One of the really fun things I get to do is mess around with DIY cleaners. The inner chemist in me comes out, and I play around with different formulas until I get something just right. My bloopers not withstanding, I can usually muddle my way through a recipe and make it work with minor adjustments here and there.
Today, I would like to show you how to make your own liquid Castile soap for pennies. Well not really pennies but a full quart of liquid castile soap for less than $1.50. Compare that to Dr. Bronner’s at $14 or $15 dollars, and you will see why I am excited.
What is Castile Soap?
Castile soap is wonderful stuff. It is made from 100% plant oils – typically olive oil or coconut oil – and it includes no animal fat and no mysterious chemicals. It’s a true soap, not a chemical detergent, making Castile soap completely biodegradable and very earth-friendly. This means it is also skin friendly, unlike traditional soaps, which can be extremely drying.
The big kahuna in Castile soaps is Dr. Bronner’s which makes a great product that simply grows on you. It comes in many wonderful fragrances (I like the Rose and the Peppermint) and the liquid version is concentrated so that a little goes a long way. The downside is that at $14 or $15 for 32 ounces, it is expensive. Dr. Bronner’s also makes a bar soap that sells for about $4 to $5 per bar. I will tell you why all of this is important in a moment.
There is another brand of Castile soap that is widely available. Kirk’s Castile Soap has been around since 1839. As far as I am concerned, it is a hidden treasure in that it is priced at less than $1.50 per bar. Here are the ingredients: Coconut Soap, Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Coconut Oil, Natural Fragrance. There is also an unscented version.
Being a relatively new fan of Dr. Bronner’s, and of course wanting a bottle of every single one of the luscious scents, I realized there had to be a better way. Enter Liquid Castile Soap, “Wonderful”.
The Master Recipe
This is so easy it is a wee bit embarrassing but stay with me.
- 1 bar of castile soap
- 2 quarts (8 cups) of boiling water (I used filtered water)
- A large kitchen or vegetable grater
- A bowl or pot large enough to hold 2 quarts
- Using your kitchen knife, slice and dice the bar of soap into small chunks. Or, if you are so inclined, grate it up with a vegetable grater instead. Castile soap in inherently soft so there is no reason to drag out the food processor or blender to do this.
- Measure out your boiling water and place it in your bowl, pot, or do as I did and use a large Pyrex measuring cup.
- Add the chunks or flakes and walk away. Go do something else. Walk the dog. Catch up on Backdoor Survival. Just do something. When you come back in an hour or so, most if not all the soap will be dissolved into a nice concentrated liquid. At this point, transfer your liquid castile soap to some mason jars, a squirt bottle or other container, and you are ready to go.
Within 24 hours, my batches of liquid soap turned gel-like and semi-solid. A quick run under hot water brought them back to liquid form. In a way, this makes sense because coconut oil does not liquefy until it reaches 76 degrees. Given the tremendous cost savings, this was something I could deal with.
I tried both cutting the bar soap into chunks with a knife and grating it with my vegetable grater. I felt that the vegetable grater resulted in a better end product. I believe the soap dissolved more quickly and for some reason the resulting liquid was smoother. I don’t know – hard to describe.
As will all Castile soaps, there will not be an abundant amount of sudsing. The suds in most soaps comes from sodium lauryl sulfates, a known irritant that does nothing but make suds. Be aware that you may get a few bubbles with this, but not many. Odd as it seems, it still cleans very well and does not feel at all oily even though it is an oil based soap.
Those of you familiar with my Dirt Cheap Soft Soap will notice some similarities, although there is no added glycerin in liquid Castile Soap, Wonderful. Castile Soap Wonderful has a completely different texture, plus it is highly concentrated.
Castile Soap Wonderful
This is the fun part. With a simple dilution and the addition of essential oils, I was able to make up multipurpose household cleaners just like I do with Dr. Bronner’s. The addition of 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of essential oils results in such a useful cleaner that I started calling them “You Name It” Wonderful. I now have Tea Tree Wonderful, Lavender Wonderful, Orange Wonderful and Peppermint Wonderful. This is so fun.
After much trial and error, I came up with the following dilution:
- 3 TBL Liquid Castile Soap
- 1 quart (4 cups) filtered water
- 1/8 to 1/4 TSP Essential Oils
Shake everything together in a re-purposed bottle or juice jug and use your premade brew to fill individual spray bottles (These spray bottles I purchased at Amazon work great.)
Now that you know what it is and how to make it, be sure to click below to learn all the fantastic uses for this homemade wonder!
Want more? Check out these cool tutorials:
- How to Make Soap
- DIY Wilderness Soap and Shampoo
- VIDEO: How to Make a Candle Out of a Crayon
- Top Survival Skills | Learn Now, Survive Later
- 29 YouTube Survival Skills That Could Save Your Life
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Oct 7, 2013 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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