cold process soap making is a method of creating soap from scratch using oils, lye, and water. The process involves carefully measuring the ingredients, mixing them together, and allowing the soap to cure for several weeks before it is ready to use. The “cold process” refers to the fact that no external heat is used to speed up the saponification process, which is the chemical reaction that occurs when the lye and oils are combined. Instead, the soap cures naturally over time, resulting in a gentle and moisturizing bar of soap.

Basic Cold Process Soap Recipe for Beginners

If you’re new to soap making, it’s important to start with a simple recipe to get a feel for the process. Here’s a basic cold process soap recipe that uses common ingredients and is perfect for beginners:

  • 8 oz. Olive Oil (25%)
  • 12 oz. Coconut Oil (37.5%)
  • 12 oz. Shea Butter (37.5%)
  • 4.5 oz lye (sodium hydroxide)

Mixing these ingredients in the correct proportions and following the proper safety precautions is essential when making cold process soap. Be sure to wear protective gear, such as goggles and gloves, and work in a well-ventilated area, as lye can be caustic and dangerous if mishandled.

How to Make Cold Process Soap

Once you have gathered your ingredients and safety gear, it’s time to start making soap. Here is a basic overview of the cold process soap making process:

  1. Wear safety gear: Put on your goggles, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing to protect yourself from lye.
  2. Mix lye and water: Carefully pour the lye into the water (not the other way around) and stir until it is fully dissolved. Let it cool to about 100°F.
  3. Melt oils and butter: Gently heat the oils and shea butter until they are fully melted and mixed together.
  4. Mix lye and oils: Slowly pour the lye mixture into the oils, stirring gently to combine. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches “trace,” which is when it leaves a visible trail on the surface.
  5. Pour into molds: Once the mixture has traced, pour it into your prepared soap molds.
  6. Cover and insulate: Cover the molds with a towel or blanket to insulate them and keep them warm while the saponification process occurs.
  7. Unmold and cure: After 24-48 hours, you can unmold the soap and slice it into individual bars. Allow the bars to cure for at least four weeks before using them.

Final Thoughts

Cold process soap making is a rewarding and satisfying craft that allows you to create your own unique soaps using natural ingredients. While it does require some time and attention to safety, the end result is well worth the effort. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced soap maker, there’s always something new to learn in the world of soap making.


1. Is soap making with lye dangerous?

Yes, working with lye can be dangerous if not handled properly. It’s important to use caution, wear protective gear, and work in a well-ventilated area when making soap with lye. Always add lye to water, not the other way around, and take care to avoid splashing or inhaling the fumes.

2. Can I add fragrance or essential oils to my soap?

Yes, you can customize your soap with your favorite scents by adding fragrance or essential oils during the soap making process. Be sure to research the recommended usage rates for your chosen scents and add them at the appropriate stage in the soap making process.

3. How long does soap need to cure before it can be used?

Most cold process soaps require at least four weeks of curing before they are ready to use. During this time, the soap will harden and the pH levels will stabilize, resulting in a milder and longer-lasting bar of soap.

4. Can I use other types of oils and butters in soap making?

Yes, there are countless oils and butters that can be used in soap making, each with its own unique properties and benefits for the skin. Experimenting with different combinations of oils and butters can lead to a wide variety of soap recipes, each with its own characteristics and qualities. It’s important to research the properties of each oil and butter before using them in soap making.