How to Make Clear Transparent Soap From Scratch – Making Transparent Soap Guide

I’ve tried making transparent soap a few different times and the results haven’t been so great! After seeing a demo by Jackie Thompson at the Lonestar Soap and Toiletries seminar I was inspired to try it again. I’m going to explain what I did and share my recipe. But please don’t think I’m an expert! I didn’t get completely clear soap, but I’m happy with it. For further reading, check out Making Transparent Soap by Catherine Failor. I will say that the book was a bit confusing to me and the recipes are for really big batches, but it might help you in your research.

So what is transparent soap? Transparent soap is simply hot process soap that uses solvents (sugar, glycerin and alcohol) to dissolve the soap crystals that form allowing light to pass, therefore creating transparency.

When creating a transparent soap recipe, choose at least 75% hard oils (coconut oil, palm oil, tallow, lard, stearic acid). All of the solvents added can soften a recipe that contains lots of soft oils. Include castor oil in your recipe. Castor oil is a bit of solvent so works well in transparent soap.

I formulated my recipe using a 0% superfat, as unsaponfied oils can create cloudiness. The added glycerin acts as a superfat in transparent soap.

All transparent soap recipes that I’ve come across use a combo of solvents, including glycerin, sugar water and alcohol. I don’t know enough about why each is used. This will require some further research on my part. My solvents ended up being equal to my oil amount. I used 500 grams of oils and 500 grams of solvents.

You can cook your transparent soap in a crock pot. I used Jackie’s tip of using Press & Seal wrap to cover the crock pot to reduce water/alcohol evaporation.

Warning! You do use alcohol in this process so be aware of open flames or anything that might ignite the fumes. I went so far as to blow out the gas starters on my stove since I was making this in my kitchen. I opened the patio door so that I had fresh air at all times. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand (a bit dramatic, but you should have one in your kitchen anyways).

I used denatured alcohol from Save on Citric. I don’t see it on their site now, but I’m sure you can find online. I know a lot of you are going to ask if you can use rubbing alcohol or something that you can find at the medical supply and my response is…I have no idea. Try it and see. This is the only alcohol that I have tested.

Transparent Soap Recipe

Oils – 500 grams

  • Castor Oil – 100 grams (20%)
  • Coconut Oil – 150 grams (30%)
  • Tallow – 150 grams (30%)
  • Stearic Acid – 60 grams (12%)
  • Avocado Oil – 40 grams (8%)

Lye Solution

  • Lye – 76 grams (0% superfat to reduce cloudiness)
  • Distilled Water – 152 grams (double lye amount)

Solvents (equal to 100% of oils)

  • Glycerin – 125 grams (25% of oils)
  • Denatured Alcohol – 250 grams (50% of oils)
  • Sugar – 125 grams (25% of oils)
  • Water – 83 grams (to create sugar solution)

Safety Warning: If you try this process be sure to have plenty of air circulation and avoid open flames because of the alcohol evaporation. You don’t want the fumes catching on fire. When working with sodium hydroxide wear safety gear including goggles and gloves.

Step 1 – Weigh the oils (castor, coconut, tallow & avocado) and glycerin into your crock pot and melt. (Do not add the stearic acid yet.)

melting-oils

Step 2 – Weigh the lye and distilled water into two separate containers. Add the lye to the water while stirring to create a solution. Be sure to mix in a well-ventilated area. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves.

lye-solution

Step 3 – You don’t have to let it cool down. Pour the lye solution into your melted oils/glycerin and blend to trace.

mixing-lye mixing-to-trace mixing-trace

Step 4 – Weigh out the stearic acid + about 10 extra grams. Melt using a double boiler on the stove.

stearic-acid melting-stearic-acid

Step 5 – Place your crock pot onto a scale and hit tare. Weigh your stearic acid into the crock pot. The extra stearic that you measured out to melt will ensure you don’t come up short if any sticks to your container while pouring (pro tip from Jackie!).

add-melted-stearic

Step 6 – Blend again. It will get quite thick because of the stearic acid.

mix-in-stearic mashed-potatos

Step 7 – Weigh out the denatured alcohol and add to mixture. Stir quickly, breaking up the soap. It will start to dissolve a bit in the alcohol. Scrape the sides of the crock pot to get all of it mixed together.

adding-alcohol-to-soap after-stir-in-alcohol

Step 8 – Immediately cover with Press & Seal and the lid. Set to cook. You want as little evaporation of the alcohol to happen as possible so that it remains in the soap mixture to dissolve the soap.

press-and-seal-soap set-to-cook

Step 9 – Let the soap cook for 2 hours. During this time the solvents will work on dissolving the soap crystals that form, creating a clear soap. No need to stir.

Step 10 – After two hours, test your soap for clarity. You can do this by pouring a bit of soap mixture onto a cold glass cup. When you first remove the press and seal, you’ll notice lots of foam. I simply sprayed with alcohol and it went away.

remove-seal spray-with-alcohol

Here is my first test.

testing-clearness

Not the best picture but you get the idea. It looked a bit cloudy to me so I cooked for 30 more minutes and tested again.

Here is a picture of my first test (left) next to the new test (right). It has cleared up a bit.

getting-clearer

Is it perfectly clear? No. But I was tired of cooking it at this point! lol I declared it ready for the next step. Cover to prepare your sugar solution.

Step 11 – Create your sugar solution by combing sugar and water into a pot and heating. The sugar should dissolve pretty quickly with high heat. If it doesn’t, add a bit more water.

sugar-solution

Step 12 – Add the sugar solution to the crock pot and mix. Cover and cook for 30 minutes – 1 hour longer.

Step 13 – You can check the clearness again if you want. You can then decide to add more alcohol or sugar solution. I left mine as-is.

Step 14 – Once you declare it done, it is time to scent, color and mold. I didn’t add scent because I was going to use this as embeds for cold process soap. I did add a bit of blue mica to turn it green (the natural color of this soap is yellow).

blue-mica

Step 15 – Pour into molds. Spray with alcohol to reduce bubbles on the surface.

into-mold

Step 16 – After 24 hours un-mold. You can un-mold it as soon as it hardens, which is usually less than 24 hours.

Step 17 – Let this soap cure for 4-6 weeks. During the cure the soap actually gets more clear!

Use your transparent soap as-is or use for embeds! Here is what mine looks like. Not perfect, but I love it!

transparent-soap transparent-soapmaking

And yes, it did clear up after a 6 week cure!

(I’ll add a pic of the soap now later tonite. It is cloudy and yucky here right now. But it is clearer!)

Transparent soap making can be a bit daunting to try. I hope this tutorial clearly explains the steps that I used and that it inspires you to give it a try!

Happy Soaping!

-Amanda Gail

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transparent-soap-making

 

About the Author:

I am a soapmaker, author and blogger! I started blogging in 2008, sharing soap recipes, design tutorials and publishing articles on various topics of soapmaking.

71 Comments

  1. Sb January 18, 2019 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Is there a vegan version of the same ..which oil can inuse instead of tallow

  2. Kau December 7, 2018 at 8:38 am - Reply

    You have done really well Amanda. Great blog

  3. Khadijat November 21, 2018 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing. I will try it and get back to you. I’m super excited.

  4. Erin November 5, 2018 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the recipe! I’ve been searching for a clear soap that doesn’t have palm oil! I appreciate it!!

  5. Snigdha September 18, 2018 at 8:10 am - Reply

    What is TFM of these homemade soaps ?

  6. Heather September 11, 2018 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Do I do this on high or low?

    • Amanda Gail September 14, 2018 at 9:40 am - Reply

      I usually use medium or high…

  7. Melanie July 27, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks for this great recipe. I am curious about the cure time, as hot processed soap recipes usually say they are ready to use immediately or in 2-3 weeks at most. Is there a reason this recipe needs to cure as long as a cold processed soap?

    Thanks,

    Melanie

    • Amanda Gail August 8, 2018 at 7:26 am - Reply

      It helps the soap become more mild and also helps it become more translucent. 🙂

  8. Emi April 13, 2018 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Hi , this is a great tutorial .. am doing it now ,, can i use ethyl alcohol 95% .. and what about its smell , will it disappear during curing time

    • zareena June 22, 2018 at 7:02 am - Reply

      soft soap

  9. Emi April 13, 2018 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Hi , it is great receipe, i am doing it now , i used ethyl alcohol 95% is that okay , how about its smell will it disappear during curing time

  10. Poet March 13, 2018 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Hi! If I just wanted this to be translucent but not meltable do I just skip the alcohol?

  11. M. HABBANI February 12, 2018 at 6:34 am - Reply

    HI I AM NEWLY SOAP MAKER AND I AM VERY INTERESTED FOR MAKING TRANSPARENT SOAP I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE EXTRA CLEAR MPS COLOURLESS HOW CAN I MAKE IT SPECIALLY FORMED MSP MOSTLY IS YELOWESH COLORED.

  12. Ali February 5, 2018 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much. My question: Can you make transparent soap with olive oil?

  13. John January 25, 2018 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Love your tutorials would like to try this, but I need to get more stuff. It seems I never have the right stuff. Soap making is very enjoyable to me. I hope some day I can be as good as you.

  14. Arsalan December 30, 2017 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Substitute of alchohal?

    • Poet March 13, 2018 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Food grade propylene glycol or a high % alcohol like ever clear.

    • Tracie Thibodeau October 17, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

      YES! I have made this recipe substituting Propylene Glycol 1:1 for the Denatured or Ethyl Alcohol solvent. The bars were fantastic and the Propylene Glycol is odorless and very inexpensive compared to the other.

      • Amanda Gail October 17, 2018 at 11:16 am - Reply

        Oh cool! I’ll have to try that! 🙂

  15. Mayen October 13, 2017 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Good afternoon Amanda, I have been reading your posts on facebook platforms and following your links like this one. Please what can someone use in the abscence of a crock pot? This pot is very expensive in my country and i can not afford it for now. Secondly, can this transparent soap go for melt and pour?

  16. Ishita October 11, 2017 at 3:16 am - Reply

    HI, This is such a wonderful tutorial. Had been looking for something as simple as this for a while now. Just had a small question can this soap be used as a melt and pour base so that I can add other ingredients to it later?

  17. Keni September 23, 2017 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Wonderful tutorial, u love it & I’m trying it tomorrow, can I use stainless pot or aluminum pot,? Also you u said palm oil can replace tallow, I want answer please thank you.

  18. remi September 11, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    hello. u a life saver. please i cant get denatured Alcohol in my locality is it the same with methylated spirit. and can this formula be used to produce soap needles for plodder.

  19. Chris September 9, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Oh, that blue mold looks really interesting. I can never find one that makes big enough bars. Do you happen to know the size, or where the mold came from?

  20. Shekoofeh September 6, 2017 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Hi amanda can i have your imail address or face book i want ask a bout clear soap base

  21. Olowokoya Olamojiba May 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Love this. Pls I normally make liquid soap, i use cold method but it doesn’t give me a transparent color, always cloudy, what can I add to it to make it transparent? Am i to use the same method with bar soap before I can get transparent color for my liquid soap?

  22. Jiba May 17, 2017 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Love this. Pls I normally make liquid soap, i use cold method but it doesn’t give me a transparent color, always cloudy, what can I add to it to make it transparent? Am i to use the same method with bar soap before I can get transparent color for my liquid soap?

  23. Poet DeHart May 15, 2017 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Can a high proof vodka or ever clear be used in this? I have been receiving conflicting information on the solvents. I want to make this to sell and told I can only use mentholated spirits or denatured alcohol if i sell. Also, have you heard about using a plant based solvent in transparent soap called Propanediol?

    • Sheri May 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      I saw another post where the writer used everclear, actually it was a video I watched. And her soap came out nice and clear! I was going to use everclear, but for my 5lb batch I needed almost 30 oz, which came out to over 50.00 on liquor. And yes, if you can find vodka that is 90% alcohol (not 90 proof) you can can use it. Any liquor that is 90% alcohol you can use. NOT PROOF, example a vodka that is 80 proof is only 40% alcohol.

      Depending on where you live, you might find denatured alcohol more cosy effective, I found it at my local mom and pops hardware store

  24. Debra LeRoy May 11, 2017 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Can I add a clay instead of Mica

  25. Rose Mete May 7, 2017 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    This is a great recipe. Made it a few days ago. How do I cure the soap? Should it be wrapped in Sarah wrap like other melt n pour recipes Or after it has cured then wrap it? Also would it be better to let it cure then design,colour and have E.O?

    Thanks for the recipe. Love your blog. Rose

  26. Lara Al Masri May 1, 2017 at 2:52 am - Reply

    Hi Amanda , will be trying the recipe soon but I wanted to ask if I can replace Tallow with olive oil ?
    thanks .

    • Sheri May 26, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      I tried that and it came out suuuuuuper soft, kinda like a hard funny bear. I’m actually making it now, and for tallow I used shea butter since it is a hard oil

  27. Cristina April 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Hello! What tipe of lie? NaOH? KOH? Thanks!

    • Sheri May 26, 2017 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      NaOH

  28. Melanie April 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Can a log mold be used with the clear soap?

    • Sheri May 26, 2017 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      That’s what I use

  29. Christine April 4, 2017 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Hi Amanda
    Can you please advise when you calculate the lye amount for making transparent soap do you use the common soapcalc.com or do you need more lye because of the extra additives.
    For instance I run my oils through the soap calc but you can’t add the extra water for the sugar or the glycerine and Alchohol. Does this effect the lye amount, if so how much extra do I use.
    I guess I am asking how to calculate your own recipe.
    Thx in advance.
    Christine

  30. Sheri April 2, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    This was a very helpful article. I made my first batch two nights ago and will be making it again today. The lather is so great with pretty fluffy little bubbles…. Kind of reminds me of bubble bath! Thank you so much for sharing, finding a guide to make glycerin soap was harder than I thought! So glad I found yours I didn’t buy ever clear, it is almost impossible to find in CA and when I did find it it was 30.00 for 750ml, I used 91% isopropyl alcohol that was only 2.58 for the amount I needed, the alcohol scent is fading .

  31. Joy February 17, 2017 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing a great tutorial. .I bought Ever clear 100% proof alcohol to make transparent soap. The sales clerk really gave me a funny look when she rang it up. Read the books you mentioned, Carolyn’s twice, But, I’ve never made hot process soap so I’m a little intimidated to try this process. There is a Transparent soap makers group on Facebook they have lots of good advice. Maybe one day I’ll find the time.

  32. Kae February 10, 2017 at 2:42 am - Reply

    Hi Amanda, may I know how u cure these soaps? Were those left uncovered or covered? Thanks

    • Ayyam December 4, 2018 at 3:48 am - Reply

      O please how much was the temperature when u cooked it , and please send me the link of a Transparent soap makers group on Facebook .

  33. Rohani January 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Hi, dear Amanda,
    Could we use methyle spirit(it is sold in medical store and is used as disinfectant) instead of ethanol or grabbing alcohol?

  34. Nwanah Wilfred January 13, 2017 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Transparent soap is very good, very attractive .It needs patience to produce.l am very much intereted in producing iteven on commercial quantity. Can we go into partnership? Cast oil is good but relativey scarce in my locality.Any substitute? 1 apprecite your ingenuity..Bravo!

  35. aldrin January 11, 2017 at 7:06 am - Reply

    please give a name of a transparent soap tnx..xD

  36. Carol January 10, 2017 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Thank you Amanda your amazing!! ?

  37. Kristie Barker January 7, 2017 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Amanda I am truly intrigued by this process and was wondering can I use fruit juice instead of water to make the sugar mixture? I am not necessarily looking to make a clear soap but a soap that holds scent better than cold process does

    • Amanda Gail January 9, 2017 at 9:40 am - Reply

      I’m not sure. I haven’t tried using fruit juice.
      -Amanda

  38. Karen Krohn December 7, 2016 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    saw soap on QVC that looks like gems. They were selling for about $8 for each “rock”. Very foamy like shaving cream. The process you describe says to me it isn’t with the time and materials.

  39. Kawther November 4, 2016 at 6:08 am - Reply

    Hi
    Can I use any other oil instead of tallow and how much wiegh can I use. I would like to try your recipe but Ido not have the tallow.

    • Amanda Gail November 4, 2016 at 7:44 am - Reply

      Do you have palm oil? You can use palm oil or simply use more shea/coconut oil.

  40. esca October 16, 2016 at 12:41 am - Reply

    can i ask something what alcohol did you use anyway

  41. PiaPollo September 2, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Hallo!! Vmaybi ask? I am a beginner at soap making.
    Please i can’t do many ingredients as I get confused easily, do you have a recipe with just olive oil or coconut oil and glycerine?? Or the 3 together?

    Thank you
    Sincerely

    Pia

  42. Barbara September 2, 2016 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Not sure if my question went through. I read somewhere that denatured alcohol mells bad. Does your end product smell like it or just regular M&P base ?

  43. Barbara September 2, 2016 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the recipe. I have been wanting to make my own. One question though, I looked up Denatured Alcohol and it said it has a foul odor and is poisonous. I’m assuming that it cooks off. Does the smell linger though ?

  44. Cee August 9, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I meant Catherine Bardey. Oops.

  45. Cee August 9, 2016 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    One of the first soaps I ever made was a transparent. I lucked out because I found a recipe in Susan Bardey’s book, “Making Soap and Scents”. Lucky cuz first you make the soap. Wait two weeks. Then grate it up and rebatch it with a “polyol”mix of alcohol, glycerin and simple sugar syrup. I put 8 oz. gratings in an 8-cup Pyrex (yes, way bigger than you’d expect for 8 oz.). I poured the polyol over all and tossed with gloved fingers. Then zapped it in the microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. It was exciting! LOL The mix bubbles all the way to the top of the bowl but doesn’t spill over. I let it rest for 5 minutes, add color and fragrance, pour into individual molds and put in the freezer for an hour. It takes practice, but I got clear soaps every time.

  46. Natural body soap August 5, 2016 at 2:03 am - Reply

    Everything from ingredient to looks of the soap seems good! Keen to try this. Thanks for sharing!

  47. Janie August 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    I’ve been putting this off, Amanda, but have to give it a try. Seeing your process certainly helps (I have Catherine Failor’s book too.) I’m going to try to find a substitute for the stearic acid in the recipe because it is generally a palm oil derivative.

  48. Ishita Saxena August 2, 2016 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Hi,
    Can I add honey to it instead of sugar?
    And how to incorporate honey in the soap

    • Amanda Gail August 2, 2016 at 10:37 am - Reply

      I have never tried honey…that is a great question. Sugar makes the soap clear…I don’t know if (chemically speaking) honey will have the same effect.

      • Shabnam zareen October 26, 2016 at 3:18 am - Reply

        At which stage we can use alcohol in transparent soap..
        Plz share with me recipe of liquid soap… or all other experiences

        • Mia October 2, 2017 at 3:47 pm - Reply

          just read what she has posted

  49. Nancy August 1, 2016 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    So??? I know my crock pot won’t measure on my scale, it it TOO heavy, any advice! I bought the alcohol so LONG ago, it’s time to try this!

    • Amanda Gail August 2, 2016 at 10:37 am - Reply

      You can just measure the correct amount into your container to melt and add it to the crock pot, not on a scale. Just scrape really well. But you’ll be fine!

  50. Twila Stone August 1, 2016 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I didnt see when you added the glycerin, would you add it at the same time as color and scent? Thanks!

    • Amanda Gail August 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Twila! The glycerin is added with the oils in step 1.

  51. Kathy White August 1, 2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Another great tutorial, Amanda. I’ve been reading your tutorials for years now – I still remember your flower one and of course the peacock swirl, which I saw in person at the Lone Star seminar. Beautiful transparent soap here!

    • Amanda Gail August 2, 2016 at 10:38 am - Reply

      You’re so sweet! Thanks for reading my blog.

  52. Rae Wycoff August 1, 2016 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Awesome! This is on my To Do list! Thanks!

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