Master Batching for Beginners

Going from hobby to business is exciting, challenging and intimidating for some soapmakers. Time is split between formulating, implementing that formulation and finding ways to sell; not to mention regular day to day activities! One method of manufacturing that has saved many Handcrafters quite a bit of time is master batching. 

Master Batching is the process of mixing a large batch of your recipe’s oils and even lye water (separately, but we’ll get into that later) and storing it for later use. This method can cut down on manufacturing time, since time would have already been dedicated to the tedious process of measuring and mixing; when it’s time to get soapy, you’ll only need to measure the oils as a whole instead of measuring them individually.

The Process 

The process of master batching uses your normal oil ratio multiplied by the number of batches you’d like to make.

Individual Standard Oils x Desired Batches= Master Batch Recipe 

Let’s use our oils from the recipe for last month’s Coffee Bar to demonstrate how this process works.

For this example, we’ll take a recipe for 2lbs of soap, and convert it to a master batch that will provide enough mixed ingredients for five batches of this recipe. 

Original Recipe 

6.4 oz Coconut Oil

6.4 oz Palm Oil

15.36 oz Olive Oil

3.2 oz Shea Butter

.64 oz Stearic acid 

Now, we will multiply all of these ingredients individually by five to get the amount we’ll need to master batch.

Master Batch Recipe 

32 oz Coconut Oil

32 oz Palm Oil

76.8 oz Olive Oil

16 oz Shea Butter

3.2 oz Stearic acid 

Mix all of your ingredients well, and then store in a clean container. Keep in mind that if you are using solid oils, you will need to re-melt them each time you make a batch. You can do this with a bucket warmer, but just make sure that you are stirring the batch to evenly distribute the oils again.

Master Batching Lye Water 

You can also master batch lye water using the same method as your oils with two major differences. First, you do not need to heat up your lye water to use it when you’re ready. Second, you must make sure that your lye water is stored in an HDPE plastic container, or it will melt the plastic, causing a dangerous clean up situation for you later on.

To master batch the lye for the recipe above, use the following steps.

Original Recipe 

12.16 oz Water

4.43 oz Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) 

Now, multiply these ingredients by five.

Master Batch Recipe 

60.8 oz Water

22.15 oz Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) 

Mix the water and lye thoroughly, just as you would if you were making an individual recipe. Store this mixture in an HDPE plastic container with a lid firmly attached, and make sure to very clearly mark the container so that someone (including you!) doesn’t accidentally open it without the proper protection.

Final Thoughts 

When soapmakers hear the phrase master batch, they think of it as an extra step that they might not be ready for-but in truth, even the smallest business can benefit from some advanced preparation. Doing a little bit of legwork in advance will set you up for quicker production in the future; a win for future you!

Did you catch last month’s coffee bar recipe? Whether you are planning to create a master batch or not, this recipe is sure to put a little pep in your step. Check it out here:

For more great resources, including podcasts, videos and articles, check out our How to Library.



Let’s Make a Coffee Bar!

If you’re like about 50% of the HSCG Staff, you need at least one cup of coffee per day to function!  Did you know that not only can you get a little energy boost from this miraculous bean water, but you can also use it in your soapmaking endeavors? It’s true! Let’s talk about taking you and your customer’s love for coffee to the next level with a coffee bar.

Coffee in the Shower 

There are a few ways you can go about using coffee in your soap; your vision for your final product will be the deciding factor that determines how you’ll use it.

Coffee Grounds 

Who doesn’t love a good exfoliant? Sugar is great, salt is well…salty, but coffee grounds are an unexpected winner too! Coffee grounds are larger than their sugary or salty comrades and provide a more aggressive exfoliant. This kind of exfoliant is great for people with rough heels or those who need a step above your typical exfoliant.

The most frequent question we receive about using coffee is, do I just use raw coffee?  The answer is both yes and no-again, it depends on your final product. If you decide to use raw grounds, beware that there is a moderate to high chance that the color of the grounds will bleed, and this will affect your final color. If you use used grounds instead, you will not have as noticeable of a bleeding color issue. Just be sure to dry the grounds before putting them in your soap to avoid clumping.

If you decide to use coffee grounds in your soap, when to add the exfoliant will depend on your process. If you are making cold or hot process soap, you can add the grounds at about .5-1.5 tsp per pound at trace-adjust this rate according to how exfoliating you’d like your finished product to be.

If you are making melt and pour soap, you’ll want to add the grounds while your soap is melted and at about 130 degrees. Make sure to stir well so that the grounds are suspended properly in the soap.

Liquid Coffee 

Many soapers don’t realize that you can actually substitute up to 100% of the water in your recipe with coffee! Using coffee for your lye water instead of water will lend a subtle scent and naturally brown coloring. It will also raise quite a stench in your workplace when mixed with your lye, so make sure you are in a well ventilated area that can be easily aired out. You’ll want to take the time to chill your coffee to at least room temperature; if you have the time, put it in the fridge overnight instead for the best results.

Although it might smell really badly when mixed, it is likely not because it is scorching-if you are using regular, unflavored coffee you will not need to worry about sugars being scorched by the lye. Keep in mind that if you do use a flavored coffee, it may contain sugars and you will need to account for this when it is time to mix your lye and coffee together.

A Few Notes About Brewing Your Soap 

As we mentioned, brewed coffee will discolor your soap – the color depends on how strong the coffee is. A weaker coffee will produce a less vibrant brown, while a stronger coffee will produce a much deeper color. If you want to lessen the impact of the color, you can choose to add titanium dioxide to your formulation, or forgo colorants altogether; the color of the coffee is desirable on it’s own.

When brewing your coffee, you may also want to brew using distilled water. Tap water can contain minerals and metals that are not favorable for soapmaking; using distilled water will help you to avoid that unpleasantness.

Let’s Brew Some Soap! 

For those of you who have been making soap and have an established recipe, feel free to substitute coffee as up to 100% of your water in your tried and true favorite. For those of you who are just starting out or don’t want to reuse an old recipe, we’ve got one just for you!

Please note: this recipe is provided under the assumption that you have familiarized yourself with the safety procedures and methods of soapmaking. If you have not yet done this, we recommend the following links: 

The Beginner’s Guide to Making Cold Process Soap

Hot Process for Beginners

Glossary of Soap-Related Terms

Coffee Bar Recipe 

This recipe will make 2 lbs of soap, and is super fatted at 5%. It can be used for either CP or HP methods. 

6.4 oz Coconut Oil

6.4 oz Palm Oil

15.36 oz Olive Oil

3.2 oz Shea Butter

.64 oz Stearic Acid

12.16 oz Water or Coffee

4.43 oz Lye

1 oz Fragrance (optional)

1.5 tsp Coffee Grounds (optional)

Final Thoughts

Making a coffee bar is a great way to expand your product line using a common ingredient that people already love. Do you make a coffee bar?

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Labeling

You can have the most fantastic, most luxurious, most incredible product in the entire handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry, but if it’s labeled wrong it might as well be a lump of rock in a nice package.

Labeling is crucial to ensuring both you and your customer’s safety and also maintaining the integrity of the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry as a whole. As with many instances, there is no such thing as herd immunity when it comes to labeling your products; just because everyone around you is labeling correctly does not mean you won’t be singled out if you don’t.

Labeling guidelines are not always the easiest to understand, so we’ve compiled a quick and soapy list of five do’s and don’ts you need to adhere to when you’re labeling your products.

  1. No fantastic claims, please. We all want a magical soap or lotion that makes us thin, smooth and 20 years younger but we also all know that soap and cosmetics don’t do that. So, while you might get a lot of attention by advertising your product as the miracle cure to a common skin ailment or sickness, we can guarantee you two things: a.) the majority of that attention will likely be from the government, and b.) the rest of it will be from angry customers who are still suffering from said skin ailment. Resist the urge to be a carnival barker and stick with approved benefits like…
  2. It moisturizes, it has skin-loving ingredients! That’s what we (and the government) want to hear. Tell your customers that it exfoliates and luxuriates, tell them that the scent will give them visions of tropical islands and faraway places. In essence, tell them what the experience will be like, as opposed to promises you cannot deliver on.
  3. Do list the weight. In this situation, as in every situation where weight is involved, you should not exaggerate the heaviness of your product. We all know that shrinking happens when soap cures, and it might not be the weight it started out at when you packaged it. That’s fine-what isn’t so fine is if you list the pre-shrinkage weight on the package, and your product reduces in size. Now, you have (perhaps unintentionally) sold a lighter product to your customer than what you’ve advertised, and that is a big no-no. The very preferable thing to do is reserve a few bars and let them sit for a few months, then re-weigh them. By that time, they would have shrunken and you will have a better idea of what the correct weight should be.
  4. Be up front and on the front. The name of the product or product type and the net weight all need to be prominently displayed on the front label. That means no hard to read text which includes fancy fonts, or text that is too small, too faint, etc. Then, list your ingredients on the back in descending quantity so that your customer knows what’s in it.
  5. Some things need to have a warning label. There are certain cosmetics that require a warning label. Examples are bubble bath, tanning products without sunscreen and feminine deodorant sprays. Don’t ignore this step-although we would like to think that most people will use the product as intended, there are a select few that may not, and this is where trouble pops up.

Think of all of the things you look at on a label when you purchase something at the store. You check to see who makes it, you look at the ingredients if it’s a food, drug, etc., and you probably look to see how much is in the package. It’s no different with your products. Your customer will expect the same transparency and so does the government; properly label your products so you, your customer and the government can all get along.

Need an in depth explanation? The HSCG is proud to carry Marie Gale’s full book collection! Check it out at