Master Batching for Beginners

Sara WagnerTips, Tricks & Tutorials6 Comments

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.



6 Comments on “Master Batching for Beginners”

  1. This was an easy way to understand master batching but now that all the oils and lye are mixed separately, how do you know how much to measure out for one batch of soap? Do you just add up all ingredients from the single batch and use that number?

    1. Hi Maria! Yes, you would take the amount of needed oils for example, and measure that from your master batch. Just make sure to stir your oils extremely well first!

  2. Hi, I am really interested to try master batching but I am confused about how much water lye solution I will get from my master batch. Do I have to Total the amount of lye and water for my formula and is that the amount I will use? Thank you.

  3. SO let me see if I understand this correctly….if your recipe that you use calls for….hypothetically…

    2 oz sweet almond oil
    2 oz castor oil
    10 oz coconut 76
    10 oz olive oil
    10 oz lard (pig lard)

    12 oz water
    5 oz lye
    5% superfat
    2 oz frag oil…

    Again this is not a real recipe…

    SO you would multiply all those above by the amount of loafs you want to make?

    The part im lost on is the lye water…since you are adding lye to the water, it changes the weight of the water…
    or are you just going by the total weight of the lye and the water together and not concerned about the actual weight of the water?

  4. Thanks for the article. How long can you store the batches if you don’t use them all within a few days?

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