A close-up of rainbow-coloured homemade soap
A close-up of rainbow-coloured homemade soap

How to make soap - 6 easy steps

Making your own soap using just a few ingredients is a simple and fun DIY project for adults and children alike.

As we adjust to spending more time at home, many of us are turning to crafting to keep our minds and hands active.

As it’s so important to keep washing our hands right now, and there are so many gorgeous handmade soaps to choose from, we thought we’d find out how easy it is to make your own unique bar of DIY soap.

Soap is essential

Imagine knowing how important it is to wash your hands regularly but not having the soap or clean water you need to keep your family safe.

“It’s very expensive to buy a bar of soap. Now it’s going for about $70, so whenever you get it, you try to keep it so it lasts longer,” says Tsitsi, a Glen View resident in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Make your own rainbow soap

To try and make handwashing a bit more fun, I thought we’d have a go at making some homemade rainbow soap.

You can make soap from scratch using lye but to keep it simple and child-friendly, I opted for a glycerine soap base – which is clear. There are lots of other soap bases available including shea butter, coconut oil, goats milk all of which you can buy quite cheaply.

We then added our own colours and essential oils.

The girls were delighted with the results and are proudly working towards their Brownies ‘charities badge’ by selling the soap to family and friends to help raise money for Oxfam,” Abby says.

You will need:

  • Glycerine soap base
  • Food colouring
  • Essential oil
  • Small bowls
  • Loaf tin

🌈 1. Chop up the glycerine into little bits.

We weighed out the same amount for each layer (250 grams per layer)

Abby Jones

A butter knife and a large block of clear glycerin

🌈 2. Melt the glycerine in the microwave or in a bowl.

Do this over a pan with boiling water in it. It melts quickly so we did it 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time to get rid of any lumps.

Abby Jones

Squares of clear glycerin in an earthware bowl on a polkadot grey tablecloth

🌈 3. Add the food colouring and essential oil.

Be generous with the essential oil. We gave it a good 10-20 drops per layer and chose lavender oil.

Abby Jones

A girl uses a pippete to add colouring to glycerin

🌈 4. Pour into the loaf tin.

(We found the greaseproof paper ended up sticking to the soap so we’d recommend you leaving this out!) Try and get rid of any bubbles.

Abby Jones

Two children look at a bowl of red liquid soap ingredients

🌈 5. Wait patiently for the layer to harden (around 10/15 mins)

Then pour the next layer, and the next layer, until you have about 7 layers.

Abby Jones

A child looks comically bored while waiting for homemade soap to set

🌈️ 6. Once all the layers are done, let the soap harden overnight…

Abby Jones

A close-up of rainbow-coloured homemade soap

…although you don’t have to wait that long. A tip to help ease the soap out is to heat the sides of the tin a little with a lighter or an iron. You can also buy gel moulds for soap which make it easier. I used a sharp knife which I heated slightly to cut the slices.

We also tried making dinosaur eggs using an Easter egg mould and some toys we had lying around!

Abby Jones

A plastic dinosaur suspended inside an egg-shaped homemade soap

We’d love to know how you get on – send your soap creations to heretohelp@oxfam.org.uk

Keeping clean and healthy – activity ideas for children

There are many ways parents and carers can help and encourage children to appreciate the why and how of keeping clean and healthy. Oxfam Education has put together some creative activities linked to good health and well-being you might like to try at home.

The power of soap against viruses

This simple activity from Dr. Lucy Rogers helps younger children demonstrate the power of soap against viruses.

All you need is pepper, oil and water.

Check out our fun and educational activity ideas for ages 7-14 to use at home. These can help young people consider what we all need to thrive, explore what connects us and be inspired to make a difference.

Help protect people from Covid-19

Resident Netsai with soap she received during Oxfam’s door to door distributions. Image: Tavonga Chikwaya / Oxfam

Too many people around the world live in cramped conditions, with no access to clean water or proper handwashing facilities and are already facing crises like climate change, conflict and hunger.

How you can help

We’re doing everything we can to help protect the poorest people from the coronavirus. But we need your help to do more.

Your kind donation helps us deliver soap, clean water and sanitation services such as handwashing facilities to keep more families safe.

It’s a difficult time for everyone – but anything you can give today can make a difference and save lives. Thank you.