How to Make Shea Butter Soap Without Sodium Hydroxide

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Things You'll Need

  • Chef's knife

  • 2 lbs. of shea butter melt-and-pour soap base

  • Four-cup microwave-safe, glass measuring cup

  • Plastic wrap

  • Rubber or silicone spatula

  • Lemon essential oil

  • Peppermint essential oil

  • Spray bottle of rubbing alcohol

  • Yellow soap-safe dye

  • Six-bar soap mold (six 5-oz. bars.)

  • Paring knife or damp cloth

  • Wax paper

Sodium hydroxide, or lye, is a major ingredient in soap-making. It is the lye that turns fats into soap and it's impossible to make soap, from scratch, without it. For those who would like to make their own soap without having to work with lye, there are melt-and-pour soap bases made from glycerin. Glycerin is a by-product of commercial soap-making and is lye-free. You can find shea butter melt-and-pour soap bases at craft stores and online retailers.


Step 1

Cut the soap base into pieces and put them in the glass measuring cup. Small, uniform pieces melt better.

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Step 2

Cover the measuring cup in plastic wrap. Heat in the microwave, on high, in 20-second increments. Stir the soap with the spatula after each increment.

Step 3

Add 3/8 oz. of lemon oil and 1/8 oz. of peppermint oil to the melted soap base. Stir the soap lightly and spray the surface with alcohol if bubbles form.

Step 4

Add the green soap dye until the soap turns light green. If you cannot find green dye, add 10 drops of yellow dye and three drops of blue dye and adjust to your preference. Gently stir the soap and spray alcohol on any bubbles that form.


Step 5

Pour the soap into the mold. Spray any bubbles with alcohol and put the soap mold into the refrigerator for one hour, or until the soap fully sets.

Step 6

Remove the bars from the mold. If you have any rough edges, trim them with the paring knife or wipe the edges with a damp cloth.

Step 7

Wrap the bars in wax paper and store them in a cool, dry place.


Dyes for soap-making need to be labeled soap-safe. Do not use food or candle dyes. Do not allow the soap to boil. This will release moisture and make the finished product brittle or rubbery.


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