Shampoo bars without a melt and pour base

Believe it or not, you can make a shampoo bars without a melt and pour soap base. In this post we tell you how with a fool-proof method you can follow easily at home.

About our method

This method uses lye as an ingredient. Lye is sodium hydroxide, and is quite caustic.  Because it is caustic, you need to be careful handling lye. Lye is needed for the process and there is none left in the final product, meaning your finished shampoo bar is perfectly safe.

Although possible, making lye yourself is the purists and is hard work!  A much easier method is to buy it pre-made – buying ready-made lye means you are guaranteed a good product. If you want to try making lye yourself, we have described a few methods here.

You need the following ingredients to make a basic shampoo bar (this is a great recipe). The picture in the right hand column is a suggested product (click it to see on Amazon). You can always use whatever you already have at home if it is similar. However we have included some affordable options in this post if you want your hard word to result in a great shampoo bar.

Recipe: Shampoo bars without a melt and pour base




Picture (click to see buying options)

250 mL olive oil (a cup)

Any olive oil is ok, I use extra virgin as it's what I have ain the kitchen.

250 mL coconut oil (a cup)

Melt to a liquid state.

250 mL other oil (a cup)

I like shea butter, but there are a few options (see my notes after this recipe).

280 mL water (just over a cup)

Some people say you should used distilled water, but but don’t panic, tap water is fine.

90 mL Lye (a bit over a third of a cup, but best to measure this one)

This is 100% sodium hydroxide.  It is very caustic and can burn – be safe!

2-3 Tablespoons of essential oils

What you use is personal taste.  You don’t have to use any!

Equipment – what you need to make a shampoo bar:

  • Safety gear – goggles / glasses, gloves, protective clothing, and wear some covered shoes. Cover your work surfaces with newspaper.
  • Measuring equipment – cups and spoons
  • Bowls – stainless steel or glass.  If you use glass, make sure it that can withstand high temperatures.
  • Spoon for mixing
  • Thermometer (one like this is best, but basically any candy thermometer will do)
  • Stick blender if you have one
  • Soap molds, or any mold (you can use a big one and cut the bars later). This is an affordable option from Amazon.


  1. Mix your oils together (excluding essential oils).  If any are solid, melt them first, then mix.  You want the oils to be about 24˚C, which is 75 ˚F.  This is a warm room temperature. And you don’t need to be too fussy.
  2. Put the water into a heat-proof container.
  3. Pour your lye (very very slowly) into the water, stirring as you go.  Do this in a well-ventilated place and try not inhale the fumes.  You’ll notice that the water is cloudy and becomes clearer with time. It heats up – don’t touch it, it’s really hot!
  4. When the mixture is clear, let it cool to about 52˚C, which is 125 ˚F.  Use your thermometer to keep checking the temperature.
  5. Now pour the lye mixture into the oils and stir with your spoon (by hand!) for 5-7 minutes.
  6. After that you can use a blender to mix it further until it is a smooth creamy mixture.  Try not to get any air into it, or you’ll get air pockets in your soap.
  7. Mix in your essential oils if you are using them.
  8. (Optional step) – you can stir an extra bit of oil (1-2 Tablespoons) into the mixture here if you need a moisturizing shampoo bar.
  9. Pour your liquid into some soap molds.  Alternatively, pour it into a big shallow mold which you can cut up later.
  10. Leave the soap for at least 24 hours before taking them out of the mold.  If you’ve used one big mold, cut it up into pieces now.

There you are – homemade shampoo bars without a melt and pour base.

Curing your shampoo bar

It’s it’s best to let the shampoo bars cure for about a month. You need to keep them in a dry place and turn them over every week or so.

Curing your solid shampoo bar will helps the water content to evaporate.  It won’t disintegrate as quickly if it gets wet and will last longer.  Curing also makes your shampoo bar a bit milder with time.  The thicker your mixture that you pour into the moulds, the less time it needs to cure.

If you want be fussy with curing it, weigh your soap regularly.  When you can see that it is not getting any lighter, it is it’s completely cured.  I can’t be bothered with that, so I just leave it a month and start using it.

Notes about shampoo bar ingredients

For the “other oil” option, you can use what you like. You can refer to the “what is in a shampoo bar” post (click here) on this website to see what the different qualities of oils are to help you choose.  You can click on each oil option below to see it on Amazon.

Coconut oil, Aloe vera, Shea butter, Cacao butter, Olive oil, Grapesead oil, Castor oil and Hemp oil are all great options.



This post may contain affiliate links.  If you click on the links and end up purchasing something, I may get a small commission.  This doesn’t cost you anything extra 🙂