Updated: Apr 13
Although soap has been made for thousands of years, with written historical records that date back to 2800 BC in ancient Babylon, almost 5,000 years ago, liquid soap making is a relatively new process. Up until the late 1800s, bar soap remained relatively unchanged and was the primary form of soap used. As science and technology progressed, so did modern medicine and the awareness of soap’s ability to cleanse and help fight the spread of infection. Hospitals, institutions and other public facilities with large numbers of people required soap for handwashing and bathing. It is easy to imagine the dilemma that is created when large numbers of people need to wash their hands and bathe with bar soap, and so began the race to create a better and more efficient cleansing product for mass use.
In 1865, William Sheppard was granted patent number 49,561 in New York for his
"Improved Liquid Soap”. He dissolved a small amount of soap in a solution with
hartshorn, the horns from a male red deer, to create a soap with a consistency of molasses. This was the first liquid soap to be officially marketed and became the preferred soap for public use. (It should be noted that if Sheppard's patent was for
"Improved Liquid Soap", then there were most likely other liquid soaps formulated before his, although he is often credited with its invention.)
The earliest forms of liquid soap were very thick, expensive to make, and required high-price dispensers that constantly required maintenance due to clogging and other issues. This limited the use of liquid soap to large public facilities for another sixty years, until the demand for domestic liquid soap could no longer be ignored.
Today, liquid soap and liquid cleansing detergents are used by almost every human being on the planet- be it body wash, hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, and more. It is the primary form of soap used by humans today, and yet, with the large growing number of handcrafted soap makers, the handcrafted liquid soap market still remains relatively untouched. With over 350,000 handcrafted soap making businesses in the U.S. alone, why is it that handcrafted liquid soap hasn't gained popularity?
I believe that it is a two-part issue. First, there is a significant lack of valid and helpful information regarding the liquid soap making recipe formulating and production process. There are hundreds of thousands of bar soap making blog posts, books and videos, but liquid soap making resources are much more scarce and the information included often isn't very helpful. There aren't resources that describe the how, why, and what of liquid soap making, and they don't provide the information necessary to create and formulate successful recipes. Second, many of the older methods require a multi-step production process that mandates a minimum of 8-12 hours per batch. Without the tools and resources available, soap makers spend more than half of the day trying to make a single batch of liquid soap, only to fail due to the lack of resources that clearly explained the science and fundamentals behind the process and recipe formulating requirements.
Liquid Soap is a Solution of Soap and Water
One of the absolute most important things for soap makers to know about liquid soap is that it is a solution of soap and water. Those who are new to liquid soap making often completely disregard this very fundamental notion and this causes all sorts of problems. Without doing any research, those who have experience making bar soap jump right into liquid soap making and think that all of the same recipe formulating philosophies apply to liquid soap. I see it all time and then people wonder why their soaps didn't turn out the way they had hoped. I see people make their liquid soaps using an 8% superfat, add milk and juices for the dilution water, use colorants like micas and titanium dioxide, formulate their recipes with high palm oil and shea butter, dilute their soap with the bare minimum amount of water, and so much more. This results in problems like an oily layer of floating fats, colorants that sink to the bottom, cloudy soap, soap that is drying and irritating to the skin, floating precipitates, lye-heavy soap, seizing, microbial growth, separation, and so much more. For those who don't take the time to truly learn about the fundamentals of liquid soap science and recipe formulating, liquid soap making can be a very long, frustrating and expensive process, and most give up after the first few tries.
Luckily, at UG2SOAP, we have spent decades researching, compiling, and testing hundreds of different liquid soap making processes and recipes. Soap has been made in our immediate family for almost a century and soap making is something that we hold very dear to our hearts. As teachers, we work very hard to provide students with all of the tools needed to be successful in their liquid soap making endeavors and have created a liquid soap making coursebook that truly teaches students to become informed, experienced, and educated soap makers.
30-Minute High Temperature Liquid Soap
With our own personal research, experience, and education, and with the help of my grandma and the soap makers before us, we have perfected a method of liquid soap making that completely eliminates the need for long, drawn-out and time-consuming processes. We teach our students how to create beautiful, clear, and softening liquid soap in just 30 minutes in a process we call 30HTLS for short or 30-Minute High Temperature No-Paste Liquid Soap.
Through the use of extensive research, time, soap science, and dedication, we can use the tools and resources available to modern soap makers to formulate our soap recipes based on soap science, rather than just guessing and hoping things work out. We can use modern chemistry to formulate our recipes with additives that each perform specific functions to help accelerate, emulsify, stabilize, clarify, dissolve, soften, and more. We use the principles of soap chemistry to increase the molecular surface area, use thermal energy to increase the rate of molecular contacts, and continuous mechanical mixing to increase the number of contacts. We use additives that affect the surfactant phases and instead of creating a thick, solid, and difficult to dilute paste, we can create a consistency that remains soft and fluid that can quickly and easily be diluted in just a few short minutes.
All of these principles and so much more are discussed in great detail in our book The Ultimate Guide to Liquid Soap: Soap Science, Recipe Formulating, Cold Process, Hot Process, and 30-Minute Liquid Soap. We delve deep into the history of liquid soap, soap science, fatty acids, chemical reactions, superfatting, soap and oil qualities, dual-lye solutions, properties of diluting soap, additives, and so much more. Click here to get your copy today!
Each ingredient in our 30HTLS recipes serves a specific purpose, and each ingredient helps accelerate the reaction rate and accelerate the rate of dilution. This includes the selection of our oils, with a higher content of lauric and myristic fatty acids for an accelerated reaction rate and castor oil for its ricinoleic fatty acid content and unique OH group on the carbon tail that helps to quickly saponify and dilute at a rapid rate. We discuss all of these ingredients in great detail and provide students with 18 information-packed chapters and over five hundred pages of our experience and knowledge. We teach students how to successfully formulate and create their own 30HTLS recipes, in addition to teaching beginner processes like Cold Process Liquid Soap, Low Temperature Liquid Soap, and High Temperature Liquid Soap, all which create beautiful, thick and translucent soap pastes. Complete with video tutorials, chapter reviews, free one-on-one student support, an online UG2LS soap making community, free book updates, and so much more.
Sunflower Bubbles 30-Minute Liquid Soap
After reading and completing The Ultimate Guide to Liquid Soap coursebook, follow the provided written and pictured directions from your copy The Ultimate Guide to Liquid Soap coursebook for our 30-Minute High Temperature No-Paste Liquid Soap Process.
Want to know how easy it is to make a 30HTLS recipe? For those of you who have experience making liquid soap and have made it up to this point in the UG2LS coursebook, join us as we make our Sunflower Bubbles 30-Minute Liquid Soap recipe below. If you are new to soap making, have not completed the UG2LS coursebook, or do not have experience working with soap at a higher temperature, please use a Cold Process and Low Temperature Hot Process method instead, as this is a process and recipe designed for those with experience in the science and process of liquid soap making. Some Helpful Tips:
Please follow all heat and lye safety protocols. The recipe must be adhered to and no additive or oil substitutions should be made unless you have experience formulating 30HTLS recipes.
Starting temperature should be at 210-215F (99-106.7C)
Your crockpot/stainless steel pot must allow for expansion and we recommend at least 3X the total base volume (oil+alkalis+water+glycerin). This is mandatory and is not optional.
Use CMP (Continuous Mixing Process) until the soap has reached "cream phase", and then stop, cover, and allow to sit until soap-neutral.
If after "cream phase" the soap mixture becomes thicker and more jelly-like, or even develops a small amount of paste due to the use of sodium lactate (compared 30HTLS recipes that solely use sodium chloride and remain liquid), this is normal and ok. It will be a very soft paste that can be easily mixed with your immersion blender.
Ensure that soap is soap-neutral before adding dilution water by using a zap-test or create a 1:99 soap:water solution and use a more formal pH testing method
Dilution temperature should be at 175-200F (79C-93C). If your dilution temperature is above the boiling point of water, it will bubble, foam, and cause water evaporation, which hinders the dilution process
We recommend starting at a 36% soap concentration. This is the average saturation point of this recipe, less water may cause anhydrate soap. More water can be added if desired to create a lower soap concentration. The final soap concentration should be based on your soap's purpose, rather than simply diluting to the bare minimum. We discuss this in significant detail in our coursebook; please refer to the corresponding chapter for more information.
After the recipe has cleared on the bottom post-dilution, remove from the heat source and allow to completely cool to room temperature before proceeding with any next steps. This will allow you to adjust the soap concentration or hydrate any anhydrous soap. Our suggestion- when the soap has completely diluted and cleared, remove soap from crockpot, pour into new bowl, and let sit to cool for an hour or longer.
If a layer of anhdyrate soap (white foamy goop) remains on top of the surface after the soap has completely cooled (soap must be room temperature, not warm, anhydrate soap will often dilute as it cools), you may remove and hydrate separately. Often this is due to variances in fatty acid composition and cooling at the surface.
This recipe when diluted will produce a moderate viscosity soap due to the solvents and higher ricinoleic/lauric/myristic fatty acid content. If you wish to have a thicker soap, do not decrease the water content, but rather add a thickening agent after production. Additional sodium chloride can be added in 0.1% increments.
You must use distilled water for clarity
This recipe is made with a 2% lye discount and does not require a neutralization process or acidification
The KOH for this recipe is calculated at 90%. If your potassium hydroxide is of a different purity, you must adjust your recipe accordingly. If your KOH is at 98% and you do not recalculate, your soap may be lye heavy after saponification.
Recipe: Sunflower Bubbles 30-HTLS by The Ultimate Guide to Liquid Soap
Castor Oil |20% | 90g
Coconut Oil, 76 deg | 50% | 225g
High-Oleic Sunflower Oil| 30% | 135g (May replace with olive oil or regular sunflower oil, adjust lye as required)
Total Oil Weight 450g
Glycerin | 125g
Distilled Water | 175g
NaOH | 14g
KOH at 90% purity | 87.6g
Sodium Lactate | 40g
Sodium Chloride | 10g
Sucrose | 30g
Liquid Potassium Soap | 1 pump (Optional: Will accelerate reaction rate)
Starting Dilution Soap Concentration 36% (Discounted glycerin and sodium lactate)
Distilled Water | 581 g
Additional water if needed to dilute any possible anhydrate soap | 50g increments
Note: We formulate our recipes based on their soap properties and create a soap solution based on purpose, rather than viscosity. Liquid potassium soaps are often naturally less viscous compared to commercial liquid surfactant cleansers like body gels and body washes, especially when made with solvents and higher concentrations of ricinoleic, lauric , and myrstic acids (such as high coconut oil and high castor oil). If you wish to create a thicker soap solution, consider the use of a viscosity/thickening agent such as HEC or additional NaCl. You can also lower the concentration of coconut oil used in the recipe and replace with additional sunflower oil.
Have an issue? Refer to your UG2LS coursebook for guidance on handling common liquid soap making complications. Readers of UG2LS will be informed and prepared to handle any and all possible complications.
Interested in making beautiful, fluid hot process soap with intricate swirls and unique designs? Get your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Hot Process Soap: Soap Science, Recipe Formulating, Low Temperature, and Fluid Hot Process Soap today! Visit our bookstore and get ready to change your thought process on hot process!
Want to learn how to make smooth, creamy, and complication-free cold process soap? You will not find a more comprehensive and thorough learning resource for all things cold process soap! Get your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Cold Process Soap: Soap Science, Recipe Formulating, Methodology, Troubleshooting, and Design today!