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How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap (For Cleansing And Laundry)

Affiliate Disclosure | in DIY Beauty | by | with 467 Comments

How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap:  The easiest soap you'll ever make - only three ingredients! (photo tutorial included)

Amazing Lather? Check!

Simple ingredients? Yep, only three.

When it comes to soap, this is probably the easiest recipe you’ll ever make. And if you’re willing to break a few rules it can one of the most versatile, too. Here’s what I mean:

Traditionally, soaps are made from 5-7 oils blended to balance cleansing/moisturizing/and lathering properties. One of the well known “rules” is that a soap should be made of more than 30% coconut oil because it’s so effective at breaking up oil/grease that it can be drying.

Fortunately, there’s a way to simplify things without skimping on the end product – it’s called “superfatting.” Basically, you add the equivalent of “one quarter moisturizing cream” like big brands do, only you leave out the toxic slew of chemicals that usually go with it. By adding 20% more coconut oil than the lye can convert to soap, you end up with a luxurious body bar. Of course, this doesn’t work with most vegetable oils which go rancid easily – coconut oil’s high shelf stability is what makes it a good choice here.

The best part? Not only can you superfat and get the best of both worlds for your skin, you can break another rule and get your laundry clean, too!

How To Adapt This Recipe To Make Laundry Soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent RecipeNormally it is not advised to make soap with under 4% superfat due to the fact that it can be excessively drying and even burn skin if some of the lye remains unconverted, but for laundry soap it’s perfect!

I’ve found that using a 1% superfatted recipe yields a very cleansing bar with no extra oil. Since I’m washing my clothes to get oil OUT rather than put it IN, this totally works for me. I’ve actually washed my hands with this version and have never had any irritation from it, but it’s really only recommended for laundry.

Here’s the full scoop on making your own laundry detergent using just the laundry soap recipe below and one other ingredient. It’s been a tried-and-true recipe in my house for years, and lots of people have written me to say they’ve had amazing results with it also. Here’s a comment Hillary left after making laundry detergent with the coconut oil soap below:

“I washed a couple loads of laundry today- and it worked so well! Our laundry is always SUPER dirty too! My husband does mechanical work for a logging company and his clothes get REALLY dirty after crawling in, on, and under those greasy machines! I think the detergent cleaned it better than our natural detergent we were buying from Costco! I was very impressed, thank you! : )”

Click here to get the laundry detergent recipe

Now, About The One Rule You Can’t Break

One of the most common questions I get about soapmaking is how to make it without lye. As I share in five myths that have kept you from making soap (but shouldn’t!), both are needed to cause a chemical reaction called saponification – aka making soap.

Or, as Marie of Humblebee & Me put it, making soap without lye “is like trying to make a baking soda and vinegar volcano without the vinegar. No vinegar and you’ve just got a pile of baking soda. No lye, and you’ve just got a bucket of fat.” (Curious about the other four myths. Click here to read the whole article.)

Technically, you can actually wash your face with oil using this method, but it’s a totally different approach.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, are you ready to get started?

Video Tutorial: Making Coconut Oil Shampoo Bars

Before I started making soap, I asked a friend if I could stop by and watch her make a batch. She agreed, and that afternoon in her kitchen was what helped me become comfortable with the process. In the video below, I invite you into my kitchen to do the same. I’ll walk you through the method, and then you can scroll down this post for the exact recipe and written instructions to check as you go.

Looking for the shampoo bar recipe I mention in the video? Click the link below to access it:

How to make coconut oil shampoo bars

How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap (For Cleansing And Laundry)

Coconut oil soap recipe - The easiest soap you'll ever make - only three ingredients! (photo tutorial included)

Ingredients

All amounts are per weight. You will need to use a digital scale for these measurements.

 Lathering Skin Bar (20% superfat)

Makes approximately 44 oz. of soap.

Note: Because this soap is highly superfatted it can create a very dense lather when rubbed directly on skin. For a light, bubbly effect I recommend lathering with a natural sponge like this one.

Laundry Soap (1% superfat)

Makes approximately 44 oz. of soap.

* For soap making purposes there are several types of coconut oil. The stuff I buy has a melting point of 76 degrees. This is the most commonly available kind and the preferred type for soap making. There is also a coconut oil that has a melting point of 92 degrees and another that is “fractionated,” meaning that the long chain triglycerides have been removed, leaving only saturated fats. I have not tested this recipe with either the 92 degree or fractionated oils, but it works well with the 76 degree type.

** You can often find 100% lye in the drain cleaner section of a mom n’ pop hardware store. Lye is a naturally occurring substance that can be made by burning hardwoods and boiling the ashes, but it’s much easier to just buy. If you don’t see it, ask a sales clerk for help. They may be keeping it behind the counter because it has multiple uses. Be prepared to explain that you want to make soap, not meth. :)

Equipment:

Note: According to Anne Watson, author of Smart Soapmaking, you can use your regular kitchen utensils as long as you follow these guidelines.

Photo Tutorial:

Step 1: Weigh your ingredients and set your crockpot to low

weighing coconut oil for soap

Step 2: Add water to a medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl and take it outside along with the lye and long-handled spoon. While wearing your protective gear and taking care not to breathe the vapors, slowly add the lye to the water while mixing gently. Order is important here, so make sure it is the lye you’re pouring into the water.

adding lye to water to make coconut oil soap

The mixture will get very hot so be careful! Let it transition from cloudy to clear, then bring it inside. Let cool for 5-10 minutes while you work on step 3.

Step 3: Place coconut oil in a saucepan and heat to 120-130F. Make sure that your thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pot when taking your reading. (You can skip this step if you want to add your oil directly to the crockpot and wait for it to melt, but I prefer not to wait.)

melting coconut oil for soap

Step 4: Place coconut oil in your crockpot and set to low.

hot process coconut oil soap

Step 5: Add lye to crockpot (being careful not to splash) and stir a few times.

adding lye to crockpot for hot process soap

Step 6: Using the stick blender begin mixing toward “trace.” You’ll know trace is achieved when the mixture has the texture and thickness of a light pudding.

mixing hot process soap to trace

Step 7: Cover and let cook on low. During this process the oils should rise up the sides like a wave and then fold back into the mixture. Mine usually takes 45 minutes – 1 hour but the cooking time will vary depending on how hot your crock pot is. Check on it often.

hot process soap

Step 8: When the soap is ready it should look a little like semi-translucent vaseline with no oil puddles in the middle. There are two ways to test and see if it’s done. First, dip a PH test strip and wait several minutes for it to fully change color. It should be between 7-10. If it is higher than 10 it’s not done. For a slightly less scientific approach, take a little of the soap and rub it between your fingers. It should feel a bit waxy. Now touch it to your tongue. If it ‘zaps’ you, it’s not done. Note: It is really important to make sure all the lye is converted – otherwise the finished soap can burn!

testing hot process soap

Step 9: If you’re adding essential oils, wait until the mixture cools a little and then add them, otherwise they will lose their fragrance. (I skipped this, so no photo!)

Step 10:  Spoon mixture into your mold and let cool. If you want to speed up this process put it in the fridge

placing coconut oil soap in molds

Step 11: Unlike other bars which need to harden for 24 hours before being cut, coconut oil makes a very hard bar that will be difficult to cut if you let it dry too long. Cut as soon as it’s cool and firm.

Step 12: In an area with good air flow, place bars on a rack/tray with about an inch of space between them. Allow them to dry out and harden for another few days. Though you can try your first bar right away, it’s best to let them sit for 2-3 weeks to let the conditioning properties fully develop.

homemade coconut oil soap

Shelf Life

About 1 year when stored in a cool, dry place.

DIY Organic Beauty Recipes4

Want more organic beauty tips and recipes?

Check out my latest e-book: DIY Organic Beauty Recipes

In this 180 page guide, you’ll learn how ridiculously easy it is to make your own shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tooth whitener, body balm, soap, baby products and more.

Disclaimer: Sodium Hydroxide is highly caustic and should be handled carefully and knowledgeably. It is the soap makers responsibility to research safety procedures for soap making.

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467 Responses to How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap (For Cleansing And Laundry)

  1. Amanda says:

    I would like to try this recipe, but I’m not seeing the recipe for the shampoo bars. I’m wondering if it is the exact same for the laundry bars and you just also can use it for shampoo? Or is it a different superfat and I just don’t see it?

  2. Claudia says:

    Having looked around the internet everyone else just heats the fat to the same temp as the lye stirs the lye and mixes them, no crockpot. But from what I can make out theirs is not ready to be used for a few weeks. So can I make your recipe without the crockpot and leave it for a few weeks before I use it ?
    Also thank you for the info on the different types of coconut oil I have been using a cheap one for cooking I might have to cough up abit more in future.

  3. Laurie says:

    Hi! I made the soap today! I am so excited to try it! One problem I ran into was after I checked it at 25 minutes it was overflowing out the back of my slow cooker. It is the larger cooker and I had it on low. When I used it for food I always thought it was too hot. Do you think it is ok? Can it be done sooner if it is done at a higher heat? I did the “taste test” and got a little bit of a delayed zing.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Laurie, yes it could conceivably be done sooner, but your delayed zing experience makes me wonder. You may want to treat it like cold process soap and let it sit for a few weeks before using.

  4. Shaista says:

    Hi Heather Do you happen to sell this soap? I would be interested in purchasing.

  5. Debbie says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing your recipes. Does this laundry soap work in cold water washing?

    • Heather says:

      Yes it does However I’ve found that in order for it to dissolve it’s best to start the water on warm, add the soap and swish it in, then flip to cold and add the clothes. It takes me just a few seconds :)

  6. 10 Natural Remedies For Eczema - MommypotamusMommypotamus | says:

    […] Pure coconut oil soap with just three ingredients […]

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