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No Lye Soap Body Wash


No Lye Soap Body

As a child I had terrible eczema.  I had to be very careful about the products that I used on my skin, including soap. Most soap based products further irritated my fragile skin.

I have recently re-commenced making my own skin care products. As part of this re-discovery I have been investigating and experimenting with making soap.

Exploring the soap making process:

While investigating the process of soap making I discovered that all soap is made with lye (caustic soda). Soap is made from lye, and fats or oils. Lye is the ingredient that triggers the chemical reaction to make the soap harden.

I had no idea that this harsh ingredient is something that we use every day. In saying that, it may be used in a very small percentage in some soaps. With the addition of some moisturising and nourishing ingredients it can (kind of) be redeemed.  I have made some gorgeous recipes that I may share here soon. Despite my success with regular soap, and the general consensus from the internet and soap making experts, I convinced myself that there had to be a way to make soap without the lye.

One of the soap substitutes that I used growing up as a child with terrible eczema was Castile soap. Castile soap is made from just coconut and olive oils.  I got the idea stuck in my head that if I used Castile soap instead of lye that I may be able to create an alternative soap that many people are seeking.

I believe that I have done that purely based on the way that  this silky body wash makes me feel happy every time I use it, however, this recipe does not create a hard bar of soap.

You may suggest that this equates to a fail but I beg to differ. I have created a gloriously decant feeling body wash that I know you will love as much as I do.

No Lye Soap Body Wash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Give yourself the feeling of luxury via the silky softness and divine fragrance of this soap each morning
  • 150 grams cocoa butter
  • 50 grams coconut oil
  • 50 grams shea butter
  • 50 grams almond oil
  • juice of 1 small lemon ( 1 tablespoon)
  • 125 grams castile soap
  • 2 tablespoons Argiletz white clay
  • 5 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops Lemon essential oil
  1. Add the cocoa butter, coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil and lemon juice to a bowl
  2. The bowl should be placed on top of a saucepan without the base of it touching the water
  3. Set the saucepan of water to simmer gently and melt the waxes and oils, heating to (no more than) 60 degrees celcius
  4. Add the soap to the oils and blend with a stick blender until the mixture thickens. You will see from my image that it looks like it is filled with air bubbles. It has the texture of thicken cream.
  5. Add the clay and the essential oils and stir to combine
  6. Pour into a steralised container/jar and use within a few weeks
I let the mixture sit for a week prior to using.
Please read the information in this post re the quality of ingredients required for skin care application. They should be of the highest possible quality.
The ingredients in this body wash are all selected for their moisturising and nourishing properties. Used in combination there is a truly decadent feel about this body wash.

If you have a practical nature and are simply seeking a soap product without lye then I suggest that you source and use Castile Soap. It will do what you need.

My body wash feels special to use. I love scooping out a little bit from the jar each morning in the shower, feeling the silky lather and inhaling the subtle beautiful smell.

A note about raw materials:

As with food, it is important to understand the quality and origins of any raw materials that you decide to use in skin care. Failure to do so can have dire repercussions.  There are many poor quality ingredients and “essential oils” on the market. If you are unsure of the quality of a product you would like to try please seek advise from a qualified aromatherapist.

This recipe is based on using either organically derived, or therapeutic quality ingredients.  I strongly urge you to ensure that you do the same if you wish to replicate this recipe.

Ingredient Properties:

Ingredient Properties
 Argiletz  White Clay Fine white clay, sensitive skin, softening, cleansing, soothing
 Almond Oil Suitable for all skin types, especially dry skin. It is rich in protein
 Castile Soap Pure vegetable oil soap made from olive oil and coconut oil
 Cocoa Butter Softening and soothing, protective, quick absorption, resistant to becoming rancid
 Coconut Oil Softening and soothing, inhibits moisture loss
 Lemon  Essential Oil Cleansing, uplifting, revitalising
 Lavender  Essential Oil Anti-inflammatory, soothing, wounds, calming. This is my “cure-all” oil that I have on hand at all times.
 Shea Butter Softening, healing, prevention of dry skin, vitamins E, wounds, dermatitis and irritation

If you are seeking a simple soap (or soap alternative) that does not contain lye  I recommend that you get yourself some Castile Soap to try.

If you would like to try something a little more decadent, with a subtle beautiful smell (I find Castile Soap to have an odd smell) then please give this recipe a try. I would love to hear what you think of it if you do.

Have you ever made your own soap? Would you like to see a recipe for a bar of soap (using lye, but my way) here? I would love to share one with you if you are interested. 

*UPDATE: 11/06/2014*

Thanks to those who have provided feedback on the ingredients in this recipe. I am new to soap making and appreciate your feedback and tips as I have much to learn about the process.

I can confirm that the Castile Soap that I used in this recipe does NOT contain any lye. Some Castile soap may contain it, however the brand I use does not. You can find a link to the brand I use in the table above.

This information has been provided by the lab of the company the produces the Castile Soap that I use. It contains: Postassium hydroxide in combination with olive and coconut oils, it is this which creates the soap. The fatty acids of the vegetable oils react with potassium hydroxide, forming potassium oleate and potassium laurate. This is the “soap” in Castile Soap.

Potassium hydroxide is a strong alkaline chemical that is also known as potassium hydrate and caustic potash. It is commonly used to treat fungal infections in skin, hair and nails.  Potassium hydroxide is not Lye.  I trust my supplier, I have been using their products for more than 15 years.

I will not publish any more comments about lye on this post. Please give the recipe a try as it is a gorgeous silky body wash that is gently and moisturising on the skin. I hope that you love it as much as I do. Thanks! Kyrstie. 





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{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas June 6, 2014, 9:42 am

    I hate to break it to you Kyrstie but even Castille soap is made with lye 🙂 All soap is made with lye, but should not contain lye when cured as all the lye should be consumed in the chemical reaction that makes soap. This is why using a good soap calculator is so crucial when making soap. True Castille is just olive oil and lye, and is considered one of the trickier soaps to make because it takes forever to trace and forever to cure.
    The chemical reaction that produces soap also produces the valuable by-product, glycerine. And this is where the difference between homemade soap and commercial soap lies. Commercial soap makers have the ability to draw off glycerine and sell it, so they keep adding more lye during the manufacturing process to produce more glycerine. It is the glycerine and free oils in soap which moisturise your skin, and is why commercial soaps feel so drying. There isn’t any free oil left, and all the glycerine has been extracted.
    When I make my soap, I always superfat at 5%, which means that there is still free oil in the soap and also all the valuable glycerine. I too cannot tolerate commercial soap. It dries my skin horribly. But I can even use homemade soap on my face with no problems.
    Sorry, I know that is long winded. I look forward to your soapy adventures.

    • Kyrstie Barcak June 6, 2014, 1:48 pm

      Hi Tania, it is early days in my soap making adventure so I appreciate any and all feedback and information that you are willing to share. It is such an interesting hobby to get involved in and I have a lot to learn. I wish that you lived close by so that I could come and learn from you! I have found what I think is a good soap calculator but if you can recommend one then please do as I would love to give it a go.
      I believe that the Castile Soap that I have used does not contain lye but I am checking into it to verify. If I have made an error I will update this post with a correction.

      • Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas June 6, 2014, 10:02 pm

        You are 100% correct Kyrstie that it shouldn’t contain lye, but it will have been made with lye originally. Soap cannot be made without it. Anybody that tells you otherwise is not being truthful. If the final soap contains lye, you’ve made it wrong 🙂 And any soapmaker, at some point, has made it wrong. Trust me, I have binned a batch or two. A good Castille from your supplier will be far more moisturising than any commercial soap as they probably are sourcing it in smaller batches from sources they trust.
        Soap is a confusing world, with much conflicting information. It took me a very long time to wrap my head around it. But you are right, it is a very addictive hobby. Any time you have any questions, just drop me an email. I would love to help.
        As to calculators, I always use this one https://www.thesage.com/calcs/LyeCalc.html Once you input your recipe, it will give you different lye amounts for different superfats. I always superfat at 5-6%. Let me know if you need any help with it or want some help with your recipes.

        • Lois January 21, 2016, 8:16 am

          I mainly use the calculator from soapcalc.com, but brambleberry.com also had a good one. I prefer soapcalc because it give the lye in grams as well as ounces. Good luck and happy soaping!

  • Kirsten Smit June 6, 2014, 1:36 pm

    Essential Therapeutics Castile Soap does in fact not contain any lye. It is a pure, vegetable oil soap made only from pure coconut and olive oils. So it’s different to other brands of similarly named products 🙂

  • Teddi B June 10, 2014, 11:03 am

    I like your recipe & will try it. I looked it up, because I know that all soap contains lye, but I have daughters that have tender skin. I was hoping for a minor miracle. However, Tania is correct. Castile soap doesn’t contain ‘tallow’ which is ‘sodium hydroxide’. It does contain ‘sodium carbonate’, which is still a lye. It is use in pretzels & lye rolls. Caution should be used with it as must as the other lye. It was originally used in it’s purist form to remove flesh from animals that were to be mounted as trophies.

    • Raevyn June 11, 2014, 12:29 pm

      Tallow is not lye. Tallow is rendered fat. Sodium carbonate is not lye. It’s soda ash. Castile soap is soap that is made with only olive oil. Lye is necessary to make soap but during the saponification process it converts oils to soap. If you made your soap properly there is no lye in it when you are done, only soap. There are tons of resources out there where you can get accurate information regarding soapmaking. Probably best not to follow the advice of amateur soapmakers. They mean well, but I suggest checking out the resources at Brambleberry and on youTube. Read, read, read. There’s a lot of inaccurate information here and you can end up hurting yourself or others. Stay safe.

  • Teddi B June 10, 2014, 11:12 am

    Sorry, there was one suggestion you may want to look into & that is aloe vera gel. It can make a low lather that may work in a body wash. I do know that some people can be sensitive to it though. Happy hunting, don’t give up!

  • Sunny Land Soap June 10, 2014, 11:28 am

    Just wanted to add my two cents. Everything Tania has posted about lye (or sodium hydroxide) is absolute correct. For a product to even write “soap” on their label it has to go through the saponification process which uses the lye to change the oils and butter into soap. You’ll notice at the store, many products are just named “beauty bars” or something similar. Those are not soaps at all. Tania is also correct about the castille soap. A true castille is olive oil, water and lye, which is gone after saponification. Castille soap is supposed to be an extremely gentle soap for those with skin sensitivities, especially if you dont add fragrances or colors to your soap. I wanted to point out that the recipe you posted above has Castille soap as an ingredient. At some point that soap did undergo saponification and that involves lye.

    • Kyrstie Barcak June 10, 2014, 5:19 pm

      Thank you for the information Sunny Land Soap. I appreciate your input.

  • Jenna June 12, 2014, 10:32 pm

    Potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide are kissin’ cousins. The only difference is that KOH is used for liquid soap while NaOH is for bar soap. And as an experienced soap maker, I concur that a properly made and well cured soap will no longer contain lye. Superfatting a soap recipe will also make a more moisturizing soap.

  • beth January 18, 2015, 5:31 pm

    Whatnif you are allergic to lavender

    • Kyrstie Barcak January 18, 2015, 8:45 pm

      You can use any alternate essential oil Beth. It is your choice.

  • Sharnee February 14, 2015, 1:19 am

    I am having a difficult time finding Argiletz White Clay where can I purchase that product in the US? Please help I’d really like to make this soap it sounds delightful.

    • Kyrstie Barcak February 14, 2015, 10:37 pm

      Hi Sharnee, you could use any clay.
      There are many colors and varieties, Argiletz is variety of French clay. You may find it by checking online for suppliers, or use an alternate clay. I hope that you enjoy it.

  • Tammie Umbel April 6, 2015, 3:17 pm


    It is a shame that this supplier would tell you that their castile is made without lye. Potassium hydroxide is a lye that makes liquid soap and sodium hydroxide is a lye that makes solid soap. Many, many companies leave either of these words in order to trick customers into thinking that their products are all natural and harmless. They often put olivate or saponified oil of in an attempt to make people believe there is no lye in their soap. Try mixing water and oil and what do you get? A mess.

  • Merryn April 28, 2015, 1:46 pm

    Sounds great Kyrstie. Can I replace the Argiletz white clay with kaolin clay (as that is what is in my cupboard)? My daughter suffers from eczema and I always look to make natural products for her when possible.

    • Anonymous April 28, 2015, 1:47 pm

      Oops thanks I just read your above response 🙂

  • Jecci May 16, 2015, 4:45 am

    I know you wont post any comments about lye but I hope you would still read this. Your castile soap which is a liquid soap is in fact made with potassium hydroxide. Liquid soap is made with potassium hydroxide and solid bars are made with sodium hydroxide. These are both referred as lye by soap makers; they are alkali necessary to saponify oils into soap and are basically very similar in essence. No matter what kind of soap you are making there should not be any residue in the final product since all of the lye should have been used to turn the oils into soap and glycerine. Some soaps like shaving soaps and some liquid soaps are made with dual lye, which means using both potassium and sodium hydroxide (both alkali).

  • Anonymous June 7, 2015, 2:16 pm

    Hi Kyrstie. I am looking forward to giving your recipe a try…
    Just a few questions I’d be really thankful for answers to when you have time…
    Would this body wash work in a liquid soap pump bottle or would it struggle to come out as it looks fairly thick?
    My 2 year old has eczema, would this recipe be gentle enough on her skin?
    Lastly, how long on average do you feel this quantity would last if using twice a day?
    Thanks for your time 🙂

    • Kyrstie Barcak June 8, 2015, 12:57 pm

      this wash would be too thick for a pump bottle it is better to scoop out of a jar. I would not like to say that it would work well for your daughter’s skin as everyone with eczema reacts quite differently to different products. It has no irritants in it but that is not to say that that it would work for her. You will have to decide if you wish to try it or not. It is certainly a gentle product. If used twice a day I estimate it would last 3 weeks+
      Thanks for your questions and dropping by. Let me know how your daughter goes with it if you decide to try it. Kyrstie

  • Sharda Lewis June 13, 2015, 5:54 am

    I was wondering if it’s grated castile soap or liquid castile soap?

    • Kyrstie Barcak June 13, 2015, 2:07 pm

      Hi Sharda, I used liquid. I have not used grated castile soap to be able to confirm that it would also work but I can’t see why it would not. Let me know if you give it a try. Regards Kyrstie

  • Brenda Harmon July 1, 2015, 1:25 am

    Kyrstie, my grandmother made lye soap because it was so “pure”- no harsh chemicals. She used to tell me that you have to cook the “lie” out of the lye! Which means that the mixture is a very delicate balance to keep the chemical lye out of the soap. Basically Castille soap has had the lie cooked out of it.

    • Kyrstie Barcak July 2, 2015, 2:51 pm

      Thanks Brenda. I have read the same thing now. It is a lovely gently soap. Did your grandmother teach you how to make her soap? Thanks for dropping by.

  • Adele July 13, 2015, 4:03 pm

    Hi Kyrstie. So I have attempted just this afternoon to make this body wash and fear I’ve failed miserably lol. I melted all oils (but forgot to add lemon juice) to less than 60 degrees. Added castille soap and the lemon juice I originally missed and have been mixing with a stick blender but it will not thicken ?. I tried to make a hand cream the other day with the same frustrating result. I have been on Google searching for an answer and have found that it could be the organic shea butter I am using that is preventing it from thickening? What are your thoughts?

  • Adele July 13, 2015, 4:09 pm

    Kyrstie please ignore my last comment! I literally walked away from the body wash on the counter to message you and came back to give it another burst with the blender and it thickened?!?! Can’t wait to try it tonight. I am so excited. Will let you know how I go ?. Thanks for your time.

  • Adele July 13, 2015, 4:33 pm

    Hi again. Why do you leave the body wash to sit for a week before using?

    • Kyrstie Barcak July 13, 2015, 8:17 pm

      Hi Adele, I am glad to hear all ended up ok. I have just reviewed my comments and I can honestly think of absolutely no reason why this would be important other than I was writing exactly what I did after I made it?? Sorry but you are fine to use it straight up. I hope you enjoy it. Kyrstie

  • Sha in GA July 18, 2015, 12:52 am

    I’ve got the Dr. Bronners unscented baby mild soap and I really hate the smell. It’s got hemp oil in it and I think that’s where the smell comes from. I can’t even get rid of the smell with essential oils. Uck! But your recipe above sounds so wonderful I really have to give it a try. I think I’ll use the grapefruit instead of lavender EO since I don’t have any of that. I wish I could find the Dr. Bronners orange scented soap locally, maybe that won’t smell so bad. I’m sure I can find it Amazon. This is my today project and of all the recipes I’ve seen yours sounds the yummiest. 🙂

  • Shelly October 1, 2015, 3:14 am

    Thank you!

  • Judy Corey October 9, 2015, 1:49 am

    Could you tell me how much this makes?

    • Kyrstie Barcak October 12, 2015, 8:36 am

      Good question Judy, I apologise for not including this information. I didn’t measure it at the time so at a guess it is about 150-200ml. I apologise I will make a new batch soon and measure.

  • Marci February 3, 2016, 2:37 pm

    I am allergic to coconut oil. Do you think I could replace that in your recipe with either grape seed oil, jojoba oil, or vegetable glycerin? Thanks!

    • Kyrstie Barcak February 4, 2016, 8:36 pm

      Hi Marci, You could do so but you may find the bar is less solid as when cool coconut oil is solid so I suggest you instead increase the amount of coco butter

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