Soap Making 101

I am actually a bit embarrassed to share this “recipe” for handmade soap.  Reason being: it’s not an actual recipe and requires extremely little effort  and I’ve been giving the soap away as gifts and now everyone will know how little work I actually put into it.  The secret’s out.  You’ll see here here and here how passionate we are about personal care products.

When I made the switch to natural/organic products, I had a bit of a problem with the price of so many of these items. Namely the soaps.  My mother has been making her own glycerin soap for years now, so I know how inexpensive it is to make your own and I tired quickly of dropping anywhere from $3-$5 for a bar of soap.  My mother would occasionally surprise me by shipping a box of her soap my way.  But shipping handmade soap once a month from Maine to Utah isn’t exactly economical or green so I finally committed to making my own. I started with buying the glycerin; which I ordered from the quaint seed company/nursery where my mother works in my hometown.  They have really great prices on their glycerin along with multiple varieties.  I ordered the “variety pack” which includes one brick each of silk and shea butter, aloe and olive oil, goats milk and natural clear.

You will also need some type of mold.  The first time I made soap, I used my small loaf pans.  It was difficult to remove the soap from the loaf pan so it didn’t come out “clean”.  Meaning I had to use a knife to remove the soap; inadvertently taking out chunks of the beautiful bar. So I went looking for another option.  You can buy molds online and in most craft stores. Many of them are decorative, though and that’s really not the look I was going for. I found this “bar pan” made by Wilton. (Sorry for the Wal-Mart link, but it was the only place I could find that sold it online.)  This pan worked wonderfully. The soap came out easily and I *love* the perfectly square shape!

So once you have your glycerin and your molds, you are ready to get started
The instructions are beyond simple:
Heat glycerin in a double boiler or in a large bowl in the microwave on low setting for 30 second intervals.
Phew, I’m already exhausted!
Once the glycerin is in 100% liquid form, you may add any combination of natural colors and fragrances.  I use real fruit for the fruit scents, but you could also use essential oils for different varieties.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Coconut Milk and Lime
  • Olive Oil and Lemon
  • Vanilla and Clove
  • Fresh Coconut and Vanilla
  • Almond Oatmeal
  • Olive Oil and Fresh Aloe
  • Rosemary and Olive Oil
  • Orange and Clove

Once you have made the *extremely* difficult decision as to which flavor combination you’d like to experiment with, mix into your glycerin.

After the first batch, I realized I hadn’t added nearly enough flavor.  The first combination I attempted was Lime and Coconut Milk.  I added the juice and zest of one lime and approximately 1/4 cup coconut milk.  Not enough for me.  Next time I added the juice and zest of 2 limes and probably more like 3/4 cup coconut milk.  This is not a science project; so just experiment!  I like things strongly scented, so I preferred to add more.  If you have children or sensitive skin, perhaps its best to keep it light.  Either way, you can feel good knowing that your soap is free of this junk.

So fill your molds with your liquid glycerin mixture and let sit for at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove.  (I let mine sit for much longer to be safe. I was nervous!)  Once set, remove and begin using.  Or give away and pretend it was a lot of work.  That’s what I do.


About Nicole DiMauro

i am the *intern* for this green earth, a lively talk radio show on KPCW 91.9 FM about environmental issues & green living. download or listen live tuesday mornings at 9 am at
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One Response to Soap Making 101

  1. Pingback: What’s Your Green Ability Level? From Bunny Hill to Double Black Diamond | This Green Earth

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