If you’ve always wanted to make soap but are worried about working with lye, here’s your answer. This homemade lye-free soap is truly the “I’m scared to work with lye” version of How to Make Homemade Soap.
Homemade soap is great for many reasons, but it can be a bit daunting to make. One of the reasons is the need to work with lye. It’s definitely not something you want to be working with when you have little ones running around.
Thankfully there’s an answer for that and I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how gorgeous the results can be.
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I Was a Lye Scaredy Cat
For years, I’ve wanted to make my own soap–but I’ve never done it.
I’ve drooled over others’ homemade soap creations and felt deficient in my thriftiness, my craftiness, my domesticality…simply because I’d never. made. soap.
I have fond memories of a dear friend in the Chicago area who made HUGE batches of olive oil soap that was TO DIE FOR. She had enough money to buy whatever soap she wanted, but she just LOVED making soap and well, her soap was skin nourishing gorgeous.
She gifted me this soap when I was pregnant with our first child, but I wrote off making it because no way was I going to use lye in a kitchen where I’d have to time things so I didn’t have a busy and inquisitive infant or toddler underfoot.
So I basically gave up all the soap-making dreams, and they never really came to be.
I even found the very book that my friend’s soap recipe came from at a second hand store (and bought it), but I STILL never made soap.
So when a friend approached me about sharing a recipe for melt and pour soap that was easily made into “homemade soap” style, I was thrilled.
I assumed many other busy “lye scaredy cat” moms would love the chance to be crafty without being around something that might be a problem for their children’s safety.
Lye-free Soap–For Real?
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.
This is why the title of the post includes the words “you’ll see what I mean.” The lye work has been done for you already in making the melt and pour soap base.
Why You’ll Fall In Love With This Soap
There are simply so many reasons to love this soap. Let’s count the ways, shall we?
Ditch These Additives
So many soaps on the market are loaded with artificial colors, artificial fragrances, and preservatives. If you make your own melt and pour soaps, you can use quality ingredients without the toxins.
Save Lots of Money
Of course if you make your own melt and pour soap, you will save a bunch of money over store-bought fancy soaps. With all the great melt and pour bases, you can make exquisite soaps to rival any “artisan” type homemade soap.
More and more people have sensitivities these days. Making your own soap allows you to customize ingredients to your needs.
Choosing the Best Ingredients
1. Soap Bases–Including One That Really Stands Out
First of all, 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.
Some of the more trusted online sources include:
- Bulk Apothecary
Here are some options for melt and pour soap bases with my favorite highlighted at the end.
- Goat’s Milk Soap Base – this is a pretty nice base
- Glycerin Soap Base – makes a traditional clear melt and pour soap
- Cocoa Butter Soap Base
- Shea Butter Soap Base – this one seems to perform very well and has great reviews and the ingredients are really clean for a melt and pour base. If you want an artisan type soap that’s easy to make, this is a great way to go.
Shea Butter - 2 Pound Melt and Pour Soap Base
This Shea Butter Melt and Pour Soap Base is one of the cleanest soap bases out there. Plus it helps you create soaps that look very close to artisan soaps -- all without handling lye!
It's made from 5% refined shea butter, and is soy free, lathers well and is made in the USA.
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 really well too. These come in fun shapes and sizes like this flower mold (similar to the one used for the soaps in this post).
Note that you’ll need parchment paper if you choose the bread mold pan option.
3. Herbs and Plants
Do you love lavender? Dried lavender or even fresh lavender makes a perfect addition.
Roses? Dried rose petals or even fresh rose petals work beautifully.
Plant powders can add not only skin benefits, but double as natural colorants. Turmeric, for example, turns the soap a lovely orange while adding nourishing anti inflammatory qualities. Spirulina powder makes a lovely green. Beet powder makes for a great pink soap.
4. Pure Fragrances
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 Oil with turmeric powder
- Plumeria Oil with dried lavender
- Peppermint 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.
How Much Essential Oils Should Be Used In Soap?
How much essential oils you use in homemade soap depends on several things–how strong of a scent you would like, and the oil you are using.
For a strong scent you could use 0.7 ounces of essential oil per pound of cold process soap. For melt and pour, you can typically add 0.3 ounces per pound.
Cold process soap is more of a harsh process and there are a number of chemical changes that occur when making the soap, so you can use more oils.
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 that add some nice benefits and make your soap special include coffee, green tea, kombucha, infused herbs, coconut milk and floral hydrosol.
6. Fun Add Ins
Besides things like herbs and plants, there are so many other fun add-ins–the sky is truly the limit!
- coffee beans
- cacao nibs
- coffee grounds–smells great and is great for exfoliating too
- citrus peels
- seeds (chia, poppy, apricot, flax)
- matcha powder–adds a lovely green color
- himalayan salt-adds a really nice pink hue
- tea leaves
- Sprinkle 1-2 ounces water or other liquid over the grated soap.
- 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.
- Add desired ingredients.(For the main photos here, 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.)
- Stir to desired consistency. Pour (or spoon) soap mixture into molds. I placed some dried rose petals on the bottom of this flower mold.
- 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.The mold used in the above photo is this one.
- Allow soap to dry for several days or more. Note that the more liquid you use the longer it will take to cure.
- Dry the soap thoroughly between uses to extend its life.
More Easy DIY Personal Care Products You’ll Love
How about trying out the following DIY Personal Care Products too? These are great ways to take more steps towards clean living.
customize your scrub to your liking–makes a great gift too!
your lips will love this
a super frugal alternative to store-bought foaming soap
smells and works great
That’s it! Easy as–well, melting and pouring.
These would make a fabulous gift for almost any occasion.
Have you made soap using the melt and pour method?
What herbal combinations would you like to try?
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.