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

Affiliate Disclosure | in DIY Beauty | by | with 512 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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512 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?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Amanda, the recipe for the shampoo bars can be found here: http://www.mommypotamus.com/shampoo-bar-recipe/

      • Jennifer says:

        Hello i had a few questions . On the laundry soap and bar soap and shampoo can you use coloring to change it from being white ? Also I seen the link you posted for the coconut oil I wanted to know what kind of coconut oil do you use their is so many different kinds ! Or witch ones could you use ? I love this and can’t Waite to try it thank you so much for sharing this !!

        • Mia says:

          bit of a novice here but I use unrefined cold pressed coconut oil from trader joes as its pretty good priced (5.99 for 16oz) and I have used it for ingesting and oil pulling and plan to for the body soap as well :)

          M

        • Katerina says:

          You can also purchase a giant tub of cold press virgin coconut oil from Costco for, I think, $26 and that’s Canadian so it may be less in USD.

  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.

    • Cat says:

      Claudia – That’s called Cold Process, and there is a four-week or so curing time. This is Hot Process, and the heat saponifies the soap far more quickly, so it’s ready as soon as it’s cool and dry.

  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 […]

  7. Guada says:

    Hi there, Im investigating over tooth soap and I would like to know if this home made coconut soap can be used to brush teeth (is it safe? does it have the correct ph ? ect)
    Thanks in advance! :)

  8. Annie says:

    I would like to make saponified coconut oil to use as foam soap. Do you have a recipe for that? Or have you tried it? Thanks!

  9. Mary says:

    Thank You Heather!…This looks wonderful and your video is super helpful in learning the process! I will try to make this one very soon for our family…I can hardly wait to do it! You are a wonderful teacher and I feel alot more comfortable trying to make soap now…skin bars, laundry soap and I may even try your recipe for the shampoo bars! This is great! Thank you again!!!

  10. Tamara says:

    i was wondering if you could add things to it such as oatmeal or herbs? Or would that mess up the process? Thanks

  11. Emma says:

    Thank you, Heather!

    The recipe sounds so easy I can’t wait to try it! The only problem is I’m not sure about the temperature. My crockpot is different from yours and there’s no such thing as ‘low’. So I wondering may you know how many degrees do I need?

    TIA

  12. Monique says:

    Can I use a 7 quart crock pot?

    • Heather says:

      It may overflow if you don’t keep an eye on it and stir if it starts to increase in volume, but you can try. :)

  13. Jenn says:

    Hi! I am planning on making a batch of your shampoo bars, and also the cleansing bars today. I gathered all of my ingredients, and with them, I also got a gorgeous canister of mango butter. My question is, can I incorporate some of that in with the cleansing bars? If so, how does that change the measurements? And does that get added in later or at the same time as the coconut oil? I am a total newbie at soap making and am really having trouble working with the lye calculator, so I am simply using the recipes that look good, like yours!

  14. Brittney says:

    Hi Heather! Thank you so much for the recipe and tutorial. I am so excited for my first soap making experience! I do have a safety question though…I read where you said that if using a wooden spoon, that spoon would need to be designated for soap making after that. By following your cleaning instructions with vinegar and followed up with soap, will I be able to use my crock pot, bowls, immersion blender, etc. again for food cooking purposes? Don’t want to poison my family 😉 Thank you!

  15. Jessica says:

    I will like to learn about soaps. Anyway I think u’doing great I like the way you teach

  16. Diann says:

    How do you use this bar in the washer?

  17. How Do I Make Coconut Oil | Herbal-Essentional-Oil says:

    […] How To Make Pure Coconut Oil SoapMommypotamus – Learn how to make coconut oil soap with just three ingredients – it’s probably the easiest soap you’ll ever make. Photo tutorial included. […]

  18. Amy says:

    I have been using your shampoo bar recipe for a while and love it!! I was wondering if this soap can be made with coconut milk instead of the water. Thanks!!

  19. Stefanie says:

    Hello Heather! Thank you for the amazing tutorial! You can also try using muffin trays lined with wax muffin liners instead of using the loaf pan, so that you won’t need to cut them up anymore. plus they’ll come out roughly the same size and shape. Much easier especially when making big batches for gifts during the holidays or for your online store. :)

  20. Lyn says:

    Hi
    I watched the video on the making of coconut oil bar soap….what do you do differently to make the laundry soap? Do you sell your homemade soaps?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Lyn, in the post I share two different recipes – one for a body bar and one for laundry soap. The process is exactly the same, but the ingredient ratios are slightly different.

  21. Roxanne starbuck says:

    I made these bars without the crockpot..do I need to let them sit a few weeks or can I use them within a few days…

  22. Homemade Body Wash RecipeMommypotamus | says:

    […] especially after one too many recent mishaps with my favorite shampoo bar and my tried-and-true coconut oil body bar. You see, they look identical, which is fine if you mix them up and shave your legs with the […]

  23. Natural Hair Care & Body Wash: Recipes & Recommendations - MommypotamusMommypotamus | says:

    […] other options are this luxurious pure coconut oil soap that can be made in a crockpot (again, only three ingredients!) and this nourishing sea mud […]

  24. Amy says:

    This is really great! How many ounces of soap does the batch make? I’m trying to compare prices between this and commercial soap. thanks!!

  25. natalia says:

    Hi, I am more used to litres than oz.
    I converted your measurements but I have a doubt: when you use ounces and oz. do you mean the same thing? Its just an abbreviation?
    Also, the temperatures you indicate are Fahrenheit o Celsius?

    • Heather says:

      Yes, oz. is an abbreviation for ounces, which can be measured by volume or weight. In this recipe, the ounces must be measured by weight in order to work.

  26. Haley says:

    I make my own soaps using a melt and pour base from bramble berry. However my mother and I are looking to make our soaps entirely ourselves. I just remelt the soap and add essential oil and fresh herbs and pour into molds. If we made these bars and let them cure for a couple of weeks could it be used as a melt and pour base then?

  27. Nick says:

    Hi Heather,

    I need your help. I’ve tried the coconut oil soap recipe twice with a cold process and both times the soap bar comes out with an amazing lather but is VERY drying to the skin afterward. I even tried to add shea butter the second time with 20% super fat thinking the extra fat would help moisturize but with no avail. Can you help me figure out how to make this soap really moisturizing and not drying? Thanks.

    • Heather says:

      It sounds like this particular oil may not a good fit for you – so sorry! Everyone is different, and sometimes skin responds better to certain oils/butters than others.

  28. Lynn says:

    Hi, I have been making my own laundry detergent for almost 2 years now. I don’t like the Nephla soap. Some times it dosent desolve even if I grind it really fine. After awhile I can even feel a “film” on my soft Rachel blankets and then I have to go back to using the All clear on the blankets until they return to their softness. I like this recipe a lot. I will have to try this along with your other soap recipes. Curious to try the shampoo bars. I thought that was funny, explain why your buying the lye. I had not known that info prior so that is a good tip and still hilarious lol. Also being able to use a cardboard box to make the soap thats a great tip espcially for those of use just starting out on making soaps. Thats great to know especially if we dont have extra change to purchase molds. After all we are going to be grinding it up ones its made. Thanks for sharing all these great diy recipes. I am just starting out making things at home and so far the things I have made are great and have saved me A LOT of money !

  29. Sabrina says:

    Can you provide directions to make this soap without a crock pot? Would putting the mixture in a non-reactive pot on lowest heat setting (warm) on the stove be effective?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sabrina, I plan to show how to make this recipe using the cold process method in the future. I’ve never used a stove top so I can’t say how that would work.

  30. Kathy says:

    I would like to make soap with different scents. Does the coconut oil recipe work with other essential oils without smelling like coconut?

    I also only have a 5 qt crock pot. Can I cut the recipe in half? Will it work?

  31. Susan says:

    Hi,

    I made the coconut soap recipe according to instructions. I got a beautiful, hard soap. I did not add any essential oils. It smelled good before it was used. After I used it once, it got a “mildew towel” smell to it. I dried it on a rack, plenty of ventilation. I used a wash cloth before applying to body. Now, it has a slight stinky smell. However, when I use it, even with that smell, it doesn’t make me stinky…lathers great, rinses off perfectly, and leaves me smelling and feeling very clean. I just don’t understand why the bar has that stinky smell. In all other ways, it smells great. What could it be?

    Thanks,
    Susan

    • Heather says:

      Hi Susan, I make this recipe pretty regularly without essential oils and have not had this issue. Unfortunately, I have no idea what could be causing it, sorry!

      • Susan says:

        Thank you, Heather. This was my first attempt at soap. It is a great recipe and really beautiful. I have made other’s since and am waiting for them to cure. I will see what happens with those. I will also make this recipe again, as I may have done something wrong. Still, it cleans great!! Thanks!

  32. Susan says:

    By the way, the deodorant is FANTASTIC!! It works better than any other commercial brand I have ever used!!!!!!

  33. Nikki says:

    Hi there! LOVE LOVE your blog and “empire” :)!!! I am attempting this creation this weekend and have found everything minus an 8QT crockpot (at a decent price) will a 6QT work or will there not be enough room for the soup to puff and move? I just wanted to make sure before I try it out- what a mess I will have it not. Please and Thank you!

  34. Jane says:

    I don’t see anywhere about cleaning up all the products. After soaking in vinegar, how do you wash them? Normal dish soap? Can the utensils & crockpot be used for other things because of the lye being one them?
    Your laundry soap looks likes powder. I don’t see the recipe for the laundry soap. Thank you for such a great website.

  35. Keely says:

    Has anybody tried adding things like dried herbs or ground oatmeal?

  36. Heather says:

    I have used this soap on my babies. It’s not tear-free, though, so I have always been careful to keep it out of their face. Most of my recipes are child-friendly, but a few are for grownups only. For example, I wouldn’t use the warming muscle rub on young children because it contains essential oils that I consider too strong for them.

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