How to Make Soap. Use It As a Gift or for Decorate Your Home!




This Instructable will show you how to make soap at home (the ancient, chemical way!) and how to transform it into a wonderful Christmas gift, or for decorate your home. It's very cheap but extremely customable!

Step 1: Instruments and Ingredients

Olive Oil, virgin or extra-virgin: 35,27 ounces (1000 grams)
Distilled water: 13.23 ounces (375 grams)
Sodium Hidroxide: 4.41 ounces (125 grams)
Paprika powder: 1 or 2 tbs
Cinnamon powder: 1 or 2 tbs
Lavender, essential oil: 0.25 grams - 10 drops, according to the European Pharmacopoeia ;-)
Dry lavender
Kitchen aid immersion blender
Kitchen thermometer
2 high sides stainless steel pots
A pyrex jar (important, this must be made of pyrex!)
Some large aluminium foil containers
Rubber gloves
Protective goggles
Wooden stick
Cookies cutters
pH test strips or pHmeter
Colored strings, paper, pencils and so more for make your christmas card!

Step 2: Prepare the Alkaline Solution

 Warning! Sodium hydroxide is extremely dangerous because it's caustic. First, read this:
Use protective goggles and gloves, wear old dresses. Take a bottle of winegear to neutralize sodium hydroxide in case of accidents.

All the distilled water is put into the pyrex jar. Sodium Hydroxide is slowly added. pH is 14, the solution is extremely alkaline!

Warning: in this step temperature will increase (over 80°C), extremely hot.
Important: add sodium hydroxide to the water, in this order!

Step 3: Prepare Oil and Water

Oil is heated at 40°C into the pot.
Into another pot water (even not distilled) is heated at (about) 85°C

Step 4: Add the Alkali Solution to the Oil and Make the Gel

When the alkali solution is at about 40°C, slowly add it to the oil into the pot, which is at 40°C.
Then mix the solution using the blender. 
Continue mixing untill the solution becomes like a gel. This gel is still caustic, warning. This gel is called "trace".

Step 5: Heat the Gel

Take the pot containing gel, and put it into the other pot, containing water at 85°C.
Continue heating for other 2 hours: temperature of water should be 90-95°C.
Sometimes mix using the blender. In this step pH will decrease from 14 to 7-8.

Step 6: Stop Heating

After two hours color, smell and consistence will change: after this time soap is ready and less caustic. pH is 7-8.
Take a little piece of soap (using gloves) and let it cool. When cool, it must be semisolid, and not "like glue". If it's not still semisolid, continue heating. 

Step 7: Prepare Four Type of Soap

Divide soap into four parts: into the first part add lavender essential oil and dry lavender, into the second add cinnamon powder, into the third, paprika powder. The fourth will be "natural soap".

Put the first part into an aluminium foil. 

Put the second part into another aluminium foil. Add natural soap and mix. It must not be completely mix for a best visual effect.
Put the third part into another aluminium foil. Add natural soap and mix as you do for the second part.

Step 8: Cut Soap

Using the cookies cutter, cut the soap when it becomes more solid, but not completely solid!
Drill a hole in the top of the soap. Then cut the aluminium foil and you will get the soap!

Step 9: Test the PH and Use the Scraps

Take a scrap of soap, and dissolve it into water. Use the pH test strips and analize pH. Homemade soap has pH from 7-8 to 10. This recipy uses less sodium hydroxide (about 7%) then required for the complete reaction, so pH isn't too much high and it can be used even for sensible skins. 

Scraps can be used as normal soap, or can be remelted. I will write a new Istrucatble soon, but it's not diffucult. Just take scraps, blend them, and heat this little pieces of soap into the apparatus described in step 5, adding 1 or 2 tbs of distilled water every 3.53 ounces (100 grams) of soap.
After some time, soap will have a cream consistence: it's ready!

Step 10: Prepare Your Gift!

You can use soap to decorate your home, your christmas tree or as a gift.
Cut a circle of paper and write on it your Xmas card, then, with the string, tie all togheter! Don't forget, make the string ring enought big to use it to suspend the gift on the Christmas tree! 

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    19 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Where do you find sodium hydroxide nowadays?
    I was looking for "Red Devil" lye, but could find none.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Red Devil went out of business to my knowledge. You can find lye at a few soaping places online:
    Outside of that, however, it can be pretty daunting to find it.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I like this!  You could do a whole line of faux-cheese soaps.  The heart-shaped one looks like bleu cheese.  Neat!
    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    They are like blue cheese because lavender was taken in autumn, and it wasn't violet but gray...  ;-)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You can get lavender in a variety of colors from white to pink to purple to blue to gray, but I can imagine the picking time would affect the scent and the color - cool.  It's quite an amazing plant considering how drought tolerant, neglect tolerant, crappy-soil tolerant, and diverse it is.  It might be fun to do a crumbly "pecorino" soap with white lavender.  I love things that look like other things.  lol

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     "pecorino" soap with white lavender... I will keep this idea for the 2010! ;-) 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Your very interesting instructable seems to be a mix of "Cold process soap" and "Hot process soap" :-)
    You might want to consider a couple of small points.
    First safety:
    The advice above about Sodium hydroxide is very important if the soap is still alkaline then users skin can be burnt - a chemical burn which can be very nasty.

    Please don't cast soap directly in Aluminium (or other metal) containers the soap is often still (slightly) caustic and may dissolve the metal, this contaminates the soap. Line the container with plastic wrap or use silicon rubber baking moulds (which you do NOT use for food afterwards!)

    end of safety :-)
    start of ease of making 

    If you have your fats, oils and water (sodium hydroxide solution) at 50 degrees C then you don't need to heat for 2 hours.
     Blend continuously for  about 5 minutes until the soap starts to thicken (you can see the track of the blender when you move it round - this is know as "Trace" ) then make you 4 varieties and the soap can still be poured!

    Keep the soap warm for a couple of hours (insulate or put in a oven at low temperature - say 50 degrees C) 
    This is pretty much "cold process soap" (not boiling)

    Look at some other soap homepages the 'mother of them all' is Mrs Miller's  -

    Good soaping
    Peter Warholm

    4 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I agree: safety first of all! Will be better using protective goggles and having a bottle of vinegear to neutralize NaOH in case of accident. Wearing old dress is recommended!

    This is a hot process, and I prefer it because at the end of the two hours soap is not extremely alkaline (pH from 7 to 8, not 14!) and it's teorically ready to be used without waiting weeks. Moreover the quite alkaline pH will not destroy parfums and colours of other ingredients such as cinnamon or paprika or levender. So I think that you can use aluminium containers, because it's a cheap solution and because pH is not so alkaline to react with the container, even because you keep away your soap from the aluminium container after few minutes... 

    Using the cold method you must to wait even 2 months because after the trace (thank you for the translation of "gel phase" :-) ) soap is still alkaline! Using this method you must not use aluminium!

    Personally I prefer the hot process, even if it's not so easy as the cold method: hot process has a lot of advantages! Thank's for your comment! ;-)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     Thanks for the clarification :-)  I thought hot process was always boiled!

    I agree with what you say about perfume and colours.
    Most of my product is for people with sensitive skin so no perfume or colour :-)
    and the superior texture of the poured cold process is important.

    I avoid the long maturing by 2-3 hours in the oven at 50 degrees C (gel stage occurs with 30 mins.) and then let it stay in the oven as this cools down overnight.
    the soap is then PH 7-8 at demoulding next day.

    I can use this immediately and my (sensitive) customers within days.
    I think the long maturing is a safety thing as good PH testing was not easily available in the past :-)
    I always test PH and use the product myself before sale :-)

    While I accept your comment about hot process and aluminium moulds I would still recommend using non metallic (or stainless) moulds.
    In my opinion (! ;-) )The risk of contamination outweighs the gain.
    But then again 90% of my customers have sensitive skin so I am very careful :-)

    Good soaping
    Peter Warholm


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    by the way Trace is not the same as gel phase :-)
    'Trace' is the 'custard' stage of cold process.

    'Gel phase'  is when the hot soap goes from milky white to semitransparent yellow / brown - this is visible in your process in the mixing tub, for cold process this happens in the mould after pouring (if the mould is kept warm enough - by insulation or in an oven.)



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     Thank's for your advise!
    ...I'm not a professional soap maker, I'm just a chemist who likes doing things like this! 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice ible!

    I've made soap with a friend a couple of times, it's a really interesting process. Do you check the pH after? My friend always does as he says if done wrong, the pH could remain too high and be really bad for your skin. It might be nice to add this and the fact that the scraps can be remelted after cutting to step 8. Hope you don't mind me suggesting this :)

    5 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank's for your comment! I check the pH at the end, and it was from 7 to 8: it was perfect! Moreover the recipy that I suggest has less sodium hydroxide (about 6-7%) then required, so the soap can be used even for wash sensible skins: it's a gently soap! :-) Iagree that scraps can be remelted, and I will add this details soon! Thank you!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Good luck with remelting - it never works for me :-(
    If you have success remelting will you make an instructable here?

    Peter Warholm


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     You can remelt soap! This is the recipy:
    1) blend your scraps into little pieces, they should be big like cheese on spaghetti :-)
    2) Dry your scraps with a little part of water: 1 or 2 tbs every 100 grams (3.53 ounces) should be enough
    3) Start melting into a pot, which is contained into another pot containing water at 100°C. Like the instructable :-)
    4) Wait untill the soap is melt!

    I will post an instructable soon ;-)
    Thank's for your comment!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    What oils / fats are you using?
    Only olive oil? 

    I use canola /palm /coconut and the only way I get a half way useful remelt is with much more water - at least as much water as soap flakes, - then the result shrinks a lot during 'drying'