Water and soap making

How much water in soap recipe?



You have your oils all picked out and are creating your first recipe!  Now you are wondering about the water/lye mix.  How do I find out how much water to add the lye to?  Does it have to be exact?

The addition of water is a little different from that of the oils and sodium hydroxide.  The oil and lye measurements need to be pretty exact, but with the water you have room to play.

When creating your own soap recipe make sure you use a calculator to determine the amount of lye that needs to be added to the water.  This calculator will also give you a range for the amount of water to use.

The liquid (usually water) dissolves the lye and when added to the oils it starts the saponification process.   While the soap is curing water evaporates from the bars if less water is used “water discounting” the cure time is less.

Soap Calculator

In that range you will need to determine what amount of liquid to use. I like to go about the middle of the road, in my Beer Soap Recipe after using the calculator I am told I need 381 – 572 millilitres or 1.78 to 2.37 cups of liquid.  I found that using 2 cups works well.  It doesn’t come to trace to fast, seem to be just right.

What happens if I use less liquid?

Using less water is called water discounting, the less water you use the faster the soap comes to trace and thickens.  Think about this is you want to work with the soap and also be careful of discounting the water if the soap is going to be scented.  Remember also that some fragrance oils can speed up the trace.  Some of the reasons a soaper may want to use less water could be:

  • water discounting helps soap release from its mold quicker
  • it shortens the curing time
  • when adding additives that contain water
  • to reduce soda ash
  • less likely to have soda ash
  • less likely to have glycerin rivers

When reducing the amount of water it changes the temperature as the soap goes thru the gel phase resulting in some of the situations listed above.

What happens if I use more liquid?

Using more liquid will give you extra time to work with your soap.  Extra water will also extend the curing time, this is because the water evaporates as the soap cures, too much water can make a soft, sticky soap and can take days to harden enough to take out of the molds.

I would suggest to use your calculators and not add any more water than suggested by these calculators.

Can I use tap water?

I use bottled water to make my soap, the reason for this is because where I live our tap water is hard.  My recipes are formulated to work well when washing in hard water, but using hard water to make my soap would not be a good idea.

The reason being is that hard water can affect the process because of the minerals that are found in the water.  Using hard water when making soap can cause a poor quality of soap with an increase in the chances of getting those awful orange spots (DOS) the Dreaded Orange Spots.  These spots don’t look very pleasing and seeing them often will be a sign of your soap going rancid.

So to be safe use bottled or distilled water in soap making.




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© 2020, Tes. All rights reserved.

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8 Responses to Water and soap making

  1. Rebecca says:

    I had no idea you could make soap like this at home, and I had no idea it would be so easy! These steps are super clear and easy to follow, I’m excited to try this. I definitely think this is very important especially with the current pandemic going on. Hand washing with the proper soap is super important, thank you for sharing this article. Thank you for sharing the calculator and recipe with us – I’ll be sure to use bottled water!

  2. Stephen Peter Jones says:

    Hi There,

    I didn’t know that you could make your own soap but it seems you can. I bet with the aroma and the cream part of it making it really smooth must be a hard process. It’s a great idea and could get people into a new hobby which would be great especially if you want to create this niche into something big. In Thailand, I used to buy and sell candles which were really cool and made from my GF’s candle factory. Great website and like I mentioned I had no idea you could make soap ourselves.

  3. Smoochi says:

    This is a really good one. I want to first commend the input of time and energy into making this awesome website with nice templates and finding time to write an article on water and soap making. i never knew that using hard water is not good for soap making but i do not think that my own tap water is hard anyways

  4. Benny says:

    finding a good article does not come by easily so i must commend your effort in creating such a beautiful website and bringing up an article to help others with good information like this. when i am making soap i use less water and you have really explored some of the reason why i use less water. it however is still difficult for me to identify hard water.

    • Tes says:

      Hi Benny, thanks for the comment.  We have hard water it will leave a calcium build up on your taps, ours is not too bad, but I did have it tested as our area is known for hard water.

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