What ingredients do I need to make soap? - The Soap Coach
What ingredients are used to make soap?

It occurred to me recently that most people probably have no idea what ingredients are used to make soap. Or how readily available they are.

Perfect blog material so here goes.

Soap is made by mixing natural butters and/or oils. (Vegetable or animal based can be used). Water and Sodium Hydroxide also known as lye.

When these are all mixed together a chemical reaction called saponification occurs and when that reaction is complete you will have soap.

What kind of soap you have however depends, to a degree on what butters and oils you use and this is where the variables come in. 

So, the simple answer is, for a very basic soap you need oils, water and sodium hydroxide. You can add essential or fragrance oils for scent and other ingredients for colours if you fancy being creative but these are all optional.

So what butters and oils should you use. I am firmly of the opinion that keeping it simple, especially in the early days, is key. For that reason the recipe I use in my soap making workshops uses just 3 , olive oil for mildness, cocoa butter for skin care and to add hardness to the bar, and coconut oil for big bubbles and deep cleaning. These are all readily available, not too expensive and I like to remain palm free in my soap making. I am also a big fan of a simple coconut oil soap. If you would like a recipe for this you can find it here.

The options however are endless and the internet is littered with recipes ranging from basic to exotic so the sky really is the limit. If you needed a very mild gentle bar of soap for example, you would use a recipe that is high in olive oil. A deep cleaning gardeners or mechanics soap would ideally be higher in coconut oil which is great for lifting the dirt but could be too cleansing for a baby's delicate skin.

The Soap Coach

I am UK based and buy the bulk of my ingredients from online suppliers however there is nothing at all to prevent you using oils purchased from supermarkets or online providing they are pure and not mixed with other oils - this would pose a problem as your recipe would not work properly and may end up lye heavy which would mean your soap is caustic and could burn you. 

Lye is readily available from many hardware stores but you do need to endure it is good quality 100% sodium hydroxide and not blended with anything else.

So in a nutshell.

Soap = water + oils + sodium hydroxide. Simples!

Comments (7 Responses)

02 May, 2024


I love the way you speak in simple terms
Thank you
From your friend in Australia 🇦🇺

19 October, 2023


Hi Samuel, there are lots of You Tube videos out there which are a good place to start , alternatively do consider signing up for my Mino Soap Suite. It is an online membership with lots of videos and recipes in and I go in to a lot more detail than you may find on You Tube which may be easier for you to work through. It is only £5 a month, more details on that here. https://keri-s-school-52e2.thinkific.com/bundles/the-mini-soap-suite1

19 October, 2023

Samuel Lugadu

Hello I would like to learn more about bar soap making , am interested this but I don’t know where to start

14 August, 2023

Getachew Lema

Formula of bar soap

14 August, 2023


I like to go into soap making business but don’t have the ideas

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