Making natural liquid soap from scratch can seem a bit intimidating to some people, but once you get down to understanding the process, it really isn’t much different than cooking a meal. In this post, I will guide you through the process of making Hot Process liquid soap, from formulating a liquid soap recipe to diluting the finished soap.
I will assume that if you’re reading this you have a basic understanding of what soap is and the process of making Cold Process or Hot Process soap (even if you only have experience with making bar soap). If you don’t, please start by reading the post How to make natural soap.
Solid & Liquid Soap – The Differences
Liquid soap, just like solid soap, consists of three elements: fats/oils, water and lye. The main difference between them is that solid soap is made with Sodium Hydroxide, while liquid soap is made with Potassium Hydroxide. Before we start, I would like to note some basic things
- Natural liquid soap is a lot thinner than what you might be used to from commercial companies. There are ways to thicken natural soap, but I won’t be exploring any of them since those methods mostly involve adding extra chemicals
- Just like it’s important for most solid soap makers to make a hard bar of soap, it’s important for most liquid soap makers to make a clear (non-cloudy) liquid soap. This is purely about aesthetics and doesn’t make the soap better. A common method to do this is to put excess lye and then neutralize the soap after its cooked. I won’t be doing that.
Now let’s get started from the start. Even though solid soap and liquid soap is quite similar in its process, there are some differences in how you formulate the recipe. Let me explain.
How to Form a Liquid Soap Recipe
Again I will assume you have some basic knowledge of making soap recipes, but if not please start by reading How to form a soap recipe. Making a liquid soap recipe is a bit different than making one for bar soap. The basic differences and guidelines are this:
- Liquid soap usually has a rather higher percentage of Coconut oil (unless its Castile soap which is pure Olive oil), to ensure the soap foams properly and doesn’t become sticky. You can use up to 90% Coconut oil in your liquid soap, but I prefer using around 50%.
- In solid soap recipes it’s important to use oils that will make the soap bar hard, but since that’s not necessary for liquid soap, you can use higher percentages of soft oils like Castor, Safflower and Sunflower. Which is great, because they are much cheaper!
- Liquid soap recipes are mostly made of oils with fewer un-saponifiables. What this means is that some oils have fats that can’t be made into soap. If an oil has a high percentage of un-saponifiables it will make the liquid soap cloudy. For that reason, Palm, Tallow and Cocoa butter are usually avoided added in very small amounts. I take this lightly because I don’t care if my soap is cloudy.
- Superfatting liquid soap is pointless because the excess oil will just float on top of the soap once diluted since oil is not water soluble. You can superfat with vegetable glycerin at 1% of the full recipe.
I chose to follow the following basic recipe:
- 50% Coconut oil
- 25% Safflower – can be exchanged with Sunflower or Rice bran oil
- 20% Castor
- 5% Butter like Mango Butter or Kokum butter
- 50% Coconut oil
- 20% Safflower – can be exchanged with Sunflower or Rice bran oil
- 20% Castor
- 10% luxury oil like Sweet Almond oil or Avocado
I chose to use the first recipe in my example soap and used beer instead of water. For superfatting, I added Glycerin and then finally some natural colorant.
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The method of Hot process liquid soap making is similar to cold process soap making, until the point where you would normally pour the soap into the mold. If you need a detailed list of instruction please refer to the link how to make natural soap. The basic instructions are the following:
1. Calculate the recipe
Unlike solid soap, your final amount of liquid soap will be at least double of your amount of oils, since the soap mass is diluted with water. So before you calculate the recipe you need to take into consideration how big your double boiler is, and then use the percentages above to calculate each oil amount. This is my recipe in the app Saponify:
2. Measure out the oils, Melt the oils, Prepare Lye Water
2. Pour the Lye Water in the Oils and Mix
3. Cook the Soap Mass on Medium Heat. Stir less.
4. Keep cooking for 2 to 3 hours
5. Reaching the Final Stage
6. Start Diluting the Soap
7. Dilute Completely or Leave Overnight
8. Add your Essential Oils and Colorants if any
9. Voila! Look at it and Feel Happy
This was all I had for now on liquid soap. Leave a comment if you have any questions or corrections – no matter how long I do this, I still have a lot to learn!
Disclaimer: I personally don’t use preservatives because I only use this on myself, so I, therefore, don’t know enough about it to write about. So please do your research on how to use preservatives in liquid soap, and add at diluting stage. If you chose not to use any like me, be sure to ONLY to use it on yourself, and let it be on own risk. If never had any issues but better safe than sorry no?
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