5 Ways to make Natural Handmade Soap

5 Ways to make Handmade Soap
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You don’t always need to handle lye to make soap

There are a number of ways to make handmade soap. Some are ‘from-scratch’ methods and others give you ways to cut down on time and avoid having to handle lye. Each method has their pros and cons and are better for some purposes than others. That means that if you’d like, you could use a number of them in your soap making hobby or business. The sky’s the limit when it comes to getting crafty making soap.

5 Ways to make Handmade Soap

Cold-process soap scented with Rose-geranium essential oil and naturally colored purple using Alkanet root

1. Cold Process Soap Making

Pros: full control over ingredients
Cons: requires lye and soap need 4-6 weeks to cure before they can be used

The method that I use in my soap making business is called Cold-Process. You begin with whole ingredients including oils, dried flowers, essential oils, and lye and through the wizardry of creative chemistry they’re transformed into handmade soap.


What I love about Cold Process is that I’m making ‘from-scratch’ and that there are so many ways to naturally color and scent your bars. If you’re interested in learning more, links to my free 4-part soap making are below.

Free Natural Soap Making for Beginners Series

1. Ingredients
2. Equipment & Safety
3. Basic Recipes and Formulating Your Own
4. The Soap Making Process: Make, Mould, and Cure

5 Ways to make Natural Handmade Soap

2. Rebatched Soap

Pros: no lye required, recycles scraps so reduces wastage, can help salvage soap batches that have gone wrong
Cons: the texture might be very rustic in appearance — lumpy and without a consistent texture

If you have scraps of soap, either from bars you’ve made or ones you’ve bought, you can melt them into new bars. To do this, use a cheese grater to shred your soap and then melt it gently in a slow-cooker.

To melt it, you’ll need to add just enough liquid to your shredded soap to get it coated with moisture. A little goes a long way and you can use water, milk, tea, or coconut milk. Using ‘milks’ is said to smooth the texture of the rebatched soap so that it isn’t lumpy. When it’s melted, pour into moulds and allow to harden before cutting it into bars.

If you rebatch old soap, you can use the bars right away. If it’s a new cold-process batch that hasn’t had the chance to cure then you will need to cure the soap before using it.

5 Ways to make Handmade Soap

5 Ways to make Handmade Soap

3. Melt and Pour Soap

Pros: no lye required, easy and quick, can be made with kids, and can be used right away
Cons: less control over the ingredients, not 100% handmade

Melt-and-Pour Soap comes in either cubes or blocks and you can choose from clear (glycerin) soap, goat milk soap, and standard oil based soap. To use it, all you do is cut it into small pieces and melt it either in the microwave or over low heat. When it’s melted you can add scents, flowers, color, and extra oils and then pour it into moulds.

As soon as it’s hardened, you can pop the bars out of the moulds and use them. You can also layer them like the soap below — three different batches of soap with chamomile flowers embedded in the clear layer. Here’s where you can buy Melt and Pour Soap:

Organic Clear Melt & Pour Soap Base
Goat Milk Melt & Pour Soap Base
Oatmeal Melt & Pour Soap Base

 5 Ways to make Natural Handmade Soap

Melt & pour soap with calendula flowers (click image for recipe)

4. Hot Process Soap

Pros:  control over ingredients, less curing time
Cons: takes longer to make than cold-process soap and bars might also be rustic in appearance

Hot-process and Cold-process soap making are very similar in that you can use the same recipe for both. The difference is that hot process is generally made in a slow cooker and takes a lot more time and diligence than cold-process.

When it’s finished, the soap is poured into moulds, allowed to harden, and then cured. Though many sources say that you don’t need to cure hot-process, you should really allow it to cure for at least a week. This is mainly to allow excess water to evaporate out.

The look of hot process soap is generally rustic and textured — if you want smooth bars, stick with cold-process or melt-and-pour.

Here’s a great guide to Hot Process Soap Making.

5 Ways to make Handmade Soap

Hot Process soap courtesy of Madaise

5. Liquid Soap

Pros:  Liquid soap can be conveniently put into pump and squeezy bottles
Cons: More complicated than making cold process soap

The main difference between cold-process soap recipes and liquid soap recipes is the type of Lye that’s used. In cold/hot process you use Sodium hydroxide and for liquid soap making you use Potassium hydroxide. A lot more of it than you would expect too — while cold and hot process generally have less lye than is required for the oils in the recipe, liquid soap needs 10% more than is required!

This excess lye needs to be neutralized in the soap making process which makes things a little more complicated. For an easier way to make liquid soap, I have a tutorial on how to grate bar soap and liquify it using water. It’s quick, easy, and it’s a great way to make use of soap scraps.

5 Ways to make Handmade Soap

An easier way to make liquid soap involves grating and melting bars of soap with water

Interested in learning more? Browse all soap recipes on Lovely Greens

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8 Discussion to this post

  1. Organic Handmade Soap says:

    Fun, frugal, and infinitely practical, soap making is an art form where the potential ingredient combinations are practically endless. Using naturally skin-nourishing components, handcrafted soaps are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial oils that won’t’ dry out your epidermis like store-bought soaps have a tendency to do.

  2. irene blackwell says:

    Hi Tanya, just would like to know if the soaps as safe to use on face ?

  3. Erric says:

    Making natural soap is great, and producing your own soap is enjoyable and hassle-free to learn. What’s great is that homemade soap is all natural; there aren’t nasty chemicals in it.

    Soap you buy from the shop is classed in the form of “synthetic detergent”, it’s not real soap it’s created from chemicals and is mass produced.

    When you start making natural soap it’s vital that you learn the basic principles.

  4. Dana says:

    I am looking for a shampoo bar recipe for naturally curly hair. Do you have any suggestions?

    • lovelygreens says:

      Hi Dana — I don’t have any to recommend on my site and I’ve actually not tested the shampoo bars I’ve made on curly hair. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I love this article! I have been wanting to make my own soap for a while now. I didn’t realize there were so many ways to make your own. Thanks for writing this and sharing! Keep up the good work! 🙂

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