Natural Tangerine And Neroli Christmas Soap

tangerine-neroli-Christmas-soapIf you’ve never made natural soaps at home before, you’ll need to make sure you have the equipment and utensils before you start.


Watch us make Natural Soap in our video


  1. Two good sized stainless steel or enamelled saucepans.
  2. One heat-proof glass measuring jug or plastic jug able to withstand boiling water.
  3. Accurate kitchen scales.
  4. Utensils for stirring etc. i.e. Wooden or stainless steel spoons, a balloon whisk or rubber/wooden spatular, or similar.
  5. Two (preferably) cooking/brewing thermometers (although 1 can be used fairly successfully)
  6. A mould to pour the liquid soap into whilst it sets. A wooden or cardboard tray or box lined with grease-proof paper or siliconised baking sheet is great. Silicone cake-baking moulds are also suitable, as are some other forms of plastic moulds such as ‘tupperware’ containers.
  7. Eye and hand protection (safety glasses and rubber gloves).
  8. A blanket or large towel.


what you needStep 1

Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment listed above BEFORE you start and weigh them out into suitable containers ready to use. Always wear safety goggles/glasses and use protective gloves when soap-making to avoid injury from spills and splashes.

Cold Process mouldsStep 2

First choose your mould. Traditionally, soaps are made in wooden moulds lined with waxed or siliconised ‘greaseproof’ paper, but a carboard box lined in a similar way is fine or you can choose to use a silicone cake-baking mould, as they are usually lye and heat-resistant. Also, many forms of plastic kitchenware will be suitable and may also not need lining, such as ‘tupperware’ type containers.

line mouldStep 3

If choosing a traditional lined wooden mould, make sure the lining paper is not cut or holed in any way below the top of the mould. It must be folded into corners etc. to ensure there are no leaks.

make lyeStep 4

Measure out 12 oz (340g) of cold clean water into a jug. Weigh (accurately) 125g of sodium hydroxide beads (or pearls) into a suitable container. Carefully add the sodium hydroxide to the water, stirring all the time with a spoon or spatular. Be careful not to breathe the vapour that is initially given off, so hold your breath and stir until all the sodium hydroxide has dissolved and there are no lumps stuck to the bottom of the jug.

stir lyeStep 5

The solution (now known as Lye) will heat up to nearly 200oF and will need to be left to cool. Place one of the thermometers into the solution and leave to one-side. If you want to speed the cooling, place the jug in a large bowl of cold water, being careful not to ‘float’ it.

melt solid oilsStep 6

Meanwhile, measure out exactly 10oz (284g) of coconut oil and 6oz (170g) of palm oil into one of the saucepans (the smaller if there is one) and gently melt it on the stove. Don’t overheat it, just melt it. When there are tiny pieces of solid oil still left to melt, turn off the heat and leave until completely liquid. If using a Lake or similar pigment to colour your soap, add a little to the warm oils now (see guide below).

weigh olive oilStep 7

Whilst the solid oils are melting, measure out 1lb (454g) of olive oil (pomace grade is best) into the other saucepan (this will be the soap-making pan). If adding optional preservative, add it to the olive oil now.

pour melted oilsStep 8

Once melted, pour the combined coconut and palm oils into the olive oil and mix them all together.

ThermometersStep 9

Place the other thermometer in the pan of oils. You should end up with a thermometer in each of the lye and oils as shown above.

Step 10

Important… What you now need to do is keep watch on the temperatures of both the oils and the sodium hydroxide solution (Lye). If you haven’t two thermometers you’ll need to move one between containers ensuring it is cleaned between each. Depending how fast you are working it may well be beneficial to make use of the hint above about placing the jug of lye in a large bowl of cold water. This is because it starts off hotter than the oils and has more cooling to do. Once both oils and lye are at near similar temperatures they can be combined. Don’t let everything get too cool. As a guide a minimum of around 80oF and a maximum of around 130oF are ideal limits of temperature. As long as oils and lye are both at similar temperatures between these limits your soap should turn out just fine.

pour lyeStep 11

When at the correct temperatures, slowly and carefully pour the lye into the oils, and start stirring (preferably with a hand (balloon) whisk to ensure the mixture all starts to chemically react and combine.

near traceStep 12

You should stir throughout the mixture fairly briskly. You will notice the solution start to turn more opaque and as the minutes pass it will start to thicken. The stage in the process you have to wait for is known as the ‘Trace’. This is when you can drizzle the mixture from the whisk (or spoon/spatular) onto the surface of the solution and it leaves a visible trace before sinking back into the rest.

add fragrancesStep 13

Now add the essential oil/s. Add them at a ‘light trace’ and stir in briefly.

pour bulk soapStep 14

Pour most of your soap into your mould, leaving a small amount (about 1/10th) in the pan for colouring.

add colourStep 15

Add the liquid soap dye a few drops at a time, stirring in until you have a definite orange colour to the remainder of your soap.

pour coloured soapStep 16

Pour the remaining coloured soap into your mould, randomly swirling the coloured soap into the bulk already in the mould.

before insulatingStep 17

Soap shown above now ready to cover and insulate.

cover mouldStep 18

Cover the mould with something like a cardboard sheet to prevent anything touching the surface of the soap whilst it’s setting.

insulate mouldStep 19

Insulate with old towels or a blanket and leave at room temperature until the soap has solidified. With a small batch like this it should be no more than 24 hours. Larger batches can take longer.

cut soapStep 20

Once cool and set to a soft solid, remove the soap from the mould and remove any lining paper from the soap. At this stage it can be easily cut into bars or smaller blocks if desired. If it appears too soft to handle, leave it for 2-3 days and try again.

decorationsStep 21

Whilst your soap is still quite soft, it’s easy to decorate the surface with lovely seasonal products such as dried fruit slices and spices, pressing them into place so the remain in/on the soap when it’s hardened.

cure soap barsStep 22

Leave your soap ‘curing’ at room temperature for typically at least 3-4 weeks, preferably on a sheet of uncoloured absorbant paper allowing air to circulate around each bar or block. Curing will allow the soap to loose excess moisture and become harder.


Do not store your soap in a cold place. Soap will ‘sweat’ if cured or kept in a cold or cool place and then moved to a warmer one. Avoid ‘sweating’ by keeping your soap at a constant room temperature.


If packaging your soap, avoid absorbant paper or card coming into contact with your soap directly as any ‘sweating’ of the soap once packed will spoil the packaging. If you must use paper or card, wrap your soap first in something like waxed or siliconised paper or plastic film.

Note… If using higher grades of olive oil it will usually take longer to reach a trace. Pomace grade is ideal for soap making.