How to Make Shampoo Base


Chemical-laden shampoos often take their toll on hair, causing frizz, breakage and limp locks. Ethical reasons for avoiding mass-produced shampoo include animal testing and environmental concern. Making shampoo at home offers a back-to-basics approach to healthy hair and a healthy conscious. Essential oils provide scent, while herbs provide cleansing, moisturizing and soothing properties. Homemade shampoo starts with a great base. Make a standard Castile-based soap, then flake off pieces to melt down and supplement with essential oils and herbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Meat or candy thermometer
  • Lye
  • Olive oil

Wear gloves to mix 12 oz. lye and 32 oz. water in a glass, or other non-reactive, container. Use a heavy-duty plastic spoon to stir the lye as it dissolves.

Allow the mixed lye to cool. Heat 48 oz. of olive oil to 98 degrees F in a stainless-steel pot. Keep the oil at approximately 98 degrees and cool the lye to the same temperature. The goal is to get both the lye and oil to the same temperature before mixing them together.

Pour the lye carefully into the pot with the oil. Do not get lye splatters on any exposed skin. Mix the two components gently for 20 minutes, or until a trace begins to form.

Allow the mixture to set at approximately 120 degrees F for three to five hours. The pot will naturally heat up due to the chemical reaction between the lye and olive oil.

Once the lye and oil are completely combined, pour the finished product into a plastic container and allow it to cure for 30 days. If making a base for future use, cut the bars after 24 hours--before the soap is too hard.

Tips & Warnings

  • For best results, use pure olive oil--the cheaper, the better. More expensive extra virgin olive oil is too refined for soap making. If the olive oil is too thick, or the resulting soap feels heavy, dilute the olive oil with either coconut or jojoba oil.
  • Lye is a highly hazardous substance that can burn your skin; wear gloves and open a window for ventilation when handling lye. Lye is reactive, meaning when it comes in contact with water it will become very hot. Do not allow lye that has not fully combined with oils to come into contact with skin.

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