Making Liquid Soap

washing hands

Making your own liquid soap can have advantages. Not only can you save money over some store bought varieties, you can choose ingredients to personalize the final product. It's easy to add moisturizing ingredients and other items to create a truly unique combination that can be used as hand soap or body wash.

Liquid Soap Recipes

liquid soap

These recipes range from simple concoctions made from bar soap, to liquid soap made entirely out of oils and lye. All can be varied with different herbs or essential oils to make the soap your own.

Moisturizing Liquid Hand Soap

This hand soap contains honey and olive oil, which are natural moisturizers. You can substitute liquid glycerin (available at most pharmacies and occasionally at craft stores) for the olive oil if you wish.


  • One bar of your favorite soap
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil or glycerin
  • Some cold water
  • Fragrance oil for soap making (optional)


  1. Grate your soap with a kitchen grater or chop it into small pieces, and place the shavings into a blender.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add it to the grated soap in the blender. Let this sit overnight.
  3. Set the blender to its "whip" setting, blending the soap and water. Add the honey. Add the olive oil or glycerin and blend the mixture again.
  4. Add a few drops of fragrance oil if desired. Continue adding fragrance, a little at a time, until you get your desired scent strength.
  5. Add some cold water until you get the consistency that you want. Blend the mixture one final time.
  6. Pour the mixture in a soap dispenser.
  7. Shake the dispenser each time before using it.

Herbal Liquid Soap

For best results, start with a clear glycerin soap bar that contains no harsh chemical scents or colors.

Herbal soap


  • 1½ cups water, divided
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried herbs of your choice
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable glycerin
  • 1 bar soap, grated
  • Essential oil (Optional)


  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Place the dried herb or herbs into a mug and cover with half a cup of the boiled water. Cover the mug and let the herbs infuse for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, stir the grated soap into the remaining cup of water until it is completely dissolved. Stir in the vegetable glycerin.
  4. Strain the herb-infused liquid and stir it into the grated soap mixture.
  5. Add a few drops of essential oil (optional).
  6. Let cool uncovered and pour into a soap dispenser.

Hot Process Liquid Soap

liquid soap

This recipe makes liquid soap from scratch using oils and potassium hydroxide lye. Lye is a dangerous chemical, and while it has been used for centuries in soap making, you should always use extreme caution when handling it. Wear protective clothing including goggles, gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and shoes when handling lye, and make sure that your work area is well ventilated.


  • Five-gallon bucket with a pour-spout lid
  • Blankets or towels
  • Stick blender
  • Nylon spoon
  • Plastic, stainless steel or glass bowls for measuring materials
  • Funnel
  • Rubber gloves, goggles and protective clothing
  • Digital scale
  • Thermometer
  • Double boiler

Note: Do not use any materials containing aluminum when making any kind of soap from scratch. Aluminum will react with the lye and cause a reaction.


Weigh the ingredients using an accurate digital kitchen scale.

  • 24 ounces soft oil of choice, such as soybean
  • 21 ounces coconut oil
  • 3 ounces cocoa butter
  • 12 ounces potassium hydroxide lye
  • 36 ounces distilled water (to mix with lye)
  • 120 ounces distilled water (to dilute the soap after cooking)


  1. Put on your goggles, gloves, and safety clothing. Working in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, place the distilled water in a pot, then add the lye.
  2. Insulate the pot with a towel because the mixture will get very hot and almost boil.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Heat the oils and cocoa butter to around 120 degrees.Your water mixture and your oil mixture should be the same temperature when you combine them.
  5. When they are the same temperature, add the oil to the water and mix for a couple of minutes with the stick blender, moving the blender around the pot to incorporate all of the mixture.
  6. Let rest for five minutes, then stir again with the stick blender.
  7. Let rest for 10 minutes and repeat the cycle again, continuing until trace occurs. This is when the soap gets thick like pudding, and the surface holds droplets for a second when you drip soap down on it.
  8. Put the soap in the top of your double boiler, filling the bottom with water to the same level as the soap is in the top pot.
  9. Heat the water to boiling and check regularly that the water level doesn't drop - add more hot water as needed.
  10. Stir the soap well every 15 minutes or so. You'll see globs of soap and separated oil, but just keep mixing. After the first half hour you can stir less often, as it will take four to eight hours before the soap is ready.
  11. The soap is done when it is transparent, gel-like, and all of the liquid has been incorporated. Make sure you stir really well, turning over the mixture from top to bottom and scraping the sides so you are sure there is no liquid left.
  12. Dilute the soap with 120 ounces of boiling distilled water and mix well.
  13. Put the soap mass in your bucket.
  14. Insulate the bucket completely, including the bottom, with towels or blankets.
  15. Allow the mixture to sit and cure.
  16. Stir once every hour or so for the first four to eight hours, then less often as the soap dilutes.

It should be finished in two or three days. You know it's done when it is all smooth. If the soap isn't all dissolved in three days, add more boiling water. When you are finished, test your soap to make sure it's been diluted enough. If the soap stings or burns your hands, you'll need to add more water and allow it to cure for several more days.

Tips for Liquid Soap Making

  • Use a moisturizing brand of soap for richer liquid hand soap.
  • Avoid using bar soap that contains artificial fragrance or coloring, as these can be irritating to your skin.
  • Using distilled, de-mineralized or rainwater gives your hand soap the best clarity. Tap water tends to make it cloudy.
  • Collect leftover scraps and slivers of soap and use these to make your hand soap. Hotel soaps would work just as well.
  • Never leave your soap-making area unattended, especially if you have children or pets in the house.
  • Put aside a set of kitchen tools, like a grater, spoons, measuring cups, and bowls, to be used just for soap making. This is especially important if you're making soap from scratch, as you don't want the ingredients from soap to get into your food.

Using Liquid Soap

Once this process is done you can bottle the liquid soap up in store-bought dispensers. Give it away as gifts or use in your home. Homemade liquid soap can be much more natural than the stuff you get in the stores and can be gentler on your skin as well. It sounds like a very time-consuming process to make liquid soap, but once you have tried it you'll be glad you did.

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Making Liquid Soap