Step 3 – How To Make Cold Process Soap

cold process soap cutting board

Convert Natural Ingredients Into Handmade Soap

An easy guide on how best to produce cold-process soap! Inside this article we include information on every soap making measure, bringing soap to ‘Trace,’ shaping, and curing soap.

This is the third step of the Natural Soap Making for Beginners Steps.

The cold-process procedure is the most common way to make Soap from scratch. It’s simple enough for anyone to attempt so you can make Soap easily in your own kitchen. Even though there usually some uncertainty in your first attempt, you will find the hang from it. Soap involves a good deal of ingredients and measures to try, so just try to stay organized.

In case you’re thinking, cold-process does relate to temperature. It’s also in distinction with hot-process Soap that as you can imagine it is a lot hotter and follows a set of measures.

In this tutorial, we’ll be showing you the honey soap making process. However, you may apply the instructions to any soap recipe.

Assemble Your Equipment And Ingredients

It helps to get everything you need to be prepared in advance. This includes measuring out ingredients and getting your station set up. If there’s a moment of fear anywhere along the way, it definitely helps. Searching for a significant piece of equipment or measuring out ingredients may cause mistakes.

Take your time to read the steps and then set out everything you require.

Soap Making Stations

Your stations can include any warm area where the oils will melt. Also, you must get spoons, thermometer, and a mini-strainer and an immersion blender. Even a bowl of extra measured ingredients and oils.

The cooling area can be your sink, and this is where can mix the lye and water solutions. Here you can keep your stirring spoon at the ready and make sure to pop open the window for ventilation. In preparation for cooling my lye solution, fill the sink with a few inches of cold water.

In another place, keep your soap molds along with insulation materials like towels and the box.  Lastly, use a kitchen scale to measure the solid oils into a stainless steel pan.

Melt The Solid Oils

Are you ready to start making Soap? Step one is to start melting the solid oils. Set the pot on the stove and employ it on to the lowest heat possible. Keep it watching while you proceed to another step. Stir and break up any large chunks to speed up things. Be sure that you remove from the heat when it completely melted. You could even take it off earlier since the remaining heat will melt any small bits of oil.

Making The Lye Solution

After your solid oils are on the hob turn your focus to your water (or other liquid) and lye. First, make sure your gloves and goggles are on, and the area you are planning to work in is well ventilated — turn on the exhaust fan by your stovetop or crack a window open if needed.

Please make sure that any pets and children are out of the room so that the probability of an accident is lessened and you won’t be disturbed. Now you’ll need to consider other cooling methods. Once the water and your lye have been combined, the mixture will become very hot and will have to be cooled in a bowl of water or outside. Please do not put it in the refrigerator because the solution supplies toxic fumes that you don’t desire to get into contact with food.

Though many people find it somewhat frightening, working with Sodium Hydroxide (lye) is an essential part of Soap making from scratch. All Soap is made using lye.

Mixing The Water And Lye

Measure your water and lye into separate bowls and for security purposes, use bowls made from glass, Polypropylene (PP) plastic or Pyrex. Take both jars into a ventilated area close to your cooling location. Now gradually drain the lye into the water and beat with stainless steel equipment. The chemical reaction between lye and water generates steam and heat so, please be careful.

Practicing Caution When Mixing Lye

A word of warning. Pouring the water to the lye since it can bring about a volcano effect that could be startling. Gently pour the lye into the water.

Also of importance is to make sure your water/liquid is at least at room temperature when you add the lye. This is especially critical for those who are considering making Soap with a herbal extract. The volcano in that situation can be harmful.

If your water is even lukewarm, the lye solution can begin to boil vigorously and even volcano out of your pot. This volcano action may also happen if you have some ‘sugars’ such as milk or honey in your liquid.


Among the most challenging parts about making Soap is at what temperature do you blend the oils as well as the lye-solution? Do they have to be precisely at the same temperature?

Firstly, the temperature you mix your Soap at will affect your Soap comes out in texture and color. There are lots of factors that you will need to consider when deciding on a soaping temperature and they will include batch size, type of mold if sugars (honey, sugar, milk ) are used, and what color you expect your batch will turn out.

Preferred Soaping Temperatures

The warmer the temperature, the more intense the color your Soap will be. We suggest you make Soap once the oils are between 90-120°F (32-49°C) and err on the cooler side if you are using sugars. If you combine cold-process Soap over 130°F (54°C) then you risk a whole host of issues including volcanoes, cracking, and discoloration.

Batch Size

For larger batches that are going into big molds soap, many soap makers tend to operate with lower temperatures nearby or under 100°F. This is due to the tendency for big batches of Soap in loaf molds to remain hotter in the center than on the sides. This means that there is a chance of lighter on the exterior and a darker color at the center.

Most soap manufacturers that create large batches do so to sell them to the general people, and a uniquely colored bar of Soap is not as marketable as one with similar color and texture.

If you need a moderate intensity color and are creating a small batch of Soap, we would recommend selecting a temperature closer to to110-120°F. If you’re preparing a small quantity and would prefer a soft and dark color, then stick with moderate temperatures of about 90-100°F.


Having milk, honey, or sugar in your procedure will make your soap batter to warm up. It will continue to heat up after it has been poured into molds. That is why Soap with ‘sugars’ in it can crack on the top if you are not careful about temperatures.

If you intend to use these ingredients, then think using lower temperatures. Temperatures over 110°F (43°C) can caramelize or burn the sugars leading to distinct smell and color than you were anticipating. You can use this to your advantage.


A higher mixing temperature will imply that your soap color will intensify because of reaction referred to as ‘Gelling.’ If you’re after soft and radiant colored bars, then use lower temperatures.

Please read the section below on insulation because this will influence the color of your Soap.

Adjusting temperatures

Add your liquid oils after your oils are fully melted and any added colored oils and stir thoroughly. Monitor the temperatures of the water and pan of oils. Change them till they’re within ten degrees of each other and close to your target mixing temperature.

If the oils are still too hot, you can glide the pan in the sink of water and stir it to cool. If they’re too cold, pop them on the heat again — they heat up speedily so keep observing them in that case.

Lye that becomes too cool can’t be heated again. Some soap manufacturers work with lye solutions that are room temperature while their oils are warm. So long as the overall temperature as soon as you mix the lye solution and the oils are over the melting point of your oils you are fine.

Getting Your Soap To Trace

Now begins the interesting part. Drain your lye-solution using a strainer and into your oils. The filter is to make sure no pieces of undissolved lye get their way into your Soap. Then, submerge your immersion blender into the pan, giving it a little tap to release any air that might have been captured underneath. Begin with a few short pulses and then stir.

Repeat this until you come to ‘Trace’ — based on your batch size it might take anywhere from 1-10 minutes. Trace is when the lye-solution and the oils combine into Soap through a process called Saponification. You will know when your mixture has traced when it’s reached a thin pudding-like density. After you take your immersion blender out of the mixture, you’ll also see that you’ll be able to view a little dribble of Soap that remains on the covering for a bit.

Trace will last to thicken out of a batter consistency to gloopy and thick. Work fast, or sometimes it will firm up within your container.

Mixing bowl used in cold process soap making

Tip: If you do not utilize an immersion blender to mix your Soap and instead choose a spoon or whisk then expect your Soap to take around three hours to trace.

Adding Ingredients at Trace

Once your Soap has traced, you will need to work to add in some of the more components to your own soap batter. These can include your essential oils, superfatting oil, and other additives.

You combine these after Trace for several reasons. First of all, the chemical formula of Saponification (the oils mixing with the lye-solution) can be extremely hot, and adding delicate ingredients through that stage can ruin and evaporate their valuable and fragrant properties.

Further, if you include whole ingredients, for example, rolled oats, before the Soap has discovered, then the blender will push them up.

The final reason particularly touches on the superfatting of your recipe.


Most soap recipes include a Superfat, meaning that an extra amount of oil. The lye in a method may convert a specific quantity of oil into Soap. If you add more, then it requires it remains free-floating in the Soap. This oil offers your Soap more conditioning and less firm on the skin.

Adding A Superfat Trace

If you have a fine oil that you want to act alone as a Superfat, it needs to be added at Trace. This gives a much better chance of surviving on your soap whole, instead of being converted to Soap.

A simple way to superfat would be to add liquid oil that you’ve quantified and have put aside for this step. If you pick hard oil, such as cocoa butter, you’ll have to melt it. We’d recommend sticking with liquid in for your first endeavors.

Adding An Antioxidant

Section of this step is adding your antioxidant if you are using it. Some soap manufacturers use them, and some believe they are unnecessary. The use of antioxidants is to keep free-floating oils on your bars from going rancid over time.

There are three antioxidants that soap manufacturers use: Rosemary Oleoresin Extract (ROE), Grapefruit seed extract (GSE), and Vitamin E, and each has its own pros and cons.

Read up on them and decide which one will be right for you. We must say that antioxidants aren’t ideal additives to keep the additional oils in your Soap from getting rancid. Soap does not need a preservative once it’s set to use, it does not include any water or conditions where bacteria can thrive.

Note: Try to work as fast as you can in this measure since depending upon your recipe, your Soap might begin to set (harden up). We’ve discovered that using a whisk is the perfect way to incorporate your extra ingredients. Although, try not to stir the Soap or carry air into the mixture, or you can finish up with air bubbles in your Soap.

Pouring into Molds

Your Soap is now set to be drained into your molds. Please take a look at the equipment post to learn more about what you can use. There are different types molds out there, and quite a few household hacks.

Lift and plunk your molds down several times after the Soap has been poured in to help settle out the mixture and release any trapped air bubbles.

Insulating the Soap

You’ll have an option on if you want to insulate your Soap or not. Insulating it will be going to keep the temperature warm and stable over the following day or so. Keeping it warm will intensify the color and add slight transparency to the completed bars — this is called setting the Soap through the ‘Gel State.’

You can insulate your Soap inside a wooden box, or outline the surface of the Soap with cling layer and cover a large feathery towel around the mold. If you decide not to insulate your Soap, the color will be opaque and lighter. You can make sure your Soap does not gel by placing it in the fridge after you’ve drained it in the mold.

Insulating Soap Loaves

If you do not insulate your cake molds there’s a possibility that the internal part of the loaf will ‘gel’ and the outer portions will not. You’ll view this as a darker circle on the center of your cut soap bars. It won’t impact the usefulness of the Soap but can seem unattractive.

If you apply sugars in your soap recipe then no requirement to insulate your Soap. Sugars will increase your Soap’s temperature after it has been poured into the molds and additional insulation can make your Soap to a volcano or darken to an undesired color.

Wait 24-48 Hours

You have to let the soup sit for at least 24 hours before you unmold it. This enables the Soap to set and cool down to room temperature, and if you decide to take your Soap out before this time, then you can get a gluey mess.

We recommend waiting a full 48 hours before unmolding. Saponification, this way is pretty much complete, and the Soap is safer to handle.

Cutting Your Soap

If you have used little bar-sized molds, you can pop your Soap out and place them on counters to cure directly. Those using non-silicone plastic molds might experience some difficulties in getting the Soap out, and to you, we would recommend popping the patterns into the freezer for about thirty minutes. The Soap should pop out similar to an ice cube afterward.

With loaves use a sharp knife to cut on your soap cake into bars. If you would like the same sized bars to buy a specialized soap cutter. Some are almost great and cheap for the small manufacturer. A hack is to use a miter box along with a knife which will fit through one of those sets of vertical slats.

Curing Your Cold Process Soap

Your Soap seems finished and may smell fine at this point, but it is not ready yet. First, you will have to place the bars in a cool and well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight. Space out them to increase air circulation, and leave them to dry for at least four weeks.

This period is known as ‘curing,’ and it provides time for the Soap to finish Saponification. It also gives them time to dry and for the water to dissipate out of your bars. Try to neglect the Soap and switch to other jobs for a while. Before you recognize it, the time will have passed, and they will be ready to use.

One Comment on “Step 3 – How To Make Cold Process Soap

  1. This seems really complicated. Is it any easier to use a melt and pour base or does it still require different stations and exact steps?

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