Simple Homemade Herb Soap Recipe – 70¢ per bar

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There were so many amazing things in this soap, I didn’t know which ingredient to highlight: Olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, goats milk, oatmeal, almonds, basil, rosemary, thyme, lavender… sheesh! I gave these away as Christmas presents with labels that said “Ande’s Handmade Herbes De Provence Soap” though, so I guess that’ll do.

This Christmas, I decided that I wanted to hand-make my presents for 2 reasons: I could do crafty things all day and it’s cheaper. Win-win! I spent quite a bit of time researching the best sites for soap recipes, and frankly, most of the sites were terrible. The best recipe I found was from The Simple Dollar, mostly because it gave me visuals and a lot of hand-holding.

If you decide to make this, I would recommend reading through their entire explanation before you start. I’m going to show you the ways I customized their recipe to my taste though.

Real quick… for those that have never made soap before, don’t be intimidated! It was incredibly fun and rewarding. I was definitely intimidated by the chemistry and safety equipment at first since I hate following instructions, but just push on through!

cheap homemade soap

Your basic soap can be made by using just 2 simple ingredients: Oil or fat and lye. Everything else is just extra. You can use just about any kinds of oil you want, but you should know that the coconut oil and the lard gives the soap a beautiful lather, which is something I wanted.


Again, before you start, make sure you read The Simple Dollar‘s safety information. You’ll need to get the following items before you start:

  • Safety goggles
  • Latex gloves
  • Old clothes and closed toed shoes
  • Kitchen scale
  • Pot to melt oils
  • Measuring cup

Items You CanNOT Reuse with Food 

  • Big bowl
  • Small bowl
  • Spoon to stir soap
  • Bucket to mix soap
  • Thermometer (DON’T reuse this)
  • Soap molds (pans, containers, etc).

My Homemade Soap Recipe

This is my recipe that has been adapted from The Simple Dollar‘s recipe. Please, please, please feel free to customize to your preferences, mainly with the herbs and essential oils.

  • 4.5 C. Whole Goat Milk (Got this from Earthfare)($4)
  • 2000 g Olive Oil/~70 oz./~3 liters (Got a big container at Wal-Mart with leftovers)($18 for the container, and I used about $15 worth)
  • 460 g/1 lb. Lard (Got this at Wal-Mart)($4)
  • 382 g/14 oz. Raw Coconut Oil (Got this at Wal-Mart)($7)
  • Beeswax (I used 1 votive candle from Earthfare)($3)
  • 398 g Lye/Sodium Hydroxide (Got this at Lowe’s in the plumbing isle)($10 for the container, and I used about $5 worth)
  • Vitamin E Oil (Got the bottle at Wal-Mart)($4)
  • Handful of Oatmeal
  • Handful of Almonds
  • Handful of Basil flowers (Got these from a friend’s garden. You can use dried basil)
  • Handful of Rosemary (Used the cheap stuff, but you can do fresh too)
  • 1 T. Thyme
  • Lavender/Hops Oil (Got this at Earthfare, but you can find it here)($7 for the bottle and I used about $2.00 worth)

The whole batch costs about $45.

I’m going to use the instructional photos from The Simple Dollar since I did this in the middle of the flippin’ night so my photos would’ve looked pretty bad from my iPhone. See?

The night before, put the goats milk (or cow’s milk or water) in the freezer. The next morning, let it thaw out just a bit. You want it to be slushy when you add the lye to it so it’ll cool down faster when you mix it with the lye.

Measure out all of your oils, lard and beeswax and put them in the pot on the stove. Turn on the heat and melt them, but try not to get the temperature over 100*, because if you do, you’ll just have to wait a while till it drops back down to 100* to add the lye.

Photo courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com

While the oils are heating, grind the oatmeal and almonds in a coffee grinder. You’ll want to add any herbs or oatmeal before the lye… and essential oils, lotions or colors AFTER the lye. The herbs act as a nice exfoliant, by the way.

Photo courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com

Go outside and measure the sodium hydroxide with your gloves & goggles.

Photo courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com (this ain’t me)

Your goats milk should be nice and slushy in a bowl.

Photo Courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com

Slowly add the lye as you stir. You’ll see the mixture become yellow, since the sugars in the milk are caramelizing. The lye heats up the mixture very quickly, and you’ll have to let it sit for a while until the temperature reaches 100*. (If you’re lost already, there are more details on The Simple Dollar‘s page).

Photo Courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com

Pour the oils in a big bucket first, then slowly pour the lye mixture in.

Now, you have to keep stirring the soap until it “traces”. I had to Google this a few times because I wasn’t ever sure if the mixture traced. Some people said they had to do like 10 batches of soap before it traced right. That scared me. So I kept Googling and a lot of people said that if you’re not sure if it’s traced, it’s probably okay, and to NOT throw away your liquid because it’ll eventually harden.


I was stirring the mixture for at least an hour and I got impatient. So I used our kitchen hand mixer and went to town. I’m pretty sure that was a stupid idea because I totally used the mixer for food the next week… but I put the beaters in the dishwasher and I haven’t died yet, so I say go for it! Google some other opinions if you’re lost right now, or watch this.

Now pour the soap into your molds. I just used an old 9″x13″ pan lined with saran wrap and cupcake tins.

pour the soap in the molds

Photo Courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com

The next day, put your gloves back on and see if it’s fairly solid (it should be). The soap will be soft and still dangerous to touch with your skin, so be careful. {Every minute that passes, the lye is reacting with the fat and eventually becomes safe to use.} This is when you should actually cut the soap into bars if you need to. I started with a guitar string to cut it, but ended up just using a big knife.

soap in a mold

Photo Courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com

Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect. You can sand them down later, or just keep the rough look like I did.

home made soap

Photo Courtesy of TheSimpleDollar.com

The soap will need to sit for 4-6 weeks, so plan ahead if you want to give them away as presents! I made 65 bars of soap in one batch and used all but about 12 of them for Christmas presents. I’ll store the rest in my cabinet for future use. It smells amazing and it lathers and works like real soap too! I had SO MUCH FUN doing this.

$45 for 65 bars of soap comes out to about .70 cents per bar. Can’t beat that! I wrapped them individually in brown craft paper, stuck a homemade label on it called “Ande’s Handmade Herbes De Provence Soap”, and then tied green rafia bows around it for Christmas presents. (Gave them away before I could take a picture, sorry).

cheap homemade soap
Again, if you would like to use this recipe, I recommend reading The Simple Dollar‘s article for any and every detail I may have missed. 


About Ande Truman

Ande Truman

Ande has made mistakes in the kitchen since she could reach the countertop. From a restaurant head cook, to cooking meals for friends, to her own solo plate, experimenting & learning drives her. She's also a freelance graphic & web designer, photo/videographer, guitar player and wanderlust-er. In her spare time, she works a full-time 8 to 5 cubicle job. She's the creator of Broke & Healthy.

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34 Comments

There are currently 34 Comments on Simple Homemade Herb Soap Recipe – 70¢ per bar. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

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  4. Great recipe. I like your website too… I’ve been making soap for a while now … little tip with blending… you need whisky by hand for 30seconds first until well blended and then immediately use a stick blender to get the soap to trace. You can pour your soap at either light trace or thick. The best way is to blend until it looks like the consistency of medium pudding batter. Dont over blend or it will seize or rice. Soap that is high in liquid oils or olive oil will take over 15 mintues with a stick blender, but recipes with 50% shea butter, lard or coconut solid oil for example will trace in a minute! ps – not a good idea to use your stick blender for food – sodium hydroxide is lethal and traces may be left behind after washing.

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  29. Love your soaps – want to purchase – where is your shopping cart??!! :-) Thank you!!

  30. Just found your site today and am thrilled to see this soap recipe and can’t wait to start it, will be making this next weekend! I always start my Yule gifts very early, so they have time to mature and mellow. I’ll be making a basket of homemade goodies this year for each person on the list. I’ll definitely be making a few different batches of your soap, although each batch will have different herbs/spices…and I’ll make sure to have plenty of left overs from each batch so that I can keep some for myself too =) Thank you so much for sharing the instructions, recipe and pictures!

    • Ande Truman

      Glad you discovered and enjoyed the site! Soap is definitely one of the cheapest and loveliest of all the homemade gifts :)

  31. it’s amazing.

  32. this looks awesome. i’m totally trying it!!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. BBL DIY: Make Your Own Soap | Books for Better Living
  2. 7 Cheap Homemade Gifts « Diy Decorating « Home Life « Broke & Healthy

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