How To Make Soap: Homemade Soap Recipe for Hand and Body

How To Make Soap: Homemade Soap Recipe for Hand and Body

Debra Maslowski is an experienced homemade soap maker who can teach you how to make soap. Her natural soapmaking process is versatile and simple.

How to Make Soap

If I have an entire day to myself, I will make homemade soap.

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I am always asked how I make soap; today, I will show you!

Master Soap Maker for 20+ Years

In 1994, I found a book about soapmaking and thought, “Well, this can’t be that hard.” My great-grandmother, who was from Sweden, had also made it, and my mother had done it when I was younger.

I then gathered all my ingredients and began to make soap.

Homemade Soap: The First Batch

The first batch was great. Next came the second and the third, which was a dreadful failure. What went wrong? I was unsure, so I took a class. When I called the adult education center in my area, the instructor was no longer there. Would I be interested in teaching? I was talked into it and began the next January. I taught soap making for 11 years in Minnesota.

In 2004, when I first arrived in North Carolina, I was unsure of where to hold my classes. I finally found a college nearby in 2007, and I have been teaching there ever since. I teach courses in soap making, as well as other natural products. I sell soaps, as well as other natural products, online, at tailgate markets and the annual state fair.

Soap Making Basics

You can make soap as simple as you want or as complex as you wish.

The beauty of making it yourself is that you get to choose the ingredients and fragrances you want. Adjustments aren’t difficult, but they do require some practice. Most homemade soap recipes are in ounces or grams, and the ingredients need to be weighed. However, I have found a simple way to simplify this process by converting components into cups and portions of cups. It’s easier to do, and you get consistent results.

Lye Solutions for Homemade Soap

You can’t use anything else in your homemade soap except lye. Never use liquid lye, drain cleaners like Drano, or sodium hydroxide in its crystal form. Always use lye crystals. They may have metal bits or cause incorrect measurements. Both are undesirable.

The acidic nature of lye can cause skin burns and holes to be eaten in fabric. Use lye with extreme caution. If desired, use gloves, eye protection, and a face mask. The lye will fume and heat up for 30 seconds or more when you mix it with water. You may feel a burning sensation in your throat. It’s temporary and will disappear after a few moments. Add lye (not water) to the water and stir immediately. It could explode if it is allowed to clump at the bottom.

The Finished Soap is Free of Lye

Despite the fact that lye can be caustic and hazardous to use, it will not remain in the final product after it has reacted with the oils.

The lye reacts to the oils and turns what started as a fluid into soap blocks. If made correctly, there is no lye left in the final product. [1]

For more information, read our article: Is it possible to make soap without lye?

Homemade Soapmaking Supplies

Remember only to use cooking equipment when learning to make soap. It’s better to avoid taking a risk than to clean everything perfectly.

Mixing bowls can be made of stainless steel, tempered glasses, or enamel. Avoid using copper or aluminum as they react with lye. Plastic bowls can melt.

You can get silicone soap molds at your local craft store or online here. You can find soap molds in your local craft shop or online here. Or you can use silicone baking pans. You can easily peel off the silicone mold. You will also need quart and pint canning jars, newspaper, a stainless steel thermometer (click here), and any other additions to the soap.

How to make bar soap: the additives

As many soaps as there are colors in the rainbow, you can do literally anything. Additives are essential to life.


All herbs must be dried. Chamomile and lavender are also popular. Lemongrass and oakmoss are both great, but not together. You will need about 1/4 cup of dried plant material for each batch. Find high-quality dried herbs here.

Essential Oils

Plants are the source of essential oils. Essential oils are derived from plants. Fragrance oils are either blends of essential oil or artificially made. Make sure you are aware of what you own. Use 15-20 drops of oil per teaspoon for most oils. Find 100% pure essential oil here.


You can scent your soap with absolutes or flower concretes. Both essential oils are concentrated. To dilute, mix 5% into jojoba oil. These will save you a lot of money over time. ( Here, you will find many absolutes.


Natural colors can be made easily. You can use cinnamon or cocoa for brown soap, powdered chlorophyll to make green, turmeric for yellow, and beetroot powder for orange. However, some things can change color, such as magenta beet powder turning yellowish orange. Food colors are not suitable for soap. For more ideas, check out our article 44 Ways to Color Homemade Soap Naturally.

Aloe, Nut Butters, and Other Items

You can use aloe vera, nut butter like Shea butter, cocoa butter, oatmeal, dry milk, clays, and cornmeal.


How to Make Soap for Hand & Body

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Debra Maslowski is an experienced homemade soap maker who can teach you how to make soap. Her natural soapmaking process is versatile and simple.







Total Time







  • silicone soap molds
  • silicone baking pans
  • stainless steel thermometer
  • stick blender
  • Pair of goggles
  • Silicone spatula


  • Use 2/3 cup coconut oil to make a good lather.
  • 34 cup Olive Oil
  • Almond oil, 2/3 cup (other oils such as grapeseed, sunflower, or safflower will work too, but make sure that it is a liquid)
  • 1/4 cup lye (100% sodium hydroxide. Also available at local hardware shops.
  • Use 3/4 cup cool (distilled or purified water)


Step 1

Cover the work area with newspaper. Wear your safety equipment, such as rubber gloves, goggles, and other protective gear. Pour your water into the quart canning container. Prepare a spoon. Make sure to measure your lye exactly at 1/4 cup. Some people insist on using the lye calculator. This recipe doesn’t require it because I have mastered the weights. Pour the lye slowly into the water and stir as you pour. Avoid fumes by standing back as you go. You can let the water sit until it clears up.

Step 2

Add your three oils to the pint jar. The oils should only make one pint. You can either heat the oils in the microwave for a few seconds or in a pot of hot water. Your fats should be at 120 degrees. By then, your lye temperature should be around 120deg. Both should cool down between 95deg and 105deg. It is crucial for soapmaking. If you lower the temperature, it will come together more quickly but become coarser and crumbly.

Step 3

Pour the oils into a mixing dish when both the lye and the oils have reached the correct temperature. Add the lye slowly, stirring constantly until everything is mixed. Stir the lye by hand for 5 minutes. Make sure to incorporate as much soap with the lye as possible. You can continue stirring for about 5 minutes or use an immersion blender. The color of the soap will lighten, and it will become thicker. You’re ready to go when it looks like vanilla pudding. Watch the video below to see how the trace looks.

Step 4

At this point, you can add your herbs, essential oil, or other ingredients. Mix well. Pour the soap mixture into silicone molds and cover them with plastic wrap. Smooth out the soap mixture with a spatula if needed. Wrap it in an old towel. The residual heat will be retained, and the saponification can begin. Saponification is a process that turns the base ingredients into soap.

Step 5

Check your soap after 24 hours. Allow it to sit for another 12-24 hours if it is still warm or soft. Turn it out on a baking rack or parchment paper when it is cold and firm. Cut into bars if you are using a loaf mold. Allow soap to cure for about four weeks. Turn it over every week so that all sides are exposed to air. (This is not required if you use a baking rack). To make a DIY soap rack, I used an old potato-chip rack and slid cardboard bolts from a fabric shop through the rungs.

Step 6

Wrap your soap in wax paper when it is completely cured, or store it in an airtight jar. Hand-made soap produces glycerin, which acts as a humectant and draws moisture from the atmosphere. Wrapping the soap will prevent it from attracting dirt and debris with the water.


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