Why I don’t make my own liquid castile soap

castile soap

Castile soap

Have you ever used castile soap? It’s like the holy grail of soap really – it’s soft and gentle and environmentally safe – so of course that means it’s blissful for the bod as well 🙂

The famous Dr Bronner’s castile soap is known around the world, generations of people have been using it and other brands. It’s an ancient way of making soap, originally in the Castile region of Spain.

It’s made with 100% vegetable ingredients, usually olive oil, mixed with plant ash and slowly cooked for hours until the mixture turns, well, soapy (saponification). Most soap is made with some kind of animal fat mixed with ash. The fat will often separate as the soap cools. The fat layer is something you might have heard of: glycerine.

Most commercial soap has the glycerine skimmed off for use in other products. Not so castile soap – the glycerine is blended right back in, giving the soap its well known gentleness.

BUT it doesn’t foam much. And we’ve been trained as consumers to love the lather – we believe that more lather = more clean.

Not so, actually – the chemicals added to soap to make the lather are pretty potent. One, sodium laurel sulphate, is a powerful industrial cleaner used for things like cleaning the outside of aircraft: it’s great for dissolving the remains of anything that happens to hit the plane when it’s traveling at hundreds of miles per hour. Last time I checked, I don’t move that fast on my own, and I don’t need an industrial strength cleaner to clean my skin ;). Nor do I want my skin stripped bare of natural oils that I have to add back by rubbing on more expensive and chemical-laden products.

But I admit – I do like the foam, it just feels luxurious to me – the power of marketing eh? 😀

So roll along to the invention of the wonderful foaming liquid soap dispenser. Alleluliah, liquid castile soap that’s all foam!

liquid castile soap

Liquid castile soap

Heaven in the shower at last! 😉

But that stuff is expensive down here – imported from the US so a great big carbon footprint as well.

What to do? I’ve not seen anyone else make it. So – I wondered about making my own castile soap. It’s *really * cheap to make and apparently it cooks up great in the crockpot, if you stir it all the while – and I’m talking several hours until the stuff saponifies. Yeh… really not appealing! And you end up with a LOT of soap! Like, years’ worth!

BUT I kept finding a shortcut to making liquid castile soap.

That’s ridiculously cheap.

And has a really small carbon footprint. So I had to try it.

My liquid castile soap

My liquid Castile-style soap

Go to the local health food shop. Find castile soap – or in my case, handmade soap made with a blend of oils including olive oil – made as locally as possible. My soap was made on a farm just over the border in NSW, so maybe 200km away.

Buy the soap, take it home, chop it roughly and put it into a jar. Fill the jar with water. Wait a few days, shaking the jar when you remember to help it dissolve.

The result is a really gel-y liquid that separates out, that’s my jar in the pic. It’s way too thick to work in the pump – that is really just a foamy water, it’s really thin. So I added about 1/4 cup of the liquid castile to the pump bottle and topped it up with water. Perfect. I have enough here for about a year – good thing too since it makes the best natural doggie shampoo too, my two pooches love it 🙂

This also gives me the flexibility to add my own essential oils and flower essences – mandarin and lemon oils for a morning pick-me-up and Jacaranda and Paw Paw flower essences to help with focus for the day.

For the pups soap I added lavendar and rosemary to soothe their skin and put off the fleas.

Love it 🙂

body bliss


  1. Kathy Widenhouse on January 13, 2013 at 7:04 am

    What a lovely way to pamper ourselves … and not hard or expensive. Thank you for the wonderful tip!

    • Sandy on January 13, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Thanks Kathy, it’s ridiculous how excited I was when I made it 🙂

  2. Phyllis Harbinger on January 13, 2013 at 7:11 am

    WOW! Love this post.
    I buy an organic olive oil soap here but your mixture is intriguing.
    I use Devacurl.com Nopoo and One Condition for my hair and both are sulfate free for me and my pooches for your readers who do not want to DIY It makes a great shaving lotion as well.
    I am going to make your soap as a great body wash. Thank you again!

    • Sandy on January 13, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Phyllis you’re very welcome, I love its simplicity 🙂

  3. Linda Ursin on January 13, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I’ve made my own soap on a couple of occasions, and it turns out so much better than the store bought stuff, and last a lot longer. I use a much simpler process though (lye, water, oils, no cooking). I haven’t tried store bought castile soap yet though.

    • Sandy on January 13, 2013 at 7:32 am

      Linda I admire that you have made your own soap – it always looks way too complicated to me!

  4. Linda Ursin on January 13, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I try every craft I come across at least once 😀 I’ve got simple step by step instructions, if you’d like to try.

    • Sandy on January 13, 2013 at 7:43 am

      If you’re sure it’s not too complicated I’d love to give it a go!

  5. Linda Ursin on January 13, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I’ve got the instructions on my membership site. Send me an email and I’ll get a document to you as soon as possible.

    • Sandy on January 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

      thanks Linda 🙂

  6. Alana (@RamblinGarden) on January 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    My sister in law has a lot of issues with her skin and buys locally made soap products. I’ve pinned this to my Pinterest blogging board – if I can remember, this will make a nice Christmas gift for her.

    • Sandy on January 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks Alana, appreciated 🙂

  7. Melissa Miller Young on January 14, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Sandy, thanks for the great idea! I just so happen to have a local bar under my sink…now to find a jar. Thanks!

    • Sandy on January 14, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Melissa you’re very welcome, I look forward to hearing how it goes 🙂 I love that I can add my own oils and essences to it.

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