Crockpot Castile Soap

When I started making soap, I learned from the book Handcrafted Soap, by Dolores Boone. It is well worn – though I don’t follow the recipes, I follow the technique. I love the hot process soap method because it is fast and pretty hands-off. My style. My soap can be in the molds in about an hour and half, with only 15 minutes of hands-on time. Then the next day, it takes about 15 minutes to cut up the bars. Half hour soap! :D

I call my soap castile soap, though it is not true castile soap (100% olive oil). The olive oil makes a very hard bar of soap, but it takes sooooo long to bring to trace (you’ll see what that is) and to harden, that I prefer to use half coconut oil and half olive oil for the major oils. I use castor oil for conditioning, just a bit of it. And I add stearic acid, just a bit, for hardening. You can also use beeswax for hardening. I have done both. Beeswax tends to boil over more in the crockpot than stearic acid. Been there, done that. (When soap gets too hot.)

My recipe has been run through the Lye Calculator at MMS Sage. This is a fantastic tool – so thorough and so easy! You put in your oils and it pushes out the proper amount of caustic (in this case, sodium hydroxide or lye). When I make soap, I want there to be a bit more oil — this is called super-fatting. The oil and the lye are going to chemically react to produce soap, but there’s no way we can count all the molecules and make sure this chemical reaction is totally even. We don’t want to end up with lye unreacted! By super-fatting, we ensure that extra fat is left unreacted (instead of extra lye unreacted).

On the Lye Calculator, MMS Sage gives you amounts of lye to use depending on the percentage of super-fatting. I choose 5% super-fatting. This means there’s 5% excess fat and ensures all the lye is reacted/turned into soap. Make sense?

Take a look at this: a PDF of the results of running my amounts of oil through the lye calculator at MMS Sage. On that you can see the various percentages of super-fatting in my recipe.

In this post is my adaptation of the method in Handcrafted Soap by Dolores Boone. I see her book is out of print on Amazon? I don’t have time to chase it down, but just in case you can’t find it, I’ll also include a paraphrase of her method that I typed up a few years ago for a friend. I haven’t edited it or looked at it since. :) Here it is.

Safety Equipment

  • Protective clothing
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Long-sleeve Shirt
  • Safety glasses or face shield

Equipment (not all may be used in this recipe)

  • Cookware — stainless steel pot for melting oils
  • Crockpot — older models don’t heat as hot, which is a benefit
  • Digital scale
  • Stick blender
  • Glass measuring cups
  • Small glass bowls (for smaller measurements)
  • Long-handled plastic spoon
  • Rubber spatula
  • Metal ice cream spade
  • Funnel (filling molds)
  • Pitcher filled with soapy vinegar mixture

Ingredients (by weight, unless noted)

  • 26 ounces pomace olive oil
  • 26 ounces coconut oil
  • 2 ounces castor oil
  • 1.2 ounces stearic acid (optional, for hardening)
  • 8.38 ounces sodium hydroxide (lye)
  • 14 to 20 ounces distilled water — not by weight (I use 18 ounces)

Note: if you omit the stearic acid or change any oil kinds or amounts, rerun the lye calculator at MMS Sage. If you use beeswax instead of stearic acid, use 1.5 ounces (and run it all through the calculator).


Measure the solid oils (oils which are solid at room temperature) using a scale (tared to eliminate the weight of the glass measuring cups). Pictured: coconut oil and stearic acid.

Put in a pot on low heat to melt slowly – don’t let them get too hot! I usually remove from heat when there are still tiny bits of unmelted oil.

Measure the liquid oils (oils which are liquid at room temperature) and put in the crockpot. Turn on to low to let the oils heat gently. Once again, don’t let it get too hot! I use an old crockpot that doesn’t get that hot. Cover while heating (not pictured).

When the solid oils are just about melted, add to the liquid oils in the crockpot and cover.

Measure the distilled water in a 4-cup measuring cup (not pictured). Measure the sodium hydroxide (lye) by weight into a separate, smaller measuring cup. Wear protective clothing and safety equipment when working with lye.

Carefully, while stirring, pour the lye into the water. I like to do this underneath the stove’s vent, so the fumes go outside. Stir until all crystals are dissolved. It will get very, very hot, so don’t touch the glass container. Leave under the hood, with the fan on, for about 5 to 10 minutes to cool down.

Again while stirring, and pouring carefully (impossible to do while photographing), add the lye/water solution to the oils in the crockpot. Use a soapy/vinegar/water mixture in the sink to rinse the containers and utensils that touched lye to neutralize this caustic.

Stir briefly, then switch to using a stick blender and blend until the mixture reaches “trace” — which is when it thickens. It will go from clear to opaque, and resembles vanilla pudding when done. The mixture, when dripped off the stick blender, will stay in visible ridges, rather than the mixture collapsing back into a smooth top. With this soap, it takes about 2 to 3 minutes. With pure olive oil soap, it can take 5 minutes or more to achieve trace.

Cover and let “cook” for about an hour.

During the cooking time, the mixture will change back to translucent. It will raise up at the sides, like waves. This is after about 15-20 minutes in my picture.

By the end of the cooking, the whole mixture will be translucent and the center of the mixture will be collapsed with the “waves” rolled into the center. (My picture of this stage is not very good, but it does happen.)

Also, there may or may not be liquid pooled in the center low point. This is glycerin, a natural byproduct of saponfication (the soap-making chemical reaction). Just stir this back in – it is very good for your skin!

Turn off the crockpot. During the cooking time, prepare your molds. I use two plastic drawer trays lined with freezer paper. Usually, I use freezer paper (shiny side up). During this soap making, I was out of that, so I used parchment paper that I greased with coconut oil; worked fine.

Fill the mold(s) with the hot soap mixture. Tap up and down on the counter or a floor to evenly distribute the mixture. You can use your hands, but be careful and touch lightly as the mixture is very hot! (And you need it to be hot to fill the mold properly.)

Now the soap in the mold(s) need to cool/harden, at least overnight. The crock can be scraped clean for instant delight – soap that’s ready to use!

When hardened and cooled, lift the paper to pull the soap out of the mold(s).

Peel the paper off the soap block. Put the block on a cutting board and use a big knife to cut into bars.

The bars still need to harden significantly and will do this over time. Keep them in a cool location with good airflow. I keep a tray of upright bars in my bathroom. We use one, the rest age, we use another, the rest keep aging… If upright, more air can flow and they’ll harden more evenly and faster. Rotate them infrequently if you’d like.

So I think that is it! If I missed anything, please ask, and I’ll try to clarify. :D Enjoy!


  1. Wardee, This is great! I need a fool-proof, less time way to make soap. We had given it up for a while, but I want to get back to it. My questions: 1. Do you have dedicated things for this you use only for soap-making (the crockpot, tools, blender, etc.) or does the warm water/vinegar, soap wash mean you can still you everything again for food prep? 2a. Where do you find stearic acid? 2b. How would you substitute the beeswax for the stearic acid?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi, Stephanie!

      Oh, those are good questions. I figured I probably forgot some things.

      1) Yes and no. The utensils, measuring cups, crockpot — all rinse clean with the vinegar/soapy mixture, so I use those for everything. The stick blender is the only thing that I reserve only for soap making and that is because stuff gets up inside it that I can’t wash clean.

      2a) I buy stearic acid from or

      2b) The lye calculator has a field for beeswax, too. I used 1.5 ounces of beeswax. Just run the whole recipe through the calculator to see if the lye amount changes.

      (And I found a mistake – I use 1.2 ounces of stearic acid in this recipe, not 1.8 as I wrote — so I’m going to go edit that.)

      • Arggh…. I typed the wrong amount of ounces for coconut oil and olive oil, too! They both should be 26 ounces (not 28 ounces, as I had previously typed). So sorry!

    • Heather says:

      This looks great. I’m really excited to try the recipe. We were in Mexico recently and the apartment we rented had home made bar soaps. One had anise seeds in it. Do you think I could just mix some in? My husband loved the soap?

  2. Holly Michele says:

    I’m too lazy to make my own soap, or maybe just too inepted! lol. We use the Bronner’s castile soaps, but that can get pricey. May I ask the approximate cost you would spend to make these bars? I guess I would like to know if the time and energy is worth it to you? Also, those are alot of soaps you cranked out. How long does say one bar of soap last for you compared to say a bottle of body wash? Just curious. And thank you for updated this blog, Wardee! I always enjoy reading it. Good bless you and your family along your journey toward self sufficiency and discovery.

    • Holly – Last time I calculated this, the batch cost about $10. It makes 24 bars of that size in the picture. They are 1″ thick and 2×3 length by width. I think it is worth it – it lasts several months, takes 1/2 hour of my time, and costs $10. I can’t compare a bar to a bottle of body wash. I think these don’t last as long as other bar soaps because they are more soft. But I only make soap a couple times a year, so they last for awhile.

      • Homeinsteader says:

        Hello! I haven’t put this to the test yet, but it is my understanding that the longer soap “hardens off”, the longer it will last in usage – makes sense. That is why, even if you PURCHASE bar soap, take it out of the wrapper and let it harden off for a few days, then put it away. It will last longer. If you make your own laundry detergent calling for flaked bar soaps, let them harden off for a few days and they will be much easier to flake (that I have tried, and it does work!).

        Blessings, all!

      • It’ll last longer if you keep it dry in between uses, so using a soap saver or draining soap dish helps a lot. Also the longer it is allowed to cure/harden the longer a bar will last. I had a bar of peppermint that had cured a year that last over 6 months with our family of 4, it would have lasted longer but since I make & sell soap I wanted to try out some of the other varieties so I tossed the peppermint bar in favor of a vanilla bean :-)

  3. Kirsten says:

    This is a very interesting technique. I’ll have to try it. I tried the stick blender this last week and blew out a brand new one. It popped and sizzled and didn’t like running 5 -8 minutes straight. But, at least it was better than stirring for an hour waiting for the trace.

    Question: What does the cooking phase do for your soap? Does it make it set up faster or cure quicker?

    I am just fascinated by this new(to me at least) way. ;-)

    • Kirsten – The cooking phase speeds up the saponification – the chemical reaction. So you end up with soap in an hour instead of weeks. Trace is quicker and the whole reaction is quicker. Another benefit is that if you add fragrance, you add it at the end, and it doesn’t get messed up by the chemical reaction.

      The downside is that this soap is usually not as smooth because you put it in the molds when a gel instead of a smooth liquid.

    • Kirsten – And also, google “hot process” and you’ll get LOTS more information than I can provide. :D

    • Lady Angel says:

      You dont need to use your stick blender in the *ON* position for 3 to 5 minutes strait!! That in itself is a sure fire way to burn them out!! You only need to do short 5 to 10 second blasts, then use the stick blender to stir for a few minutes, then blast it again for a few seconds, and stir — do this off and on until you reach Trace.

      The problem I used to have was using my plastic shaft blender in the crock pot- – – I have melted and destroyed 2 of them– but the motors are still running fine!! LOL

      I recently bought 2 new stick blenders with Stainless Steel shafts (and they came with other accessories- so thats a plus!) One is for just Soaping, and the other strictly Kitchen use.

      Hope this helps! Happy Soaping!
      Lady Angel

    • Lady Angel, you don’t have to run the stick blender the ENTIRE 5 minutes. Run it for a few seconds, then with the motor off use it to stir a little, then run it for a few seconds (20 – 40 seconds), then with the motor off use it to stir a little. It may take a little longer to get to trace, but you won’t be burning up the motor. No stick blender, even one with stainless steel shaft, is made to run for 5 minutes straight (the manual usually says no longer than a minute or so depending on the brand and model). I’ve owned 4 of them, all different brands, and they all have cautions in the manuals against running for that length of time.

  4. @Holly, Thanks for the question about costs. I was thinking about it and came back to ask and here it was!

    Now I am really motivated!

    @Wardee, My dh suggested getting a paint mixer for the drill to use for soap (he thought it was my most frugal and sturdy option). We’ve used them in the past for buckets of peanut butter, but I’m a little concerned about using it in a crockpot. Any thoughts?
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Been there =-.

    • Stephanie – I have no idea about a paint mixer, because I’m totally unfamiliar with that contraption. :D You’re thinking to use it instead of the stick blender?

    • I’ve tried the paint mixer in making my soaps. Both cp and hp. Stick with the stick blender. The paint mixer method will mix it but it takes just as long as hand stirring to bring to trace! With the stick blender the results happen within minutes.

  5. Wardee – thanks so much for posting this! I’m going to try. I’ve always wanted to make soap. Here are my questions –

    Can you typically find stearic acid and lye in the store? What section would they be in?

    What is ‘pomace’ olive oil?

    Do you think you could use electric beaters instead of the stick blender?

    Have you ever put essential oils in the soap? I’m thinking tea tree or peppermint?

    What are those drawer trays? Like for a silverware drawer? Or a fridge drawer?

    Does the soap suds up when you use it? Do you only use it as body wash or have you used it as a shampoo bar?

    Can’t wait to try this!

    • Tara –

      Stearic acid – I’ve only ordered it online from soap places, like and . I doubt it would be at the hardware store. Lye you can get at some hardware stores, I think, but it might have to be special ordered. You would have to call your hardware stores and ask if they carry it. I order mine from or I go to Glorybee (in Eugene) and buy it there.

      Beaters – no, it would splash all over and be very caustic at that stage. I’d advise against it. Even the stick blender can splash initially, until thickening happens. But the stick blender tends to contain the blending to a small area, and I don’t think beaters could. I could be wrong though.

      Essential oils – no, I haven’t. We don’t typically prefer fragrance. But this method of soap is actually better for fragrance than cold process because the fragrance is added at the end, after saponification. With cold process the saponification can do funny things to the fragrance, which are added before and during the saponification.

      Drawer trays – They’re in the kitchen/household organizing section, like for silverware drawers or utensils. They were only 99 cents or 1.99 each from when I used to shop at Wal-Mart. I’ve had them for many years. :)

      Suds – Yes, it suds very well – the benefit of adding coconut oil. We use it just for skin. It doesn’t make a good shampoo bar, at least on our hair. Oil builds up. I’ve tried it. My hair gets matted and built up with residue. Skin rinses clean though.

      Have fun!

    • Tara – forgot one of your questions.

      Pomace olive oil is kind of the cast-off olive oil and some refinement takes place to get it out of the olives after the finer olive oil is pressed out. It is cheaper and somewhat unfiltered. But any olive oil will do – I use that because it is the least expensive and very suitable for soap making. You’ll find it at a soap supply store. I’m not sure I’ll continue to use it because of the processing. I wouldn’t eat this olive oil, for sure. Anyway, I’m not settled on it and that is why. :)

    • I’ve read that pomace olive oil is better than virgin olive oil for soapmaking, as the saponification process destroys most of the good properties of virgin oil so there’s not much point in using expensive oil. I have seen pomace oil in 5 litre tins in supermarkets, it’s much cheaper than the small bottles of virgin olive oil!

      • Delores Boone Kirkwood says:

        Not true Gayle. Saponification does not “destroy” anything good in an oils that made for the purpose of making soap. Depending on the composition of oils some can be used for soap, some only for cosmetics, and some can be used for both. How to tell? The basics. Is there enough of the soap making acids? Palmitic, Stearic, Oleic, Myristic , Linileic, Linolenic and lets not forget a touch of Ricinoleic (Castor) for its fine, creamier suds ? That is how I tell if an oil may be good in my soaps. If I still wonder, I make a small batch of the oil or butter into an one oil soap to see how it will preform. The best way to know what an oil will do is make a one oil soap. Then combine and work your way up if you can afford it. One of those mini-crockpots is perfect for ½ and one lb. batches to try. ????

  6. Sorry, Wardee… yes, instead of the stick blender. Nifty gadget, but all metal (no covering, like your stick blender). Usually has a long piece that secures into the drill and then a little (or large, depending on size) metal fan-type blade set up than mixes… I’ve only ever used them in plastic buckets for peanut butter, paint and drywall mud! Maybe I’ll just have to get one and test it and report back. Pray I don’t bust my crockpot! :*)
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Been there =-.

    • Stephanie – What kind of metal? If it isn’t stainless steel it will react with the caustic lye and you’ll get metal in your soap. I’d definitely not try it if it isn’t stainless steel. And I would worry about the exposed blades, but if you’re careful, you can work around that.

  7. Hmm.. not stainless, I’m sure… so that’s out. Thanks for the warning.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Been there =-.

    • I think you have a good idea there Stephanie. I was just in the paint store the other day, and although we have one for paint already, I saw some cast ones in there…like painted cast….that might work! I mean you aren’t eating it right? And they have different sizes of attachments to mix…from narrow to wide, so you could keep it rather contained I think. I’ve read all these comments…I think I’m going to try this! I’ve only ever tried the stuff you buy at Michaels and melt in the microwave, but this looks like fun! Thanks Wardee! Came to your site from Frugally Sustainable’s blog! wendy xo

      • Lady Angel says:

        I was looking online for paint mixers as well, mainly because I make a lot of liquid laundry soap– and the stick blender just isnt long enough! LOL I saw some that were plastic. . . may work for a huge batch of CP soap, not sure how it would weather for HP / or the heat of the crockpot. . .

        • I have used the paint mixers several times while making liquid laundry soap and they work great! You’re right Lady Angel, the stick blenders are just NOT long enough when mixing a 5 gallon bucket of soap!

          Great tips and thanks for posting the recipe Wardee; I will give it a try. I’ve been making laundry soap for a couple of years now and enjoy it. Love how clean my clothes come out of the washing machine and how great they smell coming out of the dryer. My daughter in law suggested we start making bath soaps, shampoo’s, as well as hair conditioners. I’m willing to try but am unsure of my own abilities. LOL! I’d appreciate any tried and true tips / recipes you may have ladies! Thanks and have a blessed day!

  8. Mmmm, love making soap!

    Kirsten: By any chance, when you are using your stick blender, are you keeping it close to the bottom of the container as you blend? Several years ago, when I began making soap, I burned out FIVE stick blenders over the space of about one year. It finally occurred to me that I was holding the stick blender too close to the bottom of the container as I blended, forming a suction. Once I figured that out I never burned out another stick blender again. :mrgreen:

    That’s interesting that you use Stearic Acid. I had read that could be used before, but have not used it in any of my soaps. Thankfully, it is not needed to make the soap! One less ingredient to buy. :lol:

    As soon as I get some shea butter I will finally be making some goat milk soap and a castile. Yea! I can’t wait to smell that yummy fragrance of raw goat milk soap. Yum! :D

    It’s beautiful, Wardee! :biggrin:

  9. Thanks for posting this! I can’t wait to try it but need to find an older crockpot first because I know my new one gets way too hot as it boils everything even on low. What size crock pot should I be looking for? I already have an older one but it only about 2 or 3 qts. I think and it doesn’t have a removeable liner.

    • I could not find a old crock pot and had to get a new one. I had seen on cooks country they lined foil between the crock and the heating element to prevent burning. This is what I did for my new crock pot and it seemed to help. I folded the foil in half making 2 sheets of foil. If you are using a large crock pot where the cord comes out is where the most heat is and if you have room you might triple layer the foil.

  10. Have you ever tried to make soap using your goat milk?

  11. This is WONDERFUL!! I make all of our cleaning products, but have never ventured into making bars. I just use the liquid castile. The steps you’ve laid out make it so accessible and unintimidating! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to give it a try (:

    .-= Michele´s last blog ..The 2010 She Speaks Conference =-.

  12. Wardee, This is my first time visiting your blog. Thanks for the post! I’ve always made cold processed soap, but think I may need to try this method for a change. I’m also considering taking your on-line course. BTW, I believe you went to college with my husband, Shawn. I think I may have met you years back and we have some mutual friends. (:

    • Hi, Katie! Of course I remember you — we met at least once, maybe more than that. I hear of your family sometimes through our mutual friends. Blessings! I hope to see you again.

  13. Ok, Wardee, think I have everything to try this except the forms. I haven’t been able to find the forms like you use anywhere. If I knew the size, my husband could probably make me some. Can you tell me what size they are? And it looks like you use two per batch, correct?


  14. Tammy – That’s awesome!

    You can use anything, really. No need to do exactly what I’ve done. My plastic drawer trays are:

    6″ x 15″ x 1-7/8″

    That’s width x length x tall. Yes, I used 2 of them.

    Have fun!

  15. Hi,
    Do you use a cheaper coconut oil as well? Our Coconut oil is so expensive I almost hate to use it.
    I am new to both of your blogs and I have just started looking around, I have to say you are a huge answer to prayer! Thanks for all the info! It is a real help to all the keepers of the home! God Bless you!

  16. Really neat article !

    I would like to ask what modifications would be necessary for someone looking to make “shampoo bar” ?

    thank you


    • Justin — I’m not really sure how to modify this for a shampoo bar. I’d google homemade shampoo bar recipes and try some out! Here is one I’ve made before. I gave them as gifts and didn’t try any myself, so I don’t really know how well they worked. Others told me they liked it.

      • Lady Angel says:

        To modify you formula for shampoo bars is easy. . .
        50% Olive oil
        25% Coconut oil
        20% Soybean (or Canola, Grapeseed, or Peanut oil– I found that Soybean is best and closest to Olive in beneficial properties)
        5% Castor Oil

        Run the above stats into s soap calculator, for the size/amount of the batch you are making, and to get the proper amounts for water and lye- – – I superfat my shampoo bars anywhere from 5 to 8%.

        Also to help with any build up / residue — just use 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to 2 cups warm water, after your rinse. Works wonders for build-up and dandruff!

        Hope this helps!
        Happy Soaping!

  17. I wish I can make soap and started to search for ingredients and process, but I have got discouraged when a lady whose business is making soap, told me that in order to buy lye you need special approvals and it is hard to buy it as a regular customer :(.

    • Alina, I think lye is hard to find locally. I order mine through and there is no special approval process. At least not last time I did it.

      • Not Ture. ACE hardware.

        • elaine peaslee says:

          lye can be found in the plumbing section of most hardware stores…that’s where I buy mine with no problems..lye is used by plumbers and such for unclogging drains I believe.

        • I think buying lye ddiffers from stte to state. I am in FL. We had to buy a case of 12, special order, because the meth dealers steal it from the stores forcing them to quit carrying it. When we picked it up, we had to show ID. In IL, my 76 yr old mother in law had the police show up when she went to pick up her special order, LOL! She was giving a soap making demonstration at “Pioneer Days”! Check with your local hardware store for details in your state law. I think you can order it online from anywhere, but shipping cost more than the lye, in my experience!

    • isn’t it just drain opener? 100% lye,most box stores should carry it.

  18. Maybe I’m just being stupid, but I’m confused about the first few steps. Clearly everyone else understands it better than me.

    You measure some stuff,
    “Measure the solid oils using a scale (tared to eliminate the weight of the glass measuring cups). Pictured: coconut oil and stearic acid.”

    melt SOME things,
    “Put in a pot on low heat to melt slowly – don’t let them get too hot! I usually remove from heat when there are still tiny bits of unmelted oil.”

    then measure the melted things again? Then put into the crockpot.
    “Measure the liquid oils and put in the crockpot. Turn on to low to let the oils heat gently. Once again, don’t let it get too hot! I use an old crockpot that doesn’t get that hot. Cover while heating (not pictured).”

    Then add new melted things?
    “When the solid oils are just about melted, add to the liquid oils in the crockpot and cover.”

    Which things are melted each step? Or do you do this for each oil seperately? And which oil do you add the stearic acid to during melting (it looks like it’s in with an oil the first picture after the measuring)? And what measurements are you looking for in the melted oils that wasn’t right for the solids?
    .-= Ludicrous Mama´s last blog ..Muffin Tin Monday- Circus! In a Roundabout Way =-.

    • Ludicrous Mama — Those are good questions, and I’m sorry for the confusion.

      When I say solid oils, I mean oils that are solid at room temperature. They need to be melted before putting in the crockpot. (I edited the post to reflect this.)

      When I say liquid oils, I mean the oils that are liquid at room temperature. They can go straight in the crockpot. (I edited the post to reflect this.)

      To be specific: the oils which go straight into the crockpot (I call them liquid) are olive oil and castor oil. The oils which need to be melted first (I call them solid oils) are coconut oil and stearic acid.

      The stearic acid is in with the coconut oil.

      • Hello! I’ll just add to the questions in this area.when you talk about measuring in the glass cups and weighing, in parenthesis, you talk about the weight of the cups. I understand that you have to eliminate the weight of the cups. So….what is the “tared”? I’m not sure what that means. I’m sure it’s something simple that I’m just not thinking of.

        Thanks so much,
        janice Conley

  19. Hi Wardee,
    When you “cooke” the soap in the crockpot, what setting do you use? low or high?

  20. Thank you, Wardee. I think that was the only question I have after reading this post and all the comments. :)
    I have just found your blog toninght as I was Googling about how to reheat food without using a microwave. I am just now begining to read more of your blog and your website. Your pay what you can for your Ecourse reminds me of Keith Green’s ministry. Such a blessing to many. I am still at your food posts and I will go over to your sewing tab after this. :)
    .-= Jenny´s last blog ..Made in USA =-.

  21. Love the blog! I’ve been making cold-process soap for years and someone had given me Delores Boone’s book ‘handcrafted soap’ years ago. I just tried it last week when I was alone in the house and had time to finish the process (which was really only minutes) before I was interrupted.

    I’ve noticed there are many questions about lye. I live in Canada, but I’m certain it’s the same in the States. I buy lye crystals in the local hardware store. You don’t need a special permit to buy it. You can also buy it at most plumbing supply stores. The special permit may apply in some states, but I’m certain it’s for the safety issue, which one can’t impress upon others enough. Always use it in a well-vented area if you don’t have a range hood (like myself, I live in a log house with no exhaust fans), always lean away from the measuring cup when you’re mixing it with your distilled water, and always wear long sleeves and long rubber gloves, so as not to splash any on your skin as it’s going to burn. It’s extremely caustic.

    I keep mine stored up high, on the top of my upper kitchen cupboards, just so there is absolutely no chance of my grandson getting into it.

    Love your blog! Great work! Cant’ wait to read more!!

    Have a wonderful day!


  22. I found some free vegetable oil, peanut oil, vegetable shortening, and linseed oil at a garage sale. The food oils are just starting to go rancid, but not so bad to smell really icky. Can I use these oils to make your soap recipe? Thanks!
    .-= Laura M´s last blog ..Thanksgiving- Quintessential Tightwad Holiday =-.

  23. Hi Wardee, I know you posted this awhile ago, but I can’t wait to make your soap. I am looking over at the soap dish and can’t seem to find pomace olive oil? Is that where you buy it from? If not any suggestions? Thanks so much!


  24. Hi Wardee,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and comments. I’ve searched many sites trying to educate myself on castile soap making.
    I’ve never made any kind of soap but recently found myself interested in making liquid castile soap. We have used Dr Bronner’s soap for many years and it can be very expensive. Especially since I’ve discovered other uses for castile.

    Do you have a recipe for castile that would leave it in the liquid form?


    • Sheila,
      I realize this post is over a year old, but thought I’d answer just in case you see it. Though I personally have never made castile soap in liquid form; it is my understanding that you would use potassium hydroxide (KOH) instead of sodium hydroxide (NaOH).

  25. eliyafa says:

    This is great, thanks for taking the time to shoot all the pictures. I’ve been making hot process soap for the past 10 year and usually do huge 5 kilo batches like this I get it out of the way ( I still don’t have a stick blender and I do the double boiler thing, it takes me half a day!). I have an old crock pot shoved in the corner of the storage room and this is a great way to make faster smaller batches. I’ll be able to experiment with all sorts of stuff now, thanks again.

  26. Wardee
    I love your blog. I am fairly new to soap making but have learned a lot of things by trial and error. I would like to share some things with your readers if you dont mind.
    First of all…be careful of getting advice from people who sell soap as a business. I have been misinformed on purpose several times. It is their way of keeping you from becoming competition. Not a very Christian way to be but that is life. Not everyone is nice or honest which leads me to my next point.
    The problem with lye is that illegal drug makers are using it so it has become a controlled substance just like allergy medicines. You can still special order it through hardware stores but they will ask you questions about how you intend on using it. The makers of drain cleaners are also adding other chemicals to it now so that the drug makers cant use it. The problem is that you cant use it for soap either. The other chemicals will ruin your soap. Make sure you use only 100% lye.

    Pomace olive oil is a nice Italian way of saying cheap olive oil. It is the last squeeze of the olives therefore it has more olive bits in it. The color and the odor is darker and stronger. The flavor is not very good so it is not great for cooking. Thats why chefs use extra virgin. It is the first press of the olive and has a more pure clean flavor and smell. It makes great soap but really jacks up the price since it is a lot more expensive. If you are going to add any kind of scent or coloring to your soap I would recommend EVOO so it doesnt compete with the scent or color.

  27. I’ve been “researching” (i.e. looking up every website that seems helpful) making soap before I try it and had a couple of observations.

    Every sight I’ve read says to never use more than 30% coconut oil because it makes the bar drying. Do you find that to be true for yours? Or is it balanced out by the olive oil?

    Also I’d love to infuse my oil with fresh herbs to use in soap. Do you think the hot process or even cold saponification will mess up the finished smell?

    Thanks for your post. These are great, clear instructions that helped me feel as though I could really do this one my own.

  28. Hi… I just bought the Handcraft Soap book. Like the instructions inside. I wonder if you could help me with a recipe I got but not sure how to incorporate into a lye calculation.

    I plan to make insect-repellant soap bars for my husband since he is so attracted to mosquitoes. I have a recipe for 5 ml citronella oil, 5 mil lavender essential oil, 5 ml cedar leaf oil, and 10 ml lemon oil. This is for a milling process but I was hoping to start a fresh batch and not using lard or tallow.


  29. Hi Wardee
    Wow – I am going to try this-
    How can I make a liquid version of this?
    Thanks Binika

    • Potassium hydroxide is used in place of sodium hydroxide when making liquid soap. I have not tried liquid soap so i don’t know what other adjustments are needed.

  30. I’d like to add pecan meal to this recipe…any thoughts as to how much…and will it affect lye???

  31. Christine says:

    What size crockpot do you use?

  32. Christine says:

    Not sure what I did wrong, but I got the the “cover and let “cook” for about an hour. Walked into the pantry to put some items away and when I returned the soap had expanded and ran down the side of the crockpot and luckily into the sink where I had placed to crockpot. Everything I did looked exactly like your pictures. HELP!!

    • Christine — That’s usually a sign that the soap mixture is too hot. When you see it getting higher and higher (which can happen quickly) turn off the crockpot and let the lid vent to reduce the heat.

  33. Couldn’t you melt the solid oils in the Crock-Pot and then add the liquid oils?

  34. Have you ever added water to your soap after the cooking stage to make liquid hand soap or shampoo? I am looking for a way to make liquid that I don’t have to make soap then grate it and recook it.

  35. I am excited to try this! One quick question though, I have lavendar bushes, and I want to make lavendar soap. What do you recomend for this.
    Tanya Leavitt´s last blog post ..Dream card (4" x 4")

  36. Delores Boone says:

    Thank you for helping new soap makers. ;o) One thing about new recipes. Until you know what a new recipe will do in a crockpot (where you are at) only fill the pot 1/2 way (oils, water and lye) to prevent boil over. Waxes and saturated fats heat hotter than other oils. I have a Rival and cook on low only. Never high.

  37. I just made a batch of this soap yesterday. I used coconut milk as my liquids. The lye/milk mix curdled and thickened a lot in just a few minutes. Everything went together okay and looked like pudding like you described. But it STINKS! I think it’s an ammonia smell. It got better as it cooked, but it is still bad. I ended up melting it all down today(it’s still melting) so I can cook it longer. I hoped that would solved my problem. But I just don’t know. Also 1 hour of cooking didn’t seem long enough. One website said that when they thought it was done, they would take a small amount and let it cool and tap it on their tongue. If it was like a 9V battery that meant the lye was still active. Mine is like that. Is the smell because of the milk? Is it ruined?

  38. I am a beginner at soap making, and have a question about the oils that can be used. Can fish oils be used in soap making, if so, what are the benefits, and or disadvantages in doing so? I would think the soap would be very slippery, would it affect the shelf-life, the oils going rancid, or would the saponfication process fix that? Would all fish oils have the same INS value and what would that value be?
    Another question, I would like to use tee tree oil for the super fat, does tea tree oil have an INS value?, I didn’t see it on the list in the lye calculator, and the amount to use for the usual batch size, 1 to 2 oz maybe. From what I’ve learned, tea tree oil would be a very good addition to a beauty bar. Thanks, for your instruction here, you make it look so simple, I hope my experience goes that well.

    • George — Tea tree oil is not really an oil. Essential oils are not oily. If you want to use them and keep their benefits (destroyed through heat), you should do cold process soap. It is a good addition, but with cold process (in my experience — just made some).

      • Wardee, fragrance and essential oils are both put into hot process soap AFTER the cook so there should be no difference in the processes. HOWEVER, with low flash point essential oils one needs to regrigerate their EO’s in the freezer while the soap is cooking, stir down to do a major cooling off and them slowly add those EO’s.

  39. I don’t use disposable, and am wondering if you can use something other than parchment paper for molds. Would a flexible plastic mold do the trick? Thanks for a helpful, demystifying post!
    Laura’s Last Ditch–Vintage Kitchenwares´s last blog post ..Vintage Garment Bags Department Store Vinyl Zipper Storage for Dress / Suit by LaurasLastDitch

    • Laura — Yes it would. Let the soap mixture cool though so you don’t warp your molds. I can’t remember the temp. You’d have to google how low to go for plastic molds.

  40. I have a lot of rendered lard and beef tallow in my basement. How would you adjust this recipe to use either of those as a key ingredient?

    • Stacy — Go to and type in the fats you’re using (and amounts) and it will give you the adjusted lye amount. One note: using more animal fat makes a less lathery bar so I’d recommend still using some of the coconut or palm oil.

  41. I buy 100% lye at the hardward store. It’s sold with the drain cleaner in the plumbing department — it is Red Devil brand drain cleaner but BE SURE to check that it is 100% lye (says so right on the front of the container – don’t use unless you are sure it is 100% lye).

    Pomace olive oil is extracted using hexane, a petroleum product. I only use regular olive oil – I usually buy it in the 3 litre can when its on sale at the supermarket. For coconut and palm oils, I buy online from columbus oils.

    • Thanks for the pomace tip Vicky! I started making soap in september, trying to reduce the chemicals my family is exposed to. I started with EVOO, then heard pomace is cheaper and comes to trace faster. Now I sure won’t buy it again!
      By the way, anyone who is making their own soap for environmental reasons (not talking to the frugal folks here) should look further into palm oil. Apparently global demand for it has led to deforestation and endangered orangutans. Certified sustainable palm oil apparently can be purchased, though it might cost more.
      For the person who was asking about waste-free molding, wooden molds can be purchased and many websites have instructions for making them.
      And someone else asked about making liquid Castile. I’ve done it. You do need potassium hydroxide. It took hours, but maybe it goes faster when you are familiar with the process. It is similar to hot process, but you keep cooking. I’m not sure if it’s good manners to mention someone else’s blog here, so I will just say that if you google homemade liquid soap you can find recipes and instructions.
      I do have a warning about it…I made a small batch and the liquid level in my pot wasn’t quite deep enough for the stick blender, so I was spraying the mixture all over. Be sure to wear goggles, gloves and long sleeves!
      Thanks for the great post Wardee!

  42. Great tutorial!! Thanks!! Btw, the “stick blender”, as a few people have referred to it, is a submersible blender. My ex was a trained chef, so I’ve only heard it called submersible until now. It’s not as easy to say, though. lol

  43. I was wondering about what temp you want your soap to cook at? When I do a hot oil infusion I fill crockpot with water and towel in the bottom, on low the water stays right at 125 degrees. Is this too hot? I haven’t made soap yet , but I hope to soon.

  44. I am allergic to palm oil and coconut oil (they make my skin fall off). You seem to use these a lot for their sudsing properties. What could I use instead?


    • You can use any fat, like tallow or lard, or another veggie oil. Just make sure to run it through the lye calculator. Doing 100% tallow or lard makes a non-sudsy bar, but a few ounces of castor oil will help with that.

  45. Hello Wardee :)

    I was wondering if I could add essential oils to this recipe and how much I would need to add.. and when I would need to add it. I want to make peppermint soap for Christmas.. Thanks!


    • Carissa — I use an ounce or two per batch of soap. However, I don’t recommend it with crockpot soap. The heat damages the good properties of the essential oils. A cold process soap is best for essential oils.

      • One does not add EO’s to soap when it is cooking. I use EO’s all the time with crockpot soap. They are added AFTER the cook, and some cool down.

  46. When do you add any fragrence? When could you also add and color. Thanks. Can’t wait to try.

  47. manuela pondoc says:

    do you sell them? I’m very much interested. thank you.

  48. I happendd to see your recipe for this wonderful soap……………made it today and love it.
    Thank You so much for taking the time to put all of this including the pictures. It helped me so much.
    Thank You again!

  49. What size crock pot did you use?

  50. Thanks for the tutorial. I am curious to know though what size your crop pot is. Also…how long does it have to cure? Thanks!


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