" Blog da Horta Biológica: How To Make Coconut Soap – Cold Process Step-by-step and Its Various Ways of Use

How To Make Coconut Soap – Cold Process Step-by-step and Its Various Ways of Use

Coconut soap is an excellent ally in natural hygiene. We love to make coconut soap both for cleaning and to use as a natural insecticide. Therefore, today we share the recipe of coconut soap just as we do it at home, as well as its various ways of use. It's a soap for both house and garden!

The way of making coconut soap for cleaning is different from the way of making coconut soap for skin care. The recipe we are going to share in this post is of soap for cleaning only! It cannot be used as face wash or for showering and we are going to explain the reason why.

At the end of this post you can watch our educational video where we show the step-by-step to making coconut soap.

Before we jump into the recipe we are going to talk about soap and safety measures. This info is very important, so in case you never made soap before don't skip this part and read everything very carefully.

What Is Soap?

Soap is a salt of fatty acids that is obtained through the chemical reaction between a fat and alkali. This reaction is called saponification. 

The mandatory materials for making soap are alkali (sodium or potassium hydroxide), fats (oils, butters and waxes) and water (distilled - do not use tap water).

Cold Process

This recipe is made by the cold process, in which all the ingredients are handled at low temperatures, in contrast to the hot process in which a crock pot is used.
In the cold process it is easier to control the final result. However, the time to cure is longer.

What Is The Cure?

The cure is the necessary time for soap to lose water and stabilize the pH. The curing time for a 100% coconut soap for cleaning is 4 weeks.

How To Know The pH?

Soap, in a cold process, is alkaline and the pH varies between values 8 and 10. During the curing process, pH measuring strips can be used to know whether the soap needs to cure for a longer time.

For more info, visit our post: How To Test the pH of Soap


Superfat is the extra fat in soap so that it is emollient and doesn't hurt the skin. A coconut soap for cleaning doesn't have superfat in its formula. This means that coconut soap for cleaning is aggressive for the skin, for it has the capacity to remove its natural fat layer. On the other hand, it is excellent for cleaning due to its detergent power and capacity to remove grease and dirt. Thus, we can't emphasize enough that this recipe we are giving you is to use only for cleaning or as a natural insecticide.

If you want to know how to make coconut soap for the skin, visit our post: Coconut Soap For The Skin: Benefits and How To Make It

Mandatory Safety Equipment

Due to the handling of caustic soda, it is necessary to take special care. This is the mandatory safety equipment:

  • Long-sleeved lab coat 
  • Rubber gloves
  • Mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Closed footwear

Ingredients For This Recipe

  • 387g Coconut oil
  • 135g Distilled water
  • 70g Caustic soda - Sodium Hydroxide 99% (NaOH)
This recipe will give you about 600g of soap. Weight will always vary after curing.

Material Needed To Make This Soap Recipe

  • 1 Kitchen scale
  • 1 Stainless steel pan (never use aluminum as it reacts with soda)
  • 3 Measuring containers (glass, stainless steel, or plastic - do not use aluminum) 
  • 1 Feeding syringe (optional to measure the oil without spillage)
  • 1 Stainless steel spoon
  • 1 Silicone spatula
  • 1 Digital Laser Thermometer
  • 1 Hand blender (exclusive for this purpose)
  • Cling film
  • 1 Tray
  • 1 Wooden or Silicone mold (you can make bar soap or individual doses) 
  • 1 Soap cutter (optional). Will be useful if you make bar soap. 
  • 1 Cloth
  • Ice + 1 large container for cold water bath*

* This container is optional, as the cold water bath can also be made in the sink, if it has enough space.

Important Safety Rules

  • Work without distractions. Do not eat, drink, smoke, watch TV, listen to radio or answer the phone. Have no children and pets around. 
  • When weighing ingredients, always round the values down, never up.  
  • Never use aluminum, as it reacts with caustic soda.
  • Handle the hydroxide in a well ventilated area, using the safety equipment. 
  • Have vinegar at hand because, in case of spillage, it cuts the effect of soda.
  • Wash utensils only 24h later. Use gloves, as it will still be very caustic.

Step-By-Step (Video At The End)

  1. Gather all the material.
  2. Weigh the ingredients.
  3. Put the oil on the heat.
  4. While the oil is heating up, very carefully add the hydroxide over the water, never the other way around! 
  5. Dissolve the hydroxide with a stainless steel spoon. Never aluminum!
  6. Measure the temperatures of each solution and use a cold bath to control the temperatures. 
  7. As soon as both solutions are at 45ºC (both must be at the same temperature or with a maximum difference of 10ºC), add the water to the oil. Never the other way around! 
  8. Mix with the hand blender (exclusive for this purpose) until reaching the trace.
  9. Pour the batter into the mold and with the help of the tray shake the mold to remove air bubbles that might be in the batter.
  10. Wrap the mold with cling film and a cloth to help maintain the temperature. 
  11. Isolate for 4h, without disturbing, until it hardens. 
  12. After 4h unmold and proceed to cut (if it's a bar). For unmolding it is advisable to wear gloves.

What Is the Trace?

The trace is the point in the soap making process when oil and lye water have emulsified, that is, the point where water solution and oil mix together and form a viscous batter in which it is possible to identify lines (trace) when passing the spatula or hand blender through. 

How To Store?

During the 4 weeks of curing of coconut soap, the soap bars should be stored in a place without direct sunlight and without dampness. The bars must be rotated, so that they can cure evenly.

It is very important to make a label with the date the soap was made and the approximate date of the cure, for better guidance.

The soap should only be wrapped after it has cured, using natural materials. Paper, fabric, cardboard or cotton bags can be used, so that the soap can maintain its quality for a longer time. The first sign that the soap is deteriorating is when yellow stains appear with a rancid odor.

If the soap is used immediately after the cure, it should be placed in soap dishes, so that water can drain and the soap can last longer. If left in water, the soap will breakdown more easily.

Some Suggestions To Store Soap

How To Use This Soap?

Coconut soap for cleaning can be used in the following ways:

Just wipe a damp sponge on the soap and wash the dishes as usual. Wear gloves to protect the skin due to the detergent power of this soap, as mentioned previously. 

Grate the soap and place the necessary dose in the detergent compartment of your washing machine. If you grate the soap all at once, wear gloves to avoid intense contact of this soap with the skin.

Natural insecticide
To protect your garden from pests, grate the soap and add 1 TBSP of grated soap to 1 cup of hot water. Mix it well and spray onto soft-bodied insects such as aphids and mealybugs. Spray once or twice a week avoiding the hours of greatest heat. More details in our video Coconut Soapy Water.

Materials We Use And Recommend For Their High Quality

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