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When I was a kid, back in the 70’s, no one had ever heard of “liquid soap”.
Soap came in bars…period. To be honest, I sometimes wish that we had left it that way. Life was so much easier. Family members would actually share a bar of soap! Mind blowing, I know. Fathers might have their “guy soap” in the shower as well, but for the most part, barred soap prevailed in showers, bathrooms, kitchens and work sinks.
Today, bar soap is somewhat nostalgic, although most of the time I still prefer it. It’s certainly cheaper and doesn’t bring with it a plastic bottle that needs to be recycled. Nonetheless, liquid soap is popular, but it’s also very expensive! I would like to show you three methods for making your own liquid soap, for much cheaper than what you’ll find in the store and somewhat sustainably.
I say “somewhat sustainably” because it’s only sustainable if it’s something you can produce or grow yourself. So, if you make your own soap, then this would be a sustainable project for you. However, if you go out and buy liquid castile soap, this is not a sustainable process. You can still do that and have fun with it, and I am certainly not demonizing liquid castile soap, I love it as much as you do. I’m just pointing out the difference.
Anytime you want to liquefy bar soap, you simply grate it and slowly melt it in water. It’s a pretty simple formula, the only factors that change is the density of the liquid soap, which can be simply modified by adding more water. The true thickness cannot be determined until the liquid soap has cooled down. Even then, adding more water will thin it down if you wish.
From this point, you can add essential oils to your soap. Some even add a teaspoon or two of jojoba oil (to a pint of liquid soap) to add moisturizing qualities, but this isn’t necessary. This is essentially how all liquid soaps are made. The rest is just semantics as manufacturers add color, stabilizers, preservatives and other fun toxins. You can easily make your own and control what you put on your body!
I recommend using a stainless steel pot and stirring utensil, or one that you won’t use again with food.
METHOD 1: GRATE A BAR OF SOAP – Here I used a bar of Ivory soap that I had under the sink. Notice, I didn’t go buy anything, that’s key here. Try to use what you have on hand or easy access to.
I boiled 1 1/2 quarts of water on the stove while I worked on shredding the soap. A 4 ounce bar of Ivory rendered about 1 1/2 cups of grated soap. This will make a body wash consistency.
For hand soap, double your water. It’s just that simple.
Once the water boils, turn the heat down a bit and slowly sprinkle the flakes in and stir constantly, about 1/4 cup at a time. Don’t be in too much of a rush here, let it melt. Once it’s all melted, take off the heat, pour into your container and let cool.
METHOD 2: GRATE UP LEFTOVER ENDS OF BAR SOAP – This is my favorite method and the most sustainable. I save the ends of soap in a repurposed Cool-whip container under my bathroom sink. (YES, I actually purchase Cool-whip once a year at Thanksgiving time for the pies!! Don’t judge me!) Much of what I have is ends from my own handmade soaps, but some is also Ivory and Coast. No matter, it’s all soap and will work just fine mixed together. The final color might be a little funky, though.
Instead of grating these smaller bars and slicing my fingers to bits, I put them all in the food processor, they look something like this.
Then, using the same process as above, I boil 1 1/2 quarts of water and slowly melt the soap chunks, putting about 1/4 cup at a time in the boiling water and stirring (turn the heat down so it doesn’t boil over). Once it’s melted, pour into container and let it cool.
Here’s what both soaps looked like once melted. I added a tablespoon of food grade glycerin to make it extra soapy, not necessary though.
Again, after cooling it was the perfect texture for shower gel! You could add essential oils if you wish or even a tablespoon or two of jojoba oil for extra moisturizing, but not necessary.
If you are not happy with the consistency, you can easily pour the mixture into a big bowl and add more hot water, then mix with a wire whip.
I put the body wash in a repurposed shampoo pump bottle, while I stored the rest in an empty gallon milk jug.
METHOD 3: USE CASTILE LIQUID SOAP – You can use a premade castile soap for this and I’ll tell you how to do that, but here again, you will need to purchase liquid castile soap. This isn’t necessarily sustainable, and it leaves you to deal with yet another plastic bottle to deal with. Here is the castile bar soap that I like to use.
To make castile soap from barred soap, just follow the same directions above. Super easy. Essentially, grate and melt in hot water.
If you choose to use something like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, then the recipe is simply one part liquid soap and one part water. You can add a tablespoon per pint of olive/almond/jojoba oil and about 20 drops of essential oils of your choosing per pint.
With a little planning, you could make quite a lot of liquid hand and body soap for your family, without spending much money at all!!