Alternative Liquids in Soap Making

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    We’ve talked a wee bit about this in various threads and since I love soaping, a dedicated to make a thread for it!

    What do you use as your liquid when you soap?

    When I want to use fruits or vegetables in my soaps, generally speaking I’ll just swap out all the water for that purée. I’ve made cucumber, tomato, carrot, orange, lemon… and many many others. And the most recent, strawberry.

    Working with purées is fun and you get to be more creative and adventurous in your soap making. General rules I follow when working with purées:

    1) plan and prepare. It’s very important you prepare your purée in advance to allow it to fully freeze up otherwise you scorch your purée and it will cause the soap to discolour. I find freezing the purée as flat as possible (9×13 baking pan) works the best and then I gently sprinkle the lye over top giving the purée an even coat of lye prevents scorching and allows you to get to work pretty quickly. While your lye solution is being created and cooling, you can prepare your counters for making soap and pull out and measure your oils.

    2) if you like to premix your clays into your liquid, you’ve two options. Substitute some water for your purée, or use your purée. I honestly hadn’t noticed any difference. Secret one: is to take my blender and mix the clay and liquid just before adding to my soap Secret two: mix the clay in my oils with my titanium dioxide BEFORE I add the lye solution. I actually like secret two as I find I can beat the clay to my hearts content and my bars are smoother. This is great especially if you like lots and lots of clay.

    3) temperature of your stuff does make a big difference. I’ve tried many which ways to mix my lye solution to my oils using the different methods suggested. And everyone is different, so finding what works for you is important here. I’ve found for me, making sure both your lye solution and oils are the same temp (I just touch the sides of the bowls) works best and gives you ample time to mix in things like colours and essential oils and gives you some time for some simple swirls. If you are wanting to do funky swirls, mixing in your essential oils causes your soap to come to a thicker trace due to more mixing. So keep that in mind. Your soap will come to trace a little faster than normal, so as long as you prepare everything before hand, you should be fine.

    4) to gel or not to gel. Your soap in the mold will get hotter than usual because of all the added yummies from the purée. So keep that in mind. I personally don’t care if my soaps gel or don’t gel so throw my soaps into the soap room to sit before unmolding Just like all my soaps. So if you’ve got issues with cracking, volcano, partial gel, no gel etc… keep this one in mind.

    5) cutting or when to cut. I find my purée soap hardens up much faster than my usual soaps. So I go ahead and cut after twelve hours. But, if you have any issues unmolding, let it cook for a while longer.


    I think you have made some excellent points here Barb! I need to soap more and try some of these things out! I am trying the strawberry purée next, but I hadn’t thought much about how to freeze it. So, flatter is better. Now I have questions…. Are you putting the frozen purée in a jug or pitcher, then sprinkling the lye over it? If not, then how do you keep purée flat to sprinkle lye over? Do you stir at any point? Are you heating your oils or waiting until the lye/purée solution is room temp? I’m sure I’ll have more questions as I think this through!


    Oh my word. I forced close safari for no reason!

    Brain fart.

    If you are working with say 500g of oils, a container roughly the size of a Tupperware sandwich container would work beautifully. If you are making a larger amount, your lye solution container size needs to increase as you go.

    I am hoping to make some purée soap this weekend, so if my words don’t help with understanding, I’ll take lots of photos for you. Be quick my little yellow mica!

    I purée the veg/fruit down, and then continue to blend it longer than needed just to make sure it’s totally liquid. Work in small batches. Use a sieve if you are not a fan of exfoliation.

    Spread out in your pan. Before I moved, I had a fantastic large Tupperware box I used for purées for soaping. It was for cookies and squares for taking them on a picnic. It was awesome! RIP Tupperware. At the moment, I’m using a 9×13 glass baking pan that I’m terrified will break. So I go slowly and gently. (Freezing flat in a ziplock would also do the trick. You want surface area here and then take out into a large bowl or such).

    Freeze overnight.

    When you go to make soap, measure out your lye into a bowl, use a spoon and sprinkle the lye over the purée. Like cocoa powder on a tiramisu. You want to get the lye over the purée in an even cover and not just dump it on. It takes a few extra minutes, but it prevent scorching which makes the soaps look nicer. When you do this, the heat escapes quicker, and the top coat of the now lye solution becomes slushy.

    At this point, I f you fancy stirring, stir. If you prefer to leave it alone and go prepare your work space, leave it alone and go prepare your work space.

    Temp of oils. When I work with purées, I melt everything down. Full strength purées I take more time to prepare just to prevent scorching. This is what I do, but, you don’t have to. I work in larger amounts, but I’ve always done this method when I purée for soap. I prefer the look and the feel and the overall scent as I don’t use fragrance oils.

    So the night before, I do the purée. Toss that sucker in the freezer. If I’m ready, I’ll measure out all my oils and fats and melt them down in my stirring bowl. Melt them down, then put the lid on and go to sleep. Of course when I wake the next day they’ll be congealed but soft and easy to work with. I’ll warm them up a little, to get about half the oils as a liquid, then stir until everything is a liquid.

    I’ve also melted everything down after I’ve prepared my lye solution, and then tossed it outside in the winter weather to cool down while drinking hot cocoa.

    Bring on your questions! I just hope, I’ve done my best in answering them.

    I’ll try to cover how I do my milks tomorrow. It’s odd, but it works!


    It took three tries to post that. One delivery man arrived, then another and he wanted some tea and a chat then okay and admire my chocolate soap. Bloody hell. I hope there aren’t too many errors!


    I’m laughing, but I know what you mean. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed a response to something, gotten interrupted, and lost the whole thing. Ticks me off!!! People, that was a genius response and now it’s gone forever!!!


    I got your meaning…..purée, strain, freeze flat, put frozen purée in a bowl, spoon lye evenly over purée, don’t need to stir, make sure fats are mostly liquid, when purée is slush??

    OK! Now I’m lost again. How will I know the purée/lye mixture is ready to be poured into the fats and emulsified? In water I can see and hear that it’s all dissolved. How can I tell with purée? What will it look like? Will it still be hot? Or does it even get as hot as a water/lye solution? Does it give off a strong smell? When mixed with the mostly melted fats, does it have a false trace in the beginning? Should I mix until it’s a more medium trace to be sure? Or can I go with thin trace and mix any colors, cocoa, etc…?

    Told you I’d have more questions as I think through the process!


    To answer your questions, I need more coffee and think about how to reply with words. Easiest way? Come and visit.


    Ok. I’ve spent time trying to figure out how to say what I’m wanting to say and I think the best way would be with pictures or video examples (not sure how I’d work the video thingie, but I’m willing to try).

    Which kind of purée would you like me to try? My mica isn’t here so the mango soap will happen next weekend. Tomato? Cucumber with the peels will take too long to dry out. Carrot? More strawberry?


    I’m working through in my head the process for a chocolate strawberry soap using strawberry purée. I have the two pounds of fresh strawberries I need to purée, strain, and freeze. I’ll probably do a 500g oil recipe using straight purée as the liquid, if I have enough. If not, will do rest with water to simplify. So, I’ve melted my fats and added to liquid oils, I’ve sprinkled lye on strawberry purée, so what do I expect next? Will the lye/purée be a slush or even more liquid than that? How will I know the lye is fully mixed with purée? What did yours look like when you made it? The lye/purée part, I mean? Was it still red? I just want to make sure the lye is fully incorporated and melted before I put it in the oils, I guess is what I’m trying to say. When I do straight water/lye solution, I look at temperature of solution and make sure when I stir I don’t hear any chunks of lye clinking around in the water. If I’m doing strawberry purée, what am I looking for? A certain temperature range? Red liquid? Pink liquid? Is it a thick or thin liquid? Does it give off a smell that’s good or bad?

    Things like this I want to know so I can sort of picture it in my head.


    I’ve sprinkled lye on strawberry purée, so what do I expect next?

    If you’ve ever used frozen milk as your liquid, very similar. If you’ve ever poured salt on ice in warmer temps, very similar. The top part will become slushy. If you are using strawberries, it will still look like puréed strawberries with lye on top and juice coming up through it.

    Will the lye/purée be a slush or even more liquid than that?

    When the lye is fully incorporated, the lye solution will be a liquid.

    How will I know the lye is fully mixed with purée?

    When you stir and look at the spoon you won’t see any lye flakes or granules. There won’t be any sound from the bottom of the pan.

    What did yours look like when you made it? The lye/purée part, I mean? Was it still red?

    My lye solution where I used strawberry purée, was a nice red. If, you happen to scorch it,mit will turn an almost burnt orange colour. Kind of like a creamy tomato sauce.

    I just want to make sure the lye is fully incorporated and melted before I put it in the oils, I guess is what I’m trying to say. When I do straight water/lye solution, I look at temperature of solution and make sure when I stir I don’t hear any chunks of lye clinking around in the water. If I’m doing strawberry purée, what am I looking for? A certain temperature range? Red liquid? Pink liquid? Is it a thick or thin liquid? Does it give off a smell that’s good or bad?

    I understand! I wish someone was around that I could ask question to when I started. I got an idea and not a lot of people posted about soaping and those who did never ever replied to my questions.

    Right. No chunks. It’s like stirring… anything and making sure everything is stirred well.

    For temps, the best part is making sure the purée is frozen. Your purée will probably be cooler than your oils. If you just puréed your strawberries then added your lye (no freezing) your lye would get so hot the berries would scorch/cook from the heat. Just like using room temperature water. If you freeze your water first then add your lye, your solution is cooler faster.

    When you add the lye to frozen strawberries, it does have a lyeishy scent, but none of those horrible fumes from room temp water.

    The lye solution will be about the same consistency of strawberry purée.

    If you’ve got more questions, ask away!


    Excellent! All your answers are helping me a lot! It’s like watching the videos for me. I still won’t really know until I do it myself. It just helps to have a general idea of what to expect and what to look for. I have never done a pure milk soap, so I have nothing to compare it to. I have frozen goats milk, but have yet to turn it into soap! I’ve had so many soap “disasters” lately, that I wanted to have a few successes before trying something new. I know you learn from things going wrong, but dang! Did I have to have so many, one right after the other?!?! Stupid seizing soap!!😖


    Do you know what happened to make it seize?


    It was actually only a couple of seizing episodes, I think, but other problems interspersed in between those two episodes. I was just getting a little frustrated because it seemed every time I soaped, everything went wrong, so my plans went out the window.

    One was the fragrance oil I used. Had I took the time to read about it beforehand, I would have known that. It’s a beautiful fragrance , though, so I will probably buy it again. I won’t be expecting to make any fancy swirls with it though. I think the next soap I made had powdered goats milk in it, and it was so nice, until it split from the heat. I got it in the freezer or refrigerator after it split so it would cool down faster, but the damage was done. It’s still a nice soap and you don’t notice the crack down the middle in the slices. That was really no biggie in the grand scheme of things. I can’t remember what happened with the next soap, but it didn’t go as planned either. Then I had another seizing episode. I checked and rechecked everything afterwards, but couldn’t figure out what happened. It was a recipe I had used before, scent was fine, no unusual ingredients, but blammo! Seized while I was stickblending it. I put it in a pot and tried to hot process it, because it wasn’t totally mixed. I cooked it a while, having little idea what I was looking for in a hot processed soap. Finally just molded it, because I had to pick up my daughter from school. It actually is a very nice bar of soap to bathe with, but it is uuuuuuuugly! The last batch of soap I made turned out ok, not what I was looking for exactly, but I’m trying new techniques. I forgot the fragrance in the soap, but I did get to finally do a design without it seizing on me!


    My absolute favourite recipe, I have maybe a 60% success rate (the rebatched soap which is still on the soft side but less soft than last week). I have no idea what causes it not to harden up, I blend like a fiend, there are no fragrances or essential oils in it, just have little success with it.

    Even knowing this success rate, I still chug ahead hoping for a miracle as it’s an amazing bar of soap!


    Yikes! 60%?!?! I’d be crushed! I demand perfection and 100% success! Ha! Yeah, right, I laughed at that too!

    The soap gremlins are always out to get you!

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