Friday, 8 November 2013

What soap recipe do you use?

I have written a few posts about soapmaking and I thought I would put all the recipes I use in the one post for anyone who would like to try them out and also for myself when I have all my oils and lye sitting on the kitchen bench and I can't find the recipe! Of course, that never happens to anyone else does it?

The recipe for the first batch of soap I made was taken from Rhonda Hetzel's book Down to Earth. This recipe makes 12 big blocks.


  • 600g rice bran oil
  • 440g coconut oil
  • 460g olive oil
  • 570 ml rainwater
  • 213g caustic soda

You can find Rhonda's detailed soap making tutorial here if you haven't read it before. You can read all her posts on making soap on this page if you would like to read some of the older posts. Rhonda mentions in her book that the best way to mix the soap is with a stick blender rather than using an electric hand beater.  

As coconut oil is fairly expensive you can replace it with copha which is solidified coconut oil so the second recipe I used included copha.


  • 600g rice bran oil
  • 460g olive oil
  • 440g copha
  • 570 mls water
  • 213g caustic soda


Lately I have been experimenting with drying calendula petals and then putting them in olive oil and leaving the bottle in a sunny place for a while to infuse the oil. I then made the soap using the recipe above and just replaced the olive oil with the calendula infused oil.


I wanted to experiment with using carotino oil to see if I could get the soap to take on an orange colour but didn't want to take the chance of ruining a large batch so used the following recipe which one of the lovely Down to Earth forum members worked out for me using a soap calculator.

  • 175g rice bran oil
  • 175g carotino oil
  • 1T castor oil
  • 150g copha
  • 250g calendula infused olive oil
  • 103g caustic soda
  • 285g water


One of the ladies who comes to our Simple Living Toowoomba group's morning tea and swap brought along some vanilla chai goats milk soap which was just lovely to use.


  • 175g goats milk
  • 200g spring water
  • 150g caustic soda
  • 500g olive oil
  • 400g coconut oil
  • 100g palm oil
The recipe has 15 ml vanilla essential oil and 5 ml vetivert essential oil but she used 10 ml of vanilla chai fragrance oil instead.

  1. Pour the caustic soda into the milky water and stir until it is completely dissolved. Leave the cup or jug in the iced water to cool, stirring occasionally.
  2. Melt the olive, coconut and palm oils together in a large stainless steel pan over a low heat until both the oils and the lye reach 50 degrees Celsius.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the milky lye. Use a slotted spoon to stir and mix the soap. Continue stirring until the soap thickens and traces. The soap may give off an ammonia-like aroma but don't worry as this unpleasant scent will fade and disappear.
  4. When the soap has traced stir in the essential oils and pour into moulds.
  5. Cover the moulds with an old blanket and leave for a couple of days until the soap has completely cooled.
  6. Remove the soap from the moulds and cut into bars. Leave somewhere cool and airy to harden and mature for 4-6 weeks.
She freezes the goat's milk and lets it thaw slightly so that it is still icy before using it instead of putting it into a jug of iced water.


  • 950g olive oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 124g caustic soda
  • 250g water
With this soap the temperature needs to be brought to 40 degrees Celsius.

Hopefully I will get around to making the soaps on my 'To Do' list in the next few months. 

Update 19/1/15: GOAT'S MILK SOAP

As I have mentioned before these are my soap moulds. The silicone ones are from The Reject Shop.

This mould and the one in the next photo are from Aussie Soap Supplies. The soap made in this one can be seen in the top two photos.

I put these moulds into the freezer for an hour or so before trying to get the soap out as, if you don't, the soap will be very hard to get out and you could damage your mould like I almost did. It would have been helpful if I had read the instructions which came with the moulds before I made the soap. The soap in the silicone moulds comes out really easily without having to freeze them beforehand.

You can experiment with putting your soap into different containers like I did with my last batch when I lined an EasiYo container with bubble wrap to get the effect of beeswax. It is all a bit of fun and some soap batches will look better than others but it still works the same despite the appearance and unless you want to give the soap as a gift or sell it, I am sure that family members wouldn't really care if it was an odd shape. :-)

However, if you live in Australia and want to sell your soap, I believe that you have to get a licence to do so. I certainly won't be going down that road but others might like to in the future.

So, if you make your own soap what recipe do you use? Do you like to make fancy soap or prefer to keep it simple?


  1. I usually use the same recipe I have it on my blog I havnt tried the calendula infused one yet but I do have some petals sitting in olive oil on my window ledge. I havnt made any soap in while so I might just try a couple of recipes soon.
    I like those moulds I might have to get some of those. I just use a silicon loaf tray then slice the soap. It doesnt look as fancy as the pretty little shapes. x

    1. Sharon, I did reply to this before but it didn't get published for some reason. I like the smaller shapes of soap as they fit into my small hand a lot better than the sliced soap.

  2. I'm not going to even make eye contact with you... as I still have not attempted soap. But thanks for the encouragement, it is going to happen soon, I can feel it in my bones!

  3. Barb, I wouldn't be making it either if I was finishing renovations and relocating like you. I am sure there will be plenty of time next year when you have settled into your new home.

  4. What a good idea to put everything in the one post!

    I use Rhonda's recipe with copha, and another one I'm trying minus any fragrance. For someone who used to wear strong perfumes once upon a time, I cannot stand strong smelling anythings anymore, even a dear friend's handmade soap with lovely essential oils in it. Still far too strong for me.

    Plain and simple seems to be my theme these days. x

  5. Perhaps it is something to do with getting older. Plain and simple seems to be my theme too. Perhaps we don't have the energy to do anything else. LOL!

  6. Thanks for putting this all in one place. I was looking for the link to the soap supplier to order some molds. Think I will have another go at making soap before Christmas. Great post!

  7. Love your honeycomb idea with the bubble wrap, Chel. I've been making soap for a couple of years now, but only ventured as far as using both of Rhonda's soap recipes. We don't buy any shampoos either now, we find it great for our hair. Would like to try the calendula one, if I can ever get enough of them to grow here - even one would be ok, just to give me some encouragement :-)
    I had a couple of dried loofas, so last week cut them into sections and used Rhonda's idea of putting soap in them, as well as making my usual chunky slabs - very rustic and I rather like the look of them like that. Your soaps look great though, Chel.

  8. Hi, Thankyou for sharing these recipes. Im a newbie to soap making, and Im going to have a go at the pure soap recipe, do you think it would be okay to not use the olive oil but sub it with more coconut oil? Thanks heaps! :)

  9. I usually just follow recipes but it is a really good idea to put the ingredients you want to use through a soap calculator as sometimes you might end up with a soap that is too soft. Sorry I am not sure about substituting the olive oil with more coconut oil but I think I read on the D2E forum that it wasn't a good idea. Why not join up there and see what some of our soapmakers who sell their soap advise.


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