Every spring, I look forward to making one of my all-time favorite soaps – Dandelion & Honey. I’ve been making some version of it for about 14 years or so now, changing up the recipe here and there for variety.
This year, I decided to switch things up and turn it into a liquid soap, instead of bars.
Liquid soap is one of those things that seems complicated, and some methods are overly so, but this recipe is fairly straightforward.
If you’ve made cold process or hot process soap before, this liquid soap recipe shouldn’t give you any trouble!
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Dandelion & Honey Liquid Soap Recipe
All measurements are by weight. You must use an accurate scale to make soap.
- 8 oz (227 g) coconut oil (40%)
- 4 oz (113 g) dandelion-infused olive oil (20%)
- 4 oz (113 g) sunflower oil (20%)
- 4 oz (113 g) castor oil (20%)
- 4.63 oz (131 g) potassium hydroxide (KOH) (3% superfat)
- 13.75 oz (390 g) dandelion tea and/or distilled water
- 1 tsp honey mixed with 1 tsp warm water
Also needed for dilution phase:
- vegetable glycerin (I use this palm-free kind)
- distilled water
I use a 4 quart crockpot (slow cooker) picked up from my local big box store for making soap.
Liquid soap requires a different type of lye than bar soap. For this recipe, you’ll need to order some potassium hydroxide (or KOH). I usually buy mine from Essential Depot. It’s 90% pure, so this recipe is calculated for that purity level. If your potassium hydroxide has a different purity, you’ll need to run the recipe through Soapee’s lye calculator with a 3% superfat for the new lye value. (Higher superfats aren’t needed in liquid soap, since extra fat tends to separate out of the finished soap.)
After you’ve obtained some potassium hydroxide and are ready to make the soap, you’ll next need to make a dandelion tea and dandelion infused oil.
To make the tea, place 1 cup of dandelion flowers in a heat proof jar and pour 1.5 cups of simmering hot distilled water over them. Let the tea infuse for about 20 to 30 minutes then strain. Cool completely before using in soap recipes.
To make the infused oil, please see #1 on my post 12 Things to Make With Dandelion Flowers.
LEARN TO USE HERBS & FLOWERS IN SOAP
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How to Make Dandelion & Honey Liquid Soap
Once you have a dandelion tea and dandelion infused oil, you’re ready to make your soap!
Place the cooled dandelion tea in stainless steel or heatproof plastic container. If you don’t have quite enough dandelion tea, you can just add more distilled water until the liquid weighs 13.75 oz (390 g).
Wearing gloves and goggles, weigh out the potassium hydroxide and sprinkle it into the dandelion tea. Stir well.
The lye solution will turn a bright yellow-orange, but that’s normal. Set the lye solution aside while you prepare the oils.
Weigh the coconut, olive, sunflower, and castor oil into a slow cooker.
Turn the heat on low then pour in the dandelion tea and lye solution. Hand stir for about 5 minutes until incorporated.
After hand-stirring for several minutes, start blending with your immersion (stick) blender. Blend on and off until you reach trace. Don’t run the immersion blender continually or you’ll risk burning out the motor.
Stir with the immersion blender for a few minutes, then let the soap rest for several minutes before stirring with the blender again. It will take about 25 to 30 minutes before trace is reached.
The photo above shows my soap at trace. You can see it got a little foamy from the stirring, but that’s okay.
At trace, thoroughly stir in the honey and water mixture.
Now, it’s time to cook!
The photos above show how this batch of soap looked over cook time. Your times and appearances might vary some, depending on how hot your slow cooker runs.
Keeping the heat on low, cover the slow cooker (crockpot) and check every 30 minutes or so, stirring with a heat proof spatula or spoon each time you check.
The soap will turn darker and gel-like in spots and you’ll probably see some clear or cloudy liquid separating from the soap. Just stir everything back together, cover and cook some more.
After about 2 hours, you should notice that the soap batter has gotten thicker and more concentrated as you stir.
Keep cooking until the soap looks like the final photo in the collage above – it will resemble the glossy look of vaseline. (Or, if you’ve ever made homemade coconut pecan frosting before, it reminds me of that look, minus the pecans & coconut.)
This particular batch cooked about 4 hours, but yours may not take as long or may take a little longer.
When you think the soap is done, scoop out a small amount, let cool until comfortable enough to handle, then mix with a bit of distilled water to dilute.
Touch the diluted paste with the very tip of your tongue – if it gives your tongue a “zap” then it needs to cook longer. If it just tastes kind of gross and like you just licked soap, then it’s good to go!
At this point, you could store your paste in covered jars until you’re ready to dilute, or you could dilute the whole batch. (Keeping portions of it undiluted will extend shelf life, since once you add water, shelf life is shortened.)
The pH of this finished diluted soap runs around 9. Because of its natural alkalinity, many soapmakers don’t add a preservative, as long as you dilute with only distilled water and/or vegetable glycerin.
If you try to dilute with fresh ingredients like herbal teas or milk though, then you’ll definitely need to explore a preservative of some type since they spoil so easily. (For that reason, I add those types of things to the recipe BEFORE cook time.)
Liquid Germall Plus is often used in liquid soap, if you’d like to explore that route.
To figure out the dilution amount:
Weigh the fully cooked soap paste.
The cooked soap paste in this batch weighed about 26 ounces (737 g).
Multiply the weight of the fully cooked soap paste by 0.20 (or 20%) to get the amount of glycerin needed, then multiply the weight of the soap paste by 0.80 (or 80%) to get how much distilled water you need.
For this batch, that means I needed 5.2 oz (147 g) vegetable glycerin and 20.8 oz (590 g) distilled water.
Combine the glycerin and distilled water in a deep stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Scrape the soap paste into the boiling glycerin/water mixture, stir a bit so the paste is covered by liquid as much as possible, then cover the pan and turn off the heat, leaving the pan on the still-hot burner.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring and mashing with a fork, spatula or potato masher occasionally.
Once cooled, bring the mixture back to a boil once or twice more and then allow to cool again, stirring occasionally to break up larger lumps of soap paste.
Keep the soap in the covered stainless steel pan for a few days, stirring occasionally, until all of the soap paste is dissolved.
Pour into jars (I pour through a fine mesh strainer to catch any stray lumps) and allow the soap to settle for a few more days, though you can use it right away if you’d like.
And, that’s it! You’ve made liquid soap!