Soap Making

A basic vegan and palm-free cold process soap recipe

Carrie Thornsbury 7 comments

Nurture Vegan Palm Free Soap

This is the recipe I use all the time. I like it because it is simple and inexpensive. I have not used palm for a long time, and had to formulate a bar that was nice without palm. To add to the hardness of the bar without using palm, I use some shea butter. This adds creaminess and hardness to the soap.

56% refined A olive oil
26% coconut oil
11% shea butter
7% castor oil

I use refined A olive because it is lighter in color and I like bright colors in my soaps. Using lighter color oils lets any colorants you use really shine. If you don't have refined A olive, use the lighter color olive oil from the grocery store. Avoid extra virgin olive oil because it is darker, and don't ever substitute olive pomace for regular olive oil because it will make your soap trace much faster!

In almost all of my soaps I use a 33% lye solution. The only time I break this rule is if I'm using floral fragrances or any fragrance that traces very quickly. When I do this I use full water.

What do these terms mean? Before you make your first batch of soap you should become familiar with a soap calculator. I use soapcalc. If you haven't made soap before click the link and familiarize yourself with the soaping calculator. It will become your best friend! You will be able to adjust water on your recipes, as well as adjust the size for different size batches and soap molds.

For this demonstration I am going to use the 2.5 pound tall and skinny mini soap mold from Nurture Soap. The description for the mold states that it can hold 1.92 pounds of oils. We'll also use full water for this recipe. If this is your first time making soap, it is good to use full water in your soap because it will keep your soap fluid for longer and you'll have more time to learn and play with your recipe. This is what should be entered into soapcalc:

Nurture Soap Palm Free Recipe

After this information is entered, hit the "calculate recipe" button at the bottom right. This will calculate how much you need of water, lye, and oils. Then click "view or print recipe." In this screen, you will see how much you need of each ingredient for your soap:

Nurture Soap Vegan Recipe

We can see from these calculations that for Nurture's 2.5 pound tall and skinny mini mold we need the following:

11.67 ounces of water
4.28 ounces of lye
17.2 ounces of refined A olive oil
7.99 ounces of coconut oil
3.38 ounces of shea butter
2.15 ounces of castor oil

Assuming that you have already thoroughly researched how to make lye water, go ahead and do so wearing FULL SAFETY GEAR! Wear gloves, dear! And goggles. And an apron! Respect thy lye!!!

Warm up your oils and blend them together. I personally soap using room temperature oils and lye. Many others soap when both their lye and oils are at about 110 degrees. This is personal preference and use which method you are most comfortable with.

When first starting to make soap, it is best to make a few batches without fragrance or colorants. Doing this helps you get the hang of soaping without being distracted by pretty colors, techniques, or weird acting fragrances. Because of this I did not include instructions for doing these things in this post. I will be posting more about colors, swirls, layers, fragrances and everything in between soon!

Happy soaping!

Carrie T.


  • Pamala Bjalme November 04, 2016 | 04:05 PM

    I made the soap today and my only problem is that is traced very quickly, I have made soap before so I did add fragrance, and I’m anxious to see what the end result will be. If the soap turns out, I will post a picture if I can. I try to make all my soaps palm free. Why do some soap makers like to use palm free? I just don’t like the idea of farmers in Indonesia and other countries stripping out trees that are great for our environment to make room for African Palm trees that don’t produce the amount of leaves to counter act the CO2 levels in the air. Palm oil is also used in snacks, cosmetics, and soap. If we don’t demand it, they will leave the good trees alone! It destroys the habitat of animals, the environment and we need to do what little we can to help preserve the environment for our future loved ones. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Michael September 09, 2016 | 10:00 AM

    I’ve been wanting to try a palm-free recipe and have just come across this one! Will have to give it a try now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nicole August 14, 2016 | 05:06 PM

    Hi Carrie! I can’t wait to try this palm free recipe. I have a lot of olive oil pomace hanging around. If I don’t mind the color, or the faster trace, can I sub it here? I’m a newbie so haven’t experimented with different oils much. Thank you!

  • Susan July 24, 2016 | 08:25 PM

    Where can I and where do you buy the refined A olive oil?

  • Mary Tindskard July 21, 2016 | 07:00 PM

    I am using 70% tallov, 30% sunoil and 5% almond, i am trying avoyd coconut oil, any tips for my to make my soap even better than now? also tips to when i use fragrance and mika color? How is best using water or oil to make mika to paste? Sorry for my english ? ..hope you understand any way ?

  • Loraine Bronick June 26, 2016 | 03:32 PM

    Glad more and more people are going palm oil free, my original soap recipe from many years ago used only olive, sunflower and coconut oil!.

  • Sarah Situmeang June 26, 2016 | 03:59 AM

    I’ll have to try your recipe! I also do palm free soap and trying to simplify my current recipe! Thank you Carrie T!

Leave a comment