Photo: How to make soap, part two

Did you know that exfoliants — poppy seeds, oats or herbs — scrub skin to release debris and remove dead skin cells?

Will you make soap in March with me?

Week 1: Learn about lye, saponification and cold-process
Week 2: Supplies and ingredients (oils, fats and essential oils)
Week 3: The method, step-by-step
Week 4: My favourite recipes
Week 5: Troubleshooting and your questions answered!

Let's dive into the ingredients and equipment you'll need to make your own soap!


  • Oils and fats (listed below)
  • Lye (purchase at soap-making store, online or at your local hardware store)
  • Water (tap is usually fine but distilled is safest)
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Additives (optional): honey or exfoliants (listed below)
  • Colorants (optional): cinnamon, turmeric, beet powder or cloves


  • Apron, rubber gloves, eye protection (goggles or glasses)
  • Stainless steel pot (large), stainless steel bowls (small and medium)
  • Heat-resistant glass container
  • Digital thermometer (18-105 C)
  • Digital scale (metric)
  • Hand blender/emersion stick blender
  • Whisk, silicone spatula(s)
  • Wooden soap block, molds or baking pans
  • Parchment paper, towel, scissors, tape, steel cutting blade or knife
  • Cooling racks
  • Coffee grinder (optional)
  • Ice cubes (for an ice bath to cool lye and water or the fats and oils)

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Don't use:

  • Any bowls, pots or pans made from Teflon, plastic, aluminum, tin or cast iron — lye will corrode these
  • Wooden spoons or spatulas — also will get eaten by lye or splinter

Oils and fats

Apricot kernel oil

  • Moisturizes and conditions

Avocado oil

  • Contains vitamins A, E and D
  • Heals and moisturizes (great for babies!)


  • Makes bars hard and long-lasting

Canola oil

  • Moisturizes
  • Don't use more than 50 per cent

Note: you can source organic, GMO-free

Castor oil

  • Attracts and holds moisture
  • Makes bars hard

Cocoa butter

  • Moisturizers
  • Makes bars hard

Coconut oil

• Good lather
• Makes bars hard
• Don't use more than 20 to 30 per cent

Grapeseed oil

• Light-weight, non-greasy

Jojoba oil

• Conditions and is great for sensitive or oily skin
• Creates a stable lather
• Use one to two ounces per pound of oils

Mango butter

• Moisturizes
• Don't use more than 15 per cent

Olive oil

• Skin softener (plus easy to find and affordable)

Safflower oil

• Unsaturate, so use it with coconut oil

Shea butter

• From karite nut trees that grow in regions of West and Central Africa
• High in "unsaponifiables", i.e., retains original makeup (my favourite ingredient—soap feels like lotion)
• Great for sensitive skin (nourishes all types)
• Don't use more than 20 per cent (you'll probably use less because it's expensive!)

Sunflower oil

• Contains vitamin E (a preservative to combat rancidity)
• Use no more than 15 to 20 per cent

Sweet almond oil

• Moisturizes and conditions skin
• Creates a stable lather

Bar soap exfoliants: from "tickly to scratchy"

Exfoliants scrub skin to release debris and remove dead cells. Don't like texture in soap? No problem. They're optional.

  1. Ground herbs and flowers like chamomile or calendula
  2. Ground almond meal
  3. Organic rolled oats
  4. Ground, dried orange or lemon peel
  5. Cornmeal
  6. Poppy seeds
  7. Brewed coffee grounds

Other fun additives: honey (hydrates and soothes), white or green clay (draws out dirt, toxins and sebum).

Essential oils

Pure essential oils are derived from plants and they're volatile! That means they evaporate quickly when exposed to air. Add one type or blend them to create a desired scent without toxic synthetic fragrances. (More to come...)

Stick with me and I'll walk you through the step-by-step method next week!

Enter to win a deluxe soap making kit donated by Voyageur Soap & Candle Company Ltd. ($79.95 value)!

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 8, 2014

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Post a comment


Mar 29, 2014
9:54 AM

This is a great soap-making guide! Can’t wait to try it out!

Mar 19, 2014
3:58 AM

I have been wanting to make my own soap for years! Will be trying this process within the next month!

Mar 16, 2014
11:36 AM

I can’t wait to start trying to make soap!!

Mar 15, 2014
9:52 PM

With a baby in the house, I’m becoming increasingly worried about our constant exposure to synthetic chemicals—tiny amounts individually, but they add up quickly! SLS-, paraben-, dye- and fragrance-free soap will make a nice complement to my no-shampoo routine!

Mar 13, 2014
10:30 PM

Lindsay, good to have you back! PLEASE tell me: where the heck can one find soap (or soap supplies) made of locally-sourced ingredients??? Organic oils are great, but having them shipped in from across the globe is not my preference. (But then again, I’d also prefer not to use grandma’s lard…conundrum!)

Mar 12, 2014
8:20 AM

awesome giveaway something I’ve always wanted to do

Mar 12, 2014
3:51 AM

Recently I have made my own natural bar soap and it was really a great experience for me now I want more information about making soap and for that, I was searching information but not getting the right and exact information that I want. I am so glad that I cam to your blog and got these brilliant tips. Thanks a lot for this great help.

Mar 12, 2014
12:14 AM

Soap is a very essential factor in human life especially in regard with health. This will assist to enhance cleanliness and also generate a little income out of savings from soap buying. This will also assist me to be busy and learn new issues which can develop the well being of the human race. Create work and also markets for the ingredients and the final products(Soap).

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