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DIY Soap Recipe


DIY soap is easier than you think. Use oils from your pantry to make a soap that is good for your skin.

Commercial soaps available in stores are often not soap at all. Typically they are detergents made with all kinds of chemicals, dyes and fragrances. Soap is created from two basic ingredients – lye and fat. You may already have everything you need to get started in your kitchen!

Don’t be afraid.

When I first started looking into making my own soap I was SO intimidated by the process. I bookmarked every tutorial and video I could find. I saw soapers wearing rubber gloves up to their shoulders, and big clunky goggles over their faces, looked at the kids running around my house and thought, “wow, maybe this isn’t for me!” I spent a year reading about it before I actually dove in and just did it. And then I felt pretty silly.

It is not that complicated.

Yes, you will be working with sodium hydroxide (lye). Yes, it is caustic. Yes, it can burn your skin. Ever seen the movie Fight Club? Remember the scene where he got lye on his arm and it started bubbling and he had to pour vinegar on it? Yep, that could happen. But if you’re careful your chances of spilling, splashing, or making a mistake are greatly reduced. And, you’ll have vinegar nearby just in case.

Why did I decide to finally take the leap and make my own soap? I found a simple recipe that didn’t require a ton of fancy oils or equipment and decided to just TRY it. I’ve now been making soap for more than seven years. I cannot find the original blog post that got me started but here is a link to one very similar written by the same author. I still usethis recipe quite often.
Most often a precise weight measurement is required for soap-making, however this recipe has proven time and time again that it is stable using volume measurements. If you try this for your first time and decide, like I did, that you love making soap, it is very much worth the investment to purchase a decent kitchen scale so that you can experiment with other recipes.

For safety and liability purposes I do recommend wearing gloves and protective eye-wear. I also suggest having some vinegar on hand to clean up any spills or splashes. Vinegar will quickly neutralize any lye.

Let’s do this! You will need:

  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup other oil (sunflower, avocado, grapeseed, canola, etc)
  • 3/4 cup distilled water (or rain water)
  • 1/4 cup lye (this is the kind I use)
  • glass 2 cup measuring cup or mason jar
  • non-reactive bowl or heavy pot (stainless steel preferred)
  • measuring cups
  • stainless steel or wooden spoon
  • candy thermometer (optional)
  • immersion blender (optional, this one is great)
  • a mold of some sort – glass loaf pan, casserole dish, small box lined with parchment paper – something to hold your soap while it hardens

The Process

Pour water into your glass measuring cup or mason jar. Slowly add your lye to the water while stirring. NEVER add water to lye, always lye to water! The solution will heat up and to avoid any popping or crazy bubbling you need to be sure to add the lye to the water. Also, do not hover your face over your lye water as it produces fumes. I always do this near the vent on the stove or near an open window to avoid breathing in the fumes. This is the scariest part. Step back and be proud. Your lye water now needs to cool to about 100° so leave it in a safe place away from children or pets. The counter is fine so long as it will not be disturbed.

Measure and add each of your three oils to your stainless bowl or pot and heat over a low setting just until the coconut oil has melted. You want the temperature to reach about 100°F Remove from the heat. At this point your lye should have cooled significantly. If you have a candy thermometer your can check the temperature carefully, if not you can still proceed to the next step.

Slowly pour your lye water mixture into your oil mixture. Slowly mix the lye and oils together for about 5 minutes. This is where the magic happens. We want to oils and lye to blend together and create soap – saponification. Continue to stir vigorously by hand or use a stick blender until the mixture thickens. It will start to resemble vanilla pudding. You want to continue blending until the mixture reaches what we call “trace”. This is when the mixture is thick enough that when you lift your spoon or blender what is in the bowl can hold the weight of what falls back into it. If you lift your spoon and the mixture that falls back into the bowl disappears quickly back into the mix, keep blending. Once you’ve reached trace you can move on to the final steps.

At trace your mixture is ready for any additives that you wish to put in it, or you can skip that and go straight to pouring it into your mold. Again you can look to your kitchen for inspiration – cinnamon, turmeric, coffee, dried herbs, and spices all make great additions to your homemade soap. Be sure to use only thoroughly dried ingredients to prevent any spoilage down the road. You may also choose to add your favorite essential oils at this point, start with about 30 to 50 drops. Mix everything thoroughly and then pour into your mold.
Cover your mold with plastic wrap or parchment paper and then wrap with an old towel or blanket to insulate. Place your wrapped soap in a place where it will not be disturbed for 24 hours.

Your soap will create heat as it saponifies and hardens. We can tackle this topic in another post. This article is to help get you started.
After 24 hours you can unmold your soap and cut it into bars to your liking. Place your cut soap on a wire rack and allow it to cure for 3 to 4 weeks.

For this loaf I doubled the above recipe and added 1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers and sprinkled calendula petals on top.  


  1. Thanks for this, my sister-in-law makes this look as easy as you do :) do you have a favorite for skin lotion?

  2. I love making goat milk soap with Shay butter and activated charcoal.i love proterra pils


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