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Making Soap Without Lye

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Cutting Homemade Soap into Bars

Making soap at home can be a great way to save money. However, many recipes call for using lye in soap making. Lye is not a very safe chemical to have around. This is a guide about making soap without lye.


Solutions: Making Soap Without Lye

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Simple Homemade Glycerin Soap

It's easy to make no lye soap bars with soap crafter's melt and pour glycerin soap base that you can purchase at almost any craft store. You can use items like clean dry yogurt cups, juice boxes, cream cheese containers, etc. as the molds. Add your favorite essential oil, strength as desired, for scent too. One pound of glycerin base will yield about 5 bars of soap if you are pouring 3 ounces of melted glycerin base into each mold.


  • molds
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. glycerin soap base, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • double boiler or your own double boiler system
  • metal spoon
  • essential oil, if desired
  • rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle


  1. Very lightly oil the inside of molds with vegetable oil.
  2. Place glycerin soap pieces into double boiler and very slowly melt while slowly stirring over medium to medium high heat. Do not overheat!
  3. Once glycerin is melted, remove from heat. Slowly stir in essential oil if desired and pour into molds. If there are bubbles in the soap, allow the bubbles to rise to the surface of the molds and very lightly spray with the rubbing alcohol.
  4. Set molds aside for about a half hour and then place molds in freezer for about an hour.
  5. Remove from freezer, gently press on the sides of the molds to loosen the soap and then press the bottom of the molds to release the soap.
  6. Wrap each soap bar in plastic wrap and store in a cool dry place until ready to use.

Of course, you'll want to place one of them out right away to use so don't bother wrapping that one ;-)

Source: Trial and error and a combination of recipes.

Tip: Lye Free Laundry Soap

I make laundry soap for myself and both daughters-in-law. We all really like it and it is so easy. One batch makes 2 gallons of soap and this is how I do it.

I grate 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap into some amount (like a gallon) of water on the stove with my cheese grater. You could probably use any bar soap, but I like Fels Naptha.

When the bar soap is all melted I add 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax. Stir that until it is dissolved. Pour in a 2 gallon bucket and add hot water from stove top until the bucket is filled. You will need some stirring room though. After you stir it, let it sit for 24 hours.

It will have a look of "chicken fat" on top. Stir that up really well and pour into jugs. Shake well each time and use 1/2 cup per load. I also use vinegar as my fabric softener, too. There is no static and the clothes are soft with a clean smell. Your soap will look like "egg drop soup" with the eggs whites in it. That is normal just shake bottle before use. I hope you like this, we sure do and it costs almost nothing to make.

Source: I Googled on the internet "homemade laundry soap" and I found this one.

By Rita from Bethany, MO

Tip: Book: "300 Handcrafted Soaps"

To find great soap recipes, simply go to the library and get some amazing books on the subject. You can also search Google using "melt and pour soap recipes" and find more recipes than you might ever need.

I have made some and they are amazing to keep and to give. This time I used the best book I have ever gotten. It's called "300 Handcrafted Soaps" by Marie Browning. The recipes are easy and fun.

By Sandi from Salem, OR

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Here are questions related to Making Soap Without Lye.

Question: Making Cream Soap without Lye

Does anyone know how to make cream soap without lye? Especially whipped soap that I have seen on


Most Recent Answer

By william02/11/2011

To you people asking about lye and 'ancient' methods: You need* sodium or potassium hydroxides (lye or 'pot ash') to properly sapon-ify the base oils, plain and simple. There are some plants that contain diluted salts that 'foam' when added to water and agitated but it's not 'soap' in the concentration us modern people have come to accept.

** Please, enough with the 'hurrr, ancient people didn't have lye powder around so lye isn't needed'. At first they didn't know what 'magic' allowed this to happen. Once the ancients realized that the muds and water near their sacrificial zones would froth and clothes were cleaner when washed there, it didn't take long for them to realize it was something in the location, the combination between the wood and the flesh of those burnt offerings that was causing it.

in hindsight, we know that plant or wood ashes , when soaked with water, will leech out a strong alkali solution. once discovered and pre-industrialized, they would take this solution and boil it down until the water evaporated and the white crystals (now called 'lye') were collected and stored. Lye powder is very stable and easy to store compared to a 'lye' solution, so long as you never get it wet. ;-) It will degrade over time and with exposure to moisture in the air.

I have heard that a solution of a LOT of baking soda and a little water will get a relatively high ph and when mixed with a smaller amount of olive oil and heated will create a mildly foaming 'soap', but you're not breaking down enough oils to create those saponins

I have buddies that make their own 'lye' by soaking hardwood ashes from their smokers in a 5 gallon bucket of water. you keep adding ashes and wait until the PH reaches the desired level. You can either use that solution for cooking (pretzels and bagels especially) or you can boil it down and harvest the crystals.

This isn't much different than making your own salt petre from hay & urine.

Question: Hand Soap Recipes Without Lye

I am looking for hand soap recipes that do not require lye.

By EL from Phoenix, AZ


Most Recent Answer

By tricia minter [11]01/13/2010

You can go to and get recipes. Also sign up for their newsletters. You can chose the ones you want to receive. They send out lots of info on soaps. The ones you want are the melt and pour soaps. They don't require lye. You can find products needed online or at your fave crafts store. The oils can be found at health stores such as Nature's Outlet or GNC.

Question: Making Soap Without Lye

I was reading information about making soap products someone had posted on ThriftyFun. Is it possible to make nice soap i.e., glycerin without using lye? As I have never tried to make soap, I wondered if it there was a way to do this. Many thanks. Helen xx

By Helen from U.K

Most Recent Answer

By Cherie S.02/21/2014

Making a lot of soap each week is a rewarding hobby that turned into a business for me. So yes, I make a lot of soap. The soap that I make requires lye in every batch.

I could make soap using melt and pour soap bases and not have to handle the lye. Why don't I do the melt and pour bases? Read the ingredients in those bases. There are very few melt and pour bases that do not contain some pretty nasty chemicals and additives.

Making my own goat milk soaps with a good recipe can make some great all natural soaps. In my natural soaps I include olive oil for moisturizing properties, coconut oil for the cleansing and nutrients, castor oil for great fluffy lather, shea butter for the moisturizing properties and nutrients, Tussah silk for that great feel in the bar of soap, Kaolin clay to help refine the skin and help to detoxify the skin, some bars have honey in them to feed the collagen in the skin, some bars have essential oils in them for the great benefits they bring to the soap, colorants and micas to make the soaps pretty so that people will visually enjoy the soaps.

Read the ingredients on the melt and pour bases available. Are they nice and pure? Remember, those melt and pour soaps also started with lye. The lye is now saponified into soap but it was there, just like in my hand crafted bars. Do you really want to put just any chemical on the largest organ (skin) of your body?

If you don't think that soap matters, try stepping on a clove of garlic with your bare heel. Notice how fast you taste garlic in your mouth? Way too fast to mess with any chemicals in your soaps.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Making Soap Without Lye

I would like to try making my own soap, but am a little concerned of any fumes given off when using lye since I have asthma. Is it necessary to use lye in soapmaking? Are there recipes out there for making soap without lye?

Terry Lynn from Toronto, Ontario

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

To make real soap you must use lye. But you can purchase the bars of melt and pour soap. You just melt it and add any additional ingredients and pour it into molds. The melt and pour comes in a variety of types including clear glycerin. Just do a google search for melt and pour for both the products and recipes. Good luck (10/27/2005)

By klr2080

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

I haven't tried this one yet, but it is in my science book. I'm going to try it this week. Prepare a soluction of baking soda by dissolving 5 grams in 10 milliters of water Mix the baking soda solution with 20 grams of lard in bowl/pan. Boil gently for 20 minutes. Stir constantly while mixture is boiling. Let the mixture cool. Transfer to plastic bowl. Place in an ice water bath for 5-10 minutes. Stir. Make a saturated salt solution by dissolving 20 grams in 25 milliters of water. Add to the mixture. Stir. Remove soap curdles by pouring through cheesecloth. Drain any liquid. Put soap into a dish to dry and harden. (05/15/2006)

By cross_fire_books

Archive: Making Soap Without Lye

I have been having a hard time finding a recipe for soap without lye, is it possible? f you have a recipe for soap without lye it would be MUCH appreciated! Thank you! Jenna from Spring, Texas

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

For soap, I believe you must have lye, unless you are making a glycerin type bar or the suggestions above. Cadia (08/22/2006)

By spinwool

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

My husband and I just bought the glycerin bars at Hobby Lobby to make our own soap. You can melt it in the microwave, add the soap colors and scents of your choice and pour in the molds. It was wonderful and quick to work with. The molds last forever and were under $2.50 ea. The dye and scents were inexpensive and last a long time. And a large bag of the glycerin soap was $9.99 for a 5lb bag and we have already made 12 bars and plenty of glycerin still left. A lot of fun and very easy. (08/23/2006)

By Susie Zoerner, Bay Minette, AL

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

You must have lye to make soap. Even glycerin soap has a certain level of lye. If you make the cold process soap outside or in a well ventilated area, you shouldn't have a problem with the fumes. I'm asthmatic and have been making soap for 5 years with no problems (but thats just my case). (08/27/2006)

By otakop

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

I tried using a mixture very similar to the one cross-fire-books describes from his science book, using fat, baking soda and salt. But instead of the fat, I used olive oil. I started with a one pound box of baking soda, dumped into a two quart pan on the stove, added enough olive oil to dilute it, so it could come up to a boil, and then added about a cup of sea salt. No, it did not saponify. But the following morning, when everything had cooled, I kneaded in enough oat flour to make a smooth paste. The mixture is wonderful to bathe with, soothing, deodorizing [with all that baking soda] and cleansing. But no, it is not soap. It will not rinse out of my hair. I'm tempted to put together an olive oil and lye mixture for shampoo. Does anyone here have any experience with it? info at thebestword dot net (09/01/2006)

By Genevieve Fosa

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

To make real soap, you have to have lye. If you want detergent, buy bars at the store and grate, add your own oils, herbs, or whatever and pour into pretty molds to set. Glycerin soap is derived from the soap from lye. I am not positive how they remove the glycerin from the soap, but once the glycerin is removed, it is not luxurious. There are a lot of soap sites you can look at for ideas and find out all the necessities to create soaps that are beautiful and very hard or very easy. You will find a lot of recipes, links to other sites and answers to all of your questions. Enjoy, Tina (01/04/2007)

By trbrown22

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

I found a book by Janita Morris, The Soap Maker. I found it at the library and her recipes don't call for Lye. They are all her own creations and recipes. Very simple. I haven't had a chance to do try the recipes, but I'm very excited about not using lye. (09/08/2007)

By kate

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

To make real soap, you must use lye, however, once the process is complete, the lye is no longer left in the soap. The lye is only needed the produce a chemical reaction that actually turns the oils into soap. Lye soap is very good for you, glycerin melt & pour soap is a good soap to use as well, it is also derived from the lye method. I would avoid using any soap that uses salt as salt is very drying to the hair and skin. (09/21/2007)

By Crazee Crafter

RE: Making Soap Without Lye

There are several recipes. Here is one: Ingredients: Soapwort, oatmeal and fragrance of choice (vanilla extract, lemon juice, orange peel, etc-whatever you want the soap to smell like) Recipe: cook the soapwort in water to extract the saponins. Boiling is not desirable, as saponins can be destroyed by excessive heat. When they come out, they should float on the water and they should be sudsy, so you'll recognize it. Harvest the saponins, by scooping the suds out with a dipper or large spoon and place the suds into a container by themselves. You should eventually be able to tell how much you need. Trial and error will show the way. Next, mix your flavoring/scent into the saponin/suds container. Then add your oatmeal. Add water if the mix is too dry immediately. You could also use cornstarch or flour for this instead of oatmeal. Finally, take the entire mixture and place it into molds, the size and shape you want your soap to be. you can leave these in the sun to dry or bake them overnight at low heat or, just set them in a warm, dry place, where children and pests can't get to them. When these items are dry, you have soap. Some people on here have said that "real" soap requires lye, but the only definition of soap is that it is a substance used for cleaning. Saponins might form the scientific definition, but lye is not a saponin, so it has no real value in soap and being caustic, it is probably best avoided. (10/25/2007)

By Stewart Forrester