Rinse the thermometer and put it in the in the lye, it may be a bit higher temperature than the oils, but it seems to cool a bit faster.  If you decided to make soap on a regular basis, you may want to purchase another thermometer.

The next part is one of the most frustrating, you have to try to get the temperature of the Lye to  105o and the oils to 115 o.  If you have followed these instructions as I have laid them out, they may reach those temperatures by themselves, but they may not.  It will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. Wait for about ˝ hour to 45 minutes before thinking about adjusting the
Strategies to get the oils and lye mixture to the same temperature
If the oil is too warm put it into the refrigerator on a pot holder for a few min.  Never put the oil outside on a cold day, the fats will start to solidify on the top.  Do not leave it in the refrigerator for too long for the same reason. Do not put it into a sink with cold water, it will solidify around the edge.  (I have had all of these things happen).

If the lye is too warm put the container into a sink of cold water, make sure the water is not higher than the level of the lye mixture or the container becomes unstable. The lye  mixture will cool very quickly so watch it carefully.

Getting the two containers to the right temperature takes about an hour.  Your temperatures don't have to be exact, but the oils have to be a bit warmer than the lye mixture, and they both have to be approximately 100 o - 120 o 

I poured the oils into a large pyrex container so you can see what is happening more clearly.  Normally you would pour your lye
right into the pot. 

When the oils and lye mixture are at the right temperature you are ready to begin pouring.  Remove the Thermometer and rinse and wash thoroughly. Set aside

Warning: always pour the lye mixture into the oils.  If you pour the oil into the lye  your soap will curdle and it will become unusable.  A big waste of money….

Slowly mixing the oils pour the lye mixture into the pot with the oils.  Keep stirring slowly.  Stir, stir, stir,…. and stir some more.  Some people say that if you stir too quickly you will ruin the soap, others say if you stir too slowly you will ruin the soap.  There is much discussion about this stirring, I suppose because there is so much of it.  I stir so as not to slop any out of the pot, otherwise I have not had any problems in that regard. You have to stir for about 20- 30 minutes, I usually only can stand to wait 20 minutes.   If the mixture starts to thicken, you are just about done, if not proceed to the next step. 

If you have a stick blender, put it into the pot and turn it on. Make sure you don't mix in any air, always keep the hand blender under the surface of the liquid, you don't want to stir in any air, or splash any of the mixture.

Warning: (yes another one) The oil/lye mixture is very caustic, avoid splashing.
Never run your hand blender more than 4 minutes at a time, you will burn it out, a good strategy would to be, blend 4 minutes, hand stir 2 minutes, but be careful, it may only take 4 minutes before the soap is at trace. This may go on for 3 min or it may go on for 20 min.  Have patience, but stay alert.  Once the soap is ready you have to be too.  A friend of mine calls the result of not paying close enough attention, soap on a stick.
When you notice that the soap has started to thicken to about the thickness of pudding you are ready for the next step. 

This is a picture of soap at trace.

Add any herbs or colouring quickly and all at once.  Use the stick blender to mix everything together.
Add your fragrance.  Some fragrances are not designed for soapmaking and will seize your soap.   Always use
fragrances which have been tested in cold process soap or essential oils.

Again, a safety no no,  you see Linda is not wearing gloves when she is mixing the fragrance oil into the soap.   The likelihood of getting splashed with the caustic soap is high when mixing, especially with a hand blender.
Always wear your gloves. (thanks for pointing it out Marilyn)

Pour the soap into your mold slowly trying not to splash.  If  you pour too quickly it may whoosh out the other side of the mold. 

Rinse all of your tools before washing them.  The mixture will sting if it gets on your skin, so rinsing gets most of the soap mixture off.
Wash all of your ingredients thoroughly making sure you get all of the soap bits off.

Cover your soap with an old dish cloth.  If you keep your house at a lower temperature than about 65 you may want to insulate your mold. 

There is much discussion about whether you should peek or not peek at the soap before 24 hours, I personally don't know how anyone could make soap and not peek.  As your soap sits overnight it will get very hot, this is part of the chemical reaction, and it is very normal.  The soap will go through what is called the "gel stage", this is when the soap gets so hot it becomes a translucent gel.  You may not recognise this as being gel, it may just look a bit darker in the centre.  The soap will become opaque again in a few hours, so don't worry.  If you do peek and notice that the soap is starting to swell very noticeably in the centre, or there is a lot of liquid on top, you may want to uncover it.  This happens because the soap is too hot.  If you don't uncover it, the top of the soap may become slightly wrinkly, but it is just an aesthetic, the soap is perfectly fine. If you do have to uncover the soap, cover it up again in about 10-12 hours.  I make soap in the evening, so I cover it back up again when I get up in the morning

This is a picture of our own soapmaking mold with the soap going through the gel stage.  You will notice that the center mold log is almost completely dark, or in the gel stage, where the edges of the outside logs have not achieved the gel stage completely.  If the soap catches a chill at this stage, your soap will be slightly translucent and uneven colored.  The trick is to keep it warm enough, and yet not too warm.

Cutting and shaping the soap
After 24 hours uncover the soap, and measure and score the top of the soap lightly in the shape of the bars you like.  Each person is different in the size of bar that they prefer.  A small bar of soap sold in the grocery store is 2"X3", but I have found 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 makes a much nicer sized bar. 

Pull the unlined sides of the mold away from the soap to break the seal and gently lift the block of soap out of the mold.

Cut through the block of soap along the scores with a sharp knife.

Cut your soap into the size of bars that you like.

Put your gloves on, as the fresh soap will dry your skin with prolonged contact.  With the potato peeler bevel the edges of the bars of soap.  This is not necessary  but it makes a nice edge.

Rest the soap on edge in a closet for from 4 to 6 weeks.  Very few people who make their first batch of soap can wait the entire 6 weeks.  When you are deciding if you should try to use your soap early, keep in mind that the longer you leave your soap the milder and gentler it will be. 


Soap making is an art, a craft, but it is not a game.  The most important warning that I can give is about the lye.  Lye is Sodium Hydroxide.  It is caustic.  It is dangerous if handled incorrectly.  It deserves respect, but then so does drain cleaner, oven cleaner and your stove.  Don't be afraid to make soap because of the lye, but also take all of the precautions when mixing the lye to the water.. 

  • wear eye protection
  • wear rubber gloves
  • rinse all of the utensils that have touched the lye and water mixture before washing your utensils.
  • Replace the cap of the empty lye container and throw away, never attempt to reuse.
  • Never use ALUMINUM containers or stirring
    implements, the lye reacts to aluminium and will ruin your soap, (to say nothing of the reaction the lye would have  with the aluminium) 
  • Have some old rags available in case you spill.
  • Lye will ruin your counter top, so if you spill any lye, lye/water mixture or lye fat mixture wipe it up immediately.
  • Lye is caustic, if you spill it onto your skin it will burn.  Rinse immediately.
  • Read the warning label on the Lye container.

WARNING: Always add your lye, (sodium hydroxide) to the liquid. If the liquid were added to the lye a violent reaction could result. This means you could have a "volcano" erupt out of your container. 

DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained here is accurate. However due to differing conditions, tools, and individual skills we cannot guarantee the information is applicable in your situation. We are not responsible for any injuries, losses, or other damages that may result from the use this information.