Soap Making 101 - Part 2

Welcome back everyone!  This is part 2 in my soap making series. 
 If you missed part 1 click HERE. I went over what supplies/ ingredients you need and where to find them.

So today I will have the recipe again and show you the magic of soap making!

This is a basic soap recipe that is great for any member of the family, especially those with sensitive skin.
18 oz Olive Oil 
11 oz Coconut Oil
11 oz  Palm  Oil      
4 oz Shea Butter    
13 oz water
6.2 oz Lye

One of the most important things you need to remember is that the recipe is in weighed ounces, not measured.  A digital scale with an ounces options is necessary here.  Postal scales work perfectly.
The scale should also have a TARE button for easier weighing.  The tare button cancels out the weight of your container before you add your ingredient so you get a true reading. 

For example:  My glass measuring cup weighs 18.6, I push the TARE button and it zeros it out.  I usually put my stainless steel pan right on here and push the TARE button each time I add a new ingredient. 

Here are my oils and shea butter all weighed and warming on the stove. All of the more solid ingredients need to be completely melted down.   Slow and low will keep it from overheating and reduces the time needed to cool it back down.

I weighed my lye and COLD water in two SEPARATE containers. 
Always add your lye to your water! 
Never water to the lye. I should be mixing as I add but I only had two hands at the time :)   Mix until your lye is dissolved.  It will look a little cloudy at first. 

Both have their thermometers and are ready to sit and cool.  My water/lye solution usually heats up to around 150 degrees or so.  I try to keep my oils from getting too warm, right now it's at 125 degrees.

Both need to cool down to around 100-110 degrees.  Some people say lower, but I have never had a problem with these temperatures on this recipe.

Ready to mix!

Slowly add the lye water to the oils. Again, I should have the mixer on but still missing that 3rd arm today- not where did I put that!?!   You can see how the mixture is getting combined and turning opaque.

I mix on low speed to start.  Then go from high to low intermittently. 

This is after about 5 min. of mixing.  It's starting to look like pudding but still isn't thick enough yet.
One of the things that I used to worry about is a little thing called TRACE. 

TRACE-   Your soap is ready to pour in your mold when you see this. A trace in your soap means you can see the line left behind when moving your blender around in the mixture.  I also take it to mean that when you lift your blender out you can heap up your soap into thick piles.  A little like making meringue. 

FALSE TRACE- Be careful of the false trace.   If you think your soap is ready, take a little time and stir the soap without the blender on.  Sometimes is only looks ready until you stir it down a bit.  Keep mixing until it is continually thick. This can be anywhere from 10-30 min.

Here is a video of what trace will look like.  My first time posting a video by the way, I hope I don't make you too dizzy.  OH, and please excuse BARNEY in the background, I didn't realize my camera would pick up sounds so easily!  haha!!

Alright!  Now the hard part is done and your almost there :)  Pour your soap into your prepared mold.  For a look at how to line a mold like this just click HERE.

Smooth out the top.  I like to add a little bit of pretty to the top of my soaps with a knife. 


Lid on.  If you mold doesn't have a lid you should find something to cover it that won't touch the soap.  I then cover up my soap with about 3-4 old thick towels.  Store in a safe place where is won't be disturbed.

You will need to keep a watch on your soap for the next step.  This is the time where your soap will heat up and go through the GEL phase.  .  The soap will start to heat up in the middle first and turn a bit more translucent and gel like.  It will slowly spread to the edges. (I wish I would have caught a picture sooner) The picture on the left shows that the gel has almost spread all the way.  The last picture shows the finished gel all the way to the edges. 
Uncover after this and sit it in a safe place to cool.  I usually leave it overnight. 

The next day you can tear off the freezer paper.  If you soap is still a little soft I would wait another day or so.  It will get harder. 
Cut your soap with a knife or other sharp utensil into your desired thickness.  I get around 13-14 (4 oz) bars with this recipe. 
Your soap IS NOT ready to use yet.  There is still too much lye present in the soap and will irritate your skin.  Soap should sit and dry, or CURE, for at least 4-5 weeks. 
Some soap makers use the "tongue test" when they suspect their soap might be ready.  Take a wet finger to the soap and then touch the tip of your tongue.  If it burns at all, the soap is not ready yet and needs to dry longer. 

SO!  There we have it.  I hope my instructions are easy to follow.  And I do hope that if you have been wanting to try your hand at soap making that this gets you going. 

If you have and questions or concerns I would be more than happy to try and help.
I would love to hear your stories and see pictures of your soaps too!

Next week I will have info for you on how to use natural colors and scents in your soaps,  how to use a lye calculator to invent your own recipes, and maybe some other goodies thrown in there.


Are you ready for Part 3?  Click HERE :)


  1. Very cool and I loved your video showing the trace! I wish I had the space for soap making but alas. (Sigh) I guess I'll just have to keep pn buying homemade soaps! :)

  2. Your instructions are the best, Debbie. The video is exactly what I needed after reading the post up to there. Oh, how exciting, I can't wait to try! Thank you so much for these tutorials!

  3. I hope you can try someday Candy, but as for now I happen to know someone who would sell some soap to you :0)

    Wonderful Sonya! Let me know how it goes!

  4. I am loving this series! I have wanted to make soap for ages, and I think I will be trying it in the spring.

  5. Very fun! Great pictures. Soap making is definetely on the list of things that I want to do.

  6. Im going to have to try this. Thanks for sharing!


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