I’m trying to discover ways to transition away from commercial shampoo and conditioners as many news and other media articles have enlightened us to the toxic effects that these chemical-laden products have not only on our hair and scalp, but also on the rest of our body as it runs down our backside into the drain. Even many of the “natural” shampoos and conditioners you find at your local health food outlet may have “questionable” ingredients that are borderline at best.

 bar soap 6-comp

I read this post recently, and realized how easy and cost-effective making my own soap would be! I am a novice at best, so having a basic recipe that I didn’t have to experiment with a whole lot was golden! I’ve discovered that I really like hot processed soap, as it cures more quickly than cold processed soap – and I lean more toward the impatient side of things.

Using shampoo bar soap vs. baking soda

When I was in high school (many moons ago), I heard other girls talking about using baking soda on their hair to “get it really clean”. I’ve since learned that baking soda has a clarifying effect on the hair, which is good to use on a bi-weekly basis if you use lots of product to keep your do up (hair do that is). I also overheard others who used vinegar as a rinse. I tried that too, and discovered that the distilled vinegar left my hair feeling dry and very difficult to comb through. I have long hair and not being able to comb through it is frustrating and painful.

Determining Your Method

There are many recipes and methods out there, which can all seem overwhelming if you’re new to soap making. I’ve included some links to other web sites and blog sites that I highly recommend you read through to get a feel for the other processes at the bottom of this article. These sites have basic recipes that are easy to follow, and would be great for a beginner to learn from. I’ve also added a few book titles as well.

Gather the Supplies

There may be an initial start up cost for the equipment and supplies you’ll need. I would recommend shopping at resale shops and thrift stores for many of these items, and then dedicate these items just to soap making. This way you’re not using your good kitchen equipment and having them get ruined. Alright! Here we go.


  • Cookware — stainless steel pot for melting oils
  • Crockpot — older models don’t heat as hot, which is a benefit
  • Digital scale
  • Stick blender
  • Glass measuring cups
  • Small glass bowls (for smaller measurements)
  • Long-handled wooden or plastic spoon
  • Rubber spatula
  • Metal ice cream spade
  • Funnel (for filling molds)
  • Pitcher filled with soapy vinegar mixture


I recommend purchasing this from an online distributor. Not many local retail stores carry lye anymore, unless it’s your friendly, neighborhood hardware store. Purchasing this online should give you the ability to get just the amount you need.

You will need to run your recipe through a lye calculator to be sure that you are using the proper amount of lye and liquid (i.e. water, coconut milk, goat’s milk, etc.). The recommended amount of lye for a superfat soap, is 5% (This will make more sense when you start working with the lye calculator.)

Note: Be careful when working with lye and follow all of the recommended precautions. Lye can cause skin irritations in its raw form, so be aware!

Do you really want to learn a sustainable practice? There are several online sources for learning to make your own lye from wood ashes. Check it out!

Carrier Oils

Many of these can be found at local natural food or health stores. Shop around for the best quality and prices. If I’m purchasing in bulk, I will often prefer to go through an online source, such as The Soap Dish or Mountain Rose Herbs, to get better pricing.

You can design the properties of your soap based on the oils you use. For example, use:

  • Lard or tallow for a hard, long-lasting soap (I’m not a fan)
  • Coconut or Castor oil for lathering
  • Olive or Sunflower oil for moisturizing and conditioning properties
  • Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, and Jojoba Oil for a luxurious, extra moisturizing effect

Have fun and experiment!

Shampoo Bar Soap Recipe: one rendition, anyway

  • 9 ounces coconut oil
  • 9 ounces olive oil
  • 5 ounces castor oil
  • 3 ounces jojoba oil
  • 2 ounces shea butter
  • 2 ounces cocoa butter
  • 1 ounce beeswax 

*Please note, all amounts are per weight. You will need to use a kitchen scale for these measurements.

  • 4 ounces water
  • 6 ounces coconut milk*
  • 4 ounces lye
  • *You could use only water, an herbal infusion, or any other type of milk.

Optional Essential Oils

-Rosemary helps with scalp conditions like psoriasis, and are good for dark hair
-Lavender and lemon for blonde hair
-Lime and coconut for all types
-Tea Tree oil is good for children (it helps keep lice away)
*Use approximately 0.5-1 ounce of essential oils for this recipe.


1. Place the coconut milk and water into a large glass measuring cup.
2. Measure out the lye by weight into a 1 cup glass measuring cup.

bar soap 2-comp

3. Carefully add the lye to the liquid and gently stir to combine. (Adding the lye to liquid could cause an “eruption”). Once the lye is added, be careful: the liquid is caustic and not to be touched in anyway. The outside of the bowl will be extremely hot as well. 

Note: Observe all necessary precautions during this step. 

4. Allow the lye mixture to stay under a vent and cool down while preparing the oils.
5. Measure all oils by using a kitchen scale, and pour into a pot.

 bar soap 3-comp


6. Warm oils and beeswax on low heat until all are melted.

Note: Do not allow the oils to get too hot. They can become flammable.


7. Pour melted oils into a crock pot. Be sure the crock pot is on the lowest setting. 

8. Add the lye/liquid mixture to the oils in the crock pot and gently stir. 

Note: Any equipment the lye touches needs to be neutralized in a mixture of vinegar, soap, and water. Vinegar will neutralize the lye.

9. After stirring, use the stick blender to blend the ingredients in the crock pot for 3-5 minutes. The mixture should become a thick, pudding-like consistency.

 bar soap 4-comp

10. Once the ingredients are sufficiently mixed, cover the crock pot and “cook” the soap for approximately one hour.

11. At the end of one hour, the mixture should have folded in on itself and it should be completely transparent. If it hasn’t become completely transparent allow it to cook longer until it does, and then turn off the crock pot. At this time, add any essential oils you wish to use, to the mixture. Stir in gently for about one minute.

12. Now it’s time to prepare the molds. Grease molds with coconut oil. Using a standard glass loaf pan works well. You may also try using a muffin pan to create gift soaps.  

bar soap 5-comp


13. Spoon soap mixture into molds. Depending on the mold you may find that using a ladle or small measuring cup is easier.
14. Once all the soap mixture is poured into molds, allow them to cool and harden for 24 hours.
15. Remove from mold by turning it upside down onto a cutting board. If using a loaf pan, cut into 1 inch thick bars. If using other types of molds where cutting is not required, proceed to the next step.

bar soap 1-comp 

16. Place bars on a tray with good airflow so that they can harden further. Once hardening process is complete wrap bars in waxed paper, or place in ziplock bag for storage.


-This is a great recipe. Sometimes it takes a week or two for your hair to adjust to the change in product, but hang in there. My hair is shiny, soft, and manageable. And the real test…my husband will even uses this shampoo bar soap!

-Recommendation: when showering, complete your hair care regiment by following up the use of this shampoo bar soap with conditioning hair rinse comprised of

1 part RAW apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is a well known brand)
3 parts water (I like distilled)

Put this mixture in a spray bottle and spray your hair with it just prior to leaving the shower. Do not rinse it out (more conditioning that way). The vinegary smell will dissipate once the hair dries.

Promised Links:

Crock Pot  Soap

Beginner’s Guide to Soap Making

4 Steps to Making Homemade Soap

Here are a few book titles on the subject, as well:

‘Handcrafted Soap’ by Dolores Boone

‘The Soapmaker’s Companion’ by Susan Miller Cavitch

‘The Natural Soap Book’ by Susan Miller Cavitch

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