DIY Soap Making Notes From Beginner To Advanced

These are lovely gifts and the great thing about them is that various fragrances and ingredients can be mixed and matched to get exactly what you want. This big list of tutorials and recipes has everything from using grated bars of ready-made soap to whipping them up from scratch using lye and other items. Lots here for everyone!
With Sea Salt: Sea salt, assorted oils (coconut, avocado, castor) and Sodium Hydroxide (for advanced crafters).

Almond Rose: Here’s a simple method using just a few basic supplies, includes dried rose petals and more.
Cold Processed: Made with vegetable oils and when it is cured, it contains no harsh chemicals or dyes.

Cold-Processed Castile: Olive oil, sodium hydroxide and water.
Time For Tea: Easy project and packaged like tea bags (great gift idea for tea lovers).

Delectable: Glycerin, honey, ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, oatmeal and chamomile tea.
Crockpot Castile: This can be in the molds in about an hour and half, with only 15 minutes of hands-on time.

Easy & Colorful: Clear glycerin soap, food coloring, coffee stirrers, a clean milk or juice carton (to use as a mold), and petroleum jelly.
Hand Milled: This allows you to experiment while bypassing many of the more complex steps.

Gardener’s: Luxurious and soothing, a great way to pamper that rough skin!
Reusing Leftovers: Here’s a tip that involves grating hotel soaps, adding a handful of instant oatmeal, moisten with a bit of water, then heating up the batch and molding the mixture with muffin tins.

Crock Pot Hot Process: No recipe since this is intended for those already familiar with the cold process.
Graphic Embeds: Clear glycerin with pictures embedded inside, uses milk cartons as molds.

Citrus Coffee: This doesn’t include step-by-step directions but it does include links to resources that can help.
Goats’ Milk: Milk, olive and coconut oils, lye and other items.

Milled: Grate pure castille and add powdered milk, green tea and honey.
Snow-Globe: Cute novelty made with a brick of clear glycerin, blue dye, scent (something festive like peppermint), glitter and tiny plastic toys.

Fish-In-A-Bag: These adorable novelties will get the kids to actually want to take a bath!
Snowflake Rounds: These are easier to make than one might think with no special molds required (just a silicone muffin pan).

Bathtub Crayons: Cute project made by grinding bars of Ivory and adding food coloring.
Candy Cane: Layers of melted glycerin chunks are tinted, scented and poured into molds then topped off with sprinkling of crushed candy canes.

With Pureed Fruit, Herbs & Citrus Zest: Easy peasy project with gift-worthy results. Fruit puree (strawberries, etc.) or herbs or citrus zest.
With Wheatgrass: Melt-and-pour glycerin soap and wheatgrass.

Black Raspberry: Scented oil, raspberry seeds, madder root powder, olive oil melt and pour base.
Citrus Slices: PVC piping is used for the molds (in two sizes).

Helpful Resources:

  • There’s an astonishing amount of information including: Frequently Asked Questions; Troubleshooting section if a batch doesn’t turn out; Several PDF downloads available (basic procedures, where to find ingredients, etc.); Both traditional methods and modern techniques provided; How to design and create recipes and much more! Also see which is another goody for tutorials.
  • Two Easy Molds: PVC pipe for the round one and the rectangular is made with pieces of poplar board.


DispenserIt’s hard to imagine a time when we used bars of soap for washing hands, today liquid varieties are more convenient and are preferred by many because of the perception that they’re more sanitary. The price comparison between the two is outrageous, especially if stocking up on generic brands when they’re on sale.

Here’s a way to take advantage of those cost savings yet still enjoy the convenience of the liquid form, make your own version! Just a few simple ingredients are needed that don’t break the budget, and it’s so easy to do too!

The benefits of homemade vs. store bought is the obvious cost savings, but the fragrance can also be customized (with essential oils or a herbal infusion). Here’s how…

1 bar soap (6 oz)
1 TBS honey
1 tsp glycerin


  • Grate bar into small flakes, toss in blender.
  • Whip in 1 cup boiling water.
  • Add 1/2 cup room temperature water and stir in blender.
  • Stir in honey and glycerin.
  • Allow to cool (15 minutes) then whip again.
  • Mixture should be 2 cups at this point. Top with cool water until it measures between 5 and 6 cups, whip.
  • Pour into containers and allow to cool (do not put lids or caps on yet).
  • After an hour, close containers. Mixture will thicken up.
  • Shake before using as needed.

Optional: A herbal infusion can be used, just strain first.

Source: Adapted from Pearls of Country Wisdom by Debora S. Tukua (First published here on Tipnut September 12, 2008 and moved to this page for better organization)

Another version:

Save leftover bits (or grate one) then toss in a glass mason jar and top with boiling water (about double the amount of soap bits). Stir then seal with lid. Shake jar a few times while it’s cooling to get rid of any clumps. Once cooled, stir well and add a few drops of essential oil if a scented version is desired.

Pour into bottle then top with water as needed to get the right consistency (shake well). If for some reason it’s too thin, simply melt a bit of grated soap in a little hot water then combine with first mixture to thicken.


*First published August 25, 2008 and moved to this page for better organization

Here’s a couple tutorials showing how to felt a bar, this is new to me and I think these would make great gifts!

SuZanna Anna On HGTV

Video Summary:

  • Pull off some wool fiber and wrap it nice and tight around the bar (one way).
  • Next wrap some tightly the other way (perpendicular). This helps the fibers felt together.
  • Next pull off little strands in contrasting colors and lay them gently on top to give a tie-dye effect. Do this on one side.
  • Put the wrapped piece in a clean nylon stocking. This will help the fibers stay together.
  • Tools Needed: Washboard, dish detergent, towel
  • Drip a little bit of dish detergent on top (now in the nylon stocking) to get things started, just a bit is needed since it will start working from the inside.
  • Scrub it on the washboard (quickly, back and forth, all sides) for about 10 minutes until it’s felted enough so the bar can be taken out of the stocking.
  • Keep rubbing until you can’t pinch any wool away from it.
  • Rinse off in the bowl of hot water.
  • Blot it in the towel to remove excess moisture.
  • Set on a drying rack to dry.

Another video with a different method:

Instead of using a washboard, just rub the bar with fingers, working for several minutes to felt. Toward the end of the video you’ll see a suggestion to first cover it with a plastic bag and then work on it (contains the mess). In the comments area there’s this tip:

The wool will continue to felt more firmly with use and the soap will dwindle and disappear leaving you with a little felted wool bundle that has a hallow core. You can carefully slice it open to make a coin purse, or cut off the top and add a strap to make a necklace pouch or holder of some kind.

Here’s a website with more details: Mielke’s Fiber Arts. The pictures are really clear so you’ll get a good idea of how things look throughout the process. This site advises that this only works with wool or other protein fibers (such as llama or angora) and that some felt better than others.

Related Posts


    • Lori S.

    I have made my own soaps for about 10 years and I love the creative aspect! I have come up with some very luxuriant soaps! Making your won soap can get expensive (like when you use almond oil, walnut oil, lanolin, beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, essential oils, and powdered oatmeal all in the same batch of soap!!!), but ohhh what great soap!
    I found a small meat processing place that will give me all the suet I want for free (I just have to pick it up and tote it out, unpackaged by them), then I have frozen it until i want it. I render it down, strain, place in molds, then when cool, wrap and freeze for when I need it. This make sit very convenient. Even though the tallow is frozen, it is easy to break off chunks, weigh them, and melt them down.
    Hope this is helpful for those of you who cannot believe the high price of suet in grocery stores!

      • Courtney

      So do you use suet instead of the oils called for in the recipe?

    • John in SF

    Has anyone made a green tea scented hand soap? Willing to share the recipe?


    • Matt

    easy easy stuff

    • John in ROK

    I’d say, just use green tea instead of plain water in the recipe.

    • Pinny Cohen

    What is the total cost for this, and how does it compare to just buying it?

    • TipNut

    It depends what kind of bar soap you use Pinny since that’s where the bulk of your cost is. If you watch sales you can pick up a 12 pack of soap bars for a few dollars.

    • Andy

    After making the soap in my blender, what will my margaritas taste like?

      • Mimi

      Buy a blender at a yard sale for $2-$3. Then your margaritas will taste just fine.

      • renee davenport

      Don’t you usually put soap into your blender to clean it after you make your drink? If you clean well your next drink never tastes like soap, right? How will this be different? I make soap in my blender all the time and I NEVER have a problem with anything tasting like soap. Just be prepared to have a really clean blender. πŸ™‚

      • stephen

      It will taste like a large savings if you drink magarita’s often.

    • ben

    where can you get glycerin at?

      • Jeri

      Hey I buy glycerin at the drug store all the time. I use it in my sewing room to make the fabric stick to my fingers better. Works really good. A small bottle of it goes a long way and is just a couple of dollars or so.

        • Emmy

        Why do you want the fabric to stick to your fingers?

          • Alisann

          So that it doesn’t move when you fold it

    • enthusiast

    wow! thanks for posting this. i will try it this weekend.

    • kooonin

    this site is fabulous! Great collection of household tips. i will link you to my site πŸ™‚

    • Juan Quiceno

    Ben wrote:
    where can I get glycerin at?

    you can get glyceryn in several you might want to try where they sell bakery products, caldor, home depot, and many others it is used for many things, you can also get it in most super markets, /just don’t go the Tyler Durden way :P)

    I do have a question does this soap keep it’s gooey properties or do I have to shake it every time I want to get soap? does the soap mixture separate from the water after some time?

    • TipNut

    Hi Juan, it will need to be shaken up occasionally, not every time though. Thanks for the list of places to pick up glycerin, I get it at the drug store or grocery store.

    • Catherine

    I made this last night, it was super easy, and has a great feel and smell, but it is really thick – about the consistency of cheesecake! Should I add more water?

    • Spiff

    they will taste clean!

    • Meredith

    I found glycerin at my local Walmart, in the pharmacy department. I also added a few drops of lavender oil for a nice scent.

    • TipNut

    Yes Catherine, add more water because it will thicken up a bit more yet over time.

    • Ron

    The recipe didn’t work well for me. Maybe I whipped it too long

    • Phyllis

    Hi, does anyone have a “recipe” or formula for making the reed diffuser scented oils? I haven’t found a place that only sells refills for them and have bought some with scents I love! Too expensive too replace containers and scents as much as I’d like. Thanks..

    • Myshal

    has anyone tried making this without a blender? by hand? or with a whisk? i imagine it must be possible if the warm water dissolves the soap bar flakes?

      • Miss M

      Yes, you can combine the ingredients in a pot on the stove (~medium heat), stirring frequently until completely dissolved. Once it is dissolved, continue to heat a few minutes more to make absolutely sure it is completely dissolved. Add food coloring and/or scents. Pour into container, leave open to cool. Add cool water to desired consistency.

      • Michelle

      Hi, Yes the hand whisk works well.

    • John

    Roughly a decade or so ago, one of the ‘big’ infomercial items was a DIY liquid soap maker/dispenser; you added soap ‘ends’ and water and shook the container. A LOT. It made for an odd, watery soap but what “helped” the bits and water combine were the round, plastic “beads” inside the container. We don’t have a blender so I’m thinking of picking up some marbles at our local dollar store, placing them and the above ingredients in, say, an empty milk or water jug, and shaking it til the cows come home. Might be worth a try, especially for those who are worried about using a blender or don’t have one to begin with.

      • Peggy

      Hey john…not sure how long ago you wrote this, but do you have a grater? If so, you can grate the soap or even chop it up w/ a knife into little pieces. Then melt it on the stove like Miss M says above, on medium heat. I’m sure it would be easier than shaking it till the cows come home. You know how them cows are, they may not want to come home as soon as you want them too. πŸ™‚

        • Norma

        I made a batch of dry laundry detergent tonight. The first time I made it, I used one of the 4 sided graters, but the soap was rather large pieces. Next I blended it and it came out just right. Tonight I grabbed the little hand cranked grater – like they use in the restaurant to grate cheese on the pasta, after it is served. This little thing grates it really fine. Just cut it into pieces that fit in the grater.

    • Kelly

    I’m trying this with a bar of Dial soap that already has glycerin in it. My blender is completely full of foam after the second step. I’m leaving it for a while and I hope the foam will eventually settle.

    Unfortunately, my blender only has two speeds – off and really, really fast. I’m guessing that I should stir by hand during the final steps.

    • Kevin

    Same thing happened to me. I used a bar of Dial soap and it is a bunch of foam. I let it sit per instructions. It is sealed now and has been sitting for about 18 hours and it is still mostly foam. It is kind of watery too. I am thinking Dial is not the right way to go. Anyone have any ideas?

      • Teresa

      Mine also is foamy. what kind of soap is the best to use. and should you find soap with no scent at all. i used caress and it is really perfumy.

        • Greatchalynne

        I use dial and it works great! Of course I have had to completely modify it. Instead of using a belender, I use a hand mixer, less bubbles. I added two tbs extra of glycerin to get rid of the stringy like texture, my whole family loves it!

        Here is a recipe to make it without suds and suds and more suds:

        1 4 oz bar of soap (I use dial)
        4 tbsp of glycerin
        4 cups of water.

        I cook it on the stove on low heat until the soap is dissolved. Then I mix it in the pot with a hand mixer.

        Pour into gallon jugs to keep. Sometimes it may turn out to thick, just pour it back into the pan, heat it on low until it turns back into liquid and then add 1 more cup of water at a time until it is the consistancy you want. Good Luck.

    • Roxana

    i apparently ran out of body wash last night and used this as a body wash, believe it or not, its GOOD! so i went and modified it a little bit and used that as my new body wash (it works better then Palmolive!!)

    1 cup green tea liquor water as the hot water
    1 cup normal water
    1 tsp vit e (got it from vit e capsules)
    1 soap (100 grams)(mine is a jhonsons baby soap )
    1 tbs honey
    1 tbs glycerin

    mix the hot water first with the soap grating, then add the rest of the ingrediants and blend away. oh, just use it when the hot water cools down πŸ˜€ washes great!!

      • Michelle

      Thanks will try that recipe πŸ™‚

      • Linda

      I made shower gel and it does not work up to a lather ….I used ivory and bar of emue soap and some glycerm ….what did I do wrong ?

    • Phil

    I found a way on the interwebs somewhere to easily distill extracts out of stuff [you know.. flowers, herbs, meats.. whatever]. would it be possible to add that to the mix for a good scented soap?

    • JJ

    Just a warning. I must have had some super frothy soap! I had a lot of soap scraps, about enough to equal 2 full bars of soap. So I thought I’d double the recipe.

    I put the soap in and I didn’t have “whip” on my blender, so I picked milkshake. I found out from friends that whip is probably slow on the blender. I put in the boiling hot water, put my hand on the lid of the blender and turned it on. It LITERALLY exploded boiling hot water and soap foam everywhere. I had the lid on tight and the pressure exploded the lid off.

    I cleaned up the mess and had a giant blob of foam. So I divided what was left in the blender into two batches and wait for the foam to go down. And waited and waited. The next day it was still a thick blob of foam.

    So I put it in a pot on the stove on low and in about 15 minutes it melted down.

    Just warning you guys. Don’t make a double batch and “whip” is low! I think next time I’ll just use the blender to grind up the soap scraps and then just melt it down on the stove.

      • FiFi

      Just wanted to let y’all know, I’m pretty sure it was the hot water that made it explode. I didn’t know that was possible till I saw it on a cooking show. Instead of telling the guy it was dangerous, they just watched him do it and THEN proceeded to say it was dangerous, while shaking their heads, like he should have known. But, I mean seriously, who knows that unless some one tells you or it happens to you? I just wanted to pass that along and hopefully help someone avoid some serious burns.

    • Rodney

    Ok, I shredded 1 bar of Safeguard (my fav) in the cheese grater attachment of my food processor. Added 3 cups of hot tap water & heated it up in the microwave until everything was dissolved.

    Looked like it worked, so I put it in the dispenser bottle. An hour later it completely geled up into a pudding-like consistency. I put the dispenser in the microwave to “turn” it back into a liquid just to get it out, then added about 1/2 c of cool water, stirring to incorporate and immersed the pyrex measuring cup in an ice bath to cool it down to room temperature. It remained liquid at room temperature so I left it alone for 15 min only to have it gel back up again!

    Obviously this is an agitation issue.

    So, do I keep adding water and letting it sit until it STAYS a liquid? Will I dilute it so much it doesn’t actually work as soap?

    Anyone else have this problem, and, hopefully, a solution?

      • Kareen

      This is my problem. I grated soap in blender. Put this, water, glycerine on stove til totally melted. Set like gel. Watered down (low heat), now no soap action left. Added more soap gratings (low heat) and like heavy gel again. I didn’t mix in blender – is that the problem? – no froth this way. Or is it the soap I used?


    The liquid hand washprepared becomes thicker after few days (becomes solid) and does not come out of the bottle. Please advise

      • Michelle

      Hi, I just made the hand soap tonight, so was sort of expecting the same result. This is becasue I made some laundary detergent last week. Very similar recipe. However, if you didn’t heat it on the stove you had to keep it in a bowl covered, and then each day give it a whisk until all the soap peices have mixed in. (The soap floats to the top and solidifies, leaving the water underneath, but it broke up easy enough each day and whisked back together, it had to do this about 3 times) Hope this helps.

    • bernie

    I am having a hard time finding emulsifying wax. It is used in making your own hand lotion. None of the craft stores/drug stores carry it and was wondering if anyone knew where I might buy some. This is the first time I have tried to make hand lotion.

      • Carina

      I prefere to use bee’s wax for my lotions.

    • Linda

    I guess I didn’t get the soap chips small enough. I still have small pieces in my mixture. Any suggestions?

      • Michelle

      Either heat on stove to melt remaining pieces, or give a whisk up again to break them down.

    • Sarah

    I’m in the process of making my very first batch of liquid soap, currently at the cooling point, hoping that it works OK!!!!!!!

    • Sarah

    Well, soap all made and bottled – I didn’t have enough bottles so had to rummage for a couple more – it makes quite a lot!!! It is very thick, I do hope it comes out of the pump dispensers ok????!!!!!!!

      • TipNut

      Hi Sarah, you can add more water if needed.

    • Maggie Brayton

    I made this, had to keep adding water to it, until it didn’t gel up on me. How do you get this “soapy”? I wash my hands with it, and it doesn’t “foam up” and lather like other soaps do. I did have to add a lot of extra water to it until it didn’t get up, would that be the problem? I also added some clear aloe vera get to it, which is very nice. I am using ivory soap. Is there any other soap that would work better for this?

      • Greatchalynne

      Helpful hint maggie, I had the same problem, I added, 1/4 bar of castile bar soap and 2 more cups of water,it now has suds:) got the tip from another website. Good luck!

    • cheryl

    can you use vegetable glycerin for the glycerin?

    • mary

    To make hand soap we melt a bar of grated ivory soap in four cups of hot water and let it set till it thickens. I add a little liquid natural soap for a fragrance. Use your fingers to mix it up and presto you have your soap.

    • Ruth

    I make my own goat milk soaps & I just have to try this method. I’ve tried to make liquid soaps before, but without success. The honey & glycerin must make the difference (Although glycerin does occur naturally in soapmaking. It’s just that most commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin for a separate sale.)

      • atri

      ruth how do u know what commercial manufactures do? r u involved in this commercialization stuff?

    • Lotto

    Important Info: Triclosan is an active ingredient in Liquid soap. It is also registered with the EPA as a Pesticide. Other Ingredients in Liquid Soap have Neurotoxin Properties. Keep this in mind when making your soaps. What are you willing to ingest throuh your skin?

    • Paddi

    I have been doing this adding the hint and glycerin to my cold process soap. Mine is also gelling up. It will be a wonderful soap for about a week till it gets to thick to pump. Then if I sit it in hot water in the pump it will get thin once again. I never have trouble in the shower since I love hot showers it melts it again.

    • Farnham Soaps

    Dial soap is NOT soap… it is synthetic detergent…

    Great recipe but I suggest heating in a double boiler the soap flakes… and use a bar of REAL soap. There are LOTS of folks on Etsy that make soap… that would be a good place to find real soap…


    • Renee

    I have tried to make different homemeade items over the years, and it sees that everyhing I had to add water to would sour in a short time. I’m trying to get into making my own products, but afraid it will happen again. Has anyone had a problem with this changing it’s sell?

      • Carina

      You could try adding some vitamin E to your mixture. Vitamin E (tocopherols) is a common natural antioxidant preservative.

    • Leanna

    Before I make a batch I have a question… I hear alot of people have trouble with it thicking up after a week to where you can’t pump it. Is there a way to prevent this? Less glycerin?? Is it the bar of soap used? I want to make them for Christmas gifts and I don’t want it to thicken up on them…. Any help is appreciated!!

    • Gail

    What is TBS in TBS honey?

      • Lisa

      Tbs = tablespoon

    • durva chalak

    what is meant by ‘Whip’?

      • Tai

      The speed on the blinder. Mine has one that says “whip”.

    • anurag chaudhary

    i made it today :
    1 its too makes hand dry need more glycerin as prior iam using store one branded moisturizer handwash
    2 yes i also think that after some time water settle down and soap float over it jam the dispenser
    3 its shelf life may very short as i think it start contaminating by bacteria after a week even in closed container anyone tested its shelf life so how safe it is
    4 after making soap from bar its almost fragrance less that original bar have we need to add perfume etc in it
    5 will this work in automatic dispencer or clog it in after one or two refill
    6 i think shelf life is 3 week so its best to empty refills in this period and made new batch else put german plus etc in it
    7 its not completely a perfect substitute for liquid handwash as easy as market ready to use refills
    8 yet it is economical

    • Tai

    I made this today and it turned out great! Here is what I did!
    I used Yardley bar soap (4.25oz)99c @ wal-mart!
    used same amount of water i pored the hot water in a little at a time and added the soap shavings a little at a time where it didn’t explode like others had said there’s did! I did do it in the blinder on the whip button!
    I didn’t use extra glycerin(this soap has it already)
    I did use the honey!
    It smells great and the texture is great! It is also very bubbly soapy! πŸ™‚
    Hope this helps!

    • karen

    to keep the hand wash a little longer add a couple drops of tea tree oil

    • Colleen

    I was wondering if u can add a little hand sanitizer or use antibacterial soap as I am a bit of a germaphobe plus I have kids and ya know what kind of gross things kids do with their hands! lol

    • atri

    if i want to commercialize this stuff…how can i do it? of course i cant make the bulk quantity in a blender…i’ll need huge blender then… there anything that i can use…any ideas??

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