Introduction to Liquid Soap Week, Day One 14

As I mentioned back on November 12th, I have finally found my testing crock pot. During the time that has passed, I’ve been reading the Making Natural Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor. Here are my thoughts and observations from the first chapter.

Overall, the information from the first chapter of this book is good and I do not have any argument with most of it. However, I would like to clarify a part about preservatives and antioxidants of the “Other Key Ingredients” section. The difference between a preservative and an antioxidant is this: A preservative helps prevent the growth of Yeast, Mold, or Bacteria or a combination thereof. An antioxidant helps slow the oxidation rate of any excess fats. Since liquid soap is diluted, we do need to take precaution if we don’t know the end user and treat our products so. Bar soaps do not need this extra precaution because they are a solid bar and not diluted at all. This would mean that our liquid soaps require the use of a preservative like Liquid Germall Plus. You can also add an antioxidant like Vitamin E or Rosemary Oleoresin (Rosemary Oil Extract) if you desire.

Now, are you ready to start making liquid soap?

Collect needed items:

Coconut Oil
Sweet Almond Oil
Potassium Hydroxide
Water (I used Reverse Osmosis.)
Soap Spoons
Crock pot or Double Boiler system
Safety goggles, anti fog are helpful
Heavy duty gloves
Immersion blender
Work clothes with long sleeves and closed shoes
Microwave for heating oils (If you are using the crock pot)
Containers for the finished soap
Recipe in ounces:
9 oz weight Sweet Almond Oil
23 oz weight Coconut Oil

7.52 ounces Potassium Hydroxide
12 fluid ounces Water

Time spent:
Weighing time: 8 minutes
Heating of oils time: 2 minutes
Adding Potassium Hydroxide to water: 15 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of stirring
Pouring Potassium Hydroxide solution into the fat mixture: 30 seconds
Using immersion blender to mix soap solution to a paste: 5 to 10 minutes
Stirring the paste down during the puffing stage: 3 minutes
Cook the paste: 20 minutes
Stir the paste: 90 seconds
Repeat the cook and stir times until 3 hours have passed.
Test for excess fatty acids: 5 minutes
Dilute soap: 1 hour
Allow soap to cool: 24 hours

To begin making my liquid soap, I started preheating my crock pot since according to the book, my oils needed to be around 160° F. This temperature does not need to be precise. As the crock pot heated, I weighed my oils and melted them in the microwave until they had reached the recommended temperature. I poured the hot oils into the heated crock pot and then weighed the Potassium Hydroxide. Now it is time to add the Potassium Hydroxide to the water. When I combined the two and stirred, I was very surprised to hear an odd boiling sound coming from my beaker. This reminded me of the sounds that a canner can make when used to seal jars in a hot water bath during the food preservation process. I was a little nervous at first, but I soon relaxed as the sound stopped after the solution was completely mixed. At this point, the Potassium Hydroxide solution should have cleared out and can now be added to oils in the crock pot. It is best to add the solution in a slow and steady stream to prevent splashing or clumping in the pot.

Now we can start stirring to combine the Potassium Hydroxide solution and oils. I used the immersion blender and began mixing. It takes a longer time to mix together than if I was making cold process soap. At first this odd concoction doesn’t want to mix at all and it looks like a badly behaving soap that has soap chunks with lots of extra water and oil! Yikes! I continued stirring as the book directed and as everything started to mix better, this mess in the crock pot started to thicken and actually resemble a soap batter that had failed and now looked like cottage cheese. The soap was not so fluid any more and then almost instantly the soap turned into a thick, sticky batter. At that point, I saw what Failor had meant of a consistency of “sticky, saltwater taffy.” I would have said the soap looked like a shaggy, sticky quick-bread dough, but the sticky, saltwater taffy description works well and is easily imagined. I could no longer use the immersion blender as the soap was so thick. I grabbed the whisk attachment for the blender, switched out the blending blade for the whisk and continued to mix the soap.

Right after I had switched the mixing attachments, the soap started to puff and I had to stir well to prevent a soap overflow in the blog kitchen! I was able to stir the soap down and the puffing stopped after about 3 minutes. Once the puffing was over, I was able to place the lid on the crock pot and set a timer for 20 minutes. I remained in the blog kitchen working on other projects so I could keep an eye out for any problems with the soap.

After 20 minutes, I stirred the soap. The soap still had an off-white appearance, but I wasn’t worried. I continued to stir the soap every 20 minutes until 3 hours had passed. I watched the soap change from looking like an off-white lumpy mass to look like a translucent chunky petroleum jelly. When the soap reached this translucent stage, I boiled 2 ounces of water and added 1 oz of soap to the water. After stirring until the soap was completely dissolved, I allowed the soap sample to cool. Yippee! The sample was completely clear and I was so excited about having a clear soap sample that I think I scared everyone who was working in the vicinity of the blog kitchen. Whoops!

Once I had the cooled sample, I could start diluting my soap into a liquid soap instead of making a paste. I added 64 ounces of water to the crock pot and allowed the soap to cook for about an hour. This allowed the dilution occur slowly without adding lots of bubbles.

Since I had used a superfat of 2%, my soap did not need to have any adjustments for the pH. I verified this by adding 30 grams of diluted soap to 20 grams of phenolphthalein (fee-nol-THA-leen) and the mixture remained clear. According to the book, this means that there are extra fatty acids that are good for the soap.

In one way, I did not follow Failor’s instructions. I did not feel comfortable with making a soap that had an excess of Potassium Hydroxide, so I used the Lye Calculator and calculated a 2% superfat. I figured that if the soap was cloudy, it would still be usable and just be a learning experience.

The Coconut Oil & Sweet Almond Oil Liquid Soap samples have been sent to the Shipping Department to send out in orders. I’m excited to say I have approximately 100 samples of this liquid soap! I would love to hear your comments about this liquid soap. I hope that anyone wanting a sample soap will request one with their order and if we have any samples we will send them to you.

How cool is this? We’ve just finished our first batch of liquid soap!

Tomorrow I will show you how to make an Olive Oil and Coconut Oil soap that was requested by Amy. She wanted to see a batch that used these oils so she could try making liquid soap again!

The crock pot is ready to preheat.

The oils are ready to melt.

The Potassium Hydroxide and water are ready to mix.

Adding the Potassium Hydroxide to the water.

Stirring the Potassium Hydroxide solution.

Slowly adding the Potassium Hydroxide solution to the oils.

Beginning to stir the Potassium Hydroxide solution and oils together.

Continuing to mix the oils and Potassium Hydroxide solution.

The soap still wants to separate.

The beginning of the cottage cheese stage.

The cottage cheese stage is progressing.

The soap has started puffing!

Trying to reduce the size of the puffy paste.

The soap paste after the puffy stage.

The mixed soap paste is ready to cook.

Soap after 20 minutes of cook time.

Cooking soap after 40 minutes.

Cooking soap after 80 minutes.

Cooking soap after 140 minutes.

Testing the soap.

Clear liquid soap after being completely cooled.

The soap is ready to change to the taffy stage.

Beating the soap back to the paste.

Mixing the puffy soap paste.

Mixing the soap paste.

Putting the lid on the crock pot.

Stirring the cooking soap after 40 minutes.

Cooking soap after 60 minutes.

Cooking soap after 100 minutes

Soap after 3 hours of cooking.

Cooling diluted soap.

Diluting the complete batch of soap.

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Introduction to Liquid Soap Week, Day One, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

About Andee

Director of Happiness. I'm a thirty-something soap snob. I've grown up with handmade soaps, and I love them! I really like making lotions, soaps, and perfumes. I adore mixing scents to come up with something new. My favorite scent is either Wicked or Cotton Candy. I tend to hoard fragrances, I even have an Earl Grey Tea from the MMS catalog. I won't tell you how old it is, but it sure is good!

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14 thoughts on “Introduction to Liquid Soap Week, Day One

  • AMaple

    What was the soap to water ratio in weight at the dilution? Was it 1:2 like your test sample?

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  • GotWickDotCom

    I read somewhere that the reason for the “excess” KOH in Failor’s book is to account for the fact that KOH is not 100% KOH, there is about a 10-11% water content, so that is why she uses “more” KOH.

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  • Debra LeRoy

    what fragrances to use in liquid soap that does not make it cloudy I will make a olive oil base liquid soap I hope I can use Love spell?

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    • Tina

      Any fragrance you choose that may cause cloudiness only needs a bit of alcohol to clear things up. The issue is with the soap and not the fragrance, the fragrance is just making the issue obvious. Go back to the soap and work a bit of alcohol into the mixture. To prevent you will need a bit more lye to complete the saponification process.

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  • erin

    Hi ,
    You mentioned with the liquid soap adding preservative maybe, I didn’t see it in your ingredients though.

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    • Andee Post author

      You are right. I did not mention a preservative in my ingredients listing. When I made this batch of soap, I used Liquid Germall Plus at 0.5% for the final dilution of soap. I hope this helps!

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      • Erin

        I finally tried my first batch. I knew it wasn’t going to work the first time so I made a super small batch. It’s still cloudy after 4-5hrs. Maybe it is the cocoa butter that is causing my problem or not enough lye. Here is my recipe:
        2.5 oz Virgin Coconut Oil
        2 oz Olive Oil
        1 oz Castor Oil
        0.5 oz Cocoa Butter
        2 oz Water
        1.25 oz Potassium Hydroxide

        The consistency is a thick paste. But not clear and translucent. I was thinking it was done because the appearance hasn’t really changed in the last hour. Any ideas?

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          • Erin

            It was in the crock pot on low for this long. Then I let it sit overnight added a bit of water next day and let it cook for another hour and it seemed to get to the next stage. Maybe not enough water? (looked almost dried out, maybe burnt?)

            So then I tried to dilute (with boiled distilled water) because I thought it was good to go, it’s not cloudy anymore. But I just can’t dissolve all the paste. It seems to be all dissolved and I get excited, so I let it cool. But then I let it cool down and I get a thick pasty layer on top. It’s mostly the bubbles on top that after cooling turn into the paste again. The rest is great though.
            I think I may just throw out and try all over again 🙂

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            • Tina

              Peel off the paste like layer and put it in a net bag for the shower. I think your soap sounds great! Real liquid soaps do not act like synthetic detergents that are liquid.


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          • Erin

            I did in my crockpot on a low setting. I then let it sit overnight and the next day added a bit of boiled (distilled) water. After about an hour I checked and it was more translucent. So then I added more water and hoped it would dissolve. Most of it did dissolve but then there was like a layer of paste on top after it was all cooled. So when back at it and added more water stirred there was a layer of soapy bubbles on top from stirring. Then again after letting it cool again the thick pasty film on the surface, but a nice soap underneath.

            I think I’m going to throw out and start again. After the first 3-5 hours it was like it could have been dried out? or burnt even? Should I have added more water? Maybe my second try will be better 🙂

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            • Tina

              I don’t think you have converted all the oils to soap. The cloudy appearance is telling you that there are fats that are not reacted with the lye. The soap will dry out on top because it is exposed to the dry air in our rooms. I am not worried about your soap. I think it is fine.


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