Do-it-yourself liquid soap

Lifestyle Sports | Lifestyle
Chelsea Wilson (photo contributor)
Chelsea Wilson (photo contributor)

Making your own liquid hand soap is easier than it sounds and a great way to be kinder to your body, the environment, and your wallet. Natural bar soaps — try Lifestyle Markets or your local healthfood store — and essential oils can be used to create a non-toxic mixture, and pumps can be reused to reduce packaging. A high quality bar of soap may run you $4 or $5 but it will yield up to 4 litres — an entire milk jug — of liquid soap.

You will need

A bar of natural soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s castile bars)

Cheese grater

Small pot

Measuring cup


Mixing spoon

Liquid soap pump

Funnel (optional)

Kitchen scale (optional)

High-quality essential oils (optional)

A good ratio to use is roughly 30–50g of grated soap per litre of water. Homemade liquid soap is generally thinner than store bought varieties, so feel free to play with the ratio to make the consistency that you prefer.

Consider cost — thicker soap doesn’t equal better soap — and that it is thin enough to go through the pump without clogging. What I like to do is place a small pot on top of a kitchen scale and zero the scale; then it’s really easy to grate the soap directly into it. If you don’t have a scale, check the package for the weight of the bar and estimate the amount based on that. Next, add one litre of water and you’re ready to place the pot over medium heat.

Stir the soap flakes until they are fully dissolved. The mixture can then be removed from the heat and allowed to come to room temperature — it is important to cool the mixture before pouring it into the pump. When the mixture is cool and ready to pour, it will still be liquid. At this point you can add essential oils.  Lavender is always a good option because it is gentle on the skin, inexpensive, and has a variety of therapeutic benefits — natural antibiotic, calming, and so on. Be sure to do your own research about the safety of any essential oils that you are interested in using.

To make life easy (especially if you plan on doing this again), buy a pot from a thrift store and pinch the sides for pouring. Otherwise, use a funnel to add it to your pump. From this point on it’s just a waiting game. The soap will need time to thicken which can take up to 24 hours.  Extra soap can be saved in recycled containers until your pump needs refilling.

If you find the ‘refill’ soap to be too hard to pour into the pump, it can be re-liquefied over heat. Consistency issues can be resolved by reheating and adding more water or soap flakes as needed. Try to keep track of what you are adding so that you will have your own personal recipe for next time. I have also found that homemade soap can separate, but a quick shake of the bottle fixes that. Finally, I have been using regular tap water to make my soap with no problem because I make it in small, quickly used batches. However, distilled water will add to the longevity of your soap. This can be purchased in 4L jugs at the pharmacy.