10 November 2009

Making Liquid Soap

Well ladies and gentlemen, I've made my own liquid soap, tested it for a few weeks, and now I'm happy to recommend it to you. I've tried several versions of homemade grated soap, I added glycerin to it, boiled it, and tried every which way but it was always horrible to use. Slimy, ugh. What I was after was a liquid soap that could be easily poured from a bottle, that I could use for washing up, as a shampoo, stain remover, handwash, for washing pure wool by hand, and as a horticultural soap. I have all those things, and more - Hanno used it to wash Quince, one of our chickens.

I used this recipe and tutorial and found it to be a very good reference. The only thing I changed was the sunflower oil - I used rice bran oil because I have a lot of it. This soap is made in a crockpot and you'll need a stick blender. My finished product turned out darker than I expected but I think I added too much borax and over processed it at the end. I won't repeat the tutorial here, I'll just add some of my photos and comment on what I did. Be guided by David's tutorial for the recipe and the method.

Making liquid soap is more difficult and takes more time than cold pressed soap. It uses a different form of lye - Potassium Hydroxide. You'll have to find a soapmaker near you who sells this because, at least in Australia, it cannot be sent through the post. You cannot buy this stuff at the supermarket or hardware.

Potassium Hydroxide flakes.

When you have assembled all your ingredients, make sure you remember all your safety precautions for making soap - they apply here as well.

When you add water to the potassium hydroxide, it makes a noise. Like groaning! Don't be alarmed, it's normal.

When you have everything mixed together and you've stirred for what seems like hours, you cook the mixture in the crockpot. It turns the mix into a big batch of goo.

The entire process takes a long time so it's good to know that when the paste has been diluted (stage 6 of the tutorial), you can leave it and continue on the following day.

The photo above shows the solution being tested for clarity at stage 5 of the online process. Notice how clear it is. The finished product isn't as clear as this.

This is my soap being sequestered - stage 9 of the process.

Making liquid soap is not something you should try if you haven't made some other kind of soap. I found it complicated and time consuming and when I finished I thought I wouldn't make it again. But since then I've used it and I really love it. It's a multi-purpose product, it does as good a job as detergent when I'm washing up - but it doesn't contain anything harmful, like petro-chemicals. The saponification process turns it into a healthy soap that can be used for a wide range of household tasks as well as personal hygiene. This soap, although it takes a long time to make, is definitely part of my homemaker's armoury now. I'm doing to include it in some gifts as well. Tomorrow I'll write about washing up and using the soap for other projects in the home and garden.

Sharon has started a crochet-along over at the forum. If you've wanted to learn how to crochet, or would like to crochet a jug cover, similar to those I use for my ginger beer and sourdough, click here for Sharon's instructions. She is an experienced crocheter so if you have any problems, simply post to the thread and Sharon, or one of the other ladies, will help you.



  1. Wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with the liquid soap recipe. It sounds extremely versatile and does not sound too difficult to follow. I for one look forward to trying my hand at this.
    Have a lovely day,
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  2. Lovely idea!
    I'll definetely be trying this out soon!


  3. I would love to try this sometime in the near future. HOWEVER, THE LINK to the tutorial is not working for me. I a failure message. Maybe a misspelling or a letter missed out - or my bad luck. If the link is OK from your end, could you please let me have the whole homepage address?
    Have a nice day. I´m off to bed now.
    Ramona K

  4. Good morning Rhonda -- your link isn't working, so I copied the bad link and fiddled until I got a likely page. I think what you need is


    Note that I have pressed return after "com/" so you can see the whole link here in comments.

  5. THANK YOU!!!

  6. Thank you for testing this out for us, Rhonda! I see some soap making in my future!

    Barb in GA

  7. Hello ladies!

    Thanks Rose, it's all fixed now. I wish I would test all my links. I just can't talk myself into doing it. grrr

  8. Thanks for the recipe! I have bookmarked it!

  9. Sounds interesting. Is borax OK to use for personal hygiene purposes? It has warnings about being caustic on the box.

  10. You wash chickens!?!? Oh, dear--just when I thought I might get a flock....Please let us in on this! C

  11. I must try this one very soon. I found out the wool mix I use for my childrens' woollen nappy covers contain petrochemicals! Thanks so much! The liquid soap recipes I've found on google have been rather complicated, and I think yours sounds more simple.

  12. Thanks for the post Rhonda. One of my resolutions for next year is to reduce and eliminate the chemicals in the house and this will go a long way towards helping me do this.

    Just out of interest Rhonda, how do you go about organising your time? Do you plan your week and schedule blocks of time in advance to accomplish things or do you work on a day to day plan based around your homemaking tasks?

    With your blog and forum taking off, do you ever find it difficult to tear yourself away from the Internet and get things done? Are you strict with yourself or do you allow yourself a little latitude for unplanned surfing?

    Everyone I meet on forums and blogs is so interesting and opens up a different little world for me that sometimes I can barely tear myself away!

  13. I've always wanted to make soap. You make it sound sooo easy. I might actually have to try it now. LOL
    Have a wonderful day Rhonda!

  14. Hi Rhonda,

    You mentioned that the potassium hydroxide makes a noise when you add water to it. Does this mean that you don't need to take the precaution you need with sodium hydroxide of always adding the lye to the water, not water to lye?

    Sorry about the anonymous posting, but I'm away from my own computer & my google account doesn't seem to want to log me in.


  15. Victoria, you must take the same precautions with this lye. It burns if you splash it.

  16. I started to make your liquid soap recipe last night and the KOH(potassium hydroxide) was old and hardened. When I mixed it with the water, it only got to 74 degrees. Will the liquid soap turn out OK or should I stop here? Thank You!!

  17. I'm not sure, Susie, but my instinct tells me it won't work.

  18. I have found this Email address on the net, from SA and apparently they send potassium hydroxide, by mail.
    Please check.
    I will try to get some, because home made liquid soap sounds very versatile and good as a household product!
    Firstly though I will start with normal cold soap, to get some experience.

  19. Hi Rhonda, i have made successfully the Laundry Liquid, next step is cold pressed soap & when i get that right the liquid soap. Do you have any recommendations on where i can get cheap Olive Oil & Coconut oil for soap making i am based in Perth Western Australia. Also i have found a local supplier of Soap/Candle making products but the smallest quantity they sell the Potassium Hydroxide in is 1kg which would last me a lifetime do you have any recommendations of where i would be able to get smaller quantities or is that size standard?



    1. Lauren you can get olive oil at the supermarket and coconut oil is sold as Copha here in Australia so have a look in the butter and margerine section of the supermarket. Works perfectly for making soap - I do cold processed, hot prosses and liquid soap with it.
      I have also had potassium hydroxide sent through the mail without any problems too and if you are in Perth then Aussie Soap Supplies are great and you can pick up from them if you are close enough.
      Brisbane Qld

  20. Wow!!
    I have to try this
    How should I use rice bran oil ??
    Refined or unrefined ??
    I want to use unrefined, how to follow
    Plz help me...



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