Making Soap Without Lye (Sort of)

Make your own herbal soap without handling lye

Possibly the most often expressed sentiment I hear, when it comes to soap making, goes something like:

“I want to make soap, but I’m really scared of the lye!”

That is a completely justified fear and one that I shared for a very long time. It took months of research before I felt comfortable enough with the idea and even then, I had my husband handle it for the first few batches.

I would like to tell you that if a complete chicken like myself can now handle lye like a pro, then you should be able to do so too, one day!

However, until you’re ready, or if you just aren’t interested in that aspect of soap making – I’m here with a work-around to help you create your own unique herbal soaps, without handling the lye part. It’s so safe, your children can help you!

What Soap & Cake Have in Common

Making soap can be compared to making cake. You can either go to the store and buy a ready-made cake from the bakery section OR you can buy a box of cake mix to whip up at home OR you can buy the individual ingredients to make one from scratch.

In the same way, you can buy ready-made bars of soap OR you can buy a pre-made mix (melt & pour soap base) OR you can buy the oils, lye, etc needed to make your own from scratch (cold process or hot process soap.)

Each step you take further away from the made-from-scratch version, you have an added price to pay. Convenience is not only more expensive, but you also have to put up with extra ingredients, preservatives, and unpronounceable chemicals.

I have yet to find a melt and pour soap base that does not have a sketchy additive or two in it. (If you’ve found a completely natural one that is palm free, please leave me a note in the comments so I can check it out!)

However, let’s do a quick comparison of ingredients in the melt & pour base I’m going to use in this post (from Bramble Berry) and Dove Beauty Bar (just because that’s a random one I remember using as a kid):

Melt & Pour Soap Base: Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin (kosher, of vegetable origin), Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide (saponifying agent, i.e. lye), Sorbitol (moisturizer), Sorbitan oleate (emulsifier), Soy bean protein (conditioner)

Dove Beauty Bar: Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, stearic acid, sodium tallowate or sodium palmitate (that’s animal fat or palm oil that has been reacted with lye), lauric acid, sodium isethionate, water, sodium stearate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoate, fragrance, sodium chloride, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium etidronate, BHT, titanium dioxide

See that both of those have lye (sodium hydroxide) in the ingredients? Making soap without lye isn’t really possible, whether you are a large corporation or home hobbyist! However, you can pay the extra bit of cost and have someone handle that part for you, which is what we’re doing here today.


Melt & Pour Soap Block

The Fun Part

Okay, now it’s time to get creative!

These projects revolve around a block of clear melt & pour base that I purchased from Bramble Berry. There are several other suppliers out there, along with your local craft store – shop around until you find a base whose ingredients you like (they are surprisingly diverse!) I chose this one because it had the least amount of additives, than others I had looked at. I also like a clear base because I like how the colors shine through, in jewel like tones.


1. Melt The Soap Base

To melt the soap base, cut it into chunks and place in a glass measuring cup. You can either use a double boiler or heat it in your microwave for 30 seconds at a time, until it turns to a smooth liquid.


2. Prepare Your Molds

I picked up a pack a little square molds at my local craft store for just a few dollars, but you can also try silicone muffin pans, candy molds, paper cups, frozen juice containers… look around your kitchen and get creative!

Lightly spraying your mold with a tiny bit of oil and then wiping it smooth, will help with release. (Though I forget as often as I remember and it still usually works out okay.)



Setting Calendula Flowers in Melt & Pour Soap

3. Add Colors, Scent, Herbs & Flowers

Now that you have a liquid base to work with – you can do all sorts of things to it!

To add dried flower petals to the top of your soap, pour a very thin layer of melted soap base into the bottom of the mold. Sprinkle your flower petals on and let this set up for about ten minutes before adding more soap.

A few ideas for natural colorants (Where to buy):

  • green:  French green clay, chlorella powder
  • yellow: finely ground safflower
  • orange: annatto seed powder
  • pink/red: rose clay, alkanet root powder, beet root powder

Start with about 1/8 teaspoon per pound of soap base. Make sure to mix your colorants with either a tiny bit of water or oil first or even a small amount of soap (in a separate cup) until they are smooth. That way you don’t end up with chunks of unmixed powder in your soap. (You will have specks though.)

If you’d like to add honey and/or oatmeal, try adding two to three teaspoons per pound of soap base. Make sure your soap has thickened up a bit, before stirring the oatmeal in or it will all settle to the bottom of your mold. Poppy seeds and flecks of vanilla bean can be handled the same way.

Essential oils can be used to add a lovely scent to your creations. (Look for quality essential oils at Mountain Rose Herbs or Bramble Berry.)

  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Spearmint
  • Cinnamon (use sparingly)
  • Jasmine
  • Bergamot
  • Ylang Ylang

If you’d like to add herbs, try rubbing the leaves through a fine mesh sieve first, to break them down into a powder of sorts. (You can also use a small coffee grinder.) This will be easier on your drains than larger pieces. To avoid all of your herbs settling to the bottom of your soap mold, let the soap mixture thicken somewhat before stirring them in.

I buy most of my herbs through: Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store. (affiliate links)

Below, I’m rubbing dried peppermint leaves through the sieve. I added them to the green soap shown in the photo at the top of this post, along with peppermint essential oil, French green clay and chlorella powder. Keep in mind that some items such as dried mint leaves & lavender buds will eventually turn brown, so don’t rely solely on those for color & decoration.

Melt & Pour Rubbing Mint Leaves


4. Finishing Up!

Once you’ve colored and added and layered to your heart’s content, then it’s time to pour your soap into your selected molds.

You might notice a few bubbles across the top. If you spritz them with rubbing alcohol, they’ll magically disappear!

Once poured, let your soap sit for an hour or so to harden before trying to unmold. If you find it won’t come out easily, you can pop it in the refrigerator for a short while and see if that helps, but do that as a last resort. Refrigerating or freezing will make your soap prone to getting beads of moisture on it. (I learned that the hard way!)

You can read an excellent post on how to keep that from happening: HERE.

Once your soap has completely cooled, wrap it up tightly (plastic wrap will work great.)


Melt & Pour Row of Soaps

This is just an overview of melt and pour soap! There are so many other things you can do with it. has tons of projects you might like plus a google search will surely turn up dozens more!

Using melt & pour soap can be a fun hobby all on its own, or you can use it as a stepping stone to making your own from-scratch soap. When you’re ready for that, check out my Soap Making 101 post for more details.


Did you enjoy this soap tutorial?  If so, be sure to sign up HERE for my newsletter, so you can get my latest soap ideas, herbal projects and other DIY recipes sent straight to your inbox each month!

*Some links in this post are affiliate links. When you follow them and make a purchase, I earn a small commission. This is at no added cost to you, but helps support my blogging hobby. (Thanks!)

If you like the projects on my site, you’ll love my book!

101 Easy Homemade Projects

Order it today at the following places!

Amazon (UK)

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and wherever books are sold!

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144 Responses to Making Soap Without Lye (Sort of)

  1. Erin S. says:

    I suppose I’m lucky in the fact that my job is in a laboratory and I’m used to working with acids and whatnot that require using caution and personal protective equipment–it’s true though that as long as you’re careful, methodical and don’t rush things that working with lye can be very safe. This was a good overview for those who are afraid at first to give lye a try. Love your blog, follow you on Facebook and Pinterest and enjoy all your ebooks! Keep up the good work!

    • Jan says:

      Thanks for the kind words! I absolutely agree; lye can be very safe when handled properly. I hope this overview will be a nice gateway into helping others get more comfortable with the idea of making soap in general, and that some will gain the confidence to try cold process soap (my favorite method!) next. :)

      • Sherry says:

        I love makingvCP soap!

        • Jan says:

          Me too – such an addictive & useful hobby! :)

          • Sherry says:

            I taught my 1st CP soapmaking class last month. It was so much fun. It was for a Naturally Healing class. I showed them how to make castile w/ oatmeal & honey. They all got to take a soap home (in the mold) that they FINALLY got to use a week ago!

            • Ela Avar says:

              Please remember to advise people to test for allergies when using honey in soap. I found out the hard way that tho I can eat all the honey I want, I cannot use it in soap. I ended up in the ER about 12 hours after my first use. The same with oatmeal. I learned while in the ER that many people who can eat oatmeal are allergic to it if it is used in soaps or other things like that. ALWAYS do a skin test!

              • Jan says:

                Yikes, that’s scary! I’m glad you’re okay now. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Allergies are tricky things, for sure!

              • Kimberly says:

                I don’t understand how you can be allergic to something on your skin that you can eat. I mean the honey would touch your lips and your tongue. I wonder if it was something else in the soap that caused the allergic reaction? I worked closely with an allergy specialist for one of my children and basically was told if it causes a reaction on the skin do not put it in your mouth! (Since they test on the skin and can see the reaction) :/

  2. charlotte says:

    You can buy suspension soap base, so your herbs can be all the way through the soap. They sell it at michael’s craft store.

  3. Lea says:

    That’s pretty much me – I’m afraid of the lye, even if it’s not totally rational (I also have fears of heights and spiders that aren’t rational). Thanks for this article!
    In my crafting cupboard, I have “clear glycerin soap” in a 2 lb brick. Can I use that in the same way as the melt & pour soap?
    Thanks again!

  4. Teri says:

    Or… you can just buy your stuff… which is what I prefer :-)

  5. Oh I just love how these natural soaps turned out! The colors really make each one of them pop. =)

  6. Jenn says:

    I’ve stayed away from soap making because of the lye. I’m sure I could do it if I read up on it enough and had the right equipment. But with two toddlers in the house, there is no way I could do it while they are awake and when they are asleep I’m usually bone tired and brain dead. LOL Not good for working with potentially dangerous ingredients. So, thank you for sharing this. This is something I can do now and try making soap from scratch when the kids are older.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Jenn! I can completely remember that feeling. :) It’s much easier now that my kids are older. The melt & pour method though is fun for kids to help with, no matter what age. Have fun making your soap!

  7. tirrell says:

    is it true
    that the lye in the melt & pour base no longer is lye during the process? I heard that it changes. but I dont know when it what stage.

    • Jan says:

      Hi tirrell! Melt & pour base has no active lye left in it, and neither will properly made homemade soap. The oils in the recipe start reacting immediately with the lye to make soap when they combine.

  8. Vicky says:

    Any idea how long these soaps last after you have made them?
    Would love to test sell these in my shop :)

    • Jan says:

      Hi Vicky! That’s something I’m not 100% sure of. I only make a bit of melt & pour here and there and usually with kids. They like to take them home & use right away. :) You could scope out a few Etsy shops that sell glycerin soap & see if they mention shelf life in their description or the company you buy it from should be able to give better info. :)

  9. Taleda says:

    I buy all my soap bases from Bramble Berry and have for 3yrs. I mainly use Shea, Honey, Aloe but I’ve used their Hemp, Clear & White. Never had a “bad” batch, the bases are so incredibly versatile and user friendly I am always amazed with what they accept and continue to come out SOAP: cleansing with abundant lather (some people gotta have that lather!) I add different butters, oils, botanicals, herbs, powders, aromatherapy, premium aroma oils … salts sugars seeds, veggie & fruit powders for coloring … the possibilities are endless.

    Good Post! Thank you!

    • Jan says:

      I LOVE Bramble Berry’s products as well. :) It sounds like you have made some amazing soaps! Great ideas, thanks!

  10. Taleda says:

    Just a thought, sorry to post again but … You can purchase a cheap coffee bean grinder (mine has lasted 4yrs) to make powders of your botanicals, herbs, seeds etc which will be easier than using a mesh sieve. I have gallon containers from A – Z of bulk herbs spices seeds fruits botanicals etc that I break up into 1 cup sizes of powder, put into mason jars for easy access.

    • Jan says:

      Yes! A coffee grinder is a great investment. I’ve had one designated for herbs since my son was a toddler (he’s 12 now) and it’s still going strong! I actually misplaced the top though (hopefully, temporarily!) so couldn’t pull it out for this post. :) Great mention though, thanks!!

  11. Ann says:

    I used a melt and pour base and I cannot get it to lather. The place I purchased it from recommended I add liquid soap…this did nothing! Then I was told that they have had NO issues with NOT lathering and left it at that. I’m now confused as to what to do…look for, etc. What should I add? Or what is making it not lather?
    Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • Jan says:

      Hi Ann, I’ve never ran into that before. Even if adding liquid soap did help, that sure is a lot of trouble for you to go through for something that’s supposed to be quick & easy! I have to wonder if you got a bad batch or something? I’d try a new source. One place to try is – they have such nice customer service that if you did run into a problem, I think they’d be a lot more helpful than the place you purchased your product from.

    • Kimberly says:

      It doesn’t lather or it doesn’t bubble up? The lather can be creamy, thick or thin, bubbly or a bit of both and some where in between. Some people think that lather must equal bubbles which is why I ask. Take the plunge and make some soap, yes with lye. I was worried at first too and thought for sure I’d do something wrong. Honestly once I did it I was hooked!! I also find I like HP soaping as it is no longer caustic after it goes through gel phase and is ready to use immediately though I do try to wait a week or two. Try it! You’ll love it! I promise!!

  12. Sue Leverton says:

    I find the easiest way to grind up botanicals is in the kitchen blender…I use a Breville which has a good pulse action and it works perfectly on oats, spices, herbs and seaweed, and dried flower petals…..saves extra expense and equipment. Also for those who haven’t tried lye. As long as you are safety conscious..rubber gloves, and I always make my lye with my ,jugs standing in the sink in case of boil over , or spillage. You will be fine. I have never used melt and pour….if you are sensible making lye is no worse than using paint stripper or oven cleaner. In all my years of soap ma,king I have only,ever had a couple of minor splashes on my arms, to which I quickly apply vinegar which I keep on the bench all the time when making lye.

  13. I am from Australia and I have found a business here that sells natural vegetable melt and pour soaps.
    They do not contain lye.

    • Jan says:

      Thanks for the information Elina, I’ll be sure to check them out! :)

    • Kimberly says:

      Elina I did check out the site you provided and while you are correct the melt and pour soaps don’t have lye in them it’s because once soap is soap there is no active lye. This is taken, in part, from their site in regards to the melt and pour soap bases:

      “Our custom Natural Melt & Pour Glycerin Soap is premium quality, real saponified soap made from the Finest Natural Vegetable Oils which keeps it pure and still contains the high percentage of Vegetable Glycerine.”

      Saponified is the key word here, saponification is the chemical reaction between lye and oils.

      I just wanted to clarify for those who may be confused. Even though lye is used to make soap, I use many all natural ingredients and you can too! It’s really great fun!!

  14. Sharon says:

    I have MCS and this is the only soap I’ve found than doesn’t cause me to have a reaction. Nature Clean Bar Soap

    • Jan says:

      Hi Sharon, Thanks for sharing! I know it can be very tricky to find a non-reactive soap when you have many sensitivities, so it’s good to know you found one!

  15. I have been making my own soap, bath products, & candles for over 40 yrs. When I discovered melt & pour, I was in heaven. I get my base at They have a wide variety of bases including an all natural. Over the yrs. I have done a lot of experimenting with this base, I add different oils in small quantities & to make it harder I use palm kernel oil. The sites I use also: Brambleberry, Sweetcakes, Majesticmountainsage. For unusual oils I use FromNaturewithLove, they are expensive though. I do use other sites on occasion also.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Sheila, Thank you for all of the great resource ideas! :)

    • I love wholesale supplies plus too-they have a great list of all natural melt and pour soap bases which I use. I love Brambleberry too I just found your blog when I was looking for a natural eye wash-and found your calendula eye wash-making it now-I have some of my own flowers that I froze.

  16. Tammy says:

    I am so happy I came across your post on fb!! I teach middle school Family and Carreer at a small Christian school. I need to have projects that are not too time consuming, fun, and relatively cost effective since much of the expense is out of pocket. I think my classes would really enjoy making these soaps…..even the boys! ;) Any suggestions/”recipes” for beginners would be greatly appreciated! They could also use these as gifts!

    • Jan says:

      This would be a great project for middle school kids! :) I suggest that you browse through She has sooooo many great ideas! I’ve made a camouflage cold process soap many times before and I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen a melt & pour version out there. (The guys in my family like it, so that might be something your boys would enjoy too!) Something you could do, is just offer up a selection of materials and let them come up with their own unique recipes. That’s what I do with my kids & their cousins. :) But, if you have a few kids that might dump everything in, you can offer up a little formula that they can follow. (i.e. up to 3 teaspoons total of additives such as oatmeal, poppy seeds, dried spices, cosmetic clay, honey, etc.)

  17. Debi Hodges says:

    I am making homemade soaps for favors to be given away at my Granddaughter’s wedding. I need a no-lye easy way to make this, adding oils and things like lavender buds, ect. I will need enough for about 250 people.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Debi! Sounds like melt & pour might work out well for you. One thing to note about lavender buds (and other herbal additives) is that they will eventually turn brown, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when planning. With such a large amount that you need to make and the importance of the occasion, I suggest that you write to one of the online suppliers and work directly with them to order exactly what you’ll need. I love the idea of homemade soap favors! Congratulations to your granddaughter! :)

  18. Leona says:

    Here I am looking for blogs to link up to From The Farm Blog Hop and I find yours :) beautiful article by the way! Not the first time I have been attracted to your articles in blog hops!

    • Jan says:

      Thank you Leona! I am working hard on getting organized & hope to get back to linking to hops this coming week. So, I hope to see you there soon! :)

  19. Sara says:

    Hi there! Thanks for the helpful tutorial. I’m thinking about making soap for friends and family for Christmas and was wondering if you could tell me how many bars (and the approximate size of each) can be made per pound of soap base?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Sara, That sounds like a great gift idea! I’ve never kept track of the math on melt & pour, but I believe that one pound of base made about 4 of those square bars shown in the post. Your best bet is to contact one of the online vendors via their customer service and they should be able to work with you to figure out how much base & what type/size molds would suit your needs best. :)

  20. This is kind of new to me but really looking into getting started so thanks for much for sharing your info. :-)

  21. Thanks for sharing on From the Farm hop. I’ve never made soap but it is on my bucket list, so this was nice to read.

  22. Audra says:

    I used to be afraid of lye, but then realized that if you aren’t afraid to use bleach then you shouldn’t be afraid of the lye. Now I’m ok with it – I just make sure to use gloves and goggles. (And when my children were little I’d make my soap at naptime.)

    • Jan says:

      Yes, that’s exactly how I view it too! Great idea about making it at naptime when you have small children. :)

    • Kimberly says:

      Audra isn’t it addicting? I was afraid too but then realized as long as you respect the lye and work carefully then it’s a snap! I take precautions too wearing gloves and glasses and an apron. Nap time is a great time to soap or while they are playing gate off the area you are working in to keep them safe! Happy soaping!

  23. P J Kielberg-McClenahan says:

    A friend and I make melt and pour soap on a regular basis. I have found that a crock pot works best for melting a large quantity of base. No reheating, or overheating in the microwave. I just ladle it into a measuring cup and add color, herbs or emollients.

  24. Mary Goldsmith says:

    Instead of buying soap from the store , make your own low in lye , plain soap. When it cures let the kids melt it down to make their own herbs and such. Then you will know what is in it!

  25. Anastasia says:

    Thank you for all your great posts, they are so useful and fun to read!
    However, there is something that drew my attention… your words “Making soap without lye isn’t really possible, whether you are a large corporation or home hobbyist”. Most people really think so, but it is not really true. My hobby is to recreate ancient beauty recipes, and not that long ago (only about 200 years) people made wonderful soap from ashes. I barely could find any information on it, but finally got some basics and kept trying myself until I got it! No lye, no danger… and wonderful creamy soap!
    What you need to get from ashes is so called pearl ash or potash. Just sift the ashes with a common sieve and fill about 2/3 in the jar. Complete the rest with the boiling water. Stir and leave for three days in a warm place. After three days there will be a transparent odorless liquid and solid mass below (by the way, this solid mass is great to wash the dishes). How can you know, if it’s ready? Take a raw fresh egg and put it into that liquid. The egg should float. If it doesn’t, then leave the liquid for some more time in the jar with the ashes or pour off the liquid and leave it with the new ashes. When it passes the “egg test”, it’s ready to use. You may use this liquid (potash) to wash the clothes by hand or automatically (diluted with water 1:10) or to make fine soap. Then you put it to boil with lard, olive oil or any other oil and when it starts thickening and looks like a yoghurt, start adding a little coarse salt to separate the soap from the liquid (not much salt is needed) and leave it for a while. Then drain the liquid and repeat the whole process with a new potash several times, until the oil fully reacts with the potash. Then drain well and leave to dry. You may also add any scents, oils or herbs at the last stage. Result: totally ecologic, safe and beautiful soap!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Anastasia, Thanks for sharing all of that great information! I LOVE that you are using wood ashes to make all natural soap. That’s been on my want-to-try list for a while and after reading your description, I’m inspired even further!

    • Jen says:

      The process of soaking wood ashes in water to “leech” them is the way to make homemade, natural lye. Potash, potassium hydroxide, was then used to saponify a fat (usually lard) to make the soap. Though I agree that it is more natural and beautiful to make things from scratch, you still have created “lye” with a natural chemical reaction of the water and ashes combining to form a base. The base “potash” (potassium hydroxide) combined with the acid “lard” (any fat/oil) saponifies to form a “salt” (your soap). You cannot make soap without this chemical reaction. Care should still be taken when using “homemade lye,” as it is caustic like commercial lye (sodium hydroxide).

  26. Denise says:

    Hi! I found detergent free MP bases at whole supplies plus. They have several different kinds, but my family seems to like this one the best.™+Detergent+Free+Hemp+Soap+-+2+lb+Tray

  27. Christine says:

    I got my start with melt and pour and I still love it. There are so many cool things you can do with it. It’s definitely a gateway drug to cold process soap. I’m hopelessly addicted to both. And now I totally want to try Anastasia’s potash!

  28. Anastasia says:

    Hi Jan, I am so glad you like the idea! Please, feel free to write to me directly, if you have any troubles on your way to the potash soap. If you haven’t done it before, it may take a while to figure it out, so I will be happy to help! By the way, you may also give a try to a “raw” potash to wash your clothes (it works for automatic washing machines, too!) just don’t forget to dilute it with water (1:10), otherwise your garments will fall apart very quickly.
    Good luck! And thank you for your generosity and the great work. I am looking forward for more great posts from you!

  29. Kathy Glenn says:

    I have a question regarding the melt and pour soap base. I have read a lot about adding herbs but I would like to make it more moisturizing by adding either shea butter, cocoa butter, vitamin E, or maybe a little lanolin. Will that work or will it ruin the soap base? Thank you in advance.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Kathy! I think if you add anything, it’d have to be in low amounts. You could melt up a small experimental batch, separate it, add something different to each section, then test how it affects the soap’s look and feel. You can also buy different bases that already have extra moisturizing properties. If you check with the people at (or wherever you buy your base) they should be able to let you know more of what you can and can’t add to their different formulas. I do find that the clear base (like I used in this article) leaves my skin feeling a wee bit dry, so I think it’s a great idea to experiment with adding moisturizing ingredients!

  30. Daniel says:


    Be careful when adding additional oils to M&P bases. The additional oils can throw the mixture out of balance and either run the batch or make the bars super soft. I personally stay away from M&P bases; as they contain some type of alcohol and can be drying on the skin. Albeit, better than commercial soaps, but nowhere even close to a good handmade CP soap. You can find good bases out there, just look and understand the ingredients. Don’t be fooled by misleading terms. Sorbitol is an alcohol used to lower the soap’s melting point. All soap is glycerine soap; as glycerine is a byproduct of the soap making process. What they don’t tell you is that in M&P soap they have to add additional glycerine to counteract the drying properties of the alcohol used. Other than that, it’s a good project.

    • Jan says:

      Thanks for the information Daniel! I have to admit, I’m a cold-process junkie so am not as familiar with the wide spectrum of things you can & can’t do with melt & pour.

  31. Daniel says:

    As am I Jan! In fact, I am strictly a “From-Scratch” soap maker. I have seen quite a few people n my area trying to sell M&P soap as anything but… I look at lye much the same as I do with electricity. As long as you maintain a healthy respect for lye while you are working with it (Proper safety) it is rather safe. However, the moment you get complacent is when it get dangerous.

  32. Rebecca says:

    I have been making liquid soap using the melt and pour method. I really like the resulting gel, but it won’t lather!! My base soap is Kirk’s Original Coco Castile, and I also added glycerin and jojoba oil. Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong?!? Thanks!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Rebecca! I’m not familiar with that soap base, so am not sure on how to advise. Melt and pours are already balanced, so when you add extra things, you can make it not perform as well. If you contact the company, they should be able to help you pinpoint the problem. Good luck! :)

  33. crosswind says:

    Thx for sharing ly-free soap tips. You can buy sustainable Palm oil by Spectrum. I saw it at Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Market. I won’t buy any other palm oil, knowing what’s happening the the forest & orangutans.

  34. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for your information. I love receiving your newsletter. It inspires me on to new projects.
    I love your website too. Full of inspiration.
    I have been told rose petals unfortunately go brown also when adding to soap (cold pressed). Do you have any tips with that?
    Thank you again from Australia.

  35. reashamor says:

    I’m wondering could you use black soap as base if you are making dark soaps. Black soap does not have lye

    • Jan says:

      Hi Reashamor, That’s an interesting idea! Black soap doesn’t have a chemical source of lye, but the ashes from roasting cocoa pods & plantain make a caustic equivalent to lye which is needed to turn oils into soap. It would certainly be a more natural source though! I like that idea and will have to look into it further – thanks for sharing!

  36. Karen says:

    Hello, you asked to leave a reply if someone found a recipe for making soap without lye. I have. A few months ago I purchased some coconut laundry soap ( I have been on this coconut thing since I have discovered coconut oil. Anyhow, there was this soap recipe that they posted, on Facebook, using the laundry detergent. Which I believe is safe because the ingredients are coconut soap flakes and lemon grass essential oil and another essential oil. The recipe for the soap is to mix the soap flakes and hot water, then pour into molds. The post did not specify measurements, so I mixed what I thought was good ratio. I have been using it for about two weeks and I love it! No lye, no stove top melting, just good stuff. When I wash my skin with it it give this glycerine squeaky kind of clean feeling, but it does not dry out my skin. I live in New Mexico, very hot and arid weather, and my skin is not dry. I know, this reply sounds like I am selling something, i am not. I just like this stuff. I will be making it again. The soap bar seams to be lasting….going on my 3rd week and hardly made a dent in the soap bar.
    ~ Karen

  37. Ellin says:

    As far as allergies go I can drink Chamomile tea but if I use it on my skin I get blotches for days. Skin allergies are quite different from internal allergies and vice versa.

  38. leah says:

    Hi, I love thus idea but am allergic to soy. All of the soap bases I’ve seen contain soy protein do you know of any that don’t? Thanks

  39. Can I still add more oils to the melt and pour soap base?

  40. Jan says:

    Many Thanks! I feel that you wrote this just for me :-) It answered my “soap base” question and gave me a lot of ideas on how to add beauty (scent & sight).

  41. Becky says:

    Can you use almond milk instead of coconut milk? I’m allergic to coconut.

    Or something other than the coconut milk for the base?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Becky, There is no milk mentioned in this post, so I’m not quite sure how to answer that. I think pretty much all melt and pour soap bases have coconut oil in them though. It’s hard to avoid coconut. (Though I’m working on a post about making soap from scratch without it!)

  42. Inny says:

    Hi Jan, thank you for this article. I am a beginner and will definitely try this. One question; I have seen when some people make soap from scratch they mention having to wait six weeks before using the soap, even six months (not sure which one is better). But in this case, do we have to wait until using the bar soaps? Or can we use them right away if it’s made from soap base? Thanks so much again!!!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Inny! If you’re using a ready made soap base, then you can use the soap right away. The company that made it, has already handled the lye and waiting part, so you don’t have to worry about it. :) When making soap completely from scratch, you should wait four to six weeks before using. If you have a really high olive oil soap, it usually benefits from waiting longer, in order to get a harder, longer lasting bar. You can still use it sooner though.

  43. ex army girl says:

    Dear Ms. Jan & Fellow Readers,

    I am extremely interested in making my own soap—I saw an intriguing process using a crock pot a while back & can’t wait to try it. The name of your post came up during a search & brought me here, as I know it is IMPOSSIBLE to make soap WITHOUT lye. PERIOD. The difference comes in whether YOU handle the lye or you PAY SOMEONE ELSE to handle the lye for you. I am going to apologize in advance as I think this is going to veer a tad off topic, but I am new to the site & am unaware of the proper place to post this, so here it goes….
    1. I see people using all sorts of expensive additives like poppy, chia, or flax seeds, etc. for exfoliation purposes. What about used coffee grounds? Friends, family, restaurants, or maybe even your church, I would hazard a guess one collection from any listed source would be more than enough for a batch as a trial for those non-coffee drinkers out there.

    If you collect but are not ready to make a batch of soap, spread the coffee grounds on a lipped baking sheet in a thin layer & bake for anywhere from 15-30 minutes—depends on how thick layer is—or until dried thoroughly with NO moisture to mold them. I did this when pre-heating the oven, or stick it in when baking/cooking or after done & use the residual heat as the oven cools down. Place dry grounds in a covered container until ready to use. By the way, coffee grounds are essential in making homemade geode type crafts as well.
    2. Kirk’s Castile CoCo Original soap—also comes in unscented—is a standalone with NO NEED to alter it in ANY way!! It is the most wonderful soap as it is unadulterated. Can be used on face, body, hair & you can even brush your teeth with it. Yes, you are not seeing things, I actually said BRUSH TEETH. It has helped my young child that has gone through puberty at an early age {genes, not cheap hormone laden food} get a handle on cystic like acne {along with 16 oz witch hazel & 5 uncoated aspirin added to it & used as a toner}. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kirk’s. It brought back memories of the clean I felt as a kid & had not really experienced in many years. Rich lather in extremely hard water, rinses clean off skin with no film. A bit of soap scum look, but easy to clean off tub & shower.
    3. Has anyone made soap in a crock pot? Would a crock pot liner or turkey roasting bag work to speed clean-up & make it an easier pour into molds?
    4. This site has a 13 step procedure with pictures on making your own lye for soap making. I saw on a soap making forum that others were using Roebic brand 100% lye crystals {in other words, pure lye} but when I went to Lowe’s {plumbing department} to get it, it was $17 for 2 lbs. It started a fight with my husband over the “expensive” homemade soap rather than buying the pre-made store stuff. We are going to try this. I will eventually bye lye & then see which makes the better soap product in the end.
    5. I have a few questions in regards to using the lye water resulting from the process in #3. It will be winter soon here in the mountains, so while I would love to be able to evaporate off the liquid, not sure I will be able to.
    a. Does anyone have any idea how to figure the amount of lye is in solution?
    b. Can I just use this lye solution in place of re-hydrating lye crystals & NOT add water called for in the lye calculators?
    c. If I use the solution as is, would I measure the lye water in a liquid measure cup or still weigh it like the other ingredients for soap making?
    d. If I use it as is, would I need to add salt for hard bars?
    e. Would long cure times for soap batches using this lye water be reasonable to expect because of high moisture content?
    f. I think someplace while researching this homemade lye process I saw that lime could be added as a catalyst (?) possibly. Does anyone know if this is correct & the amount needed if it is?

    Thank you for your patience with me & my lengthy post. I am very happy that I have run across your site & will be eagerly devouring all aspects of it.

    • ex army girl says:

      errr, the process I refer to in comment #5 should be #4. Sorry.

    • Jan says:

      Thanks for the site links and information Ex Army Girl! Yes, coffee grounds are great in soap (I have a coffee and cream recipe coming to the blog this month or next.) :)
      Thanks for the info too on Kirk’s Castile soap – I’ll have to check it out!
      Re: Soap in a crockpot with a liner/roasting bag – it’s not really that hard to clean out once it has cooked. You can take a spoon and scrape out the residue and form it into a ball and you have ready to use soap. No waste! Any little bit leftover will come out if you soak your crockpot for a little while.
      I think my lye is around $11 or $12 for 2 lbs. It probably varies by region. You can get some on Amazon too (free shipping!) Two pounds of lye makes quite a bit of soap! You can probably get storebought soap cheaper. Homemade is just a world of difference on your skin and it’s nice knowing exactly what you put in it. There’s also the “I made this all by myself!” cool factor. :)
      I’m afraid I have no good advice about homemade lye solutions. You’d have to establish some sort of standardized alkalinity in order to get the results you want, but that is way beyond anything I’ve dealt with! Hopefully someone knowledgeable will see this and chime in!

  44. ex army girl says:

    Wouldn’t you know that right after I posted to your blog, I found another that answered some of my questions? Sounds about right…anyway I thought that you & your readers/followers might enjoy this site too, especially since I read that somebody referred to not having commercially available resources.

    Wealth of information on this site as well as on your site. I hope others will learn as much from both of you as I have today. Thanks again!! {;0}

  45. Henna says:

    Hi Jan,
    I know this post is old but just came across it while searching for some soap making tips. First, you have lots of helpful information for rookies on your page so big thanks! I have found some seriously valuable tips here. My two questions are, 1. Have you tried adding pure rose water instead of rose oil to a M&P base? Would it likely throw the mixture out of balance? Or I could play around with low amounts? And 2. Instead of adding dried herbs, if you crush herbs into a powder like mix, will it still go brown eventually?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Henna! I haven’t tried adding pure rose water to a melt & pour base, so I’m afraid I’m not really sure how it would work. I know that since they are ready made, you don’t want to add too much of any one thing – low amounts though, shouldn’t hurt! (I’d experiment with tiny tiny batches though, just in case!) I think you’d have more leeway with something water based like that, since you could always leave the soap in the mold longer, if it needs drying back out. Do you mean crushing fresh herbs, instead of using dried? If so, fresh herbs/flowers usually turn kind of slimy or moldy in the soap. They look pretty at first, but it won’t last. Even if using dried herbs, you want to keep small bits or powders.

  46. Mandie says:

    the link below sell melt & pour which is palm oil free

    • Jan says:

      Hi Mandi, Thanks for that link. It looks like they have minimum orders that are large, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of our favorite suppliers started carrying the palm free melt & pour version! I’m glad you shared – thank you!!

  47. Holly says:

    I have been told by several people that soap has to breath so not to wrap it up. I have a vaccum sealer to seal the bars with but is it safe? I’m making them for Christmas gifts. Thanks

    • Jan says:

      Hi Holly! My understanding is that cold process soap needs to breathe, but melt & pour may develop condensation if it isn’t wrapped tightly. (I make cold or hot process 99% of the time, so am not as familiar with melt & pour.) I would experiment with two tiny bars – leave one unwrapped, but wrap the other and see how your soap base acts. You could also call or email the manufacturer of your soap base and see what they suggest for it.

  48. Lisa says:

    Would I be able to make liquid soap with this by using the grating and water aka cheating method?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Lisa, That’s a great question! I’m not quite sure – my first thought is that it could work, but that’s just a guess. If you have some on hand, you could try a mini batch and see how it does. I hope it works for you!

  49. Sydney says:

    Would it be possible to make a herbal tea like you did in the honey and dandelion recipe and add it to the melted soap or would that water it down to much? If so is there another way I could infuse the soap with dandelions? We have tons in our backyard in the spring-time and I always want to make your honey and dandelion soap but I’m afraid to use the lye.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Sydney! I’m not sure about adding water to melt & pour. One idea you could do is to infuse honey with dandelion blossoms and then add that to the soap. It might impart some benefits. I know a few others have asked this as well. I’ll see if I can figure out if there’s a way to make it work this spring when dandelions return and get back with you all if I come up with something!

  50. These came out so pretty too. I like the perfect square shaped look.

  51. Sam says:

    I understand that the M&P method needs to be wrapped tightly initially but must it stay wrapped?
    Will there be a time when it can be left without a wrap, so that the aroma can be experienced?

  52. Kaleia says:

    Okay this might sound weird but I was wondering if I want to add a liquid (breast milk) can I with this recepie? Also if I can how much do I add?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Kaleia, You sure can use breast milk in soap! I’ve most often heard of it used for cold process soap making (instead of say goat’s milk or cow’s milk) though. I’m not sure how much you can add to a melt and pour base, without throwing the ratios off or how long the shelf life would be. If you have a few extra tablespoons on hand, I would just make up a tiny trial batch and see how it does. Or, if you bought the soap base from somewhere like who has excellent customer service, you could call/email and ask them. I hope you find an answer and that your soap turns out perfect!

  53. These look great! Thanks for the post…

  54. mandy says:

    Do lye or melt and soap would harm skin I am saying beacuase I always perferd herbal cosmetics and cream to stay away from chemical substances. I am an beginner to just confrom do lye consisting soap would harm skin and environment.

  55. Uzma says:

    Help! My older sister is hell bent on having homemade soaps for her wedding favors and being a bridesmaid it’s up to me to make them. I’ve figured out the basics as well as the needed supplies it’s the quantities I’m having trouble with. I’m making 4 dozen 1″ bars ( and I need to know how many pounds of soap base I need. Anyone??

    • Jan says:

      Hi Uzma – this site should help you out: “Your first step is to find out how much soap is needed to load your molds. I usually do this by filling the mold with water and then dumping the contents into a measuring cup. You should always melt a little bit more soap then what you actually need because some of the base could stick to the side.”

  56. Mariann Hardin says:

    I am diligently searching for a company selling soap base without carcinogenic chemicals or Palm oil. Is this possible?
    I have found many natural products but they contain the Palm oil. Please help.

  57. Dorcas says:

    Hi I was looking at all of these awesome ideas about making this simple but creatively made soap and was wondering how would I go about adding things like Shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil to the soap mixture and still coming out with the best results…Thank you

  58. lynn Brealey says:

    I am recuperating from being rather ill this last number of months and am getting much better. I can tell because I am just now getting itchy fingers to start doing some hobbies again. So.finding your web site was a great joy!Thanks.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Lynn, I’m so sorry that you’ve been ill, but am happy to know that you’re feeling better! I’m glad that you enjoyed the web site and hope you continue to grow stronger each day!

  59. Anji says:

    Hi Jan, could i add saffron strands into the sop base when I put it into the mould and I love the clear soaps in the photo. :)

  60. Tammy Bennett says:

    Jan ~ do you work with the white cream textured soaps? I like how they make it look marble like. Wondering if you had a how too on this?

  61. kim says:

    Hi Jan!! I stumbled on your website and like others, I’m fearful of lye. So I’m going to try this myself. and thanks for referring Berry store. I’ll give the a try Thanks!!

  62. Aslynn says:

    A year ago, Ex Army Girl posted about using Kirk’s unscented Castile CoCo soap and Witch Hazel with asprin added (for cystic type acne)…what kind of Witch Hazel would be best for this? I have cystic acne and have tried staying away from dairy as someone recommend but I still get the nasty cysts :( I am also pregnant so I need something chemical free to use.

    • Hi Aslynn! When I read the labels from different types of witch hazel that I’ve purchased online or locally, they all seem to have the same ratio of witch hazel to alcohol. So, I’m really not sure if one type is better than another.
      My daughter and her friends (teens) have great luck washing their face with honey to keep acne under control, but there are some more tips here too, if you haven’t tried them:
      You’re right that it’s often an internal cause and foods can trigger it, but it’s not always dairy. Anything that increases inflammation (common culprits: starchy foods, sugar, margarine, etc) might be a problem.
      Though, being pregnant, you don’t want to change things drastically or limit too many foods for sure, without advising with a nutritionist or someone similarly qualified.
      I hope that you find that site helpful and that you find some relief soon! (Also, congrats on your baby!) :)

  63. Amanda says:

    Love your recipes! I use soap making supplies from Bulk apothecary ( I love the price and quality of the items. What is the difference between Bulk and Brambleberry?

    • Hi Amanda, Both are great choices! The only main difference I can think of is in what types of items they carry, probably vary. If you’re happy with what you’ve been getting from them, then sounds like a great place to shop!