How To Make Lye-Free Soap

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Store-bought soaps often contain lye, a caustic chemical that is corrosive (dangerous) and animal bi-products.  Making your own glycerin-based soap is just another way to rid your home of chemicals. Use fragrance, color and embellishments (charms, buttons, etc.) to create your own unique brand that’s good for the planet and great for gift giving. 

Double boiler*

Glycerin block

Utility knife

Embellishments (buttons, charms, trinkets, dried herbs and flowers, etc.)

Essential oil

Food coloring (organic)

Soap molds

Stirring spoon


1. Using a utility knife, cut the glycerin block along pre-measured lines into two or three pieces.  (Two or three pieces will create one bar or mold of soap. Multiply accordingly if making more than one mold. HINT: Look to household items for soap molds.  A travel soap dish works well for a basic bar.  You can also use an old muffin pan or candy mold.  Tray molds are also available for larger scale production.)

2. Place the glycerin in the double boiler and melt into a clear liquid.  Remove the pot and place it on a potholder.

3. (Optional) Add food dye (organic) to the pot.  Stir in color until liquid reaches desired color. NOTE: the more dye, the more opaque your soap color.

4. (Optional) Add a few drops of essential oils to the liquid glycerin to create your desired smell.  NOTE: The more oil you add, the more fragrant your soap will be. 

5. (Optional) Add embellishments like beads, charms, buttons or dried flowers and herbs.  If making soap for kids, consider adding a small figurine (think, green army men)

6. Pour the liquid glycerin into your soap molds and let cool for at least one hour.

7. Remove soap from mold (make sure it’s cool!) and lather up!  If you’re gifting your soaps, be sure to let the receiver know your soap is homemade and include info on the ingredients (fragrance).  Be conscious of your gift wrapping; reuse a gift bag or use brown paper bag for wrapping.  The ribbon loops found in many shirts that aid in hanging make perfect gift ties.

*A double boiler is special pan that consists of two sauce pans.  The inner pan is used to indirectly melt as substance like chocolate, sauces, wax, glycerin, etc.  You can improvise a double boiler by putting a heat-resistant spacer between a large sauce pan and a stove top safe bowl.

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