Category Archives: Cold Process Soap

Pine Tar Soap Recipe

Pine tar is made from placing pine in a kiln and heating it until it becomes charcoal and pine tar, which drips down from the wood and is caught in a container.

Pine tar has been used for centuries for sealing wood, protecting rope from sea water, for bug bites and skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. Despite advances in modern medicine pine tar soap is still around and people with skin conditions still use it. As to if they are being old-timey or it’s still relevant in comparison I cannot say. It does however make a uniquely wonderful soap.

A caution however, when wood burns it releases creosote which is a carcinogen, most pine tar contains some creosote. But you also have to consider other interactions you may have with creosote for perspective, when you eat BBQ for instance, or use liquid smoke on your food, you are ingesting creosote. There is creosote free pine tar for those who wish to eliminate creosote though it can occasionally be hard to find closed kiln pine tar.

I has a very strong scent you will not be able to mask with a fragrance oil. It smells a bit like pine, rubber and smoke. Some fragrances that can work well with it are peppermint, patchouli, rosemary, cedar wood, tea tree and fir needle. You can also leave it unscented, eventually the pine tar scent will mellow. I choose to scent mine with Siberian Fir needle essential oil, it smells like pine trees and camp fire with a hint of kerosene.

There are several methods to adding the pine tar, it is recommended you add it to your oils before you add the lye water. Then blend it to thin trace and pour immediately. You can also add it just after emulsification at the thinnest trace but you should use a whisk once it has been added because it will thicken incredibly fast. Pour it as soon as you have it mixed well or it will solidify and you will be scooping and squishing it into your mold. If you add your pine tar at emulsification and whisk you should give yourself no more than 60 seconds from the addition of the pine tar before pouring, the faster the better.

This soap will be a bit soft in terms of unmolding. I let mine sit for a bit longer than usual before unmolding and cutting. I added extra water to this recipe to help with how fast it was going to thicken. I am planning on it taking 3-6 months for a full cure before this soap will be at it’s best.


317 g olive oil

272 g lard

91 g coconut oil

91 g palm oil

136 g pine tar

365 g distilled water

111 g sodium hydroxide


Aloha Soap


This was a really fun project, it looks a mess, but I had so much fun. I did this using the heat transfer method and adding the fragrance oil at about 100 degrees before I stick blended for maybe 20 seconds. I stopped blending at the lightest trace and hand mixed it the rest of the way. This gave me enough time to separate and mix 5 colors. There is some inconsistency where I did not mix well enough.

I took all of these precaution because I did a water discount, plus I used a floral fragrance It got thick fast at the end. I didn’t get as much color mixing with the chopstick as I wanted. I am testing out a new mica sampler pack from WSP. I had not used any of these micas before, I am mostly pleased by all of the colors except for the purple which faded out almost completely.

I poured all the colors in messy layers then dragged a chopstick through it for a little bit of displacement. After pouring I sprayed it with isopropyl alcohol and covered it in plastic. For the sake of the colors I wanted to fully gel this soap so I preheat the oven to 170 degrees F, then turned it off and put my soap in there and left it alone for 12 hours before I unmolded it.


Rose Clay Soleseife

I have a great love of salt bars and I have been wanting to try a brine soap. Soleseife is a German soap made from salt water and coconut oil, also known as Brine Soap or Salt Water Soap the salt makes for a smooth extremely hard bar of soap. The only difference between this and a salt bar is I am dissolving the salt into the water before I add the lye, I am using 80% coconut oil, 15% olive oil and 5% Sunflower oil with a 10% superfat. I added Breton sea salt at 25% of the water weight. I will split the batch once emulsified and fragrance is added and then add Bentonite clay to half and rose clay to the other. I expect this to have much of the same behavior as salt bars and harden quickly. I will use individual molds. because trying to cut a bar of this is just asking for disaster. This type of soap is ideal for using delicate soap molds.

This recipe can be fiddled around with a bit, just make sure it is properly recalculated with a soap calculator. Coconut oil is one of the only oils that can lather is salt water. However you want to keep the coconut oil content above 50% and superfat high, at a 10-20% range so that it is not drying. Clay usually makes for small bubbles so if you want big bubbles you would want to leave out the clay. I scented this batch with ‘bite me’ from Nature’s Garden.

If you are looking for an exfoliating bar of soap you can add the salt at trace instead of dissolve it, here is a link to a salt bar recipe.

Castile Cold Process Soap


What is and what isn’t Castile soap is always up for debate it seems. A lot of soap makers maintain that Castile soap is 100% olive oil, water, and lye and to replace some of the olive oil with other vegetable oils would make it Bastille soap. Which is still primarily olive oil in content but includes other vegetable based oils.

You can walk into many stores and find Bastille soap sold as Castile soap and the argument continues among them.

Let’s look at the history of olive oil soap.

What we now call Castile soap was first believed to have been made in the same region in Syria as Aleppo Soap, in which incorporates laurel berry oil with olive oil.  “Castile” is named after a region in Spain, which it was given after the Crusades( 1095-1291) brought* it to Europe and the Europeans named it as such. However, the process of making 100% olive oil soap was spread all around the Mediterranean region.

The true origins of soap are lost to time and we are left with legends, the word soap itself is believed to be named after Mount Sapo, a fictional mountain somewhere in the vicinity of Rome. The earliest known documentation of soap making was written down by the Greek-Egyptian alchemist Zosimos of Panopolis around 300 B.C.E.  The oldest soap ever found was excavated in the ancient city of Babylon and dated back to around 2800 B.C.E.

There are several other variations on 100% olive oil soap that I have found throughout history, Savon de Marseille was an olive oil soap made in France with sea water first documented in the 1300’s. Nabulsi soap which was traditionally made by women in West Bank, Palestine before there was an industry, before the 10th century. Beldi soap also known as Savon Noir which has been made in Morocco for centuries is a gel like soap made from macerated olives, ashes and olive oil.

Regardless of what you call it and why, 100% olive oil soap is a very mild and wonderful soap, it takes about a year for it to fully cure. Depending on the type of olive oil you choose to use this soap may take hours or days to become solid enough to unmold. Once it hardens it can become crumbly so you have to keep an eye on it. Mine did become crumbly and work prevented me from cutting sooner but I was able to hide most of the crumbling when I trimmed up the edges. I recommend checking it daily so you do not end up cutting a soap that will crumble on you. I do highly recommend saving good quality olive oil’s for your kitchen and using lesser quality olive oil or pomace for your soaping needs.

This soap will need about seven months to a year for curing, some people even wait longer, you will want to select a fragrance that will really last, if you choose one at all. A large portion of fragrances will loose their scent before the cure would be finished. A steep water discount gets you the lower end of the cure time, I did mine at 33% of the oil weight or roughly a 28% lye concentration. Before this soap is fully cured it can feel sticky when used. it’s not a soap to make if you are an impatient soaper.


Aqua Di Gio Soap

The oil you use can effect the overall color of your finished soap. If you want a beautiful white then lard is a good choice. Another good addition was rice bran oil, it tends to make a soap look shinier.


Soap Method: Cold Process

Design Method: In the Pot Swirl

Mold: Tall & Skinny

Soaping Temperature: 117 (oil) 130 (Lye)

Fragrance: Aqua Di Gio from Natures Garden


440 g manteca

330 g coconut oil

110 g castor oil

110 rice bran oil

110 g shea butter

330 g H2O

15.7 g NaOH

34 g fragrance

Mica: Caribbean blue, celestial blue and black knight mica’s from Brambleberry and Natures Garden.



Cold Process Liquid Soap, Start To Finish

I will try to cover everything, but I do not go over how to create a soap recipe, that will take additional research on the readers part because that sort of thing needs it’s own separate post. There are many online resources, my personal favorite is but there is also Soapee Lye Calculator. This instruction is targeted at someone who has ideally made at least one or two batches of Cold Process Bar Soap and wants to learn to make Liquid Soap.

I am using 80% Olive oil, 15% coconut oil and 5% castor oil to enhance bubbles. I have a 3% super fat. You can use other oils but you will likely get an opaque or white soap. Oils with high unsaponafiables will cloud your soap and settle to the bottom. Too much superfat will cloud your soap.

You will want to know the purity of you Potassium Hydroxide so that your recipe is calculated accurately. I know factors for 90% KOH by checking a box. I am using a water/lye ratio of 1:1.

For liquid soap making you want to add all of your additives to the water before you mix in the lye. I will be starting off with heating my water slightly and adding 1 tablespoon of salt per lb of oil. This will make your soap thicker. Once it is dissolved I add 15 mg of sodium lactate and put the water in the freezer to cool. The sodium lactate will allow the soap to dilute much faster. Sugar is also a common additive, it boosts lather but I am not using sugar in this batch.

The remainder of the soap making process requires safety equipment so here is my obligatory long winded warning.

**You should be wearing long sleeves, gloves, goggles and be in a well ventilated area with no kids or pets. You should know how lye works and have watched some lye safety videos on youtube. Make sure you don’t use metal that isn’t stainless steel and ensure that all plastics are heat safe. All spatters and spills need to be cleaned and neutralized with vinegar.  If you get lye on your skin run cold water over it right away. When you mix lye and water you ALWAYS pour the lye into the water, you DO NOT pour water into lye unless you want to burn your face off with 200+ degree face-melting-chemicals that volcano’s out of your container.**

Add the lye to the water, preferably in a well ventilated area and mix it until all of the lye is dissolved, It should get up to 160-210 degrees in just a few seconds. Let it cool to room temperature or just above. I usually set the lye container in a shallow bath of ice water to cool it more quickly. Once the lye is within 10 degrees of the room temperature oils, pour the lye water into the oil.

Use a stick blender to blend the oil/lye mixture until you reach trace, if you get something that get’s lumpy or wants to separate, don’t worry, that can be normal.

After it is thickened to a thin pudding I left it alone for a half an hour. When I came back it was thick like frosting so I used a spatula. Depending on your recipe it might need to be blended again, it might even separate a little, don’t worry if that is the case. Stir it up/blend it and let it sit for another half an hour.

It should begin to warm up and go through gel phase, I was bad at logging the temperature but you will want to place your container on a heat safe surface. After a while it will begin gel phase and look translucent, stir it up and come back in another 30 minutes or so.

Gel phase

30 more minutes.. maybe it was an hour. It stayed translucent, lost it’s lumpiness and a lot of heat and acts like Vaseline. It has cooled off by 20 degrees since the last time I checked.

At this point I covered it with plastic wrap and left it over night. In the morning it passed a zap test and my pH test strip indicated 9. You can let this sit for a few days or you can start to dilute right away. You can also store extra soap paste in a jar or zip lock bag to dilute later. Some recipes will yield solid soap instead of paste, that is also normal.

To start the dilution process you will want to add an equal amount of water, to your soap for a 1:1 dilution. Do this by matching the total weight of your recipe. Once the distilled water is added you will want to break up the soap paste into smaller chunks with a spatula.

Dilution can take a few days, Stir it up once or twice a day, if you are impatient you can put it into a crock pot on low.  I decided that since I don’t get my containers for a week to start with no heat for my first dilution and then move to a crock pot after I have a thick gel. If you have not used sodium lactate this part will take much longer and you may want to go the crock pot route but heat is not necessary for dilution, it just takes more time.

Here is that first dilution over several days.

Day 3

I diluted my entire batch 1:1 and it made a thick slime like gel with chunks still undiluted, I left it this way for about 4 days, stirring occasionally before I transferred it into a crock pot for further dilution.

Fragrances are added with the second dilution. Some fragrances and essential oils will change the clarity or thickness of your soap or more drastically it could cause your soap to separate and be ruined so now is the time to separate out a few spoon fulls of soap, dilute it in a small jar, add your fragrance and see how it reacts before doing the same with your whole batch.

During dilution I turn the crock pot on long enough to warm it up then I turn it off again. It’s best to log your dilution amounts as part of your recipe. It is always good to keep this information so you know much soap your recipe yields and at what thickness. I started with 200 grams and increase by 100 grams after each addition absorbs. This is at 300 grams. Finally those last undiluted chunks are starting to dissolve.


You can keep it thick for a body wash or you can make it thin and watery like Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. Soapers who intend to sell their liquid soap will add a preservative, though it technically does not need one if the pH stays over 9, however liquid soap with a high ratio of water could reach a tipping point where it would need a preservative. This requires a preservative that works in high pH, Suttocide A is a commonly used option.

After letting a few more days pass, I separated out the undiluted chunks and added 600 grams of water, 100 grams at a time and I am ready to bottle. It has a nice clarity and thickness.