DIY - Soap making recipes for beginners

DIY - Soap making recipes for beginners

Soap is a substance used with water for washing and cleaning, made of a compound of natural oils or fats with sodium hydroxide (lye) for soap bars or potassium hydroxide for liquid soap, and typically have some essential oils or artificial fragrance oils added for scent and different chemical compounds (mostly metal oxides and specially iron oxides) or natural minerals like clays as colorants are added. Soap is classified as salt in chemistry and as final products can be safe to pH use in range between 8-11, depending form soap purpose, detergent soap always will have higher pH, than facial or body soap. If your soap has pH between 8-9, it is completely safe to use. Living organisms had pH safe environment range between 4-9. So remember there is huge microbiom working and living  on your skin that helps to keep your skin healthy and use of soap too often could not only clean the metabolic waste off your skin, but also can effect your natural skin's microbiom.

This is case when saying ''Less is better ! '' or ''Little goes a far way'' could help to keep your skin in perfect condition.

Soap is made in simple chemical reaction between strong alkali and fatty acids. If proportions of alkali and fatty acids are correct, there is no lye left in soaps and they are safe. If your soaps recipe has wrong proportions, you could make very irritated soaps (with high pH). If you add to much oil soaps you will see oils separation from soaps. Lye reaction with oil called saponification.

Best source that many soap makers use as soap calculator is simple software based on soap saponification values and it is very easy to use to make your recipe. 

How to start? 

1. Choose what kind of soap you would like to make - liquid or bar soaps. For liquid soaps you have to choose potassium hydroxide (KOH flakes) and for bar soaps sodium hydroxide (NaOH granules) as your lye. Amount of lye necessary for each recipe will be calculated by calculator and should be strictly respected to insure complete reaction without lye left in soap bar. It means all oil should be saponified with lye.

2. Choose the oils you wish to use and check the soap quality range to achieve for better result according to your expectations.

Why you should use different oils for your soaps?

Each oil contain different fatty acids and they are giving certain properties of your soaps. What kind of soap you would prefer? What qualities you would like to achieve for your soaps? Some oils will give more mousse and bubbles, some will increase slippery, some will be more suitable for cleansing, some will increase hardness of soap bar, some will insure soap transparency etc... Lathering (foam character) quality of soap is very important for soap makers and it is directly depending form oils you choose.

If you use just one oil you never can get soap with full range of qualities. For example by adding coconut oil to the recipe, you give the bar more cleansing properties. Coconut oil can react with more amount of lye than other oils. Castor oil is great for liquid soaps, single castor oil will NOT form hard soap bar. Castor oil soap can be extremely thick, sticky and slimy consistency. Be careful also with Jojoba oil, it also can became out very soft, I consider it fits better for liquid soaps. Avocado oil could be added in tiny quantities, because of sticky slimy consistence as result for final product. Liquid oils will react with lye slower than hard oils or butters, exception is lard, it also takes more time to saponify, but is a one of the best and very old tradition laundry soaps ingredient. Soap made from Olive oil is known as Castile soap and is great soap, but it cure time is much more longer than for other soap and just become better and better when soap dries out.

For my first liquid soap I used recipe made just from 3 oils olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil and it was great.  Tallow, cocoa butter, Shea butter and lard will add cloudiness to liquid soap and it takes quite a lot of time to make it. For beginners bar soap made in cold process is best point where to start.

Different fatty acids and it properties in soaps

To understand different properties of oils, I started to look at fatty acid range in soap calculator. There is 8 main fatty acids which is used as quality indicators in recipe. Each of them has recommended range to end up with best result.

Name of Fatty acid           Type                  Fatty acids in oils                           Soap properties  (recommended %)

Lauric (15 %)


coconut oilpalm kernel oil, laurel oil, almost half consist from lauric acid, that form laurates in your soaps. Laurates will add medical properties of your soap and is highly recommended. 

Lauric acid gives hard bar with excellent cleansing properties, lots of fluffy lather, but can be drying your skin, so keep its value in range around 15%.


Myristic (4 -7 %)


Nutmeg butter (75% of myristic acid) , palm kernel oilcoconut oilbutter fat, and forms myristates in soaps. Myristic acid plays role as a cleansing, surfactant and opacifying agent  and emulsifier in cosmetics. 

Support to make hard bar, and contribute in cleansing also gives fluffy lather. 4-7 % is average amount recommended.


Palmitic (10-20%) 


Major component of palm oil, naturally present also in butter, milk, cocoa butter, soybean oil, and sunflower oil and forms palmitates in soaps. Palmitates is attached to the alcohol form of vitamin A, retinol, to make vitamin A stable in milk. High concentration of palmitates helps to remold soap much easier and gives smooth surface.


Stearic (3-8%)


Fats and oils rich in stearic acid they are more abundant in animal fats, but exception is vegetal oils in form of cocoa buttershea butter, they forms stearates in the soaps. 

Stearic acid has bifunctional character, it has a polar head group that can be attached to metal cations and a nonpolar chain that confers solubility in organic solvents.

if you wish to make any essential mineral s containing soap you should consider to use oils rich with stearic acid. Learn more about zinc stearate, magnesium stearate, calcium stearate, copper stearate


Ricinoleic (11-16%)


About 90% of the ricinoleic acid content is in castor oil and forms ricinoleate in soaps. 

The Zinc Ricinolate or the zinc salt is used in widely used in personal care products. 

Ricinoleic acid can give softer bar with great conditioning, moisturizing, properties, contribute a lot of fluffy, stable lather, very kind to skin, used in shampoo bars and barber soaps.


Oleic (30-34%)


olive oil which is mostly composed of oleic acid. You also can use  pecan oilcanola oil, peanut oil,macadamia oilsunflower oilgrape seed oil, sea buckthorn oil, and sesame oilpoppyseed oil. It is abundantly present in many animal fats like a lard

Oleic acid as its sodium salt is a major component of soap as an emulsifying agent. Oleic acid gives slippery feeling for soap bars, it is great for skin but to much of it can make stingy soap bar, keep it in range and you we gave great soap bar.


Linoleic ( 7-14%)


flax seeds, hemp seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seedssafflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils etc. Luxury moisturizing properties, but avoid to use it in high concentrations in soap, it soften finished product and can cause DOS. I love silky feeling that this acid gives to soap bars, if you choose to use higher % as recommended, add salt to you soap to avoid DOS.


Linolenic (0,2-0,5%)


Mixture α-Linolenic acid, an omega-3 and  γ-Linolenic acid, an omega-6, found in chia, flaxseed, hemp, nuts (walnuts), and many common vegetable oils and they forms Linolenate in soap. Use in very small quantities to give slippy soap feeling, to  mush can cause slightly greasy and sticky. I could recommend it only for certain shampoo bars or as specific supplement added by purpose for some specific soap bars, like Sea Buckthorn soap that give great color to soap bar and is use in shampoo bars or aging or distorted skin care products.


Fatty acid range is based on soap makers community research. See more here. Each oil could contain different fatty acids, which can contribute in total value of your fatty acids %, so take your time and read more about each of the oils you use for soap making.

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

Saturated fatty acids, it means fatty acid chains have all or predominantly single bonds. A fat is made of two kinds of smaller molecules: glycerol and fatty acids. Fats are made of long chains of carbon (C) atoms. Unsaturated fatty acids has at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain. A fatty acid chain is monounsaturated if it contains one double bond, and polyunsaturated if it contains more than one double bond and hydrogen atoms are subtracted from the unsaturated fatty acid carbon chain.

In soap unsaturated an saturated fatty acid should be in ratio close or 50:50, I prefer to use ratio close to to 40:60.

Soap quality range and how to read it.

There is also some interaction between these soap properties. 

in this example recipe you can see how to read recipe without making the soaps. Recipe value 45 for hardness is not bad, it fits good in range. I found that soap with hardness under 40 is not long lasting, for these soap recipes I suggest to add salt (use salt water) or clay (mixed with little bit water and added to trace) to get harder bar. Cleansing is quite high in recipe (coconut oil are good for it), Conditioning - Hydration is also in the middle range. Please note that bubble and cream properties has some correlation the same corelation is observed with conditioning - hydratation property and Iodine value. Nice balance between bubbles and creamy feeling. Iodine value is in range, so it just confirms Hardness of soaps are acceptable. INS value also fits in range.

I could say this is good start as base. Now I can add some specific additives in form of water, powder, color, perfume etc. You can add huge range of additives in your soaps, calculate water discount or change % of super fats in your soaps.

What is super fat?

It is % of free oils in your soap with is not saponified and can add specific oil properties to your soap, higher super fat % can give you great mild body soap. Most of soap makers stick with super fats at 3-8 %. But with high % of coconut oil in recipe you can add even higher % of super fats 10-20%, that will turn it in very mild soap.

Beginners recipe ''CocoLive''

Let's start with simple ingredients recipe for soap beginners, it works perfect. I call them CocoLive soap, Cocoa butter also could be replaced with Palm oil:

Recipe is not ideal, because it contains only 3 oils, but soaps has very good for daily use, they are quite hard, with very good cleaning properties and they have nice bubbles and creamy feeling. See photo below. I prefer this soap calculator, I had tried others too, but this one is more advanced, some specific oils are not included in list, but I can suggest to start with more common oils before spending your money to more exotic oils, which can be also quite expensive. 

I made CocoLive soaps in hot process and here is result. Please note it is home made product and each time could look a little bit different. 

What is a difference between hot and cold soap making process, benefits from these two techniques also should be considered in soap making. I will try to explain and give some practical tips and tricks in my upcoming post.

Just try to put your own hand in sop making , it will be a lot of fun. Do not hesitate to contact me, if you need some advice on your own recipe.


Here is one more recipe for your own experiments, I would appreciate any feedback about your experience. 

Standard soap calculator give recipe with less than 30% lye concentration, such a soap will need longer time to complete saponification process and dry out (cure). I prefer use water discount in ratio 1 part lye : 2 parts water, or lye with concentration 35 - 40 %, it help to prevent partial gel and speed up the saponification process. 

With time and practice you will find your own way to create a great soap recipe and can predict soap properties just by reading the recipe.

Sometimes we need just a last kick to continue before we quit. Remember it, when you feel broken, stupid and incompetent. Do not read posts which say you are not skilled enough or you need to spend too much money to make your own soap, or even worth, some gurus will say you will end with wasted products. WHEN YOU FAILING YOU ARE JUST A STEP FROM SUCCESS. It is just a normal learning and skill building process.

So, just keep learning by doing, happy soaping !

WARNING: Please note, soap making could be very addictive.

-Lita-                                                                                                                                                             Soap mentor, chemist, biologist and Liquid Plasma Crystals formulator

In development for several years we have gain experience in new green technology and like nothing stops in the universe we haven't either.

So we are started to make soap and other natural skincare products using plant plasma extracts and mineral  crystal particles (MCP) at their colloidal state and have blessed with new discoveries in our work that is crystalized in plasma power skin care products. 

We use slow process extraction methods than does not make whole process very cost-effective, but result is more concentrated extract from plants and its valuable elements. We use plasmatic environment in soap curing time, which could take from few weeks to even 3 years to form desirable soap crystals depending from method and ingredients used in the saponification process.We believe soap should feel happy to deliver its best properties to our customers, including the most valuable to keep material spirit preservation in liquid plasmatic form with certain fields and frequencies. We are happy to share with you this progress and grateful for every single support from you to our scientific research.Your purchases are donations and research contribution for to ''Liquid Plasma Crystals'' research and experiments in natural supplement extraction methods and new approach of use of nature-based plasma energies in the modern world of nanotechnologies. Our aim is to develop technologies as greenest possible, fewer chemicals and with little energy in use to find best solutions for the future humanity of our dear planet Earth.

Thank you very much for your confidence and support.
We are sharing our knowledge experience and experiments in our blog posts and Facebook page, we also invite you to join our private artisanal scientific research public group to participate in discussions and share your own experiments.

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