- In today’s world, we have all kinds of fancy soaps and body washes- from floral-scented soaps and soaps that smell enticing to unscented ones. From glycerin soaps and laundry soaps to vegan and pure herbal soaps and bath bombs. There are just so wide varieties of soap, and in recent days, body washes. All you have to do is pick your favorite one and smell dazzling all day.
But think of how fun it would be if you got to pick one of your favorite essential oil and make your own soap.
Making soap is an art; after reading this article, you will become an ARTIST.
These industry-made soaps did not exist a few decades ago. Our mothers and grandmothers had their own formulations to make soaps that were toxin-free and cost-effective.
1) How to make Natural Soap at Home?
Let’s first get into how soap works. Soap is a special salt derived from oils, animal fats, or vegetables. The oil or fat, when combined with alkaline metals, breaks down into salt, resulting in soap formation. This process is called saponification.
What is its main function? Removing dirt, viruses, and other disease-causing microorganisms from our skin and clothes.
When soap comes in contact with dirt or microorganisms, the soap molecules break the bonds that allow dirt and bacteria to stick to the surface by forming tiny bubbles around them, also known as micelles.
1.1) Different Processes of making Natural Soap:-
A very important ingredient in making soaps is lye. So, what is Lye? Lye is a very alkaline chemical solution. Its scientific name is sodium hydroxide (NaOH). However, lye is sometimes referred to as potassium hydroxide (KOH). We have learned in our chemistry classes in our school days how highly alkaline solutions damage the skin, causing burns and irritation. This is why the use of lye in soap making is highly controversial. There are, in fact, ways of making soaps without lye, and we’ll get into the process later in this article.
Even though lye (sodium hydroxide) has a “bad reputation,” we must remember once it undergoes a chemical reaction and is made into soap, it is completely safe to use. There is no trace of lye in the finished soap. Without lye, the oils in the recipe would remain as oil.
Other ingredients include oil or fat( refined coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, babassu oil), distilled water, and essential oils (peppermint essential oil, rosehip oil, lemongrass oil).
Before we look at homemade soap-making recipes, let’s understand the four most common ways of soap-making: melt and pour, cold process, hot process, and milling.
•Melt and pour soap making:-
This is probably the easiest and simplest way of making homemade soap. It is simply buying a commercially pre-made soap base and then melting it. Then we add essential oils, herbs, and colors and let it cool down.
The plus point of this process is that you don’t have to handle lye solutions. Also, the whole process takes very little time, and the soap can be used immediately.
This method is best if you are a beginner in soap making or want to do a fun activity with your kids.
However, in this method, you don’t have much control over the ingredients you use.
•Cold process soap making:-
Cold process soap making is making soap completely from scratch. From adding oil/fat and lye solution to adding different herbs and essential oils of your choice.
The fact that you have complete control over the ingredients in making soap makes the cold process everyone’s favorite soap-making procedure.
However, this method is not suitable for amateur hands. This method does require a certain level of safety measures as you have to work with a lye solution.
Another downside is that the soap made needs 4-5 weeks to cure before it can be used.
•Hot process soap making:-
This soap-making process is very similar to cold process soap making, but we are applying heat in this process. It is due to the use of heat in the hot process; saponification takes less time than in the cold process soap recipe.
Just like in cold process soap making, here, too, you have complete control over the soap recipes and ingredients. However, the soap bars made with cold-process soap recipes are rustic and textured.
This method is also known as rebatching. This method is shredding soap down (either cold process soap, hot process soap, or melt and pour), melting it by applying heat, adding essential oils, herbs, and colors of choice, and then pouring the solution into molds (preferably silicone).
This method is a great way to reuse soap if soap batches don’t turn out as you expected.
Also, in this method, the base already went through the saponification process, so you do not have to deal with the lye solution.
Now that we know the different processes of making soap let’s look at different homemade soap recipes.
1.2) Soap-making Equipment you’ll Require:-
•For mixing purposes, use bowls made of enamel, stainless steel, or tempered glass.
Note:-It is important NOT to USE utensils made of copper, aluminum, or tin as they will react with lye.
•You can use different silicone molds for your soap’s design (you will easily find them in your nearby grocery shop or online).
• Soap cutters
• Digital scale
• Silicone spatulas ( for mixing oil and lye solution).
• Candy thermometer
•Silicone baking pan
• Immersion blender
• Stainless steel spoon
1.3) Protective Equipment that will be Required:-
• Rubber gloves
• Safety goggles (eye protection is necessary when working with lye mixture).
1.4) Herbs Required:-
Adding herbs to your homemade soap does not just make a difference in its scent and aesthetic but also has many skin benefits.
Herbs are generally dried before they are put into the soap mixture. Some of the most common dried herbs used are:-
• Lavender:- This herb is widely known for its calming properties and beautiful fragrance. It is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Lavender soap also has exfoliating properties. Suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive skin.
• Chamomile:- This herb is very soothing for the skin. Suitable for acne-prone & sensitive skin types. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits and is good for redness.
• Calendula:- Also called pot marigold, calendula has many healing properties and is often used to soothe rashes, eczema, and skin dryness. This herb is widely known for its antibacterial and anti-fungal benefits. The calendula in soap gives it a nice earthy scent.
• Lemon balm:- This herb is a must if you want a lemon-minty or citrus smell. The addition of this herb makes the finished soap look and smell refreshing and rejuvenating.
•Peppermint:- This herb has astringent properties. Peppermint helps in relieving skin issues like irritation and itchiness. Peppermint soaps are beneficial for acne-prone skin and oily skin.
• Rosemary:- This herb is full of antioxidants. It gives a very woodsy, pinewood scent to the soap. Using rosemary soap will keep most of your skin woes away.
• Rose petals:- We all know the different skin benefits of using rose petals. It has a soothing effect on the skin. Rose petals are rich in vitamin C, a great addition to soap recipes.
1.5) Essential Oils:-
Essential oils are generally derived from different parts of a plant. It is a concentrated oil with a very strong aroma; hence, it’s been used in aromatherapy for centuries.
While choosing essential oils for soap making, it is important to remember their benefits and how different oils might interact with each other.
Fragrance oils generally used in soap recipes are:
• Rose essential oil
• Lavender essential oil
• Peppermint essential oil
• Neem oil
• Sandalwood essential oil
• Tea tree essential oil
• Jojoba oil
And many more!
Who doesn’t love those colorful, brightly-hued soaps? Let’s see how we can add a colorful touch to our natural homemade soap.
The colors in the soaps are due to the addition of mineral pigments and dyes. Mineral pigments consist of oxides and ultramarines; this addition to soap recipes gives them a beautiful shade. Micas can also be used for this purpose.
There are also other natural options for coloring your soap, like using turmeric (gives yellow color), alfalfa (gives medium green color), beetroot powder ( gives squash yellow color), cinnamon ( gives brown color), and coffee ( gives brown to black color).
Clays can also be used for coloring your soap. Different clays impart different colors to your soap.
Moroccan red clay gives a brick-red color to the soap, rose pink clay gives a brown-pink color, and bentonite clay gives a greenish tinge to the soap.
1.7) Fat or Liquid Oils Used:-
You can use different oils for mixing with lye. Most soaps include 3-4 different oils. This includes coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, and sunflower oil. You can also use animal fat to make soap.
Remember:- Different oils add different properties to the soap, so choose your oils accordingly.
1.8) Other Items you can Add to your Soap:-
Shea butter, cocoa butter, honey, oatmeal, milk powder, cocoa powder, etc.
Must read:- Best 5 DIY Body Scrubs
2) How to make Natural Soap: The Whole Procedure
1) First, it is important to cover the place you work in with the newspaper. And to take safety measures like wearing full sleeves, clothes, goggles, and gloves while working with lye.
2) Add lye (100% sodium hydroxide) slowly into distilled water while stirring the solution with a stainless steel spoon. Make sure that the lye-to-water ratio is 1:3.
(Remember:- Lye should be added to water and not the other way round.)
Be careful while stirring the solution to avoid the fumes. When the water starts to clear, set the lye solution aside for the time being.
3) In the meantime, weigh the different oils (2-3 different oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or shea butter) and combine them. Heat the oil mixture either in a microwave or a heating pan. Check the temperature of the lye solution and the oil mixture with a kitchen thermometer.
4) Now comes the most IMPORTANT step. Mix the two solutions when both mixtures are between 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit. Slowly add the lye solution to the oil solution, stirring it well until it’s properly mixed. Continue stirring the solution with a stainless spatula or an immersion blender.
The soap mixture will eventually become thick and become pudding-like. This is called bringing the soap to “trace.”
5) Now add essential oils, herbs of your choice, and soap colorants and scents.
6) Pour the soap batter into the silicone molds. Make sure to tap on them so that no air bubbles are trapped.
7) Leave the soap to cool for 2 days. When the soap becomes hard and cold, remove it from the mold and let it cure in a well-ventilated place. The curing process can take 3-4 weeks. Throughout the entire time, turn the soap around and expose all its sides to air.
8) When the soap is fully cured, keep the bar soap in an airtight container so that the soap doesn’t draw in too much moisture.
3) How to make Natural Soap Without Lye Mixture
Many people wish to avoid using lye or take the risk of handling lye. You’ll be glad to hear that you can make your own soap without using the lye mixture by using melt-and-pour soap.
The soap base (saponification process) is already made in this method. So there’s no need to handle lye.
Just melt the soap base, add your favorite scent, herbs, and colorants to the soap batter, and then pour the soap batter into the mold. Making handmade soap with the melt-and-pour soap process is easy, right?
Melt-and-pour soap has different variations, like pure glycerin, goat milk, honey, olive oil, coconut oil, and castor oil.
Let’s now look at some recipes to make your own soap.
4) 10 Amazing Homemade Soap Recipes
4.1) Coconut, Milk, and Honey Soap:-
This recipe consists of three amazing skin-beneficial ingredients:- coconut oil, milk, and honey. All three items are very moisturizing, and this natural soap also deeply cleanses the skin. Honey has many healing properties that will keep acne and skin infections away.
4.2) Shea Butter and Honey Soap with Rose Petals:-
Shea butter soap has anti-inflammatory properties. It heals wounds and cuts and many other skin irritations like rashes. It is great for dry and sensitive skin. And there are added benefits of honey. The rose petals will give the soap bars a mesmerizing aroma that will lift your mood.
4.3) Charcoal and Green Tea Soap:-
This combination is perfect if you want a rejuvenating natural soap recipe that deeply cleanses your skin. Charcoal removes dirt, grime, and sweat. It also kills germs and controls body odor. Activated charcoal also has antiseptic properties.
The green tea extracts reduce inflammation and redness and soothe the skin. This natural soap will leave you refreshed after a long tiresome day.
4.4) Coffee and Cocoa Soap:-
This soap recipe has the star ingredient: COFFEE.
Coffee is a natural source of caffeine which is rich in antioxidants and keeps the skin healthy. Coffee in soap also tones the skin and helps fade stretch marks and cellulite.
Cocoa butter is highly moisturizing and also eliminates dullness from the skin. The combination of both cocoa and coffee gives this natural soap a delicious chocolatey aroma that will just capture your heart.
This soap recipe is just perfect for all coffee lovers!
4.5) Lavender and Chamomile Soap:-
Want a relaxing bath after a long, tiresome day? Probably this natural soap is exactly what you need!
Lavender essential oil gives the soap a floral aroma that is very relaxing and rejuvenating. The antibacterial properties of lavender soothe skin irritation and itchiness and provide relief. It also improves skin texture.
Chamomile also has skin-calming properties. It calms, cleanses, heals, and moisturizes dry and sensitive skin.
Feeling the urge to try out these soap recipes?
4.6) Vanilla and Oatmeal Soap:-
This natural soap with vanilla and oatmeal gently exfoliates the skin for soft, smooth, and clear skin. This soap also relieves dryness and increases skin elasticity. The vanilla extracts in the soap recipe make you smell like a cupcake all day! Isn’t it amazing?
4.7) Neem and Tulsi Soap:-
Dealing with acne and pimples for a long time? Want to break up with all your skin troubles? Probably, give this soap recipe a try.
Neem and tulsi are nature’s best cleansers. They purify the skin from within, and their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties prevent all your skin infections. The multi-tasking neem keeps blemishes under control, evens skin tone, and detoxifies the skin from within. The therapeutic tulsi prevents the accumulation of bacteria on the skin’s surface and stimulates blood circulation.
Together, neem and tulsi make an unbeatable duo.
4.8) Tea tree and Aloe vera Soap:-
Like the neem and tulsi duo, the tea tree and aloe vera is another powerful combination.
Tea tree oil in the soap recipe is a natural healer that diminishes acne and acne marks. It also reduces bacterial overgrowth on the skin and keeps the pores clear.
Aloe vera is a humectant and locks in moisture for hydrated and glowing skin.
Together, the tea tree oil and the aloe vera moisturize the skin and keep it clear and spotless.
4.9) Rosemary and Peppermint Soap:-
The peppermint oil in this soap recipe gives off a cooling sensation. It also gives a sweet mint-ish smell to the soap. Peppermint has astringent properties and is a toner that keeps the pores clear. Peppermint soaps are great for oily, acne-prone skin.
Rosemary is high in antioxidants and micro-bacterial properties and helps treat skin infections. Rosemary also has anti-inflammatory properties that keep the skin clear, soft, and supple.
4.10) Lemon Soap with Orange Peels:-
How about adding a citrus blast to your sluggish morning?
This soap’s fresh, lemony-orange aroma will energize and uplift your whole mood. The smell will instantly de-stress you.
Lemon soap is antibacterial and keeps the skin clear of bacteria and dirt. It also stimulates the generation of new skin cells. The lemon soap, due to its antiseptic properties, also helps reduce acne and blemishes. The orange peels give an aesthetic touch to the soap and help exfoliate away dead skin cells from the face and body.
Even though we’ve listed 10 unique and creative soap recipes, you’ll find many other soap recipes as well on the internet. Many soap makers also mix and match and create their own recipes. Be as creative and colorful as you want with your soap recipe but also do your research before mixing different ingredients.
5) Benefits of using Natural Soaps
5.1) Natural soaps are rich in antioxidants and are very moisturizing for your skin.
5.2) Natural soaps are gentler on the skin than commercial soaps as they are sulfate-free and paraben free.
5.3) Natural soaps are made with natural ingredients and have many skin-beneficial herbs.
5.4) They are better for the environment as their production process does not produce harmful poisons or toxins.
5.5) Preservatives are not added to natural soaps.
5.6) Natural soaps are also cruelty-free and animal friendly.
5.7) Natural soaps are free of chemicals and other synthetics.
5.8) Natural soaps contain essential oils and thus render the benefits of aromatherapy.
5.9) There is a wide range of natural handmade soap varieties.
5.10) Natural handmade soaps are actual, unlike commercial soaps, which are detergents in disguise.
Even though natural homemade soap is costlier than commercially made soap, its benefits are worth every penny.