Soap Making Recipes: Soaps That Are Easy & Fun To Make

  • By: Soap Crowd
  • Time to read: 13 min.
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Craftswoman Pouring Soap

Making soap is a fun and easy craft for those who want to try their hand at different soap making recipes. If you're the type who likes to take things into their hands and make them happen, then this blog might just be for you!

With just about any recipe (even those that require patience), if you follow the instructions carefully, then you can quickly master the handmade soap making craft. Homemade soap recipe is an absolute pleasure to make, and once you learn soap making, you'll never go back to commercial soap. It's easy, fun, and rewarding!

Soap Science And The Best Ingredients For Soap Making Recipes

Soap, or what we know as a soap bar, readily lathers in water and cleanses away all dirt. It is a chemical product formed by reacting Lye with oil in a process called saponification, which releases heat.

soap making recipes with lye

Soap making process involves the following four basic steps:

  • Mix the right amount of Lye (alkali) with water. Keep this mixture set aside to cool.
  • Blend the right amount of oil proportionate to the lye solution to form a soap batter.
  • Pour it into molds and let it harden for a day.
  • Turn out of molds and cut into soap bars. Let it cure for 2-3 weeks, depending on your oils.

What Is a Lye? Is It Dangerous?

Lye Caustic Soda Being Measured

Before starting up with handmade soap making, it is essential to know the nature of the substances you will deal with.

Lye (sodium hydroxide) is the only chemical corrosive to the skin in all ingredients. Caustic soda is the more common name you might be familiar with it. It is a strong alkali in nature. So, be careful not to contact your skin and eyes, especially if you have kids.

The rest of the substances to make homemade castile soap are pretty safe to use, and if you follow safety guidelines, there is no need to be scared.

The Role Of Butter & Oils In Soap Making

The choice of butter and oils you want to use depends on what type of soap you wish to make. If you want a very lathering soap, you need to use argan oil or avocado oil; both are hydrating and moisturizing for your skin.

On the other hand, if you want a nourishing soap, you need to use oils that lather less such as cucumber seed oil. So it is advisable to use both kinds of oils in specific percentages according to your skin needs.

Lye might intimidate you a bit from soap making, but don't get overwhelmed by it. A little care and concentration will make things friendly and accessible. Believe me; you are going to enjoy the whole process. It will be pretty playful to add oil or oil combinations depending on your skin needs or interests.

coconut in soap making recipes

Certain oils have specific properties:

  • Shea butter soap gives a moisturizing effect.
  • Palm oil soap in soap improves its lathering ability.
  • Coconut oil in soap adds hardness to the soap bar and has cleansing properties.
  • Honey and oatmeal soap gently exfoliate the skin.

Calculating The Right Amount Of Oil And Lye

Before starting easy soap making recipes, you should know how much Lye is required for a certain amount of oil so that you'll end up making lye soap successfully. Oil is being saponified with Lye. It is a chemical process; it is not like creating a mixture by adding different ingredients. So every oil takes up a certain amount of Lye to get saponified. This exact amount is called the saponification value.

Once you know the saponification value, you can easily calculate Lye to oil proportion and play around with combinations of oils to create your lye soap. So it will interest you a lot to make a recipe for your skin needs.

What Else Do You Need To Make Homemade Soap?

  • We need silicone bowls, spatula, and molds to pour the soap. Or this can be as simple as a box lined with freezer paper.
  • You need water to mix the Lye into the water.
  • A stick mixing blender as mixing by hand doesn't always work, and things might not saponify in proper manners.
  • An old spatula for melting oils and blending things.
  • A digital weight scale.

Soap Making Recipes: Safety Concerns For Beginners

As you know, Lye is dangerous, and soap making isn't easy in different ways at every part of the process. Most people get scared and overwhelmed by the prospect of working with Lye. The process of making soap is not scary or dangerous. You just need to pay attention and take care while working with Lye.

The most crucial aspect of safe working will be concentration, as distractions or interruptions will cause mistakes. You have to do this soap-making process by keeping kids away and never make soap when you are in a rush.

You need the following safety gear for soap making:

  • Goggles as lye solution can make you blind.
  • Long sleeves for arm protection.
  • A mask and gloves.
  • Face shield and apron to avoid electric blending that can cause splashes.

Soap Making Recipes Without Using Lye:

Soaps can only be made with Lye which is 100% sodium hydroxide. It is necessary to use Lye to make natural soap from scratch. This Lye is consumed chemically by the saponification process using oils. Soap makers may not use the term lye to avoid confusion for their audience that they are using a corrosive alkali for the skin.

Natural sources of Lye are white ashes of hardwood. However, white ashes of hardwood can not be used directly because of small percentages of sodium hydroxide and high rates of contaminants.

A natural substitute for using Lye in an easy soap recipe is to skip Lye and the resultant saponification process using an all-natural Melt and Pour Soap Base.

melt and pour base

Moisturizing Soap Making Recipes Without Lye:

It is better to make soap at home because soap companies we commonly know contain harsh agents like preservatives and detergents. If you have time and can make an effort, you can make a moisturizing soap without Lye using Melt and Pour Soap Recipe. You must choose a pre-made soap base containing argan oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and Lye.

Melt this soap base and mold it into shapes after adding desired additives like fragrance oil, honey, aloe vera gel, plant seeds, dried herbs, or dye.

Also, try the following ingredients in your soap making recipes to make your melt and pour soap making experience unforgettable:

A- Adding Sugar to Melt and Pour Soap:

Sugars enhance the lathering qualities of soap. Apart from lathering, sugars increase the rate of soap formation. The trace stage is being reached earlier; the gel stage is attained earlier.

It also adds a hint of sweetness to the product. The cosmetic industry uses sorbitol which is a sugar alcohol. It helps retain moisture in the skin and is a medicament for damaged skin and oral tissues. So it serves to heal damaged skin.

You can add half to one tsp of sugar to one pound of soap by weight. You can calculate if you are using ounces by converting pounds to ounces.

B- Honey and Goat Milk Soap:

Suppose you make goat's milk or honey soap using conventional methods of mixing goat's milk or honey into lye and oils. The goat milk soap will caramelize sugars, turning the final soap product a bit brownish and the soap being formed earlier. But if you introduce cooling, which is a better option, as it has two benefits:

First, this avoids the caramelization of sugars, thus keeping soap white. Second, it avoids soapy volcanic eruptions caused by sugar, keeping safe from the mess. But this cooling process will delay soap formation, making it very tiresome.

C- Adding Salt in MnP Soap Making Recipes:

Salt is a humectant for skin that restores skin hydration. It gently exfoliates the skin to get rid of dead cells, leaving skin nourished and moisturized. Salt increases the moisturizing ability of soap as well.

For saponification, we can add about one tablespoon of salt. Salt is mixed with oil first and then combined with Lye in lye soap. The salt soap is how salt gets combined thoroughly during saponification.

Hot Process Soap Making Recipes: Explained Step By Step

The hot process soap making requires warming up a pre-made soap and pouring it into molds. In contrast, the cold process of soap making undergoes a chemical combination of Lye and oil, releasing its heat of saponification. Cold process soaps cure within three to six weeks, whereas Castile soaps which are vegan, take longer, around six to eight months. Over-curing may dry out the soap.

Ready to dive into soap making at home as a beginner? Let's try this by keeping safety, ingredients, and process in mind.

1- Prepare The Working Area

Prepare the working area ahead of time so that you don't have to run around while making soap. Because some steps will take place very rapidly and it will save you time and improve concentration in soap making

2- Gather your essential ingredients

It would be best to have two essential ingredients: lye and oil.

Lye is what you may know as caustic soda or sodium hydroxide. Oil can be coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, castor oil, or sunflower oil, depending upon availability and preference, as we have discussed above.

Make sure you measure the water, Lye, and oil first. By measuring Lye and water separately, you should add Lye to the water. The oil to lye ratio should correspond to the saponification value.

Add the Lye to water always; as a rule, this will automatically generate heat. Let the lye solution cool by placing it aside in a well-ventilated and safe place.

fun DIY recipes

The third ingredient is where the fun begins!

Did you know you add nice-smelling soap oils? Simply follow the steps, and you can easily customize your soap to your liking.

Measure out your oils separately. Some oils are liquid at room temperature. Sometimes it is recommended to melt the solid fats first and then add the liquid oils or dump all the oils into one pot and heat everything together using a stove on a low flame.

3- Blending Of The Soap Oils & Lye Water

Now combine the lye water into the melted soap oils. This mix will be pretty runny at this stage, with separating layers of oil and lye solution. Blend it using a stick blender. This liquid will gradually thicken until all of the oil is chemically combined with lye water and reaches the' trace' point.

Trace is the stage when oil is all saponified with Lye; it is thickened and stuck to the stick blender. So, when you try to take the stick blender out of the bowl, the soap will come along.

You can stop here and add therapeutic essential oils in soap making as they have countless benefits. Eo makes the soap fragrant and imparts antimicrobial effects, reducing puffiness, inflammation, and all the goodnesses one can get from aromatherapy like a cure to headaches, nausea, depression, etc.

However, for your first batch of soap making, we’d recommend not to use perfume and color in your soap. But if it's not your first batch of soap making recipes, then there are endless ideas for coloring and shaping a fancy soap.

You can add pigments like mica imparting sparkly metallic looks, powdered dyes evenly coloring the soap, or kitchen spices like turmeric, pumpkin spice, or coffee.

4- Mix and Match to Create Exciting Soap Making Recipes

At this step, you can use any of the following soap making recipes to make different types of soaps. You can customize it as per your preferences for the following ingredients:

  • Natural ingredients
  • Dried plant flowers or herbs
  • Essential oils

A- Oatmeal and Lavender Soap

oatmeal lavender bar soap

You can make this exfoliating soap easily using a melt and pour soap base. But, if you can handle lye well, you can make a cold or hot process soap as well. For this soap recipe, you will need to add the following ingredients to your lye-oil mix:

  1. Oatmeal powder
  2. Lavender essential oil
  3. Dried lavender leaves

Add the oatmeal powder or colloidal oats into the soap base and mix well until combined. Next, add a few drops of lavender essential oil and dried flowers, and stir gently.

You can also customize the recipe for dried herbs such as rosemary and clary sage for aromatherapeutic effects.

B- Coffee Soap

exfoliating coffee bars

Coffee soaps are generally exfoliating and nourishing for the skin when mixed with olive oil or shea butter soap bases. To make a coffee-smelling soap, you will need:

  1. Coffee grounds
  2. Coffee essential oil

Add the coffee grounds and coffee essential oil to the soap batter and enjoy the intoxicating aroma of Starbucks coffee in your bath.

C- Soap with Vanilla Essential oil

aromatic hand soap with vanilla

For vanilla-smelling soap, you can either follow our comprehensive guide on extracting and making vanilla oil from vanilla pods at home. Or you can buy vanilla essential oil from the market or online and add it to your soap mixture. Either way, the final product will be a nice-smelling, powerful anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging soap for everyday use.

There are many other soap-making recipes for experienced soap makers to try. Some of them are the following:

  • If you love lots of lather in your soap, you can try our cold process liquid soap making recipes.
  • For making a hard soap bar that makes a beautiful gift or guest soap, you can try our honey and oatmeal soap recipe.
  • If you like to make a soap with extra moisturizing or lots of luxury oils, you can check our blog on soap making oils such as shea butter oil.

4- Let The Components Cool Separately

Now, let all the components cool down separately, and the next step is to blend them using a stick blender. The temperature of the ingredients is around 100-110 degrees, and you have to let them cool even more than this temperature. It will work fine as long as the oils are still melted and both are relatively similar in temperature.

5- Pour The Soap Mixture & Cure

Once you have customized your soap base and you have reached a trace, immediately pour the mixture into the soap mold. You have to be very quick as it will start hardening right away.

For molding, you can use a pre-made silicone soap mold with a designed bottom, or you can place a silicone alphabet or shape like a star or heart before pouring soap into molds and customizing it to your choice.

Pour the soap mixture right in and smooth out the top with a spatula. Soap will heat up after curing, and sometimes it will heat up a lot and go through the gel phase of saponification.

The soap batter will get bright, translucent, and very hot in the gel phase. This heating through the gel phase makes more brilliant colors soap, so this method is generally preferable. The gel phase can put the soap in a 120-degree oven for about an hour. After placing the soap in the oven, turn the oven off and leave it there for 24 hours, or wrap it in old blankets.

If you don't want a gel phase, you can put the soap in the freezer. Using any methods, once the soap has cured for 24 hours, then it's time to finish drying out so the soap bar can get more challenging. You can leave the soap bars on old towels for a few weeks.

A Few Notes About Cleaning Up After Soap Making Recipes

There are a few ways to handle the cleaning up of soap. You can clean everything from the tools and pots before the mixture hardens into soap. You should be very careful if you will make soap as Lye is caustic to handle at this stage. It is recommended to let everything sit and turn into soap and then clean it out after it.

A skinny layer of petroleum jelly is applied to the mold to keep melt and pour soaps from sticking.

In cold processed soap making, consider using only mineral oils. Otherwise, other oils will react with soap, making it more difficult to unmold. Once you have unmolded one batch of soap, please give it a hand rinse with warm water.

Avoid a dishwasher because of the delicacy of silicone molds. The mold is ready to be poured once it has dried.

Tips For Your First Batch Of Soap Making

If you are a beginner at soapmaking but love to try soapmaking; keep in mind the following tips when trying your first batch of soap:

  • It would be best if you tried recipes with very few oils. Homemade bar soap for dishes is one example of a basic soap-making recipe.
  • Try simple recipes and avoid attempting a fancy or swirl design for making soap.
  • Try a soap-making recipe with no strange ingredients, like recipes using honey or beeswax. Soaps containing honey or beeswax are fantastic to use, but making these soaps is a bit difficult.
  • Soap-making recipes with only a few oils are simplest to measure, and their supplies are cheap to buy. For example, you can try a soap-making recipe that's 30% palm oil, 30% coconut oil, 30% olive oil, and 10% almond oil.
  • You can also add preservatives in a soap containing fruit or vegetable purée. The preservative is a must if you add fruits or vegetable puree to melt and pour soap recipe.
  • But if you are adding purees to a cold process soap that involves saponification of oil by Lye, it generates enough heat that can preserve the puree on its own. Ensure veggies and fruits are pureed very finely; coarse, grainy bits can make the product wrong. So be careful while pureeing. Otherwise, a preservative will not even save the product.

Still, Scared About Soap Making?

If you can't have a distraction-free work area for some hours because of pets, kids, or other reasons, it's not best to attempt soap making. Soap Making is not for everyone, but you don't be discouraged as you can make homemade candles, homemade hand cream, and even homemade sugar scrubs without dealing with the danger of Lye.

Go Forth And Make Soap!

Of course, reading about something is one thing, and doing it is quite another. I recommend and encourage you not to get stuck in the reading phase for longer. Just move on to attempt soap-making. I hope this blog provides all the answers to your questions related to soapmaking as a beginner. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

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