How to Make Easy Homemade Coconut Oil Soap
A Beginner's DIY
This is a super-simple homemade soap recipe that is ideal for beginners. The oils used, coconut oil and castor oil, are readily available (at Walmart), and you probably have the molds and colorants I've suggested in your kitchen. Lye is readily available at many hardware stores, in the drain-cleaner section, but be sure to get a drain cleaner that is labeled "100% lye." Several brands of drain cleaner are 100% lye, but most are not. Ask the store manager for help if you can't find what you need. Some hardware stores carry pure lye, but do not stock it on the shelf. If you can't find lye locally, it can be ordered online.
Super-Easy Coconut Oil Soap Recipe
This very simple recipe is for making cold-process coconut oil soap. It makes a three-pound batch of beautiful gift-quality soap that will produce ten to twelve bars, depending on how thick you decide to slice them.
Coconut oil soap has excellent cleansing properties, lathers well, and smells nice, even if you decide to leave it unscented. The castor oil acts as a moisturizer and bubble booster, and adds creaminess to it.
- 30 ounces coconut oil
- 3 ounces castor oil
- 4.7 ounces lye
- 10.9 ounces water
- 2 ounces fragrance oil (or 1 ounce essential oil)
10 Step Procedure:
1. Set out prepared molds. I suggest using two quart-size milk or cream cartons. The recipe will make enough soap to fill about one and one-half of these.
2. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan and weigh out 30 ounces on your kitchen scale. Weigh castor oil, lye, and water separately on the kitchen scale and have each ready to go in a separate container.
3. You might want to open the caps of the fragrance oil or essential oil bottles, to make sure they won’t be hard to open when you’re ready to add them to it. Some have an extra stopper in the bottle that could take some time to remove, so you will want to remove these now.
4. Mix the lye solution, adding the lye to the water and mixing to dissolve. Let cool to about 80° F.
5. Pour the melted coconut oil and castor oil into a large crock pot, ceramic bowl, or stainless steel pot. (Or mix in the same pot that was used to melt the oil, if it is a stainless steel pot, or a crock pot.) Let cool to room temperature, or about 80° F,
6. Slowly add the lye solution to the oils and mix with a stick blender. Both the oils and the lye solution should be warm (about 76°-80°) but not hot.
7. Continue mixing until it reaches a light “trace.” It will have a thin pudding-like consistency, and when the mixture is dribbled onto the surface it leaves a visible trail, or “trace.” This is the time to add color and fragrance if you have decided to use them.
8. When it reaches a light trace and color and fragrance have been added, it is ready to pour into the molds.
9. Let the finished soap harden overnight. You can unmold after 12-18 hours. If you used milk-carton molds, you can simply tear off the milk carton.
10. Use a long, sharp stainless-steel knife to cut it into bars.
Since this is a cold-process soap, allow it to cure for four weeks before using. If you are eager to try out your own, it should be safe to use 48 hours after unmolding. Most soapmakers trim a little (about 1/4 inch) off of the ends of the loaves since ends tend to have imperfections, and these end pieces are nice for testing it before it's fully cured.
You will probably be in love with your soap even before it has had time to cure, but the quality it improves during the cure.
To cure soap, lay the bars on a shelf or wooden rack and turn them every few days so that all sides are exposed to the air.
Lye-Water Ready to Mix with Coconut Oil
Soap Has Reached Trace
Soap Poured into a Milk or Cream Carton
Fancy Molds Are Fun To Use
Questions & Answers
How much soap does this make?
This recipe makes 50.1 ounces of soap (the sum of all ingredients), so a little over three pounds before curing.
During the cure, most of the water will evaporate--though I don't think ALL the water would evaporate, even with a very long cure. I think I would assume that you would lose around eight ounces to evaporation, so you'd probably end up with around 42 ounces of soap.Helpful 2
How much cetrimonium chloride do you use in shampoo bars?
The maximum usage rate of cetrimonium chloride is 4%. I use 4% in my liquid shampoo.
Cetrimonium chloride is one of those additives that you shouldn't go over the maximum on. I am not sure why, but I suspect that since it softens hair, it could soften it too much.
I believe regulations in the UK specify that it should not be over 4%. With LS, what this means is that you have to be sure to replace any water lost to evaporation.
With bar soaps, what this means is you should probably use no more than 3% since you will have some water evaporation during curing.
Is this homemade soap suitable to use on the face?
Coconut oil soaps--or soaps that are just high in coconut oil--are strong cleansers. People usually prefer very mild and gentle soaps for facial soaps. While almost any homemade soap (even a coconut oil soap) will be more gentle than store-bought "detergent" or "syndet" bars, it's best to use a specially formulated facial soap. Facial soaps should be made with relatively low-cleansing oils and should have a high superfat. It is also good to exfoliate when washing your face. I like a kessa hammam exfoliating glove for that.
I--along with many other soap makers--feel that soaps made with KOH (potassium hydroxide), rather than soaps made with NaOH (sodium hydroxide) make the best facial soaps. Here is a link to my facial soap recipe. You can substitute other liquid oils for one or all of the oils I have suggested for the superfat oils, to make the recipe less involved. The most important thing is that it is a KOH soap.Helpful 1
Do you have to leave it for 4 weeks?
All soap should be allowed to cure for at least four weeks, for improved quality. However, homemade soap is usually fully saponified and safe to use after 48-72 hours. After two or three days, there is usually no active lye remaining in soap. There are some exceptions to this. Some essential oils, such as Lavender 40/42 can slow saponification, so that active lye may remain in the soap for up to a week. On the other hand, soaps made with Lavender 40/42 may not always be slow to saponify, depending on the process used to make the soap.
You can safely use your soap after 2-3 days. But the 4-6 week curing process makes for higher quality, longer-lasting soap. The curing process of soap involves a change in the crystalline structure of the soap. Soap quality continues to improve for a year or more after it is made, so in some sense the suggested 4-6 week curing time is arbitrary. But it is generally agreed that it takes 4-6 weeks of curing time for the soap to reach a generally accepted level of quality.