How to Make Your Own Soap
We all use soap but a lot of the soaps and body washes out there can do more harm than good to your skin and your overall health. Our favorite solution? Homemade soap!
The other soaps
Many soaps are antibacterial, containing harmful chemicals like triclosan that aren’t good for your body or for the environment. These wipe out the beneficial bacteria on your skin, plus overuse of antibacterials is a big factor in the spread of ‘superbugs’ that are resistant to antibiotics.
Less worrisome, but still not ideal, is the fact that some soaps leave a film or residue on your skin. This definitely isn’t going to leave you feeling clean and may even cause breakouts or other skin issues. Finally, a majority of soaps and especially body washes contain potentially toxic fragrances, parabens and sulfates.
According to Healthy Women, when you see the word “fragrance” on an ingredient list, that can refer to a blend of chemicals or a variety of different substances they aren’t required to break down so it’s hard to know what is included. Parabens, used as preservatives, can mimic estrogen, throwing your hormones out of whack and they have been linked to skin and breast cancers. Sulfates are chemicals that are used in soap blends to make the lather and they can be a serious skin irritant.
In addition to the negative impact of antibacterial ingredients on the environment, many body washes contain microbeads, which are also terrible for the planet.
Microbeads are often added to body washes as exfoliants. These microscopic plastic beads wash down the drain and wind up in our waterways. Because they are so small, they are often missed by water filtration systems.
According to Greatist, microbeads “tend not to be filtered out in sewage treatment—meaning they’re directly released into waterways.” Over time, these beads have become a major source of plastic polluting our environment. They have been found in the bellies of fish and other aquatic creatures. In some areas, microbeads have been banned from personal care products, but in many places, they are still available.
The better option
Here at Activation Products, we’re always striving to find a way to do things the natural way. Check out our new favorite soap recipe, below. It’s easier than you’d think to make your own and you can rest assured that everything in it is safe for you, your family and the environment.
Milk Thistle Soap
Makes about 3 bars of soap (depending on the size of your mold).
2/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup sweet almond oil
2 tbsp Perfect Press® Milk Thistle Oil
¼ tbsp lye (aka sodium hydroxide)
¾ cups distilled or filtered water
15–20 drops of your favorite essential oils for scent
Optional: dried lavender, oatmeal, salts or coffee grinds for added texture and exfoliation.
Don’t hesitate to make a double or triple batch — your soap will keep until you’re ready to use it.
You will also need:
A mold. You can get these from soap-making supply companies but silicone muffin cups will do the trick too.
A 2–pint mason jar
A medium-sized pot (*see note)
An immersion blender
Latex gloves, old clothes (long sleeves and pants) and protective eyewear
Thermometer (suitable for cooking)
Note: We recommend reading these instructions all the way to the end before you begin.
- Measure water into the jar.
- Put on your gloves and eyewear and measure out your lye. Slowly pour the lye into the water, stirring as you pour. SAFETY NOTE: it is very important that you add the lye to the water and not the other way around.
- There will be a reaction and some fumes. Don’t fret. This is normal but stand back as far as possible to avoid them. Some soap makers wear surgical masks to avoid breathing them in. You may want to try this or you can this step outside if you are concerned about ventilation. No matter what, make sure the area is free of children, pets and any tripping hazards.
- When the water starts to clear, stop stirring and let it sit.
- In a medium-sized pot, place the coconut oil on low heat. Use your thermometer and heat the oil until it reaches 110°F. *You want your pot to be deep enough that the mixture won’t splatter up over the top when you blend, but narrow enough that your hand blender blades will be fully immersed in the liquid when you turn it on (total liquid volume will be a little less than 3 cups).
- Turn off the heat at this point, but let the coconut oil melt completely (gentle stirring may speed this up).
- Add the olive oil and sweet almond oil to the melted coconut oil. Stir.
- Slowly add the water and lye mixture to the oils, while manually stirring using the hand-held blender (the blender should be off while adding the lye and water mixture).
- Once the lye and water has been added, fully immerse your hand blender and turn it on. Pulse for bursts of 3–5 seconds. Repeat until the everything is completely blended.
- Add the essential oils and milk thistle oil, before the mixture gets too thick. Use a spoon to stir.
- Add any optional ingredients now. Stir with a spoon.
- Pour your soap into your molds and let stand for about 24 hours to harden.
- Pop your soap out of the molds and lather up!
A few benefits of the ingredients
Coconut Oil. Not only does coconut oil condition and soften your skin, but it can also work against any irritating skin issues you may be experiencing. According to Natural Living Ideas, “the antibacterial properties of coconut oil protect the skin from potential pathogens. More importantly, it can reduce the risk of bacterial infections worsening acne.” Coconut oil can generally work to reduce inflammation, helping with a variety of skin irritants, like burns.
Olive Oil. This is another oil that’s great for your skin. Allure says “olive oil is packed with anti-aging antioxidants and hydrating squalene, making it superb for hair, skin, and nails. Just like coconut oil, it’s an essential in any DIY beauty maven’s kit.”
Sweet Almond Oil. This oil is rich in nutrients. It’s packed with vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium, zinc and a number of other vitamins and minerals according to Natural Living Ideas.
Lye. This ingredient is key for cleansing. All Natural Skin Care says “When fats, water and lye are combined they undergo a chemical reaction referred to as saponification. The by-products of the saponification reaction are glycerin and soap – absolutely no lye is left in the soap.” This is a key component of homemade soap — it’s literally what makes soap, soap.
Milk Thistle Oil. The fatty acids and vitamin E found in milk thistle oil, according to AnnMarie Skin Care, “help shore up the skin’s natural moisture barrier. […] In addition to these effects, milk thistle also soothes and moisturizes. People with sensitive skin could benefit from milk thistle formulations.” Want to learn more about what milk thistle seed oil can do? Check out our Top 10 Benefits of Milk Thistle Seeds blog post.
Looking to make this recipe but don’t have any milk thistle oil? We’ve got you covered. Our Perfect Press® Milk Thistle Oil is pressed using organic, non-GMO seeds. Our Perfect Press Technology doesn’t use heat, so the nutritional value of our seeds aren’t compromised through pressing.
Making your own soap is easy.
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