How Do You Make Melt & Pour Soap Base From Scratch?

 

This is probably the single most asked question in our industry. For many beginners, making their own melt and pour soap base is the ‘Holy Grail’ of soap making. This is actually quite a simple process that, for some reason, most professional soap makers and soap making supply sites guard as a trade secret. People ask us all the time though how it’s done, and we feel that it is better to share our knowledge. The reality is, margins on melt and pour soap are very slim, and once people know how it’s made, they end up buying our melt and pour bases anyway. Most people just want to know for their own satisfaction, so here it goes. The melt and pour soap base below is a very basic formula that will allow you to get your feet wet if you choose to take a crack at it. It can be altered slightly to fit your needs, but this is a great starting point. Just keep in mind, there are countless resources online for normal hot process soap made from scratch, so for purposes here, this formula is for a commercial melt and pour base, which is what many companies online are selling today.

ingredients for soap making on brown background

 

What you’ll need:

6.06% – 50% sodium hydroxide (aka Lye) solution (this is just 50% SH and 50% water)

12% propylene glycol

12.27% glycerin

18.4% sorbitol solution

28.89% sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

13% stearic acid, 6.05% lauric acid

3.33% triethanolamine (TEA)

Add 1% titanium dioxide (only if you want your soap white)

Let’s get started: (for purposes of this article, we put everything in percentages so that it could be scaled up or down as needed). Also, remember you should follow all safety precautions and GMP’s to clean your equipment. The lye is very dangerous to work with, and we don’t recommend trying this at home without a good understanding of how these ingredients need to be handled. Once this is understood, simply multiply the amount of soap you want to make by the percent to get an accurate amount by weight of each ingredient needed.

Start by heating your lye solution to roughly 150 degrees F in a vessel which will be phase 1. In a separate vessel, mix and heat your propylene glycol, glycerin, sorbitol and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) to 150 degrees F, which will be phase 2. Once your phase 2 hits 145-150 degrees, mix in your stearic acid and lauric acid to the second phase. Keep heating this phase till it reaches 160 degrees and slowly add the lye solution from the first phase, and mix for about 30 minutes or until the soap base is transparent. Stop mixing and let the batch sit for 45 minutes to an hour at 160 degrees. After about an hour, gently mix in the TEA. That’s it, your soap is done and ready to be poured into molds–a simple melt and pour soap base made from scratch. Now just add in some peppermint oil or any other essential oil of your choice to customize.

 

Enjoy! 🙂

 

Author: admin

76 thoughts on “How Do You Make Melt & Pour Soap Base From Scratch?

  1. I am highly interested in starting my own little buisness making shea butter and coco butter. and anything else that will benifit my personal buisness. If you have any insight on how oto get started the right way I would appreciate it thanks.

    1. That sounds great! Everyone tends to do things differently. I recommend finding some recipes you like and once you have the product made, you can start by selling on sites like eBay and Etsy!

  2. Hello 🙂 … As a younger person I remember making soap with lye and animal fats as basic ingredients. We didn’t have such thing as propylene glycol, and I wonder just what this chemical actually is ( anti-freeze?) and why it shows up in sooo many cosmetic products and what it does for them, and could it be left out if I wanted to make an organic or more natural product? Yes….lye is actually a natural product if you make it the “old fashioned” way 😀

    Thanks for explaining.
    Leann

    1. Hi Leann! You certainly can make the product without the added chemicals. Typically, most of those ingredients that are hard to pronounce are used as preservatives. It seems consumers expect to keep the product fresh longer and longer, even though it may mean making the product with more and more chemicals. A lot of Bulk Apothecary raw ingredients are just that, raw. Customers want to know about expiration and are dissatisfied when something doesn’t have a long shelf life. While many of our products do have the preservatives to keep the shelf life long, the ones that don’t are more natural and basic formulas. My personal opinion is that the less ingredients, the better. For soapmaking, this means one of the soap bases with an essential oil or two. You will get all the benefits and the product will be all-natural!

  3. You state 6.06% – 50% lye in your recipe. That’s a big spread! Can you narrow that down or clarify the reason for the difference please? I can see this being a nice addition to my soap arsenal as I get things together for soap making.

    1. yes, you want to take 6.06% of the lye water mixture (which is 50% lye and 50% water). Sorry for the confusion! Good luck with your soap making 🙂

  4. Would you tell me how clear or transparent the soap will be? Also I would like to know if I want not to use SLES or other surfactants in this soap can I get clear soap or not with the procedure without SLES?
    Thanks

    1. You can omit the titanium dioxide to give the soap a semi-transparent effect; it won’t be 100% clear. The SLES is meant to act as a foaming agent and will have little effect on the transparency of the soap, if omitted.

      1. Thanks for replying, so If I want to have a clear soap seems I need to consider adding surfactant, I would like to know can I get similar result with other anionic surfactant? Is Cocamidopropyl betaine a good option? Also is that fine to reduce the percentage of surfactant and increase the percentage of glycerin

        1. Soap transparency is chiefly promoted by solvents; alcohol (propylene-gycol), glycerin, and some use sugar; please note that adding/add too much glycerin and sugar can increase/cause cloudiness and sweating of the soap. It is also suggested that a hot process method be used, in combination with hard oils (such as coconut oil and palm oil); and soft oils (such as castor oil). You can experiment with this information along with reducing/using other surfactants; let us know your results!

          1. Thanks a lot for your help. I tried the recipe and I had some problems I was wonder if you could help me how to fix them. first, on the surface of liquid soap while it was cooking there was some foams I used rubbing alcohol to get ride of them but after a while around the edges of the vessel they formed again (even when I did not mix the soap) and finally I had to remove them with spoon from the vessel, and second problem is the soap was not so clear and I do not know is there any way to use more solvent in the recipe or not? based on your comment sorbitol and glycerin in higher percentage can cause cloudiness so is that fine to increase the usage rate of propylene glycol or even water and reduce the percentage of surfactant to get more clear soap? what is the best choice for me? I appreciate your help and also providing this info.

  5. Hi,

    Thanks so much for this info! In trying to formulate this recipe similar to baking, I’m a bit confused on the percentages. Which is the base ingredient to base the other percentages on?

    1. You’re welcome! The percentages would be based off of the total amount of soap you want to make; for example, if you want to make 1 lb. of the soap mixture (around 16 oz or 4 x 4 oz. bars of soap), then you will calculate the percentage recommended (for the specific ingredient) of 16 oz. and add that amount for the specific ingredient.

      Hope this helps!

        1. For technical information/regulatory documents we require that you email documents@bulkapothecary.com and the technical product specialists team will assist. In your email to them, please include the title of the product, and the type of sheet you are requesting (GC/MS reports, SDS, CoA, Organic Certificates, and so on); if you’ve already purchased and received the item, please include the five (5) digit lot code on the item.

  6. Hello! Thank you for the blog! I was wondering if it’s possible to add additives during the cooking of the MP base? I’ve heard that LUSH makes soap with fresh ingredients like purees and juices. I like the sound of it but, I don’t like the idea of buying any LUSH cosmetics. If it is possible to add additives to the cooking process, may I know at which stage and how much am I allowed to add? Thanks again!

    1. You can add any additives after your mix in the triethanolamine; the amount of additives added depends on a number of factors like the type of additives, and the desired effect. You can start with a rate of 0.5% to 1% of total recipe; hope this helps!

  7. Thank you for the article! Instead of SLES, can SCI or sodium cocoyl lesthionate? I am looking for a surfactant that is as gentile as possible.

    1. After you pure them into the mold, it should take up to 2 hours to cure; it will take around the same time if you remelt later. Hope this helps!

  8. Hi! Thank you for this recipe as I want to try to make this today, I was wondering is this true melt and pour soap? Like Melt and pour that we buy in the store? As in can I reheat it over and over again to pour into molds and to make embeds? Thank you.

  9. Hi i hate to be a burden but i always hated percentages. Im looking to make 2 pounds of mp3 soap but I’m lost at the conversion .

  10. Hi u said 6.6% – 50% lye
    If I want make 10oz soap base so what is the amount of water and sodium hydroxide,
    Should I take 3.3% water and 3.3% naoh of 10oz or should I take both 6.6% water and 6.6% naoh of 10oz

    1. Hello, it would based on the total weight/volume of your recipe, in this case 10 oz; so, it will be 6.06% – 50% sodium hydroxide solution (that’s a Lye solution made up of 50% Lye and 50% water) of 10 oz. Hope this helps!

      1. No I don’t understand, can you tell me the individual percentage i.e. how much percentage of water and SH to make 10oz soap base

      2. Or what is the exact percentage of lye i.e 6.6% or 50% or
        What is water percentage and
        What is sodium hydroxide percentage and could I add coconut oil in this receip

        1. If we use 50% of lye solution in your 10 oz soap (50% of 10 oz.), for example, it would be 5 oz. of lye solution, in which case the lye solution would be made up of 2.5 oz of water and 2.5 oz. of lye; yes, you can add coconut oil to the recipe after adding the TEA.

  11. Should I add some oils like coconut oil etc.
    And what is the exact percentage of water and sodium hydroxide
    Does it sweats with your formulation??

    1. Yes it will sweat as it contains glycerin (which retains and preserves moisture, called a humectant). You can reduce soap sweating in the soap making area by controlling the humidity/temperature as much as possible when working on the soap. A dehumidifier; using aroma beads in air tight containers to store the unmolded soap; and allowing the soap to cool and dry naturally are a few tips to help with reduce soap sweating.

  12. Very appreciated for your reply
    One more question i.e
    What is exact percentage of lye solution..
    Is it 6.6% ?? Or something else ?

  13. 50% lye solution is very high percentage,
    Can you tell me the exact average percentage between 6.6% and 50%
    Like as per the other ingredients.

    1. 50% was an example to demonstrate to you how to perform the calculation; please try using 6.6% of the lye solution to your 10 oz. recipe.

  14. Hello Daniel,

    Thanks for this recipe! It seems straight forward. Please is there an alternative to lauric acid or can it be skipped all together? I haven’t been able to find a seller in my area or is there another name for it? Thanks for your reply

  15. Can I add borax powder or baking soda to prevent sweating as I am facing sweating problem even I have added only 2% glycerine in my recipe.

  16. I can only find dipropylene glycol at Saffire Blue. Can I use this instead of propylene glycol?

    I am looking forward to making this.

    Thanks Rose

  17. Thanks for the fast response . My other question is Laurie acid the same as sodium lactate? I live in Toronto and can’t order from US or it will be very expensive,

    Thanks Rose

    1. You’re welcome; they are different. Sodium Lactate is a liquid salt derived from the natural fermentation of sugars found in corn and beets, while lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid found in palm and coconut trees.

  18. I would like to make my own melt and pour goat milk soap recipe. I would like to know what percent of goat milk I can add to a 2 lb recipe? And do I need to add anything else to the recipe because of the goat milk? Thanks!

  19. Hello I am in process of making soap and body butter, I’m lost on percentages, I bought 4lbs of
    Goats milk soap base, what’s the percentages other ingredients I need

  20. Hey again Daniel

    I really loved this recipe. The soaps turned out perfect. Good melting, no pesky bubbles. Though they turn a bit foggy after a few days and have extreme sweating.
    What would you suggest to make the bar retain its transparency?
    Secondly, how do I make the soap harder and meltable at a slightly higher temperature?

    Thanks in advance!
    Great post.

    1. That would depend on the quantity of each ingredient used in your formulation; the percentages mentioned can be used with any quantity.

  21. Hi Daniel.
    Thank you for taking out time to help with this recipe. Can I use Cocamidopropyl Betaine instead of sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)? And when can the goat milk powder be added, after the TEA?

    1. You can substitute the SLES with Cocamidopropyl Betaine, but there will be a reduction in efficacy; yes, you can add the goat milk, after the TEA.

  22. Hi,
    What if I want to make Goat Milk melt and pour while only using all natural ingredients? Meaning, I currently use olice oil, palm kernel oil, Shea butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, and goat milk. How can I use these ingredients to make a melt and pour base. I know how to do a rebatch, but that isn’t really my goal. I know it must be possible somewhere… They sell it in stores, so it has to be possible to make it at home, correct?

  23. Good day to you.
    I am attempting to make a batch of this recipe. How did you calculate the amount of propylene glycol to add to the recipe? Is it formulated based on soap weight, oil weight, or us it standard?

  24. Good afternoon,
    I am getting ready to make this and am wondering how I would make the different soaps, ie: goats milk, shea butter, etc? Thank you for this recipe and all of the assistance you have given to so many people – You guys are the BEST out there!!

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