Introduction: How to Make Neem Soap

Picture of How to Make Neem Soap

Neem oil is awesome for just about everything, but the smell of it makes me want to run very, very far away.

The solution? Put it in soap! It still gets direct contact with the skin, but you don't have to tolerate the smell for too long. :D

Making neem soap is super easy with melt and pour soap bases, and you can add just as much neem as you want. It's great to have around if you wash your hands a ton like I do - they've been less rough than normal! The goat's milk and neem make this soap super emollient - great for dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis.

In this instructable, I'll walk you through how I made a couple batches of neem soap. I've also got suggestions for how much neem and essential oil to use in your soaps.

Step 1: About Neem Oil

Picture of About Neem Oil

Neem oil is traditional medicine in India - it's been used for thousands of years! The neem tree is actually used in a variety of applications - the bark, leaves, flowers, seeds, and more are utilized to make all kinds of products. Neem is most commonly used as a pesticide and to treat skin conditions. Neem oil contains vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and has moisturizing and regenerative properties.

We use neem on our plants quite often as a pesticide - you can find a recipe for a IPM insecticide/fungicide that we use here.

When using neem oil on the body, the only cautions I can give are these:

  • Using too much neem is never a good idea - stay within the parameters given in this instructable! Neem can be toxic in very high amounts.
  • Avoid using neem products on small children (4 and under.) - neem oil is very potent stuff and there have been reports of toxicity in children, though rare.
  • Don't use neem when trying to conceive (both men and women!) or while breastfeeding.

Here are some more tips about using neem safely.

From wikipedia:

Products made from neem trees have been used in India for over two millennia for their medicinal properties. Neem products are believed by Sidha andAyurvedic practitioners to be anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, contraceptive and sedative. It is considered a major component in sidha medicine and Ayurvedic and Unani medicine and is particularly prescribed for skin diseases. Neem oil is also used for healthy hair, to improve liver function, detoxify the blood, and balance blood sugar levels. Neem leaves have also been used to treat skin diseases likeeczema, psoriasis, etc.

However, insufficient research has been done to assess the purported benefits of neem. In adults, short-term use of neem is safe, while long-term use may harm the kidneys or liver; in small children, neem oil is toxic and can lead to death. Neem may also cause miscarriages, infertility, and low blood sugar.

Step 2: Ingredients + Tools

Picture of Ingredients + Tools

ingredients:

tools:

  • large measuring cup
  • microwave OR double boiler
  • soap molds or other plastic containers
  • large knife
  • kitchen scale
  • measuring spoons

Try to use high quality raw materials - it'll make the soap so much nicer! I prefer goat's milk soap bases because of how moisturizing they are.

Step 3: Cut and Melt the Soap Base

Picture of Cut and Melt the Soap Base

Measure out the amount of soap you'd like to use. I'm making two batches, at 450 g each. Make sure you know how much soap you're using - you'll use this amount to decide how much neem to add.

Chop the soap into smaller pieces and put it into a large measuring cup. Follow the directions and melt using a microwave or double boiler.

My soap base took a few minutes and quite a bit of stirring to melt all the way.

Step 4: Add in the Neem

Picture of Add in the Neem

You will add the neem oil by weight. Keep in mind that you might have to warm it up first. Like coconut oil, neem oil can become solid when it gets too cool. The figures below can only really be guaranteed if you're using the same neem oil as we did - neem oils vary greatly in intensity.

You can add up to 10% neem oil to the soap base, but the smell will be VERY intense and the soap will not lather as much as it would normally.

If this is your first time using neem, I would recommend doing 2.5% neem oil. This is pretty similar to the neem soaps I've bought in stores.

I did right around 5% neem oil in my soap bars - 450 g soap base & 23 g neem oil. Tyler did the full 10% - 450 g soap base and 45 g neem oil.

Once the neem is in, stir it in slightly. We'll do a better mix in a minute.

Step 5: Add Coloring and Essential Oils

Picture of Add Coloring and Essential Oils

Coloring

You can use regular food coloring in your soaps for a little color. I added three drops of green food coloring to Tyler's soap, and two drops of red and three of blue to mine. Just enough to add a little color so we can easily tell them apart.

Essential Oils

Essential oils will help mask the smell of the neem oil, so I highly recommend using them. Lavender, peppermint, and rosemary all work well with the neem.

I used 2 teaspoons of essential oil in each 450 g batch of soap - peppermint and rosemary in Tyler's 10% neem soap, and lavender in my 5% neem soap.

Here's a fragrance calculator from Bramble Berry to help you figure out how much to add. You may want to add more than they recommend if you do 10% neem - 2 teaspoons of essential oil there wasn't quite enough.

Mixing

Once the essential oils and food coloring are in, mix very very well. It may take a couple minutes of stirring to get everything well combined. You shouldn't see any oil or color floating on the top when it's mixed.

Step 6: Pour Into Molds and Let Harden

Picture of Pour Into Molds and Let Harden

Once the base has everything added in, you'll want to pour it into your soap mold or other plastic container.

If you don't have a soap mold, you can really use any flexible plastic container. It must be slightly flexible, though, or it'll be near impossible to get the soap out.

Most melt and pour soaps have a drying time of under 40 minutes, but I normally let mine sit for at least an hour.

Step 7: Cut and Enjoy!

Picture of Cut and Enjoy!

Remove the soap from the mold or container. (If it's in a container, just press on it until you break the seal around the edges - once some air gets in, it should pop out!)

Cut it into whatever size bars you like and enjoy! Store in airtight containers for best results - the neem will transfer its smell elsewhere if given the chance to. ;)

Comments

susiefreckleface (author)2016-03-04

JR you have inspired my endeavor with neem. I made a batch of cold process method because I already had all the supplies. I followed your advice on the amount of neem and I am totally loving my soap. It was waiting for the soap to cure that was the hard part. yours is gorgeous and perfect looking. I purchased the neem from my local Indian-Pakistan market. such fantastic lather. thanks for the inspiration and a very nicely presented ibble.

Simran Sharma (author)2015-11-10

very nice

elbowmedic (author)2015-06-10

Neem is a great product from soap toothpaste tea dog treats. It is very safe yes drinking straight up neem oil will be a very potent laxative and can kill you from it. But my teeth and my skin love neem for several years now

woodNfish (author)2015-04-06

FYI, From your link to wikipedia:

...insufficient research has been done to assess the purported benefits of neem.[13]
In adults, short-term use of neem is safe, while long-term use may harm
the kidneys or liver; in small children, neem oil is toxic and can lead
to death.[13] Neem may also cause miscarriages, infertility, and low blood sugar.[13]

Safety issues

Neem oil can cause some forms of toxic encephalopathy and ophthalmopathy if consumed in large quantities.

Nickie Tesla (author)woodNfish2015-04-12

I believe you'll find this is more in reference to taking it INTERNALLY, not applying it externally in the form of soap, ointment or shampoo. It seems there is more than one Wikipedia entry for Neem oil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neem_oil

TOXICITY

Studies done when Azadirachtin (the primary active pesticidal
ingredient in neem oil) was approved as a pesticide showed that when
neem leaves were fed to male albino rats for 11 weeks, 100% (reversible)
infertility resulted.[7]

Neem oil and other neem products such as neem leaves and neem tea
should not be consumed by pregnant women, women trying to conceive, or
children
.[citation needed]

There is some evidence that internal medicinal use may be associated with liver damage in children.[8]

I'm not suggesting throwing caution to the wind but hoping to avoid throwing out the baby with the bath water.

nofunclub (author)2015-04-10

I use tea from neem leaves to treat my cat from fleas

it kills both the fleas and their eggs

and it is safe for cats

a great natural anti flea remedy...

jessyratfink (author)nofunclub2015-04-10

Yay! We do too! We love using neem on our pets. Both cats and the dog get neem added to their shampoos. :)

coleen.goree (author)2015-04-08

Doesn't sound as scary as most medicine commercials. :)

coleen.goree (author)2015-04-08

I don't want to make it with melt and pour and I have some rancid (not too stinky) oils so I made it hot process... As for using it on your body. I've had great success with using neem to take care of lice (I found out my daughter was exposed early so it didn't take much to control and get rid of the lice) and for other skin conditions. I don't use it often now but I like it. :)

The Green Gentleman (author)2015-04-06

I love the idea, and the instructable is, as always, gorgeous. The photo composition is great, and I'm insanely jealous of the indirect light your work space gets.

foolishcop (author)2015-04-06

It's my understanding there are basically two kinds of neem oil on the market, cold-pressed and hydrophobic extract. The former is really what you want to use in your garden because it has a chemical called azadirachtin that is natural to the neem, but which the extracts remove. Most of the most popular brands you find on big-box store shelves are the latter kind. The brand you link to <i>is</i> cold-pressed, but I wanted to point that out to readers because they may be tempted to save a few dollars and buy neem oil off the shelf at a local store without realizing the difference. Otherwise a great ible!

hogey74 (author)2015-04-05

Love it! With a name like yours, I am thinking of that old wizard of id comic in which the clown says, "you've got to draw the line somewhere."

ooohlaa (author)2015-04-05

also used extensively in the garden to kill insects, so get educated as to levels acceptable for human absorption ... I was using organic neem oil direct on a skin problem and it did not work, but that is how I got educated about its powerful properties in the garden ... in the garden there is a window once you mix it with soap you must use quickly or it loses its power, so that must pertain in some way here ... thank you for doing this, good job introducing lots of people to this wonderful oil, when used properly.

cparsons6 (author)2015-04-02

Good Instructable but you need to be careful using food coloring, as food coloring is not skin safe and is not to be used in soaps or any types of cosmetics.

BruceE3 (author)2015-03-30

So cool!

Saiyam (author)2015-03-28

That's great. Neem is still used in India for wide range of applications especially in ayurvedic medicine. Earlier, people used branches of neem tree to brush their teeth.

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