Anyone can make herbal soap at home, with ingredients that are readily available in any grocery store or supermarket. Photo courtesy of flickr user nico paix.
Herbal Soap Making has become very popular in recent times, although herbal soaps have been pushed out of the spotlight somewhat since the invention of synthetic soap making processes, which tend to yield a more consistent and cheaper product.
However, there are still many reasons to make your own herbal soap. You have control over the quality of the ingredients you use, so you know what the quality of your final product will be, and you can customize your soap any way you like. You can ensure that only natural ingredients are used, and minimize the environmental impact from waste materials for at least your own soap consumption. Handmade soaps make great inexpensive and unique gifts, and are a great alternative for people who find that commercial soap products are often too harsh for dry or sensitive skin. Perhaps most importantly, making your own soap will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Anyone can make their own herbal soap, with ingredients that are readily available in any grocery or soapmaking supply shop. With the ease and convenience of internet shopping, it’s now even easier to get the exact ingredients you want. It’s important to make two or three small batches of soap, before trying a large batch, because if you are unfamiliar with the recipe or the procedure, you may get unexpected results. Doing several practice batches will also help you determine the best time to add ingredients, pour the soap into molds, etcetera. (Learn more about the various soap making methods here).
If you want to get started making your own herbal soap, here is a basic set of instructions that will give you an idea of what the process involves. Remember, sodium hydroxide, or lye, is a caustic substance that can burn skin or other materials, can be harmful or fatal if ingested or splashed in the eyes, and releases toxic fumes when it is mixed with water. So make sure that you are wearing the proper protective equipment (see below) and that you are working in a very well-ventilated area (preferably outside).
(For a more detailed understanding of soap making equipment, read this first).
*Glass or cup
*Mortar and pestle
*Cheese cloth or strainer
*Stainless steel cookpot
*Protective equipment (goggles, gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes, apron)
(For a detailed understanding of the basics of soap making ingredients, read this first)
*8.3 oz. palm oil
*5.5 oz. palm kernel oil
*6.4 oz. coconut oil
*2.3 oz. cocoa butter
*11 oz. olive oil
*2.8 oz. castor oil
*4.6 oz. soybean oil
*5 oz. sunflower oil
*6.4 oz. lye (5% superfat)
*13 oz. water
*4-8 tsp. steeped green tea leaves
*1 oz. eucalyptus essential oil
*1 oz. lemongrass essential oil
*Yellow and green colorants (optional)
(To better understand the soap making process, read this first)
1. Heat the water to boiling, and double-steep the green tea leaves in it.
2. Let the tea cool completely; you may want to refrigerate it to cool it faster. (It is very important to make sure the tea is completely cool, because the lye and water will create a significant amount of heat when mixed, and you don’t want the mixture to boil over.)
3. Strain the leaves out of the tea, and set them aside.
4. Don protective equipment.
5. Mix the lye into the cold tea very, very slowly, and set it aside to cool.
6. Measure and heat your solid oils until completely melted. Measure and add the liquid oils to the melted solid oils.
7. When both the lye and the oils are at about 100-110 °F, slowly pour the lye solution into the oils.
8. Stir with a stick blender, alternating short blasts with the blender and stirring.
9. Mix the soap until it reaches a light trace. At trace, add in the lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oils, and the tea leaves; mix them into the soap thoroughly.
10. Pour the raw soap into your mold and let it sit for 12-24 hours until it has cooled off completely and is hard enough to cut.
11. Remove it from the mold and slice into bars. Let it cure an additional 2-4 weeks.
12. Package as desired, and voila, your very own handmade herbal soap!
If you have any trouble with the above recipe, please see our post on troubleshooting common problems with soap making.
Take the next step
Download our FREE ebook, ‘How To Make Soap At Home’, by clicking here.