Milk and Honey Soap (Cold Process vs Hot Process)

How to hot process milk soap

I often get questions on my milk soap making posts as to whether it’s possible to hot process soap with milk in it. The short answer is: Yes, with some care taken, you can hot process milk soap.

For the longer answer, I’m going to take you step-by-step as I make this Milk and Honey Soap recipe both ways and show you just what the difference is when you hot process milk soap versus cold processing it.

If you’ve never made soap before, you might find this project a little tricky. Two simpler recipes to start with are Oatmeal & Honey Soap (cold process) or Hot Process Oatmeal & Honey (make in your crockpot).

How to Make Milk & Honey Soap using Hot Process or Cold Process Method

Milk and Honey Soap Recipe

Liquid & Lye Portion:

  • 9 oz (255 g) milk*
  • 1 oz (28 g) water
  • 4.05 oz (115 g) lye (5% superfat)

Oils & Butters:

  • 14 oz (397 g) olive oil
  • 7 oz (198 g) coconut oil
  • 4 oz (113 g) sunflower oil
  • 2 oz (57 g) shea butter
  • 2 oz (57 g) sweet almond oil


  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) honey
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) water – for hot process version only

Milk, water, lye and oil measurements are by weight. You must have an accurate digital scale to make soap.

* For cold process soap, you can decrease the amount of milk from 9 oz (255 g) to 8 oz (227 g) so it will firm up faster in the mold.

You can buy lye (sodium hydroxide) on Amazon.

frozen cubes of goat milk for soap making

Step 1: Weigh out the milk and freeze it in ice cube trays overnight. You can use goat or cow’s milk, fresh or canned. Canned milk is concentrated and should be diluted with equal parts of water before measuring out to freeze.

Step 2: Place the frozen cubes in a heat proof plastic or stainless steel pitcher or container. Add the water.

Step 3: Wearing safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves, weigh out the lye and pour it into the pitcher of frozen milk and water. Pour a little bit at a time, stirring well after each addition until the lye is fully dissolved into the milk. At this point, the milk will probably smell a bit like ammonia. That’s normal, but try not to breathe in any lye fumes. Set aside the lye solution for around 10 minutes, while you prepare the oils. The temperature will probably drop to around 90 to 100°F as it sits.

Step 4: Weigh the coconut oil and shea butter into a small saucepan. Melt gently over low heat, keeping a close eye on it. Weigh the other oils into your soap making pot or container and then pour the melted oils into there too. The melted oils should bring the temperature to around 90 to 100°F, though you don’t have to get too hung up on trying to make the temperatures match.

Step 5: Now, you’re ready to mix! Working carefully and still with gloves, goggles and long sleeves on, pour the lye solution into the oils. Stir by hand for around 30 seconds then begin mixing with an immersion (stick) blender. Do not use a hand mixer – you want a stick blender that looks like THIS.

Step 6: Blend for around 30 to 40 seconds, then hand stir with the motor off for 30 to 40 seconds. Alternate until trace is reached. “Trace” means that your soap batter has gotten thick enough so that when you drizzle some of it across the surface of itself, it leaves an imprint or “tracing” before sinking back in.

For this batch, I actually stirred a bit much and got a thicker trace than I normally would. So, here’s a photo for reference for you visual folks like me, but keep in mind it doesn’t have to be quite this thick:

How soap looks at a fairly thick trace

Up until this point, you were making hot process and cold process exactly the same way. Now, things start to differ a bit after this depending on the outcome you want.

Same Soap Recipe but Different Methods Yield Different Results

For Cold Process Soap Version:

Once trace is reached, stir in the honey and any other additives you’d like such as oatmeal or essential oils. Pour the soap batter in a mold and lightly cover it with a sheet of wax paper. Keep the mold in a fairly cool place and don’t insulate it. You can even refrigerate it for 12 to 24 hours, if you’d like to try to end up with a whiter bar. (I didn’t refrigerate the one shown.)

Once the soap has firmed up in the mold (24 to 48 hours, or longer), remove it from the mold, slice into bars and allow to cure for at least 4 weeks before using.

That’s it for cold process!

For Hot Process Soap Version:

Once trace is reached, pour the soap batter into a crock pot set on low. Cook for 1 hour, checking every 15 minutes of so and stirring each time you do. This is what my soap looked like over that period of time:

Milk & Honey Soap After 15 Minutes of Cooking
Milk & Honey Soap After 30 Minutes Cook Time
Milk & Honey Soap After 45 Minutes Cook Time
Milk & Honey Soap After 60 minutes cook time

Once your soap has cooked for an hour, you can add any extras you’d like to your soap. Mix the honey with the extra 3 tablespoons of water and stir quickly into your hot soap. The extra water helps it stir in without scorching and makes it easier to mix.

Spoon the soap into a mold. I use a glass loaf pan, like I use for baking bread, and line it with parchment or freezer paper. Many of my readers have mentioned that an empty Pringles chip can makes a perfect hot process soap mold. (I haven’t tried that, but it sounds like a good idea if you have one handy!)

Milk & Honey HP Soap Starts Off Darker But Will Lighten Some

Cooked soap will look dark in the mold, but it will lighten up a bit over the next few days. Also note that my crock pot runs on the hot side. I’ve seen pictures of lighter colored hot process milk soaps, so keep your heat low and yours might not be as dark as mine.

Let the soap sit in the mold for 24 hours, then remove and slice into bars. Hot process soap still benefits from 3 to 4 weeks of cure time to allow the water to evaporate out, creating a harder, longer lasting bar, but you can test a sliver of it right away.

And, that’s it for hot process!

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  1. Thanks for doing this! We are getting ready to make our own soaps, and I have been wondering what the difference is between hot & cold process.

  2. Thanks for this great tutorial (and all the others)… :)

    Just a quick question: why don’t you insulate the cold process soap?

    1. Hi Savanes! I normally insulate most batches of cold process soap, but when you add honey or milk in the mix then the natural sugars in those products will tend to heat up the soap more than normal. If you insulate milk soap (or honey soap), then it may overheat causing a crack to form down the middle, or worse, it will volcano through the crack and spill out of your mold. So, with those two ingredients, cooler is better. :)

  3. Pingback: How to Make Goat's Milk Soap From Grocery Store Items
  4. Do you feel like cold or hot process soap last longer? Or are they the same? Can you take any recipe and made the cold process and hot process?

    1. Hi Jessica! I think cold process might have the edge on lasting longer, but if you let your hot process cure for a few weeks too, it should be pretty similar. Hot process and cold process recipes are pretty much the same until you get to the trace stage. For cold process, you add the extras (essential oils, oats, etc) and then pour into the mold. For hot process, you wait on the extras and stir them in after cook time. If you want to make a cold process recipe into a hot process recipe, just make it up until trace, but don’t add the extras then, but cook it instead and THEN add the extras. If you want to make a hot process soap into a cold process, make the soap, add the extras (that you’d normally stir in after cooking) at trace and then pour into a mold. Most of the time, this works out! The only exception is if a cold process recipe has extra oils added at trace – they would normally be saponified by the lye, but if you add them after cooking, they won’t be and your bar might be a tad on the moisturizing/higher superfat side. (Usually not a problem though.) You also don’t generally need as much essential oils in hot process.

  5. Both of your soaps, cold and hot process look great! The process photo examples are fantastic to show how heat affects the bars.

  6. Hi Jan,
    Going to try this sosp but cp. I made my frist milk base soap yesterday. Was a nervous wreck. But it turned out and impatient to try it.
    Thank you so much for your recipes and encouragement to us all.

      1. Hi.It’s been 3. Days n still it’s not much demoulded more solid.its soft to tuch n if pressed goes in.iv demoulded it n how to cure it?It’s honey dint insulate as u sd.can I opt a freezer?or pack it in airtight box.How shd curation b done n duration.its oils n honey without milk..Pls help.its my first batch

        1. Hi Sakthi! It sounds like your soap needs more time in the mold. Is it out of the freezer/refrigerator now? I would let it sit at room temperature a few more days before trying to unmold, then see how it does. How much honey did you add? Keep me posted! :)

  7. If the goat’s milk is already frozen should the same weight be used? I don’t dare try it until I get an answer. Thanks! P.S. love your recipes!

    1. Hi Darlene! Yes, you are exactly right – you use the same weight. When liquid is frozen, it might change in shape and volume, but it still weighs the same since none of it is lost. Good luck with your soap! :)

    1. Hi Courtney! Usually you can swap out butters pretty equally in a recipe (shea/mango/cocoa/kokum/avocado butters).
      So you could use an equal amount of kokum instead of the shea and things shouldn’t change much.
      Just to make sure, you can run it through a lye calculator.
      and here’s a post that might help on how to use it when swapping oils:
      However, if you want to add 2 extra ounces of kokum in addition to the other oils and butters, then you’d definitely want to run that kind of change through the lye calculator, because you’ll need a new amount of lye.

  8. Great recipe! just one question, Does it double well? the last couple milk based soaps i’ve tried didn’t double very well even after running them through the lye calc a couple times. I could never get the same result as the first time.

    Maybe it’s just me D:

  9. I’ve read about the benefits of goat’s milk in soap, but haven’t found anything on the benefits of cow’s milk in soap.

  10. Hello, I made the hot process soap with goats milk. It turned out pretty much like the picture but has chunks of white in it. What did I do wrong or what caused the white chunks. Thanks

    1. Hi Debbie! Are your chunks hard, just like chunks of white soap mixed in? I’ve noticed that if I don’t stir every so often that I get sections of the soap batter turning white and hard (soap-like). I add a little extra water and stick blend right over each one until it breaks up for me, then hand stir stir stir the whole thing well before cooking some more. Stirring more frequently will keep that from happening. However, if your chunks are crumbly and dry, like chunks of lye, then that could be a problem. Does your soap lather up nicely and feel good on your hands? If so, then it should be fine to use! If it burns at all, write back and let me know and we can troubleshoot some more!

  11. can i use fresh homemade almond milk and turn it into a almond honey soap? using the same amounts in recipe? im getting ready to try this today or tomorrow. cold process. thanks! i love your site!!!

  12. Have you ever tried cold process – over process. I don’t have the patience for cold process but like the swirls you can get. I tried it last night for the first time and it all thickened up so quickly all I could do was layer it.

    Thank you for what you do, I so very much enjoy visiting your website and seeing what is new. It brings me much joy! Have a blessed day!

    1. Hi Brooke, I’m happy that you enjoy the site! CPOP is a great thing! I’ll get something written up on it someday soon hopefully.
      I don’t do a lot of swirls (though I love how they look!) so my recipes tend to be on the lower water side so they’ll thicken up faster & unmold sooner. You could add an extra ounce or so of water though, to give you more time for swirling. :)

  13. I made this recipe last week hot processed and the soap is rather soft. It looks good and I have not tried to use it yet. Is this because of the olive oil or because I did something wrong? It has been sitting out for a week but doesn’t seem to be getting any harder.

    1. Hi Susan! I tend to use water on the higher side when I make hot process, to avoid it becoming too difficult to work with. It’s probably the water content still needing to evaporate out. I just checked a leftover bar from this batch that I had from 4 months ago and it’s rock hard. If you’re pretty comfortable with making hot process, next time you can drop the water amount down an ounce or two. (This will hold true for all of my hot process soap recipes on this site, but my cold process ones are usually discounted a bit more.)

    1. Hi Dori! Yes, you could do that. Just take the amount that you plan to add at trace, out of the total milk allowance. So, if a recipe calls for 9 oz of milk, and you want to add 2 oz at trace, you would make the lye solution with 7 ounces of milk and stir in the other 2 ounces at trace. (Don’t add extra liquids or your soap will end up too soft.) Another idea is to add reconstituted milk powder at trace. So, for that recipe that calls for 9 oz of milk, you could use 8 ounces of milk to make the lye solution, and reserve the other ounce as 1 ounce of distilled water (more milk might work for this too instead of distilled water, but I haven’t tested that one out.) Then make your soap like normal, stir together the milk powder & water really well & blend that in at trace.

  14. Hi there! I’m pretty new to making soap- I’ve only done hot process so far- and I was wondering why the milk is frozen when you add the lye.

    Thank you!!!

  15. Thank You! My son lives in a residential care home. His Skin Is Very Dry needing special lotion.I have Found a wonderful Relief to his skin in the milk and honey. But the recipe I found and love superheated.Coconut Oil with honey? So To Not lose The Batch ,I hot processed It before It Was set in the mold. I thought it was lost because of the brown coloration. But I loved the result! I Tested it out on myself before I offered it to the house for his use. And now with your comparison by pictures, I see both batches were right on. Thank You! And yes..It is all fragranced by spices. I need it with as natural as I can get it. It is cinnamon and clove, milk and honey. Masculine but soft

  16. I’ve just started making my own hot process soap and really enjoying every minute of it :-). Since there is such a small amount of sweet almond oil used here, can I substitute it with castor oil? It’s less expensive and much easier for me to obtain. Thank you :-)

    1. Hi Melissa! Yes, castor oil is a great substitute. In fact, it should help boost the lather of your soap. Running it through the lye calculator, the lye amount barely changes – from 4.05 oz to 4.03 oz. Happy soap making! :)

  17. Hi! I don’t have sunflower oil, can I substitute castor oil or more coconut, or olive oil instead? (I’m planning to do CP with raw cow’s milk). Thanks so much!! :)

    1. Hi Chandra! Instead of sunflower oil, you can substitute another light oil. Castor oil would be nice, though 4 oz is usually the amount I add to a shampoo bar (to make it extra lathery) and I do a little less in bar soaps. You could do something like 2 oz of castor oil and the other 2 oz more olive oil, so it would look like this with those adjustments – (I ran it through a lye calculator and the lye amount barely changed a blip!)

      9 oz (255 g) milk
      1 oz (28 g) water
      4.03 oz (114 g) lye (5% superfat)
      16 oz (454 g) olive oil
      7 oz (198 g) coconut oil
      2 oz (57 g) castor oil
      2 oz (57 g) shea butter
      2 oz (57 g) sweet almond oil

  18. Hi Jan,
    I started my first experience on making soap 2days ago. My lemon soap was great as your recipe. Now i try to make this one for my sister! But the problem is to find shea butter and sweet almond oil in my town, can I substitute with the other oil?
    I make the percentage of oils before turn it to grams, here is my combination oils :

    olive oil 45%
    coconut oil 30%
    sunflower oil 20%
    castor oil 5%

    what do you think? could it be?
    thanks so much ??

  19. Hi Jan,
    I’m new to soap making and can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you for sharing!!
    Also, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. When a recipe calls for certain oils can they be substituted ? For example, if it calls for castor oil can olive oil or vegetable oil be used instead?
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Darcie!

      Yes, you do have some leeway in what types of oils you use, just keep in mind that when you make a change, your resulting soap will also change.

      Castor oil promotes bubbles, so adding it to a recipe boosts lather. (One reason why it makes a fantastic oil to use in shampoo bars!)
      Olive oil has almost no lather to speak of, but is a nice gentle cleanser (excellent for sensitive skin) and though it starts off soft, eventually cures to a very hard bar over a long cure time.
      Vegetable oil is a bit mysterious in what might be in it and since each type of oil needs a certain amount of lye to turn into soap, it’s better to know specifically what oil you’re using.

      I have a post I wrote on making substitutions here that you might find helpful:

      Good luck with your soap making adventures! :)

  20. Hi Jan! I need your advice asap pls!

    I run your recipe on a soapcalc and it gives me weird percentages.

    Pls tell me what percentages are the oils and what water discount did u use?

    Also can i substitute the butter with palm oil? And if i want to add castor oil for lather what would be the best way?

    Better to add all the milk at trace or ur way? Which would give a whiter bar u think??

    So many questions im sorry :) just dont want to invent and ruin your beautiful recipe!

    1. Hi Christine!

      I usually use the Majestic Mountain Sage lye calculator and this is the result when I plug the recipe in there:

      The percentages:
      Almond Oil, Sweet 6.90%
      Coconut Oil 24.14%
      Olive Oil 48.28%
      Shea Butter 6.90%
      Sunflower Oil 13.79%

      Ran through SoapCalc it would look like this:

      Water is adjusted closer to 35% than the standard 38%. (And to help your soap firm up faster, you could drop the liquid even a bit lower.)

      Yes, I think palm oil could substitute in equally with shea and will help contribute a bit more hardness to your bar.

      For the castor oil – I’d probably take 2 ounces from maybe olive (since it’s pretty high in almost all of my recipes) OR you could think about taking it from the coconut oil, depending on how much coconut oil you like in a soap.

      I don’t normally add milk at trace, but lately, I’ve really been favoring the method of using half the liquid as water up front to make the lye solution and the other half as milk blended into the oils right before adding the lye solution.
      For a whiter bar though, usually freezing the milk and keeping it very cool helps.
      I hope that I answered all of your questions and happy soap making! :)

  21. Hi again! I’m planning to make milk soap hot process and would like to put a fragrance in their… Would I add the fragrance oil after the Crock-Pot part?


  22. Thank you for a great explanation of the differences! I love making CP soap, but was wondering about doing the HP since it seems so much faster! I see people making it and selling the same week. Anyway, thank you for sharing – I follow you on IG and now will be following your blog too!


  23. I am following this recipe for hot process today and I made a mistake — I added the honey before cooking the soap. It’s cooking now and dark liquid is separating from everything else…is it ruined??

    1. Hi Sarah! The honey is probably just getting too hot from the cooking process and starting to scorch. If the soap is still cooking, you can remove it from the heat right away and stir it up really really well then pour/spoon into your mold. Depending on how long it has already cooked, it may not have gone completely through the hot process stages, but that’s okay – you can just treat it as cold process. Keep it in the mold for a day or two, then remove and slice into bars. (If it’s too soft, then let it stay in a few days longer.) Let the bars cure at least 3 weeks before testing out. It might turn out a dark brown color, but as long as it doesn’t smell unpleasantly burnt or scorched, and hasn’t separated in the mold or anything, the soap should be good to go!

    1. Hi Mare! Yes, you could use all olive oil, but then you’d have a castile soap recipe. For that, you’ll probably need a bit different lye amount.
      What you could do is take a castile soap recipe, and use milk instead of lavender tea.
      Otherwise, you can make the recipe just like this one here and it should turn out great!
      Castile soap does start out softer, so it might have to sit in the mold for several extra days, and you’ll also want to let it cure longer too.
      Also, castile soap doesn’t really lather a lot, but the milk and honey will help boost that.
      Good luck with your soap! :)

  24. How much does this make? I need to put in a calc to make it fit my size mold right? How do I know how to do it if I don’t know how much this makes? I am new to soap making and this will be my first attemtp

    1. Hi Kim!
      To figure out how much a recipe makes, (as far as “2 pounds”, “5 pounds”, etc), you add the amount of oils + lye + water.
      This recipe is
      29 oz oil + (abt) 4 oz lye + 10 oz liquid = 43 oz (or 2 pounds, 11 ounces)
      so you could use a 3 lb mold for it OR use a 2.5 lb mold and have a container or extra individual molds handy for any extra soap batter you may have.
      Good luck with your soapmaking adventures! :)

  25. Hello,
    I’m new to soap making and don’t like to make bug batches of one kind of soap. What is the best way to cut a recipe in half? Is there a specific website/calculator that can help with this?

    1. Hi Elizabeth! If you’re cutting a recipe exactly in half, with no changes to the oils or anything, you can usually just divide everything by 2.
      You can also input the amount of oils into a lye calculator.
      I hope that helps, but if you have more questions, just let me know! :)

  26. Hi Jan. What would happen if you combined the milk and honey, freeze the mixture and use this as the liquid to add the lye to? Even frozen would you end up with a volcano? Would the lye destroy the properties of the honey?

    1. Hi Valerie! I’ve seen a few people add honey to their lye solution. I would think it would increase the chances of it scorching and a potential lye volcano, but it seems to work for them! I’m a little bit too chicken to try that out myself though. :)

  27. Hi there,

    I want to create a subtle two tone white on white. I was thinking of only adding honey to one half, and putting a touch of zinc oxide or something white in the other. Do you think that would create a noticeable difference in colour? Also, with cold process, do you know what would happen if I left it at room temperature but didn’t insulate? Would there be enough heat in there to gel anyway? Many thanks :)

    1. Hi Meg! I’ve added a small bit of honey to part of a soap batch before to get a contrasting look, but it turns more of a honey-brown color than a white. (It still gives a really cool effect though!) What you could do for a white-on-white look, is put zinc oxide or kaolin clay in one half and leave the other half uncolored so it stays in it’s natural off-white shade. (Maybe aim for 1 tsp white clay or 1 tsp zinc oxide per pound of oils in your recipe. Mix the clay with water, the zinc oxide with oil, before incorporating.)
      If my house is REALLY warm in the summer, I sometimes let my soaps sit at room temperature uninsulated; also the same if a batch has honey or milk in it & I’m afraid it will overheat. Sometimes, that works and sometimes I get a partial gel! What I more often do is start the mold out lightly covered (with a sheet of wax paper, then a light pillowcase) and keep checking it every so often. If it starts cracking, I immediately uncover, but otherwise, just monitor it while covered so I can make sure I get that full gel.

    1. Hi Courtney! To get the weight of a recipe, just add together the weights of the oils + liquids + lye. In this case, there are 10 oz liquid (9 for cold process) + around 4 oz lye + 29 oz oil = 43 oz (42 oz for cold process) so 2 pounds, 11 oz. It should fit in a 3 pound mold.

  28. Very helpful! I’m making my very first batch as we speak. I wanted to know if you could take any cold process recipe and make it the hot process way so I could try it sooner. You answered that question wonderfully! Thank you!

  29. Hi Jan,

    I had great success (I think) with your CP version of this recipe. Now I am to the point of taking it out of the plastic mold. How long do you think I need to wait to do that?

    Also, 4 weeks is enough for the cure? Other sites talk about curing CP soap closer to 8 weeks.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Nathan! Hooray on your successful batch of soap!

      After 24 to 48 hours, the soap should be firm enough to remove from the mold. Sometimes it may want to stick a little bit, depending on the mold, so if you see that happening, just let it stay in another day or two.
      If it still doesn’t want to unmold easily by that point, you can try popping the mold in the freezer for several hours and then see if it releases.
      If you have to use the freezer method to unmold, the cold soap will build up some condensation as it sits out in the room temperature air, but that’s perfectly normal and it will evaporate off.

      I always start testing new soaps on my hands after 3 weeks of cure, but 4 to 6 is often recommended as ideal. Soaps high in olive oil do benefit from an even longer cure time, so 8 weeks could certainly work well for those kinds, but isn’t 100% necessary.
      After 48 hours, virtually all of the lye is reacted with the oils, so the soap won’t be caustic or anything after those first few days.
      The main point of cure is to allow moisture to evaporate from the soap so it becomes harder and lasts longer in the shower. Lather is often improved by cure time too.
      Some soapmakers like to weigh their soaps after cutting & throughout cure time. When the bars stop losing significant water weight, they consider them cured enough to use.

      1. Hi Jan, One more question (for now).

        I made the recipe and it was a success! I really like the feel and the level of suds. I find that it does need a good scent. Do you have suggestions (with the amount to use for this recipe)?

        I am thinking of a honey almond bar (using this They suggest to use about 3% of the fragrance. How do I calculate how many ounces of the fragrance that equals? Thanks so much!

        1. Hi Nathan!
          So glad the soap was a success! Looking at the link, it says:
          “Our Honey Almond fragrance oil can be used at .3%.”
          To figure out the amount of fragrance oil you would take the total weight of the oils of your recipe and multiply it by the recommended percentage.
          In this soap recipe, you would end up with:
          29 oz of oil x .3% (.003) = .087 oz of fragrance oil needed.
          .087 ounces converts to 2.46 grams which is a very small amount! They’re not kidding in the description and reviews when they say it’s super concentrated! :)

  30. Hi Jan,
    Your receipes are fantastic:) Thank you for sharing them as I have been learning too much from you:)
    Re-milk soap rcp — I would like to go with cold process. But I have raw Goat milk on hand. Should I cook the milk first or can I go with raw milk directly?
    Thanks in advance & kind regards,

  31. Hi, I’m new to soap making! I made a cold process batch and it was white in color when I put it in the mold but after a week the soap bars have turned a golden brown color. Is that normal? Will it turn back to white eventually or did I ruin the batch?

    1. Hi Shirley! Did the soap have milk or honey in it? If so, then it probably turned that color from the natural sugars in those ingredients. That’s completely normal and the soap will still be perfectly fine to use! :)
      For a whiter soap next time, you can use light colored oils (oils like extra virgin olive oil or dark green oils can darken your soap). You can also put the soap in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours after making it to keep it lighter in color.
      Those things are completely optional though. I personally don’t mind if my soap turns browner, but some people do – it’s whatever makes you happiest with your soap!

  32. Hi Jan,
    I am just getting into making soap and have found your site a wonderful resource, and I love your recipes and the way you explain the process. Many thanks!
    I am making milk soaps to use excess sheep milk we have and I seem to be haveing success with cold process. However I just made a double batch and tried to hot process half of it had a bit of a failure.
    I have no crockpot so had to use the stovetop (hob) on low and within a 5 or so minutes the soap started to split and separate – perhaps here I made a mistake as I stopped heating and quickly blitzed it again with the stick blender, with no improvement, I then kept heating hoping either this was normal or that I could retrieve the process. It did seem to come together if I stirred constantly and vigorously, but it then started smelling really bad (overcooked oil/fat smell). The result is a crumbly block with an uneven colour. I think over the last 48 hours the smell is reducing and whilst it seemed to oily to start it is improving in texture a little.
    After checking my recipe I have just realised the recipe I used was not the above recipe but your previous milk soap recipe for cold process with honey added (60ml) – and my lye was on the low end but still within the advised range based on the sage lye calculator. The cold process half of the recipe appears to be OK.
    If you have any advice or suggestions on what i may have done wrong I’d appreciated it. At this stage I am banned from making hot process soap in the house. But I’d love to be able to.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Bonnie! I’m so sorry to hear about the milk soap misadventure! Just double checking – did you add the honey before cooking? I would wait and add it after cooking, since it can really heat up soap and easily get scorched.
      What size and type of pot did you use to cook the soap in? It should be about 3 times the size of the soap batter so there’s plenty of room if the soap starts to “volcano” up. Was it heavy duty stainless steel? That would be the best choice to use, coupled with heat turned down as low as it can go. Anything lightweight could cause the soap to overheat, also aluminum and non-stick surfaces can cause an unhealthy chemical reaction. When making soap on a stovetop you also want to stir, stir, stir quite often and keep close watch. If you’re able to source a crockpot, you’ll probably find it easier to regulate the temperature & it will be a little more hands-off than using a stove-top. I hope that your next hot process try gives you better results! :)

      1. Hi Jan, Thanks for this. I did add the honey before cooking, I guess that sounds like the problem, honey induced over heating? The pot was good heavy duty stainless steel, and heat was a low as it could go, but the volume was only twice the volume of the soap. I did stir the soap very regularly but I was probably fighting a losing battle since I added the honey too early. Would the overheating explain the soap splitting or is some sort of splitting part of the normal process?
        Thanks for your thoughts. When my partner recovers from the smell of that last effort (which did not linger thankfully) I may try again, perhaps I should start with a non milk soap as my first hot process attempt? And I think I might as well avoid honey as well.
        Again many thanks for your time and advice!

        1. Hi Bonnie! Yes, soap cracks along the top when it gets too hot/overheated. If the temperature keeps rising, the crack could turn into a soap volcano, so anytime you spot it, you’ll want to move the soap to a cooler place or in front of a fan to help it cool down a bit.
          Hope your next batch goes great! :)

  33. Hi,
    I made this soap last night – only the second time I’ve tried making soap. I just unmoulded and sliced it and I think I’ve done something wrong. There are lots of tiny orange spots through the soap – especially on top – as though something hasn’t dissolved properly. It all looked a consistent colour when I poured it! Also it smells ammonia-like, is very soft and doesn’t lather at all. I know I measured all the ingredients out correctly. What have I done wrong?

    1. Hi Erica, I’m so sorry to hear that! How is your soap looking now? Sometimes when honey doesn’t get blended in well, it can leave brown or golden-brown places throughout the soap, but the tiny orange spots make me think perhaps something is up with the milk and/or the lye – perhaps it didn’t dissolve completely or the milk got scorched in spots?

      1. Hi Jan,
        Thanks for your response. I just got back from 3 weeks away and the orange spots have disappeared! Instead there are some tiny holes in the soap’s surface, almost like air bubbles. I have no idea what happened but the soap seems fine to use (just tried it on my hands and it lathered well and didn’t burn my skin or anything) so I guess all is OK? You might be right that it was honey as the honey I used was a bit granulated/gritty.

  34. Hello,

    I made hot process soap with coconut milk. I cooked it on low heat. It remained pretty pale in colour throughout cooking and did not get brown. I had it in a mould for 24 hours and then cut it. It is still pale. Is this normal? Will it darken over time? Perhaps I did not cook it long enough?


    1. Hi Candice! Coconut milk doesn’t have the tendency to scorch like animal milks do so it will stay lighter. It sounds like you did an excellent job of keeping the temperatures at a good level – that’s great!! :)

  35. I made this soap over the weekend. I was cream colored when it went into the mold, but when I took it out, it has a marble effect, cream colored and light brown. I did add Oatmeal Milk & Honey Cybilla Fragrance Oil from Bramble Berry, could this be an issue? and added honey. I also forgot to put sweet almond oil in it…did I mess it up? I could not add a picture to this comment for you to see. It smells really good and I kinda like the marble effect.

    1. Hi Rae! The marble effect is probably where the honey and/or the fragrance oil didn’t completely mix into the soap batter, but that’s usually just cosmetic and won’t hurt anything. However, not putting in the sweet almond oil does change the lye amount and puts it under a zero superfat. But, on the flip side, because it’s a milk soap, the natural milkfat may counterbalance the loss a little bit. Did you make cold process or hot process?

        1. Hi Rae! I’ve done that before too! :) To be sure that it’s a safe ratio of oil and lye, you could rebatch the soap, adding in the missing oil. It will change the appearance, but that’s what I’d do to be on the safe side:

  36. Jan, what a great comparison of cold vs. hot process soap! Thank you so much for another informative post, I just love reading them.

  37. I recently started making soap and have so many questions. Your site has lots of information a several good tips. I recently made hot process soap, but more recently made cold process to make three batches. I think I like making cold processed better and the soaps are beautiful and smooth. I may make another hot batch just to compare again. I am afraid to overdo the hot batch. It is hard to see the changes as it cooks so long, and worry about it going too far. But the soaps are just amazing to use,
    I will continue to visit your site. I appreciate the sharing of your knowledge.

  38. hello!!thats a great recipe i would really like to try it..just one question..could i add some colloidal oatmeal in it?and how much do you think would be ok?
    Thank you so much!!

  39. FWIW, I’ve made this recipe twice, which is also the exact number of times I’ve made soap. Needless to say I love the finished product, even though the first batch may or may not have been overworked before pouring. I liked it so much I immediately started researching other recipes and methods, leading me to batch number two, which I made using the room-temperature method. Happy to say this recipe lends itself beautifully to room-temp and is easy as can be and avoided the scorching problem when adding honey. Thanks for your recipe, I’m officially hooked.

      1. Batch 2 turned out so pretty, I couldn’t wait, so on to batch 3, this recipe, room temp method, then to the crock pot. Used it next day. I’ve always had problems with soap and itchiness. This is the answer, and it’s fun to boot. Maybe by next Christmas I’ll make something passable as gifts, who knows? Thanks for posting this.

          1. tried batch 3, the room temp batch, yesterday. zap test ok, still soft but who cares? smoothest, silkiest bar of soap i’ve ever used. i can’t tell you how happy i am to have stumbled upon your site.

  40. Hi Jan,

    I have only ever made cold process soap at a craft place. Going to try it on my own this weekend. I would like to keep my recipes nut free so that I can give as gifts. Is there a substitute for sweet almond oil? I will likely try the almost castile chamomile soap or the lemon balm recipe this time but eventually would like to try this one as I love goat milk soap. Thank you for your very informative website.

    1. Hi Christine! In this recipe, rice bran, hemp, avocado, apricot kernel oil or even more olive oil could be good substitutions for the sweet almond oil. With those choices, the lye amount should stay within an acceptable range and won’t need adjusting.
      Good luck with your soapmaking this weekend! :)

      1. Hi Jan,

        I left a comment on the natural soap recipe. The lemon balm turned out beautifully as did the rosa rugosa. I am officially hooked. Thank you again for sharing your expertise.

  41. Hi jan,
    I am hooked to your book. I have both of your books and I love them.
    I have two queries;
    1) what SF have you given for shampoo bars in your book
    2) what SF would you recommend for facial bars.

    1. Hi Anu! So happy that you enjoy the books! :)
      For shampoo bars, the superfat usually ranges from 5 to 6%. You don’t want a superfat too high, or you could get an oily residue on your hair.
      For facial bars, I’d start at 6% and if you have dry skin, perhaps try a 7% superfat & make sure coconut oil is on the lower side.

  42. Hi! I may have missed this in the comments if someone else already asked, but approximately how many bars of soap will this recipe yield? I’m excited to try it!

  43. I have someone that needs to stay away from nuts including oils. The sweet almond oil may be an issue. What could I use in its place? Would
    More sunflower oil work?

  44. Hi! Love this recipe. I had asked yesterday, but my comment disappeared. If I wanted a “stronger” honey scent, could I use another tbsp of honey along with some honey absolute?

    Thank you! :)

    1. Hi Joy! Comments have to be individually checked and approved one by one because I get a ton of spam comments each day.
      So your comment didn’t disappear, it was just waiting on my poky self to read and answer! :)
      Honey doesn’t actually give a strong honey scent in soap, so if you want a strong and noticeable honey scent, you’ll have to use a honey fragrance oil.
      The vendor you purchase that from will have a suggested usage rate for that.
      For the honey – you can definitely add more to the recipe!
      There are some suggested guidelines though – you can read more in this article:

    1. Hi Wendy! No, hot process soap and cold process soap both make very nice bars of soap.
      If you use the traditional hot process method, then your bar will look a little more “rustic”, whereas the cold process has a smoother finish.
      If you look into fluid hot process method though, you can make a smoother looking bar of hot process soap.
      Both hot process and cold process will need similar cure times to be at their best, so just pick whichever way makes it more fun for you to make soap! :)

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