3 steps to make your own artisan soaps

3 steps to make your own artisan soaps

Our ancestors made soap by mixing old oils and ash water. By improving this process, you can make all kinds of artisan soaps.

3 steps to make your own artisan soaps

Step 1: Add the soda

Making soap is not complicated (many grandmothers could attest!): Just have an appropriate recipe and follow it to the letter. In addition to the proper ingredients to make the soap, rubber gloves, a mask, and plastic goggles are required to protect against the vapors generated by caustic soda when mixed with water. To avoid any risk, it is best to make the soap outdoors.

The solid oils (coconut oil, shea butter …) are weighed into jars and unmade different glass to the bath. Meanwhile, the water is weighed in a hard plastic bottle and the caustic soda indicated in the recipe is poured into it, always little by little and stirring well. 

Step 2: Add the oils

The soda is allowed to cool for half an hour. The liquid oils (olive or almond for example) are weighed and placed in a plastic basin, also adding the solid oils already melted.

Add the water little by little with the caustic soda and mix well with a mixer.

Step 3: fill the molds

When the mixture has a texture similar to that of a custard, it is poured into the chosen molds and, if desired, a few drops of essential oils or decorative elements (petals, seeds, spices …) are added.

Cover with a cloth and let it rest for a month in a dry and ventilated place. 


Washing and refreshing our hands is a common gesture that can remind us of the fragrance that soaps “from before” left on our skin. Creating handmade soaps allows you to recover those textures and soft essences.

The three basic components of soap are: water, one or more fatty elements (such as olive oil or shea butter) and sodium hydroxide (better known as caustic soda, which is highly corrosive).

How is it possible that mixing these three ingredients makes a delicate bar of soap? The secret is in the saponification process.

“When soda is mixed with water, a chemical reaction occurs that breaks the water molecules. When they are” open “it is used to pour the oil. With the saponification process, the soda disappears little by little and the water molecules join together again., preserving inside the properties of the oils used “, explains Nuria Scribes, one of the people in charge of Sabon Aire, a company of artisan soaps.


But for the result to be as expected, the precise amounts of these three ingredients must be used. “If too much sodium hydroxide remains in the soap, it can irritate the skin; while an excess of oil will result in a soft and pasty soap, which can go rancid”, warns Melinda Cuss in her manual ‘The handmade soap book’ (Ed. Pidotimod).

Considering that each type of oil requires a specific amount of caustic soda, it is not a trivial matter. Therefore, to start making natural soap, it is highly recommended to use a good manual and follow the recipes and proportions indicated in it.

An internet tool (calc. Mendrulandia.es) indicates the amounts of water and caustic soda based on the amounts and types of oil. It is usually started with simple preparations, such as Castile soap, made with olive oil, distilled water and caustic soda, to which coconut oil can be added so that the tablet makes a little more foam.

Once the ingredients have been mixed, it must be left to rest for at least a month so that the caustic soda is completely eliminated. “It is crucial to respect this time because, if not, when using it you could burn yourself”, warns Nuria Scribes. When you master the technique a little, you can take advantage of the properties of different types of oil (sesame, sunflower, jojoba …) to make moisturizing, emollient, regenerating, nourishing, antiseptic soaps.


Once the mixture is obtained, it is time to shape the soap bar. You can choose from a wide variety of molds: silicone molds (such as muffin baking pans) and plastic lunch boxes are good options. Tetrabrachs cut in half or a wooden box lined inside with plastic can also be recycled.

The soap can be adorned with dried flowers, aromatic plants, orange or lemon zest, coffee grounds, clays, poppy seeds … This small handicraft can be transformed into a nice personalized gift or a decorative element in the bathroom.

If a large mold is used to cut the bars of soap, it should be borne in mind that the optimal time to do it is two days after making the mixture: then it has gained some consistency but, at the same time, it can be cut easily. It is vital to wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from the caustic soda that is still in the soap.


Another simpler way is to melt glycerin in a water bath and add the desired ingredients (essential oils, dyes such as curry or cocoa powder …).

These translucent soaps can be used once they have cooled down (no need to wait a month). But since the bases are usually industrial formulas, the result is not so natural.


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