How to Make Transparent Soap - Curious Soapmaker

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Making Transparent Soap

Making Transparent Soap

Catherine Failor  Catherine Failor  Best Price Best Price$0.49$0.49 or Buy New or Buy New $10.44$10.44 Privacy Information Privacy Information

Making transparent soap from scratch is not very difficult, but

Making transparent soap from scratch is not very difficult, but patiencepatience is definitely needed, as it is definitely needed, as it definitely takes

definitely takes several hoursseveral hours..

Contents Contents[[hidehide]] 1 Introduction 1 Introduction 1.1 Basic theory 1.1 Basic theory 1.2 Basic Ingredients 1.2 Basic Ingredients 1.2.1 Water 1.2.1 Water 1.2.2 Solvents 1.2.2 Solvents 1.2.3 Oils 1.2.3 Oils 1.3 Calculating solvents 1.3 Calculating solvents 2 Recipe &

2 Recipe & InstructionsInstructions

2.1 Recipe

2.1 Recipe

2.2 Instructions

2.2 Instructions

3 Posts related to How to

3 Posts related to How to make transparemake transparentnt





You can read in almost all of the “how to make transparent soap” manuals, that to master the technique, it is a big advantage to be familiar with the You can read in almost all of the “how to make transparent soap” manuals, that to master the technique, it is a big advantage to be familiar with the hot process soapmaking.

hot process soapmaking.

Indeed, but I tell you what – I did try to make transparent soap

Indeed, but I tell you what – I did try to make transparent soap without any without any hot process experiencehot process experience. Actually, I. Actually, I only made a few batches of a coldonly made a few batches of a cold processed soap

processed soap at that time. at that time.

So yes, it is possible even without much experience, but you must be

So yes, it is possible even without much experience, but you must be patient.patient.

I do not recommend making transparent soap, if you never did soap from scratch, as the technique is quite complex and requires at least an experience I do not recommend making transparent soap, if you never did soap from scratch, as the technique is quite complex and requires at least an experience from the cold process technique.

from the cold process technique.

The recipe I use

The recipe I use here is a rescaled version of the Basic Recipe 2 here is a rescaled version of the Basic Recipe 2 (page 66) of the book(page 66) of the book Making TranspareMaking Transparent Soap: nt Soap: The Art Of The Art Of 

Crafting, Molding, Scenting & Coloring

Crafting, Molding, Scenting & Coloring byby Catherine Failor Catherine Failor..

If you wish to make transparent soap on a regular basis,

If you wish to make transparent soap on a regular basis, I highly recommend you to buy this I highly recommend you to buy this book book . It has a perfect. It has a perfect troubleshooting section and much much more information I could possibly give you here.

troubleshooting section and much much more information I could possibly give you here.

Search Website

Search Website


Basic theory

What gives the transparent soap its transparency are solvents.

The soap crystals must be dissolved so that the light can pass through. Thus, transparent soap is a mixture of actual soap and solvents, which is reflected in the whole process:

first, the soap is made by a hot process method and then the solvents are added to make the soap transparent. only after that soap can be poured into molds.

Basic Ingredients


The water should be distilled. Hard water can contain minerals and salts that can cause cloudiness.


Absolutely the best solvent of soap is alcohol, followed by glycerin and sugar syrup (sugar in distilled water). I do not know exactly, why in all recipes we do find always all three of these, seems that they complement each other. I do plan however try different batches in different

combinations of these… Here what the theory says:

Alcohol – According to C. Failor, it is impossible to make a transparent soap without alcohol. Or, it is possible, but such a soap looses its transparency with time. The best alcohol is denatured ethylalcohol of 90% . I add that you can use instead a propylene-glycol, which wi ll make your soap meltable => you will obtain a meltable M&P soap base!

Glycerin –Glycerin is another good solvent, which has in addition also a moisturizing effect, however, it is highly hygroscopic – attracts water. If there is too much glycerin, the soap will be soft and sticky as it will be attracting water from the humid air in the bathroom. The soap will look like if it was sweating. Too much glycerin also causes cloudiness .

Sugar solution –Sugar is also an excellent solvent, apparently gives the final touch – without sugar the soap is not fully transparent. Disadvantages are the same as for glycerin – too much causes soap sweating and cloudiness.


Hard oils

Given the large amount of solvents added to the soap in order to achieve its transparency, recipes giving hard soap bars are preferred. The oils giving hard soap bars are those containing high fraction of saturated fatty acids, like tallow, palm, palm kernel or coconut oil. Palm oil or tallow do not dissolve readily in the water, therefore the soaps are not very bubbly.

Palm kernel oil or coconut oil – create very bubbly and hard soap, but it can be drying. It is of interest then to add soft oils.

Soft oils

As a soft oil of choice is usually selected castor oil- it mainly consists of ricinoleic acid, which gives soap with particular qualities, ideal for homemade transparent soap.

it attracts water – therefore is humectant – produces conditioning bar

it is readily soluble – therefore is partially translucent and produces nice bubbles

Calculating solvents

If you want to design your own recipe, here is the guide to calculate the % of solvents (summarized according to C. Failor): Alcohol: 30 – 35% of actual soap mass (defined as oils + solid NaOH in the recipe, without water!).

Glycerin: 8-12 % of overall recipe (defined as oils + NaOH + water – both for NaOH and for sugar solution) Sugar: 6-9 % of overall recipe


Recipe & Instructions

In overall, it is more precise to work with grams (I did work with grams) than with ounces, because in the transparent soap, each small difference matters.



First two steps are common with the hot process method: Mixing the lye solution and oils at 50°C (122°F) to trace. 1.

Heating the soap mass until the end of the saponification process – gel phase -> Ph testing ( ~2-3 hours) 2.

If the Ph is OK, the soap is dissolved by adding the mix of glycerin and alcohol to the soapmaking pot:

Weigh together your glycerin and alcohol according to the recipe


Mix everything thoroughly until the soap dissolves in solvents. 3.


After adding alcohol and glycerine

This is how it looks like just after dissolving of soap. You can see the foam c reating on the top.

Let the mix on low heat for about 30 minutes (HIGH in crockpot). Cover the pot with a lid – it should be air-tight, otherwise the alcohol will evaporate.C. Failor recommends using a plastic sheet fixed with ropes instead of a lid, however, I find it a bit complicated and finally I didn’t need it – my crockpot lid worked well.


While waiting, prepare your sugar solution (I highly recommend to prepare double of the needed amount – you will need it later for the adjustment of the transparency if it does not work on the first try):

Weigh distilled water in a pot and add sugar 1.

Bring to boil and immediately turn off – the water should not evaporate and the rest of the sugar will dissolve in the hot water. 2.


After 30 minutes add the sugar solution to the soap solution and mix well.

After adding sugar solution


Remove the sticky foam from the top and put it in some mold – it can be used as a soap after cooling.

Removed foam


Soap with solvents, foam removed

Test for transparency:

Take a frozen glass from the freezer and turn it upside-down. Pour about one tablespoon of soap on the bottom. The hot soap solution is always transparent, so you can judge on final transparency only after cooling – because the glass is frozen, the cooling will be fast. If you see pronounced milkiness you have to add more solvents.

Soap on the bottom of the frozen glass – you can see the milkiness


If the transparency test was unsuccessful, add small amount of the sugar solution(see, this is why it is good to prepare more!). Repeat maximum twice, each time testing for transparency, if still pronounced milkiness, switch to alcohol or glycerin. Do not add too much solvents, because this causes sweating and on the contrary – milkiness.

Left sample – after adding 40g of sugar solution, right sample – after additional 40g of sugar solution.

Another point of view on the second sample

Small amount of sugar solution means 40g (1.4 oz) for this concrete recipe. Just calculate the percentage and amount for your own recipe to get the weight you need.


I added the sugar solution twice, I didn’t want to risk more.

Repeat 8 and 9 until transparency. This step is very critical and you need all your patience (I do not have it). It can take an hour or  just few minutes if you are lucky. Do not hurry, the soap solution is ok on the low heat for a long time.


When you are happy with the transparency, color and scent your soap solution. Attention, the color can affect the transparency. Good news is that you can use any food coloring without them changing color, as the saponification is already finished!


Finally, pour the soap into molds –the best are one bar molds – we want the soap to cool as quick as possible – this also ensures transparency. Put the forms in the fridge. When pouring, small bubbles will create on the top (and as I found, not only on the top :-/ ) – disperse a bit of alcohol, that should dissolve the foam.


When the soap is cooled and solid (this is really a matter of 1-2 hours in the fridge), unmold it and then 2.

Let it age for at least 4 weeks – this is my personal experience from this batch – the alcohol and water evaporates, soap is getting harder, increasing its life span. it also does smells much less of alcohol – eventually the smell will disappear (I hope so!)


Enjoy and let long live your bar of soap!

Posts related to How to make transparent soap

This entry was posted by evik on September 15, 2011 at 12:57, and is filed under soap recipes, soapmaking, soapmaking techniques, soapmaking tutorials. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.

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#1 written by reham abdulhadi  2 YEARS AGO

Hi it is very nice And i like it

But when we re-dissolve it like water Thanks

#2 written by Evik   2 YEARS AGO

Hi Reham, I admit that I am not sure what you mean. Do you mean make it a liquid soap?

#3 written by nancy 1 YEAR AGO

hi, thank u for this detailed information:) i want to ask u if i can do this same method with olive oil…waiting yo ur reply thnk u

#4 written by evik  1 YEAR AGO

Hi Nancy, frankly, I never tried with olive oi l only, if this is what you meant. Theoretically, olive oil is not good for transparent

soapmaking, because olive oil soap is more difficult to dissolve. The risk is y ou will get a translucent, not transparent soap. However, I did not try it, if you do, p lease, keep me informed!

#5 written by Linda 1 YEAR AGO


how many bars does this make

#6 written by evik  1 YEAR AGO

I would say about 15-20, but that depends on their size. You can get as much as 30 smaller soaps (if you make them thinner, so that they stay transparent)

#7 written by Linda 1 YEAR AGO

Is that 4 ounce 15-20 bars? And do you think She would work. I know they would not be as transparnet but it i s one of my main oils/butters Thank you for your reply

#8 written by evik  1 YEAR AGO

Yes, around 4 oz bars. If shea butter works I simply do not know. Probably not v ery transparent, I never tried, but would love to know, could you keep me updated once you try?

#9 written by Linda 1 YEAR AGO

On you soap calculator what does INS and SAP mean I have read the information and do not see what those mean.

#10 written by evik  1 YEAR AGO

Linda, which soap calculator you mean? In any case, SAP means saponification value (amoung of KOH in grams you need to saponify 1g of oil) and INS stands for iod ine value (is the mass of iodine in grams that is consumed by 100 grams of oi l) .

#11 written by Linda 1 YEAR AGO

There was an excel sheet that you created I think there was a link from a page you posted. I will let you know I plan to do shea, palm and coconut for my first batch. I am not so concerned about the transparencie for this batch. you are so much help what is your personal email address if you want to share it. I would lo ve to communicate with you more

#12 written by evik  1 YEAR AGO

Hi Linda, I do not remember the EXCEL file, but if you can write me through the contact form, I will answer you di rectly and we will get in touch. I do not like to write my email on the blog.

#13 written by Marsady 1 YEAR AGO

Hi, how do we know that the saponification process already done? Thanks

#14 written by evik  1 YEAR AGO

Hi Marsady!

Once the soap is in the gel phase (looks translucent), you have to test each 30 minutes for the alkalinity of soap, it should be below 10. Either by pH paper or using phenolphthalein, or by trying to dissolve a bit of soap in water – finished soap foams, while unfinished soap does not. Hope this helps, Evik

#15 written by Moni K. George 1 YEAR AGO


u r wonderful

#17 written by Yudi 11 MONTHS AGO

Hi Evic,

Did you ever tried to use other solvents successfully and how were the results if you could share. Because I also wonder why other recipes always use all the solvents together, you among the few only use Ethanol+Glycerin+Sugar. Now I want to see if ie: Propelyn Glycol+Glycerin+Sugar will work the same. Maybe even other combination but simpler. Also just wondering if yo u know why/how people use sorbitol, TEA, cocamidopropyl betaine, stearic acid, myristic acid etc for the transparent soap?

Thanks much

#18 written by evik  11 MONTHS AGO

Hi Yudi,

I tried propyl ene glycol instead of alcohol and it makes the transparent soap meltable. I did not succeed in making it transparent, only translucent. All the other variations are used to get meltable soap base (either transparent or not). If you want it to be meltable, you need to increase the evaporation point, so that it melts before it evaporates. This is impossible with alcohol, which evaporates at low temperaturs. Propylene glycol has much higher evaporation point and yet makes the solution. Those containing cocamidopropyl betaine, sorbitol, TEA, stearic, myristic etc acid are meltabe soap bases. Cocamidopropyl betaine is a surfactant that foams and emulsifies and helps it to melt easily together with sorbitol etc.

#19 written by Marcin 11 MONTHS AGO

Hi Evik,

Thanks for the detailed recipe, but please advice as I have problems with percentages: alcohol – 380 grams is 32% of actual soap mass (157 + 340 + 353 + 340), that’s ok

glycerin – 196 grams is 11% of ov erall recipe (327 + 157 + 340 + 353 + 340 + 170 = lye solution + oils + water for sugar), that’s ok but

sugar – 236 grams is 14% of overall recipe (as above, lye solution + o ils + water for sugar = 1687 grams), instead of 6-9%… Am I missing something?

BTW, how can I estimate the amount of water for sugar solution before calculating the amount of sugar (which I can’t estimate without knowing the amount of water needed in the whole recipe…). It does not make sense for me

#20 written by evik  10 MONTHS AGO

Hi Marcin,

you are right, it is a bi t of a circular calculation… I never gave it a second thought (I feel bad about that now), as I just use the same recipe. Let’s make it easier and calculate it as % of the soap mass:

glycerin 13% alcohol 25% sugar 16%

water for sugar 11%

I believe, there must be a special ratio between glycerin-alcohol and sugar solution kept, and that is p robably why it is calculated in that complicated manner, although can be easier, once that ratio is found. I have to think about it!

#21 written by Marcin 10 MONTHS AGO

Hi Evik,

Thanks a lot! In the meantime I ordered the book by C. Failor and hope that I will find there some detailed explanations. But I can wait to make such soap – now now now! And you really made my day


I tried to make a transparent soap with your recipe and instruction but the soap di d not solidify,it almost two days now please what can be the cause and how do i go about it?

#23 written by evik  9 MONTHS AGO

Dear Francis, this is bizarre, maybe you added too much of some of the ingredients. Did you use oz or grams? Anyhow,if the soap is still liquid, just pour it b ack to the crockpot (or d ouble boiler) and heat it slowly at 70°C (no open flames if possible, alcohol in the soap is highly flammable!). Let evaporate the alcohol and water for 30 minutes. This can cause cloudiness, hopefully not. Then pour a bit into a single mold and let cool down (the best is to use frozen glass). If it solidifies, you can pour the rest into molds. If not, I would evaporate some more water and test again after 15 minutes…

#24 written by rubin 9 MONTHS AGO


i made this soap using the same recipe but in exactly half the quantities. and i used grams, everything seemd okay and i was able to get the transparency required in the first go .

but, my problem is that not only this but every other transparent recipe i try comes out to b e very very soft n the surface is very slimy. can you please suggest any remedy.

#25 written by Emma Latimer 8 MONTHS AGO

can u recommend quantities for using olive oil and cocconut oil? thanks

#26 written by hanifah khairiah 8 MONTHS AGO

evik i tri ed calc.soap but i not understand about water 190 proof and water 151 proof. what is meaning about that? thank U.

#27 written by Crysts 6 MONTHS AGO

I want to ask you can i make transparent soap with only coconut oil ? Or transparent soap is just made with oil combination? And which fomula you used to calculate the lye from the oil to make sure the oil is completely saponification? And the residual oil or the lye cause the claudiness or not. Hope to have your answer. Thank you.

#28 written by evik  6 MONTHS AGO

Hi Crysts, this is a good question. I tend to say no, but on the other hand, I never tried it and also I made transparent liquid soap only using coconut oil (but this is not exactly the same). I use Soapcalc –  to calculate amount of NaOH to be used for saponification of my oil. It is mainly residual oil that can cause cloudiness.

#29 written by Susi Messenger @ SoYummmy 6 MONTHS AGO

I made this soap to celebrate making soap for a full year. What an anniversary!! Successful with your wonderful recipe thanks. I made a Pear’s dupe with rosin dissolved in the alcohol and used rosemary, white thyme and petitgrain EO’s. A little French Pear FO helped with the vanilla for some colouring! Keep up the g reat work with your soap experiments. We love your work here in Australia. <3

#30 written by saeed 3 MONTHS AGO

Hello .thanks for your super comment for transprant soap. please teach me you don’t use stearic Acid? ! is youe soap hard after finish pro sses? whit best regard .

#31 written by Navalomalala  2 MONTHS AGO


The recipe is missing from the top. Can someone tell it to me. Thx

#33 written by evik  1 MONTH AGO

Hi Nicole, sorry, there was a plugin deactivated on my page, it should work now!

#34 written by Jeff  1 MONTH AGO

This is a great article – thanks so much!

I’m very excited to b e making my first b atch of transparent soap and thanks to you (and to Catherine Failor’s book as well) I’m feeling much more confident!


#35 written by Duru Ifeanyi 1 MONTH AGO

Thanks, i have do ne it according to your formula, but since one week i did the sample, it has been soft. Do you know the reaction if i increase the quantity of NaOH a bit.


#36 written by evik  1 MONTH AGO

Hi Duru, well, I don’t advice to increase the quantity of NaOH, it is not go ing to help with the hardness and might make your soap too caustic. I would rather let the soap evaporate more water. The alcohol you used was 70%?

#37 written by Klaus Jeppsen  2 WEEKS AGO

Hi Evik!

First let me add: This is really a great help and gives me much more confidence! Thanks a bunch!

Now my problem which I really hope you can add some light on. My prob lem is the prices, and for me in Denmark, this soap will be very expencive to produce. Some danish recipies for CP soap is with Copha which doesn’t cost much. Any chance that I can change the palm oil and coconut oil for copha? And what about changing the castor oil for something less extravagent?

I need my soap to be meltable so Propylene glycol i s my choice in alcohol. And I know it will be translucent, but I need as close to transparent as I can get for the lowest price. Any help is really appreciated. Thanks again!

Best regards Klaus Jeppsen

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