Cold Process Soap Recipes

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Cold process is probably the soap maker’s favorite process for handmade soaps. It is very versatile, allowing to create textures, shapes, designs with different colors. The soap product you get is professional grade. And you are in full and complete control of the ingredients you use. In this post, you will find a list of all cold process soap recipes tested and tried in this blog.

What is Cold Process Afterall?

Handmade soap is produced by mixing a mixture of oils with lye water. Cold process is based on this principle, where soap is made with no heat source during saponification, using room temperatures, and the heat released by the chemical reaction itself. The temperature at which the oils and lye water are mixed together needs to be controlled to ensure the produced soap has no issues. However, the only heating necessary is the one to melt solid oils.

Cold process soap creates hard soap bars, whose properties are mostly given by the oils used in the mixture: conditioning, foamy, bubbly, cleansing, mild.

Please, explain about “Trace” and “Gel phase”…

Terms such as “trace” and “gel phase” are always mentioned when speaking about cold process. “Trace” means that all the oils have been emulsified with the lye water – however, saponification is only partially done by now.  “Gel phase” happens afterwards “trace”, when the soap batter has been poured into molds and saponification continues. The rest of the saponification reaction releases heat, and when this heat is high enough, we say that the soap reached “gel phase” – soap looks brilliant, gelatinous, like gel.

Reaching gel phase makes the soap less opaque and with brighter colors, therefore, many soapmakers make sure the “gel pahse” takes place.

… And “soda ash”? What Is It? How to avoid it?

Soda ash is a white powder that forms on the surface of soap, it looks a bit like white ash powder. It is the product of unsaponified lye reacting with carbon dioxide present in the air, during the saponification. The powder is completely harmless, but may be a nuissance for your pretty colors and designs.

Using less water (water discount, or a bigger lye concentration) and gel phase (you need to thermically isolate your soap mold) are means to avoid soda ash. Other ways to avoid it: sprinkle your soap with alcohol or leave your soap in soap molds for a few days after the soap solidifies (only possible if you are using individual soap molds). 

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  1. What a great niche and fantastic description of how to make soap! It made me want to try this out for my self. I have always believed that I needed to do some “cooking” to make soap, but how wrong I have been. 

    I remember my grandmother making soap when I was a kid. I was fascinated with the process of it, an dit has somewhat stuck to my mind.

    Your description of the process of cold process soap making is very clear,a nd doesn´t seem to be very difficult. A good bonus is all the recipes you have provided. I would have loved to try the Castile Soap Recipe. It is classic and it contains olive oil which very good for us.

    Thank you for sharing,


    1. Hello Roy and thank you for your nice comment!

      Although, like any art, it has its tricks and specific knowledge, making soap is FAR from our idea of big plants, big automated containers, huge amount of weird chemicals, an automated process of making soap… I mean it can be like that, but just as baking a cake, or making bread, you can industrialize the process with big machines… or you can make it at home!!

      I tried to make the tutorials as detailed and simple as possible, but it’s not easy 🙂 Please, check out… I hope it’s a simple start that helps you decide what is your best process: melt and pour where the base is already made, and you just deal with shape, scent and color; or making soap from scratch, where you actually deal with the chemical process (again like baking a cake, there IS chemical change there :D).

      Castile soap is the best to start, as olive oil is easy to find. Then, you just need lye and water !! The essential oil blend is for scent and it’s totally optional. And you will get a very mild and conditioning soap. It doesn’t make a lot of lather, and we are so used to so many cleaning products making a foam-fest that it might be disappointing.

      Two words on that:

      – It’s such fun to look at olive oil and lye, and then at your homemade soap that you don’t care about the low lather. It’s your soap!! You made it from scratch!

      – Soaps with coconut oil make loads of lather!! You can try that instead if you wish:… 

      Give it a try, it will be loads of fun and very fulfilling to make your own soap!



  2. Hello. Good day. Thanks for this wonderful article on cold process soap recipes. This is an avenue for those who wants to go into soap making. This is a very productive entrepreneur business. A good creative idea. Soap is a very important goods needed in our community and places. Having the idea to make soap with different natural products is not just wonderful but it’s cool also. Thanks a lot.

    1. Hello BobKay and thanks for your comment.

      This post is meant to be a door to cold process soapmaking indeed, as most people interested in it are actually looking for recipes and not how-to-make-soap tutorials 🙂 It is indeed a good creative idea, not so sure about a good idea for a business: read Nathaniell’s post about it. I corroborate his ideas with what I see in Portugal.

      I see soapmaking more as an alternative to hygiene products, something you can even make it on your own (as natural soaps are somehow expensive due to using natural ingredients), is healthier and an option to hygiene products from the supermarket. 

      There are many people with skin conditions that heal or at least get better by removing completely commercial products (even hypoallergenic and from a pharmacy) and using only natural soaps. 

      Above all, I want to empower people with this information. 

      For me, and I guess for many, it’s also a superfun hobby!! 😀



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