One of my little treats to myself is using organic, homemade soap. I can choose the ingredients for my sensitive skin, and it’s really not a difficult process. Natural soaps can be quite pricey, but it’s easy enough to do at home with rather basic kitchen tools. I like using the “crockpot method” of making soap, as it is quick and easy. If you have an afternoon off, you have time to make soap.
To keep things simple, I only use two oils, coconut and olive oil. I make a batch that fits in a standard slow-cooker, and don’t mess around with adding extra scents or other ingredients. So, what you’ll find here is a beginner-friendly, very basic intro-to-soapmaking sort of recipe. After decades of making my own soap at home, I still like this super-basic soap the best.
Note that this recipe uses lye and things get hot; keep kids and pets safely out of the area, and use proper skin and eye protection yourself. When mixing lye with water, sprinkle lye on top, and do NOT pour the water on top of the lye. Aside from that, use standard kitchen safety sense, and you’re good to go.
Time to gather up your supplies!
- slow cooker
- long-handled metal spoon
- rubber gloves (e.g., yellow dishwashing gloves)
- three large plastic cups (marked “water,” “lye,” and “oil”)
- glass jar (quart canning jar)
- stick blender
- safety glasses (or sunglasses)
- kitchen scale (digital is best)
- bottle of vinegar (to neutralize spills, just in case)
- soap mold (I use a rectangular silicone cake pan, but a shallow box lined with parchment paper’s fine)
- large knife or scraper to cut soap bars
- parchment paper
- 16 ounces coconut oil
- 16 ounces olive oil
- 4.844 ounces lye
- 12.16 ounces water
- Use plastic cup to measure oils into slow cooker. Heat on high. When hot, turn down to low.
- Measure lye and water into SEPARATE cups.
- Move to a well ventilated area, or (better) do this step outside. Add water to glass jar, THEN SLOWLY SPRINKLE LYE ON THE WATER. Do NOT pour water onto lye, as it will react too quickly and that could be dangerous. It’s gonna heat up, so be very careful. Keep kids and pets well out of the area while you work!
- Stir water-lye mixture carefully with metal spoon. It will become cloudy. Let it cool ten minutes; it should become clear as it cools.
- Slowly pour lye-water mixture into the hot oils. Stir carefully with spoon until evenly mixed, then blend with stick blender 4-5 minutes (until opaque and starting to thicken)
- Cover and keep on low heat to thicken. After about 30-35 minutes, it should be thick and bubbly, and sides will start to collapse in when done.
- Remove from heat and spoon into mold, smoothing top. Cover mold with parchment paper.
- When cool, cut into bars.
- Let them harden for at least 24 hours (or a couple weeks first to make the bars last longer).
- I like to wrap the individual bars in squares of parchment paper
Rinse the plastic cup and the jar used for lye before recycling. The crockpot, spoon, and blender should clean up easily in hot water, as they are now just covered with your great soap.
For more complex recipes and further instruction, you may want to check out these other soap-making articles as well: