Super-Simple, Liquid Soap Making … No Lye!
The higher-priced liquid soaps (I love Caldrea hand soaps , for example) smell better and feel nicer on the skin, but whoo boy, are they expensive!
Nope, not for me.
Using either of these methods, you start with pre-made soap. It still has lye (all soap is made with lye), but the lye in this case is “saponified”: chemically changed into a non-caustic substance. Authentic soap makers may scoff, but these methods let you make soap in your kitchen without needing a biohazard suit. Or with pets and/or children underfoot!
I’ll document this more successful version, and share what I learned from the first failure.
How to Make Simple, Small Batch Liquid Soap
- ¼ pound "Melt & Pour" Soap Base
- 2 cups Distilled Water
- Soap Coloring (if desired)
- Soap Fragrance or Essential Oil (if desired)
- 4-cup Microwave-able Measuring Cup
- Stick Blender (or whisk, or spoon)
- Recycled pump-style soap dispenser, or other container for your finished product
Purchase “melt and pour” soap base. For your first attempt, you might as well buy this stuff at a local hobby store; later, if you find you like making your own soap, you can scout for higher quality formulations, better prices & larger quantities on the Internet.
For my first experiment, I used a translucent glycerine soap base, which I found too drying even though it's labeled "moisturizing". On my second attempt, I used an opaque white shea butter soap base that I liked much better.
Both came in 2-pound blocks from Hobby Lobby like the one shown here.
- TIP: In my previous experiment, I actually grated the soap, which was messy and time-consuming. I found that melt & pour soap base melts so easily that grating is not necessary, slicing works just fine.
Now melt the soap base. The soap package instructions suggested heating it in the microwave for 40 seconds on High, which worked for me. Then I stirred the melted soap to make sure all the slices were completely melted down … you don’t want any un-melted chunks in there.
Next, add the water to thin the soap so it will dispense through a pump. You’re supposed to use distilled water for soap making, but I confess I used bottled water because that’s what I had on hand. After experimenting, I found that 2 cups of water was just right for my blend.
- TIP: Bear in mind, I’m working at 7,000 feet elevation in a very dry climate; at sea level in high humidity, for example, you might need less water. Start with less, say 1-1/2 cups. Mix it in, let it sit, see if you like the consistency, then add more water if needed. (You’re working right in the measuring cup, so you can always stick it back into the microwave to re-melt if it sets up on you.)
and besides I love kitchen gadgets. I got my stick blender at a yard sale for $1.00, but you can also get one on Amazon.com (Cuisinart makes a good one).
- TIP: I used a spoon to mix my first batch, and had problems with the soap and water separating later. But the soap base I used for the second batch is supposed to hold “inclusions” in suspension better, so I don’t know if the better blending in Batch #2 was due to the stick blender or the different soap base. I’ll report back as I research this further!
I added 6 drops of green soap colorant (also called soap dye, but not food coloring!) to my white base and got a very pale green tint that I liked. You can get soap dye in single bottles, or mixable sets, like this one.
- 12 drops Bergamot essential oil (a “top note”)
- 8 drops Bayberry essential oil (a “middle note”)
- 4 drops Atlas Cedar essential oil (a “base note”)
- And here’s another tip: you can economize on a lot of things, but not your essential oils. I used a really cheap Lime essential oil for the first batch, and it smelled like a blend of lime Koolaid and industrial cleaner. Yuck.
Notes for Next Time:
Stay tuned, and happy Scavenging!