DIY Bar Soap Gentle Enough for Babies

on May 20 | in Beauty Recipes | by | with 71 Comments

GentleBarSoap

Note from Mommypotamus: Hey guys, I’m buried in boxes right now – packing up the house for a big move! We don’t know for sure where we’ll be in two weeks, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do. In the meantime, I’ve got some GREAT stuff lined up for you! Today, Susan from Learning And Yearning - the mama behind these DIY shampoo bars - is sharing her recipe for an extra gentle bar soap that’s great for those with sensitive skin, eczema, and of course babies!

I didn’t meet our only grandchild . . .

Until she was 4 years old, and she didn’t officially become our grandchild until she was 10, so I haven’t had the pleasure of a grand-baby. But now we have a brand new great-nephew to fuss over, so I wanted to come up with a gentle soap just for him, for times when soap is needed. Water, of course, is the best cleanser for babies. In DIY Organic Beauty Recipes, Heather says:

Water is the ideal daily cleanser for babies, because unlike alkaline soaps it preserves the protective acid mantle. If you’re not familiar with it, the acid mantle is a “very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin acting as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin. It is secreted by sebaceous glands. The pH of the skin is between 4.5 and 6.2, so it is acidic. [Bacteria, viruses] and other chemicals are primarily alkaline in nature and the skin’s moderate acidity helps to neutralize their chemical effects.” Soap’s natural alkalinity neutralizes this mantle, so I recommend using it sparingly.

I had several requirements for this soap

First of all, it needed to be super-fatted. Let me explain. Soap making involves a chemical process where lye and fat are combined in exact amounts to form soap (saponification). After curing, the soap will not have any traces of lye left in it. With superfatting, extra oils are added, or the amount of lye is reduced to form a very emollient soap.

Next, I wanted a soap that suds nicely, but is not drying. Oils which help to form suds include coconut and palm, but these oils can actually be drying to the skin if they make up more than a third of the oil in the recipe. I chose coconut oil for my soap, but it makes up only about 10% of the oil in the recipe.

I’ve also included a small amount of jojoba oil. I chose this because jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax – not an oil – with properties similar to our skin’s sebum – that acid mantle that we already discussed. It is gentle, rich in Vitamin E, protects the skin from the elements, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is one of the oils in my shampoo bars that makes them so special.

Next, I chose olive oil, which is gentle, soothing, and moisturizing – perfect for a baby’s sensitive skin. It is also a source of antioxidants, which protect the skin.

And finally, my soap needed to have a mild, herbal fragrance, and the essential oils used needed to add beneficial qualities to the final product. Essential oils can be harsh for a baby’s skin, so care was taken in choosing oils that are safe even for newborns. Chamomile and lavender are each a great choice. Both are soothing herbs, and just breathing in the scent will help a child relax so that he can sleep soundly. In addition, they are both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. It is important to note that all essential oils, even those deemed safe for newborns, should be used sparingly because they are so highly concentrated (never apply an essential oil directly to a baby’s skin).

Chamomile and Lavender Bar Soap for Baby

Equipment

To make this gentle bar soap you will need the following equipment (it’s best to keep these items only for soap making):

  • a scale for measuring ingredients (like this one)
  • a stainless steel or enamel pot
  • a glass or plastic pitcher for mixing and pouring the lye
  • containers for holding oil while it’s being weighed – I use 32 oz plastic yogurt containers
  • 2 large plastic or wooden spoons – one for stirring the lye and one for the oils
  • a spatula
  • 2 thermometers – one for the lye and one for the oil
  • soap mold – this can be as simple as a shoe box lined with plastic, a plastic tray with sides, a plastic shoe box, or glass bread pans
  • rubber gloves – wear these the entire time
  • cardboard to fit over the molds
  • a heavy towel or a blanket to insulate the cooling soap
  • protective clothing – this is not a project for shorts and a tank top. Wear long sleeves and long pants to protect your skin.
  • vinegar – I have this under equipment, rather than ingredients because it is not used in the recipe, but is kept on hand to pour on your skin if you accidentally get lye on you. Lye is extremely alkaline and can burn your skin and vinegar is acidic, so it will neutralize the lye. The first sensation you will feel if you get lye on yourself is an mild itch. Don’t panic, just dab some vinegar on the area and all will be well.

Ingredients

Weigh the following ingredients on the scale. Please note that these are not liquid measurements:

 

homemade baby soap recipe

Trace

1. Fill your sink with several inches of cold water and some ice to use as a water bath to cool the lye mixture.

2. Wearing your rubber gloves, place the 10 oz of distilled water into your pitcher and very slowly stir in the lye. I suggest doing this outdoors since even the fumes are toxic. Stir slowly until dissolved. The temperature will rise very quickly to 220°F or so. Now place the pitcher into the cold water bath in your sink and begin to take its temperature. The goal is 100°F.

3. Then place all the oils, except the lavender and chamomile, into your pot and heat at a low temperature trying to reach 100°F. This will happen quickly. You now want to get both the lye and the oil to 100°F at the same time. This is one of the trickiest parts of soap making. Use the ice water bath to help lower the temperatures as needed.

4. When both the lye and the oils are at 100°F, pour the lye mixture very slowly into the oil mixture. Continue stirring with a spatula until the mixture reaches a point called “trace”. The soap is traced when your stirring causes lines in the mixture that stay in place or when a drizzle of the soap mixture retains it shape on the surface of the soap. Trace can take up to 2 hours or more, but usually occurs within a half hour. If it is taking over 15 minutes, you may take breaks in stirring – stir for 10 minutes or so and rest for 10 minutes.

homemade baby soap recipe

My filled molds. The molds can be prepared from items that you already have in your home.

5. At trace, add in the .5 oz of essential oils and stir well. Then pour your soap into your prepared molds. Cover with the piece of cardboard and then wrap in a towel or blanket to hold the heat. You want your soap to cool slowly. You may remove the towel after the first day, but the soap itself will take several days to harden. Super-fat soap is a soft soap that takes longer to cure than recipes that are not super-fatted. When it feels solid, you may cut the soap into bars and un-mold it. The soap is still alkaline and should not be used until it has cured for 6 weeks.

Whether you are an experienced soap maker or a beginner, I think you’ll enjoy this delicately scented, creamy soap – even if there is no baby in your house. I made this soap for my little nephew, but I’ll definitely be keeping some of it for myself.

homemade baby soap recipe

About Susan:

Susan Vinskofski has been making a mess her entire life, whether it’s melted beeswax on the floor, stains in the sink, or dirt tracked in from the garden. She’s happiest that way. Visit her at http://learningandyearning.com where she blogs about gardening, foraging, real food, and natural living.

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71 Responses to DIY Bar Soap Gentle Enough for Babies

  1. [...] sharing my recipe and step-by-step instructions for this gentle bath soap at Mommypotamus – head on over to learn how to make my Chamomile and Lavender [...]

  2. Mali Korsten says:

    Awesome! I’m keen to try out soap-making, but need to get all the gear first! This recipe looks like a good place to start, as I have very sensitive skin! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Beverly Hootman says:

    Do you know if you can add calendula petals or oil to this recipe instead of the chamomile and lavender?

  4. Emma Dorsey says:

    I am so thrilled to see that this recipe is not a melt and pour one. I have been making soap since 1996 and when they came out with melt and pour I tried it, but I just don’t feel it is like making it from scratch. Thanks for sharing this I am always looking for new recipes and I have a new grand baby coming in Sept. Thanks again for sharing

  5. Taylor says:

    Where do you buy lye? and what type? Thanks for the recipe! Excited to try it!!

    • Brittany says:

      Hi there,

      You can get lye at most online soap-making websites. I get most of my supplies at SoapGoods.com Their prices are great and they are great about adding new requested items. There are two different lyes that I know about, one for liquid soap (Potassium Hydroxide) and the other for bar soap (Sodium Hydroxide).

      Hope this helped,
      Brittany

    • Sarah L says:

      You can also usually find it at hardware stores in the drain-cleaning section. Red Devil is a common brand. Be sure it is 100% lye, and not a drain-cleaning concoction.

  6. reecca says:

    This looks great! Is it gentle on eyes? Is there a way to make soap for little ones that is tear free?

  7. Brittany says:

    Hi Mommypotamus!

    I was wondering if you’ve ever tried using the “room temperature” method, and using an imersion blender to develop trace faster? I have been using the immersion blender for quite a while now (and it works brilliantly!) but tried the room temperature method for the first time about two months ago, and it is so so easy! You basically measure out all oils, do not melt them. Then you mix the water and lye and once the lye is disolved you pour that mixture into the hard oils, and the hot lye mixture will actually melt your oils for you. I made an amazing batch of peppermint rosemary soap, let it cure 6 weeks and was highly impressed.

    Wonderful recipe, I need to try it!
    Brittany

  8. Kirbi says:

    Thank you for this post! I am a big fan of homemade beauty products and I buy soap locally at our farmers market made with similar ingredients. My only concern is if this one stings the eyes? Most other natural soaps I have bought always sting my 3 year olds eyes. Even if Im the one touching it, once its in the water if they rub their eyes, etc. it usually burns. Please let us know if you have tried it for washing your face and if it was gentle enough.

    Thanks again so much,
    Kirbi

  9. Sue says:

    Great Recipe! I thought for sure this was going to be ‘melt & pour’ soap (which is not “making” soap but crafting with soap). What a wonderful surprise. Thanks also for not using synthetic fragrances. I was also happy to see a recipe that does not use palm oil – the growing and harvesting of palm oil is destroying our planet’s rainforests and so many DIY recipes use it without ever giving thought to the environmental cost. For those looking for tear-free soap – there is no such thing; soap is chemically a salt and will sting. Wash babies faces with a gentle cloth and plain water – you really should not need to soap up their eyes at all!!

  10. Sarah L says:

    I just mixed up a batch. Whew! 0.5 oz of essential oil doesn’t seem like much, but it is! I made mine with a blend of forest scented oils and ground some oatmeal into it. Last time I did that, it made a nice scrubbing soap. I’m hoping my husband will like this batch. The last recipe I made was a flop with him!

  11. Julie says:

    Can I substitute sweet almond oil for the jojoba oil?

  12. Margaret says:

    Hello,
    I have some process questions as I’m highly interested in making gentle soaps but am a complete novice/process geek:
    1. the lye poured into distiller water: does this happen at room temp or is the water boiled?
    2. I assume olive oil is the white stuff that comes in a jar, not the yellowish oil used for cooking?
    Thank you!

  13. Moni K. George says:

    It was nice if the wt. was in grms. instead of ounces.

  14. Mrs. Myles says:

    Hello! I was wondering if I could use this recipe as is, but use the hot process method?

  15. Mary Bergey says:

    I’m very interested to start making my own bar soap. All the info out there is so overwhelming. I’ve read about the lye calculator. I think for starters I would just rather use your recipe first. I was wondering though if I would need to recalculate the lye if I substituted the water for goat milk or is recalculating just for the oils? Also the same question on recalculating if I wanted to add some essential oils for scent. Thanks for your help.

    • Heather says:

      Yes, I would recalculate for goat milk just to be sure. If you’re adding the oils after the saponification process they would not need to be calculated. However, it’s important not to add too much, so you’ll want to research that before adding them in :)

  16. Leslie says:

    I made this soap a few days ago. I was able to unmold it and cut it after 24 hours but it is still very very soft. Will the bars eventually get really hard? It feels amazing!!! Thank you.

    • Linda says:

      Leslie, did your soap harden up? I just made a batch 4 days ago and it is still very soft, also my essential oils seemed to maybe have separated out, so I’m not sure how to prevent that.

  17. Leslie says:

    Hi,
    I’m trying to create a cold process soap recipe using olive, coconut and sunflower oil. I love the feel of sunflower oil in soap. What percentages would you use of each of these oils to create a hard but fairly gentle cleansing bar? I don’t want to use soy shortening or palm. Thank you very much.

  18. Emily says:

    3 things:
    1. Is this gentle enough to use on your face? I am currently using an aveeno moisturizing bar (an oatmeal soap bar) as a facial cleanser. Could I mix finely ground oats in to the soap at the same time I put in the essential oil?
    2. How long must I wait to use it after making it? I plan on molding it in lined cupcake trays so the bars are small and have a cute shape. I’m hoping to make it in the next couple of weeks, test it myself, and then save it for Christmas / fall birthday gifts.
    3. Does the soap smell like olives? Does it have a sweet scent from the lavender? If I use half lavender half benzoin essential oils, would that give it a sweet scent?

    Thank you for this post! I have never made soap before, and am excited to give it a try.

  19. Emily says:

    One last thing, does it matter if I use extra Virgin oil, or regular?

  20. Valerie Fieber says:

    i’m super excited about this! yay!

  21. Alicia says:

    I have recalculated they lye and all, assuming the water amounts stay the same, is beef tallow a comparable substitute for coconut oil? I have an extremely sensitive bub, and have been reading about the benefits of tallow. Much appreciated :)

  22. Rachel says:

    About how many bars does this make if you make it in a bread pan like you did (I think?) up there? Thinking of making some for Christmas gifts and want to figure out how many batches I’ll have to make.

  23. Andrea says:

    This sounds fantastic! Never made soap before so I can’t wait to give it a try. I had one question, just for clarification: after you add the lye mixture to the oil mixture and begin stirring and watching for “trace”, should you take the pot off the hot stove or try to keep it at 100 degrees?

  24. This is one of the best known chosen recipes for baby’s soap.

  25. […] about a week ago, I tried this recipe from Mommypotamus’ site. She calls for lavender and chamomile essential oils, but since those […]

  26. Tiffany Moreno via FB says:

    I need to try this!

  27. Keri Lopez via FB says:

    *

  28. Gwendolyn Fullmer via FB says:

    Neena Andersen Earl maybe this could help your arms ?

  29. And in case you want someone else to make it for you..Shades of Earth Soaps

  30. Candice Brown via FB says:

    My batch of this is almost done curing I cannot wait to try it out

  31. Mcfadden Joseph via FB says:

    Heather McFadden

  32. Carl Lucas via FB says:

    Or you can rob a liposuction clinic like in Fight Club

  33. Jeff Winters via FB says:

    Sarah

  34. Megan Cannon Sarah Cannon Copperberg

  35. Lauren says:

    Hi, was wondering if I could use beeswax in this somehow? And if I can what I could exchange it with, or how to add it? Any pointers? It would be much appreciated!!! :D

    • Heather says:

      Hi Lauren, I have never used beeswax in a recipe so I’m not sure how it would affect the recipe. I can say, however, that if you attempt any substitutions you’ll need to recalculate the lye. The amount needed depends on the amount and types of fats used and measurements need to be precise.

  36. Doreen Pasquarella via FB says:

    The lye thing just turns me off. :(

  37. Laura Maurer Devonmille via FB says:

    Randi Bechtold….

  38. Haven Vrba via FB says:

    Please be careful when making handmade soap. Never use wooden spoons to mix with as the lye may “eat” at the wood and you will end up with splinters in your soap. Plastic is best for a lye solution as lye will etch the glass over time and it can shatter. Always run any recipe through a lye calculator such as http://www.soapcalc.net because everyone makes mistakes and the smallest typo can mean big trouble.

  39. Terry Belmore Keck via FB says:

    Can home made soap be made without lye?

  40. Megan Danford Steinhauser DIY baby soap !! :)

  41. Diane Hamilton Coe via FB says:

    Doreen it’s really not that bad! It scared me away for yrs and yrs….a little caution and it’s easy peasy!

  42. Lamed Vav via FB says:

    Too complicated. Pretend you are a pioneer. Save your wood ashes and lard/tallow. (Do a bit of research for the chemistry.) Cook them together and you have a good soap. All the rest is extra.

  43. Jack Spoor via FB says:

    Jean Gibson

  44. Happy Traveler via FB says:

    thank you

  45. Doreen Pasquarella via FB says:

    Aaahhh scared eek!

  46. Mary Geiger Kamilov via FB says:

    Order the food grade lye online , order essential oil of choice for scent, and you can go to bramble berry . Com for information and calculation of lye — really not to hard just follow a fool proof easy recipe and your fine plus half the time the Castile recipes are ready for immediate use ((( they will just melt away faster in the warm water ))) — if I can do everyone can

  47. Jean Gibson via FB says:

    Lye does nothing but saponify the fats (turn to soap). Lye soap is the ONLY true soap. you can do this in a crackpot and use the soap immediately. (Cook to a gooey thick consistency. Add water and make laundry soap). Use vegetable oil and create a vegan friendly blend. Oils do not have to be new or exceptionally clean. Warm dirty/used oil strain through cheese cloth.
    Lye soap creates glycerin. Glycerine soaps are more drying for the skin than lye soaps. Create lush bubbles by adding coconut milk for parts of the water. Add goats milk to moisturize dry skin, never use lotions that do not penetrate the layers of dead cells. Regular use softens elbows, heels knees and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

  48. Muhammad Hazri via FB says:

    Cik Puan Hajar Ardini

  49. Cik Puan Hajar Ardini via FB says:

    kamu buat Muhammad Hazri

  50. Melanie Chin via FB says:

    Palm oil is not such an ethical sustainable option ????

  51. Paula Capuci Berg via FB says:

    Without lye, there is no soap. Been making soap for 12 years. I shudder at the thoughts of buying chemical soap at the store. Glycerine is a byproduct of the saponification of lye and fatty acids in oils. Glycerine is a humectant and draws moisture to your skin. The commercial soap industry extracts the glycerine and adds chemicals. When using lye, you just have to be careful. I took a class to learn. I need to make some because I’m running out.

  52. Haven Vrba via FB says:

    @Terry Belmore Keck you can use melt and pour to make a soap. It’s a premade soap base that you melt in the microwave and add scent and color. Look at Brambleberry.com for lots of good information and ingredients.

  53. Mc Kamil via FB says:

    I would like to make our soap babylove Paramita Irma :) ❤️

  54. Agree baby love, ;) ❤️ Mc Kamil

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