Wednesday, November 16, 2011

DIY Liquid Hand Soap from Bar Soap

I've made plenty of DIY cleaners around our house (like this & this) so it was just a matter of time before I turned to hand soap for my next recipe.  I noticed we were getting low on hand soap in our bathrooms & kitchen sink.  I also noticed how expensive replacements and even refills can be in the store.  Even our beloved cheap Fresh to Frozen can be sometimes be pricey (maybe we should pick up a 5 gallon industrial bag of liquid soap next time they stock it though!).  I turned to the internet (see here) and come up with this my homemade DIY liquid hand soap recipe:

  • 1/2 bar of Ivory bar Soap (you can use other bar soaps)
  • 1/2 gallon of water
  • 1 tbsp liquid glycerin
  • few drops of essential oil (optional)
  • 1 box grater
  • 1 large pot
Directions: Finely grate 1/2 a bar of soap.  I used the very fine selection on our box grater for the tiniest curls of soap.  You could use the larger holes or even a food processor if needed.  I decided to make essentially a half recipe of what was once a full recipe that equaled 1 bar of soap to 1 gallon of water.  I chose to make a half recipe of 1/2 bar of soap to 1/2 gallon of water since I wasn't sure I'd like it at first and had commitment issues.  The half recipe still makes a lot!


Note: this Ivory soap I used was 1 full bar = 3.1 oz.
If you're using other bar soaps of different sizes you may want to use more or less water
soap curls
Directions (cond't): Fill a pot with 1/2 a gallon of water (8 cups) and place on stove.  Add the soap shavings and 1 tbsp of liquid glycerin.  (Directions follow below...) Make sure to use 100% glycerin.  I used vegetable glycerin but either vegetable or regular standard glycerin will work.  The difference?  One is made from animal fats and the other is not as well as being food grade and will not spoil.



The big "Where can I buy glycerin?" issue!  I've read a bunch of blogs and sites with soap recipes and thoughts on where to buy the stuff.  I bought my small 4 oz container of glycerin a few months ago with hopes of making something homemade and cheap (like this soap!).  I bought it online and found a introductory offer for $5 off my first order off some random herbal online store (don't remember).  Essentially I got my glycerin for free.

You can buy this in some stores!  Whole Foods probably has is.  Target doesn't.  Independent pharmacies, local health markets, weird herb stores all probably do.  GNC doesn't.  Walgreens doesn't... no wait it does.    While shopping for glycerin I kept looking in the (lovely) suppository section because it is commonly used for well... that purpose.  Although it seems most places don't carry straight liquid glycerin for that.  Ya wanna know where I found it?  Randomly.  The lotion aisle!  It appears to be an African American women's hair care product!


Yep Walgreens carries it in their lotion aisle.  That is the truth.  Apparently you can find it sometimes in the band-aid section of stores.  I called our local independent pharmacy and they do carry it (at the direction of a helpful Target pharmacist).  I couldn't find it at a lot of stores but perhaps because I was looking in the wrong section!  Most employees looked at me like I was crazy and had zero thoughts on where to even begin looking.  Regardless Yes you can find this and get going on you recipe!

(also apparently it's a Wilton product too so maybe it's sold in the fondant section of craft stores)

Directions (cond't): Mix the water, soap & glycerin on med/high on the stove until everything is dissolved.  It should just look like soapy water once it's done.  Take off heat. If you want to add a few drops of essential oils now is the time.  I added about 3-4 drops of lemon but you can't tell the difference, so more is needed next time.  Let it sit in the pot uncovered  for 10-12 hours.  Yep.  I recommend make this in the morning so you have a chance to finish this project in 1 day!


After a few hours it becomes a more solid/gel like state.  


After 10-12 hours you're ready for the last step.  Use a large spoon to mix it all up.  It starts off pretty thick but becomes more liquid and hand soap consistency.  Use a spoon or hand beaters to create a totally liquid pot of soap.
see how thick this got after 10 hours?

Use a mixer to mix everything to make it liquid form.  This took a few minutes since some parts really didn't want to come apart.  You can add some water here if it seems to thick.  I added perhaps too much.  I just turned the faucet on since I was doing this in the sink in fear of splatters (of which there were none).  I estimate I added 1/2 - 1 cup of water.  I recommend less that than.  It will depend on what type of bar of soap you started with though.  


When you're done just find a container to keep your new hand soap in!  I used an old orange juice container.

DIY liquid hand soap from bar soap
Final update: okay so I left my new hand soap out over night on the counter.  I was super proud of myself!  In the morning I noticed that it had separated some.  The bubbles on top and the liquid soap on bottom.  No worries!  I refilled our regular soap dispenser on the bathroom sink and it worked great!  Again I wouldn't add too much extra water at the end - mine was a little extra runny.  The soap cleaned great.  It didn't leave the same 'bar soap' feeling behind on your hands that I hate.  It smelled great.  Overall I'll probably keep making this recipe in the future!


Price of this DIY liquid hand soap from bar soap project?  1/2 a bar of Ivory soap $0.33 (guess), 1 tablespoon of glycerin $0.25 (guess), water free, other equipment already owned = $0.58 total.  Not bad for something that is normally upwards of five dollars for this amount.  

*** I'm over at 'Girl With Curls' today doing a little guest blogging.  Check it out here! ***


  1. I think I' more of a go to the store and buy liquid soap type of girl but it's always good to learn something new! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi there Robin! I've got my glycerin and going to make some soap today - thanks for posting this tutorial!

  3. I recently started reading your blog (linked from a post on Pinterest, and LOVE it! After reading how to make liquid hand soap, I had to take a swing at it, and it was really easy and I like it. I just had to comment that I found my glycerin at Michaels Craft Store, apparently it is used with frosting.

    Thanks for blogging!

  4. good procedure
    its easy to follow

  5. Michaels has glycerin in the cake decorating section!


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