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How to Make Soap at Home: Your Easy-to-Follow Guide

Learning how to make soap at home is easy. Here's everything you'll need and simple instructions to follow.

how to make soap at home
Written by
Lindsey Anderson
scientists, we have a perfectly cozy
DIY activity
for you. It’s time to learn how to make your own soap—at home, by hand.
Both creative and affordable, homemade soap is the natural, eco-friendly alternative to expensive, store-bought soaps. When formulated with sustainably-sourced and organic ingredients, making your own soap is not only fun but eco-friendly. Plus, it makes for a great
holiday gift
Packed with essential oils and moisturizing ingredients, when contrasted with the plastic-packaged, store-bought stuff, your aromatic homemade soap can be just as cleansing for the planet as it is for your skin.
In short, learning how to make soap at home is a win for the beauty routine and for the environment.

How to Make Soap Sustainably

how to make soap at home
Naturally gentle and organic, the best homemade soaps eschew harsh chemicals and dyes, favoring only the most nourishing ingredients.
The three main components of soap are oil, water, and lye. While there are no alternatives to water or lye, the oil portion leaves ample room for environmentally-minded creativity.
It is best to avoid
or canola oil and replace these unsustainable options with eco-friendly alternatives. Coconut and olive oil are both moisturizing and eco-friendly, and even more sustainable when crafted organically.
Incorporating ingredients like goat milk and shea butter will provide a creamier, more luxurious finish. Naturally sumptuous, these additives will indulge you in some welcome eco-conscious pampering.
The best part? Bar soap, as opposed to liquid soap, requires no packaging. So set forth,
! If you’re planning to gift your soaps, opt for
paper, or even decorations rather than wrapping. Flower petals, dried fruits, and natural twine make for a beautiful presentation.

How to Make Soap at Home

how to make soap at home


Essential oils of choice


1. Mix the Lye

Soap-making requires a chemical reaction. This process is known as
, and it utilizes the mixing of water and lye (also known as sodium hydroxide). Lye is a potent substance, so be careful when using it!
Pour your lye into the water. It’s important to make sure the lye is poured into the water versus the other way around, as the mixture could heat up too quickly and become dangerous to work with. 
Once the lye and water meet, the mixture will heat up and produce potent fumes (for this reason, it’s important to conduct this work in a ventilated area and wear gloves and safety glasses to avoid any bodily harm). This mixture forms the base of your homemade soap and will need to be left outside to cool—you'll need its heat to measure around 100 degrees.  

2. Measure Your Fragrance

Now for the fun part! Your soap’s fragrance will come from essential oils of your choosing, so get creative and don’t be afraid to mix and match. Measure these oils into a bowl and set them aside. Start with a few teaspoons and work your way up. It’s best to avoid overly-scented soap as it can cause skin irritation or general distaste.

3. Prepare Your Mold

Your soap's shape is entirely up to you! Using a mold can give you fun shapes or textures for your soap, while a brownie pan or loaf pan will keep it uniform and square. Either way, make sure you line your mold with parchment paper to avoid any sticking.

4. Melt the Oil and Mix

Once your lye mixture is cooled and your mold is prepared, it’s time to melt the oil. Once your oils have been weighed and measured, heat them on low on the stove to create an aromatic and moisturizing base for your soap. Heat to 100 degrees.
Once you've reached said temperature, remove from the heat and slowly pour in the lye. Stir for 3-5 minutes—your mixture should become thicker and creamier.

5. Add Your Extras

The sky is the limit here. Add extras like oats,
dried flower petals
, or natural exfoliants like coffee grounds or raw sugar. Each of these additives boasts its own benefits, so do your research to determine what's appealing to you.

6. Pour Your Soap

Now that your soap has been thoroughly mixed, pour it into your chosen mold to set. You’ll want to cover your mixture with a lid to keep it air-tight. To ensure your soap stays warm enough to continue saponifying, wrap it in a towel or similar material to insulate.
Leave the soap untouched in this mold for about 24 hours to fully harden.

7. Cut and Cure

Once the soap has hardened, remove it from the mold and cut it to your desired size and shape. This step can be done with either a knife or a thick, sturdy wire. 
Now, the patience part: Place your soap on a rack and allow it to cure in open air for about four weeks. This process takes time, but it’s totally worth it: The longer your soap cures, the longer it will last.