Make Your Own Soap Without Lye (You'll See What I Mean)

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.

three bars of soap without lye with text overlay

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.

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?

You Skip These Additives

So many soaps on the market are loaded with artificial colors, artificial fragrances, and . If you make your own melt and pour soaps, you can use quality ingredients without the toxins.

You Save Lots of Moolah

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.

You Keep Allergens Out

More and more people have sensitivities these days. Making your own soap allows you to customize ingredients to your needs.

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.

Nourishing Sugar Scrub

customize your scrub to your liking--makes a great gift too!

This Nourishing Sugar Scrub is great for making your skin silky smooth. It's super simple, and frugal, and you can add your own fragrant essential oils as you like. Makes a great easy-to-make gift!

Healthy Lip Scrub

your lips will love this

homemade lip scrub in small glass jar next to honey dripping off small wooden stirring stick

Homemade Foaming Soap

a super frugal alternative to store-bought foaming soap

bottle of homemade foaming hand soap

Homemade Body Wash

smells and works great

homemade body wash in bottle with towels and citrus fruits

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:

  • Brambleberry
  • Bulk Apothecary
  • Amazon

Here are some great options for melt and pour soap bases:

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 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:

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

5. Liquids

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!

How about:

  • 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
two bars of soap without lye
homemade soap bar

How to Make Homemade Soap Without Lye

5 from 3 votes
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  • Grate 8 ounces of  soap. (Two regular size bars.) A cheese grater works well, as does a salad shooter. A food processor also works.
  • 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.
    Homemade soap - without lye!
  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

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 Fabry

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.

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      1. Yes neem! I have multiple skin allergies and I am using neem to help with them. Can I use it in the soap? Thanks so much!

        1. How much would you like to use? I'm so sorry you are dealing with this!! Have you found any relief with doing gut work or other things like that?

          1. I have but it is a constant battle. My biggest thing is alcohol, which is in everything. I use very small amounts and am keeping an eye on it. Foods with additives are bad for it too.

  1. There is no such thing as Plumeria Essential oil! It is a synthetic fragrance oil. IMO melt and pour soap should be called soap crafting. You’re not making soap, just manipulating a base product.

    1. Hi "Long time" :). Nice to meet you. So there apparently is a Plumeria oil--I just linked to it on Amazon. I can't guarantee the purity, but it's Plumeria Alba and this company says that they are extracting it with CO2. Do you think that isn't accurate?

      As for your suggested name for melt and pour, I understand your thoughts, which is why I titled the post the way that I did. If you would like to take it up with the woman who wrote the post, feel free. Her information is in the post. Maybe it should be "make your own melt and pour soap" not to be confused with "how to make your own melt and pour soap base"?

  2. Thank you so much for sharing all these nice health tips!am a cancer patient for three years now home and not working but I would like to turn my soap making into a hubby and then try to turn it into a little business,do you think that’s possible even though I have never make soar before,so could you please give me some hint how I could go about doing this thanks while I await your reply.

    1. Hi there. There are all kinds of places to sell things - hard to know how easy or hard it would be. Maybe reach out to natural minded folk in our area and ask?

  3. Thank You so much for sharing. I’m 74 and for the first time, I think I can do this method. Thank You and God Bless

  4. Your post has inspired me! It goes beyond using whatever is cheap and blah and into living a bit more enriched with purpose and beauty. I used to press flowers and look to the beauty God has provided in the simple things on this earth. Your description of longing to make soap for years was a beautiful look into one of His most beautiful creations, You! Thank you for blessing my life by sharing this! I am going to not only use your recipe and all of your tips to make my own creations, your blog/description/narrative is my new daily reading. The desire that is infused in your life is a desire I want to have in mine. I don’t know if you realize the impact your words can have, but you have given me joy again!

    1. Awwww you are too sweet. Thanks for your sweet words. I don't deserve them, but I will accept them. Hugs and hope to see you around again!

  5. I was excited when I saw the headline about making a chemical free soap and then disappointed to see it was actually melting a readily made soap to play with its smell and shape. There are many beautiful organic soaps out there already to purchase instead.

    1. Hi there. Sorry it isn't what you wanted. Of course there are a lot of lovely organic soaps you can purchase--that would go for anyone who wants to use lye to make soap as well. It all depends on what you want to do--make or buy, use lye or not, etc. Hope that helps!

    1. It can burn--its very caustic, so you need to be careful. Some people think it's really no big deal but I never would have tried to make lye-based soap with little ones around.

  6. I cut up cubes of melt and pour (when I’m not making it with lye) with a knife, put it in the microwave and put in molds. There are waaay to many steps here and adding liquid? A grater? You’ll freak people out of making melt n pour soap. Not cool.

  7. I was trying to find a solution if there was to make soap without lye so this is considered CLICK BAIT because there is no way to make soap without lye and your little "well, you’ll see what I mean" does not make sense unless you put that in your post putting it down in the comments where some people where some people will not read them is in the definition of clickbait.

    1. Hi there, "your mama"--actually no, the information about how this is soap created using melt and pour soap is right in the post. You can go back and read it to see. There are several other bloggers who have similar posts like this that were written before mine and several that were after. Perhaps you can go and tell them how upset you are about this as well. I do hope to have a real "making soap with lye" post down the road. Thanks for reading.

      In fact, my writing "well, you'll see what I mean" shows that I am not totally doing it without lye. Hope that clarifies.

  8. Hi Adrienne,

    I appreciate this post. I'm going to be "crafting" soap with help from your article for my girlfriend. She LOVES the smell of rose -- and, really, anything that has to do with roses. So I'm using the pink salt for color and the dried rose petals. I'm also using essential rose oil, which I understand to be pretty potent stuff. Do you have a recommendation of how much of the essential oil to use? It comes in a 1oz bottle and is pretty expensive. I read comments that a couple drops permeate the whole room. Do you think a drop or two in each soap mold would be sufficient?

    Thanks so much.

    1. You are so welcome. It would depend on the oil as there are pure ones and diluted ones, plus on the size of the bar--what size are you thinking about making?

  9. i dont understand how to make soap when you are grating soap to make soap doesnt make sense how do you make soap to grate to make soap what are the ingredients in the soap before you add the ingredients ?

    1. Hi there--this is just a basic DIY recipe for taking pre made soap base and making it special. The ingredients would depend on the soap base that you choose.

  10. Hi,
    so I was wandering if I could add honey to a melt and pour or would that mess up the consistency? I know you can buy MP in a honey base but if I wanted to use a milk base and add honey for the extra moisturizing and anti-microbial aspects.

  11. thanks for the tutorial, I question is this;is plantain peel/skin and cocoa pod a foaming agent in soap making? please I need an answer.thanks

  12. Recently came across your article and noticed you referred to the soap you used as Melt and Pour. However, after reading the rest of the article and reviewing your pictures, I noticed that what you were actually using is rebatch (sometimes called hand milled). This is definitely not the same as Melt and Pour. Just wanted to let you know.


    1. Hi Sam. Sorry you feel this way. Perhaps you should write to the author of the post and tell her your thoughts directly. She's a black mold survivor. It wasn't an idea to be cheap but to make soap crafting easier for someone who doesn't want to mess w/ lye. As many commenters have mentioned, there is no soap without lye so anyone who is saying you can really make soap without lye isn't telling the whole story.

      Do you suggest that there is a way to make soap without lye? If so, please do share.

      I can't say that Andrea will be responding as she is very busy but you can contact her on her blog if you like. Thanks for reading.

      1. Your reply comes across as unprofessional. I didn't know there it was not possible to make soap without Lye hence searching the internet) so that's not a fact everyone knows.

        Why would the person write directly to the author? That makes no sense when the article is posted on this blog which has a commenting function.

        How is the fact that Andrea is a black mold survivor relevant to the commenters critiques? Is that suppose to somehow negate the fact this article was crap?

        I'm annoyed that this "recipe" is actually just melting down random soap and adding scents. That's not actually making soap...

        Anyways this article was disappointing. I suggest changing the title because it's misleading.

        1. Hello Sam. First of all, thanks for reading. I'll address each of your concerns in line.

          1. What do you think was unprofessional about my response?

          2. I'm sorry you didn't know about needing lye to make soap.

          3. This article is on my blog but there isn't a way that I know of for the author to have easy ongoing access to comments. So you can comment here but she is heavily involved in other things now and I don't think she will respond to ongoing comments. So that's not my fault. Do you have another solution that you would like to recommend?

          4. As for the black mold survivor reference, the other commenter was talking about some fake account response so I was assuring that person that neither I nor the author are fake.

          5. I don't think it's crap but that's your opinion if you wish to maintain it.

          6. Sorry you are annoyed. I made it clear in the title (I thought) that there was a twist to it and that information is in the post as well.

          7. If you have a suggested different title I will entertain it but no promises that I will take your advice. Thanks again and I hope that is helpful.

    2. Chill out! Use your brain, you can NOT make soap without lye ever! you can't make bar soap, liquid soap, laundry detergent, dish soap, etc without lye. Lye is what makes oils soaponify and change from oil to soap. You are being a bit hard on her. She was simply letting people know that you can make soap without working with lye yourself. If you are disappointed by this fact, youve obviously not taken 20 seconds to research how soap is made. It doesn't take a chemistry degree (which I have) or being a professional soap maker ( which I am) to know what she was talking about. Be nice!

        1. As Kristi said, you need lye to make soap, and what you linked is just an article about how to make soap with lye that you've also made. This is like someone saying you can't make a baking soda volcano without vinegar, and you linking to someone making a volcano with homemade apple cider vinegar bc "at least it's more natural". It's a total non sequitur. Just because you can make your own lye doesn't mean lye is somehow not required anymore.

          You will never find a recipe on how to truly make soap without lye because it's impossible. By definition soap is the stuff that results from saponification, which is the process that occurs when oils/fats are mixed with lye water. Any "soap without lye" recipe is either a recipe on how to remix soap that's already been made (like melt-and-pour or rebatching) or the end product is not technically soap.

          1. Hello Kat. Thanks for reading. I think I made it pretty clear that this wasn't exactly making soap without lye and that it was simply a post for someone who wanted to make a homemade soap without handling lye.

            I hope that helps :).

  14. I used 2 lbs of shea butter base soap and added coconut milk for liquid in amount the recipe states. It melted and is the consistency of coconut milk. I'm letting it now boil to get rid of the liquid. This was a disappointing recipe.

    1. I have a little advice for you. You can only add a small percentage of additives. Such as milk, extra oils, etc. it's usually under 5%. Also, you don't ever want to boil melt and pour soap. The best way to handle this is to re-melt your base and add enough base to bring the additive below 5%. Or start over. Try melting in 15-20 second bursts in the microwave storing in between. Or in a double broiler. Boiling it will ruin the base. Next time you might want to try powdered milk instead of liquid. Their are tons of great tutorials on melt and pour soap making. Soap queen tv on YouTube is a great resource for all things soap. Don't give up! Melt and pour is a fun way to make your own soap without having to handle lye yourself.

    2. dont add liquid milk to a melt and pour base only powder form liquid milk is best for cold pressed soap and as for other oils and butters only use 3 teapsoons per 2/2 pounds of base other wise it wil effect your lather

      1. Hi,

        Is there a way to may transparent (clear) soap without lye? Would Melt and Pour work for that? Thanksl

        1. There are some links in the post to clear ones - I think it's the glycerine ones. Let me know if you don't see them!

          1. I couldn't find any. None of the ones I saw were clear liquid. I did see several ones that turned them into bars but none for liquid.

          2. Just get unscented uncolored liquid soap and add your scent/color to that, keeping in mind that anything perishable may reduce the shelf life of the soap. "Melt-and-pour soap" only needs to be melted to add colors/scents because it's solid, and the colors/scents can only mix into the soap while the soap is liquid. Soap that is liquid at room temperature is effectively already "melted" so you are good to go. "Melt-and-pour base" is also just a very expensive way to say unscented, uncolored bar soap, there's nothing special about it that makes the coloring or scents stick.

    1. Hi Manasa,

      I dont think using beeswax is a substitute for Lye. Lye is used for blending process which gives lather and to mix ingredients to come together.

      1. Yeah you definitely can't replace lye with beeswax. It's technically possible to make beeswax soap, but it's a replacement for the oils, not the lye. It also makes terrible soap if it's used in any noticeable quantity. Save it for salves and lip balms.