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.
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
(NOTE: ALL ingredients are to be measured by WEIGHT)
- 10 ounces coconut oil (find unrefined coconut oil here)
- 10 ounces olive oil
- 3 ounces rice bran oil (find it here)
- 13 ounces other oil (I use safflower and grapeseed oils if I’m making a body soap, or soybean oil if I’m making dish or laundry soap)
- 5.5 ounces sunflower oil (find organic sunflower oil here)
- 9 ounces KOH, a.k.a. potassium hydroxide (find it here)
- 25 ounces distilled water
- 60 ounces distilled water
- 16 ounces liquid vegetable glycerine (find organic glycerine here)
- 3 ounces (more or less to your taste) of essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice (find pure essential oils here)
- natural colorant of your choice, use a very small amount (get ideas for natural soap colorants)
Liquid Soap: The Process
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover and keep on high for the first 30-60 minutes, then turn to low.
- 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.
- 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.
Once your soap paste is fully cooked, you can dilute it.
- Heat 60 ounces of water until hot, not boiling. (Remember to measure by weight, not volume.)
- Add the liquid vegetable glycerin. Mix together well.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?