If you’re looking for a guide on how to make soap at home, you’ve come to the right place. With this handy guide, we’ll show you the best handmade soap ingredients and give you a recipe to get started today. Whether it’s your first time making soap or you’re an expert, you’re sure to find new ingredients and tips to improve your soap products.
Best Handmade Soap Ingredients
1. Carrier Oil
Carrier oils are natural oils that can be applied directly to the skin without the risk of skin irritation. These oils are often combined with essential oils to improve hydration and make dermal application easier. The most popular carrier oils in basic soap bars include coconut oil, olive oil, and sweet almond oil.
2. Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used in place of harsh synthetic fragrance oils to offer a delightful aromatic aspect to your DIY soaps. Essential oils can be found in a variety of scents from floral and citrusy to woodsy and spiced. Some of the most common essential oils in natural soaps include lavender oil, tea tree oil, wild orange oil, and white fir oil.
3. Shea Butter
Shea butter is an excellent soap ingredient that adds moisturizing properties. The compound helps increase skin hydration and also works to create a rich, luxurious lather. You can also use cocoa butter in place of shea butter if desired. Include these ingredients if one of your soap goals is to soothe and hydrate dry skin.
4. Aloe Vera
If you’re trying to create a soothing soap bar, aloe vera is the perfect ingredient to add. Aloe vera helps to soothe skin irritations and is exceptionally well suited for easing the pain of sunburn.
5. Color Additives
The ingredients you choose may not combine to make your desired color. That doesn’t mean you have to use artificial colorings or harmful additives to achieve your desired soap color. Instead, look to all-natural dyes to color your soap. Butterfly pea flowers are great natural dyes for rich blue colors while cocoa powder results in a light brown hue. Turmeric can be used to create yellow soaps, beetroot is great or orange soaps, and matcha green tea can turn soaps vivid green colors.
6. Soap Molds
Making your own soap is a million times easier with soap molds. Look for molds that are made of silicone or styrene plastic that won’t melt during the soap making process. You can use traditional square soap molds or make fun shapes including stars and holiday-inspired molds.
7. Proper Soap Bowls
The soap making process involves the use of lye (sodium hydroxide) to create a chemical reaction with ingredients that then forms a soap bar rather than liquid soap. The chemical reaction uses up all of the lye so there with be no lye in your natural soap bar.
Since lye is a reactive ingredient, it’s important to use proper bowls that won’t melt or cause a reaction with the lye. Always use a stainless steel, enamel, or glass bowl when making homemade soap.
Do not use bowls made of copper or aluminum as these will cause their own chemical reactions with the lye. Plastic is another bad choice as heat is a byproduct of the chemical reaction between lye and natural ingredients — this can cause the plastic bowl to melt. Keep this in mind when using measuring cups and spoons during the process as well.
Cold Process Soap Making Vs. Hot Process Soap Making
There are two main ways to make soap: a hot process and a cold process. The cold process involves simply using a chemical reaction between lye and natural oils to create heat that solidifies the bar. The cold process results in saponification that takes anywhere from 18 to 24 hours.
The hot process method involves adding an external heat source to speed up saponification. This results in a much shorter saponification time — just two hours. The heat is typically applied by heating ingredients in a crockpot or the oven.
The different methods also result in different cure times. In places with high humidity, the cold soap making process can require several weeks for curing while low humidity areas have faster curing times. The hot process method enables soaps to cure within just one week, resulting in a much faster turn around time.
Hot process soaps feature a more textured appearance compared to cold process soaps which are smoother. There isn’t one right way to make homemade soap so you can choose between the two methods or alternate as you see fit.
Soap Making Recipes
Cold Process Handmade Soap Recipe
This coconut oil soap recipe actually uses a combination of oils as the soap base. The most commonly used oils include coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil. Since palm oil is directly connected to environmental degradation, we chose an alternative (castile soap) to use in place of the traditional palm oil.
- 8 ounces coconut oil
- 8 ounces olive oil
- 8 ounces castile soap
- 2 ounces shea butter
- 3.8 ounces lye
- 8 ounces distilled water
- Stick blender
- Protective clothing
- Heat-resistant containers
- Soap molds
- Begin by putting on gloves and goggles and make sure to wear a long-sleeve shirt. Since you’re working with lye, it’s important to protect your skin and eyes. You should also use a face mask and always make soap in a well-ventilated area.
- Add the lye to the water and stir gently until the lye dissolves and the concentrate appears clear in color.
- In a separate bowl, combine the oils and gently heat the oil and lye separately. Aim to get the concentrate and oils to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use a stick blender to mix the oils and gently tap the head of the blender along the bottom to release any air bubbles. Once all bubbles are gone, slowly pour the lye into the oils.
- At this point, you can add any essential oils or extra ingredients if desired. Alternate between stirring and pulsating the stick blender until the mixture reaches a medium trace. This means that there are stiff trailings that gently drop from the blender onto the surface of the concentrate.
- Pour soap into the molds and gently tap the molds to release any air bubbles.
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then store in a secure place away from direct sunlight. Let the homemade soap cure for 4 to 6 weeks depending on your climate.
Hot Process Soap Recipe
- 7.1 ounces of lye
- 15 ounces of distilled water
- 15 ounces olive oil
- 15 ounces coconut oil
- 12 ounces castile soap
- 8 drops lavender essential oil
- 8 drops ylang ylang essential oil
- Safety Gear
- Heat-resistant containers
- Stick blender
- Soap molds
- Start by putting on your protective gear.
- Setup your crockpot with the temperature setting on low.
- Add the carrier oils (everything except essential oils) to the crockpot, starting with any that are solid first (coconut oil for example if it’s at a temperature below 76 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Pour the distilled water into a heat-resistant bowl and SLOWLY add the lye to the mixture. The chemical reaction can be explosive if you add water to the lye, so make sure to start with water and slowly add the lye.
- Let the lye mixture combine for a few minutes. Unlike cold processing, you don’t have to worry about the mixture reaching a certain temperature.
- Slowly pour the lye concentrate into the crockpot with the hot oils.
- Use a hand stick blender to gently mix the oils with the lye solution. Keep blending until medium trace is reached with a soft stiffness on the surface. You can also add in any powders — like matcha — or clays after the mixture reaches the trace point.
- Cover the mixture with a lid and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Check on the mixture regularly as the ingredients will begin to rise as heat builds gently stir occasionally to keep the mixture from bubbling over.
- Once the mixture turns into a translucent gel, the cooking time is done. Add essential oils and pour into soap molds.
- Let the mixture cure for 2 hours or overnight and enjoy immediately!
Homemade Soap Making
Soapmaking is an easy introduction to the world of natural and organic DIY products. With a few staple ingredients and tools, making soap is an easily attainable project, even for newbies. Once you’ve made soap once, making future batches is a piece of cake.
This simple recipe and guide make it easy to add ingredients to make your homemade soap unique. You can include natural ingredients to make goat milk soap, oatmeal soap, honey soap, or homemade soap with a coconut oil base. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to creating a bar of soap.
Use this handy guide to make soap at home in your own kitchen and enjoy the benefits of cleansing products that don’t contain harmful ingredients. Whether you’re a beginner soap maker or a professional. You’ll love the process of making your own bar soap using all-natural ingredients.