Back to Basics: Homemade Soaps

Back to Basics: Homemade Soaps

By: Kiersteni Clark

            I have always loved hearing stories about my great-grandparents and their way of life in the mountains of Kentucky.  One antidote my grandmother and I were recently discussing was how my granny would make her own soap. She would grab a big black kettle and set it over a fire and add her soap ingredients including lye and whatever grease she had leftover from cooking in the kitchen.  Granny would just cut the soap directly in her black kettle, so her bars were not in perfect rectangles. Her soaps were not in the shape of fancy molds, or have flavors or colors added. It was just basic soap that it did as it was intended. Back to Basics: Homemade Soaps

We have gotten so far away from that simplicity, to the point we are doing more harm than good.  In a recent statistic, it showed that the top three best selling brands of bar soap were Dove, Dial, and Irish Spring (U.S. Population: Which Brands of Bar Soap do You Use the Most Often, September 2017). According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Data Base, each of those soaps is considered to have ingredients that pose a moderate hazard to one’s health (EWG, July, 2018).  As the general public is becoming more aware of these health hazards, homemade soap making is seeing a rise in popularity once again.

homemade soapThere are three main styles of homemade soap making which include melt and pour, cold process, and hot process.  Melt and pour soap making consists of using a premade soap base that can be purchased.  The benefits of this form of soap making are that it is very simple and you can still be creative with your fragrances and coloring (Jones, 2011).  Cold process soap making is called such because the only heating required is to melt the lye and any other solid fats required for the recipe.  One benefit to the cold process method is one has complete control over the ingredients placed in the soap.  A second benefit is that it is more economical than hot process soaps (Jones, 2011).  Hot process soaps consist of the entire soap mixture being cooked before it is placed in a mold.  It also does not require as long of a curing time as cold process soaps.  One major benefit of the hot process method is that lye is completely neutralized prior to adding essential oils thus reducing their evaporation rate and allowing more therapeutic properties to be enjoyed (Jones, 2011).

Regardless of the homemade soap making process one chooses, the main point is avoiding the harmful ingredients found in the majority of store bought brands.  Not only are people making a healthier life choice in making their own soaps, but they are returning to their roots and how people once did things.  A time when people made their own functional products that served the purpose they were intended to serve.

Works Cited

Environmental Working Group. (2018). Dial Glycerin Bar Soap, Cranberry & Anti-Oxident.         Retrieved on July 1, 2018 from _%26_Anti-Oxident/#.Wzkbk9VKjIU.

Environmental Working Group. (2018). Dove Beauty Bar Gentle Exfoliating Soap. Retrieved on   July 1, 2018 from               oap/#.Wzka7tVKjIU.

Environmental Working Group. (2018). Irish Spring Signature Hydrating Bar Soap. Retrieved on July 1, 2018 from     Soap%2C_6_oz/#.Wzkb7tVKjIU.

Jones, Marlene. (2011). The Complete Guide to Creating Oils, Soaps, Creams, and Herbal Gels    for Your Mind and Body. Ocala, Florida: Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.

U.S. Population: Which Brands of Bar Soap do You Use the Most Often. (September 2017.)        Retrieved on July 1, 2018 from households-most-used-brands-of-bar-soap/.

Back to Basics: Homemade Soaps

Want to become an Herbalist? Visit

Articles written by students are the opinions, research and voice of the student and not Heart of Herbs Herbal School. We encourage our students to explore and grow in their profession.
Disclaimer: For educational use only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Students articles reflect the views of the student and not necessarily Heart of Herbs Herbal School. Educational programs are available at and you can find all of Demetria Clark’s books at Amazon.

Information offered on Heart of Herb Herbal School websites, articles and blogs is for educational purposes only. Heart of Herb Herbal School makes neither medical claim, psychological claim or intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. Heart of Herbs Herbal School neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content, we are currently not part of any affiliate programs. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements, this is your responsibility as consumer.