Hot Process Soap – Straight and Simple Prt 2 of a 4 prt series- The Making~

The Making

Sounds like a horror movie huh? I actually love that Tyler Durden made soap in the movie Fight Club. Fight-Club-Soap-soap-19341078-450-284

Interesting concept, using human fat. Disgusting, but as a soap maker, I’m truly left to wonder…

I make soap all the time but it seems to be like pulling teeth with me to get this out of my head and written into a workable format. I apparently love to make soap but it doesn’t seem as easy to write about. I knew I would eventually have to do a piece on soap making, so maybe, if I get it all out, I can move on to other things. Therefore, I will work hard to make it a good one. I hope you will walk away after reading this post with a full understanding of how to make ‘old-fashioned lye soap.’

Have all your equipment and ingredients out and ready. Parts of this process is of a timely manner, and you don’t want to be searching for something and let something go to long.

Distilled water not pictured


You will have TWO process going on at the same time, your lye/liquid mix and the fats/oils mix.

You will work with the lye/liquid mix first

Another word about Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) before we get started:

When you mix the lye (sodium hydroxide) with liquid it gets VERY HOT! Over 200 degrees hot. Hence the precautions in the previous post. Make sure you have NO distractions when working with this solution. It will eat your skin as well as your countertops and floors, or any children/pets under-foot. Take precautions and move deliberately and slowly when handing.

Why is this caustic crap in your soap, (caustic: meaning it will BURN you, haha)? The chemical reaction when mixing the sodium hydroxide/liquid solution with the oils is called saponification. It creates soap! I never claimed to be a chemist so I don’t ask, I just do what it says.

It is in almost every soap, just check the ingredients label. All bar soap that is. Liquid soap is made using potassium hydroxide which lends it to have a syrup-like consistency. It is a whole different process than bar soap, so don’t try interchanging potassium hydroxide with sodium hydroxide because you will not get good results. Here is a good article explaining the difference and preferences in bar v/s liquid soap.

  • You can also see  information about how to make bar soap into liquid soap for super cute dispensers. Bar and liquid soap are made from two entirely different ingredients and melting down bar soap for liquid just doesn’t gel right. You can read more about that here on my website.

Making bar soap using the Cold Process method the caustic quality can remain in your soap for 4 to 6 weeks meaning you can’t use it. What a bummer!

BUT, we’re not using Cold Process! We are using the Hot Process method, which, in the end, removes the caustic, burning quality, adding only an hour to processing time! YAY! You can use your soap!

We are making bar soap, using SODIUM hydroxide just as a reminder!


So, first things first – MIX #1 – Lye/Liquid solution – With Precaution!


–  Measure your liquid you will be using to dissolve the lye and pour it into the plastic pitcher reserved for soap making only!

  Weigh your sodium hydroxide and slowly pour it into the liquid.

  • Always pour the dry sodium hydroxide into the liquid, not the other way around. It could cause a dangerous reaction the other way around

Sodium Hydroxide  ———————>  Liquid

–  Stir until desolved with the hard plastic spoonDo not hover too closely or breath the fumes it puts off at first.

–  Wait to cool.

  • When first mixed the solution will shoot up to over 200 degrees. We need it to cool down to around 120 degrees before we can use it. Just to note: Every recipe is different with the ideal temperature for that particular recipe.
  • The lye solution cools very slowly! You don’t really need to check the temperature for at least 30 minutes or so.

–  Check temperature after 30 min with glass candy thermometer. Once you get a good reading remove the thermometer from the solution to cool back down for the next temp. check. * Rinse the thermometer after being in the lye/liquid mix and be aware of where you lay it.

–  Check back every 15 min. or so to monitor the decline in temperature. (You can check the temperature whenever you feel like it. These times are just a general guideline for you)

* In the Meantime*

MIX #2 – Fats/Oils mixture


  • While the lye/liquid solution is cooling go ahead and weigh out your fats and oils called for in the recipe for basic soap. Those should be your ingredients like shortening, olive, and coconut oils.

–  Measure each fat/oil individually and place in your enamel/stainless steel pot on the stove. NO HEAT  YET – we are simply preparing the oils to melt right now.

*Something to think on while your lye/liquid mix is cooling*



You can add things to your soap mixture as mentioned before in the optionall ingredients list of the recipe section of part 1 of this post. To go a little further explaining the process, again we deal with our method of soap making.

  • Cold Process Method means you will be adding the extra things at trace, then simply molding the mixture while still caustic. Additives are added at TRACE
  • Hot Process Method allows you to double boil the caustic nature out of the soap lending a gentler base for your additives. Additives are added after DOUBLE BOILING

Some people believe adding things like milk or herbs when soap is still caustic, as in the cold process method, can burn or harm the additives. It is really a matter of opinion, but the hot process method insures your additives will be safe.

Also remember if you add anything fresh, such as vegetable/fruit  juice or pulp you will also need to add a preservative. Here is a good article about preservatives in soap.

Here are some links to give you an idea of the countless ways to give your soap a boost and create your very own signature soap, custom designed by you, to suit your own personal senses and needs.


When your lye/liquid solution is about half way to the magic 120 degree pouring mark you will start to melt your fats/oils mix.

Turn on the burner under your fats/oils pot to a low to medium low temperature. The idea is to melt them slowly so no bubbling of hot oils. Stir with your wooden or hard plastic spoon.


When it is all melted together turn off the burner

Let cool.

Check temperature with the other glass candy thermometer periodically as the oils cool. You are trying to get at that magic 120 degree mark, just like the lye/liquid mix.


You need both your lye/liquid mixture and your fats/oils mixture to both be at 120 degrees before combining the two (as per THIS recipe). The oils cool more quickly than the lye, which is why you start the lye solution first.

It is better to try to juggle the fat/oils mixture on the stove than to juggle the dangerous and toxic lye/liquid solution.

  • You can always re-heat the fats/oils pot
  • Have a shallow cold-water bath with ice cubes in your sink to quickly cool the fats/oils pot if needed. (do not let the fats/oils pot float or take on water)

You don’t want to put the lye/liquid pitcher into the cold-water bath, but, I have put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, and only when it is very near the 120 degree mark. I don’t know for sure but I don’t think cooling your lye solution to quickly would be a good idea for the whole time. But to juggle with the temps right around pour time is ok. Just don’t let anyone near the fridge while you are doing this!!!

You can’t really re-heat the lye though, except maybe in a hot-water bath, but that is not recommended. Do all the juggling with the fats/oils mixture while the lye/liquid solution temperature is dropping towards 120 degrees.

WHEN YOU REACH MAGIC 120 for both mixtures

Pour the lye/liquid mix SLOWLY from the pitcher into the fats/oils mix  pot on the stove, burner OFF.

The lye/liquid solution is brown because I used coffee as my liquid

The lye/liquid solution is brown because I used coffee as my liquid

STIR STIR STIR. I suggest stirring for a good five minutes to ensure a thorough mix.

You are done! Just kidding! No you’re not! BUT, if you were making soap the cold process, old-fashioned way this would be the last step before hours of stirring .

Ain’t nobody got time for that! Well, I take that back, I have done this, and it is a really good experience, but only once or twice. That is a lot of stirring!

I’m taking you on a much quicker, more modern way to getting your soap out of the mold and onto your skin, which is the hot process method. The next steps we will be taking are

  • Blending
  • Preparing your molds and additives
  • Double Boiling (hot processing)

I regret to inform you though, I feel that two of these steps deserve their own separate posts. I will tell you about preparing your molds and adding your additives in the Double Boiling/Hot Processing post.

To continue making your soap please see the future Blender Soap posts and Double Boiling/Hot Processing Soap posts that I will link to this page when they are published.

If you want to continue to make your soap without using the Blender Soap method or the Hot Processing method you can!

Continue to stir for an hour or more until you get to trace. That is the indention on the mixture when tapped with an object. I have never achieved a good trace hand stirring, but when I just plain got tired of stirring (after two hours) I went ahead and mixed in my additives and poured the soap into its mold. It turned out just fine.

– If you do this, please remember the mixture is still caustic and will burn you even after you un-mold it. It will take 4-6 weeks curing time to lose the caustic quality.

Please let me know if you have any questions so far. I am excited to talk with anyone about making soap. Please remember to share this article with your friends and family. Until next time…


Hot Process Hand Milled Soap – Straight and Simple prt 1 of a 4 prt series – Getting It Together

Getting It Together

So ya wanna make soap?


Ok, I’m going to try to break it down for you.  It really is too much for one post so, I give you part I now. Take the time in between to gather your supplies. I will publish part II as my next week’s post. It is an involved and lengthy process so I hope you have the time and the patience. It is well worth it in the end, I promise you that.



  • A Little History: Making soap goes back to the cave men days when they would wash their clothes near volcanic ash, and I guess, on days the water was extra hot, and there was animal fat in the ‘clothes’ (skins) they would get bubbles and noticeably cleaner clothes.

Voila, soap!

See, ash can become lye, a major ingredient in soap formally known as Sodium Hydroxide.

A word about Lye:

You used to be able to buy pure Sodium Hydroxide in the grocery store aisle by the name of Red Devil Lye. It was used as a very effective drain opener. I’m pretty sure thanks to bomb making and meth making it can no longer be sold over the counter. Now you have to order it. The website I use is WONDERFUL! They sell any and everything soap making. Check out . Just know, it is highly corrosive!!! When working with lye it is a good idea to: use rubber gloves, maybe goggles or glasses, and newspaper to protect your counter tops. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!


Soapmaking is a time-honored tradition and necessity. The pioneers of America did it. England has its fine triple-milled soaps, but either way, the cave man did it first! It is a skill worth learning, and if you’re like me, you will fall in love with it.

I’m going to try to break the steps down for you and simply as I can. Just follow along with me and by the end of this, you should have your own, custom made hand-milled soap!

How do you make soap? A quick explaination:

There are two ways to make soap besides the melt and pour glycerin soap you can buy at your craft store.

  • Cold Process: Making the soap all the way to trace, mixing additives, then molding, still caustic.

(The advantages of Cold Process are, they are easier to work with when re-milling (to make double and triple milled soaps) and they are usually a harder bar. The draw backs? It takes about 6 weeks to cure (release all causticness of the lye). I’m impatient. 6 weeks is a long time)!

  • Hot process: Making the soap all the way to trace, then double boiling it for 1hr, then mix additives, then mold, caustic-free.

(The advantages of Hot Process are, the double boiling removes all caustic-ness from the soap, allowing you to use it as soon as it dries.  The draw backs are it takes more equipment (the canning pot), and it adds about an 1 1/2 hours to the process time. Still, I like to use my soaps immediately).

We will be using the Hot Process method.


Gather your equipment . You will need:

  • A Plastic Pitcher: for mixing the lye and liquid. Get one that holds at least 3-4 cups of liquid. I like the hard plastic of tupperware.
  • Scales: digital are best, but I still use my dial scales. They were the first set I bought not knowing if I would love soap or not. They have not failed me yet!
  • A Large Enamel/Stainless Steal Pot: for melting the fats/oils. Make sure it is big enough to hold the fats plus the lye mixture comfortably and also small enough to fit down into a water bath canner. I just use an old stew pot.  will still fit inside a cold-water bath canner pot. I like enamel mixing with lye more than I like metal. DO NOT USE ALUMINUM!
  • Two Glass Candy Thermometers: get solid glass, not the kind with the cap on the top. Water can get into these when cleaning.
  • Two Long Plastic or Wooden Spoons: I like plastic
  • Extra Large Water Bath Canning Pot: preferably with the basket, or use some canning rings to hold the lg enamel/stainless steel pot off the bottom.
  • Some kind of Mold. It can be hard plastic, pvc pipe, wood, etc. Anything but aluminum or something hard to release the soap from the mold. They sell special molds for soap making. I got the hub to build the one you see here out of wood and a couple of long screws. The sides release from the mold, allowing for easy removal of the soap. I have two and that is enough for me and my family.


  • Blender or Stick Blender: unless you have an extra hour or three.
  • Rubber Gloves, Goggles, and Newspaper: unless you’re hard-headed like me and forgo the precautions! Just be really careful when dealing with the lye!

I got all of my equipment from the thrift store up the road and  Wal-Mart, except for the canner pot. That was my moms that I lovingly inherited.


Now for the most anticipated recipe and list of ingredients to gather:

Basic Soap Recipe

  • 6 oz Coconut Oil
  • 6 oz Olive Oil (the non-virgin kind)
  • 5 oz of Vegetable Shortening (try to get the kind that is made from only one oil, although mine is cottonseed oil and soy bean oil)  this only matters if you’re being creative and using the lye to fat ratio online calculator.
  • 2.6 oz Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
  • 1 cup Distilled Water
Distilled water not pictured

Distilled water not pictured

optional additives

  • scented oils (essential or made for soap)
  • colorants
  • extra moisture
  • exfoliants or herbs


Ok, so that’s the end of part 1. Please let me know if I have maybe left something out. I’ve been doing this for about six years and I may intend to say something, but actually only say it in my head and not on the instructions. Don’t judge me! 🙂 I will have the rest for you next week, I promise! So go check out your local thrift stores and order some Sodium Hydroxide and I will see you all next week!