Homemade Soap...sorta

How to Make Soap...sorta

I know this is sort of funny, but my friends have loved it so much and have been asking me about that I thought it would be fun to share. I’ll start with the “how to first”, because it is more fun that way. But for the back story, go to the bottom.

First of all, why is this Making Soap, BUT not really? Because we are not starting from scratch. (So I don’t want to make any pretenses about that.) We are going to use existing soap; if you are really, really making soap you would start with lye, yup all soap start with lye, can’t get around it. Onward…

What you will need

Soap about 4 cups of it (I would use soap that has the least about of scent, like Ivory or the like. The cheap stuff or the ones you get from hotels are a good choice. This is a way of making cheap soap into the good stuff.)

Essential oil of choice
Oatmeal, optional (it is really good for your skin, so up to you, it also acts as an exfoliant.)
Lavender seeds, optional (also works well as an exfoliant.)
Coconut oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, or whatever you want to add for moisturizer, optional


Grate your soap with a cheese grater, the large is fine. I you don’t want to do this that is not a problem. It will just cook down a lot easier if you do.

Place all of the soap into a small pot with water, but not to cover the soap. On medium heat, heat the mixture stirring with a wooden spoon until the soap turns into a smooth mush. It should be really thick, about the consistency of thick oatmeal. While it is heating, add lavender seeds, essential oil and moisturizing oil. This is really up to you how much you put in. For me I put add about 20 drops, put my nose to the pot and when it smells like I like, I am good. As for the oil, I don’t know to feel slippery so I put in about 2 tbsp, because it sort of freaks me out to put in more.

yes, I collect my soap in a vase not too much water, it will take too long to dry and will shrink no need to boil, ,but simmer and keep stirring until it is smooth.
When your soap has broken down and smooth. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of oatmeal.
I do this when it is off the heat so that I don’t “cook” the oatmeal.

add lavender

stir it all together

Pour your soap into some sort of a mold. I just happen to have aluminum can in the recycle bin, so I cleaned them out and cut off the tops with a pair of scissors. You can also line a bread pan with parchment paper and use that. Fill your cans with soap. I fill it all the way to the top because it will shrink as it dries. Allow to cool and settle over night, remove your mold. If you are using a can you can simply “peel” away the can. Slice the soap to size. The longer you allow the soap to dry the less it will break apart when you use it.

The “exfoliating” aspect of the soap will not become apparent until about the third use. Enjoy!

The Story

Over the years with all of the traveling and the hotel stays we seem to have accumulated a lot of soap. But as I have become more and more aware of post-consumer waste I have decided not to use the hotel soaps until I used everything that is in my closet. This in addition to the awareness that I had soooo much body soap that I made a conscious decision NOT to buy soap until I have consumed everything that is in my house.

How is this working out for me? It has been almost 9 years since I have paid for body. As if it was not enough that I had this inventory; people keep giving me soap for “thank you” gifts! I think I am in soap purgatory. (I must be really stinky.)

Aside from getting rid of soap there are the pantry items. About 2 years ago I assessed our pantry and decided I needed to deplete everything except for staple items (salt, pepper, garlic, basil, etc…). And to date, we are still going. How does this play into soap making? The lavender seeds! (No, the oatmeal did not count as it is a staple in our house.)

So soap making served several purposes. Deplete the pantry, reduce waste by using what we have, and make a few great gifts. Despite all of this effort I think it will be a never ending effort. Even though I now travel with my own soap, from time to time Andy still forgets and opens a new bar. (And me being me, I take those home.) I am also pretty sure that my friends will continue to give me soap, don’t ask me why. For now I am going to be simply amused by how long this is going to drag on before I allow myself to buy a bar of soap.

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