How to Make Soap at Home: A Recipe for Kitchen Coffee Spice Bar Soap

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I don’t know about you…

…but I LOVE working in the kitchen.

I may not be an awesome food blogger (many thanks to those of you who are), and I may not make the most excellent of meals, but gosh-darn I love to cook!

Cooking from scratch and fresh, local foods excite me.

So that usually means chopping and mincing lots of onion, garlic, and the like.

Not to mention, working in the garden, looking after the chickens, and tending to the house — all of which keeps my hands pretty dirty and in need of washing constantly.

But those soaps you buy in the store just dry my hands out and I hate using “anti-bacterial” hand washes. So, I set out to find a homemade solution…one for the kitchen sink.

Kitchen Coffee Spice Bar Soap was it!

Coffee soap is one of my favorites! For a couple of reasons:

  1. It really works to deodorize my hands.
  2. The grounds feel so good as they exfoliate and scrub all the dirty away. 

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Soap-Making Basics

As I’ve shared with you all before, my journey into soap-making began years ago.

Thanks to the Internet and amazing people that are willing to share their wisdom so freely…I was able to learn the skill.

  • Wardeh, who runs Gnowfglins, on her personal blog Such Treasures gives the clearest, most easy to follow directions ever! This is the exact post that got me started. She uses the hot processed method and I highly recommend that you read her recipe if you are even the slightest bit interested in making your own soap.
  • Renee of Fimby was also very inspirational and such a great resource! Watch her awesome video that describes the cold processed method for making a simple soap by clicking here.

Yes, I had to overcome the fear of blowing up our house when working with the lye, but I finally decided that if generations and generations of women before me could do it, well then…so could I.

Nowadays, making soap has become second nature and very much a part of the routine here in my home.

If you are new to soap-making, I strongly suggest you read through these very informative articles and find what will work for you:

I would also recommend borrowing a few of these books from the library if you really find yourself wanting to know more:

Kitchen Coffee Spice Bar Soap

Base Oils

  • 12 ounces Olive oil
  • 10 ounces Coconut oil
  • 6 ounces Sustainable Palm oil
  • 2 ounces Castor oil
  • 1/2 ounce Jojoba oil, optional

Lye Solution

  • 4.30 ounces lye (6% excess fat)
  • 10 ounces triple-strength coffee, cooled 

Exfoliant

  • 2-3 tablespoons coffee grounds, wet or dry

Add-Ins

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 ounces essential oils, your choice (Note: I like to use a combo of may chang, lemongrass, lemon, clove bud, ginger, cinnamon, and sweet orange)

Hot Process Method
*Remember…there are 2 different methods for soap-making — hot and cold process — this is the Hot Process Method.

1. Prepare the triple-strength coffee — using distilled water — with the help of your french press or coffee maker.

2. Cool the coffee in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. But whatever you do, do not use hot coffee.

3. Once cooled, measure both the lye and coffee — each in separate bowls — using a kitchen scale. Note: Always run your recipe through a lye calculator to be sure that you are using the proper amount of oils, lye, and liquid.

4. Carefully combine the lye and coffee by pouring the lye into the coffee (never pour liquid into the lye) and stir liquid until lye is completely dissolved. The liquid is caustic and not to be touched in anyway. The outside of the bowl will be extremely hot as well. Be careful when working with lye and follow all of the recommended precautions. Note: What I’m trying to say is, I can not be held responsible for any craziness, mishaps, explosions, etc. that may happen when making this recipe.

5. Allow the lye mixture to stay under a vent and cool down while you prepare the oils.

6. Measure the oils — by weight — and then place in a crock pot to melt on low heat. Please omit the Jojoba oil…we’ll be adding that later.

7. Once melted, add the lye/coffee mixture to the oils in the crock pot and stir. Note: Any equipment the lye touches needs to be neutralized in a mixture of white vinegar, soap, and water.

8. After a brief stir, grab your stick blender and get to work! Blend the oils and liquid in the crock pot for at least 1-2 minutes. We are working toward “trace.”

9. After 1-2 minutes, add the coffee grounds, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

10. Continue blending for 2-3 minutes more — until the mixture becomes a thick, pudding like consistency.

11.. Once the mixture is pudding-like, cover the crock pot and “cook” the soap, on low heat, for approximately 1 hour.

12. Prepare your mold. Note: I just use a standard loaf pan lined with parchment paper and it’s always worked perfectly and this recipe is enough to fill one loaf pan.

13. Once the soap is done “cooking” remove from heat and quickly add the jojoba oil and essential oils.

14. Stir until well combined.

15. Spoon soap mixture into molds.

16. Allow soap to cool and harden for 24 hours.

17. Remove from mold on to cutting board and cut into bars.

18. Place bars on a tray with good airflow so that they can harden further. But go ahead and feel free use your first bar!!!

Where Can I Get This Stuff?

Looking for the raw materials mentioned in this post? The Soap Dish has some of the best prices on soap-making ingredients you can find — not to mention it’s a small family owned business.

I also highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs for high-quality, organic herbs, oils, and essential oils!

Be sure not to miss a post, click this link to receive my free eBook and Frugally Sustainable tips by email.

This soap — and many other of my handmade goodies —
may be purchased in my little Etsy Shop by clicking this link.

Photo Credit: All the credit goes to my dear friend — Tammy Zelez Photography — for the photos in this post! Isn’t she awesome!

Comments

  1. The photos in this post are stunning! Nice work :)

  2. This is definitely on my bucket list for 2013! Thanks for the great post. I cannot wait to try it. BTW I pinned it too so that other’s can find your great recipe and suggestions.

  3. I’m strutting around like a proud chicken because I saw these pictures on Instragram before you posted them. HAHAHAHA! :-)

  4. jody greiner says:

    I used to make soap all the time. I do have a suggestion. If this is something that you think you will do on a regularly, get equipment that you will only use for soap making. I had a rubbermaid 2 quart pitcher (of lye/water mixing), a spatula and plastic spoon (for lye/water and mixing oils), a stick blender, loaf pans (for molds),and a old crock pot that was only for soap. I picked most of it up at goodwill cheap.

  5. Andrea, thanks for ALL the wonderful recipes for soap and lots of other things. I wasn’t going to make soap for a little while but now HAVE to make this!
    PS: Thanks for your Wednesday posts when we can share with others and see what others have done!

    • Make it Keo! You’ll love it…and thank you for your kind words:) I love the community that gathers here every week. So many people willing to share their wisdom:)

  6. I definitely would not use a crock pot for this. That is, keep a separate crock pot from your family cooking crock pot. This is a very important safety rule. Artists are trained in this type of thing and you don’t mix containers between food and non-food. You are risking your health if you don’t do this.

    • Yes Lynda! Like Jody mentioned…keeping separate supplies is a very smart and good idea. I will say however, as long as you use non-plastic or wood utensils everything else can be neutralized using a mixture of vinegar, soap, and water. Additionally, it’s important to note that using the hot process method of soap making causes the saponification process to occur rapidly. In fact, after the mixture has “cooked” it is soap. I simply wash the crock pot with the residual soap left in the pot and it’s clean:)

      • Heather says:

        I agree Andrea. By the time you are done with your hot process soap, it is the very same soap you will use to wash your dishes with! I use it to wash all my dishes. I just start out with a sink full of vinegar water so that I don’t have to worry about neutralizing half way through soap making. I drop stuff in the sink, when done, I drain the sink and throw them all in the crockpot full of soap residue, add water and wash them right in the crockpot. No dish ever got cleaner!

  7. A very timely post as I have been hunting around for a coffee soap recipe. Thanks!

  8. I think this is a great idea. At first glance, the soap looked like a brownie. I knew I was logging into a site for SOAP making, so I knew what it was. But I’m sure I’m not the only person who has thought or will think that what looks like a brownie is actually a bar of soap. Any suggestions?
    I second the suggestion that one have completely separate utensils and pans, and especially a dedicated crock-pot (used ONLY for soap-making). It’s not worth the risk of missing some soap residue in the family crock pot, or forgetting to clean it entirely.

  9. I love anything coffee, but coffee soap for the bathroom just never felt – smelled:) quite right – but hey, I love the idea of having coffee soap by my kitchen sink.

    Question – can I leave out the jojoba oil? I have all the other ingredients except the lye, I’ll follow your links to order that, but right now I just don’t want to invest into another type of oil..

    To the ladies voicing their concern about mixing food items like a crockpot and utensils for a non-food project – ahem – read the post, it clearly states one should never mix or use these items like the mixer and crockpot for preparing food ever again.

    Great post and I’m really greatful for all the links and reading suggestions – saves me a lot of time and money:) If I didn’t already follow you, this post would convince me too:) Pinning this to my 2013 Pinterest Projects – thanks:)

    • Great comment Rose! And thank you so much for your support and encouragement:) As for the jojoba oil…leave it out if you don’t have it. I like to add it at the end with the essential oils because it gives the soap so much more moisturizing properties, but it’s NOT essential — not to mention it is super expensive these days. Make it without! Even still, I think you’ll find the soap to be incredibly soothing for your hands:)

    • LaPetiteCroissant says:

      Andrea is correct that you can leave out the jojoba. Since it is a superfat, added at the end of cooking, you will be missing out on some extra moisturizing. I suggest adding the same amount of an oil you already have. Sweet almond is very nice for skin.

      Hot process soaping allows you to add special oils at the end, when they will not react with the lye. Many people add fancier oils to hot process than they would to cold process because of this. Still, cold process soaps are lovely, even with “ordinary” oils like olive and castor doing the superfatting.

  10. Andrea, this is not about crockpots…:-) But, I wanted to know if you have every used lye from wood ashes? I have a special needs child, and I really don’t want to keep lye around, but I have been interested in wood ashes for a long time. Thanks~Kim

    • Hi Kim! I completely understand your concern regarding keeping lye in the house. I will say that if you were to order it from The Soap Dish it comes in a small, sealable container that is easy to store. That said…I have done a LOT of reading regarding making lye from wood ash. I have not tried it yet, but would love to just so that I fully understand the process.

  11. This is really interesting to me. I can see how the coffee grounds would be a great exfoliater after working in the garden.

  12. Gwendolyn says:

    Yes, the photography you show is beautiful!

  13. Your link to Wardeh’s soap-making post is coming up with a link not found kind of page. Too bad. She has a great website!

  14. Is it possible to use crockpot liners (Reynolds) with this (the lye)?

    • LaPetiteCroissant says:

      NOPE. SORRY. Nothing aluminum. Stainless steel, plastic or glass.

      You do not need to use a crockpot. I happen to have one I use for dyeing, so I used it for soap. I now prefer soaping in a double boiler. I use stainless steel pots.

  15. I had been looking for tips on how to make soap. I recently got handed down a crockpot that I can use, this is so informative. Thanks!

  16. Love this! Next leap in my brain is there is a beer soap recipe? ;-)

  17. I tried making lye from wood ash on a group camping vacation. We were using it to make paper pulp from plant material as a craft project with a gaggle of 8-10 year olds. Didn’t work out . But we just moved on and tried other methods and still made paper. Everyone stood around wondering if this would make soap…I learned later, we needed a different wood to burn and a better filtering process.

  18. Barbara K. says:

    I’ve not yet made soap, so pardon my ignorance, but why do I have to have dedicated soap making equipment since this is making actual soap? Why wouldn’t it all wash out when finished? I would agree on measuring cups and anything I would use for the unprocessed lye. Many other recipes say not to use the soap for two weeks or so, but you say I can use this as soon as it hardens. Is that because of the way it’s processed? I really want to try this, but I’m a little bit intimidated.

    • I have a small soapmaking business and feel like you do about the equipment. For my glass bowls and stainless steel pots, I double wash them and use them when needed in the kitchen. I would not use any plastic containers for soapmaking and in the kitchen.

      There are different kinds of soapmaking processes. The hot process makes the soap usable almost immediately. If you use the cold process method, you have to wait for weeks…usually 4-6 weeks.

      Don’t be intimidated…just be safe by covering using safety glasses and gloves. Keep vinegar nearby to neutralize the lye in case you get it on yourself. I mix my lye water outside and let it cool down there (out of reach of children and animals).

    • You would only have to worry if you use a crockpot because eventually, the ceramic will be etched away by the lye. Ii hace used stainless for cooking and making cold process soap, but it is good practice to use sepaate pots and utensils. You can always get that stuff cheap at the thrift store. You can get a used crockpot for $10 or less.

  19. I have all of the oils except for the palm oil. Can I substitute more of some of the other oils instead? This looks great! Gotta try it!

    • I’ve read some people sub Crisco solid shortening for palm oil, if that’s the route you want to go. Of course you would have to run the new recipe through the lye calculator. Be sure to choose Crisco brand when you run it through the calculator as other shortenings have different proportion of oils. Here are the ingredients for Crisco to help you decide, personally I’ve never used Crisco.
      Ingredients:
      SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).

  20. You are AWESOME! Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait, just made my third batch of shampoo bar last weekend. I’m so glad you cited several resources and a posted very detailed recipe (especially about weighing you lye solution ingredients). I weigh all my oils when I make soap, but for some odd reason when it comes the the liquid for the lye solution, I find myself starting to use a measuring cup. YIKES! I must have in my brain I’m cooking vs. making soap. Hah ; )

  21. Thank you for the clear concise directions! I think I’ll try to make it!. My first and last attempt, (as of now), at soap making resulted in burns from a lye mixture that bubbled over on my hand… the container wasn’t deep enough… so I have been hesitant to try again, but your directions make it less intimidating, so I think I will try again :) I’ll let you know how I do!

  22. My husband has been making soap in a crock pot, and in researching his methods he learned that palm oil is not sustainably sourced. It has been over-harvested and leads to deforestation. I’m not sure where he got his info, (so no source to site here off-hand), but I just wanted to pass on the information. He ended up using a blend of olive oil, coconut oil,and grape seed oil . It worked great! :)

    • Great point you bring up! Read more about sustainable palm oil production here: http://www.greenpalm.org/en/about-palm-oil/what-is-sustainable-palm-oil and here: http://www.rspo.org/ There are organization working very hard to protect the sustainable production of palm oil. Yes it’s true that the production of palm oil for the large majority has caused huge deforestation and habit distruction, however there are now many farmers working with companies to produce organic, sustainably sourced palm oil. And I am passionate about supporting the organic farmer:) There are good companies out there committed to the cause…it just takes intentionality and research on our part to find them:)

      • Thanks for the links! I am glad to see organizations like this one helping out :) And you are absolutely right about the intentionality! In a perfect world, we would have to work hard to find the bad companies, not the good ones… *sigh* :)

  23. Sarah @RealFoodOutlaws says:

    Coffee soap is my favorite and this looks awesome! What would you suggest to use in place of the castor oil if I didn’t want to use it? Thanks!

  24. Looks good enough to eat.

  25. Sammye Campbell says:

    Love your blog! I am new to blogging and am excited to find yours. I am on the other side of youth and love seeing the naturalness and excitement of young families. I home-schooled my three children and am now rearranging the empty nest for this new season of life.

  26. These look beautiful. I just got over my fear of using lye (and blowing up my house) and made a batch of hot process soap. It was much easier than I had thought! This may be the next recipe on my to-do list.

  27. Oh yes! I cannot wait to make this! We have just recently ventured into soap making and I am so eager to try different recipes! Thanks for this!

  28. For those of you wanting to sub other oils, I would say no. Different oils have different saponification values (meaning the amount of lye needed to turn the oil into soap). If you dub oils and they have the same sap value, no problem. If not, you run the risk of messing up your soap. I know this firsthand, lol. While soapmaking is easy and fun, there are a few things you need to know beforehand. I would follow the recipe exactly as written. You can recover from a botched batch, but it is just easier to do it right the first time. Saves money and frustration :) Trust me, I have had my fair share of bad soapmaking experiences.

  29. Looks like a good recipe! I’m interested in the wood ash for the lye, but that can be a later project. I was thinking of using the lye calculator, does anyone know of one online they recommend? Also, what about using good old fashioned lard? You can get it at most grocery stores (and buy it on food stamps usually, which if you’re on a limited budget might really help!) and if I remember correctly it’s one of the (if not the primary) fats they used to use in “the old days” when soap making was a norm.
    The reason I’m asking all this is because I’m looking for stuff I can do without electricity. For now, living in “civilization,” the crock pot sounds like a wonderful idea, get one’s hands into soap making, and once you’re used to it, maybe try it over a campfire or propane stove. I actually have a (rather large) two burner tall legged propane stove (not like the little fold up ones, but very sturdy) that I thought would work great as it would be outside.

    Thoughts?
    Thanks, and blessings

    • LaPetiteCroissant says:

      I prefer using a double boiler to a crockpot when I hot process. That could easily translate to propane stove.

      Cold process soaping uses the heat generated by the lye and fats reacting. The soap needs to be insulated for 24 hours and cure for 4-6 weeks before using. If I had to soap “off grid” I might consider cold process soaping. I would also look into soft oil soap- such as an olive-castor combo. Castor adds suds. Olive is wonderful and makes a hard bar- it just needs to cure a while to get hard. It’s super gentle on your skin.

      As for lard, go for it. The reason old fashioned soap got a nasty reputation was not from the fats, but rather from the lye and unpredictable chemistry, Making your own lye from ashes is possible, but not something I would do for a product to go on my skin.

      I make a lard soap for laundry that has very little excess fat- I do not want that on my clothes. My face and hands, however, love superfatted soap. It’s like moisturizing each time you wash.

  30. I just don’t understand all the panic about using soap making pans, crockpots, etc. for other uses….food, that is…….. it turns into soap, afterall……so you wash it out….what’s wrong with using it for food later??? Any reasons out there?

    • 4my7kds says:

      I totally agree. I have my favorite pan that I make soap in, cheese and spaghetti all the time. I use the same utensils for stirring soap as for stirring anything else in my kitchen. I make soap in moderate batches of 28 pounds at a time (a double batch by my recipe) about 6-8 times per year as a good way to use up extra goat milk and as a moneymaker at boutiques.

  31. 4my7kds says:

    To better understand the recipe, it is not lye at the beginning when still in crystal form but sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide becomes lye once it is dissolved in liquid. So, when discussing soap making or its recipes, it is best to use the two different names because of the two different stages of sodium hydroxide. Some people do keep their sodium hydroxide in storage as lye because they make their own from scratch and if mixed up for this soap recipe as read, it would fail.

  32. Wow what a brilliant site, I love the sound of how this soap will smell. I may have a go at making it myself but in the meantime will buy some from your little Etsy shop. Photos are amazing by the way.

  33. Ally Millington says:

    Hi Andrea
    I have always wanted to make my own soap, but like you I am still afraid of blowing the whole kitchen up!! but I hope to at least give it a shot some time this year!
    Ally

  34. E. Stone says:

    I think I read somewhere that you can buy the lye mixture already mixed? If so, do you have the link? I don’t know if I trust myself to mix the lye. I’m scared to death! :-0

  35. Thank you for you perfectly explained recipe for soap making. I think of trying it out in my free days and will let you know what happened.
    PS: I really like your tips and DIY ideas. They are always helpful and creative.

  36. Mary Wheeldon says:

    I have just discovered your website and I love it!!! I’m getting ready to start on a whole bunch of projects that you have up for making homemade things. I have a question about the soaps. Can I turn this bar soap and the shampoo bar soap into liquid? Also thanks for making this site, it is so simple to find things here and you explain how to make things wonderfully. I’ve been trying to go all natural and not buy store bought items since there are alot of chemicals in them. You have inspired me to actually start making my own things. Thankyou :)

  37. 2 oz of essential oils, That is alot of different oils. I like to follow a recipe exactly the first time i make something but yikes, i don’t have all those different EO’s yet. What do you recommend? thanks

  38. The photos above really are stunning! Some of our soap looks like a chocolate brownie rather than coffee soap! Thanks for the recipe :)

  39. Tanya Erickson says:

    Thank you for the recipe!

  40. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I think that you could do
    with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit,
    but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read.
    I’ll certainly be back.

  41. This recipe looks amazing! I’ve been looking for a good coffee based soap, it just screams fall to me.

    I was wondering what your policy on selling made products based on your recipe is?

    Thanks

  42. Clove Bud and Cinnamon EO will cause trace QUICKLY, so be prepared, and have a non-breakable spatula. Been there, done that :)

  43. Oh Andrea, I made the Coffee Spice Bar soap Sunday afternoon and it smells so good. My husband walked through the kitchen and said “hmmm, your soap sure smells good!” I love having this at my kitchen sink as I cook all the time and am always chopping up onions and garlic! This is perfect and will make great gifts for my family!

  44. Hi there!
    So excited I came across this post as I’ve been looking for a coffee soap recipe for quite sometime to try here at home. Does the coffee smell come through at all once you mix in all those great spices? And do the spice powders add to the scent much or is it moreso just from the essential oils? Thanks for a great recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  45. Elaine M. says:

    I almost feel silly asking this question since you are all so proficient in making the soap from scratch. I had a recipe for making lemon soap that used goats milk based melt and pour soap base. I ordered the melt and pour and then decide that a coffee soap would make a great gift for my 2 friends that I meet for coffee a couple of times a month. ANYWAY – long story to get to the question. Is it possible to make this wonderful sounding soap using the melt and pour? I don’t want to waste it.

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