DIY Shampoo Bars

I’ve raved about my newest obsession with making soap, yes? Of course I have, because I’m obsessed. And I got it in my head a couple of months ago that since I’m now capable of keeping my family (and extended family, and any friends who are interested) in soap, I’d like to know if there are other kinds of things I could make that will save me from buying plastic bottles of the stuff forevermore. First up: shampoo.

Cold-process shampoo has its lovers and its haters, and I suspect a lot of the love or hate is as much related to the quality of shower water used as it is to the composition of the soap. Here in Vancouver we have soft water, and my shampoo bar lathers beautifully. I’ve read that people who have hard water don’t so much love handmade shampoo bars, because they don’t lather well and often leave a residue.

I’ve used one of my shampoo bars for the last week, and I’m surprised by how much I love it. Loads of lather, no residue. It’s a little drying, but not terribly so, so I’m using the conditioner I still have around, and when that runs out I’ll try an apple cider vinegar rinse, which all the shampoo-bar fans rave about.

I started with these recipes as inspiration, and here’s the one I came up with as a result. If you’re into making soap, I urge you to try this out. Worst comes to worst, you hate using the bars as shampoo and use them as soap instead.

image of cold-process shampoo bars

Recipe for Cold Process Shampoo Bars (yields 3ish pounds)

  • Coconut oil – 30% (10.8 oz.)
  • Castor oil – 20% (7.2 oz.)
  • Olive oil – 20% (7.2 oz.)
  • Palm oil – 20% (7.2 oz.) (Note: I was sure to buy palm oil from a distributor I trust who promises it was ethically sourced. Moving forward, I’m going to avoid using it, because it’s pretty much a disaster.)
  • Jojoba oil – 10% (3.6 oz.)
  • Additive: 10ml tea tree oil, at trace (I’ll up this a little next time)
  • For this particular quantity of oils, with 4% superfatting (listed in ounces in parentheses above): 4.939 oz. lye and 11.88 oz. water (next time I may up to 5% superfatting, so it’s not as drying but not too oily.)