Classic Cedarwood and Coconut Milk Shaving Soap Recipe

Learn to make your own shaving soap from scratch with this natural soap recipe.

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by Pexels/Feyza Yıldırım

Learn to make your own shave soap with this coconut milk soap recipe! This shaving soap recipe uses shea butter to help you get the perfect shave.

Yield: 8 to 10 round bars of shaving soap (2 lbs 5 oz/1.05 kg)

gray speckled cup filled with lather and a shave brush sitting inside of it

What You Need:

  • 10 oz (283 g) distilled water
  • 6 oz (170 g) coconut milk
  • 1.2 oz (34 g) sodium hydroxide
  • 1.8 oz (51 g) potassium hydroxide
  • 10.6 oz (300 g) kokum butter (60 percent)
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) coconut oil (20 percent)
  • 2.6 oz (75 g) castor oil (15 percent)
  • 0.88 oz (25 g) shea butter (5 percent)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) vegetable glycerin
  • 0.18 oz (5 g) cedarwood Atlas essential oil (about 1-1/2 tsp)
  • 0.07 oz (2 g) clove essential oil (about 5/8 tsp) (optional)
  • 0.07 oz (2 g) vetiver essential oil (about 3/4 tsp) (optional)
  • Shaving brush, required for proper lathering


  1. Combine the distilled water and coconut milk. Wearing protective gloves and eyewear, carefully stir both types of lye into the combined water and milk mixture until completely dissolved. Set the lye solution aside to cool slightly while preparing the butters and oils. Melt the butters and coconut oil, then add them with the castor oil into a 2 quart (1.89 L) slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker’s heat to low.
    three containers with a foamy liquid, a light brown liquid, and an oil
  2. Pour the lye solution into the warmed oils and start stirring, using a combination of hand stirring and an immersion blender until trace is reached. This may take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the type of the coconut milk used and temperature of the oils, lye solution and slow cooker.
    an immersion blender being held over a white liquid in a slow cooker
  3. Once trace is reached, cover the slow cooker and allow the soap to cook undisturbed, checking every 15 minutes to be sure it’s not overflowing from the cooker and stirring as needed. The soap will go through several stages as it cooks, resembling a thin porridge that noticeably thickens over cook time. (See three pictures below, which show the batter after 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes)
    soap batter in a slow cooker with a thinner consistency and many small bubbles around…
    soap batter in a slow cooker with a thicker consistency and few bubbles around the…
    soap batter in a slow cooker with a very thick consistency and foam forming around…
  4. Liquid may pool up and separate from the soap batter while it cooks, but that’s normal. After 45 minutes of cooking, remove the lid and stir the soap. After stirring, there will likely be visible lumps of soap forming in the otherwise liquid soap batter; this is normal.
  5. Cook the soap an additional 15 minutes or until it’s transparent and resembles thick petroleum jelly or glossy mashed potatoes when stirred. To make sure it’s fully cooked, remove a tiny bit of soap batter, let it cool to a comfortable temperature and dab just the tip of your tongue on it. If you feel a zapping sensation, similar to licking a battery, it needs to cook longer. If it just tastes like soap, it’s fully cooked. Regardless of the outcome, be sure to rinse your mouth out thoroughly after this test. (See photos below, which show batter before stirring and after stirring)
    soap batter in a slow cooker with light liquid sitting on top in the center…
    soap batter in a slow cooker with a spatula sitting in it after stirring it…
  6. Turn the slow cooker off. In a small bowl, mix the vegetable glycerin and essential oils together. Stir this mixture into the still hot soap batter. The glycerin will help loosen the soap, making it easier to work with and helps promote a better lather once the soap is cured.
  7. Spoon the soap batter into a silicone column mold or press it into individual round molds.The rounded shape makes it easier to fit inside a shaving mug or bowl.
    soap batter pressed in to a round mold with dirty spatula and slow cooker behind…
  8. Leave the soap in the molds, uncovered, for 24 hours or until completely cool. Cure the soaps for at least 3 weeks before use, allowing excess water to evaporate out, yielding a harder bar with better lather.
    soap round sitting in a cup with other discs of soap sitting next to it

Tip: To use shave soap, place the soap round in a small bowl or mug. Generously splash some water on the shaving brush and in the bowl/mug and start making a vigorous circular motion over the soap with your brush for a few minutes until a thick creamy lather forms.

Variation: For a fun floral variation, try adding 1 teaspoon (3.6 g) of rose or purple clay to the hot lye solution, for color, along with 0.17 (5 g) lavender or geranium essential oil. A shave brush will be required to work up the proper amount of lather.

light green book cover with an illustration of two bars of blue soap tied together…

More from Simple and Natural Soapmaking:
Creamy Avocado Soap
Orange Honey Shampoo Bars

Reprinted with permission from Simple and Natural Soapmaking by Jan Berry and published by Page Street Publishing, 2017. Buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Simple & Natural Soapmaking

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