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How to Make Homemade Soap – 4 Methods

You might want to make 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 the old-fashioned way isn’t a simple process, but there are easier methods now. We’re going to go over all four types of soap you can make here. And we have lots of homemade soap recipes for you.

How to Make Homemade Soap: 4 Methods

The first thing you need to know is there are several different ways to make soap. You can use a melt and pour base, cold process or hot process. Rebatching is another option. You don’t have to learn to make soap from scratch if it’s more complicated than you want.

Hands adding soap base to beaker


Melt and Pour

This is the easiest method to make soap without lye. If you are new to making handmade soap, starting with a pre-made melt and pour base is the simplest method.

Melt and pour bases are already made for you so all you have to do is melt them down, add soap colorant and fragrances. Then you pour the soap mixture into molds and let it cool and harden.

These bases offer many different oils to choose from. They bases can be made with coconut oil, goat’s milk, olive oil, shea butter, honey or simple glycerine or castille. Some are designed to be extra moisturizing, others extra creamy.

They are the easiest way to make handmade soap without having to worry about working with lye. It’s ideal if you’re making soap for the first time. But you can still make complex, beautiful soaps with this method.

The way this method can get complex is when you’re making layers and decorative elements to make an amazing-looking soap.

Cold Process Soap

This process involves making a soap base from scratch. In short, you mix the lye with an oil or fat, add in some other ingredients like water and milk, and let it cure for several weeks. If you’re hoping to use your soap soon, this is not the right method.

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.

If you want to use lye, you have to learn how to handle lye, how to pour the lye, and the amount of lye you’ll need for your recipe.

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

Hot Process Soap

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

The hot process handmade soap making method is a great way to make your own soap at home. You heat the soap ingredients to melt them down, then you add the lye solution and mix everything together. Once the soap has cooled, it can be cut into bars and used immediately.

It’s more time-consuming than cold process soap making, but it results in a bar of soap that is ready to use right away.


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.

Pouring melted soap into molds

Soap Making Gear

If you’re a beginner soap maker, 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 silicone molds 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 the finished soap into bars, soap cutters are the tool for you. It’s much easier to cut the soap this way than with a knife.
  • Fragrance Oil. Many handmade soap recipes call for essential oils for fragrance, so start collecting scents you love.

Homemade soap being cut by butcher knife

Creating your own soap recipes

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).