How To Make Cold Process Bar Soap From Scratch

Today is another awesome post on how to make quality bar soap using cold process. For those who do not know; there are basically three methods of bar soap production. Cold process, Melt and Pour Process, and Hot process. Moreover, we are going to be discussing cold process for making bar soap.

It’s not a big mystery, just simple chemistry. Soap is simply the result of combining a caustic agent (lye) using a liquid carrier (such as water, milk, tea) with fats and oils. All recipes are listed by Weight and not volume. An accurate scale is a must in soap making!

Basic Tools Needed For Making Bar Soap In Nigeria

  1. Stainless steel pot
  2. Bowls to measure oils
  3. Bowl to measure lye
  4. Bowl to measure liquid
  5. Stick blender
  6. Rubber gloves
  7. Eye goggles apron

Materials Use In Making Bar Soap Through Cold Process

Fats and Oils:

 Any types of fats and oils can be used to make soap, different oils and fats will give different characteristics to your final soap. Each fat has a saponification (SAP) value. Simply put, each fat needs a different amount of lye to convert the fat into soap. If you are using solid fats such as palm oil, coconut oil, lard, tallow or others, be sure to melt these before adding the lye solution.

Liquid Carrier (The Solvent):

You can use water, milks, herbal teas, or hydrosols. The purpose of the liquid is to disperse the lye throughout the oils and fats. Your liquid should be between 28%-38% of your total fats and oils by weight. I suggest you use the higher end of the scale (38%) until you are familiar with how your particular soap recipe acts. If you are using milk, teas or hydrosols; it is good to freeze it for better results. Adding lye to thawed (unfrozen) milk can result in it burning. The milk turning a bright yellow or orange is a good indication of burnt milk. Although, this does not make the soap unusable, but it will be dark in color.

Lye (Caustic Soda):

This is the caustic agent used in making soap. NaOH or Sodium Hydroxide is used to make bar soaps, while KOH or Potassium Hydroxide is used in making liquid soaps. Please, be very careful when working with Lye; as it is very a very strong base and dangerous. If peradventure you get a little on your skin, you should dilute it by flushing the area with a lot of water. Do NOT use vinegar, as this will cause a chemical burn! Besides, never use aluminum when working with lie; instead, use stainless steel.


This is the substance used to give desired color to the soap.


Almost anything that will hold your soap mixture is a candidate for a soap mold! As long as the mold is not aluminum and the opening is not smaller than the bottom, it is a possible soap mold. Pour your soap into your molds, cover with plastic wrap, wax paper, cardboard or something similar. Wrap with blankets or towels to insulate.

Perfume or Fragrance:

This is what give the desired scant to the soap. However, it can affect the end product of the soap negatively if not added before the trace.

Step By Step Guide In Making Quality Bar Soap

Step 1: Make all the tools available

Step 2: Dissolve your Lye in water. Make sure your lye is thoroughly dissolved; as un-dissolved pieces of lye will end up in your soap and burn your skin.

Step 3: Measure the right amount of oils to be used.

Step 4: Slowly pour your lye solution into your and oils in a steady stream with continuous stirring. You should start to see the mixture get grainy as the oils react to the lye solution. Keep stirring. Your goal is to achieve trace. But before then, make sure you add all your color and perfumes.

Step 5: Add additives; when your soap has reached ‘trace’ it is time to add your goodies, if you so desire. Your goodies could be extra oil for emollient purposes, scents, colors or botanicals.

Step 6: Unmolding & Curing; your soap will be ready for un-molding and cutting in 8-72 hours. It really depends on the oils you use. If your soap does not release from the mold easily, give it another 12 hours. Cut your soap when it is unmolded and set it on a rack for 3 – 6 weeks to cure. (**Note: The difference in cure time can be traced back to the amount of liquid used in your lye solution. Don’t be mistaken that soap made with hot process doesn’t need to be cured! The hot process only speeds the saponification.) This cure time is needed for the water to evaporate out of the bar, making it harder and longer lasting. Fragrances that seem to disappear during the saponification process may again reappear. The more the soap dries, the more lather it becomes.

Saponification is the term used for the chemical reaction that takes place between the lye solution and your fats. It starts to take place when you first combine the two and ends between 12-96 hours later depending if you encourage the exothermic (heat producing) reaction by insulating your soap or retard it by placing it in a cold environment.

5 thoughts on “How To Make Cold Process Bar Soap From Scratch”

  1. I really appreciate your blog post, it was really informative and helpful. Thanks, am very grateful.

    Will like to know how to make a hot process soap. Please do make a blog on it.


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