How to Make Glycerine Soap

Glycerine is a bi-product of the soap making procedure. When you make soap at home using the hot or cold processes, the part in which the oils separate and join with lye is the part in which glycerine becomes a bi-product. To understand this procedure, read up on the chemistry of soap making.

Usually, commercial soap manufacturers extract the glycerine from their soaps so that they can use it in their other products, like lotions. This is because glycerine is hygroscopic, which means it is able to attract and retain moisture to your skin, softening it. One of the reasons why homemade soap is so good is because it retains all of its glycerine, none of it is extracted and so the soap carries the benefits of glycerine!

The melt and pour soap making method uses clear glycerine soap as a soap base. Ingredients such as essential oils and colors are added to this soap base in order to create a unique soap. When someone says they make glycerine soap, they are usually referring to the melt and pour method of soap making, using a glycerine soap as their soap base.

However, have you ever wondered how to make glycerine soap itself? While many beginners and hobbyists are quite happy to just buy glycerine soap, serious soap makers make glycerine soap themselves. Sometimes they do so to control certain qualities of their soap base, or sometimes they sell the soaps to hobbyists and beginner soap makers!

The process followed to make glycerine soap (the kind used as a soap base) is reputed to be a dangerous one. Most soap manufacturers guard their recipes and so it is difficult to find one that is safe to do at home. However, there are other ways to make glycerine soap. While you won't be able to use these as a soap base, you will be able to create a clear soap (something that is tricky even to the most expert of soap makers), which can be useful when you begin getting creative in your soap making.

Here is a recipe which shows you how to make glycerine soap (clear):

  • 14 oz. Tallow
  • 5.4 oz. Coconut oil
  • 8.3 oz. Castor oil
  • 4 oz. Lye
  • 10 oz. Distilled water
  • 13 oz. Ethanol (70%)
  • 3 oz. Glycerine
  • 8 oz. Sugar

  1. Mix the lye with 5 ounces of distilled water. Make sure the lye is completely dissolved before setting it aside.

  2. Heat your tallow, coconut oil, and castor oil in a pot or saucepan. Mix the oils together well.

  3. When the oil is at 145 degrees Fahrenheit and the lye is at 135 degrees Fahrenheit, pour the tallow into the oils. Remember to pour slowly and to mix slowly as you pour.

  4. When you have started achieving trace, cover the pot or saucepan and place the container in a larger pot with hot water. Make sure the hot water does not reach the lid of your soap pot or pan so that no water seeps inside. Wait for one hour.

  5. After an hour, return to your soap and try stirring it. It may be very solid and so you might have to use some force to break it up and stir it.

  6. Wait another two hours then test your soap's saponification by taking a small bit of it and trying to dissolve it in a glass of water. If there is a lot of oil on top after it dissolves, it needs to be kept in the larger pot of hot water a little longer. Try another hour and test it again.

  7. Once you have a soap that isn't oily when dissolved, break it up. Quickly add the alcohol and glycerine, and mix this in while breaking up the other bits of soap. Try to do this quickly. Or if you can find a way to keep the cover on while doing it then do so in oder to prevent the alcohol from escaping.

  8. Put the soap pot back in the hot water pot and wait for the soap to dissolve. Once it dissolves break up the larger chunks. You should be left with pieces floating on a skin of soap. You can scoop this up and throw it out.

  9. Boil the last 5 ounces of distilled water and add sugar to it. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before you put it into the soap pot. Stir the sugar-water into the soap mixture and then cover the mixture.

  10. When the mixture comes down to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it's ready to pour into molds lined with tin foil

  11. Once the soap is cooled down and hard, you can remove it from the molds, but you will need a couple of weeks to cure the soap. After that, you should have a clear glycerine soap that is ready for use!

Note: Be sure the tallow you use is from grain fed cattle. You should be able to find this at a good butcher shop. This type of tallow will be clear and not yellowish like tallow from cattle fed with other sources