How To Make Simple Soap ~ A Video Tutorial

Last September our family got a teeny, tiny video camera. We wanted this mostly for recording and producing video of our outdoor adventures, like this one of Damien's seven day hike in Wyoming last fall.

Also, we have a theatrical daughter (number 3) who we thought might appreciate a tool of the trade.

With a new little video camera in hand (both Brienne's and mine) I was inspired to make a video of the soap making process from start to finish.

The recipe is for my Simple Soap, the soap I use for making Homemade Laundry Soap and cleaning bars.

If only video production was as easy as making soap!

After taking the actual video I had to edit, edit and edit to produce something that you all might want to spend your time watching (and hopefully learn from).

Needless to say it only took me four months to share this with you but I hope it will help you along your soap making journeys.

Simple Soap Recipe (shown step-by-step in video):

  • 48 oz (3 lb) tub of vegetable shortening - the kind you buy at the grocery store
  • 6.5 oz lye - see Suppliers list at Homemade Soap & Body Care
  • 18.5 oz water, distilled is best

Complete directions on video.

This is a photo of the finished bars, cut and cured. It turns a little pink. Don't know why. 

simple soap

Why Having Friends with Scientist Dads Is Cool

When my friend Renee (yep, same name) read that my soap turned pinkish and I didn't know why she shot a question off to her scientist father who had this to say:

Manganese (Mn) is often pinkish when it forms manganese sulfate, so my best guess is there is some manganese in the lye as a minor “contaminant.” Or there may be dissolved manganese in their water that then can form manganese sulfate in the recipe.

Well, who knew? He does I guess. Thanks Renee's dad for enlightening us all. By the way, the photo above emphases the pink and in the bars in real life it's barely noticeable and not at all once I start using them. 


17 January 11


What an interesting and

What an interesting and easy-to-understand video. This is the first time I've even considered trying to make soap. Would you use this recipe strictly for laundry or also for bathing, etc?

HI Renee, I finally made the

HI Renee,

I finally made the simple soap recipe yesterday, and I was so excited to cut my soap 24 hours later. Thank you so much, Renee. I noticed bubbling when I mixed in the lye water in the melted shortening. The stove was already turned off and both mixes were at about 110 degrees? Would this bubbling have any adverse effects on the soap? Also, can I use this soap as a base for a liquid hand/diswashing soap, adding essential oils for moisturizing?

Thank you so much!!! I know

Thank you so much!!! I know this took a lot of time and effort and I am so thankful you made this. I've been trying my hand at soap and wanted to find a good recipe to use for laundry, washing dishes and cleaning. And the fact that you made a video too is just awesome.

Thanks so much Renee. I'm

Thanks so much Renee.

I'm really interested in your video editing journey. What are you using to edit? I'd like to make some videos, but get overwhelmed at the editing part.

Thanks for the refresher

Thanks for the refresher course! The last time I made soap was just before we moved, and I'm ready to make more this week, so the timing was great! I've always just poured all the lye in at once - don't remember that part of the instructions, but it's always been ok. Miss you guys :-)

I'm super interested in this

I'm super interested in this video (and the previous), but videos play excruciatingly slow on my connection, stopping for minutes in mid sentence etc, and I won't be able to get to it before the weekend when I have the time to play it at least twice. I played just the very beginning up to the point where your arm reaches out for the shortening (took 3 mins to get there, and it stopped) because I wanted to hear your voice - so nice!

Woohoo! I just made my first

Woohoo! I just made my first batch of soap! Thanks for the helpful video- it took the "scare" out of it for me. My tools are now sitting till tomorrow when I will clean them! (Thanks for the cool tip on clean-up!)

That is a great video! Well

That is a great video! Well done, and perfect timing ;) I have everything I need to make the soap except Lye, still looking for a local store to have it. One question I had please. How do you use it for dish washing? I have been making laundry soap for a while now but have yet to find a good dish soap. Do you melt it down into a liquid? Thank you :)


I LOVE MAKING SOAP!!!! Last Spring I made ONE HUNDRED BARS for personal use and gifts. It is GREAT and I only have FOUR bars left ... guess I need to make some more very soon. =)


[...] be either overwhelmed or inspired, maybe a bit of both. I highly recommend you start with a simple recipe that doesn't involve a lot of capital investment. If, after you make your first batch [...]

Hi Renee! Quick question.

Hi Renee!

Quick question. When I popped over to Simple Notebook to read her posts on soap, she mentioned that you have to use a stainless steel pot or the lye will react badly. My pots are all Calphalon (15+ years old from my wedding!) I can scour the thrift stores for stainless steel, but thought I'd ask you first.

Thank you!

That is really interesting,

That is really interesting, You're a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to in the hunt for more of your fantastic post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks

I did it! My soap is all

I did it! My soap is all tucked in and I can't wait to see it tomorrow night. It didn't come to trace like yours, or perhaps I didn't continue blending long enough. I wonder if it's because I'm at altitude? I'm curious to see if it worked anyway. It was thick, but not as thick as yours. In either case, I'm excited and ready to make a fancier batch. Off to put some soap-making books on hold at the library! Thank you SO MUCH for such a clear and simple tutorial! I had it playing the whole time. :-)


[...] planned is a batch of my Simple Soap (getting ready to make cleaning soap again for when we move, we've been using Down East [...]


[...] have a 4 step tutorial, a video tutorial, a whole page of resources with recipe ideas, and finally I recommend where you can buy supplies [...]

Renee, Thanks for the great


Thanks for the great video...just made my first batch of soap!

I'm an I just wanted to mention about Lye since you commented on it in your video. As you likely know, Lye, more so than many other chemicals, can cause a severe sight-threatening reaction when it gets into the eye. It can burn into to the conjunctiva and cannot be easily removed, and then leaches out until the doctor can pick it out. It can then cause scarring of the conjunctiva and loss of vision through a variety of mechanisms. So....please always be careful, using goggles, including those people/children who are watching/assisting in the process. I agree with what you said about clothes and skin,'s likely not as big of a deal...but if it gets in the eye, particularly in the solid form before it has mixed with water then it is a big danger. Let your viewers know :)


This looks so simple, I'm so

This looks so simple, I'm so inspired to try my own! I'm wondering though, what can be added to make this usable for bathing etc? I love the simplicity of your recipe compared to others i've seen and seems like with just the shortening could be an affordable option.

Hello Renee! Thank you for

Hello Renee!

Thank you for taking the time to post this video. I have always wanted to make soap, but it always seemed somewhat difficult.

I noticed in the video you advised us if we wanted to out oils or leaves into the soap, we do so during the trace process. What would be the approximate amount of oil we should use in the soap or is it up to our discretion? Also, what type of leaves would you recommend us using and why?

BTW...thank you so much for posting the lip balm receipt...I have went and purchased everything that is required to make the balm and will be doing so tomorrow.

I enjoy your recipes and your many stories.

Thank you so much for sharing...SMILE!!!

Hi Renee, I am so happy I

Hi Renee, I am so happy I came across your blog. I have been making laundry soap for a while now but I use Fels Naptha soap and can't wait to make my own bar soap to replace it. I have been looking into making my own dish soap, shampoo and body wash, I came across a recipe to melt bar soap and add water and oils to it and I was disappointed with the outcome, I can not wait to try some of your recipes. I have a slight problem overcoming no lathering of my soaps and was wondering if the simple soap lathers for dish cleaning? Also would the simple soap recipe work in making a liquid laundry soap? Adding water and melting it all down? I have been using powder for a long while but was considering switching to liquid. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

So excited! I set up your

So excited! I set up your video tutorial on making soap, assembled all my items and made my first batch of basic bar soap yesterday! I used only crisco as I wanted to make sure I could do it before I used any other types of oils. I added Sweet Orange and Cinnamon Leaf essential oils. The bars are cut, and curing. They smell so good! I don't know how I am going to wait the whole 3-4 weeks to use it. Thank you for sharing your wisdom on your blog! I love that I could have your video on in the background as I was working.

good to know! thanks! I

good to know! thanks! I probably would have been worried about it. I was planning to use it for Laundry and dish soap. I am planning to make a batch with coconut oil and palm oil soon. Would you suggest some soothing for the skin that I could add instead for fragrance? I would like to make some to use for my babies (3yrs & 8months)

Thanks so much for posting

Thanks so much for posting this! It was very helpful and makes soapmaking seem a little less intimidating :) I have a question, can you use the same pot to make laundry detergent in, or would you not recommend that because of the lye?


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