Formulating Cold Process Recipes

It may be the foundation of cold process soapmaking, and it’s often the most difficult and intimidating part — formulating a cold process recipe. From this post about my favorite cold process recipes to our Free Beginner’s Guide to Oils and Butters, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you create your own recipes. Sometimes though, it’s nice for a little refresher course if you want to try and create a recipe from scratch. Customizing your recipe is all part of the fun!

When formulating a basic cold process recipe, you can never go wrong with a 33/33/33 ratio. That’s 33% Olive Oil, 33% Coconut Oil and 33% Palm Oil. Another good standard recipe is the 30/30/30/10. That’s 30% Olive Oil, 30% Coconut Oil, 30% Palm Oil and 10% of something special — Rice Bran Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Shea Butter, Mango Butter or Sunflower Oil are all good starter options. When you begin to branch out from that basic starter, there become many more factors to consider.

We usually create recipes by starting with the trinity of base oils: Coconut, Palm and Olive. These three oils have become the de facto foundation of many soap recipes because they have qualities that complement each other to form a robust bar of soap. Palm acts as a secondary lathering agent and contributes to bar hardness, Coconut Oil produces big bubbles and is super cleansing, and Olive Oil is moisturizing and gives soap a silky feel.

 To formulate a recipe, start by designing your base oils or foundational recipe. You can use each oil between 20 – 30%. For the remaining portion of your oils, consider what you’d like the outcome of the final bar to be. Do you want it to be super moisturizing, have a nice thick lather, or be hard and long lasting? Once you decide the end result, you can flesh out the remaining oils. We list the maximum usage rate of each oil and butter we carry in our free beginner’s guide, so start there if you’re not sure about oil properties or max usage rates. And remember, just because I (or anyone) says that you should use an oil at a certain % range doesn’t mean you have to stick within those “rules” exactly. All fats will saponify and turn into soap and it’s a matter of personal preference for how you want your soap to lather, feel on the skin and rinse away.

There are some general rules of thumb that can make formulating recipes easier. In general:

  • Liquid oils (those that do not solidify at room temperature) tend to trace more slowly, which means a largely liquid oil recipe tends to be good for doing swirls and intricate designs. They also take longer to harden in the mold and can be more sticky before a full 6 week curing and drying time.
  • Conversely, solid oils (those that are solid at room temperature) trace more quickly. Keep in mind that solid oils are necessary to help a bar harden and keep shape, which is why Palm Oil is such a staple oil in many recipes. Recipes with a large percentage of solid oils tend to harden up faster in the mold and need to be cut more quickly to prevent shearing.
  • Though any soap can technically be made with a single oil, the only oil we recommend to use up to 100% is olive oil. The best recipes are generally some combination of hard and soft oils.
  • We’ve found that lard is an excellent alternative to Palm Oil. Although our Palm Oil is responsibly sourced, we respect that some people may still choose to not use it in their recipes. Other palm free recipe links are here, here, and here. My favorite one is this one that uses salt water to harden the bar.
  • Canola Oil is an excellent substitute for Olive Oil. This is especially useful to know if you’re working with a recipe where color is particularly important. Olive Oil is a darker oil, which can cause lighter colors such as yellows, greens and pinks to have a green-ish hue. Canola Oil does not have this effect on color. Rice Bran is also another good substitute for Olive Oil.

At the end of the day, formulating a recipe is somewhat of a beautiful art that gets better with experience. While we do our best to formulate a recipe so we can predict exactly how it will behave, there are unlimited number of factors and variables that go into soapmaking that can lead to unexpected results. You may have heard of INS numbers and how they can help you formulate, but I’m not a big fan of them and here’s why. As the saying goes, even the best laid plans of mice and men go astray, we’ve given you the basic rules for formulating a cold process recipe, so go forth and experiment!

Many of the recipes below have been formulated and used in our own Soap Queen tutorials within the last three months. We’re sharing them with you now because they were brand new recipes that turned out exceptionally well! Remember that soaping recipes are subjective, and what we prefer may be different from what you prefer. It all comes down to personal preference, and we’re giving you these recipes as a jumping off point to begin formulating your own recipes.

Old Faithful:
This recipe is solid and reliable, and the Castor Oil gives it a super luscious lather. This is a great recipe for beginners because it’s simple and produces great results. It is very similar to our Lots of Lather Quick Mix.

32%  Palm
10″ Silicone Loaf Mold (50 oz.) 9 Bar Birchwood Mold (48 oz.) 18 Bar Birchwood Mold (96 oz.) 5 lb. Wood Log Mold (80 oz.)
Coconut Oil 10.8 oz. 10.5 oz 21.12 oz. 17.2 oz.
Palm Oil 10.8 oz. 10.5 oz. 21.12 oz. 17.2 oz.
Olive Oil 10.8 oz. 10.5 oz. 21.12 oz. 17.2oz
Castor Oil 1.4 oz. 1.3 oz. 2.6 oz. 2.1 oz.

Old Faithful with a Twist:
This is a fairly standard recipe with some fun stuff thrown in: moisturizing Sweet Almond Oil and silky soft Mango Butter. Sub the Mango Butter for Shea Butter at the same rate for a super moisturizing bar!

25% Coconut
25% Palm
30% Olive
15% Sweet Almond
5% Mango butter

10″ Silicone Loaf Mold (50 oz.) 9 Bar Birchwood Mold (48 oz.) 18 Bar Birchwood Mold (96 oz.) 5 lb. Wood Log Mold (80 oz.)
Coconut Oil 8.5 oz. 8.2 oz. 16.2 oz. 13.7 oz.
Palm Oil 8.5 oz. 8.2 oz. 16.2 oz. 13.7 oz.
Olive Oil 10.2 oz. 9.9 oz. 19.5 oz. 16.5 oz
Sweet Almond 5.1 oz. 4.9 oz. 9.8 oz. 8.2 oz.
Mango Butter 1.7oz. 1.6 oz. 3.2 oz. 2.7 oz.

Perfectly Palm Free:
If you’re looking for a palm oil free recipe, look no further. This is a a wonderfully slow moving recipe that is great for intricate designs.

15% Coconut
30% Canola
25% Rice Bran
15% Shea Butter
10% Avocado Oil
5% Chia Oil*

*(Don’t have exotic Chia on hand? Hempseed also works great in this recipe))

10″ Silicone Loaf Mold (50 oz.) 9 Bar Birchwood Mold (48 oz.) 18 Bar Birchwood Mold (96 oz.) 5 lb. Wood Log Mold (80 oz.)
Coconut Oil 5.2 oz. 4.9 oz. 9.9 oz. 8.2 oz.
Canola Oil 10.5 oz. 9.9 oz. 19.8 oz. 16.5 oz.
Rice Bran 8.7 oz. 8.2 oz. 16.5 oz. 13.7 oz
Shea Butter 5.2 oz. 4.9 oz. 9.9 oz. 8.2 oz.
Avocado Oil 3.5 oz. 3.3 oz. 6.6 oz. 5.5 oz.
Chia Oil 1.7 oz. 1.6 oz. 3.3 oz. 2.7 oz.

Beautiful Swirls:
This recipe, in addition to our Swirl Quick Mix, is great for — you guessed it — swirl designs!

20% Coconut Oil
30% Palm Oil
20% Canola Oil
4% Castor Oil
6% Hazelnut Oil
10% Rice Bran
10% Sunflower Oil

10″ Silicone Loaf Mold (50 oz.) 9 Bar Birchwood Mold (48 oz.) 18 Bar Birchwood Mold (96 oz.) 5 lb. Wood Log Mold (80 oz.)
Coconut Oil 7 oz. 6.6 oz 13.2 oz. 11 oz.
Palm Oil 10.5 oz. 9.9 oz. 19.8 oz. 16.5 oz.
Canola Oil 7 oz. 6.6 oz. 13.2 oz. 11 oz
Castor Oil 1.4 oz. 1.3 oz. 2.6 oz. 2.2 oz.
Hazelnut Oil 2.1 oz. 1.9 oz. 3.9 oz. 3.3 oz.
Rice Bran Oil 3.5 oz. 3.3 oz. 6.6 oz. 5.5 oz.
Sunflower Oil 3.5 oz. 3.3 oz. 6.6 oz. 5.5 oz.

Do you have any tried and true recipes that you’d like to share? We’d love to see them in the comments!

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  1. Stephanie says

    Hello, my mom and I are so excited to have found your website!! Yay so much valuable information!
    Question, you dont mention the water lye amounts for all of your recipes above, can you share what the amounts you use are?

  2. Emmeline says

    So I ran two recipies thorough the lye calculator. And the first one was 10% shea butter (unrefined )30% coconut oil 30% palm oil and 30% olive oil. And the oils would add up to 100 ounces. And the final recipie, 147.21 oz. Then I did the same recipie as above but with refined shea butter. The total batch was 147.26 oz. I don’t really know ewhy they vare different. Do the different shea butters have different qualities?

    Thank you,

  3. yvette says

    I was wondering if you can help me out. when I run the palm free for 96 oz. on the soap calc. I get hardness 29.5 cleansing 10.3 conditioning 65.3 bubbly 10.3 creamy 19.2 iodine 83.5 INS 112.5 is this correct? sf 5 % and water 38% Am I doing something wrong?

  4. En says

    Hi. I’m new to soapmaking and I love your website with all the great info you share. I’ve used 30% coconut oils in my soap and find that it’s a bit drying for me. I’d love to make a bar of soap that I could use for my face — what combination of oils and percentages would you recommend? I usually work with pomace, palm, coconut, avocado and castor oils — what combinations of these or other not-so-expensive oils would you suggest? Thanks!

  5. Tamsyn says

    Hi there,

    Your recipes are wonderful and I love that you mention that you choose only ethically sourced palm oil. I wonder if you could make this point more obviously though, as it is easy to miss and many people do not actually realise that palm oil is linked to environmental devastation. I’d imagine your audience of home soap-makers would be glad to be informed. I myself found your site while looking for ways to avoid commercial brands of soap because of their palm oil contents. As it stands, your website promotes the use of palm oil, but If you specified “sustainable” each time you mentioned palm oil and made a point of highlighting your reasons for choosing sustainable palm oil, your inspiring website would provide a chance to gently educate a few more people who don’t realise that it is in everything we buy and that it is linked to this…

    With kind regards and respect for your efforts,


    • Kelsey says

      Hi Tamsyn!

      Thanks so much for your feedback! That’s definitely something to keep in mind. Just to let you know, I did remove the link from your comment. I really appreciate you sharing that, but we felt the image may be upsetting for some of our readers, including children.

      That being said, Bramble Berry is very conscious of our carbon footprint as well as our social obligations and responsibilities to the planet. Please check out our Social Obligation page to learn about our commitments.

      We like to let all our customers know that we work with vendors that have the same type of commitments and values as we do here at Bramble Berry. This is why we only purchase palm oil from vendors who are members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, also known as the RSPO. The RSPO was founded in 2005 to create a system for certifying sustainably grown palm oil, and to create guidelines of membership for certified growers. These guidelines cover more than just environmental stewardship; members of the RSPO must report on and provide better working conditions, better wages, and foster local discussions and input on their impact on local and native land.

      To clarify our position with palm oils and the sustainability of the product, we encourage you to check out the blog post on palm oil:

      There are five wonderful principles that share in our same beliefs of sustainability and development in using palm oil with their Palm Oil Green Development Campaign.

      1.) Alleviating Poverty through Wealth Creation: Palm oil provides developing nations and the poor a path out of poverty. Expanding efficient and sustainable agriculture such as Palm Oil Plantations provides small and large plantation owners and their workers with a means to improve their standard of living.

      2.) Sustainable Development: Sustainable development of palm oil plantations and growth of the palm oil industry in developing nations can and will be achieved through consultation and collaboration with industry, growers, lobby groups and the wider community.

      3.) Climate and the Environment: Palm oil is a highly efficient, high yielding source of food and fuel. Palm oil plantations are an efficient way of producing fossil fuel alternatives and capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

      4.) Opportunity and Prosperity: Developing nations must be allowed the chance to grow and develop without political intervention by environmental groups or developed nations. It is crucial that developing nations be given the same opportunities which developed nations have benefited from.

      5.) Property Rights: Efficient palm oil plantations and the growing demand for palm oil give smaller land holders greater opportunities to make a living off their land, maintain their ownership and support their rights to property and prosperity.

      To learn more World Growth and the Palm Oil Green Development Campaign, be sure to check them out at

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  6. Jannila says

    Hi.. I have recently become obsesses with soap making and I made my very first cold processed soap this past weekend and it came out great! Its currently curing :). My question is: I don’t have the 10″ silicone mold but i have various Tupperware containers in different sizes. How can i determine how much oil to use so that I am not overflowing the mold or using too little?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Jannila!

      That’s so exciting, I’m glad your first soap turned out well!

      To get a rough estimate of how much soap your mold holds, you can put it on a scale, tare the scale and then fill the mold with water until it’s full. Then, when you’re soaping, make a little extra soap just in case, and take in-depth notes so you know how much your mold holds. :)

      This blog post on removing soap from plastic molds may be helpful for you as well:

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • Chad says

        Hey Kelsey,

        Thanks for answering this as I was confused as well. I’m just shifting from melt n pour to cold process. I am a bit confused by your answer though. Let’s say I have a container, I place it on the scale, tare it, then fill it with water. Let’s say it 50 oz. So that would mean all of my oils should add up to 50 oz to fill the mold, correct?

        If that is correct, then I am confused by the measurements you’ve provided in this article.

        For example: Old Faithful says for the 10″ Silicone Loaf Mold (50 oz.) to use
        Coconut Oil: 10.8 oz.
        Palm Oil: 10.8 oz.
        Olive Oil: 10.8 oz.
        Castor Oil: 1.4 oz.

        That adds up to 33.8oz, not 50oz as noted in the mold size. Either I’m not understanding something or that recipe is not intended to fill that mold to the top.

        Thanks in advance for helping to clear this up for me.

        • Kelsey says

          Hi Chad!

          The mold weight is the total weight of the soap – that includes oils, water and lye. The oils in the recipe will weigh 33.8 ounces, plus 16.2 ounces of water and lye. Sorry for any confusion! :)

          -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  7. Anna Brown says

    Hi, I am A complete newbie at CP soapmaking. Having two little ones in the house always made me nervous. But now I have a free room to make my own I am going to give it ago. I was wondering with the recipes above can you then add essential oils to make the scent or will that change the recipe all together?

    Thanks Anna :)

  8. adex says

    hi Kelsey
    thank you for your reply,I will make sure I try that here is another question. I normally used sodium carbonate (soda ash) with d lye water. whereby I firstly add the lye solution into d essential oil and later add the soda ash water solution into it.but have watched many of Ur video and Ur blog post I never c u make use of soda ash in Ur recipe.pls does soda ash has any side effect on soap or y is it that u don’t use it.pls I need to know d effect.thank you.u guys are really helping me

  9. Matt says

    I’ve been making CP soap and lotion for about 6 months now. One of my nieces has Keratosis Pilaris and your beginner lotion kit has really helped to clear it up. I was wondering if you have a recipe you recommend for CP soap that would help her as well?

    thanks in advance.


  10. Mary says

    Im very new to soap making and I have two batches curing right now. The first recipe is a recipe I used by playing with the numbers on the lye calculator and unmolded beautifully.
    25% coconut oil
    25% canola oil
    35% olive oil
    15% leaf lard
    5% superfatting

    The second batch is the same recipe only I added 4 tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal at trace.
    What are your thoughts on my percentages of oils? I really hope they come out to be nice firm bars that are lathery and moisturizing!

  11. Katie says

    Possible a VERY silly question, but I just wanna make soap, not deal with the science and math around it 😀

    The ounces for all the oils…are those liquid ounces or weight ounces?? How exactly would you measure the solid oils?

  12. adex says

    I really like Ur post its helpful. my question is y u don’t make use if silicate in Ur own recipe.bcoz I learnt that silicate make d soap it not necessary pls I need more enlightenment. tank u

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Adex!

      You’re welcome, glad you found the post helpful! We haven’t used silicate in our soap recipes, so I’m not entirely sure! If you do use it, I would recommend making a small test batch to see how it works in your recipe. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      • adex says

        hi Kelsey
        thank you for your reply,I will make sure I try that here is another question. I normally used sodium carbonate (soda ash) with d lye water. whereby I firstly add the lye solution into d essential oil and later add the soda ash water solution into it.but have watched many of Ur video and Ur blog post I never c u make use of soda ash in Ur recipe.pls does soda ash has any side effect on soap or y is it that u don’t use it.pls I need to know d effect.thank you.u guys are really helping me

  13. Tammy says

    Hello lovely ladies of Brambleberry, I have run out of olive oil, this article says that Canola is a wonderful replacement for olive oil, and this made me sooo happy, however, some people have told me canola will make my soap rancid and should NOT be used, well, if you guys say it’s fine then I would love to try, what is your opinion on canola? I would love to make up a batch of your Old Faithful. I also have a question about your “love” lotion bar, could this mixture be put in molds rather then a push up tube?

  14. HL says

    Hello Fellow Soapers!

    I have been dabbling in the art of soaping for a couple of months and only have a little experience I’ve read most of the articles I can find. I have cruising Pinterest for ideas on how to design my soaps and hope to replace all my store bought hygiene items with homemade ones. I recently came upon a pin pretaining to the easy way to make liquid soap…. It says to shred up a bar of soap add a small bit of extra oil and water.

    Upon trying to do so with my own homemade bars it works great as a body wash but i was hoping to use it as a dish liquid…. When poured in to a sink and extra water is added the soap bubbles but the the bubbles quickly disappear. I am looking for a quick way to do this until i can afford the potassium hydroxide. My soap recipes usually contain 30% coconut oil 20% canola oil 30% olive oil 15% castor oil and 5% veg oil. I was hoping for some suggest on a more stable lather if at all possible. Thanks in advance!

  15. Michelle says

    Hello I have a soap recipe and I want to use Babassu Oil instead of Coconut Oil. I tried doing a search on your site about Babassu Oil and I downloaded your Oil Chart that suggests oil percentages in soaping, but still NO information on Babassu Oil. What is the oil percentage you would suggest we use when using Babassu Oil? I am a big fan of Dove soap 1/4 shea butter. Just not their chemicals. So I wanted to create a creamy, moisturizing with great lather soap bar using Shea butter. I want it very similar to Dove. I want alot of bubbles. Here is what I formulated (Palm Free):

    Babassu Oil 30/Olive Oil 30/Hemp Oil 10/Shea Butter 15/Jojoba Oil 10/Castor Oil 5
    Superfat 5%

    I used SoapCalc
    Is this formula good to go, what are your suggestions? also, I want a strong fragrance smell that lasts,what amount should I use, the min-max? For test batches how much ingredients do you suggest that we use so that we do not waste ingredients when testing?


  16. Danielle says

    I was looking at charts that say you should only use certain percentages of certain oils. But why? Is it because they will do the extreme of what they’re supposed to do? for instance if I use a 100% Flaked Palm kernel oil recipie that is only supposed to be used at 15%, is it because it will harden too hard? Or is the actual concerns that it will be harmful to your skin? Thanks!

  17. Michelle says

    Hi! I want to formulate organic body butters. I see these are recipes for cold process soap recipes. Do you have any for body butters? I want to create organic body butters that lasts so they would need to not mold. Is it possible to formulate them using these formulas or is their another way using this website that shows us how we can formulate them and the amounts to use?

    Thank you


  18. Toya says

    Hi! I have been using powdered goat milk for my goat milk recipes but wanted to start using fresh goat milk. I used frozen/slushed goat milk, but I did add the lye all at once. Yet I continuously stirred the mixture. I cut the bars and they looked normal. After a week the soap smells fine, yet it looks very “cloudy”. It’s not bright white spots like lye. It’s just cloudy, speckled. Could this be due to overheating? Is the batch still good?

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Toya!

      I’d love to help you troubleshoot! My first thought was that the lye didn’t dissolve fully, but it sounds like you stirred it very thoroughly. It can also be bits of palm oil that weren’t melted all the way, or shea butter that didn’t fully saponify. Can you tell me about your recipe? We’ll get this figured out. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  19. Munimula says

    Dear Experts!
    When calculating fragrance oil for a cold process recipe, do you calculate based on oils in the recipe only or for the entire recipe including the lye water? I find so many varying recommendations and would like to know the best process. I have been calculating based on oils only and do find my finished product to be somewhat “fragrance light”. This is based on 1 ounce fragrance per pound of oils.
    Please advise, and thank you!

  20. jg says

    Hi. Have been making CP soap using 31/31/31 % plus 7% shea butter. Superfatting at 5%. All my soaps are curing now. Noticed when unmolding they are already quite a firm bar of soap. So my question is 5% superfatting enough. Or should I superfat by 7%. I am trying for a firm but moisturing bar of soap.

  21. Tara says

    Hey There –
    So I found a mediterranean oil that is a combination of olive oil, grape seed oil, and canola oil. I used this in a a few cold process recipes and haven’t seen anything wrong yet. I guess I just wanted to see if this is something I can continue to keep using? I use it in conjunction with palm oil and coconut oil too. Thanks for your help!

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Tara!

      We haven’t used that oil, so I’m not entirely sure! However, it sounds like it’s working great for you. That’s awesome! If you continue to have good results, it can definitely be an oil you add to your soapmaking collection. :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Rose!

      We have never tried using butter, so I’m not exactly sure!

      From a quick internet search, several sites recommended clarifying the butter before adding it. Also, I would recommend using it at a low percentage in your recipe, like 15% or lower.

      Let us know how it goes! :)

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

  22. D.J. Binczik says

    Help I’m out of coconut oil but I have plenty of the following oils;
    Shea butter, palm oil, palm kernel, canola, avocado, sunflower, castor, hempseed, Mango butter, cocoa butter, coffee butter,tamanu.

    Can you recommend a recipe or will one of the oils I already own be a good substitute for coconut oil?

  23. Munimula says

    Do any oils exist that are good as a replacement for coconut oil? I am interested in finding a moisturizing CP soap recipe that does not contain coconut oil, as I have a relative who is allergic to it. I know I can make an all olive oil/Castille soap, however, I’d like to make soap that is not soft and will cure by Christmas. Are there any good substitutes for coconut oil? I know it’s part of the “holy trinity” base of soap making. I am finding that, although the Basic and Basic Plus make really nice soap (and I have had success with them), they are drying to my skin. I have scoured the Internet looking for coconut-free, moisturizing, simple CP recipes, to not much avail. I don’t want to put a lot of extra “stuff” in my soap and would like to keep it oils. Any suggestions, or recipes, would be appreciated.
    Thank you!

    • Kelsey says

      Hi Laura!

      After your soap is in the mold, you have several options.

      One option is to gel the soap. ‘Gelling’ and ‘gel phasing’ in cold process soap refers to a part of the soapmaking process where the soap gets warm and gelatinous – up to 180 degrees. Gelled soap also has a more translucent, shiny look than non-gelled soap. None of these things affect the final outcome of the soap after a full cure, just how the soap looks.

      To gel the soap, you can place it on a heating pad on medium for 20 minutes, or you can put a piece of cardboard over your soap and wrap it with a towel or blanket.

      If you prefer a more matte look, you can leave the soap out in the open or pop it in the freezer for four hours or so. I’ll include a link that has more about gel phase. :)

      If you place your soap in the oven after it’s poured, it will force a hot, extended gel phase. This will give you nice vibrant colors. I’ll include a tutorial on how to do that!

      -Kelsey with Bramble Berry

      Jazzed About Gel Phase:

      Hot Process Series: CPOP Swirls:

  24. Missy says

    I am looking to make my first batch of cold processed soap. I am wanting to use the 33/33/33 recipe using lard, coconut oil and canola oil. Where can I find a detailed recipe that’s fool proof for this newbie? Also, looking to buy a 3 lb. mold. What kind of mold works best- wood or with a silicone liner? Thanks!

  25. Joleen says

    On your old Faithful recipe, can you substitute the castor oil with cocoa butter, or mango butter? I’m just new and still stumbling to figure it all out. The recipe I learned with seems to be missing and I feel like I’m starting all over again. Ugh. Thank you =)

  26. Carolyn says

    Hi! In the Beautiful Swirls recipe what are good substitutes for the Hazelnut oil & the Sunflower oil? I have Sweet Almond oil, Castor oil, Apricot oil, Palm oil, Canola oil, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Grape Seed oil, & Avocado oil. I made the other recipe and it came out Great! I couldn’t have done it without you!! Thank you so much for your help!!!

  27. Carolyn says

    Hello everyone! I would like to make the Perfectly Palm Free recipe in my 10″ silicone loaf mold, however I don’t have any Chia oil and I see that Hempseed oil would be a substitute for it. I don’t have any Hempseed oil either! What is a good substitute and do I use the same amount of the substitute 1.7oz? Since my silicone mold holds 50oz. when I run the recipe through the Lye calculator to determine the amount of lye and liquid to use to use it looks like (I used ounces) the oil weight=34.80oz., I superfatted by 5%,lye amount=4.593oz., liquid amount=11.48oz. for a yield of 50.88oz. Then I used the Fragrance calculator it gave me the amount of fragrance to use (I like my fragrance strong)which is 2.54oz. By my calculations 50.88oz.+2.54oz.=53.42oz., I think that this is too much for my mold or am I missing something??? Should I lower the fragrance amount or have a silicone bar mold handy for any extra soap that won’t fit into the loaf mold? Should any of these soap recipes made in the 10″ silicone loaf mold or the 9 Bar Birchwood mold be covered and wrapped in a towel to go through gel phase? I thank you in advance for all of your help and all that you do to help us along our journey into the soaping world!!!

  28. says

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I
    would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad
    for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of

  29. patsy says

    Hi I’m new to cp soap making, but my family keep bees so would like to incorporate beeswax in to a recipe. I did see in a magazine someone did this using olive, coconut and almond oils, but I don’t have a clue what proportions this would be, can you please help. Thanks.

  30. Angelica says

    Super newbie here (attempting to make my first batch tonight.) Could someone be so kind to tell me if this recipe is ok, as in the outcome should be a fairly good bar of soap:
    Makes 4lbs
    16oz goat milk
    6.5oz lye
    17oz olive oil
    17oz coconut oil
    4oz shea butter
    4oz castor oil

    2 tablespoons honey
    5 tablespoons lavendar essential oil

    Any help or suggestions greatly appreciated.

  31. Rita says

    Greetings! I just made my first batch of CP soap! I’ve read a lot of books, watched quite a bit of soap queen tv , and practiced countless times in my head….by doing all of my theory before moving on to my practical application I feel like I achieved a nearly text book result! I’m very pleased. I looked over several lye calculator but ultimately ended up using Bramble Berry. It was the easiest for my non mathematical mind!! Just curious as to your opinion oflard. I did use it in my formula but now I must wait several weeks to really see. I have a freezer full of lard that I rendered myself from a friends hog. Sure hope it works out! I need to use it up! I also used olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and castor oil.I actually used about 16.5% of castor…my question is….do you think my soap will end up too sticky?

  32. Francine says

    Hi, i have a question about CP recipes. is it possible to make CP soap using only Hemp oil, Hemp butter and babassu oil? what would the ratios be if so and if not do you have any suggestions?

  33. Kathy Singer says

    Love that you ladies give us so much helpful information, not to mention great products. I’m an avid user of the “Old Faithful” recipe for the 18 bar mold. I recently bought some red palm super olein oil and would love your thoughts on incorporating it into the Old Faithful recipe. I was going to send it back but figured some where, some how there is a recipe using red palm super olein. My thought is that I should substitute part of the (regular) palm oil with a percentage of the red palm SO. Don’t want everything turning orange so guess a small percentage, any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

    • says

      Hi Kathy!

      I’m so glad that you have been enjoying the recipes :). The Old Faithful is a favorite of mine as well! I have never actually soaped with Palm Olein Oil before…it’s not very common, and you’re right, it can be tricky to find a recipe using it! I did a little research, and from what I can gather, it is a oil commonly used for frying. The olein is the light fraction of the palm oil, composed primarily of palmitoleic acid, and is a good substitute for olive oil. I would recommend making a very small test batch, and using the SAP number for Olive Oil when adding it to your recipe :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  34. says

    Hi all forgive me but I’m struggling a little with trying to calculate how much oils to use for my first batch.

    Im very new to soap making in fact I’m yet to make my first soap. I would like to make a basic mixture with coconut oil, palm oil and olive oil. I have 12 moulds that are 125 grams each.

    How do I calculate how much oil I need and run this through the lye calculator in order for me to have the correct amount of mixture?

    I’m really sorry I know this must sound ridiculously simple but I can’t seem to get my head around it

    Many thanks

    • says

      Hi Geoffrey!

      No worries, it can be a little tricky! So first I would figure out how much you need total. If each mold is 125 grams and you have 12, you need 1,500 grams of soap, or 52.9 ounces.

      Once you know how much your mold can hold, then it’s a little bit of a guess and check process with the lye calculator . I would recommend working in percentages in terms of entering the oils in your recipe. Once you enter all your oils, the calculator will ask you how much you’d like the finished oils in your recipe to weight. You can go ahead and throw out any reasonable number, because you can adjust it later.

      Choose your superfat percentage, then hit “Calculate.” You will see that the calculator will give you the weight of each oil, along with the amount of lye, and water. This total weight is your yield. Most likely, your yield will be too big, or too small. At this point, you can “Resize” your batch by entering a new number for the amount of oils. You can resize your batch as many times as necessary to get an appropriate yield.

      Lye Calculator:

      I hope this helps! If you have more questions, let me know :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

      • rachel says

        I’ve got this far, in understanding how to calculate my recipe for a 3 lb mold. My question is, how do i know how much more to add, if I want add little more to the top, to make it taller, textured? About how many ounces would be safe, instead of me testing too many times? Thanks in advance for your reply!

  35. Deborah Weaver says

    I have very dry skin and was reading that lotion bars are more moisturizing for the skin instead of soap. What do you think and do you have a good lotion bar recipe to share?

    • says

      Hi Deborah!

      While soap can be hydrating for the skin, because it is a product that you wash off, it does not add additional hydration during the say. I find that lotion and lotion bars add more moisture because you don’t wash it off :)

      If you prefer the idea of having a lotion bar rather than lotion, here are a few recipes that you might like! The first recipe is made with an essential oil blend to keep bugs away, but you could use whatever fragrance you like :)

      Bite Me Not Lotion Bar:

      Lotion Bar Love:

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

      • Deborah says

        Thank you for the lotion soap recipes. I assume they would be good to use after cleansing with soap or do they have cleansing properties since you don’t wash them off?

        Also, I am looking for a SUPER moisturizing soap with nice creamy bubbles that leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth without that tight ashy look and feel. I have mature skin and I hear Mango Butter is good for that. Do you have any suggestions?

        I am still quite new to soap making and I love making CP soaps yet my quest is to produce the best moisturizing all natural cleansing bar for my dry skin. The only thing I can relate the feel I’m looking for is Dove Bars which I know are full of unwanted chemicals. Can you help? Many thanks.

  36. Janae says

    Hello! I’m attempting cold process for the first time. I am wondering if possible to use a whisk attachment on a mixer instead of an immersion blender. Would this ruin the saponification process?

    Thanks so much!

    • says

      Hi Janae!

      While it is possible, we don’t recommend it because using a whisk attachment will incorporate quite a bit of air bubbles into your soap. We have found that immersion blenders work the very best :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  37. Patg says

    Could someone tell me how cool the lye water must be to add sodium lactate – I am new at this and I keep seeing cooled lye water but no specifics. I have been soaping at 110 to 120 degrees and have had no problems with soda ash but don’t want to have to go lower.

    • says

      Hi Patg!

      Adding your Sodium Lactate to lye around 110-120 will be just fine :). You could even add it around 130-140, although I wouldn’t go much higher than that! You just don’t want to add it immediately after making your lye water :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  38. Lee says

    What is the total number of ounces you should end up with when you give a recipe of 33/33/33 ratio, for example. Is it per pound? How many total ounces would you need for a 5lb mold?

    Also, do you substitute ounce per ounce when changing from and oil to a butter or vice-versa?

    I am trying to figure this out so I can get started making soap. Your help is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • says

      Hi Hailey!

      Hemp Seed oil has a SAP value of 190-195. If you are looking for a good replacement for Hemp Seed Oil, Oils that have a similar SAP value are Almond Oil, Soybean Oil and Walnut Oil. I would recommend running your recipe through a lye calculator again, just to be sure you have the correct amount of water and lye :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  39. says

    I’ve never made bar soap before and I want to very badly. I like that you provide a break down in ounces of what to put in the soap but how do I go about making the soap with out adding lye? I can’t seem to find any such resource in the actual process.

  40. Gina says

    Hi, I purchased a bunch of palm oil kernel instead of palm oil once from your store. I can’t find any moisturizing recipes that have that as an ingredient except the one from Anne-Marie’s book with the fresh avocado slurry and i wanted to try something without the fresh avocados. Do you happen to have a link to any other recipes using it? I have avocado oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and of course the palm kernel oil i would like to use up. Any help would be appreicated!

  41. Jennifer says

    I have a question about the perfectly palm-free recipe. I ran the percentages through soapcalc and it’s giving me a hardness of 30. I’ve never soaped with canola, avocado or hemp before. I know that soapcalc can be misleading with olive oil; is there something about this recipe that I’m not aware of that is throwing off the numbers, or is this going to be a really soft bar that will take a loooooooong time to cure?

    • says

      Hi Jennifer!

      When working with recipes that do not include Palm, they will be softer because Palm contributes so much to the hardness of your bar. This recipe uses Coconut, Canola, Rice Bran, Shea Butter, Avocado Oil and Chia Oil. It will definitely take a little bit longer to harden than recipes that do contain Palm. One thing you can add that will help with the hardness is Sodium Lactate to your lye water! Sodium Lactate is a liquid salt, and I recommend adding it to your lye water at 1 tsp. per pound of oils :)

      I hope this helps!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  42. Samantha says

    I have a question about the lye. Is it normal for the lye water to be somewhat cloudy after the lye has been dissolved? I make sure that there are no lye bits in my water but it also seems to have like an oil slick type appearance on the top of the lye water, its not a lot just a litter. Is this normal and does this effect the bar in anyway? Also, does this have a higher capability of possibly burning somebody?

    • says

      Hi Samantha!

      If your lye water is a little cloudy, that’s perfectly normal. We have found that if you continue to stir, it will clear up. Also, if you happen to see little bits in your lye water that is simply the caking agent and will not harm the soap. The cloudiness will not effect the bar, but if you stir a little more you may find it clears up :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

    • says

      Absolutely you can do that sub. I don’t notice a huge difference between Olive and Canola (blasphemy in some soapmaking circles to say that) but some soapmakers swear Canola causes soap to get DOS faster and not have as long of a shelf life. =) So, do the subs and then make a decision for what works for you and your soap and your budget.

  43. Erica says

    I’m new to CP soaping so I am so thankful for these recipes. I have a question about the swirls recipe. I noticed several of the oils used have limited shelf life (Hazelnut and Sunflower are only 3 months). If I order from Bramble Berry, how long had it been sitting before it reaches me to know how long it will last? Also, how long would my soap be good for after I make the recipe?

    • says

      Hi Erica!

      Our oils sell through pretty quickly, so once you receive your oil, I would write a date on the bag and start the shelf life from that date. To ensure that your oil lasts as long as possible, I would recommend placing it in the fridge or freezing it if you don’t think you’ll use it in time.

      Once your oils are made into soap, the shelf life no longer applies because they have been made into a completely different substance. Your soap won’t go bad (ie: grow mold)but eventually it may start to get crumbly, usually after about 6 months or so. I hope this helps!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  44. Hannah says

    So I dissolved some salt in a small portion of water and then added it to the lye solution. It turned the water cloudy. Is that expected?

    Other than that it behaved as any other batch.
    Also, I also use goats milk in all my soap. Other than the cloudiness it looks ok so far.

    • says

      Hi Hannah!

      That’s totally fine to have some cloudy lye water due to the salt :). I’m happy to hear your soap has been turning out well! If you get images, we would love to see your soap on our Facebook Page!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

    • says

      Hi Hannah!

      You’re correct, you can add the salt to your wamr water and then simply ad the lye to that mixture!
      I would recommend using 1 tsp. of salt water per pound of oils in your recipe.

      Happy Soaping!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  45. Karly says

    This is so very informative and helpful!! I was wondering if you could do a sequel on temperatures for cold process soaping? The internet seems to be severely lacking on explanations for temperatures to soap at, and why (different sites or recipes will give you a particular range, but no real explanation of what happens at higher or lower temperatures or how an ingredient is effected by high/low temps, how temps effect soda ash etc etc). Thanks for your site:)

  46. Vicki says

    Hi! I’ve been using an ( approximately) 31% olive, 27% palm & coconut, 7% castor, and 4% cocoa & shea butters or slight variations of the above recipe. I recently began using sodium lactate (1tsp ppo or less) because I purchased some new silicone molds and wanted the loaves to harden well for easy release from the molds. Since I did achieve harder bars that seemed to last longer I started using the sodium lactate in all my batches ( even in an acrylic slab mold that I use for bars I want to swirl). I noticed in two of these slab batches I got white crumbly edges and whitish spots throughout the bars. Theses were NOT lye heavy, I tested them and seem to be related to the sodium lactate as I’ve made lots and lots of batches, same recipe, same mold before. Has anyone else had this experience? the soap seemed fine otherwise but I could not sell it because it was ugly looking! I have also noticed that I end up having to shave the entire outer edges of my sodium lactate soaps because they develop way more soda ash on the outside once removed from the mold. ( I do spritz the tops with 91% alcohol). Otherwise, this recipe makes a nice lather and fairly hard bar over time. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Vicki!

      We have never had a problem with the sodium lactate, and it sounds like you’re using the correct ratio. It could be a temperature issue; you want to make sure to add the sodium lactate to your lye water once it has cooled. I hope this helps Vicki!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  47. Judy says

    Anne Marie–Love this recipe, got it from your site, over a year ago…
    coconut 12 oz.
    palm kernal 4.5 oz.
    palm oil 12 oz.
    shea butter 2.25 oz
    olive oil 15 oz
    and I add a little castor oil

    Thank you for a great receipe–my customers tell me all the time, how they love our soap!

  48. Kim says

    I was wondering if you could help me, I’m kinda trace challenged…
    No matter my recipe, even a 100% olive oil, always give me a very fast trace. It’s like the part that just went through the stickblender is already thick. I soap at 30-35°C, have used tap water, bottle water and distilled water. I have also tried different suppliers of sodium hydroxide. All types of FOs and EOs or scentless.
    I really like soapmaking but this is getting to me. There are so many beautifull swirl designs out there, and most of them require a thin trace. Yet there where I should have a thin stream of soap batter, i get “blob…blob…blob…”.
    Really hoping you can help me find out what I’m doing wrong!

    • says

      Hi Kim,
      Oh no, that is frustrating! When you combine your oils and lye, how long are you mixing for? We typically don’t stick blend more than a few seconds at a time to get the soap to start to emulsify. After that point, I recommend using a wire whisk or spoon to gently stir the batch. Stirring too vigorously can thicken the batch prematurely. I hope that helps — let me know and I can troubleshoot more!

      -Kirsten with Bramble Berry

      • Kim says

        I use my stickblender for a second at a time, using a spatula to move the top of the batch towards the stickblender. If I wouldn’t do that I’d have to use the stickblender longer. It’s basicly pulse, move the oils around and repeat (4 or 5 pulses) until I don’t have any oils on top anymore. I’ve been considering using a whisk, at times I use it instead of the spatula just after adding my lye. After using it for only a few seconds, an emulsion is already starting. I’ve never fully used the whisk because I worry about a false trace/emulsion.
        I don’t get how my batch (well, the part that just passed my stickblender) is already very thick, almost the way a medium trace looks like.
        Have you ever heard of anything like this?

        • Patricia says

          Do you know what percentage of water to oils are you soaping at? Full water is 38 – 40% of the oil total. If using less than that (taking a water discount,) try upping it. If you don’t know the percentage, try running the recipe through the SoapCalc website at the pre-set 38%. Then hit calculate & view the recipe. A separate page will appear flashing in your browser – the recipe totals. Compare the water amount specified to what you are using.

          I only use distilled water to be certain of no contaminants.

  49. Eyman says

    I think using a certain rate of bees wax can harden the soap bar and reduce the period of curing. What do you think?

    I think stearic acid also stand for the same role of bees wax in CP soap making .

    • says

      Hi Rookie,
      We actually don’t recommend using oils from the store just because even extra virgin olive oils and other supposedly ‘pure’ oils aren’t really that pure. Only by buying oils from a reliable source — like Bramble Berry — can you be sure that the oils will behave correctly in soap!

      -Kirsten with Bramble Berry

  50. AshMac says

    OK, so I have a question about the salt water. Can you use this method to harden a bar in every recipe? If so, what is the math for that? Also, does it speed the trace (i.e., would it be bad for intricate swirling)? Is this like using sodium lactate? And does sodium lactate speed the trace (and therefore make it a bad choice for intricate swirl recipes)? Thanks for another great post!

    • says

      Yes, using salt water is essentially the same as using sodium lactate. I would still recommend using 1 tsp. of salt water per pound of oils in your recipe (and I might do an equal 50/50 ratio for salt to water). As for speeding trace, we’ve not found that adding sodium lactate or salt water really effects trace at all, and in fact we often add sodium lactate to swirl recipes so they harden faster and we can cut them sooner to see the reults :) Happy soaping!

      -Kirsten with Bramble Berry

  51. Elizabeth says

    I just adore the Lots of Lather basic recipe (30/30/30/10 of Palm/Coconut/Olive/Castor) and use it as a great starting point.

    The recipe as it’s written makes an awesome bar of soap, lathery and moisturizing. And it’s so easy to remember; since I use 30% water to oils, four of the six weights are the same (palm, coconut, olive, and water), and the castor weight is 1/3 that weight. Just need to determine the lye weight, and I’m ready to go!

    This is the recipe I make every time I want to test a new FO or EO (which is quite often in my case!) – it’s naturally a very light-colored soap, so any discoloration is easy to see, as long as you use a light-colored olive oil or canola.

    I add powdered goats milk to this recipe at trace, and it’s a lovely super-moisturizing soap. This has been my go-to recipe recently – absolutely love it!

    It’s also easy to swap out 5% of this or that to play with “fun” substitutions like hemp oil; I know I’ve got a good base recipe that I started from, and the small substitutions won’t throw it off too much.

    In my Soap Journal, I just notate it as “LOL” and keep up with whatever changes I might make. So far, it’s never let me down!

    (Note that I do make lots of other recipes and have designed a few myself, but I do keep LOLing a lot! :) ).

  52. Molly says

    I actually love an all palm oil bar! It’s hard as a rock and produces a thick almost shaving cream like lather. Babassu oil is also fun in place of some or all of the coconut oil, it feels a little gentler in my opinion.

  53. says

    I have some palm free favorites I would like to share. The way I see it, one soaper cannot clean the world! The more of us making and selling luscious handmade soaps, the better!

    Super moisturizing and gentle with a robust bubbly lather. This is a very slow moving recipe. It is really soft at first, but hardens up after 4-6 week cure. This is definitely a go-to recipe for me.
    72% olive oil
    25 % coconut oil
    3% castor

    Another palm free lovely. This makes a very smooth bar with a silky, creamy lather. It hardens up quite nicely. I tweaked this one many times and figured out it was the rice bran that made it so nice & firm…I think! :) Adding a little bentonite clay makes it even better with a nice slip for shaving.
    40% Olive oil
    25% Coconut Oil
    25 % Rice Bran oil
    7% Mango Butter
    3% Castor oil

    I have more, but I don’t want to go coo-coo! I hope to see more soapers recipes!

      • Jenny says

        I don’t know if this helps but I was having the same problem
        And also no matter what I did I got huge bubble I in love with kitchen
        Aid products but found thier stick blender just too
        Powerful for soap and it seemed like a suction was h
        Happening because of a perfect half circle so I switch
        My stick blender to a lower watt cusinart It is harder to
        Clean mine does not come apart like the nice ones
        That Annmarie has but I’m notice a big deference
        In the bubbles and it not going from not mix to med
        Trace right away hope this helps

    • Donna says

      I’ve made your mango-rice bran recipe many times and love it! Thanks Nikki! And I think I know why it hardens up so nicely. It’s not the Rice Bran – it’s the Mango Butter! Mango Butter’s fatty acid content includes 40% stearic acid, which is more than even cocoa or shea butter. And as you probably know, stearic acid contributes to a hard, long-lasting bar. (Mango Butter: 43% oleic, 40% stearic, 7% palmitic, 5% linoleic, 5% others)

    • Miranda says

      Im new to soap making and i don’t understand the % ? I tried to put this in the lye calculator and i don’t know if this ends up being oz or grams? Also i don’t understand choose your super fat level. I get that all the oils being used are 100% Gosh I feel really silly and I’m sure this is very simple but for whatever reason i don’t get it so please excuse my ignorance. thank you in advance for any and all help


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