A good bar of soap can make a huge difference in your skin regimen! That’s why I’m so excited to share a cold-pressed soap recipe done the Vida way.
With all the toxins and chemicals our bodies encounter daily it’s important to explore healthier choices for yourself and your family.
After my partner (Leo) and I (Haylee) started to make changes in our lives to lead a healthier and eco-friendly/eco-conscious lifestyle, we started to realize the importance of detoxifying and nourishing our bodies. Leo realized it would be a good idea to create our own soap bars and tailor them our way. He already had experience as a soaper, his grandmother taught him as a youth, so he perfected his recipe by teaching me.
It’s a really satisfying feeling to specially select ingredients and herbs in each batch knowing it will help to heal, nourish and protect you. Our cold-pressed soap recipe creates an amazing high quality moisturizing soap bar that preserves the healing ingredients added. This is the best choice for healthier skin and a completely eco-friendly option.
Plant-based ingredients have no harmful effects and are natural enough to break down safety in the environment once they travel down your shower drain.
Each of our biodegradable soap boxes are infused with wildflowers to feed the busy bees! Did you know in 2002 wildflowers were found to be the world oldest flower, and are now
called “ the mother of all flowers”? They offer a wonderful amount of nectar and pollen for bees, and these flowers are beautiful too!
In this guide, we will show you how to make soap the Vida way. You’ll learn about the different ways to make soap, equipment and ingredients needed and we will even share our own soap recipes.
- Origins Of Soap
- Natural Vs Commercial Soap
- Soap Making Methods
- How We Make Soap (Cold Process)
- Soap Ingredients We Use
- Vida Soap Recipies
- Additional Resources
[su_note]Warning: Soaping can become highly addicting, try this recipe at your own risk guys![/su_note]
Today we step into the past to experience the art of soap making…
Bar soap dates back circa 1500 BC in Ancient Egypt where their ingenious innovations and obsession with beauty paved the way in our modern world today. Ahead of their time they had an immaculate and commendable hygiene; using alkaline salts (considered lye today) in addition to clay, animal fats and vegetable oils to create their homemade soap.
Today, not much has changed as you can see here in this soap recipe. Homemade soap is both cost effective and of a far superior quality than the faux soap sold commercially. Making the switch can be the best decision for your skin and health.
Natural VS Commercial Soap: Chemical Cocktail
Commercial soaps contain harsh and toxic parabens, synthetic fragrances, lathering agents, as well as chemical detergents.
If you think about it, you’re not actually using “real” soap when you go to your local grocery store and pick up a pretty looking bar of commercialized soap. And once you read the ingredients list it becomes confusing if your not a chemist.
Why does a product which is supposed to clean and nourish our bodies have such big chemical names like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Triclosan? And what/how do those chemicals benefit our health?
Let’s look at Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), this additive is a super common ingredient in most personal care products like industrial cleaners, shampoo, laundry detergent, face wash, body wash, and even toothpaste. It works as an emulsifier and foaming agent.
According to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a “moderate hazard” linked to neurotoxicity, cancer, organ toxicity, skin irritation, nausea and vomiting if ingested.
Imagine having to research ingredients listed on a soap bar you use on yourself and your children daily?
On the other hand, natural handmade soap with essential oils offer incredible medicinal uses, adds moisture back into our bodies due to naturally forming glycerin, and nourish the skin.
Let’s look at the top 10 benefits of using all natural handmade soap:
- Real soap– Easy to read ingredients list with ingredients we can understand
- Doesn’t cause irritation– Great for sensitive skin since ingredients are chemical free
- Moisturizing– Contains a high content of natural glycerin (a moisturizing agent) which draws moisture from the environment deep into our skin so your hydrated longer. This is great for those with dry irritated skin.
- Won’t clog pores– Good soap is really meant to open your pores for deep cleansing and toxin removal. This allows for healthier skin and the reduction of skin blemishes
- Healing-Can help avoid, reduce, and accelerate healing from existing skin conditions. Naturaling assist with dark spots by skin lightening, offers wrinkle reduction, and some soaps help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
- No strange side effects causing or leading to health concerns since plant based ingredients are used
- Contains one chemical– Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) after saponification is completed none remains
- High PH levels- (usually 9-10 with natural soaps) help our acidic skin (fluctuating between 4.5 and 6.5 PH ) re-balance itself
- Natural soaps cost less- if you consider the the health cost of using commercialized soaps in the long run
- Support– Many natural soap companies are created by entrepreneurs and small companies, so it’s great to support them and their cause.
Ways To Make Soap
So, you’ve decided you wanna try the art of soap making! I know it seems intimidating at first but it’s only like that because you haven’t become familiar with the different methods.
Many soapers try more than one method before they settle on the one that best works for them. The great thing about soaping is the fact that you have the choice to choose how involved you’ll become with the process.
Some soapers aren’t interested in bringing out pots and pans or heating up oils. They rather focus on the art side of soap making, creating fun shapes, multi-colored variations, or creative patterns. So they may chose to pop some melt and pour in the microwave, rather than focusing on the chemistry side of soaping like with the cold pressed method.
Do you see how each process includes a very different type of involvement?
There’s four types of soap making methods (in my opinion), although another soaper might say something different since soap making can mean many things to different people. I’ll explain melt and pour, cold pressed, hot pressed, and the rebatching method. As I explain each soap,
be on the look-out for which sounds best for you.
Melt & Pour – Easy Peasy Soapmaking
This method starts with a simple premade soap base purchased from a supplier. It’s commonly referred to as M&P and it’s the simplest out of all the methods, perfect for beginners.
Most novelty soaps are made using this method.
How to do it
- Melt your soap base in your microwave (this is commonly used for melting) or a stove top
- Add your colorants, herbs, scents, decorative ornaments, or any other ingredients of your choice. This is definitely a creative part of the process.
- Pour your mix into a mold
- Decorate and design if you desire
Pros of Melt And Pour
- Great for beginners
- Easy to customize soap
- Already saponified- No lye handling
- Ready to use as soon as it cools (instead of waiting weeks, you have soap ready in a few hours)
- Fun project for children
- Easy cleanup
Cons Of Melt and Pour
- Can’t control the ingredients in the soap base so buying a good soap base is important
- Some premade soap bases are manufactured with added chemicals
- Don’t last long in the shower
- Can burn soap base if it becomes too hot,creating a thick gooey mess
Cold Process Soapmaking
This is what we use at Vida. This is personally my favorite, I love this method and it involves making soap from scratch using raw materials.
This process is also referred to as CP soapmaking. It’s a fun process that brings chemistry and art together. Many soapers like myself prefer this method since the soaper are in full control of the process and every single ingredient.
Using lye (which is your base) its mixed with an oil or fat, (we use coconut oil, palm oil and olive) melt those together and add it to the lye which forms the soap through a chemical reaction called saponification during which time herbs, minerals and essential oils can be added.
Most techniques involve:
- Mixing lye with distilled water (or another liquid of your choice)
- Heating oils and fats (whichever you prefer)
- Mixing Lye with oils/fat until saponified
- Adding colorants, scents, herbs
- Pour soap into soap mold
Pros of Cold Process Soap Making
- Full control of all the ingredients and soap making process
- Can customize soap batter according to your personal preference
- Considered a superior soap method among soapers
- Easy to pour in molds
- Great for producing large batch soaps
- Creamy/luxurious lather for deep moisturization
Cons of Cold Process
- Can be a time consuming process
- Finicky temperature controlled
- Must contain sodium hydroxide (lye), which is caustic so it must be properly handled
- Takes 4-6 weeks for soap to cure
- Messy cleanup
Hot Process Soap Cooking
Many refer to this process as HP or Crock pot soap, and its almost identical to the cold process method, but not quite.
They both start the same way mixing lye and water to an oil to begin saponification. Instead of bringing out your emulsifier you would “cook” the soap batter in a slow cooker.
In this process heat is added to further accelerate and complete the saponification process (chemical reaction). The heat can also be sourced from a microwave, crockpot (most typical), or an oven.This allows for the chemical reaction to happen immediately, unlike the cold process method which happens over a period of up to 6 weeks during the curing process.
This method is created by:
- Mixing lye with distilled water (or another liquid of your choice)
- Heating oils and fats (whichever you prefer)
- Mixing Lye with oils/fat until saponified
Pros of Hot Process
- Soap can be used the following day (it’s good to wait a least 1 week to help it last longer in your shower)
- Cuts out curing time
- Scent last longer than any method
Cons of Hot Process
- The finish is not as “pretty” as cold pressed soaps
- Can take 45 minutes or longer for soap to “cook”
Rebatching – The Soap Savior
This method is also called the “milled” soap method because it involves shredding and melting your soap.
This is great for “saving” those soap batches that didn’t come out exactly as expected from getting tossed. Instead you can repurpose the soap and create something totally new. Ever hear of French-milled soap? Its created using a rebatching process.
Some basic steps include:
- Grating the soap base using a grater or food processor ( typically fresh cold-pressed soap)
- Mix grated soap with a small amount of water ( or your liquid of choice) and heat, while stirring occasionally
- Once the soap has softened blend in colorants, minerals,essential oils or herbs
- Pour soap into soap mold
Pros of Rebatching
- Great for beginners (milled soap can be purchased and melted)
- Creates a milder and longer lasting soap bar
- Great method for soap that didn’t turn out as expected
- Curing time is 1-2 weeks compared to the cold process method (4-6 weeks)
- Already saponified soap base- no lye handling
- Easiest way to add milk to a soap
- Fun activity for children
Cons of Rebatching
- Soap base cannot be customized since the soap base has been saponified
- Smooth textures cannot be achieved since this offers a more texturized look
- Creating swirl patterns can be difficult to achieve
No matter which method you choose, make it your own and above all have fun! If you want to learn more than 1 process than go for it. Enjoy!
How To Make Cold Process Soap
Here’s a step by step guide on the exact method we use to make soap at Vida.
What you will need:
- rubber gloves and safety goggles
- digital scale
- stick/emulsifying blender (for mixing oils and lye to form saponification)
- 2 glass measuring cups (one should be large)
- spatula and spoon (plastic or silicone)
- infrared thermometer
- soap cutter
- parchment paper/wax paper (to cover soap mold/pan)
- soap mold/pan
- blanket (placed over soap mold)
- 8 ounces room temperature water (purified/distilled)
- 1 ounces essential oils/herbs/mineral pigments* (optional)
- 6.5 ounces of each plant based oils: coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil
- 3.1 ounces sodium hydroxide (lye)
- drying rack
*please avoid using drano as it contains metal and will give inaccurate measurements
Lye is a crucial ingredient in soap making which fully dissipates during saponification. It’s highly corrosive causing burns on the skin and holes in fabrics. Working in a well ventilated area is really recommended since lye can form pretty strong fumes .
Keep children and pets away from your work space at all times.
Goggles and gloves are essential to avoid medical emergencies. Severe burns or even blindness can result, therefore it’s important to be alert and cautious during the whole process.
Splashes can occur during mixing so it would be best to reduce skin exposure by wearing long sleeves, long pants, as well as closed toe shoes. An apron would be a great idea to keep yourself clean.
Before we jump in let’s get organized:
- Organize your working area so you have all your materials handy and close by
- Make sure your work space is clutter free
- Line your soap mold with parchment paper
- Put on all your protective gear and appropriate attire and get ready to soap!
Step 1: Let’s start with lye
- Using your glass measuring cup weigh your lye (3.1 oz) on your scale
- Next, pour 8 ounces of water into your following measuring cup
- Slowly, add your lye to the water
- Stir and keep a safe distance to avoid the harsh fumes. Stir until the lye is
dissolved–this mix will heat up quickly.
- Please allow this mixture to sit and move to the next step.
Tip ** Avoid adding water to lye, it may cause an eruption! Remember: Lye always goes first
Step 2: Oil time
- Gather each of your oils (coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil)
- Place the pot you will use to heat your oil on the scale and weigh each one out at 6.5 ounces (remember to tare in between weighs)
- Place this pot directly on the stovetop. Heat your oils on medium heat.
- Using your inferior thermometer target a temperature between 100-120 degrees. If it is over the desired temperature, please allow to cool.
Step 3: Natural additives (optional step)
- Weigh each scent at 1 ounce and set aside your essential oils for later use
- Add any herbs, spices, and colorants to your liking
**Please keep in mind essential oils can affect saponification process by slowing it down or speaking it up.
Step 4: Lets get mixing
- Target a temperature between 100-120 degrees for your lye and oils. Once there within around 10 degrees from one another your ready to get started!
- Slowly mix your lye into the pot with your oil
- Grab your stick blender and make sure is completely under the mixture before you begin mixing. If your blender is not below the mixture it will splash.
- Start your blending
- Once the mixture starts to thicken stop to notice the “trace”, the way the soap drops sink back into the mix. This is a time should be light “trace” slightly like cake batter.
- One you notice a light trace turn off your stick blender and continue to step 5. If you do don’t want to continue with step 5, than continue to mix until you receive a medium trace, a texture like pudding is desirable. Bring your stick blender up and observe the thick drips that now lay on the soap mix. Be careful not to over mix your soap so it doesn’t become thick and clumpy ! Skip to step 6.
Step 5: Scents, herbs, and extras
- Add your herbs, essential oil, mineral pigments, or any other additions at this time. Pulsate the mixture until you receive a medium trace like pudding.
- If you need some inspiration check out our recipes below.
Step 6: Pour pour pour
- Slowly pour your soap base in your mold/pan and smooth it out with your spatula if needed
- Gently tap your soap mold to rid it of any air bubbles that may have formed
- Cover with a blanket or piece of cardboard. This will trap the heat and keep it from escaping. This step can help avoid white soda ash from forming on top of your soap.
Soda ash is unsaponified lye reacting with the carbon dioxide in the air. This will occur when
the soap is below 100 F
Just so you know:
- You should allow 24 hours for your soap to cool. If you notice it hasn’t cooled and hasn’t hardened, please allow up to another 24 hours.
- Once it’s cool and firm carefully take it out of the mold/pan with parchment paper. Peel off parchment paper and begin to cut soap loaf into bars with your soap cutter. Place soap on a drying rack in a cool area for 4 weeks for curing.
- Once your soap is fully cured, you can keep it in a airtight container.
When its clean up time, keep your attire on to protect yourself from the raw soap. Raw soap is caustic and can be irritating to your skin and cause burns.
Try using a spatula to scrape off as much batter as you can from bowls, utensils, and mold (if you chose not to use a liner).Throw this waste in your garbage to avoid lye going down your drain. Using a paper towel should wipe off any remaining soap.
You can leave your utensils soaking in soapy water to make it easier to clean.
Soap Ingredients We Use
Olea Europaea (Olive Oil)
Hypoallergenic in nature with a buttery feel, Olive oil is an important ingredient in any skin regimen.This ultra-moisturizing fruit contains major antioxidants that help reduce the appearance of scars, minimizing wrinkles, and taking on mild to serious skin conditions.
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut oil)
One of the most popular oils in soap, this gem offers a unique combination of moisturizing, cleansing and firming properties. It repairs damaged skin and builds new healthy cells in our body to radiate our natural glow. It penetrates deep within to fight free radical damage that causes aging and even wards off fungi and bacteria.
Elaeis Guineensis (Palm)
The richest source of Vitamin E can be found in Palm oil, these “super” antioxidants are called Tocotrienols. They penetrate much deeper into the bottom-most layer of your skin, protecting lipids and fighting radical attacks. Moisturizing and germ-fighting this oil can help reduce redness and flaking in severely dry skin.
Carbon powder (Activated Charcoal)
Due to its detoxifying and exfoliating properties, Carbon is great for those dealing with problem skin acne, or oily skin. It works by drawing out bacteria, chemicals, dirt, and poisons from the surface of your skin. It leaves your pores sparkly clean, smooth and oh so soft.
Ground Coffea Arabica (coffee)
Ground coffee beans provide a wonderful exfoliation, removing dead skin cells to reveal smooth radiant skin. It targets puffiness, and reduces redness. Caffeine works great minimizing stubborn cellulite.
Kaolinite (rose clay)
Rose clay often referred to as pink clay is rich in Kaolinite. Kaolin cleanses and exfoliates skin cells on the surface of your skin to naturally draw out any impurities. This makes Kaolinite clay a great choice for oily skin.
Lavandula angustifolia buds (lavender buds)
Gently Lavender flowers rid the skin of dry skin cells for a smoother appearance. This natural exfoliation process slows skin aging.
Curcuma longa (turmeric)
Effective in the treatment of acne due to its antibacterial and potent antiseptic properties that fight pesky breakouts to provide smooth clear skin. Turmeric is excellent for those suffering from inflammatory issues.
A natural exfoliant pumice stone cleanses moisturizes and exfoliates all at the same time. This is ideal for softening rough dry patches.
Popular among the Ancient Egyptians this “woody” scented oil is highly rated. Serving as an astringent this oil soaks up excess oils leaving acne prone skin well balanced. Its packed with powerful anti-fungal properties serving as the perfect remedy for people with skin disorders. It even works wonders on not only tightening loose skin and muscles but also helping soothe sore stiff muscles and joints.
Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus)
Eucalytus is a common ingredient targeting respiratory and congestive problems. It helps to soothe pain, itching and skin irritations. It even serves as an effective room deodorizer.
Lavandula angustifolia (lavender)
Lullabies and good nights follow the dreamy aroma of Lavender oil. High levels of antioxidants restore the skins complexion, reduce acne and slow the aging process. Lavender gently soothes open wounds and alleviates skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Cymbopogon flexuosus (lemongrass)
An aromatherapy go-to for its uplifting lemon-like aroma and calming effects. It offers antibacterial, antiseptic, and detoxifying qualities essential to healthy skin. Upon regular use it can alleviate body odor and excessive sweating.
Mentha piperita (peppermint)
Containing Menthol, peppermint offers a cooling sensation effective in treating sore muscles, rashes, and skin infections. It does great in nourishing dry dull skin by gently exfoliating, toning, and moisturizing.
Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary)
As a detoxifier Rosemary oil holds antiseptic properties that help remove toxins from your skin.
Its anti-inflammatory benefits help heal conditions like acne, dermatitis and eczema, as it eases swelling and inflammation.
Citrus paradisi (pink grapefruit)
Rich in antioxidants Grapefruit oil is great for treating acne and oily skin.
A great antiseptic this oil keeps your skin clean and refreshed.
Vida Soap Recipes
Get your clean on! This woodsy soap bar helps treats excess oils and blemishes onsite, addressing acne prone skin. Soothe itchy inflamed skin rashes while letting the aromatic vapors act as an expectorant. Reveal smooth blemish free skin.
It’s all about green power! Deep clean your skin with natural anti-microbial and astringent benefits. Turn your back on enlarged pores and minimize the appearance of wrinkles with potent anti-oxidizing ingredients. The aroma of this bar is so lemony fresh it works as a deodorizer helping reduce excess perspiration with regular use. What a summer time favorite.
The Princess warrior! Rich in powerful antioxidants you can expect to release toxins and protect your skin from environmental hazards. This soap bar can provide anti-aging benefits and skin recovery. Grapefruit oil promotes the production of collagen resulting in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. Got pink grapefruit?
Get glowing. Bring dull skin back to life one shower at a time! Relieve puffiness and swelling as these two work to improve blood circulation and detoxify cells. These two make such a great collaboration.
The remedy. Treat minor skin wounds, heal sores, cuts, burns, insect bites, and abrasions. Alleviate achy or sore muscles while the aromatic scent helps thin and drain excessive phlegm/mucus. A medicine cabinet favorite.
The Zen Master. Detoxify with potent antioxidant that help fight free radicals to restore the skin’s elasticity. Accelerate the healing of scars and promote healthy skin tissue for clearer skin. Natural antibacterial properties help heal cuts, bug bites and abrasions on your skin. Don’t forget to inhale deeply to relieve stress and tensions.
Suppliers and Resources
Usually you’ll always get a better deal for soap supplies and essential oils by ordering online rather than going to a craft store or specialty shop–these products can get pretty pricey. As a beginner soaper things can seem a bit confusing but luckily there are companies that really cater to soapers! Shop around and have fun exploring new and cool soap materials.
Bramble Berry, is a great company that has great soap supplies to get you started and on your way to soaping. They have a very beginner friendly website full of informative details to help simplify your shopping experience and educate you at the same time.
Another wonderful soaping company is Bulk Apothecary, they have loads of goodies to get you started, from packaging materials, to essential oils and raw ingredients, they have a large collection of great products. Their website is beginner friendly and and they have a wonderful customer service team always who’s always ready to help.
Taking a look at Amazon, for soap supplies and equipment. It would be a good idea to take a look at their products since they have a bunch of different sellers from around the world, that have useful products for soapers. You never know what great finds they may have.
Practice makes perfect
Soaping is all about fun! Remember practice makes perfect! If one process doesn’t work for you, why not try another? Once you find the right process for yourself make it your own and enjoy perfecting it! Soap makes wonderful gifts, as well as a fun creative activities for children like the melt and pour method. I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and added your own unique style. Enjoy the soaping journey !