How To Make Natural Handmade Soap


It isn't the easiest thing in the world to make natural handmade soap but it can be done.  Natural handmade soap has been around for centuries.  It mightn't have been the kindest to your skin as it was highly caustic nor were the ingredients something we would care to put into our soap nowadays where all the fats and oils from the cooking were saved to make the soap.  

Today, we can enjoy a soap made using the finest natural ingredients, vegan or vegetarian or otherwise.  I definitely prefer the vegan and vegetarian options without using animal fats.  But I do know a number of people who dabble in the making of soap using tallow which is otherwise called dripping or rendered fat.  Each to their own!!  

We can also opt for liquid soap for the pure convenience and cleanliness of it.  But I won't be going for this option.  That is because I happen to love a bar of soap and I adore the fact that you don't need a bottle, plastic or tin.  Perhaps a glass bottle would be the solution but that is fairly risky in any bathroom or shower, the risk being, of course, that it can fall and break.  Besides, I've never had any luck with making liquid soap.  It just simply didn't thicken enough despite using Xantham gum.  I suspect you will need to use some chemicals if you need to have the right consistency where the dispenser won't clog up - neither too thick nor too thin.  

What Ingredients Make The Best Soap

I believe a combination of oils is needed to make a superior soap.  Some oils are great for their lather but dry out your skin.  Take coconut for example.  A soap made entirely with coconut oil will have a fantastic lather but it will eventually dry out your skin.  I tend to use no more than 30% coconut oil in my soap.  Another oil, olive oil, is very moisturising and kind to your skin.  It is also emollient, which means that it leaves your skin feeling soft and it won't dry out your skin.  Another great ingredient is sweet almond oil.  Now I know this is an expensive oil but a soap with this included (at least 5% and up to 20% will definitely benefit the skin).  It lathers beautifully, is emollient, has wonderful moisturising properties and is great for sensitive skin. 

Of course you can add oils such as jojoba, avocado, apricot kernel and kukui nut and all of these special oils will add to the superiority of your soap. 

What Botanicals and Fragrance Is Used To Make a Natural Soap

I have, among my natural handmade soap range, soaps that carry peat, poppy seeds for exfoliating, oatmeal for eczema sufferers, seaweed because it's good for the skin but also gives a nice green colour to the soap.  Dried calendula petals, powdered frankincense or dried nettle leaves are also used in my natural handmade soaps and shampoo bars

For fragrance, I only use essential oils.  A word of caution here.  Just because essential oils are natural doesn't mean you throw in huge amounts of it.  The recommended maximum amount is that it be 1% of total volume.  So If I am making 2kg of soap I will only use 20g of essential oil.  Some essential oils, such as clove or ylang ylang should be used sparingly at less than 1%

Recipe For Natural Handmade Soap  

I have chosen three ingredients of which I think it will keep cost down but also provide you with everything necessary in a soap.  A soap is fundamentally for cleaning so putting very very expensive oils in there doesn't make much sense.  Those oils can be used to apply to the skin after showering where it becomes a stay on product and hence can benefit the skin better and get absorbed. You might have to go to the health shop to get your sweet almond oil and your coconut oil.  The coconut oil should be hard

I will also use ylang ylang as the fragrance but you can substitute for any essential oil of your choosing.  Just be careful and do your own research into essential oils that are not suitable for skin.  Again, a trip to the health shop might be necessary to get the essential oil although most chemists stock them too.

For extra natural additivies, I will use honey and oatmeal.  If you are vegan, leave out the honey.  

Now one of the vital ingredients in cold process soap (which this is) is caustic soda.  This is necessary to saponify the oils.  Without it, this process will not happen.  This ingredient gets completely neutralised out of the bar after 5/6 weeks curing.  

Another ingredient and vital to the dissolving of the caustic soda is purified water.  I say purified water as in distilled water.  It can be bought in any car parts shop or chemist.  You can also use rain water but I recommend sieving this through a muslin cloth.  

Handmade natural soap


1300 grams Olive Oil

520 grams coconut oil

180 grams sweet almond oil

16 grams ylang ylang essential oil or 20 grams Lavender

20 grams honey

20 grams oatmeal

275 grams caustic soda

600 grams of distilled or purified water



  • It is so important to carefully weigh out everything so a good weighing scales is a must. 
  • You will need 2 saucepans one for the coconut oil to reach a temperature of between 35 and 38 °C and the other to mix together the olive oil and sweet almond oil and then to add the melted coconut oil. 
  • You will also need a strong plastic 1.5 kg jug to melt the caustic soda with the water.  You can also use a stainless steel jug
  • You will also need protective goggles, gloves and clothes.  The mixing of the caustic soda is a tricky and dangerous part of the whole process.  It is important that you are very present in the here and now while working with it.   Protect yourself and your clothes from any spills or splashes especially the eyes.
  • Another useful  and necessary item here is a thermometer to make sure that both oils and caustic soda mix are both at between 35 and 38 °C
  • A spatula to scrape out every last bit of the soap mix
  • 3 emptied and clean tetra boxes for milk
  • A hand held blender


Weigh out water in jug

Weigh out caustic soda  (I hope you have your gloves on!!)

Add caustic soda to the water (do not attempt to do it the other way around) mixing well.  Leave in a safe place to cool down as it will reach temperatures of almost 100 °C at this stage

Weigh out all  other ingredients. Leave the honey and oatmeal together in a dish

You will need to gently melt the coconut oil over a low heat in a saucepan

When coconut oil is liquified add to olive oil and sweet almond oil in other saucepan.  You will have to take the temperature an, if not at required temperature, put  back on the stove and gently heat it until it is at the required temperature

Check the temperature of both oils and caustic soda mix and when at correct temperatures you're ready to mix them together.  The caustic soda goes into the oil mixture and not the other way around.  Make sure you have protective clothing, gloves  and goggles on.  With hand held blender start mixing for 20/30 seconds.  You will notice that the colour changes and it becomes creamier in colour but still needing more blending.  Another 20/30 seconds and you'll see that it has become lighter yet again in colour.  Another 20/30 seconds and you might see it beginning to thicken or that when a small amount of the soap mix drizzled across the surface leaves a trace before going back into the mixture your soap is ready

Now it's time to mix in the honey and oatmeal.  Make sure they are properly incorporated into the mix.  Now add the essential oil and again make sure it is well mixed.

Pour this mixture into the three tetra milk cartons of 1 litre.  They should all be almost full with the mixture

Leave them upright and steady in a basin.  Cover with a blanket to keep them warm for the next 24 hours

After 24 hours, cut them out of the tetra packs and cut into your desired size.  I tend to have my bars about 1 inch in thickness.  

Leave these bars (you might actually have about 18/24) in a safe place, standing them upright and leaving about 1 cm space between each one.  This is what is known as the curing of the bars.  They will sit there for 5/6 weeks and you will turn them upside down once in the middle of this time (after 3 weeks perhaps)

After 5/6 weeks your bars of soap are ready.  It's up to you how what you do with them.  They will make excellent gifts and you can use your imagination as to how to package them or present them

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