When it comes to soapmaking, we DIYers tended to make our first batch with trepidation. The reason for this is because of the use of lye–a product that most of us aren’t used to handling. It doesn’t have to be this way, though–you can make your own trepidation-free DIY soap without lye!
Making soap without lye is done by using a product called ‘melt and pour’ soap. Melt and pour soap is basically plain, colorless and odorless lye soap that has been made in advance. It can be melted down and additives may be added to make your own special creation!
Why Would You Choose a Melt and Pour Soap over Lye Soap?
- you are nervous about handling lye
- it is not as time consuming a project as lye soap
- you won’t need as many supplies or much equipment
- no need to deal with the more technical aspects of soap making
- recipes can be developed more easily
- very safe to use with kids and inquisitive animals in the home
- no cure time
What Supplies Do I Need?
To make your own DIY soap without lye, you will need a few things:
- melt and pour soap base
- colorant of your choice
- fragrance of your choice
- large microwaveable measuring cup
- something to stir your mixture (I use a silicone spatula)
- digital scale
- soap mold – silicone works best, but other household options can be used
- something to cut your finished soap into bars
What Are My Choices with Melt and Pour Soap Bases?
There are many great choices for soap bases such as goat milk, shea, cocoa, or mango butter, honey, clear glycerin and more. Depending on what you want your end product to look like, you will want to choose either a white or clear soap, whichever will hold the color you are going for.
Each of the above soap bases will have different properties, depending on what is used. Some quick research of the different soap ingredients will help you understand how the soap will work on skin, and what the benefits of your DIY soap will be when used.
What Can I use to Color and Fragrance My Soap?
There are a few options that you can use, and because I am not an expert on this topic, I will cover only some of the common options for color and fragrance.
- color blocks – available in matte or shimmer colors; easy to use
- clay – mild earthy colors, typically include some added benefits for your skin; mix with a tiny bit of water before adding to melted soap base
- pigment powder – vibrant colors, but not as easy to work with as color blocks; must be mixed with rubbing alcohol before mixing into soap base
- mica – used in general cosmetic manufacturing, many matte and shimmery colors and shades; mix in the same way you would mix pigment powder
- essential oils – great to use if you are more interested in keeping your soap on the more natural side; doesn’t always work out well, depending on the essential oil you use
- fragrance oils – more ‘staying power’ than essential oils, but are not considered natural
- perfume – some have recommended this, but since most perfumes are alcohol-based, it could cause problems with seizing
Orange Spice Glycerin DIY Soap Without Lye Recipe
This is my recipe for making 1 lb of this wonderful-smelling soap!
- 1 lb melt and pour glycerin soap base
- 1 tsp kaolin clay
- 1/2 tsp annatto seed powder
- .8 oz orange essential oil
- .08 oz clove essential oil
- Gather your ingredients and supplies
- Cut up your soap base into chunks
- Melt your soap base
- Add colorant and fragrance (at the proper temperature, usually around 120 degrees)
- Pour into soap mold and allow to cool
- Unmold, cut and use!
Want to watch me do it?
Cost Breakdown: Is It Worth It?
This is my cost breakdown for the Orange Spice Glycerin Soap that I made.
Melt and pour soap base (glycerin), 2 lbs – $15.33 on Amazon (.47 per 4 oz bar)
Kaolin clay – use 1 tsp per lb of base, mix with a little bit of water to the clay before adding to the soap base – 9.99/16 oz on amazon (at .62/oz, .07 per tsp, and .0175 per 4 oz bar) – for smaller portions, 1.20/oz on etsy (at 1.20/oz, .13 per tsp, or .0325 per 4 oz bar)
Annatto seed powder – ½ tsp per lb – 3.00/oz on Etsy (.16 per lb, .04 per 4 oz bar)
Orange essential oil – add at around 120 degrees – use .8 oz per lb of soap (or if it’s easier, 1 tsp per lb) – I paid 8.99/4 oz (1.80/oz, .45 per 4 oz bar)
Clove essential oil – use .08 oz per lb of soap – clove oil runs about $5/oz if you buy more than one ounce on Amazon (.40/lb, or .10 per 4 oz bar)
My TOTAL cost per 4 oz bar:
$1.08 (rounded up from $1.0775)
If you are comparing to store-bought soap, your DIY soap is comparable in price. Your soap can be cheaper if you buy your ingredients in bulk, but I don’t recommend that unless you plan to make a whole lot of soap!
If you are planning to use your soap for holiday gifts, even if you couple your soap with home-crocheted washcloths, you could still easily come in under $5 per person if you spend a little extra time!