Unlocking the Benefits of Citric Acid in Soap Making - Cape Crystal Brands
Soap with Citric Acid

Unlocking the Benefits of Citric Acid in Soap Making


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Is your homemade soap lacking that perfect lather or plagued by soap scum? A simple, eco-friendly solution to these problems may be hiding in your kitchen: citric acid. By unlocking the benefits of this natural ingredient, you can transform your soap making game and create high-quality, long-lasting soaps.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the role of citric acid in soap making, its advantages, proper usage, safety precautions, and comparisons with other additives. Say goodbye to subpar soaps and embrace the power of citric acid.

Key Takeaways

  • Citric acid is an important component in soap making, offering benefits such as reducing pH level and preventing soap scum.

  • Incorporating citric acid into recipes can enhance lather and extend shelf life for a more enjoyable wash.

  • When working with citric acid, take safety precautions to avoid potential risks and store it properly for optimal performance.


Citric acid is a commonly used organic compound found in citrus fruits and regularly employed as an additive for its flavoring benefits or preserving properties. Apart from such uses, it has also been observed to improve the quality and longevity of soap. For instance when mixed into cold process soaps crafted with potassium hydroxide, citric acid can stave off lather weakness while limiting unpleasant buildup on surfaces which usually comes about due to what’s known as “soap scum”.

Adding this ingredient accordingly isn’t complicated. Just stir some mixture of the strong acidic element with your preexisting lye solution prior to combining both solutions together, ensure that you adjust any calculations made using lye at this point too. As far safety goes don protective gloves, and eyewear along with making sure there’s plenty ventilation in whichever area you decide work inside.

When making soap, citric acid can be a useful tool for balancing out the effects of hard water and enhancing lather. When combined with other ingredients such as essential oils or fragrances, it helps hold scents over time. Citric acid also serves to bring down pH levels in homemade soaps which prevents the formation of irritating and unsightly soap scum, resulting in an enjoyable use experience every time.

Still is its ability to neutralize metal ions that can weaken lathering properties while forming sodium citrate: all important aspects for any keen soap maker looking to upgrade their skillset when creating amazing bars of this beloved cleansing substance.

Understanding Citric Acid and Its Role in Soap Making

Citric acid, which is found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, when added to soap magnifies its efficacy. It reacts with lye resulting in the formation of either sodium citrate or potassium citrate. This process helps lower the amount of soap scum that usually accompanies washing soaps.

Besides decreasing harm from cleaning agents due to reduced levels of scum residue on surfaces after use, citric acid also works by counteracting metal ions responsible for creating stubborn deposits as well as safeguarding against oxidization processes (causing spoilage) within soapy solutions themselves.

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid is an organic compound found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges. This weak acid has a big impact on the flavor when it reacts with other elements. Originally extracted by chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1784, citric acid powder can be derived from its water-free form known as ‘anhydrous’. If considering using this substance for cooking or cleaning purposes, make sure to follow recommended guidelines of how much should be used.

Not just limited to food/beverages though, citric acids are highly valued amongst those who create soap due to their preservative properties plus antioxidant quality.

Natural Sources of Citric Acid

Using citric acid in your soap recipes is a great, eco-friendly way to make homemade soaps. This natural ingredient can be extracted from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons or created with the GRAS approved Aspergillus niger fungus. With its benefits for soap making that range from enhanced texture to added bubbles when lathering up, you’ll find this sustainable option an effective choice.

Advantages of Incorporating Citric Acid in Soap Recipes

Hand made soap

In soap making, citric acid provides many beneficial effects including diminishing soap scum buildup, creating a more luxurious lather and lengthening shelf life. This is achieved by neutralizing the lye to form sodium citrate or potassium citrate which gives the soap a smoother texture as well as lowering residue levels. It improves foam creation due to an increased solubility of the product resulting in longer-lasting sudsing action. Finally thanks to its preservative properties that prevent oxidation along with its antioxidant benefits, it helps extend your soaps expiration date providing extra protection for storage purposes .

Reducing Soap Scum

Citric acid is useful in reducing the accumulation of soap scum because it forms sodium citrate which impedes metal ions from bonding with the soap, consequently leading to cleaner surfaces and an improved cleaning efficacy.

Enhancing Lather

In soap making, citric acid can reduce metal ions which otherwise may diminish the lather and provide a more enjoyable cleansing experience. This creates a luxurious rich creaminess that feels great on your skin with every use of this fine soapy product.

Extending Shelf Life

Citric acid can be used to help maintain the freshness of homemade soap and stave off oxidation by preventing orange spots. This helps keep your soaps usable for a longer period, while ensuring they remain effective as well.

How to Properly Add Citric Acid to Your Soap Making Process

In soap making, it’s essential to correctly prepare the lye solution and modify calculations when integrating citric acid. Firstly, dissolve the additive into water before adding it to your mixture of lye. Make sure there are no undissolved particles remaining. Secondly, based on how much citric acid is being included in your recipe for soaps you should adjust amounts accordingly within its formulation.

Preparing the Lye Solution

When preparing the lye solution for soap making, make sure to incorporate citric acid after you’ve dissolved it in a bit of water. Stir thoroughly until all traces are gone before beginning your process. It is essential that you add the acid into the mixture once its already mixed with some liquid so everything can be evenly distributed and ready to go when creating your masterpiece. Be careful not take any shortcuts or rush this step as proper preparation is necessary for satisfactory results.

Adjusting Lye Calculations

When using citric acid in your soap recipe, it is important to take into account that the lye calculations need to be adjusted. Establishing a 2% ratio of total fat weight can help determine how much lye should be used. Adding liquid soap will keep all ingredients properly balanced so as guarantee successful results with this type of homemade product.

Try Citric Acid for Yourself

Pick up a packet of Cape Crystal Brands Citric Acid. You will be glad you did.


Determining the Right Amount of Citric Acid for Your Soap Recipe

soap molds

When adding citric acid to a soap recipe, it is essential to use the correct amount in order for it to be effective without causing any issues. A typical rule of thumb is incorporating 1-3% of total oils and fats by weight - typically 2%. This means that with 1000 grams worth of oils/fats used within your recipe, you would need 20g of citric acid (2%).

Care must be taken when using this ingredient however. Too much can result in tiny white crystals forming on the surface over time. These are harmless but may not look very pleasing – thus why starting at just 2% concentration first before adjusting Should prove successful if necessary.

Safety Precautions When Working with Citric Acid

handmade soap

When it comes to using citric acid in soap making, certain safety precautions must be observed. It is essential that protective gear (including goggles, gloves and a face mask) are worn while working with the compound and ventilation should also be provided for optimal air quality. One must take into account that skin or eye contact may cause irritation as well as breathing issues if inhaled. Thus paying attention to any warnings associated with its use is of great importance when dealing with such an ingredient.

The overall goal when utilizing this acid within your process of creating soaps should be avoiding potential health hazards - which can effectively help ensure you create top-notch products without putting yourself at risk.

Comparing Citric Acid with Other Soap Additives

citric acid in soap

For those who are in soap making, it’s crucial to understand the distinctions and advantages of several popular additives like citric acid, stearic acid and sodium lactate. Citric acid can effectively reduce soap scum buildup while helping combat oxidation. Whereas using stearic acids will result in a firmer feel that also produces an indulgent lather for your soaps.

To these two elements, sodium lactate plays no part when creating homemade bars or liquid formulations as its effects are limited mostly within commercial production settings only. Ultimately, all three compounds have important functions within producing quality soaps but their impact may vary depending on usage circumstances too.

Citric Acid vs. Stearic Acid

When producing soap with citric acid and stearic acid, it is important to recognize their distinct characteristics. Citric acid helps keep the product fresh by lessening soap scum formation and preventing oxidization.

The saturated fatty acids of stearic acid provide added hardness to a creamy lather for users’ enjoyment when cleansing. As such, these two varieties of acids have distinctly different roles which are both necessary for successful production in this field of crafting soaps.

Citric Acid vs. Sodium Lactate

Soap makers find citric acid to be an advantageous ingredient in their toolkit because of its multiple benefits. Citric acid helps reduce the risk of soap scum, and it also increases shelf life for products made from soap. This substance works as a preservative and moisturizer that complements sodium hydroxide when used in making soaps. On the other hand, sodium lactate is preferred mainly due to its hydrating properties though not nearly as much versatile compared with citric acid’s various positive effects on making quality soaps better overall.

soap making

Storing and Maintaining Citric Acid for Soap Making

For successful soap making with citric acid, correct storage is critical to protect its potency and freshness. It’s necessary to keep the package of it securely shut in a cool location free from sunlight or other heat sources. Using an airtight container will stop any moisture absorption that can lead to clumping when exposed. By putting proper precautions into place you’ll ensure that your citric acid remains effective for use in soap making and don’t forget labelling containers so they are easily recognisable amongst all the ingredients involved.

Adding citric acid to soap recipes can bring several benefits like a richer lather, less formation of soap scum caused by hard water and an extended shelf life. To add it properly, one must prepare the lye solution accordingly and adjust their lye calculations for this specific recipe. Before handling with care (protective clothing and safety glasses) in a well-ventilated area should be worn as it is important to understand the difference between other common additives such as stearic or sodium lactate when making your own soaps using citric acid.


In summary, citric acid is an efficient and environmentally-friendly component that will improve your soap making experience. With the inclusion of citric acid in your formulations you can reduce soap scum, provide a better lather and extend the storage life of homemade soaps. Knowing proper instructions for use, advantages plus safety measures when utilizing this ingredient are important to get maximum effectiveness from it within your soap creation processes.

Considering its natural roots along with multiple benefits make citric acid necessary equipment for any type of soap maker no matter if they’re experienced or just starting out. Taking advantage of citrus acird’s abilities can enhance one’s proficiency level at creating high quality durable products enjoyable by all those who used them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is citric acid necessary for soap making?

Soap makers need anhydrous citric acid which can be easily obtained at many grocery stores, online or from a soap-making specialty store.

How much citric acid is needed to lower pH in soap?

Approximately 4 grams of citric acid should be enough to reduce the pH level by around 5 in a kilogram of soap paste.

What acid is used in soap making?

Soap making entails taking fatty acids such as lauric acid, myristic acid and palmitic acid (as well as stearic) to form soaps through saponification. A method that creates firmer bars of soap.

What safety measures should I take when handling citric acid?

It’s essential to take certain safety measures when working with citric acid: protective attire and eyewear must be worn, as well as making sure that you are in a room with good air circulation.

For further reading:

10 Ways to Use Citric Acid

Guide to Making Bath Bombs with Citric Acid

Premium Quality Citric Acid

The Versitile World of Citric Acid

Chef Edmund

About the Editor

About the Chef Edmund: Chef Edmund is the Founder of Cape Crystal Brands and EnvironMolds. He is the author of several non-fiction “How-to” books, past publisher of the ArtMolds Journal Magazine and six cookbooks available for download on this site. He lives and breathes his food blogs as both writer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.

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