Enjoy the simple pleasure your own homemade DIY soap – healthy, beautiful and chemical-free. Soap is a sensual pleasure that appeals to all our five senses and what can be more sensual than lathering up with your own handcrafted DIY soap while you soak in the calming lights of candles.
Here are simple steps to begin making your own all-natural homemade soap. A beginner’s guide to methods and recipes, basic ingredients, and equipment that will save you money and help you live a healthier lifestyle.
The truth about lye
Cautionary tales about lye include that it’s caustic, it can burn holes and needs to be handled with care. Lye, however, is an essential ingredient of soap-making. Don’t be afraid. Once lye is mixed with the oils, the danger disappears and you will be left with the allure of your own handcrafted soap. Important, ONLY USE lye in crystallized form. Do not cut corners and use something like your household liquid drain cleaner.
Basically, soap is made when lye interacts with fats and oil. So how does it differ from the oily soap of yesteryears and the luxurious artisan soaps you are planning to make? It’s simply your choice of ingredients.
Modern conveniences have made once rare ingredients available with a swipe of your finger. Carrot seed oil revives the skin, tones down age spots and fade away scars. Imagine the luxury of younger skin with the scent of lavender and a hint of chamomile. Or try tea tree oil which has antibacterial properties. Mixing and matching your favorite oils with your favorite scents changes something chemical to something luxurious but a healthy alternative for a more natural living.
Four Basic Methods of Homemade DIY Soap
As you progress with your soap making, you could choose what is best for you. Each method has its own pros and cons and there may be variations. The two most popular, Melt and Pour and the Cold Process methods will be later discussed in details.
Here is an overview (check the latter half of the article for more details):
Melt and Pour – simple method of breaking apart and then melting pre-made blocks of soap before adding your choice of scent
Cold Process – the most common method of making handmade soap by starting from scratch using oils and lye
Hot Process – soap is cooked in a slow cooker or oven
Rebatching – soap is grounded before adding milk or water and then reblended
Basic Equipment for Homemade Soap
Before starting, make sure you clear your workspace and you have a stable countertop. You may use old equipment, but once you use them for your soapmaking, you can no longer use it for anything else.
- Workspace with adequate lighting and ventilation
- Heat resistant bowls – use glass, steel or heavy-duty plastic and NEVER use aluminum
- Whisks and spoons for mixing
- Kitchen scale for accuracy in measuring
- Set of measuring spoons
- Instant read thermometer
- Soap mold or anything that can hold the shape of the soap – silicone is recommended
- Desired fragrance, colorants, and natural additives
- Newspaper to protect your work table or countertop
- Protective gear such as heat-resistant rubber gloves and apron
- Your choice of soap base
- Lye or wood ash
- Your additives – dried herbs, oils, and natural colors
The body is ready and your soap is waiting to be made. Make sure you cover your work space with newspaper.
Homemade diy soap recipes:
(1) Crazy for Coconuts
A mositurizing cocnut oil soap recipe that you adjust further into a laundry soap? Well, it’s great for a natural and healthy living if you have these four ingredients: lye, coconut oil (preferably virgin), and essential oils of your own choosing.
What makes the soap extra moisturizing? It’s the superfatting process when we simply add more coconut oil than what the lye can change into soap. Sadly, superfatting cannot be used with most vegetable oil. Coconut oil is just really made for longer shelf life and stability making superfatting possible. The resulting homemade cocnut oil soap even keep the soap for a year if you store it in a cool and dry place.
(2) Naturally Lavender and Oats
The handcrafted texture of dried lavender flowers and the mild abrasiveness of the oat grains make for a beautiful homemade soap that practically screams “perfect gifts”. Using the hot process method that uses a melt and pour soap base. Finally, the soap is an easy diy gift for a friend’s birthday or for Mother’s Day. It’s also great as a thank you.
(3) Soothing Aloe Soap
The best natural homemade soap really has these basic ingredients: water, vegetable oil, and caustic soda (or lye). What makes a difference is what we add with our herbs and scents and essential oils. With the addition of aloe vera, this soap recipe is a soothing blend for irritated and sunburned skin. Moreover, the healing qualities of aloe vera has been known since ancient times. The soap is also great for acne-prone skin.
By simply extracting natural aloe vera juice from the leaves, you can have this wonderful soothing soap for yourself. Give at least two days for the soap to stand before breaking it out of the mold.
(4) Not Just for Breakfast
A high-conditioning soap for dry skin, this powdered banana and yogurt diy soap also contains flax seed oil. Banana is known for Vitamin A and potassium, which are primary ingredients to help the skin keep its dewy mositure. The cold process recipe also contains castor oil, olive oil, cocoa butter and shea body butter. Because the soap is more of a conditioner for more youthful looking skin, it has a low cleansing ratio.
(5) Ten-minute Milk and Honey
If you have ten minutes and enough ingredients, this quick melt and pour diy soap is just for you. This milk and honey combo is a great clarifying and anti-ageing soap. It also has sweet and delicate scent and with a microwave you can easily make a batch enough for gifting. Perfect for a Mother’s Day gift.
(6) Poppy Popular
Make poppy soaps – one for the kitchen and one for bathing. Moreover, the recipe can be adjusted over and over so you can choose which essential oil you would like to add to enhance the natural properties of the soap. The recipe goes two ways, one for lemon which removes the lingering smells of the kitchen and food like garlic. The other way is to go with almond that refreshes the skin and mositurizes it quite well.
(7) Happy for Hemp
The recipe is rich in fats for all the mositurizing needs you might have this winter. What’s more, with the properties of hemp’s Omega-3, expect healthy and glowing skin. The cold process method recipe may call for more oils than you are used to, but the beautiful lather and layering make the soap a natural skin revitalizer. It also makes a great gift.
(8) Charcoal for Clean and Clear
Tea tree oil is known for its healing properties, while activated charcoal is a great detoxing agent and cleanser. Combined in a facial bar, this DIY soap works best for those with oily skin or acne. The cold process recipe includes tamanu oil which is great for blemish-prone or scarred skin.
(9) Pink Grapefruit
If you have these three ingredients – grapefruit oil, pink Himalayan salt and a goat-milk soap base – then you can make soap. This easy melt and pour recipe also makes for great presents. Also, one great tip our DIYer shared was to to grease normal molds with coconut oil if you don’t have silicone molds. Moreover, if you have some pretty non-silicone molds, you should be able to use them without problem as long as you do not fill the mold completely.
(10) Healing Soap
Healing and protecting the skin, this cold-process soap may call for more complicated work like soaking calendula petals in rice bran oil. Why calendula, the flower from the marigold family? The healing properties of this flower have long been known by our European ancestors. Whatsmore, the soothing properties and its beautiful yellow color are retained during saponification.
(11) Coffee Scrub Soap
The exfoliating qualities of coffee are greatly enhanced by the use of the coffee grounds in this recipe. An easy melt and pour recipe, this makes a great morning shower soap with its aromatic and perky scent. Use an organic goat milk base, either made from scratch or bought from the store.
(12) Scrappy Scraps
We are often left with scraps of soaps, from the bathroom or the kitchen or even scraps from laundry bars. We don’t quite know what to do with these – throw them away or upcycle. But how to upcycle? First, collect your scrap soap and then reform the scraps with this simple melt and pour.
Pros and cons of these DIY soap methods:
Melt and Pour for Beginners
The most important thing is to choose a good premade base. Some come in unscented opaque colors while pre-made bases with almond milk or honey can also be bought. What is important is what fragrance you want to add to your soap.
- Easy on the pocket and a very easy process
- Fewer ingredients especially when you want to save money
- No lye, best especially if you are concerned about properly handling
- Your DIY soap is ready to use as soon as it hardens. Partner your handmade soap with the same scented candles using these stylish DIY candleholders.
Uhm, let’s take a minute
If you plan to be a serious enthusiast, the lack of control may be the most obvious reason to shy away from the Melt and Pour method.
- May not be as natural, as some manufacturers add chemicals to increase the soap’s meltability and lathering quality. If all-natural ingredients are important for you, then choose a credible organic or all-natural supplier.
- Your base makes the soap. However the soap turns out is more due to your premade base than your skills.
Melt and Pour French Citrus Bar soap is great for clearing oily skin
Cold Process is Hot
Cold Process is the most popular method among beginning DIY soap enthusiasts as it is not as tedious as the Hot Process method. You control the soapmaking which is half the fun when you consider all the mix- and matching you can do.
Most prefer to go as natural as they can, but this process gets a little more complicated especially when you’re doing your measuring and if you plan to add petals or leaves as decoration.
Additional ingredients for the Cold Process DIY Soap method:
- Vegetable oils (usually coconut and olive oil) or animal fat
- Your soapmaking bowl should be big enough for mixing all the ingredients without splattering around and remember not to use aluminum
- A pitcher of lye-water (follow the instructions in the bottle and remember lye crystals only)
- Fragrance, essential oils, and additives (let your imagination guide you)
- Your soapmaking mold
- Cool, dry place while your soap cures (this may take 24 hours so make sure the space won’t be used for anything else)
Steps to Make Your Cold Process Homemade DIY Soap
- Cover your work space and put on your protective gear.
- Slowly heat the oils in your soap pot to 100 degrees Celsius.
- Carefully add the lye water until the mixture thickens and emulsifies into what we call the “trace”.
- At this point, there should be no oil streaks in your mixture and it should have the consistency of thin cake batter.
- Once it reaches this point, add your fragrance, colorants, and additives. Popular additives include honey, oatmeal, dried flowers, and ground dried herbs such as rosemary or peppermint. You can also use dried seeds such as poppy and sesame.
- Pour into the molds. You can pour into one big mold and slice your soap into bars later, or you can go fancy and get individual molds.
- Cover with a clean dry towel to keep the heat out, and place in a cool, dry place for 24 hours while the mold hardens.
- Finally, wait for the soap to cure. It should take four weeks until your handmade soap is ready for use.
- You control everything, from the process to every last ingredient you put into your soap.
- Because you control everything, only your budget and your taste can limit the variations and pairings you can create. This is why some soap enthusiasts have elevated their hobby into an art form and their soaps develop from homemade to artisanal.
- It is handmade and handcrafted wholly by yourself, which is one of the simplest but greatest pleasure of soapmaking. Try our DIY backyard ideas.
Uhm, let’s take a minute
I won’t lie to you – beginners shy away from using lye. It’s obviously important to use protective gear, but you will slowly become more familiar and learn to handle lye with confidence.
- There’s more to clean up and it takes longer to make.
- Curing takes several weeks so you have to learn patience, especially if your soap smells scrumptious.
Make your own cold-processed Vitamin Soap just in time for winter.
Have an adventure
Whether you are planning to be the future homemade DIY soap mogul, taking on a new hobby, or simply wanting to live in harmony with nature, soapmaking can be a money-saving adventure. Mix essential oils with your favorite flowers and herbs while using natural colorants and enjoy the combination.
It’s a mix and match as you learn to make minute changes and adjust for scent and aesthetics. Be mindful however that soapmaking is a science and ingredients are usually measured in grams or ounces.
Patience, creativity and following these basic steps will ensure you are on your way to making your first bar of handmade goodness. It’s a natural delight that can be both money-saving and luxurious. Have fun and enjoy your soapy adventure.
Hobby Check: Try our DIY Fower Wall Decor.