Make Soap at Home: a Simple Olive Oil Lye Soap - No Frills




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How to make soap from scratch with this easy cold process recipe.  The goal here is minimalist: few ingredients and little hardware.  We have used soap made this way now for quite some time.  For those who regard it as important, the soap is vegetarian, vegan even!

The result - known also as Castile soap - produces a smooth creamy lather (typical of olive oil based soap) - and is great at the job for which soap is intended.  The ingredients shown in the video result in an approximate lye discount of 5%.

Included in the video is a decidedly non-minimalist frill: the optional addition of a scented essential oil (here we use eucalyptus oil).  If the oil is not used, the soap smells of, well, not much.  With the oil, it has a very pleasant aroma.

Using the plastic wrap as a lining makes removal of the soap from the box much easier.  It more or less drops out and the plastic wrap is peeled away without difficulty.  Without the wrap, cutting the soap out of the box is quite cumbersome and some force is needed to extract it.  However, in the minimalist spirit, the plastic wrap was not used in this video.

For those who might emulate us: do not modify the recipe without first learning the essentials of soap making.  If an error is made, the soap might end up being caustic - dangerous even.  On that note: lye is a component in this recipe.  Lye is very caustic and can be dangerous if misused.  Wear the appropriate safety goggles, mask and gloves before any attempt at making soap.  If you choose to emulate us, you do so at your own risk.



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    13 Discussions


    Reply 1 year ago


    I saw your question only now!!! Apologies for the exceedingly tardy response.

    While coconut oil is used in making soap, the ratio of lye to fat is different. So this particular recipe is not suitable for coconut. There are saponification tables available online that can give you the correct ratios. If there is an error, you can end up with a dangerously caustic soap. So be careful!

    Apologies again for the late reply.


    4 years ago on Introduction


    a nice recipe! how should I proceed if I want to make liquid soap? Should I just add glycerine? And at which point in the process? Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi! For a traditional liquid soap, potassium hydroxide is used in place of sodium hydroxide (but with different relative ratios). We haven't tried such, but there are recipes online giving details. Using solid soap, one can pour hot water over some shavings and let the mixture sit until it forms a liquid/goo/gel. Hope this helps!

    Thanks for the easy instructions using common household items. Soap molds are so expensive compared to plastic semi disposable storage containers. I have come across two kinds of lye in soap making. Did you use NaOH or KOH? Is NaOH used more commonly in hard soap recipies?

    1 reply

    Hi Camille,

    Thanks for the kind words! Note that extraction of the soap can be a bit awkward if the storage containers are not lined (shown as an optional step in the video). We do it that way to eliminate a consumable. We use NaOH - normal for making solid soaps. KOH is used typically to make liquid soaps.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great job!! I like your minimalist style. This will be my next project. Thank you for sharing.

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    Will putting soap in the fridge speed up the curing process

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi blkhawk,

    Our water is not particularly hard, so we don't have direct experience. Like any soap, it will no doubt be less "lathery" with hard water, but olive oil soap does produce a particularly creamy lather, so we suspect it'll do better than most.