Make Your Own Soap With This Easy Guide

Close your eyes and imagine one of the most popular and favourite hostess or housewarming gifts: a basket with household essentials and fun gifts like a bottle of wine, candies and of course, soap! Do you want to make it even more fun and personalised? Find out how to make your own soap, using your favourite colours, scents, and even flower petals to offer as a gift or add to your bathroom!

Woman cutting handmade soap in pieces and packing it

Soap making is an easy and fun craft anyone can master. Homemade soap is a pleasure to make, and once you experience all-natural DIY soap, we doubt you’ll ever go back to store-bought. Once you learn how to make it yourself, you can start experimenting with your own homemade recipes and make it your own! All you need to do is follow our instructions on making soap at home, even if you’re a beginner or failed chemistry!

Gather the needed equipment

Before starting your soap-making project, it is essential to gather all the right equipment to keep them handy. Here is a list of all the things that will help all you beginner soap makers with your DIY soap.

  1. Use the correct mixing bowls made from stainless steel, tempered glass, and enamel. Don’t use equipment that you will later use for cooking. Also, avoid using aluminium and copper as they have a negative chemical reaction with lye (the common name for sodium hydroxide). Some plastics melt as well when you mix them with lye
  2. Use soap-only spoons made of silicone or styrene plastic.
  3. You can get creative when choosing soap molds and find various them at your local craft store. You may also use silicone molds and baking pans. Many people prefer silicone since you can easily peel off the soap molds.
  4. Gather all the extra tools aside from the actual ingredients you want for your soap recipe. Ensure you have a pint, a quart canning jar, a stainless steel thermometer, and an old towel and newspaper. You can also find an online lye calculator to figure out exactly how much you need to make a perfectly balanced bar of soap every single time.

Choose additives for your soap

You can use various additives for DIY natural soap, from dried herbs and essential liquid oils to natural colours and aromatherapy materials. Keep on reading to find out all you need to know.

  1. You can pick up dried herbs from your local craft store or find them online. Some of the most popular choices are lavender, chamomile, oakmoss and lemongrass. Ensure you know who will be using the soap as some people may have sensitive skin or even be allergic to certain herbs. Use about a ¼ cup of dried herbs for each soap batch.
  2. Get fragrance oils from your local craft store or find them online. While essential oils come from plants’ roots, stems, seeds and flowers, their aroma can be artificially produced. You should use around a teaspoon or about 15-20 drops of oil for your batch. Keep in mind that if you want to melt any weigh oils and solid butters (in a cooler state than room temperatures), you should use a double boiler on the stove over low heat.
  3. Prefer adding natural colours rather than artificial ones. Cinnamon and cocoa powder will create brown soap, powdered chlorophyll and aloe will create green, turmeric will make yellow, and beetroot will give an orange soap. Keep in mind that some colours may change during the hot process like magenta beet powder could turn yellowish-orange.
  4. Understand how you can combine aromatherapy with your homemade soap. Choose the materials you’ll use based on their healing properties. A lemon scent, for example, is said to aid concentration while calming someone who feels angry or anxious. Lavender is said to aid with stress, while rosemary improves memory, gives energy, and fights headaches and mental fatigue.

Handmade natural soap with lavender

How to make your own soap tutorial

Are you ready to make your first batch of homemade soap? Follow our step-by-step guide to make hot process soap which is quicker than the cold process method and less volatile!

What you’ll need

  1. 1/4 cup water
  2. Dried and pulverised herbs
  3. Essential oils
  4. 2 large mixing bowls
  5. Wooden spoon
  6. Glass plate
  7. Soap making mold
  8. Pint and a quart canning jar
  9. Stainless steel thermometer
  10. Newspaper
  11. An old towel

Step 1: Prepare your work area and mix the lye

Cover your work area using a newspaper. Also, have your protective gear on, including gloves and eyewear, before you start working with lye. You can find lye online, at your local drug store or craft store. Scoop 1⁄4 cup of lye and measure water in the quart canning jar. Keep stirring as you slowly pour soap base into the water until clear and let sit. Ensure to use cold water. It’s best to use distilled water if you have the time and budget. You can find this in most pharmacies or grocery stores.

Step 2: Heat the oils once mixed together

Mix the oils together in your pint jar. Heat your pint for about one minute in the microwave, or add the oils to a pan of water and heat over your stove. If you want to make a mild to hard soap bar, use olive oil or coconut oil in order to produce a soap with a good lather. You can also use almond, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower, poppy seeds and palm oil to get similar effects.

Step 3: Stir your lye and oils together

First, check the temperature of the lye. Ensure not to let lye and oils cool too low, or your soap will come together too quickly and crumble easily. Once both these ingredients are at the right temperature, pour your oils into the mixing bowl and slowly stir your lye in by hand for about 5 minutes. You may also use an immersion blender. Once your soap thickens and is light in colour, it is ready for herbs and essential oils.

mixing homemade soap with stick blender in stainless steel bowl

Step 4: Add your herbs, essential oils, or other preferences

It’s now time to stir everything thoroughly and pour the soap mixture into the molds. Cover them with plastic wrap and then cover with an old towel. This will allow residual heat to keep your mixture warm and start the saponification process. This is the process at which all the soap base ingredients become the soap. Keep in mind that the popular soap bases are white or clear glycerin, goat’s milk, olive oil, or Shea butter.

Step 5: Age your finished soap 

Let your new soap sit for 24 hours. If it is still soft or warm, let it sit for another 12-24 hours. Once it is cold and firm, remove it and place it onto a baking rack or parchment paper. Then let your soap cure for about a month. Remember to turn over each soap piece at least once a week to ensure air gets to all its sides. If you’re using a loaf pan, you need to cut the loaf into bars before this month’s curing period.

Step 6: Store your soap safely using wax paper or an airtight container

Once your soap is cured, wrap it in wax paper or place it in an airtight container; handmade soap creates glycerin that pulls moisture from the air. This moisture may attract debris and dust. Keeping the soap covered will keep it clean and pure.

natural handmade soaps in a gift package

Cleaning up correctly after you are done

Lye is a corrosive substance that could bring about burns and injury if not used properly. Cleaning it also needs the proper caution. Keep on reading to find out how to clean up everything after you are done making your soap!

1. Let your tools sit to get rid of any animal fats and lye

You should neutralise the lye solution with white vinegar before washing the equipment. Let all the equipment sit for several days since residual lye may burn your hands, and fat can be very difficult to remove if fresh. If you wait, it allows all the residual lye and fat to become soap that washes away when you soak it in hot water.

2. Wear gloves when cleaning up

You should wear gloves to protect your hands since soap batter may still irritate your skin even after most of the saponification is over. Lye is caustic when it touches the skin, but also the fumes it generates when mixed with water are acidic to your eyes. An apron and goggles are also great for protecting your clothing and eyes.

3. Use paper towels and a spatula to clean soap mixtures before rinsing

Use a spatula to scrape any extra soap batter. Also, use paper towels to wipe any raw soap from your bowls and utensils. These actions will minimise any harm the lye and oils might do to your pipes or septic tank.

4. Soak all your containers and equipment 

Place all your bowls, containers, and utensils in the sink once you’ve removed all excess soap. Then soak and wash with your sponge in hot water and dish liquid soap.

5. Rinse with very hot water

Dish soap and extremely hot water will help to prevent clogging and greasy residue on your utensils and bowls.

man dries steel bowl with green duster
Knowing how to create a soap yourself allows you to have complete control of the process and results to match your liking. The method may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but once you’ve made your first few soap batches, it’ll be second nature. Follow our instructions to discover that making soap is fun, cost-effective and gives you the freedom to choose the ingredients and scents based on your preferences. Ready to dive into the soap making world? We are sure you can do it!

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