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Calculate Soap Recipe Amount to Fit a Mold

I don’t use fancy molds simply because the perfect soap in size and shape for my family is produced in these repurposed disposable cream containers. The short and stubby soap bars that come out of them are the best I ever held in my hands. The containers also work great because they are waxed inside.

Image: homemade soap in a recycled container
Soap made in a disposable cream container.

So, how do you calculate the amount of oils you need for your containers? The formulas are very simple for metric or the UK/US systems.

Formulas for Oil Weight to Fit your Mold

For a Regular Mold (Box or Cylinder)

Mold volume in cubic centimeters x ~ 0.75 = Weight of oils in grams


Mold volume in cubic inches x ~ 0.4 = Weight of oils in fluid ounces

To calculate volume:

For a rectangular prism (brick) shape, multiply the length x width x depth of the soap batter pour.

For a cylinder, multiply Pi x Radius squared x Depth of the soap batter pour.

For an Irregular Mold (Cupcake, Custom Molds)

For odd shapes, pour water to the mark and weigh the water. The water weight in grams is equal to the volume in cubic centimeters.

You are done! If you are like me, however, and you like to know why, read the explanation below.


Density of water is = 1 g/cm3. One gram of water is equal to one cubic centimeter. 1000 g (water) = 1000 cm3.

Density of lye is = 2.13 g/cm3.

Densities of oils and fats depend on the oil type and are less than the density of water.

For example, in this simple Castile soap recipe,

Olive oil1000 g1000 g / 0.92 g/cm3= 1087 cm3
Water:257.40 g257.40 g / 1 g/= 257.40 cm3
NaOH128.70 g128.70 g / 2.13 g/cm3= 60.42 cm3
Total volume= 1404.82 cm3

The coefficient = the proportion of oils by volume (olive oil in this case) to the total volume = 1087 cm3 / 1404.82 cm3 = 0.77

The prepared batter will expand at the beginning because of the exothermic reaction. It will contract when the saponification is complete.