I always prefer to use handmade soap than commercially bought soap, my  current favourites being those purchased from the Cornwall Soap Box or seasonal soaps made at the lovely Trill Farm.

Recently though,  I’ve been learning how  to make my own soap. My first attempts are currently curing  (a process where the water evaporates and the soap hardens)  and will be ready to use in a few weeks time.

Making your own soap requires mixing lye (sodium hydroxide  and water) with oil/fats. This is known as the cold process method where these two ingredients chemically bond  to create soap (saponification).

Handling lye is one of those things many of us shy away from as the process requires quite a lot of care.

For those not wanting to handle lye, you can simply reprocess  soap (or buy  “melt and pour” bases where the manufacturing and saponification of the soap is done for you) you then add fragrances, colours and personal touches before the soap sets.

This is a bit like making a cake, you can either make it from scratch (cold process method) or just decorate a pre -baked one (melt and pour method).

Making Honey Soap

For my  initial attempts at  making soap I have used a recipe from  a local workshop at Compton Verney with Catherine Clark from Honey Bee Beautiful


350g Coconut oil

100g Cocoa Butter

15g Beeswax

275g Olive oil

200g Sunflower oil

60g Castor oil

225g Water

142g Sodium Hydroxide

15g Honey

28g Essential Oil and/or Goat’s milk


Carefully mix sodium hydroxide with water wearing safety glasses/gloves.

Melt all hard butters/waxes.

Mix with liquid oils.

Mix with diluted sodium hydroxide/water solution.

Mix in honey, essential oils/milk until custard like consistency.

Pour the mixture into a mould and cover with cling film and towels overnight or 24 hours.

This recipe makes 1 kg bar and 6 small shaped soaps.

‘trace’ or custard-like consistency

To reach “trace” or a custard like thickness I used  a stick/hand blender.

You could also add the essential oils and honey (or any other fragile ingredients) at this point so  their beneficial  properties are not damaged.

leave soap to cure for a few weeks

There are,  literally hundreds of recipes out there and, just like making a cake – you soon learn the importance of getting the consistency right. In the soap pictured above I have slightly adapted the recipe by replacing sunflower oil with olive oil (Napolina).  I would also recommend you use the soap calculator before experimenting with your own recipes!

See here for my  soap making demonstration …

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