Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Castile Hand Soap: A First Attempt

Isn't it funny how frugal living and natural products often go hand-in-hand?

I ran out of normal hand soap in my kitchen a few weeks ago, and I was reluctant to go out and buy more.  I've been learning so much (mostly from all the fantastic blogs out there) about simple living and the do-it-yourself mentality that I knew there must be a simpler - and probably cheaper - alternative out there.

Castile soap seems to be a common thread in many soap-type concoctions out there.  My wanderings in natural food stores have shown me that my choices of liquid castile soap are basically Dr. Bronners and Dr. Bronners.  I know a lot of people love the product, but I am not wild about the philosophical jargon plastered boldly all over the bottle.  So I kept waiting...and looking.

What I found was perhaps not quite as "natural-y" as Dr. Bronners, but its only non-natural ingredient is "natural fragrance."  It is Kirk's Coco Castile soap, a solid soap made from coconut oil.  I am not totally okay with the "natural fragrance," but it is a mild scent, and none of us have very sensitive skin.  And it's 1.39 a bar.  I guess at some point, I'll keep looking for the ideal castile soap, or learn to make my own (wow, that will be interesting... chemistry labs were my worst class in college).  But this will do for now.

Back to the hand soap.  Liquid hand soap just seems like a good idea by the kitchen sink, where grease, suds, and food scraps are always flying around.  Transforming the solid soap to liquid sounded tricky at first, but it was insanely easy.

1 saucepan
3 cups water
1 (4 oz) bar castile soap

1. Boil water in saucepan
2. Grate soap (wash grater quickly so nobody uses it for cheese...)
3. Add soap to water and stir until dissolved
4. Put in soap dispenser (I had enough extra to fill a pint jar for refills).

Cheap, easy, and only 5 ingredients (including the water).  A little extra work is involved, but I consider this area of my life to be thoroughly simplified.

If you're also interested in making a refill soap solution for foaming hand soap dispensers, you will be amazed at how easy it is (way easier than making the liquid soap from solid!).

I know many of you make your own soaps and body care products.  I'd love to hear your methods, or read some of your posts about them!

Posted at Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Friday Favorites at Simply Sweet Home, and Fresh, Clean, and Pure Friday at la bella vita


  1. I make my own 100% organic bar & liquid soaps that I sell on my on-line shop (I'm in europe though). Making liquid soap from scratch is quite a complicated, lenghty process so if you are happy with the liquid soap you have managed to make using the bar soap, stick with it.

    Nice to read that someone is paying attention to the ingredients list on "natural" soap. I found it very difficult to find a truly natural soap so I researched into making my own. If you would like to make your own from scratch, let me know & I'll direct you to a good youtube vid & give you a recipe to try.

  2. Good to know! My father-in-law makes their laundry detergent with castille (grated), phals-naptha and water. He says it costs $5 for a pound of it, and it works better than grocery store brands without the smells and the rashes he gets from the chemicals. (I haven't tried it yet because I'm too lazy to grate all that soap! But one day soon!)

  3. I love this! What a great idea. I have yet to try making any type of soap, but I'm getting closer. Thanks for this post.

  4. "but I am not wild about the philosophical jargon plastered boldly all over the bottle."

    This. (I'm glad to see I'm not the only one seriously wierded out by the mumbo and the jumbo.)

    What a great tutorial/idea! And, thanks for sharing it. (And to Wardeh@GNOWFGLINS for linking it on FB!)

  5. All the junk on the bottle of Dr. Bronner's is a deterrent for me as well. For awhile I was buying a lovely castille soap from another company but I haven't been able to find it for awhile now. I have ended up buying Dr. Bronner's when I want the liquid castille soap but immediately pour it into other bottles and recycle the Bronner bottles. I had tried making it with the Kirk's bar but it kept glopping up on me. Not sure what I did wrong. That was ten years ago, though. Perhaps I should try again using your instructions. :-)

  6. Nicola, your hand-made soaps sound fabulous! I don't think I'm quite ready to make my own yet, but I will keep your advice in mind if that day comes!
    Ssm, I hadn't heard about laundry soap with castille...sounds like a great idea. I'll have to look into it a little more!
    Jill, thanks for stopping by!
    Jessica, it is some pretty bold philosophical stuff to put on soap. I guess most people don't mind...or don't notice! Thanks for stopping by and for the encouragement!
    Susie, I had a little bit of gloppiness with the Kirk's, too, but I just kept stirring, and most of it dissolved. I strained the liquid soap through cheesecloth and am using the leftover "glops" in the shower... Good luck!

  7. Sounds interesting!. :) not something I've tried yet. :) I'll be curious to hear how you like using it...
    Glad to know I'm not the only one put off by those sells liquid castile that is very nice...and even organic. they often have sales and sell the stuff in regular sizes...and in bulk in gallon and 5-gallon tubs...with pleasant labels. I like their liquid sunshine for laundry, floors and dishes, peppermint shower gel, and dog shampoo.
    D :)

  8. Anonymous, thank you for the vermontsoap info! I hadn't heard of that company before, and I'll be checking it out! Liquid castille would be nice... no shredding involved. ;)

  9. We love Kirk's! We've been using it for showers and baths for years and I grate some in my homemade laundry mixture for its sudsy-ness. I never would have thought of converting it to liquid soap! Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  10. We never knew about Kirk's until a few months ago, but I think it's a keeper. :) That's a great idea to put it in laundry soap - hadn't thought of that! Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

  11. Just an FYI: I just did a search on for castille, and while it's not as cheap as a bar of Kirk's, it is liquid, organic, and available in four quantities. They also carry essential oils, if you want to give the castille a nice scent.

  12. Neat tutorial! And awesome bubbly photograph, too. :D

    Btw, I'm following from Seasonal Saturday and hope you will join my Spring Blog Hop, too.

  13. Thanks, Brenda, I will go check that out - I checked out, as well, and was really impressed by their thoroughness. The essential oils sound like a good idea, I'll have to check that out too!
    Aquariann, thanks for stopping by! I'm looking forward to visiting your blog hop!

  14. I've always wanted to make my own soap and so I thank you for your great tutorial guide. Thanks for sharing this last week on Fresh Clean and Pure Friday! What a great addition! Hope you can stop by again this weekend with another inspirational post! Be well! Roz

  15. Wonderful! I bought some castille bar soaps a few weeks ago but haven't gotten around to giving it a try yet. Did this recipe turn out fairly thick like the commercial liquid soaps, or more runny?

  16. Roz, I thought soap for sure fit into the "Clean" category. :)

    Sarah, the recipe was more runny than commercial liquid soap, but not overly runny. It still works just fine in my normal hand soap dispenser. Good luck with your soap experiments!

  17. I am too lazy to grate soap! I actually use the Dr. Bronner's 1:1 with water in a foaming pump. There are "natural fragrances" but I am hoping it is better than the regular soaps.

    But I have never made laundry detergent and I wondering if anyone had trouble with cloth diapers and the homemade stuff? I am thinking of trying it.

    1. Hi, Melissa, we have had great success using homemade detergent with cloth diapers!

  18. You can also look for the "Kiss my Face" brand of liquid Castille soap. Usually target sells it. I love the peppermint smell...and no craziness on the bottles. :o)

    1. Ive also seen kiss my face products at Meijer. They have a special organic section for soaps at the end of the soap isle.

  19. Kirks All Natural does make a fragrance free bar :)

  20. I tried this and wound-up with a gelatinous blob when it cooled. I reheated it and added 2 cups of water and it blobbed up again, but a little loser this time. I've been trying to thin it for the foaming soap, but it's hard to pump and what does come out is a very watery, thin foam.
    Do you have any idea what I've done to mess up this simple procedure? I'm stumped.


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