Easiest Homemade Soap From Scratch

Easiest Homemade Soap From Scratch

Andrea Marah

Easy As 1-2-3 Oils!

Looking to experiment with cold-process soap? There are lots of recipes with only three ingredients total: one oil, lye, and water. Single oil soaps can actually be more tricky to work with, so this is a basic and balanced recipe that should behave itself for even novice makers. In my opinion, if you are going to make your first soap it should at least be good, right! As a warning, before trying this, become familiar with the safe lye handling and good manufacturing practices to be as safe a possible. Lye is a caustic substance that can and will cause severe burns if handled improperly. Be sure to work in a clean and ventilated area free of children, pets, and distractions. Have all of your materials, equipment, and ingredients gathered together before you begin.

Here is the oil break down:

  • 35% Olive Oil
  • 35% Coconut Oil (solid at room temp)
  • 30% Palm Oil

3-Oils Basic Soap Recipe (yields 3 lbs of soap):

All measurements are by weight, not volume. 

  • 11.20 ounces olive oil
  • 11.20 ounces coconut oil
  • 9.60 ounces palm
  • 4.50 ounces sodium hydroxide (lye)
  • 11.50 ounces distilled water
  • OPTIONAL: 1 ounce fragrance or essential oil (try lavender, sweet orange, geranium, tea tree, or frankincense)

Only purchase fragrance and essential oils from reputable distributors. Read the manufacturer's notes to see if it causes acceleration or ricing.

Materials & Equipment

*Make sure your mixing equipment is heat resistant.

  • an accurate kitchen scale
  • infrared thermometer
  • gloves (rubber or nitrile)
  • safety goggles
  • apron
  • mask
  • stick blender
  • soap mold
  • large stainless steel pot, plastic, or glass bowl
  • several measuring cups or small containers
  • stainless steel spoon
  • silicone spatula
  • plastic or glass pitcher* with lid
  • sharp knife or handheld soap cutter

Mixing The Lye

CAUTION: Lye is a caustic substance that can and will cause severe burns if handled improperly. When mixed with water, the solution can exceed 200°F and produce fumes. Be sure to work in a clean and ventilated area free of children, pets, and distractions. Have all of your materials, equipment, and ingredients gathered together before you begin.

Making the lye solution is by far the most difficult (and stressful) part of the soap making process. Be sure to measure accurately and carefully. Before beginning, turn on the scale and make sure it is measuring ounces.

  1. Suit up. Tie back any loose hair. Put on your apron, gloves, mask and goggles.
  2. Place a measuring cup on the scale and tare the scale to zero the weight. 
  3. Weigh out the distilled water and pour into the pitcher.
  4. Repeat step 2 for another container or cup. Carefully open your lye and weigh out the lye into the container. Immediately close the lye and set aside.
  5. Take the pitcher of water and slowly add the lye into the distilled water (DO NOT pour water into the lye). Avoid splashing and breathing in the fumes. I prefer to run a fan during this step but you can also work near an open window.
  6. Without splashing, slowly stir the lye and water with your spoon. It will get VERY hot and cloudy and may produce steam or bubbles. Continue gently stirring until the lye is dissolved and mixture goes clear.
  7. Rinse your spoon. Use the lid to cover the lye solution and set it aside on a stable surface. We will use it once it cools to between 100-110°F.
  8. You can now remove your mask.

NOTE: I like to change my gloves or wash my gloved hands after this step in case there is any lye dust on my hands.

Making The Soap

  1. Prep your mold and set aside.
  2. Place a measuring cup on the scale and tare the scale to zero the weight. 
  3. Melt (if necessary) and weigh out each oil one-by-one on the scale into a container or cup.
  4. As they are weighed pour them into the large pot or mixing bowl. Scrape your containers well.
  5. Measure your fragrance into another container and set aside.
  6. If using a pot, place on the stove on LOW and gently heat the oils to about 100-110°F. If using a heat-safe bowl, place your container into the microwave and gently heat to between 100-110°F. Check frequently so your oils do not get too hot.
  7. Check your lye temperature. When both oils and lye are between 100-110°F, slowly pour the lye solution into the melted oils.
  8. Using short blasts from the stick blender, begin stirring.
  9. Continue mixing until your reach "thin trace", also called "light trace". Thin trace is when the oils and lye solution are blended and there are no oily spots left in the mixture. It should resemble a thin batter.
  10. Add your fragrance and stir your batter until the fragrance is completely blended.
  11. Carefully pour your soap batter into the mold.
  12. Place your molded soap on a level surface in a cool place for 24-48 hours to cool and harden.
  13. Unmold your soap and using a sharp knife, or soap cutter, slice the soap into chunks or bars.
  14. After the soap cures and dries about 4-6 weeks it will be ready to use.

Congratulations--you have made your first cold-process handmade soap! Now, you can stock your home and give a thoughtful gift. Happy soaping!

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