Soapmaking Ingredients

This is Part 1 of 4 in A Beginner’s Guide to Soapmaking.

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There are tons of recipes available for soapmaking, using a wide variety of ingredients. This is my recipe to make an all-vegetable soap using a few common oils. I recommend you follow a tried and true recipe first before you start experimenting with your own recipes. I have to admit though, I found a recipe similar to what I wanted, then scaled it down and changed it.




18.5 ounces Olive oil – moisturizing

12 ounces Coconut oil – for good lather

9 ounces Palm oil – for a firm bar

1 ounce Shea butter – moisturizing

5.8 ounces Lye – a.k.a. Sodium Hydroxide

13.5 ounces water


These ingredients yield 51 ounces of soap, which I cut into 14 bars. The total cost of ingredients per ounce of soap was only 15 cents! (This is for a pure, unscented bar. This would not include the cost for any essential oils for fragrance, which can be expensive.)

More notes about ingredients:

I purchased the olive oil and coconut oil locally. I purchased the palm oil, shea butter, and lye from The Soap Dish. I did purchase some of the oils in large quantities for a better price, but I know I will use them.

Many people are concerned about using lye, but the fact is you have to use it. I found that as long as you are careful, there is nothing to be fearful about. The lye reacts with the oils to create soap. This is called saponification. If you measure your ingredients properly, there will be no lye remaining in your final soap product.

This brings me to my next point: always double-check someone’s soap recipe to make sure it has the right amount of lye. Each oil requires a certain amount of lye per ounce. You can calculate it yourself using a saponification table, or by using an online lye calculator such as this one from Majestic Mountain Sage. You want just enough lye to react with all but about 5% of your oils. Having 5% excess oils will give you a mild, smooth bar.


This is Part 1 of 4 in A Beginner’s Guide to Soapmaking.

Next: Tools