How to Make Natural Liquid Soap from Bar Soap

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The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here’s how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap

The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe

Have you ever wanted to try making your own natural shower gel, liquid hand soap, or whipped soap at home? Making them from scratch involves a relatively complex process that the average person might shy away from. It can take time, involve the use of lye (potassium hydroxide), and requires diligence and testing. It can also be expensive. Fortunately, there’s an easier and cheaper way to make liquid soap. All you need is a bar of soap, or soap scraps, and distilled water.

This method of making liquid soap should only be used within the home and not sold. Though a preservative is always a good idea with skincare products that contain water, this liquid soap is fine to use without one, permitting that it’s used within a month.

The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
Use bar soap to create three different types of liquid soap

Liquid Soap Ingredients

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 the home makes sense. For yourself, you could begin with a full bar of soap, be it handmade, natural, or even bars purchased from the shop. Some of these are detergent-based but they’ll work as well as real soap.

The other main ingredient you’ll need is distilled water. Tap water varies from region to region and hard water or water filled with chlorine or other agents can introduce impurities. If you can’t find distilled water, you could also use bottled water but probably avoid mineral water.

The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
You can use a bar of soap for this recipe or soap scraps that you’ve saved up

How to Make Liquid Soap from Bar Soap

  • 120g (4.2 oz) bar soap or soap scraps
  • Distilled water
  1. Grate or cut your soap into small pieces and place into a saucepan. 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 3% 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 you can use it immediately. If you have sudsy bubbles in your mixture don’t worry, they’ll, for the most part, settle back into the soap.
The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
Bar soap will turn to mush in water, and you can use what results as liquid soap

Notes on preservatives: Any product that contains water can be an environment for bacteria to thrive. 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 a month without preservatives.

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The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
A smaller ratio of water to soap will give you a type of whipped soap

How to Make Whipped Soap

  • You’ll need 360ml distilled water (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 that you could use as a shaving soap. 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 few seconds, it will look just like whipped soap

The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
Shower Gel Recipe: This is what you’ll have after letting the mixture sit for around 12-24 hours.
The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
This is what it looks like after a minute of stirring it up

Make Liquid Shower Gel

  • You’ll need 1080ml of distilled water (equivalent to 4.5 cups or 38 fluid oz)

Because natural handmade soap doesn’t use artificial foaming agents (SLS/SLES) the lather with this handmade shower gel is fine. Similar to castile soap later if you’ve used that before. The consistency of the ratio of 1:9 (soap to water) makes for a thickened liquid soap that will suit being stored in a squeezy bottle.

The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
Liquid soap made from bar soap has low-lather

Make Liquid Hand Soap

  • You’ll need 1440ml of distilled water (equivalent to 6 cups or 50 fluid oz)

Stretch that a single bar of soap into about 1.5 liters/quarts of liquid hand soap with this water amount. 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 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.

The easiest way to make liquid soap is by starting with a bar of soap. Here's how to do it, including creating three consistencies of natural liquid soap #soapmaking #naturalhome #soaprecipe
Making real liquid soap is time-consuming but well worth the effort

Make Real Liquid Soap

Making liquid soap from bar soap is one of 3 ways to make homemade liquid soap. This method easily creates liquid soap but there are drawbacks. The soap will always be cloudy, the lather unpredictable, and some people aren’t keen on the texture. It’s a bit goopy and stringy but honestly, it does the job!

If you’re interested in learning how to make real liquid soap from scratch, head over here to learn more. Real liquid soap has fluffier lather and is a lot more like what you’re used to. It’s an advanced soap making recipe but if you’ve made soap before, I’m confident you could master this too.

Lovely Greens Natural Soapmaking for Beginners Course

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  1. Haritha Krishnan says:

    Hi. Can someone pl help me. Once the mixture comes to room temperature the water and soap seperates. What am i doing wrong

  2. Hi Tanya and all
    I tried your hand soap ratio and it was great!
    The only annoying thing is that when you push it through the dispenser, a continuous line of soap will keep stretching from the nozzle to your hand.
    Could someone help me with this please.
    Thanks again …

  3. Hi – this is great thanks! I tried the liquid soap and I think I need to experiment a bit more – it went super solid! I ended up whipping it a bit to soften it up but it was very solid – any tips on what I might have done wrong? :)

    1. It will depend on the bar of soap that you use — is it natural handmade soap or a bar you bought at the shop? If it’s too solid, the way to fix it is to add more water.

  4. Caramellz says:

    J’ai suivi vos bons conseils et ça très bien fonctionné. j’en ai même mis un peu dans mon lave-vaisselle et ca super bien fonctionné. Merci d’avoir partagé ce bon truc pour éviter le gaspillage.

  5. this is awesome :) I have been looking for something like this for several years. I am sooooooo excited to try this. thank you

  6. I make my own handmade soap as well and wanted to convert it to liquid hand soap so I finally tried and it turned out like water. I read on another blog to heat 8ozs of water to a boil then add to tablespoons of salt to that mixture then add small amounts to the mixture and it will thicken. Well it worked. It is thick now. I just wonder if it compromised my soap at all. Have you ever added salt to yours to thicken and do you think it changes the soap quality?

    1. There’s a stage when making liquid soap that it seems very watery but if you give it a day or so it will firm up. As for salt, no I haven’t tried this yet but if you have a good experience trying it out yourself please give us an update? Thanks and good luck!

      1. Update: I did wait 2 days and it did not change consistency (maybe it was due to me putting it in a bottle right away and not letting it sit out to cool in the pot)-not sure. Either way, the salt works! It turned out great, the consistency is just like if you were to buy from a store. It even suds when rubbing together in your hands (some people complain homemade liquid soap doesn’t sud). So yes, adding salt works-but I do not know if it at all compromises the soap quality-I can only assume not since others do it and also since there are sea salt soaps out there being made and sold.

  7. Tanya,
    I like that you use your own homemade soaps to produce the liquid soaps. But making your own liquid soaps from scratch using potassium hydroxide, can be quite inexpensive. And one six pound batch can last for quite some time. I would be happy to discuss this with you!

    1. Yes this is the 'proper' way of making liquid soap! Grating a bar and mixing it with water is an alternative that's easier for the average person to do.

  8. Evie@best antifungal soap says:

    Nice post I love to used home made product and last 5 years I used antibacterial shower soap for skin care
    I read this post and I like this section natural handmade soap doesn't use artificial foaming agents (SLS/SLES) the lather is fine and composed of countless tiny bubbles.

  9. 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?


  10. Anonymous says:

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

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

  12. 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

  13. Evie Dawson says:

    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.

  14. 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?

  15. Anonymous says:

    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.

  16. Anonymous says:

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

  17. 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.

    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.

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

    1. 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???

    2. 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 :)

    3. 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!

  19. 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?

    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.

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

    1. I have this problem with my scalp. I have tried every shampoo & medications available. Very little success. But now I have finally found something that works, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR! After I’ve shampooed & conditioned I pour the VINEGAR on my scalp & leave it in.

  21. Anonymous says:

    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.

  22. Anonymous says:

    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.

    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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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??

    1. Alan Thompson says:

      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.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Agreed with others regarding anti-bacterial soap. I avoid them at all costs.

    3. I use to sell cleaning chemicals and industrial supplies to hospitals and other industries. Studies show that washing you hands for 10 seconds using a basic soap, will kill 99% of all germs. The need for anti bacterial soap is necessary in a hospital.

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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?

    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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

    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.

  30. 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

  31. 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….?

    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!