A Simplified Process for Making Natural Liquid Soap

How to Make Liquid Soap Simple

How to Make Liquid Soap (take 2)

When I first learned how to make liquid soap, I knew there was a lot to it. The measurements need to be precise and the cooking times exact.

Now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I’ve formulated a recipe that’s much easier and less time consuming than the original.

Like the original recipe, you can use this liquid soap as shampoo, body wash, hand soap, and even dish soap!

Ingredients for Making Liquid Soap

For making liquid soap, you still need an alkali, but in this case it’s potassium hydroxide, not sodium hydroxide, as in lye. Do not let this intimidate you. Even if you have no experience with either. (Check out this article on lye for more information.) Potassium hydroxide is easier to work with because it comes in flakes that are heavier than the tiny beads most lye is made of.

You will also need potassium hydroxide, coconut oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, another oil such as soybean (there are a few non-GMO brands available), safflower or grape seed oil, sunflower oil, distilled water, liquid vegetable glycerin, and any scent or color you wish to add.

Supplies

You’ll also need newspaper to cover your work area, a crock pot, gloves and goggles, mixing spoons, a stick blender, a scale, and old towels for clean up. You might also want to have vinegar handy in case of spills.

How to Make Liquid Soap: The Recipe

Ingredients

(NOTE: ALL ingredients are to be measured by WEIGHT)

Liquid Soap: The Process

  1. Ventilate your work area well, cover your work space with newspaper, and put on your gloves and goggles. Be sure pets and kids are not running underfoot as you begin this project.
  2. Start by measuring your oils and placing them into the crock pot. Remember: For this recipe we’re measuring all ingredients by weight, not by volume, so you must have a scale (like this).
  3. Turn your crock pot on high and melt all the oils. I use a smaller crock pot to cook my ingredients down and then move to a larger one once I start adding the liquids.
  4. Place 25 ounces of the distilled water into a glass or stainless bowl. Measure out the KOH and slowly pour it into the water (never the other way around) while stirring. You may notice it making groaning noises as it dissolves – this is normal.
  5. Once mixed, add the water/KOH mixture to the oils. Combine by hand to blend the solutions, then start using the stick blender. The mixture will be kind of chunky and want to separate, but don’t worry. Blend for about 5 minutes, then walk away.
  6. Cover and keep on high for the first 30-60 minutes, then turn to low.
  7. Keep coming back once in a while to stir or blend. It will start to take shape soon. After about 2 hours it will look kind of translucent like petroleum jelly. By this point it is harder to work with – heavy and sticky. I use a stainless steel potato masher to break it up more easily. Once it looks cooked through with no opaque spots, you can test it.
  8. To test: Place a small spoonful in some hot water and stir really well. It’ll take a bit to dissolve it all. If the water is clear, you can continue to the dilution stage. If it’s at all cloudy, continue cooking.

The Dilution

Once your soap paste is fully cooked, you can dilute it.

  1. Heat 60 ounces of water until hot, not boiling. (Remember to measure by weight, not volume.)
  2. Add the liquid vegetable glycerin. Mix together well.
  3. Add this mixture to the crock pot and stir, or use the masher if needed. Leave on low, cover, and walk away. You can leave it for a few hours and then go back to it. I like to do this step in the evening so I can leave it overnight.
  4. In the morning, stir the soap well and let it settle and hour or so. The soap paste that’s not diluted should rise to the top, leaving good liquid soap underneath. I push the chunky stuff aside and spoon the good stuff into pint or quart jars. Then I can scent and color each one differently if I want to.
  5. For the chunky stuff that remains, add a bit more water and turn the heat off. Leave this overnight and it should all be diluted by morning. Depending on the consistency you want, you may need to add a bit more distilled water. Start with a very small amount (1 teaspoon) so it doesn’t get too thin.

Differences in Recipes

A few of the main differences between this recipe and the original one are that the weight measurements are rounded and easier to work with. I’ve also cut out some of the more expensive oils and replaced them with oils that are more economical, but that still work well in liquid soap.

Another difference is that you don’t need to neutralize it with borax or boric acid. I completely skipped this step the last few times and found it was not necessary. My liquid soap is mild and full of lather. You don’t need to let it sit for a few weeks to sequester either. I never have things precipitate out of it. It can be used right away.

Lastly, there’s not a lot of babysitting required to make this recipe. Let it sit for an hour or a few days – it’ll be fine either way.

Better for Busy Schedules

I can’t tell you all how many times I’ve started a batch of soap only to get caught up in something else and then had to work until 2 a.m. just to finish it. With this recipe, you don’t need to worry about that. You can keep the soap paste in quart jars until you have time for the dilution stage. I’ve done this a few times and it works great.

Liquid soap is a lot of fun to make, and now it’s even easier than before. Have you made liquid soap yet?

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Comments

  1. Can I substitute the rice bran oil for wheat germ oil or any other type of oil? Thank you for posting this easier recipe, I’ve been wanting to try to make liquid soap for over a year now, but didn’t want to go through the long process. :)

    • You sure can, Jennifer. Unlike cold process soap making, where all of the oils need to be carefully figured out through a lye calculator and SAP chart, you can do some tweaking with this recipe. As long as the SAP numbers are close, even 20 points away is ok, you’ll be fine. I use rice bran oil because it’s close in structure to jojoba oil, but closer on the SAP charts to what I used the first time, soybean oil. All oils have different properties and are good for different things, so choose whichever oil you want for whatever you want it to do. I love this new recipe! I’ve used it so many times in the past few weeks getting ready to start selling for the holidays.

      • Awesome, thank you for all the information! I’m still a little nervous about this since I’m a beginner making liquid soap. Any other tips or anything helpful for beginners? ?

  2. Could the glycerin be added after the cook, omitting the water? That way small amounts could be diluted as needed. I don’t have lots of storage space, and soap paste would take up less room.

    • I would think you could weigh the cooled paste and calculate the water/glycerin ratio. Then you would know how much water/glycerin is needed per oz (by weight) of paste. I’ve stored LS paste for quite awhile in the fridge diluting as needed. My thoughts anyway

      • Thanks for the answer Helen! You got to it before I could. Yes, Jennifer, you can do exactly what Helen suggested. I don’t store mine in the refrigerator, but in half gallon jars on a shelf, although refrigerating it is fine. I calculate everything according to what the batch of paste weighs in the end. It can vary from batch to batch. Then I keep a record of it and label the jar to be sure I dilute it correctly. When I need some liquid soap, I start about a week before I need it. Weigh the paste and use your chart to be sure you dilute it correctly. Too much liquid can make it too runny. When I do it this way, I heat the glycerin and water and pour it over the paste in a quart jar. Stir a bit, cap and wait 2-3 days. Stir again and wait. Usually by the end of the week, you’ll have nice clear (ish) liquid soap. If there are big lumps, it may take a few more days, but even the air bubbles are usually gone in a week.

    • My last batch made just about a gallon and a half, Kimm, once it was all diluted. This can vary a bit depending on how long it cooks and if you leave it uncovered for a long time. If you do this, it will get thicker and lose more moisture.

    • Most all soap is antibacterial to some extent Bill. The purpose of soap is to lift dirt and bacteria off of the surface and hold it in suspension so it can be washed down the drain. If you are looking for more protection, you could try adding known antibacterial essential oils to your finished soap. Some good choices would be Tea Tree, Lavender, Rosemary or Grapefruit.

  3. I am so happy to see the new version! I have tried the old one many times, and while I’ve gotten comfortable with it, it is very hands-on-intensive. I just made a batch so I’m good for awhile, but will try this the next time. Thanks to you, I am an avid beginning soapmaker! Thanks for all of the tips and tricks!

    • Thanks so much Deb! That’s the exact reason I reformulated the recipe. I just didn’t have the time to “babysit” the original one. It’s so versatile that I left the last batch sitting on the work table for the last week and even without heat, most of the liquid has absorbed into the paste. The rest went into a jar with the last of the water and will sit for a week or so like the batch before it. I did have a weird thing happen-the paste got fluffy. It didn’t seem to want to work itself down, so this was one of the reasons I waited, other than the fact that I was working. When I checked it today, I had nice honey colored clear liquid and some undiluted paste. I hadn’t used all the water/glycerin yet. So I scooped out the liquid part, put the rest in a jar with the remainder of the water and it’s working out great. The test showed clear, which was what I was hoping for. So there’s one more tip-if it doesn’t seem right, just wait! It will probably be fine.

    • I’ve never needed a preservative Ginger. Using essential oils shouldn’t cause any problems. I would say the shelf life is about the same, although I only perfected this recipe this past summer. The first batch, now about 7 months old, has shown no signs of degradation. You can always use a preservative if you want to be extra sure.

  4. Hi again! So I tried this recipe and I am having a problem with it diluting. I have been cooking it for 3 days now and its still at the thick petroleum texture and I have been adding water to hopefully get it to dissolve. This is my first time making liquid soap and I’m not sure if I’m doing it right. Help please!!

    • Are you keeping it hot while you’re trying to dilute it Jennifer? This may be part of the problem. Any soap that’s not diluted gets cooked more as the heat continues. It may get to more of a plastic type stage and not be able to be diluted at all. For the best results, pour some of the water/glycerin in while hot and then shut it off. Stir once in a while. When it cools, turn it on just until it gets hot again, then shut it off again. This way may take longer as it can be done over several days, but then you won’t overcook the soap paste. Hope this helps!

      • Hi Debra, thanks for the information. I figured out that my crockpot was not hot enough so I switched it to a pot on the stove and added more water. It finally diluted and is nice and creamy. I hope its has the right amount of everything because it did spill over in the crockpot. ?

    • Nope, not at all CJ! what you’re doing, in essence, is making crock pot soap using a different type of lye. When you cook soap down that way, it can be used right away rather than waiting 4 weeks or so for it to cure. Liquid soap is a bit different in that as it’s cooked and then diluted, the “lye” is neutralized completely, or at least nearly so. The standing and diluting further usually takes care of the rest.

  5. Hi! I am a first timer here and was just wondering if this recipe produces a clear and colorless liquid soap? Or is this the clear and yellowish one? Also, it is so hard to look for rice bran oil here.. can i just add the amount of other oils called for in the recipe? Like the sunflower oil or grapeseed oil or olive oil? :)