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Suds N’ Scents Lye Calculator

Calculate your lye amounts for the perfect batch!

Safety Check when working with Lye

  • Wear protective clothing including eye protection, mask, gloves and foot protection
  • Work in well ventilated area with sink and faucet
  • Have a bottle of vinegar handy (help to neutralize lye if splashed on skin)
  • Keep away from children’s reach
  • Never mix with other household cleaner

Basic Cold Process Soap Making Instructions

1- Measure the lye (sodium hydroxide) and carefully add to your measured water. Stir until dissolved. Never reverse this process by adding the liquid to the lye. An eruption may occur with splattering and spitting and the risk of burning skin and eyes. Avoid inhaling the fumes and continue stirring until the lye is dissolved in the water and the lye/water mixture is clear. Set the lye aside in a safe place away from children and pets.

2- Select your oils and weigh them and melt/heat as required. Ensure the solid fats/oils are completely melted as they will not saponify.

3- Choose the temperature you want to work with in your soap recipe. Common temperatures for soap making range from 100 degrees F to 150 degrees F. Once the desired temperature is reached, add the lye/water mixture to the fat/oil mixture.

4- Stir until mixture reaches trace stage. This could take from 15 minutes or more. If tracing takes longer than 15 minutes, you don’t need to stir continually. It’s important to stir continually and evenly for the first 15 minutes. After that take a break and stir for 5 minutes every 10 to 15 minute intervals until traced.


* What is superfatting level? Learn about superfatting here

Trace Stage

You’ll notice the mixture will change and become thicker as you continue stirring. You must continue stirring until your mixture has reached the “trace” stage. The trace stage is recognized by either a) taking your spatula and drawing a line in the soap – if the mark remains for a few seconds – your soap has traced, or b) take a small dollop and drop-in back on top of the mixture (- if it remains on the surface for a few seconds before sinking back down – your soap has traced).

The mixture once traced, will have the consistency of runny honey, thin pudding, or cooked custard.

5- Once your soap has traced you can either add your optional ingredients (herbs, colors, fragrance or essential oils, etc.) or just pour it plain into your prepared, greased soap mold.

6- Place plastic wrap over the top of the soap to provide an air barrier and wrap it with a towel or small blanket to keep it insulated and warm for the next 24 hours. After 24-48 hours, unwrap your soap and ensure it has cooled to room temperature and it’s firm. Wearing protective gloves remove the soap from the mold by scoring the edges with a thin knife and placing mold upside down tapping gently or pressing down on the back of the mold. If you’re having difficulty removing soap from the mold you may try placing the soap and mold in the freezer for a few hours.

After removing soap from mold, slice your soap into the desired width. Place the bars of sliced soap on a wooden or plastic rack in a warm, dry, well-ventilated, dark place and allow your soap to cure for a minimum of 3-4 weeks or longer