How Do You Make Cold Process Soap? (Beginners Guide)

  • By: Carl
  • Time to read: 10 min.

You can make cold process soap at home with quality ingredients and the oils, essential oils, colorants, and designs that you choose. This process is not as difficult as you think it might be, and you can get started rather quickly with a limited amount of equipment and reasonably easy-to-find supplies.

Making your own soap can be a great thing if you are worried about what you are using on your body or what your family is using on theirs. In addition to being in full control of the process and the ingredients, you might save some money over handmade soap from the local boutiques.

What Is Cold Process Soap?

Generally in soap making, you have two processes that you can use to make soap. One of them being hot process soap and the other being cold process soap.

Cold process soap is a type of soap made by combining fatty oils, lye, essential oils, and colorants. This soap is created through a process called saponification.

Saponification is a process in which a chemical reaction heats the ingredients, rather than through an outside heating source.

Why Make Cold Process Soap?

While hot process soap is made through a chemical reaction, cold process soap is made by combining the ingredients and then letting them sit for a period of time, typically around 24 hours. After this time has elapsed, the soap will have gone through saponification and be safe to use.

Cold process soap is often preferred over hot process soap because it tends to have a smoother feel, higher quality, and be less harsh on the skin. This type of soap also gives the soap maker more control over the final product.

You will find that among the available soap-making methods, cold process soap making is the most popular.

The Best Process For Beginners

Now that you know a little more about cold process soap and why people prefer it, we can get into how to make it yourself. If you are new to cold process soap making, we recommend using the cold process method.

This method is the best way for beginners to get started because it is less likely that you will run into problems and it is easier to fix them if you do.

Low Barriers to Entry

Another reason cold process is the best method for beginners is that there are low barriers to entry. You do not need a lot of equipment or expensive ingredients to get started. In fact, you probably have most of what you need already in your kitchen.

All you really need is a pot, a stick blender, some measuring cups and spoons, and a mold for your soap. Of course, there are other things that you can buy to make the process easier, but they are not necessary.

Quality cold process soap recipes are available online that you can use to get started. And if you want to get really creative, you can design your own cold-process soap recipe.

Cold Process is Easily Customizable

One of the best things about cold process soap is that it is easily customizable. You can add different oils, essential oils, colorants, and other ingredients to create a soap that is perfect for you.

You can also design cold process soap to have different properties. For example, you can make a cold process soap that is more moisturizing, one that is better for sensitive skin, or one that has exfoliating properties.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to cold-process soap. So, if you are looking for a truly unique soap, this is the method you want to use.

cold process soap

What Equipment Do You Need To Make Cold Process Soap?

  • Measuring cups
  • Molds
  • Spoons
  • Spatula
  • Thermometer
  • Safety gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Soap pot
  • Weighing scale
  • Glass pitcher
  • Mason jar with lid
  • Plastic pitcher with lid
  • Stick blender

What Ingredients Do I Need To Make Cold Process Soap?

  • Distilled water
  • Lye flakes
  • Your choice of oil – coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil etc.
  • Fragrance (optional)
  • Coloring pigments or mica colorants (optional)
  • Additive materials such as spices, natural exfoliants, or flower petals etc. (optional)

How Do You Make Cold Process Soap?

Here are the step-by-step instructions that you need to follow to work up a cold pressed soap all by yourself.

1. Weigh the Water and Lye

Before getting started with the soap-making process, you need to weight the water and lye. So, put a pitcher on the weighing scale and zero out the weight so that you get accurate measurements of the ingredients. Pour distilled water into the pitcher until you get the desired weight that suits your specific recipe. Next, put a plastic pitcher or a mason jar on the weighing scale, further zeroing out the weight. Add lye to the jar and cover the same with its lid and put it in an undisturbed spot.

2. Combine Lye and Water

Add the lye to the water pitcher slowly, while making sure you don’t make any splashes while you pour the lye. Stir the solution very gently until all the lye dissolves well. Rinse all the tools you used for mixing the solution immediately after using them. The mixture is going to heat up, so make sure you cover the pitcher with its lid and put it in a safe spot.

3. Add the Oils to a Glass Pitcher or Soap Pot

Place the glass pitcher or the soap pot onto the weighing scale and make sure you zero out the weight on the scale. Weigh the oils you choose to use one by one by adding them into the pitcher or pot. Don’t forget to zero out the measurement after measuring each oil. It’s essential to pour the oil into the pot slowly to avoid adding unwanted amounts.

4. Put the Pot Over Heat

Turn the stove on and place the soap pot over medium-low heat to melt the oils slowly while you gently stir the same. Grab a thermometer to check the temperature, followed by turning the stove off when the oils reach a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to stir the solution until all the solid oils are properly melted, further adding the liquid oils to the soap pot. It’s time to add the lye-water solution to the pot when the oil mixture reaches about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Add the Lye Solution

Add the lye-water solution to the soap pot slowly and you are going to witness the oils turn cloudy almost instantly. Start stirring the mixture properly with the help of a stick blender, but make sure you don’t turn on the blender yet. A chemical reaction called as saponification begins at this stage and the mixture starts turning into soap. Put the lye pitcher in a safe spot away from the reach of the kids or pets.

6. Mix the Oils and Lye

You need to turn on the stick blender in quick bursts while you stir the lye water and oil together. The idea is to blend for around 3-5 seconds, further turning it off and stirring some more. Repeat this and keep mixing in short bursts until the lye-water solution mixes thoroughly with the oils. The solution will then start to trace, i.e. it goes under emulsification. Take a little mixture into a spoon and allow it to flow back into the soap pot. If it leaves a track on the spoon after dribbling back, the mixture is all set. Typically, the trace is reached in just a matter of a few minutes.

7. Add Essential Oils or Fragrance

Next, you can introduce any essential oils or your favorite fragrance to the soap mixture. Make sure you do it after the mixture blends properly, but before it turns too thick. At this point, you can use the end of the stick blender to stir the solution and blend the ingredients properly.

8. Add Your Choice of Additives

You can blend in your choice of additives such as spices, petals, natural exfoliants, herbs, or moisturizing oils into the mix, further stirring them with the stick blender.

9. Throw in Coloring Agents

Add the pigments or mica coloring agents to the soap. You can either work up the soap in a single hue or go for a swirl effect. Add the color to the pot and stir well.

10. Pour the Soap Into the Mold

Once the soap thickens, pour the mixture into a soap mold while making sure you spread it throughout the mold properly. Use a spatula to take out the remaining bits of the mixture from the pot. Get rid of all the air bubbles trapped in the soap mix by picking the mold up and tapping the same on the countertop. Put the mold in a warm spot to allow curing and saponification. If the surroundings are cold, keep the mold warm by placing a towel around or on top of the mold.

11. Let the Soap Harden

Place the soap at an undisturbed spot and allow it to harden for about 24 hours to make it easy to unmold and cut into smaller pieces. Gently unmold the soap by sliding or popping it out, further cutting it into individual bars. It’s good to let the soap cure for about 4 weeks before putting it to use.

Pros and Cons of Cold Process Soap

Here are some of the pros and cons of cold process soap.

Pros of Cold Process Soap

– You can easily customize cold process soap as per your preferences.

– It doesn’t require any fancy equipment to make cold process soap.

– The soap bars made with cold process method tend to last longer than other types of soaps.

– Cold process soap is loaded with natural glycerin, which helps trap moisture and keeps the skin hydrated.

Cons of Cold Process Soap

– It takes a few weeks for cold process soap to cure and be ready for use.

– The cold process soap making method requires working with lye, which can be dangerous if not done properly.

– You need to have some basic knowledge about soap making before you try cold process soap making.

Cold Process Soap Making Safety Tips

  • The most essential safety tip is to wear protective goggles to prevent dangerous alkali burns to your eyes. If you wear a regular pair of glasses, make sure to wear safety goggles that fit over them just right.
  • It is important to cover any exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, close-toed shoes and pants in order to protect yourself from harmful splashes.
  • Wearing a dust mask is optional but it is going to help you if you’re sensitive to lye fumes or planning to prepare large batches.
  • The lye flakes are likely to fly and get caught by your shirt sleeves or gloves due to static cling. Make sure you remove the lye flakes from the same quickly.
  • Even when you are washing all the utensils and tools used in the soap-making process, make sure you keep your gloves and safety goggles on. Use some hot, soapy water for the washing to avoid any oily raw soap residue in the pan as it is very caustic and can lead to burns or irritation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does homemade soap go bad?

All soaps expire, even store-bought soaps. Homemade soap can go bad within 1 year of its manufacture date but can last up to 3 years depending on ingredients. This is normally due to the essential oils, and fragrance oils losing their potency and changing over time. These oils do not expire in the same way that food does, but at a certain point, they should no longer be used.

How do I make cold process soap harder?

Make cold process soap harder by adding sodium lactate to cooled lye water during the soap-making process. Sodium lactate can help your soap harden and harden faster which will also assist you in releasing the soap from the molds.

How do you know when soap is cured?

As soap is curing it is losing water weight. When the soap is no longer losing weight, that means the soap has fully cured, this can take 4-6 weeks. At this point, you can prepare it for storage or wrapping.

How long does it take cold process soap to harden?

Depending on the ingredients used to make the cold process soap. Cold process soap can harden in about 3-4 days, at that point it is safe to remove it from the molds. Once the soap is removed from the molds you can prepare it for curing.

How long does cold process soap last?

When cold process soap is cured it can last up to 1 year. The soap will slowly lose its scent over time. This is due to the essential oils and fragrance oils used in the cold process soap recipe.

What is the difference between cold process and hot process soap?

Cold process soap is made by combining lye and oils, then pouring into a mold. Hot process soap is made by cooking the lye and oils together then pour into a mold. Both methods result in soap, but cold process soap takes longer to cure then hot process soap.

Where can I buy cold process soap molds?

There are many places you can buy cold process soap molds. You can find cold process soap molds at your local craft store, online, or even make your own cold process soap molds.

What is the shelf life of cold process soap?

The shelf life of cold process soap is 1 year. At that point, the cold process soap will slowly lose its scent over time.


In conclusion, cold process soap does not have to be hard or time consuming to make. You can make your own soap at home without buying a ton of equipment and without spending a ton of time on it.

Most of the time spent making your soap will be waiting for it to harden and then waiting for it to cure.

Not to mention you get to be in full control of the process and the ingredients that go into making a product that you and your family will be using every day.

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