How To Make Soap: Making Lye Soap, Bath Soap and Laundry Soap

When most people think of how to make soap, one of the first ingredients that come to mind is lye. Luckily, you no longer need to make your own as online soap and candle making stores sell lye. Some hardware stores also carry lye so you can easily get the essential soap ingredient.

Making Lye Based Soap

Photo courtesy of Sonjasun

Safety is important when making this type of soap since lye is an irritant. When it comes into direct contact with the skin or eyes, it can burn and cause irritation.

The main ingredients needed for a beginner’s simple lye-based soap are:

  • 7 fluid ounces ice-cold water
  • 4.4 ounces lye
  • 2 pounds lard
  • Essential oils of choice
  • Pot
  • Knife
  • 2 quart or larger mixing bowl
  • Wooden or plastic spoon
  • Glass jar
  • Kitchen thermometer
  • Scale
  • Mold, a large plastic container in which to pouring the mixture
  • Vinegar
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Rags

One aspect to making soap safely requires that you work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors when mixing the lye solution. Put on safety goggles and gloves before starting, and then follow these steps:

  • Place the glass jar of ice-cold water on a flat, solid surface. Slowly pour in the lye and mix thoroughly. The lye will heat up the water, so once it is fully dissolved, leave the mixture to cool. Never reverse these steps, the water must always be in the jar first.
  • Heat the lard in the pit to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the lye solution is cool, around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, add it to the lard. Slowly stir it into the large mixing bowl until you get a consistency of a pudding or a slurpee. To get the right mixture, you will need to stir constantly for 30 minutes or more.
  • Add essential oils if you want scented soap.
  • Place the mixture into a mold and let it set until hard, which can take several days.
  • Once it is hard turn out of the mold and cut into bars with a knife.
  • Place in a container and leave to age for 4 weeks.

That is the simple answer to how to make your own soap. The trick with this recipe is to use the right amount of lye as too much will result in a greasy soap. Some soap makers will cut the soap into bars after setting for four to six hours while still in the mold. Use the vinegar to help clean containers and utensils, as it is especially useful for neutralizing lye, which may have spilled. You should keep utensils and containers together and use them only for this purpose.

How to Make Soap With Washing Soda


Another popular soap making technique calls for using washing soda. A simple approach for making soap, the three most important ingredients are:

  • A bar of soap of your choice
  • Washing soda
  • Borax powder

These ingredients are necessary for making both liquid and powder washing soda soap.

Other items to have on hand before starting are:

  • A 2-gallon bucket
  • Large sauce pan

When making bar soap, you should:

  • Grate the bar of soap to make 2 cups
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax powder

Place the washing soda and borax powder together in bowl and stir together. Using a food processor will reduce everything to a fine powder and the soap should remain in a covered jar.

How to make soap of the liquid/gel variety requires:

  • 2 cups grated bar soap
  • 1 quart water
  • 2-gallons water
  • 2 cups borax powder
  • 2 cups washing soda

To create this fluid soap:

  • Bring the 1 quart of water to a boil
  • Add grated soap to boiling water and stir until soap melts
  • Pour melted soap into the pail and add borax and washing soda
  • Continue stirring until everything is dissolved
  • Add 2 gallons water and stir to combine
  • When cool, add essential oils to provide a scent
  • Keep the liquid/gel soap in a pail with a tight cover. Always stir it before you use it.

A number of other methods and tips are available on how to make soap. Some are specific to bar, liquid or powered soap, but all of them use the same basic ingredients. Finding the right combination of scents and ingredients is a matter of time and experimentation.

Return from How To Make Soap to Old Time Skills
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Print This Page

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below. Webutation