Tips & Tricks

Soapmaking Safety Instructions

Prepare Yourself

Prepare your molds and work area first. Soap can move quickly once the batch is started. Cleanliness counts.

Use plastic, stainless steel, ceramic or glass containers and utensils only. Unbreakable containers are preferable because they are safer. Wear long rubber gloves, an apron & safety glasses. Prepare the lye water first following the safety instructions. Weigh the lye very accurately. Higher amounts of excess fat give softer soaps with more emolliency. Excessive lye can cause irritation or burning from the finished soap. Excess fat ranges from 5 to 8 {2f217b6ef4e944ec449aa2c625e1f0e1f43c0ee840d0a16b8bf46c3ef1173473} are recommended to prevent problems.

Lye Safety

  • Always wear safety glasses and gloves. Lye can cause severe burns including blindness.
  • Lye should be added to water. If water is poured onto lye, the reaction can cause a volcano of lye water and serious injury.
  • Avoid breathing fumes.
  • Label your containers.
  • Never leave lye unattended & keep away from children & pets.


  • Safety glasses, apron, rubber gloves, drop cloths
  • Vinegar spray for lye cleanup
  • Accurate scale
  • Liquid measuring utensils
  • Plastic or stainless steel spoons
  • Plastic bowl to weigh lye in
  • Melting container for oils
  • 5 gal. plastic mixing bucket, or other large, high-walled plastic container
  • Stick Blender
  • Soap molds
  • Freezer paper

The Process

Put the water in the 5 gallon bucket. Add lye to water & mix well. It will get very hot and give off strongly irritating fumes. Avoid breathing the fumes. Set aside to cool in a protected area while preparing the oils. Allow it to cool to 110 to 125 F.

Melt the oils and combine with the liquid oils. The oils should be in the same temperature range as the lye (110 to 125 F) before starting the soap batch. Reserve about a cup of oil if needed to disperse additives to add at trace. Add the oils to the lye solution. Mix well using a stick blender. Mix for a few minutes to begin establish the emulsion. Do not worry if it takes more than one try to establish the emulsion. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes, the mix for a few minutes. Allow a 10 minute rest with occasional hand stirring to check it. Follow with more mix and rest cycles until trace occurs. Prepare your fragrances and additives during the rest cycles.

The soap begins to thicken at trace. The blender will begin to work harder. The soap will hold a trace of drop impressions or stir marks. Tracing soap appears like a thickened cooked custard. Add your fragrances and other non fragile additives quickly. Give one quick mix with the stick blender. Mix in fragile additives with a spoon. Pour into freezer-paper-lined, plastic or formica-coated molds. Cover and allow to set up undisturbed. The soap will warm up and go through a clear gel phase as it finishes curing. Cover the molds during the initial cure to prevent soda ash from forming on the surface and to retain heat to get a more uniform soap.

Clean your equipment with hot soapy water. Do not pour large amounts of raw soap down the drain. It can cure in place and create plumbing problems, particularly with septic systems.

Allow to cure for several days before unmolding. The soap should be loosely covered during this phase. Cut into bars and allow to cure in a protected cool dry area on kraft paper. The bars will take 2 to 3 weeks to finish curing and harden.

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