Water and soap making

How much water is in the 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 recipes just 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 amount of lye needs to be exact and the lye will be a weighed measurement where the water will be volume.

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 milliliters or 1.78 to 2.37 cups of liquid.  I found that using 2 cups works well.  It doesn’t come to trace too fast, seems 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 if 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 more 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 using your calculators and not adding 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.

Directions for making soap:

  • using a scale, measure out all the oils based on weight, one at a time, then add to the stainless steel soap pot
  • place the pot on the stove and turn it on to low heat for the oils to heat up and the more solid oils to melt, you will want the oils to be 130 degrees
  • measure the water into a plastic water jug
  • measure out the lye (sodium hydroxide) into another small plastic container – I use empty yogurt containers
  • be sure to have a well-ventilated spot for mixing the lye into the water – the fumes will be very strong until the water turns clear – about a minute
  • to be safe, I always mix this in a sink, just in case of an accidental spill
  • the lye water will get really hot
  • place your candy thermometer to the lye-water and pot of oils periodically to test the temperature of each
  • When the lye/water has cooled down to between 100 – 130 degrees and the oils have heated up to between 100 – 130 degrees they can be mixed together –  I prefer to mix at 100 degrees.
  • add the lye water slowly and carefully into the pot of oils and start stirring the mixture
  • you can use a hand blender to quicken the process.  I use a hand blender but stop every few seconds and just stir.  Be careful with the hand blender as it can splash the soap around
  • once the soap reaches the “trace” phase, it is ready to color and scent (the trace phase is the stage at which the oils and lye water have saponified (become soap) the soap base will have changed color, is thicker and does not separate if stirring is stopped)
  • now add your color and scent and any other additives ie: herbs, seeds etc.
  • pour the soap into your molds, cover the mold (I use cardboard or wood) then cover that with a towel or blanket, and wait…..
  • I usually keep the soap in the mold for a day sometimes two
  • Unmold your soap
  • Cut and place out to cure for 4 – 6 weeks

Here are some recipes you might want to try:

Soap Recipe – Green Mint Tea

Gardener Hand Soap Recipe

Coffee Soap Recipe

Activated Charcoal Soap Recipe



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© 2020 – 2023, Tes. All rights reserved.

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12 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.

  5. Scott Morlan says:

    It should good to try us. It should may enhance the packaging soap packaging .is very important and it is the only way customer could know the details of the brand. is very important and it is the only way customer could know the details of the brand.

  6. packhit says:

    Wow! such a great post thanks for sharing the information i like it very much keep it up.
    Ice Cream boxes

  7. Jhon Harris says:

    Nice article and i also make soap locally. But i do more focus on my customized soap packaging because customer needs good packaging than product.

  8. Steve Jackob says:

    Bottle Neckers are the best packaging material for marketing of the soap products. THanks for sharing such a great information.

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