Easy Soapmaking Tutorial (Step-by-Step)

Want to know how to make soap, quickly, easily, and naturally? I am going to show you how step-by-step, photos of each step included! This is a cold process soap, meaning no heating required. I’ve chosen my favorite recipe from Anne L. Watson’s book, <a href="Smart Soapmaking: The Simple Guide to Making Soap Quickly, Safely, and Reliably, or How to Make Luxurious Soaps for Family, Friends, and Yourself“>Smart Soapmaking. (Affiliate link.) She does a great job explaining the process of how soap is made. I loved how she simplifies the process yet explains it scientifically. I highly recommend this book for beginners.

Let’s get started!

1. Have all your ingredients out and ready to go. In this recipe, I use olive oil, coconut oil, lard, lye, and distilled water. I add essential oils at the end. Also, have your kitchen scale, big soup pot, two smaller bowls, plastic bowl for water, and plastic measuring cup for lye. (I bought the plastic lye containers at Goodwill! They were maybe .50!) Also have a plastic scraper and plastic slotted spoon, and immersion blender ready. Prepare your soap mold if necessary. I use an old 9×13 cake pan, and I line it with parchment paper. Lastly, make sure your recipe is out in plain sight so you don’t mess up! (Guilty)

Checklist: (This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click the link to buy a product from this post, I will receive a small commission.)

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Lard

-Essential oil

Lye

-Distilled water

Kitchen scale

-Big soup pot

-2 smaller bowls

-plastic water bowl

-plastic lye container (like I said, I use a measuring cup, any container will do.)

-plastic slotted spoon

-plastic scraper (to get all the oils out of the bowls)

immersion blender (preferably plugged in and ready to use.)

-Soap mold (I prepare mine with parchment paper.)

-Recipe

Ingredient with exact weight:

Distilled water: 8 oz

Olive Oil: 9.8 oz

Coconut Oil: 9.8 oz

Lard: 8.4 oz

Lye: 4 oz

2. Time to measure ingredients! This is very important. Don’t skimp or eyeball measurements! You’ll be sure to mess up! I learned this the hard way. I almost burnt a hole through our wooden table a few years ago! Too much lye+not enough fat=disaster! All you need is your trusty kitchen scale. I put my container on the scale, zero it out, then measure my ingredient.

Measure distilled water in the plastic water container. 8 oz.

Measure olive oil in the big soup pot. 9.8 oz.

Measure coconut oil in a separate bowl. 9.8 oz.

Measure lard in separate bowl. 8.4 oz.

The lard and coconut oil may have to melt before you combine with the olive oil. If your bowls are microwave safe, it is ok to heat the oil until it is all melted. In this photo, I’m melting them on my woodstove, because I just like to!

3. Combine the fats. Once the solid fats have melted and they are warm, add to the olive oil. Combine with the plastic scraper. I put the big soup pot with all the oils into an empty side of my sink. Temperature should be between 90-110 degrees. (As long as the oils are warmed from melting in the microwave, it should be about right.)

4. Time for the lye! Now, put on gloves and eye protection, and make sure there are no little children hanging around underfoot! Measure the lye. 4 oz.

I immediately take my lye cup and water cup outside. Once I’m outdoors, I slowly pour the lye into the water.

**Never ever pour the water into the lye, because there is greater risk of splashing and then you’d get burnt. Please use caution when dealing with lye water. I have personally never been burnt by it because I always be sure to use proper protection. I am extremely careful to make sure my kids are elsewhere. Please exercise common sense and mix your lye in a well-ventilated area. I just go ahead and do it outside because I don’t want to risk the fumes hanging around in my kitchen. If you have a reliable vent fan, that would be fine.

Mix the water and lye with the plastic slotted spoon. If the lye feels gritty on the bottom of the plastic bowl, just keep stirring and it will break up. Please don’t put your head right over the bowl, because this could end up burning your eyes or nose. Or your whole face. So just be careful.

I keep stirring until all the “steam” dies down. It will be cool enough by then, especially since I’m stirring it outdoors in chilly weather. But to cool it down quicker, some soap makers have a tray of ice water prepared to set the lye bowl in. I’ve personally never used that method.

Use caution when bringing the lye bowl back into the house.

5. Mix the lye solution into the fat bowl which is in the sink. Combine real quick with the plastic scraper. Your immersion blender should be plugged up and ready to go. Go ahead and start mixing with the immersion blender.

6. Keep mixing. It will turn from very clear liquid, to murky, to pudding-like.

7. You will keep mixing until the soap turns very pudding-y. This picture is of when the soap is done. This is called reaching “trace”. With my immersion blender on high, this takes 3-5 minutes.

8. If you have a scent, now is the time to add it. On this particular soap making day, I used lavender essential oil. You need about 17 grams of scent. I use a whole bottle of essential oil. This may seem like a lot, but you could possibly get by with half a bottle. I am happy with the smell when I do it this way; it’s all about personal preference with added scent. Just add it, and mix a moment more until it’s incorporated.

9. Pour into the mold.

10. Now you just have to wait for the soap to cure. After two days, it should be ok to cut into bars. In our house, it takes about a week for my soap to harden up to my liking. (Curing depends on the temperature and humidity of your house.) If you’re unsure that your soap is ready, just start to slice it. If it is still a bit soft, just wait a few more days. While it is softer, you can go ahead and cut into bars. Just set them on a towel on top of a drying rack, and let it finish curing for a few more weeks.

That’s it! Your soap is ready to use or sell!

Once you perfect your recipe, the time frame will go much quicker. At first it can be a little time consuming, so set aside at least two hours. Since I make it all the time, I can get it done in twenty minutes.

Soap making can be easy, fun, and the results are so rewarding.

Resources: Smart Soapmaking, by Anne L. Watson, Shepard Publications, Olympia, Washington. 2007.

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