How to Make Easy Hand Made Soap

  • 23 Apr 2020


So we are all currently obsessed with Hand Washing! 

And that means a renewed interest in the soap we are using.

Many families are also isolating at home and looking for new activities that are kid-friendly.

So today’s “How to…” post is an activity that adults can do, kids can do (younger ones with supervision of course!) and which can be scaled up or down in difficulty as well as having options for adding your own touch of creativity.


Now I am aware that serious soap-makers will consider this method a bit of a cheat!  And not really soap making. But for those who have never made soap before, it is an easy and fun way to dip your toe into the world of soap making without contending with the more dangerous aspects such as lye. (Not to mention that it is much safer if you are doing this with the kids.)


The first thing to know about this method is that it starts with soap that has already been made. This soap should ideally be unscented or very low scent, so that you can customise it with your own selection of essential oils. You can buy soap powder or soap flakes for this. Or you can just use cakes of unscented soap and grate it. Use a box grater or by all means use your food processor or similar to make the job easier if you want . Although not all machines will be powerful for the task, so if you go down that route, please proceed with caution.


Put your flaked or grated soap into a large bowl (ideally glass, stainless steel, or ceramic - avoid plastic as this can absorb fragrance) and then add about 1 tablespoon of water. Cold water is usually fine, but if the day is cold, you can either use warm water OR place the bowl over a pan of hot water (like a double boiler) to help the soap soften more easily.


At this point you can add any fragrance you want your soap to have. You can use any essential oil or combination, so get creative! Add up to 10 drops of essential oil to every 100g of soap. (see below for some suggested combinations.)


You can also add a range of other ingredients to your soap to personalise it further, such as -


  • Clays – these add colour as well as boosting the cleansing power of your soap
  • Dried flowers or other botanicals – complement the fragrance of your essential oil choice with dried herbs or flowers, such as dried lavender buds, flower petals, or dried mint leaves
  • Exfoliants – adding gritty ingredients can give your soap a more interesting appearance as well as acting as an exfoliant for the skin. Try poppy seeds, coffee grounds or oatmeal.


Whatever you decide to add, use about a teaspoon of any of these dry ingredients – and be prepared to add a little more water if necessary - some ingredients, such as clays, will tend to want to absorb more water.


Now is the time to get "hands on". Squeeze and squish the mix with your hands until the water starts to soften the soap and it all starts to stick together.  It should feel like stiff plasticine. Don’t rush this bit as the more the soap is worked and squeezed together, the better it will hold its shape. If it starts to feel a bit dry at this stage (which can happen in particular if you are using clays or other additives), feel free to add a little extra water.  But only add a few drops at a time so as not to make the mix too wet.


When you have worked the mix really well, you can split it up into the size of ball you want to make. There are no rules as to size, so anyone making can mould a ball that fits their hands! (Large adult soap balls and small kids soap balls!) Roll, press and smooth until you have a smooth tight ball of soap. Take your time with this, as a soap ball that is too loosely packed will tend to fall apart when you come to use it.


Once you are happy with your soap ball, set it aside to dry and set. Depending on the weather (temperature and humidity) this may take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days. But generally, the longer you can leave the soap to dry, the better it will be to use and the longer it will last.


And that is it! These soaps are, as I said, a fantastic activity to do with kids. But they also make great presents – parcel up a few in a decorative bag or pretty box. Or put a collection on display in the bathroom in a basket or bowl.


Suggested Soap Recipes

(All recipes are designed to follow the method detailed above)


Grapefruit & Green Clay Soap Balls

200g grated soap

1 tablespoon water (or more if required)

20 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil

1 teaspoon Green Clay



Fresh Mint Soap Balls

200g grated soap

1 tablespoon water

10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

10 drops Spearmint Essential Oil

1 teaspoon dried mint leaves (or the contents of 1 or 2 peppermint tea bags)



Spring Flower Soap Balls

200g grated soap

1 tablespoon water

10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

10 drops Geranium Essential Oil



Orange & Poppyseed Soap Balls

200g grated soap

1 tablespoon water

20 drops Orange Sweet Essential Oil

1 teaspoon Poppy Seeds



Or come up with your own combinations!  Share your creations in the comments below!





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