What is soap made of? (Info, tips and recipe)


If there is a trend that I really love, it is to make natural cosmetics with ingredients that you know and that are really good for your hair and skin.

Personally, for several months I have only used solid shampoo and conditioner, solid body cream and even natural makeup. I recently learned how to make soap at home and since then I have not stopped making them.

If you think about what is soap made of, surely some of the ingredients that sound familiar to you are glycerin, perfume, and some other component such as colorants or foaming agents.

But if you read the packaging, you will see an extensive list of ingredients that we do not know what they are specifically for or if they are really beneficial for our skin.

In this article, we will learn together how to make soap naturally knowing each of the ingredients.

The chemistry of soap making

what is soap made of

Soap helps us clean impurities, sweat and dirt from our skin and it is for this reason that we have included it in our personal hygiene routine almost since we were born and it is one of the first inventions of humanity.

We can get them in any store, in solid and liquid format, with different aromas, colors and textures, but the most worrying thing is that we know very little about what soap is made of.

If we talk about industrial soaps, on their packaging they have an extensive list of ingredients that all cosmetic soap must show the user, this list is written with the INCI nomenclature (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) to standardize the reading of any cosmetic product from all over the world.

The problem is that this nomenclature is not easy to understand for non-technical people or experts on the subject.

Instead, natural soaps are a good alternative to be aware of the chemical products that we apply to our skin, it is also more profitable and it is even possible to customize them according to our tastes and needs.

If you want to learn more about how to make soap at home keep reading this article!

What is soap made of? (Natural soap recipe)

2 soap

Natural soap is made up of oils, fats and butters that have been mixed with lye. It is made through the saponification process, which is a chemical reaction where triglycerides from fats and oils react with lye to become salts.

To make our own natural coconut and olive oil soap, you will need:

Tools and Materials:

  • Slow cooker
  • Plastic, glass, or stainless steel container for measuring lye
  • Plastic, glass, or stainless steel container for mixing lye and water
  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Silicone spatulas
  • Immersion blender
  • Candy thermometer
  • Silicone loaf mold (or individual molds)
  • Soap cutter
  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Apron
  • Well-ventilated work area

The materials that we use to make soap will be used exclusively for this activity, that is, you will not be able to use the silicone spatulas or the cooking bowls in the kitchen again.


  • 20 oz. coconut oil
  • 10 oz. olive oil
  • 9 oz. distilled water
  • 78 oz. 100 percent pure lye
  • 20 to 40 drops of essential oils (optional)
  • Colorants (optional)
  • Dried herbs or flowers (optional)

To make soap there are two methods, one of the processes is hot and the other is cold.

In this recipe, we use the hot process, as external heat speeds up the saponification process and you can use the soap the next day (or wait a week if you want it to harden more).

With this recipe you will get about 30 ounces of soap, and depending on how you cut it, you will get 7-10 bars.


  • Step 1

    Prepare your work area, put on your safety gear and measure your ingredients.

  • Step 2

    Put the slow cooker on. Add the coconut oil and wait for it to melt.
    While you wait for it to melt, in another bowl add the lye to the water.

  • Step 3

    Using a spatula, gently stir the solution as you add the lye. It will heat up and release fumes, which is fine.

    In this step you must be very careful, as it is the most dangerous. Besides the high temperature, this mixture is also corrosive.

  • Step 4

    Let the lye solution cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Step 5

    Check oils. If the coconut oil has completely melted, add the olive oil and mix well.

    Once the oils have reached a temperature of 120-130°F (49-54°C), set the immersion blender aside from the slow cooker.

  • Step 6

    Pour the lye gently into the oils and slowly stir. Keep the blender on low speed and submerged to prevent bubbles from forming.

  • Step 7

    Continue blending and stirring for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soap has reached trace. This is when the oils and lye solution have thickened and look like pudding.

    Cook on low for 50 minutes. If the mixture bubbles, stir it gently.

  • Step 8

    Turn off the pot and let the mixture cool until it reaches 180°F (82°C).
    If you want, you can add essential oils and dyes. Do not forget to mix well.

    Turn off the pot and let the mixture cool until it reaches 180°F (82°C).
    If you want, you can add essential oils and food coloring. Do not forget to mix well.

  • Step 9

    Pour the soap mixture into the mold you have chosen.(You can also learn how to make your own molds by clicking here:’Epoxy molds DIY with silicone’).

    Smooth the top with a spatula and tap the pan on a table to remove any air bubbles. At this time, you can decorate with dried flowers.

    Let the soap sit in the mold for 24 hours.

  • Step 10

    Once cool, carefully remove the soap from the mold. And carefully cut soap bars with a cutter or knife. If you used individual soap molds, just pop them out.

Soap making at home

Soap making offers a creative way to enjoy soft, natural soap. It takes time to master the process, so don’t be discouraged if your soap isn’t perfect the first time!

Now you can say that you know what is soap made of 😉