Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Make it Yourself - Liquid Hand Soap

I considered liquid hand soap, the kind in a pump dispenser, to be a luxury item, even though we used it constantly. Our grandmothers made out just fine with bar soap. When I started making homemade soap last winter, I figured we could adjust to using bar soap.

I bought soap dishes for every sink and the children thought the bar soap was great fun. But mom didn't. The purpose of soap is to make things cleaner. But with bar soap, the sink was a mess! There was globs of soap smeared EVERYWHERE. I was constantly searching for the bar of soap, returning it to the dish, and scrubbing the caked soap scum off the sink.

Bar soap may have been good enough for Grandma, but since I knew how simple liquid soap was for children to use, it was a source of frustration.

I turned to Natural Beauty at Home. She said that any soap can be made into a liquid simply by dissolving it in water. She uses one part soap to one part water, but said the amount of water used depended on how thick of soap you desired.

That sounded easy. I had a batch of homemade soap that didn't turn out well and was rather dry. I coarsely chopped two or three bars of soap, added an equal amount of water and heated on the stove. When it melted, I used a stick blender to thoroughly blend the water and soap together. But the mixture was far too thick. I added double the water and it seemed a nice consistency. Using a funnel, I poured the soap into an old pump soap dispenser. (Mistake #1.) The rest of the soap I stored in a plastic container.

Then the soap cooled. And hardened. It was far to thick to come out of the soap dispenser. You could barely push your finger into it. I needed to add more water. But now it was stuck in a narrow necked soap dispenser. I decided to microwave it to melt the soap. (Mistake #2.) The plastic soap dispenser melted in the microwave long before the soap melted.

I turned to my bowl of "hard" liquid soap. I poured boiling water in it and blended with the stick blender until nice and smooth again. This time I had the smarts to allow the soap to cool before placing in a soap dispenser. And again it hardened as it cooled. Again I added water. Eventually enough water was added that it stayed a nice liquid soap when it was cool. By the time I was finished, I had a gallon of hand soap - all from two or three little bars of soap.

I thought the soap and water may separate in time. But after six months, it never has. I stored the soap in sealed plastic containers with a wide mouth. And it is good I did, after a few months, the soap was once again too stiff to pour. So again, I added hot water and blended it.

By this time I have no idea how much water I added, or how much soap I got from those couple bars. I'm not sure if  part of my problem was from using a failed dry batch of homemade soap. If you try this with your soap, add a little water at a time, allow it to cool in a bowl, and see if you need more water.

I use this soap for all our hand soap and even as bath soap for the children. The only fault I have with it is that the soap is "stringy". The soap dispenser is a little messier then regular soap. But again, that may be because of the soap I used. I would like to try melting other soaps - but I need to use this batch up first!

A couple bars of soap, a few minutes of my time, a melted soap dispenser = cheap soap, for a YEAR!

Have any of you tried making your own liquid hand soap?


  1. We love liquid hand soap, so I will be trying this. So how much water do you think you used per bar of soap?

  2. I've been trying different recipes for liq. hand soap, but none quite so simple as yours. I finally decided just yesterday that I may as well break down and buy some, but now I'm inspired to grate a bar of my homemade soap, and have another try! Thanks! -Wendy

  3. Thanks for this post Gina!

    I have been wanting to try to make my own liquid hand soap.

    I may try with a nice bar of castile soap that I have.

    Soap for a year! Fantastic!


  4. I usually use my soap scraps to make liquid soap then I just add hot water, have never had a problem.

  5. I have thought of trying this. I wonder if it would work with Dove bar soap? Right now I don't have the time to make my own bar soap.

  6. I'm sorry but I had to giggle a little bit on this comment. :) I could just see you going back yet again adding water to the soap. My sis and I made a bunch of homemade soap in 2009 that I am still using. I also make my own soap but it's for the washing machine. I also use it in the dishwasher. I do want to try this liquid soap though because I go through a bunch of this soap and I get tired of buying it so much. It's SOOOOO nice not to have to buy clothes soap now. Although I do buy some just not AS much as I used to since I use some of it in my homemade washing soap. I don't mix it, I just add it to the washer.
    Thank you for sharing this! I'm wondering IF there is something you can buy to add to homemade liquid soap to keep it from being stringy? hmmm might have to do some researching on that one. :)

  7. Just stopping in for a quick comment that from what I've read - you can use any kind of bar soap to make liquid soap. You don't need homemade soap. Just don't expect to need to add all the water that I did.

    The original directions I had was to add as much water as soap, so if you have a cup of grated soap or soap scraps, start with a cup of water. Add more as needed. Obviously, I needed MUCH more!

    I don't pretend to know what I'm doing! Let me know if it works for you!

  8. I just made hand soap recently. I used a bar of Irish Spring. I diluted it with a gallon of water. Next time I would probably start with 3 quarts. However this is in no way too thin either, I would just like it a little more concentrated.

  9. This is interesting. I haven't tried it but you have me thinking. What I will tell you is that I use the dispensers that foam. I just refill them with about an inch and 1/2 of soap and then add water up the rest of the way and shake. Really saves on the amount of liquid soap I use.

  10. I love that you made the mistake of pouring it into the soap dispenser and then it hardened....otherwise it would have been me LOL! I'm going to try this!

  11. I've never tried this but have thought that it would be fun to try. Here's a link that I've read on making liquid soap that you might find helpful.


  12. This summer with my grandson visiting I purchased an "electronic" hands-free soap dispenser. It has worked well also for my husband who comes in with greasy grimy hands and would make a mess all over the bar, and the bottle of dish soap I kept by the sink for him. I just refill the bottle with dish soap and it works great.

    As far as making my own liquid soap, just like some of the other comments here, I use little soap scraps from bars and put them in a jar and add water then let them sit and get soft. It doesn't take too long before I have a soft soap I can use by my kitchen sink... but it doesn't work well for my husbands "mechanic hands"... seems the dish soap is the only thing that will cut the grease. It can be a little "stringy" but with a rugged pump it works well.

  13. My recipe is for a foam dispenser.

    1 cup of warm water
    3 Tablespoons of liquid castile soap
    1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerine

    Mix together and add to soap dispenser.

    I use Dr. Bronners Castile Baby Soft soap.

  14. My cousin's wife is going to be teaching me how to make homemade soap next month so I am very excited! I will be trying this too. Thanks for sharing your mistakes so we won't make the same (hopefully).

  15. Thanks for the idea, Gina! Sounds like a good way to use up my ever growing collection of soap scraps!

  16. how fascinating! My children think pump soaps are so fun, probably because we use only bar soap. I love how bar soap feels in my hand and I haven't had the mess problems you described. I love how you described your whole long experimenting process :)

  17. I buy LIquid dishwashing soap at the dollar store dilute by a 1/3 to 1/2 and add to recycled squirty soap containers. 'Clean' is found in many ways LOLL !

  18. I read this and was just laughing! Glad to hear that others learn by trial and error also!!!
    I really want to try this! I home make laundry soap currently and keep bags of shredded fels naptha soap for that. It would be easy for me to try!!!

  19. *giggles* Thanks for making me smile this morning! (imagaining you and the whole soap scene...)

    It was GREAT seeing you the other day! Thank you for your beautiful hospitality.

  20. i would love to make my own hand soap! the thought never even crossed my mind! thanks for putting it there! :)

  21. I enjoyed my visit here today and have subscribed to your blog for updates...thanks for the tip on the hand soap,you are right the liquid soap is so less messy than bar soap.......you have a beautiful blog...blessings

  22. I enjoyed my visit here today and have subscribed to your blog for updates...thanks for the tip on the hand soap,you are right the liquid soap is so less messy than bar soap.......you have a beautiful blog...blessings

  23. I also want to make hand soap, I will try it next week.

  24. I haven't tried heating soap. I just put the soap slivers into a pump soap container and dilute with water. Mine also is stringy like you mentioned. I just keep adding water and shaking it several times a week. (The slivers are various types of soap.)

  25. I've been making hand soap with one bar of Ivory or Dove soap, grated and melted into a quart of hot water on the stove, then mixed with three more quarts of water. I store it in an empty 1 gallon plastic bottle and it works fine. It does not lather like store bought, and is a little stringy (may just need a bit more water?), but gets the hands clean. Sometimes I add a little essential oil (lavender, peppermint,etc) for fragrance. I do plan to make some home made tallow soap when the weather warms enough to work outdoors. (Lye, I understand is some nasty stuff).

    Keep that little light shining! And Lord bless you all Sister!

    Marikka James from PA

  26. I like your blog and I like the Bible verse you use in your header. Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His Presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord, He is God. It is He that has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people; the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His Gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His Name. For the Lord is good; His mercy everlasting; His Truth endures to all generations.

    We sing the psalms in our congregation, accapella (without music). It's beautiful. I love that psalm. Thank you. Lord bless you.

  27. Fun to read! I started with 8 oz of soap shavings and 2 quarts of water; boiled it, let it cool, and got a big blob of silly putty. Many heatings along with at least 2 gal of water and much blending - I now have 1.5 gal of stringy liquid soap. "Stringyness" comes back no mater how many times I reheat and blend. I give - I will just have stringy soap!

  28. Claire, reboil your soap again and add 4oz more bar. After that, add 1-2 cups of any light/cooking oil. The end texture will be creamy and will lather. Guaranteed

  29. Hi Gina,
    I use 1/4 tsp of xanthum gum, a few drops of essential oil(your choice of scent), and blend with a few cups of cooled boiled water. Blend, because while the xanthum gum gives a nice thickening quality, it could become lumpy, Then whisk in 1/3 cup of Dr. Bronners Pure Castile soap. Store in a mason jar in fridge if not using right away. Works in a foaming dispenser or a regular one. May also use a drop of food colouring for prettiness if you want.


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