Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shampoo Bar Soap Recipe

I begin my journey into soap making almost 2 years ago. It all started when I read this post and began to understand how easy and cost-effective making my own really is!

I am by no means a soap making expert. I usually stick to pretty basic recipes and I haven't experimented much with scents or creative designs.

Hot processed soap is the way to go for me. Cold processed takes a long time to cure and I'm just to impatient for that! (Okay...don't freak out if you have no idea what I just said! Stay with me on this!)

Determine Your Method

There are so many recipes and soap-making methods out there. If you are new to soap making I strongly suggest you read through these super informative posts and find what will work for you. Here are just a few:

I would also recommend borrowing a few of these books from the library if you really find yourself wanting to know more:

Why shampoo bar soap and not just baking soda?

What a great question! I'm so happy you asked (smile). I have found that baking soda has more of a clarifying effect on my hair. Even after a vinegar rinse, my hair is still very dry and it doesn't feel conditioned.

I have long hair and I was so frustrated. I could hardly even brush through it. This even after a month of allowing my hair the transition away from commercially-prepared product.

I really didn't want to be dependent on store-bought shampoo! I know about all of the nasty, toxic chemicals in it  and they kind of freak my out. With more people bringing awareness to the problem, I knew it was time to commit to a change.

So I set out to create a solution!

Gather The Supplies

Alright! Here we go. It's time to gather all of the supplies and ingredients. If you are new to soap making there is going to be an initial start up cost. But, I'm going to recommend to you the suppliers that I have found to have the cheapest prices. And the savings in the long run are huge!


I purchase lye, sodium hydroxide, online through The Soap Dish. Last time I checked I was $6.95 for a 32 oz container. This will get you through quite a bit of soap recipes and lasts a long time!

You will need to run your recipe through a lye calculator to be sure that you are using the proper amount of lye and liquid (i.e. water, coconut milk, goat's milk, etc.). I use the recommended amount of lye for a 5% superfat soap. (Trust me, this will make more sense when you start working with the lye calculator.)

Do you really want to learn a sustainable practice? Check out this information on making homemade lye from wood ashes!

Note: Be careful when working with lye and follow all of the recommended precautions. What I'm trying to say is, I can not be held responsible for any craziness, mishaps, explosions, etc. that may happen when working with this recipe. 


Shop around for the cheapest oil prices. I like to purchase from a combination of local stores, The Soap Dish, and Mountain Rose Herbs.

You can design the properties of your soap based on the oils you use. For example, use:

  • Lard or tallow for a hard, long-lasting soap
  • Coconut or castor oil for lathering
  • Olive or canola oil for moisturizing and conditioning properties
  • Cocoa butter, shea butter, and jojoba oil for a luxurious, extra moisturizing effect

Have fun and experiment!


Most of the equipment you will need can be found in your kitchen. I do not have appointed tools for soap making simply because I use glass and stainless steel bowls and utensils. However, it would be necessary to have tools specifically for this task if you were to use wood or plastic.

See this exhaustive list of recommended equipment, tools, and molds.

Note: I do have a dedicated crock pot for soap making. It is an older model that I purchased from the thrift store for $4. The older models don't seem to get as hot and that is a good thing.

Now on to the recipe!

Luxurious Shampoo Bar Soap Recipe

-9 ounces coconut oil
-9 ounces olive oil
-5 ounces castor oil
-3 ounces jojoba oil
-2 ounces shea butter
-2 ounces cocoa butter
-1 ounce beeswax
*Please note, all amounts are per weight. You will need to use a scale for these measurements.

-4 ounces water
-6 ounces coconut milk
-4 ounces lye
*You could use only water, an herbal infusion, or any other type of milk. This is just my preference for a shampoo bar, because I love the conditioning properties of coconut milk.

Optional Essential Oils
-Rosemary and peppermint for dark hair
-Lavender and lemon for blonde hair
-Lime and coconut for all types
*Use approximately 0.5-1 ounce of essential oils for this recipe. Yes they are a fun addition, but not necessary.

  1. Place the water and coconut milk into a large glass measuring cup.
  2. Measure out the lye by weight into a 1 cup measuring glass.
  3. Carefully add the lye into the liquid and stir to combine. (Adding the liquid to the lye could cause and eruption.) Be careful, the liquid is caustic and not to be touched in anyway. The outside of the bowl will be extremely hot as well. Note: Take the necessary lye precautions with this step. 
  4. Allow the lye mixture to stay under a vent and cool down while you prepare the oils.
  5. Measure all oils, by using a kitchen scale, and pour into a pot.
  6. Warm oils and beeswax on low heat until all are melted.
  7. Pour melted oils into a crock pot. Be sure the crock pot is on the lowest setting. Note: Do not allow the oils to get to hot.
  8. Add the lye/liquid mixture to the oils in the crock pot and stir. Note: Any equipment the lye touches needs to be neutralized in a mixture of vinegar, soap, and water. Vinegar will neutralize the lye.
  9. After a brief stir, grab your stick blender and get to work! Blend the oils, lye, and liquid in the crock pot for at least 3-5 minutes. We are working toward "trace."
  10. Blend until the mixture becomes a thick, pudding like consistency. 
  11. Once the mixture is pudding-like, cover the crock pot and "cook" the soap for approximately 1 hour.
  12. By the end, the mixture should have folded in on itself and it should be completely transparent. Turn off the crock pot.
  13. Now it's time to prepare the molds. I just use a standard glass loaf pan greased with coconut oil and it's always worked perfectly. 
  14. Now is the time to add the essential oils (if using).
  15. Spoon soap mixture into molds.
  16. Allow soap to cool and harden for 24 hours.
  17. Remove from mold on to cutting board and cut into 1 inch thick bars.
  18. Place bars on a tray with good airflow so that they can harden further. But go ahead and use your first bar!!!

The Savings

This recipe costs approximately $8-$10. It produces approximately 10 shampoo bars. They will keep our family of five in supply for 6 months. That makes it all worth the effort!


-I'm telling you, this is the most amazing natural hair product I have used! My hair is so shiny, soft, and manageable. And the real husband even uses this shampoo bar soap and LOVES it!

-When showering, be sure to complete the use of this shampoo bar soap with a 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 part water conditioning hair rinse. I like to put this in a spray bottle and spray my hair with it just prior to leaving the shower. I do not rinse it out (more conditioning that way). The smell of vinegar will dissipate once the hair dries.

-I'm sure there is something I have left out! So if you have any questions leave them in the comments or ask them on my facebook page.

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See this post and a host of others like it here: Nifty Thrify Things, Sunday School, Cure For The Common Monday, Savvy Homemade Monday, Inspire Me Monday, CRAFT, All Things Fee, Everything Under The Moon, More The Merrier, Meet Me Monday, Melt In Your Mouth , The Girl Creative, Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Homemaker Monday, Mangia Monday, Mad Skills Party, Made By You Monday, Tip Me Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, New Nostalgia, Terrific Under $10, Tutorial Tuesday, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Traditional Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Hearth and Soul, What I Whipped Up, Rock-N-Share, Raising Homemakers, Crafty Sasse , Crystal and Co., Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Show Off Your Stuff, Creative Juices, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, Frugal Friday, Friday Favorites, Living Well


At December 18, 2011 at 7:16 AM , Blogger Dana (*danavee*) said...

I'm convinced! I'm going to make these bars as stocking stuffers... thanks!

At December 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM , OpenID healthynbalanced said...

I am very excited to try this but I have a question, what is the purpose of doing the apple code vinegar/water rinse afterwards? what if you don't use that as a rinse? Also, I will be linking back to this post on my blog! I really can't wait to try it.

At December 18, 2011 at 8:35 AM , Anonymous Diane said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! So no conditioner (homemade or otherwise) is needed, other than the ACV mix? I get (long-hair version) Rosanna Rosanna Danna hair without conditioner so I'm a little scared. LOL

Oh, how do you apply the ACV mix? I have long hair and am trying to think of a method that doesn't involved 90% of it running down the drain.

At December 18, 2011 at 8:46 AM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@healthynbalanced Apple Cider Vinegar is a conditioner and its okay if you don't use it, your hair just maybe a bit less conditioned. Thank you so much for linking back here! I really, really appreciate it:)

@Diane That's right no conditioner other than the ACV:) That's all the conditioner you will need! I love to mix 1 part ACV and 3 parts water in a spray bottle and spray on my long hair just before exiting the shower.

At December 18, 2011 at 9:56 AM , Blogger Moonbeams and Eco-Dreams said...

Thank you! I am bookmarking this. Not into soapmaking yet, but who knows in the future...

At December 18, 2011 at 11:16 AM , Anonymous Diane said...

Ah, spray bottle. Duh. Why didn't I think of that? Thanks!

At December 18, 2011 at 11:32 AM , Anonymous Stacy Makes Cents said...

Making soap fascinates me.....but I just buy it from a friend - that's her livelihood. :-)
Great tutorial Andrea - as always.

At December 18, 2011 at 11:41 AM , Anonymous Julia said...

How does this compare to regular store bought?

At December 18, 2011 at 12:57 PM , Blogger Pam said...

This is really interesting to me. I have been making my own cold process soap for a year now. We often use it to shampoo with. But, I have been intrigued by the idea of making soap specifically for shampooing. I am bookmarking this and will be trying it in the not-to-distant future. I do have one question about your mold, though. When I make soap, I have to line the mold with waxed paper to lift it out. Does this just pop out easily because of the cooking method?

At December 18, 2011 at 1:15 PM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@Pam I have to be honest. I was out of waxed paper and I was a little nervous about using the bread dish without it. But I was amazed! I just greased the sides with a little coconut oil and just popped right out!!! I do think it's because of it being hot processed? Could be wrong on that?

At December 18, 2011 at 4:41 PM , Blogger Cheryl Taft said...

I was wondering if I could use this recipe & make it cold process insted of hot process?

At December 18, 2011 at 4:47 PM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@Cheryl I'm not an expert but I believe you could. All the recipes that I have seen using the cold process method use similar ingredients.

At December 18, 2011 at 5:08 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

I'm thinking you could probably just use the ingredients in a liquid form? (Minus the lye and beeswax, of course) If you didn't want to make the soap, that is... Thoughts?

At December 18, 2011 at 7:57 PM , Blogger Salihah said...

I have thought and thought about making soap. This post will put me to action. Thank you for explaining it so clearly step by step!

At December 18, 2011 at 8:12 PM , Anonymous Jen said...

This is one of my new year's resolutions -- learn to make shampoo soap! :)

At December 18, 2011 at 8:53 PM , Anonymous Heather@ Creative Family Moments said...

I've always wanted to know how to make this!

At December 19, 2011 at 1:51 AM , Blogger Cata- Mafe said...

hi I have a question...the lye is good for the hair???? is the first time that, can I use lye for the hair? not is bad..... for my the lye is CLOROX

At December 19, 2011 at 6:23 AM , Blogger KAT said...

Oh My
Wonderful post !

- KAT -

At December 19, 2011 at 6:23 AM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@Cata-Mafe As I have mentioned in the text...I am certainly not an expert in making soap:) I would recommend reading more about saponification (the chemical reaction that takes place on the molecular level) during the soap making process. Lye is not left in it's normal state, just as the oils are not left in there normal state. Straight lye is caustic and will cause serious burns (the making of soap changes the properties of both the lye and the oils). There is a lot of very informative material available out there:)

At December 19, 2011 at 6:39 AM , Blogger Sarah @ Mum In Bloom said...

I've added most of the ingredients to my cart on my Azure Standard order this month but where do I get Lye? I saw some on but what do I look for when I order? Where do you get your ingredients from?

At December 19, 2011 at 6:42 AM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@Sarah I purchase my lye online through The Soap Dish. They are very affordable:)

At December 19, 2011 at 7:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too plan on making this. Thanks so much for posting it. In the next few weeks I plan on getting into making soap.
Sarah, I bough Lye at Ace Hardware. Don't know if they have Ace Hardware where you live....but if not you could call different hardware stores.
I can't wait to start making my own soap!

At December 19, 2011 at 9:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I just buy this from you? I mean, I'd know that it was loving made properly, rather than me going out and buying all the stuff and goofing it up. Perhaps add a "buy" button to your site?

At December 19, 2011 at 9:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great, great recipe, thank you for sharing I've been making soap for years and have always shyed away from making shampoo bars, thinking they wouldnt leave hair manageable but your recipe and such good comments give me a reason to make some now, HURRAY for me:)

At December 19, 2011 at 10:16 AM , Anonymous Jennie said...

I make soap too. Saw you on a blog hop, going to follow....your blog is all about what I want to blog maybei can cheat and jsut read yours! :-)

At December 19, 2011 at 10:47 AM , Blogger Amy-Thrifty Treasure Hunter said...

OK, this may be a "I totally missed the obvious" question, but... How exactly do you use a solid shampoo ?

At December 19, 2011 at 12:15 PM , Blogger Vicky S. said...

I am so with you on the hot process vs. cold process. That and every flop I've had has been making cold process soap. LOL!

At December 19, 2011 at 11:45 PM , Anonymous Estela said...


I know this is "shampoo" but couldn't I also use it as a body soap? Can the recipe be doubled or is it best to make two separate batches? Inspired to make my own soap, thanks!

At December 20, 2011 at 2:26 AM , Blogger Tina Peterson said...

I would love to try this but it looks like a lot of work. Would you sell a bar - or maybe would you like a review of your soap on my blog (if you sell it commercially maybe on Etsy or Artfire)? Just a thought.

At December 20, 2011 at 3:20 AM , Blogger Cata- Mafe said...

hi, thank you but your answer! yesterday I'm thinking about this post, mabye if you want to make liquid shampoo you should change the sodium hydroxide by in (spanish) potasico hydroxide.

At December 20, 2011 at 6:05 AM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@Estela You can absolutely use this as a body soap! It's very moisturizing for the skin:) And yes, you can double the recipe to make a larger batch. I've done it before:)

@Tina Start to finish is about 1 3/4 hours including the cook time. I know the steps may seem like a lot but it's actually very simple:) To answer your question...I am looking into the best avenues for selling the soap.

At December 20, 2011 at 12:18 PM , Anonymous Jill@ said...

Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

At December 21, 2011 at 1:07 PM , Blogger Jodi@ said...

WOW!! This seems like A LOT to take in, but with a kid about to be in college, I'm looking for ANYWAY to cut costs... :o)

At December 21, 2011 at 2:13 PM , Blogger kt said...

Awesome! ThanX for posting this recipe. It's just what I've been looking for. I LOVE my home made bar body soaps & haven't found a good shampoo ever so this might work. Thank you so much.

At December 21, 2011 at 5:48 PM , OpenID anelementallife said...

I've bought lye at Home Depot and Ace before. Look in the drain cleaner section and make absolutely SURE you get one that says 100% lye or sodium hydroxide on the lable. You don't want any other nasty chemicals in the soap. You can probably get cheaper lye online, but for convenience sake I've only ever bought it at those two stores.

At December 22, 2011 at 4:04 AM , Blogger Ann said...

I really really want to try this but I am so scared. I used to purchase sheeps milk soap at the farmers market where I lived and I started using it on my hair. At the time, it was several years ago now, I knew what the ingredients where and they were all safe ones but no lye. My hair started getting a lot of split ends and falling out, I used it for about 6 months hoping it was just an adjustment to using natural products but I finally had to give up. My hair is very fine and I have little enough as it is without having it falling out in handfuls...

At December 22, 2011 at 3:59 PM , Blogger Just One said...

I get mine from the local Amish store. That might help someone hopefully. I just made my first shampoo bars but used mostly what I had on hand, sheep and deer fat, and some coconut oil. I used this calculator to figure it out:
From reading your recipe I see that I need far more essential oils and "special" oils. Thanks for the post!

At December 23, 2011 at 2:21 AM , Blogger Kanelstrand said...

I've been washing my hair with baking soda for about 7 months now and I am so satisfied with the effects! Luckily, rinsing it with vinegar does the job for me and I can easily comb it. But I would also love to learn how to make shampoo bars and soaps though I feel kind of scared to use the lye. Thank you for a great informative post and thank you for commenting under my Green Living ideas article on green gift wrapping.

At December 23, 2011 at 9:58 PM , OpenID anelementallife said...

I've got my batch in the crock pot right now! I have a (not so) secret love for all things chemistry and soap making is right up my alley. It makes me think of this:

At December 24, 2011 at 7:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two ways to use shampoo bars. Wet your hair and run soap on hair in a combing motion from front to back several times and then work in with fingers.Also slide bar down the length if you have long hair. Or work up a lather in your hands and apply to hair and scalp.

At December 24, 2011 at 6:15 PM , Anonymous Jill@ said...

This great post is featured at Sunday Snippets this week! Thanks for sharing! Come and check it out!

At December 25, 2011 at 7:08 AM , Blogger Wendy said...

Hi there
I have been making soap for 3 years and always leave it to cure for 5 weeks or so before using it.
You say at the end that one an use this bar immediately without curing, is this correct?

At December 26, 2011 at 7:09 AM , Blogger Andrea said...

@Tina You can purchase my handmade shampoo bar soap through my Etsy shop. Click the orange Etsy button just above the list of Pages on the sidebar:)

At December 26, 2011 at 9:03 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

At December 27, 2011 at 7:30 AM , Blogger Andrea said...

@Wendy You can use this after the 24 hour hardening due to the hot processed method of soap-making. At least that is how I learned it and we've done it for years without issue? Do you use hot process too?

At December 28, 2011 at 8:40 PM , Anonymous Denise said...

I make soaps/lotions with goat's milk from my Nubian dairy goats. Lye can be purchased from much cheaper and for bulk oils/butters has great pricing. :) Happy soaping!



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