How to Make Simple Soaps

Create your favorite herb-scented cleansers with essential oils and botanicals.

| October/November 2002

  • These soaps make perfect gifts. Just wrap cooled soaps in plastic wrap before gift wrapping.
  • Photo by Dawna Edwards
  • These soaps make perfect gifts. Just wrap cooled soaps in plastic wrap before gift wrapping.
    Photo by Dawna Edwards
  • These soaps make perfect gifts. Just wrap cooled soaps in plastic wrap before gift wrapping.
    Photo by Dawna Edwards
  • Photo by Dawna Edwards

Goat’s milk was one of the main ingredients in the soap my aunt used to make. While I loved her homemade soap and hoped to make my own, I’m lacking in two things: a goat and a large kitchen to facilitate such intense efforts. Luckily, there are much simpler ways to make soap than milking a goat or dealing with lye. Soaps made with a glycerin base require little effort and a few basic supplies. Let your nose lead the way to using your favorite essential oils and herbs and then mold soaps into shapes and sizes of your liking for use in your own home or to wrap and give as gifts. Follow these simple instructions or experiment and find your own favorites.

These recipes were created so you could make a few bars of each from one 2-pound brick of soap base. If you’d rather make a large batch of a particular soap, simply double or triple the recipe and pour it into a larger pan. Also, consider experimenting with colors and shapes, pouring soap into cookie cutters, or adding hardened colored cubes to a clear soap base. Remember to add any botanicals just before pouring the mix into the mold, because prolonged exposure to heat may darken or change the color of the soap.

When selecting a soap base, make sure that you choose one made with natural vegetable products. Many glycerin soap bases also contain additives such as coconut or olive oil. Experiment with different bases to discover which type you like to use. Preparation will remain the same with each variety.

Selecting A Mold

If you don’t already have plastic soap molds or don’t want to go to the added expense of purchasing them, use pans and dishes that you already have in the kitchen. A loaf pan works great for any of these recipes, allowing you to cut the bars into whatever size you like. I also like to use small ceramic ramekins or a muffin pan—this creates decorative, rounded soaps that look nice in the guest bathroom or wrapped for gifts.

If you’re using plastic molds, you should be able to simply wiggle the solid soaps out of the mold when they’re cool, but just to make sure they come out easily, lightly spray the molds with olive oil before adding the soap. If you’ve selected a metal or ceramic pan or dish, it’s absolutely necessary to spray it with olive oil before you begin. This is the best way to get the soap loose from the dish when you’re finished. The slight amount of oil will not affect the nature of the soap.

Making The Soap

Melt the clear or white soap base in a double boiler or in the microwave in a glass dish until completely liquid. Pour or spoon the soap base into a separate glass or metal bowl and add essential oils and coloring. Mix thoroughly. Mix in additional coloring if you prefer a darker soap. Add botanicals and stir until they’re dispersed throughout the mixture.

11/9/2013 7:00:29 AM

anonymous, Would you share your true soap recipe - it IS exactly what I want. Please and thank you in advance.

11/7/2013 8:47:09 AM

While this is scenting soap it isn't making soap. And no, it really doesn't take a big kitchen. Goat's milk soap does take goat's milk and you can usually find some in your area. What a "dumb down" this is. Unfortunately it is what the masses want - and easy way not a true make it yourself way.

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