Classic Bells > Soapy stuff

Soapy Stuff

Getting started

Stick Blender Basics. The must-have tool for bringing soap batter to "trace" in just minutes.

Anne L. Watson on soap and lotion making. A lot of soap making info on the internet and in print is incorrect, wrong, and sometimes even dangerous. Anne will get your started safely and sensibly, and her books are very reasonably priced. Buy her books on (external links)

Soap Making Forum. Very little drama and lots of good info. Beginners and advanced soap makers are welcome. (external link) Online soap recipe calculator. Full featured, easy to learn. (external link) Online soap recipe calculator. Full featured, a classic. (external link)

Soap Making Forum Fragrance Oil Review. Soaper's reviews of fragrance oils (FOs) and a list of suppliers. (external link)

Get More Help with soapy problems.

Terms and Conditions for this section of my website.


Liquid soap (soap made with potassium hydroxide, KOH)

Liquid soap: Tips for creating good recipes. DRAFT

Should You Add Preservative to Liquid Soap? My take on the matter.

Preservatives: All you need to know! By Making Skincare. Properly using preservatives in cosmetic products, including soap. (external links)

pH Testing and Lowering the pH of Liquid Soap. By Faith of Alaiyna B Bath & Body. Accurately test the pH of liquid soap and what to expect when one tries to lower the pH below what is normal for soap. (external links)


Bar soap (soap made with sodium hydroxide, NaOH)

What do the Soapcalc numbers really mean? Have you also wondered about the fatty acid numbers in Soapcalc?

Full water and other drippy myths. Want more consistent results when soaping? Explore better ways to calculate the water for your soap recipes.

Iodine Number and INS Value. Is an INS value of 160 the "holy grail" of a great soap recipe?

Curing soap. It's not just about water evaporation. And yes, HP soap needs to cure just as much as CP soap.

Calculating a dual lye (KOH and NaOH) recipe. Are you making shave soap or cream soap or do you want a better-lathering bar soap?

Rescue Oven Processing. Firm up cold-process soap that is soft and crumbly because it did not gel during saponification

Crackling, streaking, and mottling (aka glycerin rivers). It has everything to do with the fatty acids in the soap, water content, temperature, and rate of cooling ... and nothing to do with glycerin.

How to pH Test Handmade Soap. By Kenna of Modern Soapmaking. Although I believe zap testing has its place in soap making, I otherwise agree with what Kenna has written in this article. (external links)


Specialty soaps and projects

Egg soap. Add a little cackle and crow to your soap, easy peasy.

Pine Tar soap. Tips for making this classic but tricky soap

Laundry soap mix. The "hows and whys" of making an effective dry laundry soap

Salting-out soap scraps. An alternative to rebatching soap scraps

Making wood ash lye. For those who want to make soap the old fashioned way.

Felting bar soap. How to cover bar soap with wool fiber -- useful for travel and fun for kids


Alkalis -- NaOH (sodium hydroxide), KOH (potassium hydroxide), and NH4OH (ammonium hydroxide solution)

Lye Concentration versus Water:Lye Ratio. A handy table.

Zap test. A time-honored, quick, and accurate way to check for excess lye.

Calculating a dual lye (KOH and NaOH) recipe. Are you making shave soap or cream soap or do you want a better-lathering bar soap?

Ammonium hydroxide (ammonia solution). How to use household ammonia solution (NH4OH) as part of the alkali in your soap.

What is "lye"? It is not just sodium hydroxide (NaOH).

NaOH or KOH purity check. A quick test suitable for kitchen chemists.

NaOH's remarkable ability to absorb water. A demonstration to show why NaOH needs to be stored properly.

Containers for lye solution. Choose a safe container for making and storing lye solution.

"Dry bucket" for storing NaOH or KOH. A method for keeping your alkali as dry and pure as possible.

Making wood ash lye. For those who want to make soap the old fashioned way.

Lye first aid. Never use vinegar to treat lye on the body!



Superfat. Facts and fiction about adding extra fat in soap.

High oleic, mid oleic, and regular oil. Not all sunflower, safflower, or canola oil is the same

Calculating fat content from nutrition labels. Do you ignore the fat added when you use coconut milk in your soap? Maybe you shouldn't!

How to use "ppo" What does this abbreviation mean and how to use it?



Lye Concentration versus Water:Lye Ratio. A handy table.

Full water and other drippy myths. Want more consistent results when soaping? Better ways to calculate the water for your soap recipes.

Auntie Clara's blog on water content. Clara Lindberg shows how water content can dramatically affect the appearance of soap. Here are her blog posts about this topic (external links):

Glycerin Rivers: Secrets Revealed
Glycerine Rivers: Trying To Understand Them
Intentional Crop Circles: Water Discount As A Design Tool
The Ghost Swirl
Ghost Swirl Soap Follow-Up
What's Hot and What's Not – A Study In Overheating



Fragrance tips. How to interpret IFRA guidelines for adding fragrance to soap?

How to use "ppo" What does this abbreviation mean and how to use it?



Glycerin made by saponification. A quick way to calculate this.


Acids and Salts to increase hardness or lengthen the shelf life of soap

So what do acids do in soap?

Acetic acid (Vinegar) and Sodium acetate

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and Sodium ascorbate

Citric acid and Citrus juice

Sodium citrate and Potassium citrate

Lactic acid

Sodium lactate


Chelators to bind up trace metals that can cause rancidity, DOS, and sticky soap scum

So what is a chelator anyway?

Tetrasodium EDTA

Sodium citrate and Potassium citrate


Antioxidants to prevent oxidation and rancidity

Rosemary Oleoresin (ROE)

Tocopherols (Vitamin E)


Soap Making Techniques and Tools

Stick Blender Basics. How to choose and use this must-have tool for making soap.

How to use "ppo" What does this abbreviation mean and how to use it?

Tips for pouring liquids. Eliminate drips and dribbles with pipettes and pour sticks.


Safety and First Aid

Lye first aid. Never use vinegar to treat lye on the body!

Choosing a respirator

Choosing eye protection

Zap test. A time-honored, quick way to check for excess lye


Product packaging, labeling, and photography

Labels and Labeling. What information should be on your soap labels and the other documentation you create for your soap?

Creating soap labels. How I design and make labels for my soap?

Using shrink bags to package soap. How do I package my soap?

Product photography tips


Get more help

Do you need specific help about information I have shared here? Or do you have a suggestion or correction to make these articles more accurate and useful? If so, please contact DeeAnna.

Do you need general help about soap making, doing basic math calculations, evaluating soap recipes, using various ingredients, troubleshooting soap problems, or developing your business? If so, please join the Soap Making Forum to get help from experienced soap makers.


Terms and conditions

Most of these soap making articles come from posts I have written on the Soap Making Forum since 2014. Various SMF members have encouraged me over the years to put my articles in a single location so they could find this material easily and quickly. My solution was to put them here.

Audience. My target audience is the novice to intermediate soap maker with only basic skills in math and science. For this reason, I do not provide references except for giving proper credit for quoted material. If I was writing for a technical or scholarly audience, I would list references, but I am not, so I don't.

References. If you would like references for a given topic, just ask. I have always and will continue to do my best to respond to reasonable and specific requests. Be aware that some of the more technical reference materials I use are only available as printed books or behind paywalls.

Copyright. I retain all copyright privileges, which means this website is my intellectual property, and I retain ownership of all content on this website. You are welcome to use this material for personal, research, or educational purposes, as long as you do not sell my work for your personal gain or present my words to others as if they are your own.

If you want to quote this material in any published work -- including but not limited to a magazine article, book, school report, or term paper -- keep the quote BRIEF (2-3 sentences) and include a clear reference to the source of the quote. For example:

The material quoted comes from DeeAnna Weed at <insert URL here>

Corrections. While I do my best to present accurate information, I make no guarantees about the correctness of the information presented here. If anything is unclear or if you find errors or inaccuracies, please contact me about your concerns. If I am in error, I will acknowledge my mistake and correct the problem.

Disclaimer. Soap making is a risky activity, and I am not liable for any injury that you or others may receive when making soap. Use this information at your own risk.

Ownership. I am the sole author and owner of all content on this entire website unless I specificially state otherwise. I receive NO compensation for my soap making articles. I reserve the right to change, delete, or add content anywhere on this website at any time and without notice.

DeeAnna Weed, BS ChE, MS AgE, PhD