Intro to Soapmaking Demonstration @ Belham & Co.: Grocery Store Soapmaking

If you missed our soapmaking demonstration today at the studio, don't worry! Here's the recipe and process we shared today. 

Getting Started

It can be intimidating to get into making soap, especially when you have to order ingredients from all over the place just to get started. There are so many suppliers out there, and how do you know which ones are the best? I’ll share with you a secret; many soapmakers get started using ingredients that they can easily access. I’m sharing with you a recipe that can be made using almost entirely from tools and ingredients purchased from somewhere like your local wal-mart.

Ingredients Needed:

5 oz Olive Oil (any type works)

5 oz Crisco (vegetable-based)

5 oz Coconut Oil

1 oz Avocado Oil

6 oz Distilled Water

2.22 Lye * (note - you cannot purchase this from the grocery store. Some hardware stores occasionally carry lye. We highly recommend taking the time to order offline from a reputable supplier. Please see bottom of the sheet for information on suppliers.)

Optional Ingredients:

Goat’s Milk Powder, ½ scoop

Oatmeal, 1 tsp

Honey, 1 tsp

Supplies & Tools:

Stainless steel pot (must be stainless steel as other materials react with the lye)
Thick plastic pitcher (plastic #5 type is best)
Thermometer (candy making thermometer is fine)
Silicone Spoon or Spatula
Stainless steel spoon
Rubber gloves
Safety glasses/goggles
Soap mold
Kitchen scale
Immersion blender
Long sleeves and/or apron to protect clothing
Newspaper, trash bags, butcher paper, etc, to cover table space
Microwave or stove to warm oils



Cover your workspace with paper or plastic trash bags. Cover yourself with long sleeves and/or an apron; put up your hair; put on safety glasses and gloves. Make sure your area is well ventilated.


Weigh your water into your thick plastic pitcher.

Weigh out your lye, and add it to the water. Stir thoroughly with stainless steel spoon. There will be fumes! Stir until all the lye is dissolved. The water will heat up to over 200 degrees!

Wait for the lye water to cool down, about half an hour, then begin to melt your oils. This can take awhile, depending on the size of your batch. We want them both to be right about 100 degrees.

Weigh all of your solid oils out into your stainless steel pot (coconut & crisco). Place them on the stove on medium-low to slowly melt. We are aiming for just melted - we want the oils to be right at 100 degrees. OR you can use your microwave. This mixture only takes about 1.5 minutes to melt fully in the microwave! Then add your liquid oils back and take the temperature.

Once your oils & lye are right about the same temperature, go ahead and add the ½ scoop of goat’s milk powder and 1 tsp honey directly to your oil. Stick blend until all the clumps and lumps are out. If you wait until after you add the lye, you may end up with chunks of powder and spots of unincorporated honey.

Carefully pour your lye water mixture into your stainless steel pot. Stick blend until the mixture emulsifies, or thickens. This is called ‘trace’. You want the mixture to be opaque along the edges, and to leave a ‘trace’ on the surface when you touch it with the blender. It will also have a distinctly soapy smell. If you don’t blend enough, your mixture will separate later, back into oil and lye; if you blend too much, you end up with a block of solid soap in your pot!

Add the tsp of oatmeal and stir in. Now is when you would add any herbs, fragrances, essential oils, colors, etc.

Pour into the mold, and wait 24-48 hours to unmold! Fill your pots with water and let them soak for at least 24 hours before thoroughly cleaning. This makes cleanup a lot easier, and no free oils get washed down the drain.

After unmolding, wait 4-6 weeks before using, so that your soap will harden, water will evaporate, and the chemical structure of the soap will actually change, and it will become milder over time.

Lacy Bell-Putnam 


*Lye Suppliers:

Bulk Apothecary

Bramble Berry

Essential Depot


Check with local hardware stores, but do not use anything that is not 100% sodium hydroxide!


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