How to Make Your Own Natural Bodywash: Liquid Castile Soap



This project is almost too easy. So easy that I can’t believe I never thought of it before.

Having already dabbled in homemade shampoo, I’d wondered a few times whether I could DIY my bodywash myself, since we like to use Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap. I couldn't find anything online, but then I got to thinking...

If you look at the back of any liquid soap bottle, you’ll see that the first ingredient in there is water. Now, many soaps add other stuff in to make the soap thicker and more like a gel. But at its essence, it’s just a soap and water mixture.

Another thing you’ll likely also notice is that liquid soap costs more than a bar of the regular stuff. The cost of convenience, right?

Not necessarily. Because as I discovered, it's quite easy to make your own simple, natural bodywash for a fraction of the price...





How to Make Your Own Natural Bodywash

Ingredients:
1 bar of castile soap
6 cups of water

Other Equipment You’ll Need:
vegetable grater
large sauce pan or stock pot

Instructions:
  • Take your bar of soap, and shred it using the vegetable grater. I selected a bar of Kirk's plain castile soap, but if you’re committed to the peppermint-or lavender-scented Dr. Bronner’s soaps, they make those in a bar form, too. (Alternatively, you could probably add essential oils to the plain one when it’s melted down, but I haven't tried that.)

  • Heat up 6 cups of water on the stove until it's almost boiling. Add two cups of soap flakes. (I shredded one bar of soap, measured out 2 cups, and still had a handful of flakes left over that I’ll use next time I make a batch. If you want to make a bigger or smaller batch, you can easily do that. Just keep the soap to water as a 1:3 ratio.)

  • Stir the mixture, and the soap flakes should start melting. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit there for an hour or so. By this time, all the flakes should be melted.

  • Now you’re done. Just let it cool, and then pour it into containers. This amount filled up one large 32-ounce bottle and I still had two more cups of bodywash left over that I poured into another lidded container.
A Note About the Bodywash:
If you're familiar with Dr. Bronner's soap, you'll know that it's pretty liquid-y to begin with, since there aren't any additives to make the soap thicker. You'll find that's true with this recipe, as well. If you don’t like a runny consistency, another option is for you to pour it into an empty foaming hand-soap container (like this). Fill it about halfway with the castile soap mixture, then add water to fill it up the rest of the way. Screw the foaming lid on, and you'll have yourself some soap-sudsy foaming bodywash!

P.S. If you are new to this blog, thank you so much for stopping by! You can feel free to browse all my other posts about my journey toward a lifestyle of simplicity and DIY, as well as some of the ways my husband and I are learning to save money. I also write about my faith, my marriage and everything in between, which you can explore in the archives.

Plus, if you like this tutorial, click here to pin it to Pinterest. You can also follow me on Pinterest here.

Related Posts
Recipe for Making Your Own Shampoo
Why I Started Making My Own Shampoo

76 comments:

  1. This is great! We just started using Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castille Soap and I really like it, and even though it has lasted us a really long time, I have wondered if there was a cheaper way to get a great natural body wash like that. So I'll definitely have to try this!

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  2. I. will. try. this. Great idea, Carmen!

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  3. Awesome! Let me know how yours turns out :)

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  4. Awesome idea! Definitely saving it for later :)

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  5. 2 questions- 1. Where do you get "castile" soap and 2. one of the reasons why I like store-bought body wash is for the moisturizing effect it has especially in the winter. Any ideas how to get the same effect but in a more natural way? Love it!

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  6. They carry the multi-packs of the castile soap in the grocery stores down here (look with the other bar soaps in the shampoo/bodywash aisle), but if you can't find them locally, you can also order them online (here). As for moisturizing, I usually use Aveeno, but I haven't really looked into anything more natural than that...yet! I know some people use shea butter, that could be a possibility!

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  7. i was wondering if that would work with normal barsoap to

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  8. I have tried a recipe similar to this before & it does work so well! I just finished my bottle (which didn't have as much water in it) so I need to make more. I also used it for shampoo and that worked well. Thanks for sharing! I'm going to try your recipe when I make more. Blessings, Miranda

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  9. Anonymous, the principle is the same no matter what kind of bar soap you use but I'm not sure what the appropriate soap:water ratio would be. You'd have to experiment with that, depending on the soap. If you want it to be "natural," then I recommend castile soap because you aren't getting all the additives, chemicals and perfumes in it.

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  10. Miranda, I'm so glad you've tried this before, too! I love being able to make my own and I think that mine soaps up better than the storebought kind, to boot!

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  11. I just made a soap live this only using ivory and I couldn't get it to foam up in the foaming pumps. Does yours really foam up or just a little. I used every ratio and wasted a lot of the soap. I made it for hand soap but I ended up adding a 1/4 cup body lotion and turned it into body wash.

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  12. This sounds awesome! Any idea of how to do it with liquid castile soap? Thanks!

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  13. Lacey - Hmm. I've never tried it with Ivory, so I'm not sure what the problem is. Did you add anything else to it? I just use soap and water, nothing else. If you want it to be sudsier, I'd suggest using less water when you mix it up. Are you sure you're using a foaming hand soap container?

    CathyG - I'm not sure I understand your question... This tutorial is for how to make liquid castile soap from bar castile soap. Feel free to clarify!

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  14. Yeah I am using a foaming soap pump and I also only use just water and soap, I didn't add the body lotion till a week later when I couldn't get it foam in the pump. I haven't tried by body wash yet but between the ivory soap and the scented lotion it smells so good

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  15. Lacey - That's really weird. I've made liquid soap many times now and haven't had a problem with it. Sorry, I'm not sure what other suggestions to make for that, besides maybe trying a soap other than Ivory next time :(

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  16. New to your site, came over from money saving mom. I want to make my own everything, if I can. I do it for different reasons. I like the fact that if I run out of something I don't have to run to the store and pay someone for something I can do, not that I don't care about the environment and all the chemicals. Nice to hear of other people making their own products instead of buying at a big box store.

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  17. Yeah I will be on the lookout for the soap you used.

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  18. Lacey, I couldn't agree more with you about learning to make my own stuff! I love the resourcefulness of it and the thrill of being able to look at something I made with my own hands. Plus it's usually a lot more cost-effective to make it myself, and then I know exactly what's going into it (especially with food items). And the environment is definitely an added benefit, too! It's funny how being green usually goes hand-in-hand with a frugal, simple lifestyle.

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  19. I just wanted to say that if you need moisturizing, just add a 1/2 tsp of Glycerin per 2 cups of wash. You can find Glycerin with the First Aid supplies at the drug store.

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  20. Oh, thanks for the tip, Luna! I might have to try that once the weather turns colder and my skin gets a little dryer. That's great to know :)

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  21. This is great! I have been looking for a less expensive liquid soap option. Do you think if you added a little less water that it would still work, and be a bit thicker?

    Since I am allergic to olives, I thought others might be interested in this...according to Kirk's soap description: "'Castile' originally referred to the highly-prized vegetable based soap produced in Castile, Spain. For centuries this soap was considered "the soap of royalty" because of its luxurious lather and gentleness to the skin. Today, "Castile" refers to any vegetable based soap."

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  22. From what I understand, because liquid castile soap has water in it, it also must contain a preservative like citric acid, to avoid bacterial/mold growth. Should we add citric acid to this?

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  23. Natalie - If you add less water, it will be somewhat thicker but not by a lot. I have heard about people adding glycerin, which should thicken it up, but I have not tried it myself. Also, I checked the castile soap that I used (Kirk's) and it is made from coconuts, not olives, so you should be good to go!

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  24. Debbie - None of the research I have done has indicated a need for adding a preservative, however I imagine it probably wouldn't hurt if you were making a larger batch or weren't planning on using it up for awhile. That being said, I haven't added anything extra and haven't had a problem. If you do add some citric acid, please let me know how it goes and how much you use!

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  25. About a year ago I went to walmart and bought the equate brand foam soap and dumped the soap to use the containers. We mix water and Dr. Bronner's soap in the foam container (like you mentioned above) and use it as body wash, hand soap in each of our bathrooms & kitchen, kids shampoo & body wash AND we use a little extra Bronners in one of the containers and use it for shaving. It's been really great for us all the way around...there are no additives and it's saving us money!!!
    Karrie

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  26. I have done this exact same thing with Kirk's. You can look up where to buy it on their website: http://www.kirksnatural.com/retail.html. Kroger and Albertson's carry it. It's much cheaper in the store than on Amazon, at least here in Texas. Anyway, I wanted to say that the glycerin is also supposed to help the soap to gel up, but it didn't seem to help mine at all, and I don't know if it's just this particular soap. But I have read that you can use your hand mixer to mix it up after it has cooled and that should help it to gel up some. Mine is very liquidy, but I still like it!

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  27. Karrie, I love all your innovative uses for putting castile soap to good use around your house. I hadn't thought of using it for shaving, but it makes perfect sense. Ours gets so nice and foamy!

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  28. Kimmie, I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the soap! I haven't tried adding glycerin myself, so I'm not sure why it didn't work, but I don't mind it being so liquid-y since that's what we're used to!

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  29. Would this make a good hand soap as well?

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  30. Yep; you sure can use castile soap for hand soap. My husband also uses it for his shampoo! (I personally use a baking soda shampoo that I make, though.)

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  31. So I just made this yesterday and this morning it looked like it had separated. I followed the directions except I used Dr. Bs and it didn't quite make 2 cups but I still use 6 c water. Any ideas? I have it back on the stove thinking maybe it hadn't been warmed long enough even though it looked fully melted and incorporated...
    :)

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  32. Thanks, Stephanie. My guess would be that you did not heat it thoroughly enough. Try bringing it to a low boil before turning the heat off, just to make sure. Sometimes I do find that if I let the soap sit for awhile (like a month or more), little soap chunks will begin to show up, so I just heat it up again and then it's like new again. But that should take awhile for that to happen (not overnight!) so I'd recommend reheating it.

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  33. I'm here again to tell you that mine still came out very gelatinous. It clogged up the foam soap dispenser. So I'm not sure what I did wrong! But in case anyone else has this problem, I put mine in the blender and whipped it. It seems to have worked. I have it in a regular dispenser not a foam one. So many have talked about wishing for a thicker consistency and some how I achieved that accidently! :) Thanks for posting this tutorial and for responding so quickly!
    Ps- my husbands theory is that I warmed it too long. Who knows!!

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  34. Thanks for the update, Stephanie. So much of this seems to be trial and error and that's funny that you managed to get it thick on accident. Go figure, right?! I bet your husband's hunch might be onto something, if too much water ended up evaporating? Anyway, kudos for your resourcefulness and trying the blender. That's a great idea. In the future if you do end up wanting to use the foaming container, you can still use thicker (regular consistency) soap, but just use less of it and more water. (About 1/4 to 1/3 of the container filled with soap, the rest with water.) Thanks again for your update. I think in the future, I'll try heating it longer and see if I can replicate that! :)

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  35. Wonderful recipe! Thank you! I can't find castile around here, so I'll have to order when the budget allows.

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  36. This is an excellent idea - thanks for the tutorial. I tried this today for the first time using Kirk's and it smells fantastic (never heard of this soap before). With 6 cups of distilled water and one bar of soap it's turned out very watery. I boiled the water and added the grated bar (I used it all), then stirred until it melted, then removed from the heat. I didn't stir it again, but maybe I should? I plan on leaving it overnight and checking it in the morning, but it seems a bit too watery for use as soap or body wash. I could grate another bar into it, and I have some glycerin, too, so that's another option. Have you any further advice? Thank you once again!

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  37. Michael, have you ever used liquid castile soap before? If so, you know that it, naturally, is pretty water-y. (Hence my note about that in the post.) Still, though it seems water-y, it is still a great soap and I'd encourage you to go on and give it a try. You'll be surprised how well it works in spite of that!

    Over time, though, the solution will start to thicken but there is really no rhyme or reason to when that happens. Sometimes it can happen within days of making the soap and sometimes it can take more than a month. If you can't get used to the water-y consistency, try following my recommendation in the "note" portion of the post.

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  38. Would there be any concern with getting in your eyes or sensitivity in kids? I am interested in using this for my kiddos but don't want something that will hurt their eyes -- they like to make a big soapy bath. Thanks

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  39. Hmm, good question, Lilly. I don't have kids and haven't gotten this in my eyes for any first-hand experience, so I don't really know if it's irritating or not. You might try researching castile soap (bar or liquid) and seeing how it stands up on that attribute.

    Anyone else have any idea?

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  40. I have Almond liquid Bronners, and jojoba oil....Im wanting to make this this morning....What should my mixture be?? How much Bronners? water? jojoba?

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  41. Michael McLaughlinJanuary 10, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Time is all it needs! I left it till morning and it was very thick - exactly like store bought liquid soap. I poured it into a larger container, and ended up with maybe 30 US fluid oz. I've been using it in a smaller liquid soap container and I love it. I would say it's not suitable for foaming dispensers as mine gets too thick if you leave it, and seems to dry in the wider foaming dispensing nozzle and clog it up. Maybe it would work with more water, but it's perfect in a normal liquid soap dispenser - it doesn't need any additives or glycerin, but I might try a few drops of essential oils next time!

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  42. So glad to hear that, Michael! Thanks for sharing your update!

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  43. Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for. Will check out your shampoo recipe too!

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  44. You can buy Kirk's at Walmart, and it's much cheaper than Dr. Bronner's. I just bought a bar of Dr. Bronner's for $4-something, and the Kirk's was a little over $3 for 3 bars. Someone was asking about moisturizing body wash, and the Kirk's is made with coconut oil, which should be very moisturizing. I was also impressed that it's made in Kentucky (I'm from KY!)

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  45. I just made this, and it's awesome! I added four essential oils: cinnamon, pine, clove, and cedar, and it smells like a forest! Yay! Thanks for the recipe.

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  46. i just made homemade body wash yesterday! it is fantastic and such a great idea. i used dove brand bar soap though. for every grated bar i used, i added 2 cups of water. the mixture is a bit runny when it is still hot or warm, but about 24 hrs later, it is the perfect consistency! It has the consistency of normal body wash or maybe a nice, thick lotion. i guess you can add more water if you want the wash to be more runny.

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  47. Neat! So glad the recipe worked for you Anonymous! I haven't tried it with Dove, so I'm glad to hear that it was a success!

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  48. Dear Carmen,

    Thank you for sharing this simple recipe. I live in the Middle East (Jordan) and was able to find Nabulsi (from Nablus, Palestine) 100% pure olive oil soap and used that for the recipe. I also added 1 tsp of lavender essential oil and the scent is just great.

    My next project is to try the shampoo. I'm waiting to go the open market tomorrow to find some rosemary...I think I'd like that scent. If not, I'll just stick with lavender scent for now :)

    Thank you!

    -Asma

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  49. I skimmed the comments, so i'm not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but salt can be used to thicken liquid Castile soap. Sea salt has worked well for me, I add a teaspoon or so after the soap flakes are all melted. Just mix it well and leave it to cool. If it's still not thick enough you can just sprinkle in a little more, let it dissolve a bit and then blend it well. It will look opaque for a while, but in my (limited!) experience that's just from tiny bubbles that will settle out eventually. And I'm not sure about this, but it may also act as a preservative. I'll have to look it up...

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  50. I like making my own stuff now, and have gotten Dr. Bronner's. The only thing that bugs me about that brand is that it has some weird propaganda-type stuff on its label. Have you read it? Whether it's what the company really believes or not, it's odd stuff, wacky. For that reason, I'll be looking at other brands out there. Glad to know there's a US-based brand that maybe I can pick up like Kirk's. I really enjoyed perusing your site and reading your thoughts. I'll be back!

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  51. I was so excited to see your homemade Dr. Bronner's...my favorite! I have one question: With Dr. Bronner's it instructs to "dilute! dilute! dilute!" Would I also dilute this soap?
    Thanks!

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  52. Anonymous, I've never actually seen the "dilute, dilute, dilute" instructions so I've never tried it--with regular Dr. Bronner's or the homemade kind! You definitely can dilute this soap, but I don't know how much you would want to dilute it by. It might be a little trial-and-error, but I imagine it'd be just the same. Let me know if you try it. Thanks!

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  53. Is it possible to scent the body wash using skin safe fragrance oils?

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  54. Kim, I haven't tried adding fragrance so I can't provide any recommendations. However, I imagine you could use essential oils; maybe just try a couple drops at a time and see how it turns out? Let me know if you come up with something that works well!

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  55. You can buy Kirk's Castile at Walmart in South Alabama, and it's CHEAP! It uses coconut oil, which is a hot product right now, and it's supposed to be a wonderful moisturizer, so there may not be a need to add anything, even in the winter.

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  56. I've tried doing this twice now, both times with a bar of Dr. Bronner's. The result has been a nearly-solid, gloppy, gel mess. The closest I could get to liquid has been the consistency of very thick snot, which is really hard to squirt out of a liquid soap dispenser. I've tried stirring while it cooled and reheating and adding more water. So far, no luck at all. Very disappointed :( Any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry your experience hasn't been the best :( I have not tried using Dr. Bronner's soap so my first suggestion would be to pick up a bar of Kirk's castile soap and try it. I've used it many times and have not had any problems. You also might be over-heating the liquid, letting it get too hot and boiling out too much water. Take it off the heat as soon as the soap is mostly melted. It will continue to melt from the residual heat and at that point should be really watery. Over time it will thicken, at which point you can shake it up and add more water if you like. Good luck!

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    2. Thanks, I'll give it another shot until it works!

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  57. I had a similar result as Sylvia and wasn't sure if it was because I added some xanthan gum in to thicken it and I should have added it after the mixture had cooled a bit I think. I just added it all to very hot water and I got almost a solid. Maybe the water was too hot and the xanthan gum could have also reacted somehow. So, I took parts of the solid and warmed it with a lot of hot water in the microwave stirring intermittently until it all melted together. I ended up with tons of cleaner so that was awesome, and it works great! I love it :)

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    1. Hooray for trial-and-error! I've never used xanthan gum so I can't speak to that, but am glad you were able to figure it out and get lots of extra soap out of it! Talk about a pleasant surprise :)

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    2. can you microwave it instead of putting it on the stove?

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    3. Not sure. I imagine you could but haven't tried it. I'd recommend giving it a go and heating the water in 20 or 30 second intervals until it's hot enough to melt the flakes. Let me know if you try it and how it goes!

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  58. Okay, I'm glad you're still responding to comments on this! I used Kirk's castile soap and was SO EXCITED when I made my first batch and poured into containers last night. It smelled wonderful, and it was liquid-y. This morning I awoke to find it had all solidified. I can barely get it out! Has this happened to anyone else? Any ideas on how I can at least get it out of the container to use it?

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    Replies
    1. I have not had that problem with Kirk's so my guess is that you heated it too long, but like I said that's a guess. You could just add water and re-heat it to water it down to the right consistency, but I'm not sure how that'd affect its effectiveness.

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  59. Dr. Bronner's doesn't work. I too ended up with a bunch of snotty, slimy goo. Kirk's works much better, it remains a liquid. I have also done this with my shampoo bar. I use Jr Lidgett's old fashioned shampoo bars, but bars get messy. I use one bar to 5 cups of water and it works really well.

    I have found that with Kirk's, it is not necessary to heat it on the stove. Just mix it with hot water and the soap dissolves.

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  60. I have tried this with another soap, and I want to do a batch with Kirk's because it's supposed to be great for eczema. With the first batch, I think I did heat it too I let it sit in the pot overnight, and the next day it was a gelatinous mess! But I took a hand mixer to it and it then turned into a thinner consistency, a little snotty, but workable! Again, this was with a different soap and added glycerin. When I do this using Kirk's, I will omitt the glycerine and just try melting in hot water before putting it on the stove. But I do recommend letting it sit for several hours and using a mixer if it looks to thick.

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  61. Love this! I made this today with Kirks soap, 7 cups of water and about 3 oz shea butter...it filled both a 32 oz bottle and 15 oz bottle. Also at this point it is runny but lathers up very well so a little goes a long way! Thanks for this post. So happy to have a paraben, chemical free body wash at a quarter of the cost I was spending on dr woods.

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  62. Thanks for posting this awesome tutorial<3 I hope to save a lot of money making liquid soap from bars, rather than just buying liquid Dr. Bronner's outright.

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  63. Will this work with Yardley's English Lavender Soap?

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  64. Darn, mine did not thicken up at all. I used the whole bar of Kirk's, 6 c water, heated water up to boiling, turned it off, added shredded bar, mixed til blended, let sit overnite, still watery. Gonna put back on stove and let it boil for a few minutes, let it sit overnite again, if that doesnt work then I think I will add another shredded bar or maybe get some glycerin. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. I bought a foaming dispenser on ebay and it works great, no need to try to thicken now. Thank you much for the recipe, it's a keeper.

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  65. Wow! I have an empty foam soap container and didn't know what to do with it. Now I know thanks to you!

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  66. I never have time to make mine so I get my castile soap from www.naturalwayorganics.net. It's just as effective not very costly. Mild and not harsh so I absolutely love it.

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