Clove Grapefruit Liquid Soap


I have decided to branch out from cold process bar soaps to liquid soaps (hot process). This kind of soap is a bit more involved (the time commitment is something like 2 days), so it is a natural next step if you’re used to making CP soaps. But the advantage is that the soap is cured in 1 week, and most people prefer liquid soap to bar soap (not me, though!). I think this basic soap will be a good hand soap to place by the bathroom sink.

I figured since this is my first try, I should follow a recipe as well as possible. I primarily used candleandsoap (lots of nice pictures here) to make the soap, although I touched on chickensintheroad and ourlifesimplified too. This is an outline of the general procedure. Next time, I’ll experiment a bit more.

Something I should have done at the very beginning was measure and weigh all my pots. Diluting the soap paste with water can be tricky (too little water = layer of soap paste, too much water = watery soap), so knowing how much the crock pot weighs and subtracting that amount from the crock pot + soap paste would have made my life a lot easier.

This recipe is for about 3 quarts of liquid soap.


*All measurements are weight measurements, not liquid measurements.

  • 7 oz Coconut Oil
    • Provides cleansing ability to a bar of soap.
  • 16.5 oz Sunflower Oil
    • It provides stable lather, conditioning, and a silky feel to soap. Sunflower oil naturally resists rancidity due to its  high vitamin E content.
  • 16.5 oz water for the lye
  • 5.5 oz lye (Potassium Hydroxide)
    • Liquid soap recipes are usually formulated with 10% lye excess to ensure complete saponification of the oils. The extra lye is neutralized later with boric acid.
  • ~60 oz water for the soap paste
  • 3 oz borax (I used 20 Mule Team) in 6 oz of water
  • 1 oz clove EO
  • 1 oz grapefruit EO

Base Oil Composition:

  • 30% Coconut Oil
  • 70% Sunflower Oil


  • stick blender
  • heat safe containers
  • crock pot (free gift from a friend moving out of town)
  • thermometer
  • scale
  • potato masher (I found this for $1 at the thrift store)


Make sure you follow all the general safety precautions for making soap before you start.

  1. Pour the oils in the crock pot and heat them to 160F. The oils should be at about this temperature for the entire process (give or take 20 degrees). Sometimes the soap can get to 180F, and from what I’ve been reading, this is alright.
  2. Pour the lye into a heat safe container with the water. Make sure you’re in a well ventilated area, and mix well. KOH makes a funny groaning noise as it’s dissolving (normal).
  3. Combine the lye water and oils in the crock pot as soon as the lye is completely mixed (clear solution). No need to wait for it to cool! Stir gently.
  4. Pulse with the stick blender until you reach trace. Sunflower oil is really slow to get to trace, so you might be blending for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Put the lid on the pot and let the mixture rest for 20 min. If there is any separation, stir for a bit, and replace the lid. The original recipe told me to check on the soap in 30 minute increments for the next 3-4 hours, but I found that the soap actually took about 5-6 hours to go through all of its stages. Perhaps that is due to Colorado’s hard water…
  6. The soap will go through lots of stages: “thick applesauce”, “custard”, “mashed potatoes”, “taffy”, “chunky vaseline”, and “translucent vaseline”. The worst ones are the “mashed potatoes” and “solid taffy” stage. Even with the potato masher, it is tough to move it around.
  7. Once the soap has softened and turned translucent, check if it has cooked long enough. Combine 2 oz boiling water and 1 oz soap paste. If the mixture is clear or lightly cloudy, you are on track. Otherwise, if it is milky, cook for longer or perhaps there was a mis-measurement.
  8. The original recipe told me to dilute the paste with 40 oz of boiling water, but I found this wasn’t enough to completely dilute the paste. Of course, I didn’t know that until after I added 40 oz of water.
  9. After adding the water, I turned off the heat on the crock pot, replaced the lid and waited for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  10. I thought could head to bed while the soap dissolved overnight (the directions told me to!). And in the morning, it should have been completely diluted, but I got a thick layer of soap paste. Bum. I continued to add boiling water in 10 oz increments until I got complete dilution (stirring and waiting throughout). It ended up taking a few extra days to get the soap to completely dilute. I was pretty conservative in adding extra boiling water, since I didn’t want my soap to be too watery.
  11. Once the soap is completely diluted, turn the crock pot on again and bring the mixture to about 180F.
  12. Separately mix a 33% borax solution: 3 oz borax in 6 oz boiling water. As long as the mixture is hot, the borax will be dissolved in the solution. As it cools, borax precipitates out and you can’t use it in your soap. I found that heating the water on the stove and mixing the borax in the pot was the best way to keep it dissolved.
  13. Pour and mix 2 oz of the neutralizer solution (borax has pH of 9.2) in the crock pot in 1 oz increments. If, after mixing the first ounce of borax water in the soap there is no cloudiness, proceed to add the second ounce. You generally want 0.75 oz of borax for 1 pound of soap paste (discounting the added water). This recipe has 2.8 lb of paste, so we use 2 oz (ish) of borax. Too much acid causes cloudiness, so round down.
  14. Add the essential oils. The overall color of the soap is amber, so adding other colorants should account for this.
  15. Let the soap cool. Once cooled, pour it into bottles or jars. Set aside in a cool place. Cure for 1 week. Particulates should settle to the bottom of the jar by the end of the week.
  16. Bottle the soaps and enjoy!