Making soap at home can be a great way to save money, however, many recipes call for using lye, which can be dangerous if not used properly. Using a pre-made soap base can be safer because the lye has already been converted. This is a guide about making soap without lye.
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It's easy to make 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.
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.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this post stated that these are "no lye soap bars." This is inaccurate because the initial soap base (and all soaps) were made initially with lye. The chemical reaction of sodium hydroxide (lye) and fat (saponification) creates the soap base and byproducts like glycerin. All the lye is converted into something else and is no longer dangerous to work with.
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
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.
Does anyone know how to make cream soap without lye? Especially whipped soap that I have seen on freshwhipped.com.
By Carol J Ekstrom (Guest Post) 05/18/2008
Lye is not difficult to work with if you use your common sense and take precautions. Lye combines with oil to make a salt called soap. But I can understand that making soap using lye is not everyone's cup of tea. If you don't want to buy cream soap there is a way to make it without making it from scratch. I do not guarantee the quailty of it but here it is if you still want it.
1 1/2 shredded soap (please use soap and not detergent/beauty bars. look at the ingredients, it should say sodium palmite, sodium ...)
5 oz distilled water
1 tbsp glycerin
1 tbsp olive oil
I use one of those small crockpots, melt all ingredients in crock pot on low until all is liquid and melted. add a EO if you want to have fragrance. Beat until creamy and airy. Enjoy. HTH
Editor's Note: The shredded soap bars were previously made with lye but it has been converted.
By Melissa. (Guest Post) 11/12/2008
There are "melt and pour" soaps at JoAnn Fabrics, Michael's, etc., you just portion it out, melt it in the microwave, add color and Essential Oils, pour in your molds and let it cool (you can speed it up in the freezer).
I enjoy the "old time" method of making soap with Lye and fats, it's like a science project and there are wonderful books out there that gives you all the portions, to make beautiful soap. Red Devil has been taken off the shelves, but you can find pure lye at Lowes. Make sure there is nothing else in the bottle but lye. If you are careful, there is nothing to fear with lye, I have yet to get burned. And, if you would happen to get some on you, use vinegar to neutralize it, just pour it over the skin that's been affected.
By Alison (Guest Post) 01/17/2009
Any of you people saying soap can be made without lye are flat out wrong. Yes, there are natural plants and such out there that contain saponin, a soap-like substance, but they are NOT soap. Here is the definition from dictionary.com-
a substance used for washing and cleansing purposes, usually made by treating a fat with an alkali, as sodium or potassium hydroxide, and consisting chiefly of the sodium or potassium salts of the acids contained in the fat.
If you are scared to use lye for whatever reason, as other people have already stated, you can buy melt and pour soap from any craft store. Any of the good brands are made with (surprise) lye. The not so good products are made from synthetic detergents, and are classified as "syndet" bars. They are not soap, and they are not good for your skin at all.
Again, going back to natural saponin products, you can find things like soapnuts (soapberry tree) to do your laundry with, etc.
When you make lye-based soap, the final product does not actually contain lye. It's used to force a chemical reaction with the oils to trigger saponification- which is what makes soap. Another reference is wikipedia (look for soap) and it will detail the chemistry behind the process itself.
Solutions of baking soda and oils do not a soap product make. Sodium Bicarbonate (aka Baking Soda) does have cleansing properties of a sort (that's why it is contained is several toothpastes). It can also be used with sugar as a pesticide or to clean tarnish off of silver.
Anyway, my final thoughts would be to further research saponin plants on your own if you're looking for a non-lye soap-type product.
I am looking for hand soap recipes that do not require lye.
By EL from Phoenix, AZ
You can go to about.com 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.
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
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 comments that were provided then.
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
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
By Susie Zoerner, Bay Minette, AL
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