Handmade Soap- Reducing Your Bathroom Plastics

Traveling through developing countries I was overwhelmed with the huge amounts of plastic pollution.  I hate plastic trash.  The beauty industry contributes to a large share of plastic packaging: body washes, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sun cream…    Creating handmade soap can help contribute to the reduction of all this plastic waste.

A barbar chair at Versova Beach, India with tied up boats docked on plastic trash
Haircut and shave in Versova Beach Mumbai, India

The next time you bathe, look around and see how many plastic bottles you are surrounded by.  And if overflowing plastic landfills aren’t bad enough, then they break down into micro-plastics, and the chemical residue gets absorbed in the environment.  Beauty bars and shampoo bars are a great way to reduce the amount of plastic in your bathroom and in the world.  This handmade soap recipe can make a big batch of beauty bars that will keep your bath stocked for months.

Traveling, hiking, and camping with a big leaky bottle of bath soap can be cumbersome and messy, and certain bathing opportunities are a bit more “natural.”  Another reason to move on to the naked alternative – handmade soap bars.

Having a quick bath in a watering hole in Central Kalahari Game reserve.  No soap contaminations allowed here.
Bathing in Botswana

Soap bars are available everywhere but may still have environmental impacts, animal testing, or cause skin sensitivities.  Our friend Paul started to dabble in the kitchen making soap for his personal use and I jumped at the opportunity to give it a try with him.  It is a basic recipe that will yield enough soap for a year. SaponiCalc- Soap Calculator App or www.soapcalc.net can help you perfect your personalized soap, quantifying ingredients based on your bathing preferences. I had never considered if I like a creamy or bubbly bar before???

This handmade soap recipe is for a firm olive oil and coconut oil soap bar with a rich lather (because who doesn’t love bubbles).

heart shaped silicone mold makes for a charming heart shapped handmade soap
The ingredients for handmade soap Coconut oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil, caustic soda, and distilled water



  • Scale
  • Glass or stainless steel mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Pot
  • Immersion blender
  • Silicone mold
The equipement to make homemade soap:  scale, thermometer, pot, bowl, blender stick, mold, and measuring cup


  1. Measure ingredients. 
  2. Oils in pot over low heat to 65°C.
  3. While oils heat on stove, add water to stainless steel bowl and CAUTIOUSLY add caustic soda slowly into bowl and mix gently with spoon. The reaction of the water and caustic soda turns hot. 
  4. Once oil is brought to temperature remove from heat, slowly add the caustic soda mixture into the oil. 
  5. With the immersion blender, mix the two together until all the ingredients are combined and thick, with the consistency of pudding. 
  6. Immediately pour the soap mix into the silicone mold. Scrape excess back into pot to fill additional molds. 
  7. Let cool and cover with cling wrap. 
  8. Leave in the mold for 3+ days.
  9. Take out of molds and let cure for up to 5 weeks at room temperature in box or board separated to dry the bars through completely.

After 5 weeks you will surely need a satisfying soap suds filled bath!!!  You have now made your own gorgeous, additive free, fragrance free, chemical free, environmentally friendly soap!

The Learning Curve

Q:  The coconut oil has been over blended and starts to congeal before being poured. 

A:  It will be more difficult to mold and will become flaky but can still be worked into the molds.

soap volcano

Q:  The soap has been poured and settled into the mold, then it starts bubbling out the middle and makes a soap volcano. 

A:  The mixture was too hot when poured into the mold.  Let it rest and shave off the top to make the mold look pretty.

http://www.soapqueen.com/ has really helpful advice, techniques, and inspiring bars.

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