Make Your Own Soap Without Lye (well, you’ll see what I mean)


How to Make Homemade Soap - without Lye!From Adrienne: Interested in making soap, but you’re scared of lye?

I’ve been meaning to make soap–literally for years, but have never done it.  Now that I have this information from Andrea of It Takes Time about how to make homemade soap without lye–homemade soap, here I come!

Would you like to create an all natural product, free of harsh chemicals, that radiates your personality and taste? Consider hand-milled soap!


Also known as melt and pour soap, this method allows you to forgo the hazards of working with caustic lye, while enjoying the creativity of soap making.

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How to Make Soap Without Lye

Supplies Needed

– Natural Soap
– Molds
– Herbs and/or Plants
Essential Oils
– Liquid

1. Natural soap

Look for soap that is free of chemicals and fragrances. The simpler the better when it comes to hand milling. White or cream colored work best. Suggested online sources include:

2. Molds

A simple bread loaf pan will work depending on how much soap you’re melting. Line the mold with parchment paper for easy removal.

Silicone molds work well too. These come in fun shapes and sizes like this flower mold (similar to the one used for this soaps in this post).

Note that parchment paper is not needed when using silicone molds.

3.  Herbs/Plants

Do you love lavender? Dried or fresh lavender makes a perfect addition.

Roses? Dried or fresh rose petals work beautifully.

Plant powders will double as natural colorants. Turmeric, for example, turns the soap a lovely orange while adding skin nourishing qualities. Spirulina powder makes a lovely green. Ground oatmeal offers a nice exfoliating quality. Himalayan pink salt adds a nice pink hue.

You can find herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store or else at Amazon.

4. Essential oils

Forgo the petroleum based fragrances and add scent using 100% natural essential oils. Essential oils carry through the hand milling process quite well –  so pick a scent you enjoy and have fun!

Herb/essential oil combinations that work well include:

thyme essential oil with turmeric powder
– plumeria essential oil with dried lavender
peppermint essential oil with activated charcoal for a deep cleansing experience.

Here is Adrienne’s source for “the best” essential oils, or click here to read the whole series about how she chose them.

5. Liquid

You’ll need to add a slight amount of liquid to keep the soap from burning during  the melting process.  While water works fine, possible liquids include coffee, green tea, kombucha, infused herbs, coconut milk and floral hydrosol.


1.  Grate 8 ounces of  soap. (Two regular size bars.) A cheese grater works well, as does a salad shooter. A food processor also works.

Grated Soap

2.  Sprinkle 1-2 ounces water or other liquid over the grated soap.

3.  Heat on low setting in a double boiler or crock pot. You can also place in oven-safe pot and heat in the oven at lowest setting.
Stir frequently to avoid burning. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. When soap is liquefied, remove from heat. It will be somewhat lumpy and translucent.


4.  Add desired ingredients.

(In these photos I used Pink Himalayan salt and dried rose petals from my daughter’s wedding. I added Rose Geranium essential oil which created a lovely rose scent.)

5.  Stir to desired consistency. Pour (or spoon) soap mixture into molds.  I placed some dried rose petals on the bottom of this flower mold.


6.  Cool the soap and remove from mold (place mold into freezer for up to 1 hour to make this easier). Cut into desired sizes and shapes using a soap cutter or a food scraper/shovel.

Again, the mold used in the above photo is this one.

Homemade soap - without lye!

7.  Allow soap to dry for several days or more. The more liquid you use the longer it will take to cure.

8.  Once you begin using your soap, be sure to dry it thoroughly between uses to extend its life.

That’s it!  Easy as–well, melting and pouring.

These would make a fabulous gift for almost any occasion.

Note that the top photo in the post is from Andrea’s store at Just So.  Aren’t they just gorgeous?

Have you made soap using the melt and pour method?

What herbal combinations would you like to try?

Andrea Fabry - A woman dedicated to detoxifying her family for health's sake.Andrea is a former journalist and the mother of nine children ranging in age from 28 to 12. Following a toxic mold exposure, Andrea and her family discovered the wonders of natural living. Andrea is the founder and president of momsAWARE, an educational organization designed to empower others to live healthy in a toxic world. You can follow her family’s journey at It Takes Time. She is also the owner of Just SoNatural Products.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Why would you buy made soap and then re-make it??? Why not just buy natural soap? There is no other benefit, not cost effective, not any safer, so why?

    • Hi Susan. I suspect it’s simply for those who don’t wish to deal with lye (say they have small kiddos around and such) but I am sure Andrea will drop by to share – thanks!

  2. Sorry, hit enter on accident.
    When using the lye, the lye changes chemically when it saponifies. Our grandmother’s grew up with giant bars of Ivory, soap used to be made with ashes and other elements that are not caustic. That would be something better than buying soap to re-melt into more soap?? That just seems like taking powdered sugar to mix with the store frosting to make it thicker??? Why not just make the whole sha bang? Thank you

  3. Susan,
    It can actually be very creative to combine various herbs, oils and liquids. A fun art project for kids too! Many people are nervous about working directly with lye either because they lack the time or they have small children around. This is a wonderful way to be creative. Most melt and pour soaps in craft stores are laden with chemicals. The idea here is to keep the soap healthy while having fun.

    • Better to pick up a soap base or glycerin soap base then incorporate your favorite essential oils and other additives. They have bases that you can microwave then put in you molds. Then you have a real nice product for yourself or as gifts.

      • Stephanie Dayle says:

        Even glycerin is made from lye – there is no such thing as “lye free” soap. I understand this may make people “feel” like they have made soap, but they have not, and further more they have missed out on learning an very important life skill! For the time and money spent with glycerin & melt and pour methods which is described above – one could just as easily make their own real soap.

        BTW – to the blog author. Making soap with lye is completely safe for kiddos with parental supervision. I made with my mom when I was young and as soon as my kids are able they will learn how to make it. How many kids can say they know how to make soap? It’s worth it – trust me. You can’t put a price on teaching your child a life skill. :-)

  4. I just did my first batch of ‘rebatch’ soap and couldn’t be happier. I didn’t get the melt and pour, but rather ‘rebatch’ – not sure if it would make a difference. I found one with only ingredients that I wanted and made different ‘flavors’ with only the oils/botanicals I wanted. I can also control the quality of the oils.

    Why not from scratch? Well… I’ve wanted to but never made the step and am currently living with my mom so that’s a no-go. This gives me another option.
    Even soaps at the health food store usually have something in it that I don’t want.

    So far I’ve made lemon/lemon grass; Thieves/activated charcoal; lavender/lavender buds; cinnamon/star anise. I started making them to sell but we’re enjoying using them so much that I haven’t even marketed them yet, lol.

  5. I assume you are not a soaper but ALL bar soap is made from lye. If you melted any bar soap it was made from lye. Lye is NOT caustic. It is simple pot ash or wood ash. That’s how soap has been made for ever. Telling your readers that buying a bar of soap, not matter how natural it maybe, and “re-batching”, which is essentially what you did, does not have lye is not correct. Now a liquid soap is totally different. There is plenty of information about lye and lye making soap.

    • She was saying that you don’t need to use lye to make the soap, which is correct, but I get your point Debbie. Andrea was just trying to have folks be able to make a homemade soap without handling lye b/c so many of us (like me) have been petrified of it, but I am glad I don’t need to be and now I can get on w/ a new project – thanks :).

    • amelia hopper says:

      From my understanding hard soap cannot be made without lye. I am new to the soap making process but am eager to learn more. I would think if you are repurposing soap in a recipe, it obviously already has lye in it. I don’t understand if you want to avoid actually working hand to hand with lye in the natural process? And so by repurposing soap you can avoid a certain contact with lye? Please advise!

  6. Debbie,
    I did not mean to imply there is no lye in hand milled soap. All soap is made with lye – but I would disagree that it is not caustic. I experienced arm burns one time. Caution must be used when dealing with it. I make liquid soap using potassium hydroxide which is a form of lye as well. It too is caustic, but the molecules are larger which lends itself well to liquid soap. I love the art of soap making and would encourage everyone to try making it from scratch as it is a wonderful process. But for those who can’t for a variety of reasons, hand milling is a great option.

  7. Ameila,
    Yes, by hand milling existing soap, you bypass working with lye. Absolutely, soap has lye in it!

  8. Tina Gibson says:

    I have been making cold process soap since 2001. Lye is extremely caustic! This is why when working with it you should always wear gloves, protective eyewear & a face mask isn’t such a bad idea either. It can burn very easily & the fumes are toxic to inhale. Which is why working in a well ventilated area is a must. Purchasing premade soap from companies like Brambleberry is great for someone who wants to make soap without dealing with lye directly. Yes, all soap starts out with lye but when the chemical process is finished there is no lye IF it’s been made correctly. FYI Brambleberry has excellent quality products. If you want to make soap from scratch get a good book on it & please do not use RedDevil lye!! It is no longer pure sodium hydroxide. I believe Brambleberry sells lye. But what they sell to rebatch is nice soap.

    • Eva Salas says:

      Heck ya lye is caustic! I’m a CP soaper but recently had the pleasure of making M&P with a couple of young kids. They came over with small toys to embed. I nuked the soap and they got to add colorant, scent and best of all the toys! Such a great activity for young ‘uns and can start them thinking DIY! Soap was ready to unmold by the time they left so didn’t have to leave them. Big fun for all! Um, but not homemade soap.

  9. Thanks for all the research you do especially on oils. I am very impressed with your web site. I would like to print some of your articles but can not print the whole article and the sentences are cut off on the right side. Can you help me fix this problem? Thank you for sharing all of this info.

  10. Thank you so much for this recipe, I was looking for a fun and simple recipe to make with my 16 month old daughter. I have some dried organic tea in the house, and wanted to find a soap that I can add oils to for the winter months as we both suffer with dry skin during the winter. This is also a simple recipe that we can use to make christmas gifts out of and place the ingredients for anyone who is curious what is in it. Fortunately Ivory is one of the safest bars of soap, for those who have skin allergies or other skin problems so the reuse of soap sounds excellent to me.