When someone decides that they want to get started making soap, often they want to get started now. I've always been a big proponent of understanding the qualities of soap making oils in order to create your own basic recipe, but it's often times quicker and easier to use someone else's recipe to get started.
So I've compiled several of my own basic recipes and some of the basic recipes from my library of classic soap making books. They're all "tried and true" very basic recipes...and are good starting places for learning the art of making your own soap.
Here is a basic soap recipe with simple ingredients that makes great soap. I've made dozens and dozens of batches with this recipe, and use it as the basic recipe whenever I teach soap making classes.
This recipe features ingredients you can get at the grocery store. It's a great recipe to get started with because the oils are easy to get and inexpensive.
Olive oil was one of the first vegetable oils used to make soap and forms the base of most high-quality soap recipes. Whether the recipe is a "Castile
" soap using mostly only olive oil in it, or just uses olive oil as one of its many ingredients, olive oil makes great soap.
Ann Bramson's book Soap
was one of the very first books published on making your own soap. She gives four basic recipes that she feels "should all be experienced." Her first recipe is a variation of castile soap
which is a soap that uses all or mostly all olive oil. Hers uses 30% olive and 70% beef tallow
, so (in my opinion) it's a bit of a stretch to call this a "castile
" soap - but it's nonetheless a good recipe, especially if you don't have any coconut oil on hand. The lather isn't super bubbly, but it is rich and creamy. I've scaled her recipe down to make about 3 lbs. of soap and reduced her superfat
to about 6%.
I got to hear Sandy Maine of SunFeather Natural Soap Company
a couple of summers ago, and did a review of her book The Soap Book
, and was very interested to find that the "basic" recipe that she used for all the varieties of soap in her book is just three oils.
- 48% Crisco
- 25% olive oil
- 25% coconut oil
It doesn't have quite the heavy, creamy lather that castor oil gives...it's a lighter lather...but quite plentiful. It's a great recipe to get started because these oils should be readily available at your grocery store.
Here is a super-simple recipe (inspired by a recipe at Majestic Mountain Sage
) that just uses 3 oils
. Would adding some other oils like castor oil or cocoa butter improve the soap? Yes...some. Is this a perfectly good recipe to get started with? Absolutely! It's basically:
- 50% olive oil
- 25% coconut oil
- 25% palm oil
This recipe will make about 3 lbs. of soap.
Start Now, but Learn More
Go ahead and use these recipes to get started. You can use them forever and always have great soap. But I encourage you to learn more about the oils going into your soap recipes. Learn how coconut oil will give your soap a different quality than olive oil. Learn some of the subtleties of the liquid oils. Make your recipes "your own" unique creations!