How to Make Natural Liquid Soap



Have you ever wanted to try making your own natural shower gel, liquid hand soap, or whipped soap at home? The most common ways to make them often involve chemical processes that the average person might shy away from. The first ingredient that can give pause is Sodium or Potassium Hydroxide, otherwise known as Lye. It's dangerous to handle but essential in making any soap. Another factor that can be a hurdle is cost since buying small quantities of all the ingredients and equipment you need to make soap can be more expensive than just continuing to buy it pre-made. I have good news though...

It's easy to make variations of liquid soap from any bar soap you have at home.




You can use a full bar soap for this recipe or even bits of soap scraps that you've saved up


As a producer of handmade soaps I always have pieces and off-cuts that can't be sold. Some of it I re-batch into bars and we use it ourselves (it's customers who get to use the pretty soaps) but there's always some to spare. Using these pieces to make liquid soap for around the house makes sense so I started investigating how to go about it. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any recipes relevant for what I had to work with since all the tutorials I found started with a bar of commercial soap.

There are major differences between handmade and commercial soap which means that if you try to use the recipes I found you could end up with a pot full of sudsy water. Industrially produced soap, such as most bars you find at the supermarket or drugstore, is produced to be denser than anything you can make at home. It's also stripped of its natural Glycerin which gives your skin that characteristic dry and tight feeling after use. For those new to soap making, Glycerin is a clear and viscous liquid that occurs naturally in soap. It's brilliant for softening the skin which is why its often removed from commercial soap for use in higher margin products such as face cream or hand lotion.


Handmade and natural shower gel - you can make it yourself!


However, it's more than its moisturising qualities that make handmade soap attractive. Many producers such as myself use all natural ingredients which means your skin won't come into contact with dangerous chemicals such as SLS/SLES, Parabens, or artificial colour and fragrance. Some of these ingredients cause skin irritation but others are linked to more serious health issues including Cancer. A lot of people don't realise that your skin isn't an impenetrable barrier and that ingredients in personal care products can be absorbed through the skin. In fact it takes just 26 seconds after application for the chemicals in your average soap or perfume to make their way to all your body's organs.1


This creamy whipped variation can be used as a shaving soap


Enough of the background and on to making some natural liquid soap! This week I experimented with creating several variations and have found that you really need only two ingredients - handmade bar soap and water, preferably filtered. There are also optional ingredients you can use including essential oils and exfoliants such as ground pumice stone or poppy seeds. What you do not need is extra Glycerin. Other recipes you might have seen for making liquid soap from bar soap will have you add this. Handmade soap comes equipped so you don't need to bother.





How to Make Liquid Soap from Handmade Bar Soap

120g (4.2 oz) Soap - this is equivalent to one bar of Lovely Greens Soap
Filtered Water - see variations for the amount you need.

1. Grate or cut your soap into small pieces and place into a sauce pan. Pour the water into the pan and bring it to a simmer.

2. Stir the soap and water until the soap has dissolved then take the pan off the hob and set it someplace to cool down. It will look like soapy water at this point.

3. Let the pan sit for 12-24 hours before adding any optional ingredients. Remember that for soap you should be cautious with overindulging with essential oils and that their quantity should be around 2% of your entire recipe. If your starting soap had fragrance in it already you should reconsider adding any at all. Whether you've added optional ingredients or not make sure to stir or even blend the soapy mixture well.

4. Pour into bottles (if applicable) and use. If you have sudsy bubbles in your mixture don't worry, they'll for the most part settle back into the soap.


Notes on preservatives: Any product that contains water can be an environment for bacteria to thrive in. To reduce bacterial contamination use clean pots and utensils and make sure to store the soap in containers that won't come into contact with grimy hands or surfaces. Pump and squeeze bottles are best and if you store your liquid soap this way then the soap should last at least a month if not longer without preservatives. The exception to this rule would be the 'Whipped Soap/Shaving Soap' since you'll probably need to store it in a pot of some sort. I don't recommend adding preservatives but you should be aware that this soap variation should be used within about a week. I also want to emphasise that this recipe(s) should only be used within the home and the resulting liquid soap should not be sold to consumers.



Shower Gel Recipe: This is what you'll have after letting the mixture set for around 12-24 hours.



Shower Gel Recipe: And this is what it looks like after a minute of stirring it up


Whipped Soap / Shaving Soap
You'll need 360ml of water for this recipe (equivalent to 1.5 cups or 12.7 fluid oz)

Though not a true whipped soap, the result of using the ratio of 1:3 (soap to water) results in a light and creamy soap that creates a rich lather perfect for getting those legs ready for summer. You will find that after you let this soap sit for the required 12-24 hours that the result will look and almost feel solidified at the bottom of the pan. Don't panic! Just whisk it and after a a few seconds it will look just like the whipped soap in this post. Caution on making whipped soap...though it looks amazingly delicious do not attempt to eat it :)

Shower Gel
You'll need 1080ml of water for this recipe (equivalent to 4.5 cups or 38 fluid oz)

A photo of this is pictured higher up in this post and I've also shown how it lathers up. Because natural handmade soap doesn't use artificial foaming agents (SLS/SLES) the lather is fine and composed of countless tiny bubbles. The consistency of the ratio of 1:9 (soap to water) makes for a thickened liquid soap that will suit being stored a squeezy bottle. I've also tried using this as a dish soap though next time I'd probably want to start with a bar of soap that doesn't have extra skin-moisturising oils added, unless you wash your dishes without gloves of course.

Liquid Hand Soap
You'll need 1440ml of water for this recipe (equivalent to 6 cups or 50 fluid oz)

You'll be able to stretch that bar of soap into about 1.5 litres of liquid hand soap with this recipe. Fill up your pump bottle with what you need and then store the rest in a clean jar with a lid. Topping up should be a breeze and you'll feel great at saving so much money on a natural liquid hand soap. One thing that you should be aware of when using this 1:12 ratio (soap to water) recipe is that it needs a bit more time to reach its final thickness than the other two recipes. So don't throw the baby out with the bathwater if your soap mixture looks too thin after 24 hours. Give it a bit more time and it will thicken up nicely.




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1 United States Government, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Pesticides and Toxic Substances. Statement made in their flyer “Top 10 ‘Killer’ Household Chemicals”




44 comments:

  1. Great tutorial, Tanya. As always, giving me more ideas to try than I have time to do!

    I have so many scraps of soap left over right now, I gotta use them up somehow - maybe some whipped soap....?

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    1. It's quite a fun project Lindsey :) And you know, I think it might be even better if you decrease the amounts by half for the whipped soap recipe. You probably only need about half the amount in any given week. Perfect for a handful of soap scraps!

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  2. Even I could do this! I am going to have a go at the shower gel. I have always been wary of soap making because of the lye, but now I have discovered your lovely soaps I don't have to do it myself! Have a good weekend x

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    1. Have fun Fran and let me know how you get on :) Enjoy your weekend too ~

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  3. Thanks Tanya, I love making the liquid soap. I am yet to try te whipped soap. I would add some kaolin clay in it, jus for tha extra slip.

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    1. Brilliant idea Zikhona! I'm not sure that everyone has Kaolin Clay in their homes but maybe a teaspoon of cornstarch would work well for those without.

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  4. Just to say thank you for the Sunshine, which arrived this morning. If you go to my blog you will see that I have put it on today's contribution. Have a lovely day in the sunshine.

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  5. Tanya - Do you know of any recipe that would allow for a longer self life of the liquid hand soap - 6 months to a year - in order to be able to market it?

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    1. Hi Dani :) Typical liquid soap can be made using a hot process method using Potassium Hydroxide (instead of Sodium Hydroxide). That type of soap will last ages and can be sold to consumers.

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  6. Lots of great ideas there. I've done a post on my blog about the soap you recently sent me, though I haven't tried it yet, I'm savouring the gorgeous scent for a while but shall have a lovely bubble bath tomorrow and use it then.

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  7. Tanya,the soaps arrived yesterday,HB and self spent time sniffing in the scents, as Jo mentioned they are gorgeous.I have put them in my underwear drawers etc till I use them.

    I have very sensitive skin so can only use natural products without all the added nasty chemicals!
    Happy I found your blog.Judith

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    1. Thanks Judith and I hope you enjoy them! :)

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  8. Sounds like a nice thing to do with your children for gifts for grandparents etc..

    Any ideas how you could make antibacterial liquid soap Tanya??

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    1. I would avoid anti-bacterial soap if I were you. Studies have shown that antibacterial soaps are no more effective at killing off microbes then normal soap. The WHO has carried out plenty of studies and agrees that if you want to wipe out germs you should use Alcohol rub. If you want to clean your hands just use normal soap. High usage of anti bacterial soap may even be one of the causes of drug resistant viruses. Just one of the sources: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2009/9789241597906_eng.pdf
      You ca easily find more on very reputable sites such as NHS, WHO and other government health websites r even universities.

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    2. Adding additional essential oils such as Tea Tree and Lavender can give your natural liquid soap anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

      As for using anti-bacterial soap or alcohol rubs on your hand - I'm not really a fan of either. BOTH contribute to causing drug resistant viruses and bacteria and alcohol dries out your skin. There are cases where use is necessary (think hospitals) but I would never consider using either on a daily basis.

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    3. Everything should be used in moderation. Alcohol rub is effective at killing microbes but like you said it dries out your skin and honestly its far too excessive for most people. Unless you know your hands require very strong cleansing its almost best to stick with standard soap which is effective enough at wiping away dirt and germs whilst protecting your skin in the long run.

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  9. I always wondered what steps I was missing in my very crude attempts at making liquid soap. I'll do it your way from now on.

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  10. I made liquid soap from another recipe using a bar of lavender Vinolia soap, eight cups of water and one tin of coconut milk (for the extra luxury and softness), came out quite thick, but in a squeeze bottle works like a charm.

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    1. Sounds really nice but how long did it last? I'd be careful with using coconut milk in products that have water and no preservatives since it would be a haven for bacteria.

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  11. I over traced a batch of cold processed soap and once it has cured, I will cut up my coconut milk with pear, lime and berry fragrance soap and turn it into liquid hand soap. It will be a lovely colour and smell nice too.

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  12. This is so fantastic! What have you got then for eczema on my scalp??

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  13. Question, I just made liquid soap from 1 gallon distilled water, about 8oz Ivory bar soap, glycerin and some cucumber oil (a recipe from another site - I'm sorry!). I read above that some combinations won't last more than a week. Is that true of the ingredients I used?

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    1. Unfortunately anything with water in it can eventually become a breeding ground for bacteria and other nasties. Not exactly the kind of stuff that you want to WASH with! Though your soap might look fine it's not recommended to keep this type of liquid soap around for more than a month before using it unless you add some time of bacteria killing preservative. Keep in mind that this time length is for soap kept in air-tight containers. If you make the whipped soap and have it in a dish where you'll be dipping your fingers into it then please don't keep it around for more than a week.

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  14. I wonder if you can do this with the 'melt and pour' soaps for DIY uses?

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    1. You probably could... You're meaning m&p that's already been melted and moulded into soap shapes right?

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    2. You heat the bars to liquid and add essential oils, herbs, butters, and then pour into a mold to harden - for making DIY artisanal soaps. I was told by the manufacturer there was NO way to use them for making liquid soap. I'm just learning about soap making...so I don't know if what they say is true or not. These bars are 'pure' glycerine, castile, shea, olive oil, etc., when they start out. Unless they are processed in a special way I just don't see why I couldn't use the same steps as you do and have it work???

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    3. I'm familiar with m&p but don't use it myself (other than a few experiments some time ago). The only way you'll know if it works is to ry it out :)

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    4. Thanks Tanya
      I'm already playing 'mad scientist' with aromatherapy bases and EO supplies so I'm up for experimenting with the soap too!

      I love your blog...we have backyard chickens,also. Your photos are gorgeous!

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  15. I saw video of someone grating 5oz bar of soap and adding 1 gallon of water cook and let sit to cool 12 hours. If soap was put in 2 liter coke plastic container wouldn't that keep it sealed enough for long term? Also I plan to make my own liquid hand soap and would like to know if fragranced oils that are made for soaps can be added to any kind of soap, lard,lye,castile,glycerine,shea, other oils etc.

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    1. I've seen similar tutorials too but I'm suspicious over bacterial contamination - especially since none of the other tutorials takes it into consideration. Letting the soap cool before bottling will allow bacteria access to it and even if you can't see bacteria you can bet it will be there, especially after more than a month.

      Essential and fragrance oils can be added to your soap at 2% the total weight. It really helps in quality especially if you're using old pieces of soap that don't have much scent.

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  16. how to make liquid soap from fruit extract without using bar soap?is it possible?thanks!

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  17. Hi. I'm a rookie soap maker n ur contributions r so helpful. How do i make dishwashing, floor tile cleaner n liquid handsoap from scratch. Don't have homemade handsoap.

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  18. What can you add to it if your homemade bar soap is a bit drying? Can I just add some oil or would it just separate? and what amount would work?

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  19. Amazing ! My family loves natural soap :) Especially my daughter calls it our miracle soap because she was able to stop using her acne treatment medication.

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  20. Dear Tanya, am very pleased of the rich knowledge that you have and greatfull sharing it with others. I would like to know how to make dishwishing liquid and can i add to it Neem oil as antibacterial agent

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  21. Can you make liquid glycerin soap from solid glycerin soap?

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  22. The liquid handsoap I've made is slimy. What can I do???

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  23. It looks delicious!! :))) Love it!

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  24. Hi Tanya. Thank you very much for sharing this information with us.

    I had to remelt a batch that came out too oily on the surface and after melting and letting it sit in the mold for 2 days the soap came out still a bit soft. So I was thinking of using your recipe and turn it into a liquid hand soap. Would that work?

    Thanks,
    Liz

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