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How To Make Your Own Soap - The Start To Finish Guide

November 08, 2022

How To Make Your Own Soap - The Start To Finish Guide

Making your own soap is so much easier than you think! All you need is a couple of basic tools, the right ingredients, and a free afternoon. Before you know it, you’ll be one of the expert soap makers! Whether you're looking to make them for yourself or creating some special home made pamper hampers, they look and smell amazing!

Soap is formed through the saponification process. This is the chemical transformation of an oil (or fat) into a hardened bar of soap. Prior to saponification, it is only liquid oils and other extra ingredients.

Through saponification, the acid and the base are neutralised, creating a usable bar soap. Getting your head around the science is an important first step in making a successful bar of soap. The right chemical reaction is essential! While there are challenging aspects of the process, it is generally a simple, enjoyable activity. 

Our handy start to finish guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to make soap at home. We cover the basic science and give all our tips for a perfect handmade soap. Without further ado, this is how to make your own soap at home… 

Soap Making 101

Before we jump into the start to finish guide, let's cover the basics of soap making. These are all the frequently asked questions we get all the time. It’s good to know these things before you jump into the tricky part. 

The Difference Between Hot and Cold Process Soap

There are two different ways to make soap. There is the hot process and the cold process. Hot process soap is made via an external heat source to melt the mixture. Whereas cold process soap making uses the saponification process we discussed earlier.

Hot process soap is not as authentic nor as reputable as the cold process. The cold process method preserves the natural ingredients and creates a better bar of soap. Cold process soaps are our preferred type and the method we will be showing you today! 

DIY Soap

What Essential Oils to Use

There are so many different essential oils you can use in soap making. Essential oils are plant extracts that are used for their skincare benefits or therapeutic qualities. Popular essential oils include lavender, rosemary, lemon, and peppermint. For soap making, choose an essential oil that is hydrating and has a lovely aroma.

We think the fragrance oils of rose and lavender with shea butter make an amazing combination! Although, it really is up to personal preference. For example, if you want to make soap for very dry skin opt for chamomile and sandalwood. Choose whatever fragrance oils you think work well together and what will work with your skin type. 

Essential Oils

The Basic Chemistry of Soap Making

Soap is made from oil reacting with a high pH base. The hydroxide breaks up the fat and oil, creating a hard bar of soap. The reaction between the oil and the hydroxide is called the saponification process.

This chemical reaction breaks the solution and creates glycerin and soap molecules. Glycerin is able to be made because the oil molecules are attached to these fatty acids. 

The specific fatty acids that are inside your final bar of soap will depend on what kind of oil you have used to begin with. It’s always good to have a little extra oil inside the bar of soap because the grease has a moisturising effect.

To sum up, your bar of soap is made from the reaction between oil and sodium hydroxide. What results is a hard surfactant that turns into a soap, dissolves, and can be used to clean. Now we’ve got that out the way, this is how to make soap at home!  


How to Make Homemade Soap 

This is how to make homemade soap! Remember, we are showing you how to make cold process soap, not hot process soap. We think cold process is significantly better than hot process soap. However, if you think 

What You’ll Need 

Before you start making the soap, it’s a good idea to double check you have all the materials and ingredients. You don’t want to be rushing to the shop mid-way through the cold process recipe. This is what you’ll need to make soap at home. 


  • Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide (63g). 

  • Distilled water (113g). 

  • Coconut oil (114g). 

  • Shea butter (91g). 

  • Olive oil (227g) (animal fats or palm oils can also be used). 

  • Castor oil (23g). 

  • Essential oil. 

  • Dried herbs. 

Materials and Equipment : 

  • Silicone molds. 

  • Baking rack. 

  • Parchment paper, wax paper, or other plastic wrap. 

  • Microwave or double boiler. 

  • Soap pot. 

  • Apron. 

  • Rubber gloves. 

  • Eye goggles. 

  • Wooden spoon. 

  • Immersion blender. 

  • Quart canning jar. 

  • Scissors. 

  • Knife. 

  • Soap cutter. 


1. Prepare Your Workspace 

Prepare your workspace. Make sure you have all the ingredients, materials, and equipment you need. Bring them all to close proximity and ensure they are in easy reach. Put on your gloves, goggles, and aprons. Familiarise yourself with the exact recipe and get ready to start making liquid soap! 

2. Gather Your Tools and Conduct a Safety Check

Gather your tools to start the chemical reaction. It’s good to note that you are handling quite powerful chemicals. A strong base (the hydroxide) can burn the skin. Safety is paramount when it comes to making bar soap!

It’s perfectly safe if you use the right equipment and tools. However, it can turn nasty if you’re not careful. While you’re gathering your tools and preparing your workspace, look through all the safety guidelines as well.  

3. Measure the Water and Lye

Measure the water and the lye (sodium or potassium hydroxide). You need 113g of water and 63g of lye. Measure the ingredients on a measuring scale and then transfer them into individual jugs. You can also use a lye calculator if you want to double check your lye, oil, and water ratio is correct. 

4. Mix the Water and Lye

Once the water and lye have been measured, it’s time to mix the water and lye. Mixing lye is best done outside. Steam and heat will bubble up as the lye reacts. Try not to breathe in the solution or get it on your skin. You’ll be fine as long as you wear protective equipment and stir very carefully. 

5. Weigh the Oils

Next, weigh all the oils you will be using in the soap. This includes 114g of coconut oil, 227g of olive oil, 23g of castor oil, and your fragrance oils. All the different oils can be measured on an electronic scale.

Note, we did not include specific measurements for the fragrance oils because it does depend on the essential oil you are using and how fragrant you want in your soap. If you’re opting for palm oil instead of olive, it will be the same measurement as the other oils. 

6. Heat and Melt the Oils

Heat and melt the base in a stainless steel pan on low heat. Add the solid oils first and stir until they have fully melted. Then pour in the liquid oils and stir the mixture together. Once everything has been mixed together you have successfully created your soap base.  

7. Add the Lye Solution

Before you add the lye solution, check the temperature of the oil and the lye. Both the lye and oil should be around 38°C. Once they have both cooled down, slowly pour the lye into the oil in the pan. 

8. Add Essential Oils 

Add your different oils into the lye and oil solution. However much you include depends on how fragrant you want the finished soap to be. It also depends on how many essential oils you are using.  

Essential Oils

9. Add Colour

Colour is totally optional, you don’t have to add any dye! If you want your soap to be a fun, vibrant colour, add a couple of drops to the liquid soap now. You can also add dried herbs if you desire. 

10. Blend the Liquid Soap

Your liquid soap is now ready to blend with the immersion blender. Put the immersion blender into the centre of the pan and turn it on for about 30 seconds. Repeat this process in the raw soap a couple of times. It shouldn’t take too long to create a smooth, velvety, thick liquid soap base. Your soap mixture should resemble cake batter or custard. 

11. Fill in the Mold

Your melt and pour soap now needs to be transferred into the lined soap mold or loaf pan. You do need to be quite quick when you pour soaps into the mold. This is because your soap starts to set when it is left for longer than a couple of minutes. To be safe, melt and pour the soap into the mold in quick succession. Don’t leave any time between the two steps, just get it done as soon as possible! 

12. Leave to Set for 24 Hours

Once your melt and pour soap have been transferred into the soap mold, you need to let it set. It’s best to put the soap molds in the refrigerator overnight. Cover the soap molds with wax paper or cling-film to keep them fresh. 


13. Cool and Unmold the Soap

After 24 hours, your soap melt should have transformed into a hard bar of soap. Ideally, your soap batter should have no air bubbles or soft sections. If it does, unfortunately, the melt and pour processes have not been successful. We recommend popping the soap batter back in the fridge overnight. It should need just a little extra time to get rid of the air bubbles and solve the textural problems. 

14. Your Soap is Ready to Use

Your all natural homemade soap is all done and ready to use! You can now cut the soap from the mold into smaller bars. You should be able to get 6-8 normal soap bars from this large batch. Hopefully, you haven’t made ugly soap and it’s as perfect as the store bought bars. If not, there’s always next time to improve! Soap makers take years to hone their skills. Don't forget to check out our blog on how to unwind after work, which goes hand in hand with this new soap bar!

Congratulations on your finished soap. You’ll never go back to synthetic detergent after using your stunning new soap. These soap bars will also make amazing gifts for your friends and family. They are sure to love these beautiful soap bars. We hope you’ve enjoyed our start to finish guide on making soap!  


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