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Homemade Soap Recipes & Soapmaking Tips

You might want to make your own homemade soap because you want to avoid certain ingredients in store-bought soap, or because it saves money, or just for the fun of mixing your own scents and molding them into decorative shapes.

Making soap from scratch isn’t a simple process, and you will need to be careful with some ingredients. Make sure you understand the dangers and how to avoid them before you start.

Soap making methods

Melt and Pour

This is the simplest method, but it can be used to make the most complex and artsy soaps. You just melt a pre-made soap base, add in any other ingredients you want, pour it into a mold, and let it cool and harden.

The way this method can get complex is when you’re making layers and decorative elements to make an amazing-looking soap. (See the Mermaid Soap in the recipes below.)

Bars of homemade soap in a pile

Cold Process

This process involves making a soap base from scratch. In short, you mix lye with an oil or fat, add in some other ingredients, and watch it become soap.

It’s one of the more popular processes, but also one of the more complicated ones. It gives you total control over all the ingredients in the soap, which might be one of the reasons people like it.

For more info on Cold Process, check out this page.

Hot Process

It’s basically like the cold process, except with heat. The heat speeds up the process, and you can use a microwave, mini crockpot or oven.


You can start with “rebatching” your own soap, using another soap (like Ivory, which already has the lye) as a base. Start with a smallish batch of homemade soap right in your blender, following the instructions here. You can also make liquid soap in a blender.

Whatever method you choose, here’s where it gets fun: the soap recipes. You can get very creative with the ingredients.

Anything you want to use for scent is fine, but you can also put in ingredients like milk and honey or coffee grinds (great for exfoliation). You may also want to be aware of how certain oils help your skin.

Woman making homemade soap

Soap Making Gear

If you’re totally new to making handmade soap, you may want to start off with a soap making kit. They make everything simple and self-contained.

If you’d rather learn from scratch, you’ll need some supplies, all of which you can get from Amazon with the following links:

  • Lye, if you plan on making soaps from scratch. The sodium hydroxide form of lye makes harder soaps that dissolve less easily in water. Potassium hydroxide lye makes soap softer and more easily dissolved.
  • Again, it’s much simpler to use a melt and pour soap base, and they come in so many types, like shea butter, oatmeal and goats’ milk glycerine.
  • Liquid soap dye. Add a few drops of these to your soap bars to change their color.
  • Soap Molds. You can get these in so many different shapes and patterns. It’s a really fun way to make your soap bars even more personal – especially if you’re gifting them.
  • Soap Cutters. If you prefer to make one big block of soap and then cut it into bars, soap cutters are the tool for you. It’s much easier than working with a knife.
Homemade soap being cut by butcher knife

Creating your own

Making soap at home can be a very fun and rewarding hobby. Once you’ve made a few batches from recipes, you get a feel for how it’s done and then you can create your own soap recipes.

If you enjoy making your own soap, you might want to learn how to make glue at home!

Decorative soap bars can be great as gifts, too (and much less expensive, and more thoughtful, than pretty bars from stores).

Homemade Soap Recipes

The following DIY soap recipes vary in difficulty. Not all of them use lye. Some of them are simple re-batching or "melt and pour" recipes which are more suitable if you want to keep it simple. Others are cold process soap recipes, which lets you make fantastic-looking layered or ombre bars.