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Make Your Own Soap

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Site Lead, 1860s Ryon Prairie Home

Soap in some form has been around for nearly 5,000 years, as evidence of soap-making was found in ancient Babylon. However, the Egyptians are credited with developing soap as we know it. Here at the Ranch, we have made our own soap many, many times — but it is not the safest activity since lye is one of the main ingredients and is incredibly caustic. Today, we’re going to explore a way you can make your own soap at home — safely without using lye!

First, here is a soap recipe from the 1841 book “The American Frugal Housewife” by Mrs. Child:

The Melt-and-Pour Method

Let’s try a slightly less-complicated method of soap-making: The melt-and-pour method!


  • 1 lb. of soap base (you can get this online or at a craft store)
  • ½ ounce of fragrance (fragrance is optional, but if you do use it, be sure to get a fragrance that is safe to use on the skin and is “cosmetic grade”)
  • 2-quart microwave-safe bowl or container (a glass measuring cup works really well; however, to prevent cross-contamination, do not use this for anything other than soap-making after this project.)
  • A silicone spatula
  • Silicone molds, like silicone ice trays. There are a lot of fun shapes out there!
  • Oven mitts

Step 1.

Cut your soap base into smaller, equally-sized cubes and put in the container.

Step 2.

Melt the base. Start by microwaving it for one minute, then microwaving it in 30-second bursts. Since microwaves vary, this prevents overheating. If the base starts bubbling, it’s too hot!

Step 3.

If you’re using fragrance, gently stir it into your melted soap base.

Step 4.

Fill your molds with the melted liquid and let cool for 24 hours.

Step 5.

Gently remove the soap from the molds. If it is not coming out easily, put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before trying again.

Happy hand-washing!