Recipes to Make Your Own Soap, Lotion and More

You can easily make safe, effective toiletries — including lotion and deodorant — at home, using simple, healthy ingredients.

| August/September 2007

Easy, healthy, luxurious homemade soaps

Homemade soaps are a fun, healthy skin care alternative.


If you’ve ever read the labels on health and hygiene products, you know it can be a challenge to find a product that doesn’t contain long lists of ingredients you can’t even pronounce, let alone know what they are or what they’re for. Plus, there are the occasional headlines that yet another standard ingredient in the products we use every day turns out to be counter to the very health and cleanliness the product is supposed to promote. Sometimes the easiest way to ensure that you’re using the best, healthiest products — from soap to toothpaste — is to simply make your own. You can easily make safe, effective toiletries — including lotion and deodorant — at home, using simple, healthy ingredients.

Try your hand at one or all of these basic recipes and rest assured that your body is getting the best care you can give it. You should be able to find the basic ingredients listed below at your local pharmacy or health food store.

Shea Butter Soap (from Soothing Soaps by Sandy Maine)

2 cups glycerin soap base, melted in a double boiler
2 tbsp shea butter, melted separately
Several drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Mix well, pour into molds (you can use regular food storage containers), and cool.

3/21/2015 10:26:32 PM

Interesting :) I used to make my own deodorant, however my sister got me some Lavilin a couple years ago, and I've been too lazy since. Will try your recipe at some point!

1/16/2014 10:52:08 AM

My interest in soap making is long standing, but I've never tried it. How do I know where to buy the ingredients like shea butter, glycerin etc. I did check out the Alaffia site, but do I purchase it already processed or is there a more raw form. If you buy in bulk, what do you recommend? What do you use for molds and what other equipment will I need. Thank you so much for your input!

1/15/2014 12:24:44 PM

I love organci African Shea Butter so much and have been using it for years. 100% organic. and it's fresh. 25 bucks including shipping. I sale it online or you can call me to place an order 702-773-2408

5/23/2013 10:11:29 PM


5/10/2013 11:10:33 PM

I have been making and using homemade deodorant for about a year now. I started using it because I have had an issue with foliculitis under my arms and nothing helped, not even antibiotics.  The foliculitis got better but I was still having outbreaks so I began using Yardley's of London's English Lavender soap about 1 1/2 months ago and now my armpits are not breaking out and the scares are fading.  

Here is my recipe for my deodorant:

1-2 Tbsp. baking soda (if sensitivity is noted)

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

3-5 Tbsps. Coconut oil, melted

5-10 drops tea tree oil

1-2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel (optional)

Combine baking soda, cornstarch, tea tree oil, aloe vera gel (if desired), and coconut oil. Stir together until combined well.  Add coconut oil slowly , if a drier deodorant is desired use less coconut oil, if a creamier mix is desired increase coconut oil.  Mixture should hold together when squeezed.  

To apply either use your finger to rub under arms, an old deodorant despenser, the cardboard middle after all the toilet paper is gone, or however you prefere to dispense it.  I store my d.o. in an old cottage cheese container that has been washed and dried, I also use it to mix it in as well.  

I hope this helps someone. Have a wonderful day. BTW I love this website. 

ann scourtes
4/9/2013 11:29:09 PM

i love mother earth news i use to read my aunt anna mother earth mag.

4/9/2013 6:35:19 PM

I've gone no poo, too. I wash with baking soda and rinse with a 50/50 mix of cider vinegar and water (boiled with 1 tea bag & 1 tsp. dried rosemary, cooled and strained.) My thick hair feels lighter and has never been this shiny!

Lynne Jaquith Lowe
4/8/2013 4:36:26 PM

I love hearing all the different options for creating one's own soap and the varieties but I am concerned about the use of animal products. Yet again, why exploit animals for human consumption when there are so many other (and better) options provided by nature in the plant world?

Kevin Galloway
4/8/2013 3:28:19 PM

Hi Kellie Nichols,Try using Tea Tree oil, or olive oil for your dry scalp.

4/8/2013 2:42:47 PM

Love this.

Kellie Nichols
4/8/2013 2:07:05 PM

I tried it for awhile, but my scalp is very itchy and that wasn't going away, in fact it got worse since I got no relief from washing, so I went back to washing and my itchy scalp is still there, but at least I get relief for a day or two when I wash.

4/8/2013 1:30:45 AM

Natural Sea Salt.. use it to brush my teeth.. add to my bath water really helps with my patches of dry skin .Also add it to my washer and dishwasher ..

Connie Plemons
4/7/2013 11:13:19 PM


4/7/2013 6:51:59 PM

The Alaffia website is a really great source for She butter which is fair trade, and not chemically treated so it has all the natural elements that make it such a healing butter. In addition, ,I have found them to have the best price online for Shea.

Dab Napthine
4/7/2013 5:45:42 PM

If anyone is interested in making their own laundry soap here is the recipe we use. All the ingredients can be found in most grocery stores. It makes enough soap for 6 months based on 2 loads a day and our total cost for all the ingredients is around 15.00. It does not make suds so we use it in our HE washing machine. Here is what you need: 1: 4 lb 12 oz box Borax (2.15 kg or 76 oz) found in the detergent isle 1: 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (1.81 kg) found in the cooking isle 1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz (3 lb 7 oz) found in the detergent isle 3 bars of Sunlight soap, found in the detergent isle that you have to hand grate (smells nice) 2 small containers of oxyclean or store brand oxyclean (try to get about 3.5 lbs total (1.58 kg)) found in the detergent isle. Wear a mask when you are mixing it all together.. It only takes 1 tablespoon per load.

Peggy Chase
4/7/2013 5:07:12 PM

Apple cider vinegar will even remove soap scum from your hair. You dont need to add water . I just pour it over my hair and rinse. Be careful not to get it in your eyes though it stings.

Kathy Arenz
4/7/2013 4:58:21 PM

A few of my favorites are,, and I encourage you to use a lye calculator (super easy) and make your own. I do not recommend the mixes. I have found them to be very irritating and no better than over the counter (otc) soap.

Wendy Galbraith
4/7/2013 4:57:08 PM

my house is so cold that it is too hard to spread!

Obladee Obladah
4/7/2013 1:37:39 PM has come good sources. Sometimes you find amazing things in funky stores like the dollar store, discount food stores, just have to do a little "shopping" and research.

Leann Aguilar
4/4/2013 5:12:41 PM

I use just plain coconut oit as lotion and even to tame fly aways on my hair! It is the best body lotion I have ever used - and you can cook with it too!

3/14/2013 2:01:03 PM

I get essential oils and shea butter at the health food store. You can get glycerine soap and beeswax at HobbyLobby. You may also be able to get these at the health food store but I know they are less expensive at HobbyLobby.

21st Century Templar Knight
3/14/2013 8:43:45 AM

Where do you purchase the ingredrients for all of these? The oils, shea butter, glycerin soap, bees wax etc. I have no clue where to start looking for these items. I know the salt, baking soda, corn starch stuff like that but, I don't think I'd find the others in Safeway etc, Yeah...I'm a guy but, I am interested in learning how to do it.

1/28/2013 2:30:42 PM

Do you mix the baking soda with water?? And do you mix the vinegar with water??

Bob fischer
1/21/2013 5:21:19 PM

Have any of you tried no poo? Not shampooing at all? I know it sounds gross but I have not shampooed my hair in three years and it is better than ever. I have very thick, hard to manage hair and I used to use all types of products in it. My daughter told me about going "no poo" and I tried it. I rinse my hair with 1 T baking soda and then rinse with 1 T cider vinegar. My hair now needs no product and I have not spent money on products. Also, it is healthier because your hair is not in a cycle of being stripped of natural oils from shampooing. My son in law no longer has dandruff since going no poo. Thanks for listening.

1/15/2013 4:58:46 AM

I noticed a lot of people wanting Lye-free alternatives in the archived comments. You can use Soapwort or Soapnuts to make liquid soaps. You don't get the foam that you do from sulfates, but you can use a foaming pump that is supposed to help a bit if you feel you can't live without the suds.

Teri Smith
12/15/2012 7:18:06 AM

GREAT holiday gifts!

5/9/2012 1:48:32 AM

This has been so helpful!! I'm giving up all my traditional beauty products to go all natural and all homemade in six months, and I just recently made my own lotion - The only problem I have with it is that the oils/water separated! I'm thinking it was my mistake, though.....Gonna give it another try!

Susan Malloy
3/11/2012 6:37:53 PM

I am looking to find the recipe from the article Happiness is making your own liquid laundry deteregent by Amanda Wunderlich posted on 2/8/2012...I've misplaced it. It was from the -happy-homesteader section.

1/5/2012 4:37:35 AM

Very nice article. I have been thinking about making our own soaps and this article really pushes for trying it. Does anyone know which place or places are best for purchasing the ingredients pertaining to quality and price?

Katrina Andrews
1/4/2012 2:47:03 AM

I recently have become addicted to making soap. I was able to use my local library for find a book detailing how to make soap in the crockpot. I have made a Castile soap (olive oil, lye and water) which turned out well, and a couple of batches of lard based (lard, canola oil, lye and water) soap. All have been great to use, and give to friends and familes as gifts. My one note for anyone thinking about soap making is to invest in a quality hand blender/stick blender. The first one I had purchased years ago at Goodwill. It lasted through the second batch of soap before I burned the motor out. The second melted the plastic casing in my hand as I was using it. A stick blender makes getting to trace much easier than hand stirring, which can take up to 2 hours.

Bill Kitsch
1/2/2012 4:58:46 PM

Etta, for your shampoo bar, you said to use 3 lbs cold, distilled water. Is this tap water 55 to 65F; well water 50 to 55F?; or refrigerated water at 34 to 38F? (if the refer is set and working correctly)? Thanks so much, Bill

3/17/2011 1:25:45 AM

I hope I am not posting the same thing twice! I have been making soap for about 14 years now. We do not use expensive additives like cocoa butter, shea butter, sweet almond oil etc. Our soap is made of pure Olive Pomace Oil, sometimes with beeswax and always fragranced with pure essential oils. If you use beeswax, it speeds up tracing time quite a bit, but the temperatures have to be adjusted. Instead of working at 38 degrees C, the oil/beeswax mix must be 71 degrees C and the lye/water mix 66 degrees C. For 2800g of Olive Oil, I use 180g Beeswax and add about 160ml of essential oils at trace. I allow the block to cure for about a week or two before cutting into loaves and then bars. I then let them cure and dry so that they are about 2 months old when wrapping. Use a stick blender to bring the oils to trace. Otherwise you will stir till you are old and grey. Have a look at

Teresita Bastides-Heron
3/16/2011 3:13:28 PM

Your magazine is excellent,and I enjoy it very much, but when I print any of your article the font is too small. I would to see if the font can be made a little bigger for printing.Thanks. Teresita

1/1/2011 6:12:16 PM

I just made goat milk lotion, and it was great until it soured! any reccomendations for preserving?

10/12/2010 10:04:21 AM

Etta Perry: Sorry about the last post not being very clear. I'm asking about the shampoo recipe - do you make it like you would make cold process soap? Thanks,

10/12/2010 10:01:07 AM

Etta Perry; Do you make this like you make cold process soap? I'm new to this so I'm sorry if this is a "newby" question. Thanks. Krzybo

7/5/2010 1:38:49 PM

I learned to make soap about 10 years ago. Soon after I learned how to make beer. It's an easy process. Well worth the time. And, you know exactly what is in it. I made a shampoo bar several years ago and am looking for my recipe to make it again. My only caution for soap making is working with the lye. It burns the skin and isn't so pleasant in the nose if you stick your head over the pot of lye water. Word of advice... be patient. It can take a while to cure. If you use it too soon, it will still have too much water in it and won't last long. Good luck. And have fun.

J Russell Bailey
7/5/2010 1:12:55 PM

Hey there all, When I was up visiting a dear friend who was ill in my old stomping grounds of B'ham, Washington, I took beginning and intermediate soap making classes! It was fun, I learned a lot, and found that home made soap is the feline's vocalization! I hope to move to Alaska at some point and thereby, to making Black Bear and Grizzly Bear soaps........both are supposed to be akin to Macadamia Nut Oil in viscosity, so that is the known oil viscosity that I'll use for recipes measurements. I'm thinking also of researching how to acquire naturally occurring potash and/or lye, so I can forgo the commercial costs and more closely control organic content. Great Mag, I just wish that Mother Earth would allow a completely Online Paperless Subscription and payment via Paypal: I'd subscribe again in a heart beat! If you have a penchant for quality coffee information go to: Cheers all.

J Russell Bailey
7/5/2010 12:42:39 PM

I took two Soap Making classes while visiting my old stomping grounds in B'ham, Washington. Dearly loved both classes and I look forward to making my first batch of Black Bear and Grizzly Bear soaps. It's fun, economical and undermines the mass produced junk that ruins more skin than helps. Cheers from Wyoming.

Etta Perry_2
5/16/2010 4:25:16 PM

This is the recipe that I have used for shampoo for 2 years. I have not bought shampoo or conditioner in 2 years. I have several people that buy this bar from me. 3 lbs cold, distilled water 500 grams sodium hydroxide 2 lbs olive oil 1 lb 8 oz castor oil 8 oz sweet almond oil 4 ounces jojoba oil 4 oz kukui nut oil 2 lbs coconut oil 1 lb 8 oz palm oil 45-50 grams pure essential oil (I use rosemary and peppermint)

5/13/2010 10:01:37 AM

@Patricia: there's no way to make true soap without lye or potash, but you're not using lye on the skin--just to change the oil/butter INTO soap. The final product, that soap, contains no lye and is safe to use.

5/13/2010 9:15:20 AM

Hi Linda, According to Berthold-Bond's book, the deodorant can be stored indefinitely in a glass jar with a screw top - no need to refrigerate it. As for the essential oil, use a few drops per ounce of baking soda.

5/13/2010 8:43:42 AM

Why do you have to use lye////???????????? that stuff is very caustic it seems to use on senative skin??????????? Is there another way to make soap????????? Pat

5/12/2010 1:50:34 PM

How many drops of oil do I add to the deodorant recipe? And how long will the recipe last. Should I store it in the fridge once its in a paste form. Or, maybe I could store the dry ingredients and add the oil before applying. You could use a new clean spoon every time and just dab it on.

5/12/2010 1:02:11 PM

Thanks to everyone for sharing their wonderful recipes! Regarding shampoo, I've been using the following recipe to make shampoo for my kids:

1/24/2009 3:14:42 PM

An easy shampoo recipe. In a spray bottle, mix together one part aloe gel to two parts liquid castile soap. Add a few drops jojoba or olive oil and a few drops essential oils (optional). Stir together. Do not shake. Then, just spray on wet hair. I use it every time I wash my hair. For more natural beauty products go to

1/3/2009 3:38:58 PM

I am looking for a good shampoo and conditioner recipe

6/23/2008 12:20:10 PM

For lotion supplies, visit,

2/10/2008 7:25:43 PM

Where can I purchase the supplies needed to make the homemade lotions? THank you

Lisa Laventure
11/22/2007 12:00:00 AM

Wonderful, I am looking forward to trying all these recipes. Thank you so much!

Etta Perry_2
11/21/2007 12:00:00 AM

I would recommend that anyone learning to make soap read as many books as you can before you attempt to make soap. Especially if you are using milk of any kind. I have made a couple of recipes using goats milk. These recipes don't use any water. The only liquid is the goat's milk. I always freeze my milk before mixing it with sodium hydroxide. I thaw it before mixing. I mix it in a pan sitting in a sink of ice water to prevent it from getting too hot. It will scorch the milk. Here is a Basic Recipe For Milk Based Soap. 3 lbs pure vegetable shortening17 oz extra light olive oil12 oz safflower oil8 oz canola oil3 lbs (6 cups) goat or cow milk, prepared for soapmaking12 oz pure sodium hydroxide1 oz borax1/2 oz white sugar1/2 oz glycerine

Lela Lesson
11/20/2007 12:00:00 AM

I forgot to say make sure you know how much soap the recipe makes. You will need molds. The blender recipe makes a pound. The average soap bar is 3 to 4 ounces in weight. You can also try U-Tube. I am a little afraid of the crockpot method. You will have to weed your way through the people selling soap. Some it is quite costly. Keep a notebook and log which sites you have been to and what you put in your batch of soap (and how much of each oil, ect.). The main thing is..don't get in a hurry.

Etta Perry_2
9/10/2007 12:00:00 AM

I have made soap using goat's milk. I purchased a book titled MILK-BASED SOAPS by Casey Makela from Barnes and Noble used books. It has a lot of milk recipes and the technique. I made the hand soap recipe using egg shells for grit. We love the soap.

Emma Dorsey
9/7/2007 12:00:00 AM

Here is a Goat's milk soap recipe. Start out with a basic recipe for soap. I use 32 oz. of olive oil, 74 oz. of tallow, 3 oz of cocoa butter,and 3oz. of bees wax heated to melting point in a metal pan. Cool to 100 degrees. In a plastic water pitcher mix 14 oz of lye and 41 oz. of cold water. Use goggle for safety. Cool to 100 degrees. As the two mixtures cool to 100 degrees mix carefully by pouring the lye water into the fat slowly, mix with a mixer until there are trailings and is the consistency of pudding. Pour into a soap mold and cover and rap with a blanket. Let set for 48 hours. To make Goat's milk or butter milk soap heat your batch of basic soap over low heat and gradually add 9 oz. of butter milk or goat's milk to the mixture. when the soap is completely melted add 2 teaspoons of powdered benzoin and a few drops of peppermint eo to cover the slight sour odor. Pour into your favorite molds.

Lisa Laventure
8/30/2007 12:00:00 AM

Hi, Just wondering if anyone has a recipe for goat milk soap? I am interested in getting a goat for milking and making soap and cheese too! Thank you, Lisa in Canada PS This website is wonderful!

toni rossi
8/26/2007 12:00:00 AM

The best way to save money and still smell sweet!

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