Cold Process Liquid Soap (CPLS) for Dishes or Oily Skin

Cold Process Liquid Soap (CPLS) is a handmade soap created from soap paste that has been diluted over time. The soap paste is created using the Cold Process method of adding oils with potassium hydroxide (KOH). It is allowed to gel using its own heat, unlike the hot process method.

I made a pure coconut bar soap without any superfat using NaOH. It turned out to be the best soap I have ever used on dishes. This made me think, why not try it in a liquid soap?

Why Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is known to be a drying soap. Most soapmakers superfat when using it alone because it is so drying. This is what you want for dishes. Who wants a moisturized dish? Don't get me wrong, this soap can also be used as a body soap. I would not recommend using it as such if you have dry skin.

Before I begin, I will assume you know all the safety dos and don't when making soap. If you don't, STOP! Do not try this without knowing safety. Caustic chemicals are no joke.

Gather Your Supplies

For this recipe, I decided to add a few things that were not in my bar soap. Some additives and oils act differently in liquid soaps versus bar soaps. This is my formulation:

  • Coconut oil 90%
  • Castor oil 10%
  • sugar (1 tsp PPO)
  • sodium lactate (1 tsp PPO)
  • KOH (potassium hydroxide)
  • Distilled water (2:1 water to lye)
  • a preservative safe for a ph of 8-9
  • Essential or fragrance oils & a liquid soap colorant (optional). This tutorial omits these.

With all recipes, run them through a soap calculator if you want to try this recipe. I have found Soapee to be a great one. I use Soapmaker3 usually but found that the math didn't add up without having to alter the settings. It is still the best software for soapers.

Knowing how to manually calculate recipes is a great tool. If you do not have this knowledge, I recommend learning it. It comes in handy for making sure the calculators are correct. As we soapers know, it doesn't take much to ruin a batch of soap.

Let's get started.

Cold Process Liquid Soap

Gather the ingredients and equipment you will need. Begin by measuring out your Coconut and Castor oil. I prefer to make this Cold Process Liquid Soap in a small bucket that has a lid. It is perfect to make and store the paste keeping it airtight. There is no need to melt the coconut first although you can if you prefer.

Next, measure out your distilled water and set it aside. Then measure your KOH and set it aside as well.



Once those are measured, get your additives ready so you do not have to stop once you get started.

Pictured is sugar (1 tsp PPO) that will be added to the lye water while it is hot. Also pictured is the sodium lactate. In bar soap, it helps with unmolding but in liquid, it helps the paste dissolve better.


Now let's get soaping! 

Carefully and slowly pour your KOH into your water and stir until it is all dissolved.

Be careful. As you can see, it heats up fast. Next, add your sugar and stir until it melts and completely dissolved.

Once the sugar and lye have dissolved, gently pour the lye water down the shaft of the stick blender to keep the caustic fluid from splashing out. This is the safest pouring method.

Stir with a stick blender until all the coconut oil has melted. This will initially cool down the batter but it will heat up again.

Cold Process Liquid Soap


Stick blend for 4 minutes and then rest for 10-15 minutes.


After the first blend-rest period, expect some separation. (see below) This is normal. It easily blends back together with a few pulses from the blender.


After another 4 minute blend, rest again for 10-15 minutes.

There is no need to stand over the batter blending. This will only make you tired and cause your blender to overheat.

As you can see below, there is still separation and the batter is heating back up.

Cold Process Liquid Soap


Before the next 4-minute blend was done, my batter seized up nicely and became too difficult for the stick blender. I then turned to the spatula and stirred until it was impossible to continue.


At this point, cover with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band or string and let it sit for 18-24 hours while it gels.


Cold Process Liquid Soap 18 hours later

Cold Process Liquid Soap

As you can tell, it kind of looks like it did when we last left it but it isn't. The paste heated up enough to gel and have a shiny appearance. This let me know it was ready.

Next, we take equal parts paste to hot distilled water and dissolve. This takes patience because it also takes time. I know, patience is hard for us soapers.

Once the paste has fully dissolved check for clarity.

Cold Process Liquid Soap

I would say that is pretty clear. SMILE!

The ph for liquid soap is not the same as bar soap. You want it to be around 9, more or less. This batch was spot on!


Now for the fun part, dilution. Since this is coconut soap and I will be using it for dishes mostly, I will not be adding in fragrances or colors.  Also, I will not dilute past a 1:1 ration water to paste. To me, coconut liquid soap seems thinner than other oils and I am only a fan of thin soap when it is in a foamer bottle.

Heat your distilled water and either gently pour over the paste or add the soap paste to the water. Doesn't matter here. You can dilute it all at one time or just dilute as you need. You can also dilute in stages and add parts of the water slowly, allowing each to soften the paste as you add more.

If you are adding in scents, please be aware that some can change the clarity of your soap if you are wanting a clear batch.


Finished Cold Process Liquid Soap

Now that the paste is completely diluted, add your preservative according to the direction of the manufacturer and bottle up. Many will skip this step. Bacterial growth is no joke in water-based items. I see more and more people selling water-based products without any protection and I cringe. If you sell your liquid soap, use a preservative! Also, you can color or scent the finished soap at this point.

I hope you enjoyed this step by step guide to making Cold Process Liquid Soap (CPLS) for Dishes or Oily Skin. It was fun putting it together as a guide to help where I can. In the future, I plan to write a blog on how to formulate a recipe along with tips. Once it is done, I will provide a link here. If you made this soap, be sure to share it in the comments!

Happy Soaping! 


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