5 Ways To Customize Your Liquid Soap Base Recipes

Last Updated:

I’ve made a lot of liquid castile soap recently. Like a whole lot. So much that I have to keep it in a big bottle that was originally intended to hold distilled water. I keep it in bulk so that I can formulate many liquid soap base recipes as and when I need them. I have a big family and need lots of soap!

Once you have made your soap base, there are lots of cool and interesting things you can do with it. Whether you are customizing my liquid castile soap base or a store-bought one, the results can be amazing. I’ll begin by covering how to make DIY hand soap, face wash, body wash, and shampoo.

5 ways to customize liquid soap base recipes

Which Soap Base To Use

While I tend to use my own castile liquid soap base, everything I’ll show you in this post can be done with a store-bought base. I would always recommend a castile soap base (which can be found on Amazon) over other soap bases as most of them have been made with surfactants.

I have nothing against using natural surfactants, but cheap soap bases are more likely to contain some of the more synthetic ones, such as SLSA. You can also use an unperfumed baby wash or shampoo for these recipes as well.   

Castle soap bases, in particular, can vary. Originally, Castile soap was made purely with olive oil, water, and potassium hydroxide which creates a very mild and gentle soap. But this doesn’t create a soap that foams all that well, so it’s often been adapted to give a more soapy effect by adding different oils or cosmetic butter. That’s why store-bought ones can vary in texture and thickness so much and why they can react differently when adding things to them. 

Our soap base will have a certain amount of inate protection against microbial growth. However, every time we add something that is water-based to our soap we decrease the shelf life and leave ourselves open to bacterial nasties.

You can restore the shelf life by adding a preservative. Although there is no such thing as a natural preservative, there are some good preservative systems that are accepted in natural skincare formulation, such as Preservative Eco. This is normally used at around 1%, but you should always follow the manufactures guild lines for this.

Thickening Or Thinning Out Your Liquid Soap 

add your distilled water

You can adjust the viscosity of your liquid soap base by adding a little distilled water or salt. Distilled water will thin our your soap, whilst salt should thicken it up.

Dilute 14g (0.5oz) salt in 42g (1.5 oz) warmed distilled water. Ordinary table salt is fine for this job. Just add the salt solution, a little at a time, until you reach the right consistency. Adding too much salt can result in the soap losing thickness again, so add a little at a time and give the soap time to adjust before adding more. 

Another way to thicken the soap up is with xanthan gum. Take around 50g of the soap and mix it with 5g of the gum, then incorporate this back into the soap, repeat if needed. 

The soap can be thinned out easily by adding some distilled water. Like with the salt solution, just at a little at a time until your base has thinned to the right consistency.

The Foamer Bottles 

honey and orange face wash

I found foamer bottles on Amazon and they are fantastic for thin soap. Pour in your thin watery soap and marvel as you pump out a creamy foam. Although these bottles aren’t particularly cheap to buy if it’s for personal use, they can be washed sterilized and reused to reduce cost and waste.   

My Liquid Soap Base recipes:

Minty DIY Foaming Hand Soap

Minty diy foaming hand soap

Similar to my DIY sherbert lemon hand soap recipe, this minty foaming hand soap has a fresh, clean scent that I just adore. It’s full of antifungal essential oils that will keep your skin healthy and fresh for longer. I’ve added 1 drop of green vibrant soap or food coloring, just to add to the minty aesthetic and vibe.

The Ingredients

As with the face wash recipe below, this soap will benefit from being placed in a foamer bottle and adding a preservative.

Should give you around 150g of hand soap

How To Make It

weigh your liquid soap base

Step 1: Pour the soap base into a small container and stir in the essential oils. You may notice that the soap changes color, this is completely normal and cannot be helped. Try not to worry about it, as you can add coloring or dye later on. 

add your essential oils

Step 2: Now its time to add the water. This will make the soap much thinner, but that’s totally okay. It’ll still be reasonably concentrated and we are going to put this wash in a foamer bottle anyway, so the viscosity of the soap is irrelevant.   

add your distilled water

Step 3: If you’re using a color or preservative, you can add this now.  

add your soap dye

Step 4: Then, transfer the soap into a suitable bottle and give it a shake to make sure the preservative has been properly disbursed. Depending on the soap base you are using, the soap may separate. If this happens just give it a quick shake before use.  

pour into your foamer bottle

Honey & Orange Face Wash

I love the fragrance of this mild and gentle DIY face wash in the mornings. Its scent is mild, with fruity orange, soothing chamomile and a hint of sweet honey. It’s a delicate and natural face wash, but still tough enough to remove daily dirt and grime. Like my minty handwash, this liquid soap base recipe has a thin consistency, so would benefit from being kept in a foaming bottle. 

honey and orange face wash

The Ingredients

Should give you around 50g of liquid soap

How To Make It

This face wash is made in the same way as the hand wash above; adding the essential oils to the soap base then add the honey, followed by the hydrosol and distilled water, stirring after each ingredient.  

Super Easy Body Wash

Super easy liquid soap base recipe

This is the simplest way to create a unique and vibrant scented body wash. I’m using a ready blended essential mix called Revitalize. It’s a mix of grapefruit, orange, and ylang-ylang essential oils and it smells divine.

There are so many essential oil blends to choose from, all with different benefits. I’m thinking of trying out a blend for aches and pains or a confidence builder next, I’ll let you know how that goes!

You can use fragrance oils

If you’re not that into essential oils, you can use fragrance oils. While they are cheaper, fragrance oils are 100% synthetic and have no benefit in skincare. They just smell nice.

As with essential oils, different fragrance oils can dramatically change the viscosity of the soap, so you may need to add a little salt solution, distilled water or xanthan gum to thicken or thin out the soap.  

If you are using a store-bought liquid castile soap base, then it is likely you will need to dilute it. Have a look at the instructions on the bottle and dilute it as recommended by the manufacturer.

If you do need to dilute your base, take into account the amount of water we’re using in the recipe below. Just deduct that from whatever the manufacturer recommends. This will include any distilled water, hydrosols, and glycerine.

The Ingredients

This should give you 300g of soap, approx. Subject to extra water or salt needed to thin or thicken respectively.

How To Make It 

Stir the essential oils into the soap base, add the glycerine and stir again. Then, if using, add the preservative and stir well. Thicken or thin out the soap as needed.

Rose Body Wash 

DIY Rose body wash

This is a small travel size batch with some lovely moisturizing benefits. I find this to be quite a thin soap, so it will either need thickening or transferred into a foamer bottle.  

The Ingredients

This should give you 117g of liquid soap

How To Make It

This is made in the same way as the basic body wash above, adding the vitamin E to the soap base after adding the essential oils. Thicken or thin out the soap as needed.

Silky Shampoo 

Silky homemade shampoo made from liquid soap base

Rosemary essential oil is great for balancing and repairing the scalp. It can help remove dead, flaky skin and soothe irritation. A lot of shampoos will strip the scalp of all its natural oils, this one shouldn’t.

The grapefruit and lime add a nice, zesty scent to the shampoo and are also well known for there energy-boosting properties. Silk peptides give the hair a soft and silky look and feel to your hair. 

The Ingredients

This should give you 278g of shampoo

How To Make It

  1. Dissolve the silk peptide in the water and set aside.
  2. Add the essential oils to the soap base and combine it well.
  3. Stir the water containing the silk peptides into the soap base.
  4. If using, add the preservative, and thicken.     

Final Thoughts

If you have added a preservative the soaps will last around 18 months if you haven’t then it’s going to be more like 3 months.

As essential and fragrance oils can react differently in hot or cold climates you may need to shake the soap from time to time.      

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post today, but I also hope you can see how easy and fun it can be to customize a liquid soap base. Whether you’ve made your own castile soap or if you’re using a store-bought alternative, it really shouldn’t matter. You will get amazing results regardless.

Now that you understand how to make a body wash using traditional lye-based liquid soap, take a look at how to make soap using natural surfactants.

Discussion (2 Comments)

  1. This is fantastic information in an easy to digest format. Do you have any e-books that contain the same information? I am really looking for the foaming soap to get started. I am a total, absolute beginner and would like to make soaps for myself, friends and family and maybe even make a little money on the side.


Join the conversation