100% coconut oil soap has perfect cleansing properties, able to clean in very hard water and the only able to clean in sea water, but can be drying. But I wanted a soap to use mainly as detergent for dishes and laundry.


Tips:  Making 100% oil soap is practical, because you can use it for your shampoo formulations, mainly if you do not know which oils you prefer. Instead of saponifying tens of oils combinations, you can simply combine ready one-type soaps.


This tutorial shows the hot process liquid soapmaking. Liquid soap can be made also by cold process, but I did not try this yet. Hot process ensures saponification of all fatty acids if you want transparent soap and soap is finished in few hours.


I assume that you have knowledge of at least basic cold process soapmaking.


Ingredient g oz
Coconut oil 1000g 35.3 oz
KOH 85%  302g 10.6 oz
Distilled water  604g 21.3 oz
For neutralization
20 % solution of citric acid cca 100g 3.5 oz

Superfatting  0%.

If you find the amount of KOH larger than the one computed by SoapCalc, you are right. SoapCalc computes with 100% KOH, but usually KOH is sold in form of flakes of 85% – 90% purity. This has to be taken into account. Therefore, you calculate the amount of KOH as following:

Value of 100% KOH divided by percentage of purity of your KOH.

If for 1000g I need 257 g of  100% KOH, I will need 257g/0.85 = 302g of 85% KOH.

For water, I counted double the weight of KOH.

Attention! Citric acid amount is just for orientation, please, add slowly 1 TBS (tablespoon) per 500g of liquid soap for neutralization.

Special material

Soap paste should be heated for several hours in temperatures not higher than 95-100°C. This means you definitely need to use either slow cooker or water bath.



1. Prepare the soap as in cold process – mix KOH solution and melted coconut oil until thick trace. Here you have to take in mind that KOH reacts differently from NaOH. When using NaOH, the thickening of soap mass is very continuous. When using KOH, you mix quite long time without any substantial thickening and then, suddenly when you start to get bored the soap mass thickens in seconds into an asfalt-like broth. That is the trace and at this stage you can leave the soap mass heating. The thickening effect depends on water ratio, in this recipe it is not so drastic.

2. After the trace was reached, put the lid on and leave on low heat for 2-3 hours. The lid is important so that the water does not evaporate – lack of water would slow down the reaction, so would overheating.

3. While heating, the soap will get puffy – these are the air bubbles trapped in while initial mixing. Stir the paste every 15 to 30 minutes to release the bubbles. It is good to observe the behavior of the soap paste first hour more attentively.

4. During cooking, the paste changes from opaque white/yellowish into translucent yellow – this is the gel phase.

5. Make a test for excess fatty acids after 3 hours. Dissolve 10 g of soap in 20g of boiling DISTILLED water (do not use tap water, it contains minerals that would cause claudiness) and let cool down. If the solution shows pronounced cloudiness, it indicates the presence of fatty acids. Let soap cooking for another 30 minutes.

6. After additional 30 minutes, if necessary, test again. Slight cloudiness is acceptable. If the solution is transparent or only slightly cloudy, turn the heat off. If not, let the soap cook for another 30 minutes. C.Failor says that if your samples remain cloudy even after 4 hours of cooking, the problem is insufficient KOH – that is a problem only if you want transparent soap, otherwise you can continue without troubleshooting and most probably even without neutralization step.  Also, the presence of free fatty acids will affect the cleaning properties of your soap – more fatty acids, the less cleaning power. If you have this problem of insufficient KOH, you will have to dissolve the paste in alcohol and add some more KOH, but this can be very tricky, beware, alcohol vapors are highly inflammable dangerous, and alcohol should not be added to hot soap paste!

Soap sample dissolved in distilled water – no milkiness, saponification has finished.

7.  If the test for free acids is negative – the sample is clear, or only minor milkiness present – you can either stock the soap paste almost indefinitely in the fridge for next utilization, or you can create liquid soap. For the latter, dissolve the soap paste in hot distilled water in ratio 2:1 (soap paste : distilled water). The concentration of soap should not be more 40% and do not forget that our soap paste already contains soap from the solution of KOH.

Do not be afraid to play a bit with the soap paste to water ratio, until you get desired consistency. However, too high concentrations will probably finish congealing (mainly soft oil soaps congeal in concentrations over 25%). 

My dissolved soap

8. When the soap paste is dissolved, you have to neutralize. This is the phase when you slowly add to the hot soap citric acid and test a sample for excess alkali, until neutralization, as follows:
a. First, test a sample of liquid soap for excess alkalinity using phenophtalein – strong rose or violet color indicates excess alkali, faint rose or no color indicates neutralized solution.

First sample – phenophtalein test shows pronounced violet color – alkalinity.

b. If the samples is alkaline, add for each 500g of solution 1 tablespoon of 20% citric acid solution. To my experience the citric acid will precipitate some soap from solution, so you have to wait until it dissolves again – heating helps.

c. Repeat a and b until soap is neutral. Attention, to much citric acid can cause reverse reactino and precipitate fatty acids and NaOH from soap. For my solution of 1.2kg I needed four tablespoons of citric acid.  If you feel that you need too much citric acid to neutralize your solution (about 3 TBS per 500g of liquid soap), you might have problem with excess alkalinity.There I would recommend to cook the soap solution with small amount of oil in order to neutralize excess KOH.

Precipitated fatty acids after adding 1TBS of citric acid.
Faint color in test sample suggest neutralization is finished.

9. At the end, add dyes and fragrances and set aside for one-two weeks. Pay attention, oil based colors might cause cloudiness. This time is according to C.Failor needed in order to clear the solution (setting up of insoluble soaps and cloudiness caused by some essential oils). I never needed this, but also I did not make a lot of these soaps.

100% coconut oil soap can be used

  • As a basis for shampooing – mix with a 100% liquid soap of another oil and/or add essential oils of your choice (ylang ylang, romarin…) and/or dilute your soap paste in herbal infusion instead of distilled water
  • As a basis for home-made detergent for laundry
  • As a natural detergent for dish washing – I use this 100% coconut liquid soap and it is really good!! It  washes perfectly even in hard water!
  • As a soap for hands.


You might add any additives you want, just pay attention if transparency is desired. For additional superfatting sulfonated castor oil is recommended as one of the soft oils that does not affect transparency (thanks to its water-loving properties).


Where to learn more about liquid soapmaking


I strongly recommend the book of Catherine Failor Making natural liquid soaps, if you want to make more complex soaps.


100% coconut liquid soap as shampoo

I have used this soap as a shampooing (without any additives) and at the beginning, I was very happy with it. It needed of course an additional application of an acid conditioner in order to smooth the keratin layer of the hair.
The result was – more volume (my hair is damaged, very thin, however easy greasing) and hair remained non-greasy 1 day longer (a success for me, washing my hair almost every day).
However! A long term use has made my hair all without shine and the bleached part of my hair become ever more damaged.
I therefore changed for a classical shampoo and have tried a lot of natural shampoo alternatives since. I think that liquid soap is a good short-term solution. Although, it is definitively better than a soap bar!
I might change opinion if applying regularly a conditioner, which I have to try on more regular scale to be able to say something…