DIY Shampoo Bars

I’ve been making my own shampoo bars for about a year, and I love them. There’s really very little difference between a shampoo bar and a bar of plain ‘ol cold processed soap. Shampoo bars tend to be a bit more gentle and more lathery. That’s achieved by using more castor oil than usual (20% instead of 5%).

I can’t decide what my favourite shampoo bar recipe is; it’s a toss up between a shea butter citrus bar and a gingerbread bar. Today I’m going to share my gingerbread bar. It’s great for brunettes, and it smells wonderful. I have no idea if the molasses is good for your hair or not, but I think it makes my hair a bit shinier. Or something.

Molasses Shampoo Bar

20% olive oil
20% castor oil
25% coconut oil
25% beef tallow
10% walnut oil

7% superfat (or lye discount)

Per 500g oils:

  • 3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 10g cinnamon essential oil
  • 5g clove essential oil
  • 5g vanilla essential oil
  • 5g ginger essential oil

Follow the basic soap making process. Be sure to let the oils and water cool to room temperature before mixing. Add the molasses after you reach a light trace, slowly drizzling it over over the mixture and stirring it in. Make sure it’s roughly the same temperature as the soap mixture or it will cause the mixture to curdle. If that happens the mixture will sort of look like runny ricotta cheese. You can still pour the mixture into the mold, but the bars will be a bit crumbly.

Calculate your final amounts of lye and water in the recipe using a lye calculator.

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Wondering where I get my ingredients? Check out my Where to Buy Ingredients page for a giant list of suppliers all around the world. Also, check out the FAQ for answers to lots of common questions :)

97 Responses to DIY Shampoo Bars

  1. I Love your site. I have been checking it out everyday I just tried making blush and will be making eye shadow as well thank you for the inspiration.

  2. Amy says:

    I’m a vegetarian… is there anything I can use in place of: beef tallow?
    Thank you!

    • Marie says:

      Amy—I’m a vegetarian as well, and here’s why I use beef tallow or lard instead of the commonly used substitute palm oil:

      Palm oil comes from the African Palm oil tree’s fruit, and these trees are being clear-cut to harvest the oil at an alarming rate. Not only is this destroying orangutan habitat (as well as the habitat of everything else that lives in these beautiful rain forests), the harvesting practices are also unkind for the people doing the labour.

      Beef tallow, on the other hand, is a waste product of an industry that isn’t really after the tallow. They want steak and ground beef, more or less. Butchers throw out huge amounts of tallow everyday because there is very little demand for it.

      So, the way I see it is palm oil comes from an industry that destroys rain forest for nothing but palm oil, whereas using beef tallow means using just a little bit more of an animal that was going to be slaughtered anyways, helping make its life a little more meaningful, and helping reduce landfill waste.

      That said, if you’re 100% against tallow for the principle of it, palm oil will do the trick. I’d really recommend using something else though, like shea butter, though it isn’t as hard, and you’ll need to age your soaps for at least a year to get them to be as hard as a bar of tallow-containing soap would be in a month.

      • Cydne says:

        Couldn’t you increase the amount of coconut oil as another option for a vegetarian soap? (I’m not a vegetarian, I was just wondering if that would be too much coconut).

        I love your recipes. Thank you!

        • Marie says:

          Long story short… not really. While coconut oil will help with hardening, it’s also what adds the lather. If you use too much coconut oil, the soap ends up being very drying and harsh on your skin. I love using SoapCalc to see what different changes in a soap recipe have on the bar. Just enter in your recipe, and then when you’re viewing it, look at the statistics on hardness, moisturizing, etc. on the left hand side of the page. Tweak, check back, and learn!

          Thanks for stopping by & reading! I really appreciate it :)

  3. Shari says:

    There is not to much more to say than !!! you are AWESOME !!!!!!! Made the Molasses shampoo bars and they are just divine !! I had been hunting and hunting for a good recipe, I was about to give it up !! then I found your site !!! THANK YOU,,, THANK YOU,,,, THANK YOU !!!!!!!! I love everything on your site !!! Thanks so much !!

    • Marie says:

      Yay! Thanks for reading and DIY-ing, Shari 😀 And I’m so thrilled the molasses shampoo bars worked for you, they’re my absolute favourite shampoo bar as well :) You’ve filled me with all kinds of warm fuzzies with your enthusiasm and “thank-yous” 😀 And you’re comment #1000, so a big thanks for that, too! Thanks for reading, I really, really appreciate it! And be sure to come back, I’m planning lots of great new shampoo recipes for the future!

  4. Karen W says:

    I happened upon your site today from a post I saw on Herbs & Oils World on Facebook. I can already see I’m going to be on here reading the rest of the morning. :) My question is regarding the lye required in this shampoo bar recipe. As someone who does not use relaxers in my hair anymore because of the lye, is the shampoo bar using the same lye? Is there a substitute for the lye? I’m so new to DIY beauty products I just want to be sure I’m doing things correctly.

    • Marie says:

      Hi Karen—I’m thrilled you’ve found me! Thanks for reading :) You don’t have to worry about the lye in homemade soap at all, provided you are using a good lye calculator (I like this one), and measuring your ingredients carefully. The lye is entirely used up and neutralized in the reaction that turns the fat into soap, so there is NONE left over when you are all done! Gotta love chemistry 😉 And then, just to be extra sure, you always include a bit of a “superfat” in your recipes—that is, using 5–7% extra fat, so you’ve got 100% lye, but 105% fat, so you end up with 100% soap and then an extra 5% of fat on top of that, as a buffer in case you get a bit of extra lye in there (I know that’s terrible math, but hopefully you get the picture!).

      Long story short—there is no substitute for lye, but all proper soaps will be made with lye, and have been since the beginning of time (though cheaper, crap “soaps” today are often made from water and surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a known skin irritant). So, if you can use soap, you can use your homemade soap and shampoo without any worries :) And you can always do a quick “zap test” on your soap just to be sure—lick your finger, touch your soap, and lick your finger again. If you get “zapped”, you made a boo-boo and you best use that soap to clean tubs :) That’s never happened to me, though!

      Hope that helped :) Feel free to get in touch with any other questions you might have.

  5. Leslie says:

    I just found your site today. I love it! You seem pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. I have never made my own soap as I have some fear am going to totally screw something up… and for some reason I don’t like making things on my own if I have had someone do it with me first… Do you have any advice for a beginner who really wants to bite the bullet and try my own stuff? Also, where do you purchase your ingredients?

    • Marie says:

      I’m so glad you found my site! And… shucks *blush*. I just like making stuff! I totally understand wanting a friend to go at it with you first, I do this with lots of my friends and they are always surprised at how easy it is to make all these awesome things :)

      My advice would be to start the way I did—start with easy things, like lip balm and body butter, where all you really have to do is melt things together and pour it into tubes or tins. Once you’re in love with all your homemade products and you realize how super easy that is, you’ll feel brave enough to try some lotion, which is actually stupidly easy if you use emulsifying wax.

      From there, well, I predict you’ll be super excited and won’t be able to stop :) Soap really isn’t scary at all, once you realize that lye isn’t going to burn through your hand in an instant and/or leave you crippled. Treat it like you’d treat bleach—don’t get it on your skin, don’t snort it, don’t feed it to your dog. You’ll be fine :) Definitely wear some rubber gloves and goggles, and lay down newspapers. You’ll be totally fine and be totally addicted to DIY projects in no time at all!

      I get all my ingredients (or almost all of them) from New Directions Aromatics. They have online stores in Canada, the USA, Australia, and the UK, so chances are you’ll have a local(ish) one so you won’t have to deal with duties and what not. Have fun! And thanks for reading :)

  6. Laura says:

    Where do you find all of these ingredients?

  7. Tara says:

    I take a teaspoon blackstrap molasses every day to help prevent gray hair. I wonder if this shampoo bar would work even better! Thanks so much for creating this blog site and inspiring us all :)

    • Marie says:

      I’ve never heard of this—how interesting! What part of the molasses is supposed to help prevent graying? I’m curious!

  8. sara says:

    hello!! i just found your website today and i must say everything looks ahhh-mazing!!! i love how easy your instructions are and i can’t wait to try to make some of this!!! :)

  9. andrea says:

    your blog makes me ever so happy! i found your blog by looking up shampoo bars! i can’t stop looking! i am just delving into the diy salve/balm/soap world and it is intimidating and i love it!! you are so cool! good job you!! thanks for doing such an awesome giveaway!

    • Marie says:

      I’m so glad you found my blog, Andrea :) Enjoy making your own shampoo bars, they’re super fun and I just love lathering up with something I’ve made!

  10. patricia says:

    I have just joins and let me tell you are a blessing this site is great. I have never tried a shampoo bar be for , right now I use barking soda do the bars do good on fine hair? I would love to make these . Blank you so much and God Bless.

    • Marie says:

      I’m so glad you found my site, Patricia! Thanks for reading :) You should definitely try a shampoo bar, they’re just fantastic. I have quite fine hair (though a ton of it!) and the shampoo bars are great for my hair.

  11. Carrie says:

    I made shampoo bars (a different recipe) but I found them kinda harsh. I would love to give these a whirl. Can you recommend a supplier for oils in the Calgary area? Fantastic blog..keep up the great work.

    • Marie says:

      What kind of “harsh” were they? I’m curious about the ingredients and the superfat percentage, mostly. Anyhow, in Calgary you can visit Soap and More, down on 42nd Ave, just north of Chinook Centre, but they are grossly overpriced. I would seriously recommend ordering online. I get pretty much everything from

  12. Hannah says:

    Hey! I’m just beginning to dabble in homemade/diy projects, and recently made homemade shampoo. It wasn’t with lye, but I would love to learn more about lye and how to handle it safely (from what I know, it sounds intimidating!). Any advice as to where to start?


    • Marie says:

      Awesome, welcome to the DIY community :) How did you make a shampoo bar without lye? Was it melt and pour? I’m just curious because you can’t make soap or shampoo without lye being involved at some point in the process.

      It’s funny that you’re asking about safe lye handling as I have an entry that is partially about that coming out soon. Anyhow, the gist of it is:

      • Wear gloves, goggles, and clothes you don’t care about
      • Put newspapers down on the counters
      • Lock up curious pets and kids 😛 (especially cats, that could end badly)
      • Work in a well ventilated area and don’t snort the fumes
      • Be careful, work slowly, and don’t be an idiot

      Seriously, that’s it. If you’ve worked with bleach before and survived, you can work with lye. It’s not nearly as big of a deal as people make it out to be. Respect it, obviously, but you don’t have to be terrified of it like I was when I started. I’ve gotten raw soap splattered on me before, it just sort of itches, and then you wash it off. No big deal.

      • Hannah says:

        I had used castile soap and it was a liquid shampoo- it smells wonderfully as I also added loose tea into the mix- chamomile and lavender. I made homemade shampoo bars for the first time last night with lye! I think they turned out well, but I’m eagerly awaiting tonight to cut them. Another question- is there any way to make soap making more affordable? I’m a college kid, and would love to explore soap making, but it’s (so far) not the friendliest to my bank account! Thanks!

        • Marie says:

          Yay for your first batch of homemade shampoo? How did it look once you’d cut it? As for keeping soaping cheap—the big #1 is starting with common ingredients that can be acquired at places like Costco. Olive oil and lard are easily available there, or watch for sales at your local grocery store. Otherwise, go online! Prices don’t get any lower than they do online. I get pretty much everything from New Directions Aromatics, where your can get RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized) coconut oil for ~$25/5L (it’s WAY more in the stores because they only sell food grade, and generally virgin as well). Staying away from le fancy pants ingredients will go a long way to keeping things nice and affordable :)

          • Hannah says:

            I think it turned out well when I cut it. My only concern is that because I didn’t have tallow or lard, I used more coconut butter with a bit of shea butter and crisco- it still seems really soft and greasy. I started to save fat leftovers from my family’s meats, but I’m still not sure how I feel about rubbing animal fat all over me!

          • Marie says:

            Did you re-calculate the recipe when you changed which fats you were using? This is absolutely, totally necessary. If not there is a chance your bar could be caustic.

            Otherwise, new soaps are always pretty soft and greasy when they are first cut. That’s why we age them :) And you don’t have to save fat scraps from your dinners—in fact, I wouldn’t recommend it as they will have other flavorings (BBQ sauces and what not) and may be aromatic enough to carry through. Instead, source raw tallow from your butcher and render it yourself, or just buy pastry lard.

  13. Rhonda says:

    I love your site. I’m new to all of this kind of stuff, but i would love to try it. My hair over the years has got curly, was straight, now has a friz to it, and it want grow and no shine. I think it needs vitamins and lots of help. I’m a 42 year old do you have anything to offer me that will help my hair, tryed everything? Thanks!

    • Marie says:

      Hi Rhonda—thanks for reading! My first suggestion would be to take a look at your diet, as what we eat has a big effect on our hair :) After that, ditch the store bought hair stuff that’s loaded with silicone byproducts, artificial fragrances, and cancer-causing preservatives. Try some hair mist, hair balm, and hair serum for serious moisture infusions. Ditch heat treating, and switch to a wooden comb (no plastic seams to snag and break hair) and a boar bristle brush. Use natural shampoo bars and do an ACV rinse afterwards. Sleep on a satin pillowcase so your hair can slide instead of catching on a rougher pillowcase. For a big dose of moisture you can do a hot oil treatment as well (though I wouldn’t do them too often simply because it is a major pain to get all the oil out of your hair!). On a day when you are just planning on lazing about the house, massage a tablespoon or so of your favourite carrier oil into your hair (olive oil is fine). Let it sit in your hair I (you can wrap with a warm towel if you like) for a few hours before washing out—you will likely find that helps a great deal :)

      Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes :) If you’re interested in natural hair care you should read my blogs on my adventures in natural hair care: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

  14. Michele says:

    I’ve been following your site for a while, have tried almost everything, and love all your recipes.

    The only ones I haven’t tried yet are for your handmade soap. I’m just a little wary about using lye, but I see so many awesome-looking recipes I’ve gotta take the plunge.

    Sooo, where does one buy lye? Is it a common item at the grocery store? Or at the neightbourhood hardware store? On-Line?

    Thanks for all!!

  15. pneu says:

    I stumbled on your blog looking for diy shampoo bar recipes. Love it–thanks for all the helpful information!

  16. Gabby says:

    I LOVE THIS! I definitely want to try this. I’ve just been using store bought shampoos, and recently they’ve been making my hair look horrific. I’m also trying to grow out my hair so the store shampoos aren’t really helping with that either! Anyway, I was wondering where I could get the lye and the beef tallow? Where I live we don’t have many places to by more natural type things. I was also wondering if the blackstrap molasses could be bought at a normal grocery store?

    • Marie says:

      Thanks for reading, Gabby :) I usually buy my lye online (Canwax and Saffire Blue stock it in Canada) as it can be hard to buy in stores as it’s apparently an ingredient in meth or something (thanks for that, drug industry). I have found it at Home Hardwear and my local soap supply shop, but that’s about it. For tallow, you’ll just need to go to your butcher and get some beef fat trimmings, and then render your own. You can also just use lard, which is often easier to get as it’s sold in bricks for making pastry.

  17. Alyssa says:

    Hi! Where did you get the soap mold I see you using on Instagram? Thanks!

    • Marie says:

      My dad made it for me, Alyssa (he’s the best)! The inner measurements of my mold are 15″ long, 3.5″ across, and 3.5″ deep. I have a series of dividers that support the lid; they are 2.75″ high, giving the mold an effective depth of 2.75″ (the lid is 0.75″ thick). Each inch of the mold holds 100g/oils of soap; so the entire mold holds a 1500g of oils batch of soap. It’s also exactly as long as sheets of parchment are long, meaning it’s super easy to line as well. Basically, it’s the perfect size!

  18. Adrienne says:

    What can I use to make shampoo/ conditioner? I wanna use ceaterly alchool it is emiollent and emulifier both.

    i am using it in my hair oil with water but should i use pervesation while ceaterly is there?

    • Marie says:

      I’m sorry, Adrienne, I’m not really sure what you’re asking. My shampoo bars are gentle and moisturizing enough that you do not need a conditioner—you just follow it up with an ACV rinse. Also, though cetearyl alcohol may be both emollient and an emulsifier, that is about all it does—I’d really encourage you to look at some other, whole oils and fats that have their vitamins and minerals in tact :)

  19. Neide Penko says:

    I really liked your tip, shampoo bars, but I did not have the right to give me more details.
    I thank you.

  20. Teresa Marshall says:

    I just found your site in searching for shampoo bar recipes. Your molasses bars look wonderful. Thanks for posting the recipe. I was wondering if you could recommend a shampoo bar recipe for using goat’s milk, castor oil, jojoba oil, tallow, coconut oil, and with or with out olive oil. These are ingredients that I have on hand. In your opinion would they work well for a shampoo bar and approximately what percentages of each fat/oil would be best for normal hair? Also, are all shampoo bars alkaline? Or can a bar be made that is a bit acidic and therefore not need the ACV rinse? Thanks.

    • Marie says:

      Hi Teresa! Thanks for reading :) From your list of ingredients I would recommend that you make the majority of your recipe coconut oil, castor oil, tallow, and olive oil. Take a look at my all-in-one soap recipe for some proportions. You can use the jojoba instead of the shea butter :) If you aren’t familiar with soap making I would leave the goats milk out until you’ve got some experience, as milks are tricky to work with as you don’t want them to curdle (ew).

      I use my all-in-one soap recipe for soaping, shampooing, and shaving, and I consider my hair to be fairly normal, so I think you’ll be super happy if you follow that recipe :)

      And yes, all soaps and shampoos are alkaline—their very fatty acid composition ensures it. It’s pretty hard for them to not be alkaline when you’re mixing your oils with lye, which has a pH of 12–14 (depending on dilution level)! A bar of soap or shampoo should have a final pH of 7–10.

      Have fun and thanks for reading! :)

  21. Andrea says:

    Hello Marie,

    I found your blog late last week and I think it’s absolutely wonderful. This and your Lavender Patchouli soaps inspired my weekend doing. I’d love for you to see my soap and I’d like to send you a couple of bars one they’ve cured.

    • Marie says:

      Hi Andrea! I’m so thrilled you found my little corner of the internet :) I’d be thrilled to see & try your bars—how exciting & generous of you! What other DIY-ing have you got up to in the last few days? I’m currently working on an Edwardian-inspired skirt for a wedding, and I need to get going on some more Christmas themed soaps (eek! Already?!).

  22. Sarah says:

    Hi Marie!

    I was so excited to try my hand at making soap and shampoo bars after successfully making lip balm, body wash, lip balm, and various creams. I tried this recipe and it looked like it turned out nicely at first after everything was melted and mixed together. But the mixture has been sitting in a couple of old bread loaf pans for a week now and they’re not solidified. They’re straight up liquid. Any ideas why it hasn’t solidified yet? Maybe I screwed up somehow?

    • Marie says:

      Hey Sarah—bummer! Can you walk me through exactly what you did? Hopefully that will help me figure out what might have gone wrong :/

      • Sarah says:

        Yeah definitely!

        I melted my oils together on the stovetop, mixed together the lye and water, waited for them to come to around the same temperature (within 2 degrees), poured the lye into the oils, mixed them together with an immersion blender, then poured them into the old loaf tins. The only thing is that I didn’t have quite enough essential oils, I was short by about 20 grams total. Maybe that had something to do with it.

        • Marie says:

          Ok… all of that sounds good. Are you 100% sure you achieved trace? Are you sure you used NaOH (and not KOH)? The lack of essential oils won’t effect it at all. Did you insulate your mold?

          • Sarah says:

            It definitely wasn’t super thick, but it was enough that it stuck to the back of a spatula. Yup, I used NAoH, I bought it here in Calgary at Soap and More. I covered them with a tea towel. Do you think that would be insulation enough? Or should I try a bigger towel?

          • Marie says:

            Ok… hmmm. What type of mould are you using (basically, how insulating might the mould be?), and how warm/cool was the part of your house where you let it saponify? Did you check on the soap during the first four or six hours? Was it warm (the outside of the mould would have been noticeably warm)? Also, do you have anything to test the pH of your final soap liquid with?

  23. Isabelle says:

    Hi Marie,
    Made my first batch of soap, thanks to your wonderful blog! I wasn’t nervous about the lye, it was getting the temperature of both the oils and the lye the same that was worrying me! Then I read your blog on how you let them both come to room temperature! Brilliant!
    Today I’m going to make soap using green tea instead of water, and add some spirulina at trace. So exciting!
    My daughter has excema on her leg so I hope that the homemade soap will help her.
    The colours of your soap are so beautiful! I made a batch and added turmeric, but obviously not enough, as it turned brownish not the vibrant orange I was going for.
    Thanks for sharing all your ideas,
    Isabelle from Westbank BC

    • Marie says:

      Fantastic! I’m thrilled to hear it :) Your green tea & spirulina soap sounds wonderful—let me know how that one turns out. Be prepared for the tea to go all funny and gross looking when the lye is added—don’t worry, though, it’ll come out beautifully in the end. Have you read my article on natural ways to colour soap? Also, your daughter might like to give my eczema salve a try—it really helped my dad.

      • Isabelle says:

        Well, the green tea did turn out a yucky brown, and the spirulina didn’t green up the way I had hoped. Oh well.
        Today I made soap with coffee instead of water and it looked wonderful and creamy when I poured it into the mold. I sprinkled a bit of coffee on top.
        So exciting!!!
        I have noticed a white film on the soap that I’ve cut. Do you know what that is?
        Thanks Marie.

        • Marie says:

          For green you should definitely try out French Green Clay as well—it’s awesome! I have had good success with spirulina turning soap green—a very dark green, though.

          Your coffee soap sounds fantastic! I love the dark colours of coffee and chocolate soaps :)

          It sounds like your white film is probably just a bit of ash. No big deal.

          Thanks for reading & have fun with all your awesome new soap!

  24. Larissa says:

    Hi there! I’m very new to your blog but I am very excited to try some things out! I have heard that shampoo bars and hard water are not a good mix. Do you have any experience or advice on this? I have hard water and I am hesitant to try the shampoo bars because I am worried that it will leave a “film” on my hair.

    • Marie says:

      Hi Larissa :) Thanks for reading! I can say that I use nothing but shampoo bars on my hair, and that I have very hard water. I haven’t noticed much of a problem. My hair is very fine and I don’t notice that it is weighed down or adversely effected (nothing but benefits and happy hair after 2+ years). My comb can end up with a bit of gummy residue on it, but I generally chalk that up to hair oils and pillow lint. Hope that helps :)

  25. Lynn B says:

    Hi Marie, I’m up to 4 batches of soap and am ready to try this one, was wondering, since the molasses has to be the same temperature as the soap do you thing it would work to add it to the lye mixture so I don’t have to get three things to the same temperature?

    • Marie says:

      For this bar, you’ll want to let the water and the lye water come to room temperature before mixing everything. Then, when you have a light trace, it’s time to add the molasses. Warm it in the microwave until it’s thin enough that you can slowly drizzle it. Just that warm, though. If it sloshes or bubbles, it is too warm! You should be able to easily put your finger in it. It’ll be a bit warmer than the raw soap mixture, but not much. As you slowly drizzle it in it cools a bit as well. I’ve found this to be the best method. No hot molasses! I spoiled a big batch of this that way :(

  26. MichelleD says:

    Is there no way to get around using lye? I would LOVE to make this for my friends and family, but I know many people who are allergic to lye. I’m quite sensitive to it as well. Is there nothing that can be used in place of lye?

    • Marie says:

      So… no. There is no such thing as making soap without lye. I wrote a blog on it :)

      Also… saying you are allergic to lye is like saying you are allergic to bleach or arsenic because you get sick/dye whenever you eat them. Of course you do. They are poisonous. Everybody would. It is highly unlikely you are actually allergic to lye (especially because there is no lye in finished bars of soap). I mean, how would you ever know? Unless you’ve been making soap or bathing in Draino, you’ve likely never been exposed to lye. Chances are it’s something like SLS in your soap that causes a reaction.

      Anyhow, read the blog entry I linked to, and go through the comments as well—there’s some good stuff down there, too.

  27. Tina Turner says:

    I was wondering if there is a basic “melt and pour” soap company you could recommend that would be comparable to your soap recipe. I would love to make soap and shampoo bars, without the worry of mixing lye.

    • Marie says:

      I’m afraid I can’t be of much use here, Tina—it’s a little like asking a pastry chef for a cake mix recipe, I suppose (though I’d hardly call myself a pastry-chef level soaper!). You should definitely read my article on making soap with lye, and why it’s really not scary at all, though. I remember telling myself I would never make soap because lye was so risky and the whole process was so ridiculously involved, but now I can’t imagine ever buying a bar of soap again. You should definitely give it a go, I promise you’ll love it :)

  28. Majara Williams says:

    I feel like I keep bothering you. But I have to ask. Is there a reason for using walnut oil? Or can you substitute it or any carrier oil?

    • Marie says:

      No worries :) In this recipe I likely used walnut oil because I had it on hand, haha. At 10% it is my “fancy” oil for the recipe, so avocado oil, shea butter, or cocoa butter would all be good replacements.

  29. Danka says:

    I treated my hair with coconut oil yesterday. It was quite an effort to wash it out with L’Occitane shampoo. I’d like to move from L’Occitane as they’re very expensive and I feel I’m ready to try your recipe. However, would your shampoo wash out coconut oil?

    • Marie says:

      Hi Danka! I’ve had an experience quite close to yours :) When I first switched to all natural shampoos I did an oil treatment (no small feat with all my hair), and holy WOW did that take a LONG time to wash out. Loads of my shampoo bar and a good 20 minutes scrubbing away at my head. This isn’t the fault of the shampoo, though—it’s just about what we’re used to. If you’ve been using standard storebought shampoo for most of your life, you’re used to crazy strong shampoo. Shampoo that’s way too strong for your hair, really—it’s really just detergent that strips your hair totally bare. That would take out the coconut oil, but it’s also what necessitates the coconut oil in the first place.

      When you move to more gentle shampoos, like this one, you don’t need to do oil treatments (except for perhaps your ends, but they’ll actually absorb a small amount of oil so you don’t have to worry about washing it out). This shampoo helps your hair hold on to its natural oils & moisture so you don’t have to replenish them (closer to the scalp, at least).

      But yes, in the end, this shampoo bar will wash out all oils, but you may need two or three full sudsing if you have very thick hair and have applied a lot of oil to it.

  30. Sarah says:

    Hi. I love your blog. In fact, it is your blog that inspired me to make soap for my organic chemistry project and my entire class loved the presentation (and the wonderful handmade soap). Since then I’ve been really wanting to try shampoo bars (since I also read your posts on natural hair care).

    In this post, you mentioned that this particular bar is good for brunettes. Is it due to the molasses? I have black, Asian hair so I am confused as to whether or not I should add the molasses or if it even matters.

    Thanks :)

    • Marie says:

      Hi Sarah! I’m so glad I inspired you soap it up for organic chem :) The molasses is basically good for dark hair, which is mostly because it’s so dark—it might stain very light hair. With your dark hair you should be totally ok to use it :)

  31. Sabrina S. says:

    Hello Marie! I am looking for a great shampoo bar, and I think I just found it! Can this be done hot process? I’m assuming I can just add the molasses at trace then cook away, correct? Also, Vanilla EO can be a bit pricey- do you think vanilla extract could sub? (at same amount of 5g?) I’m not really concerned about the alcohol content, as I suspect it will mostly “cook” off.

    • Marie says:

      Hi Sabrina! I don’t hot process, so I can’t say for sure. My only hesitation would be from the molasses. I find I have to soap at room temperature with this recipe, slowly drizzling in the molasses, and keeping everything quite cool to keep the batch from curdling. I have curdled warmer batches, so I’d be worried that would happen with a proper hot batch.

      Please, please don’t use vanilla extract in your body stuffs—you’ll just waste it :( It’s formulated for taste, not scent (and especially not standing up to saponification), and every reader who has tried it has reported wretched results—bubbles of alcohol in the soap and no scent. I’d recommend using benzoin essential oil instead—it’s vanilla like, but quite a bit cheaper.

  32. Kate @ MGR says:

    You know a recipe is good when there are this many :)’s throughout the comments. Cant say Ive ever made my own bar though.

    Marie can you get back to me about maybe shipping me a sample of a bar when you make a batch?

    • Marie says:

      Hi Kate! Sorry, but I don’t send or sell anything anywhere—I flat out don’t have the time. I’d rather encourage people to make it themselves than fuss with the post office 😛

  33. Melanie says:

    Hi Marie… You’ve inspired me to finally try making soap and I’ve made two of your recipes with great results, I made the basic soap and the All in one bar… They are curing now and I’m anxiously waiting to try them out. I also tried this recipe and it didn’t work out… when I checked it after 24 hours it was still a little soft and when I touched it a tiny bit of oil surfaced. I had let the oils and the lye reach room temperature and then mixed them and once it reached trace I added the molasses mixture. Any idea why it didn’t harden?

    • Marie says:

      Hmm. My first thought would be the potential of a false trace—are you 100% certain you achieved true trace? Did you insulate your mould? Does the soap pass the zap test?

      • Melanie says:

        I’m pretty certain it reached trace, I did insulate the soap really well and it did pass the zap test but it has an oily feel… maybe it’s a simple as me measuring wrong? I’m going to try it again today.

        • Melanie says:

          I figured out what happened… well, kinda. I reentered everything in the lye calculator and the lye amount was different. I’m not sure how because I had the 7% super fat and all the oils were the same in both but the lye amount was too low on the first recipe. I’m sure it’ll work this time. Only real loss was all the expensive grocery store essential oils I wasted the first time because I was too impatient to wait for my order to be delivered. Boo!

          • Marie says:

            Ahh, that would do it :( Darn! You could try re-batching your first go if you know how much extra lye you’d need to add, or you can let it age up and have a very gentle shampoo 😉 Just be sure to use it relatively quickly, as soaps with a very high superfat can go rancid.

        • Marie says:

          Hmm. Well, as long as it passes the zap test, I’d let it age up anyways and see what you think :)

  34. Alli says:

    I am so excited to try my hand at shampoo bars! Or even more excited to switch my hair to natural shampoo! This recipe sounds great but i am a blonde and so i’m wondering if i can go ahead and leave out the molassas or if you know of anything i can substitue? Do clays work well in shampoo bars?

    • Marie says:

      Hi Alli! Yes, you can definitely leave out the molasses, or even try one of my other shampoo recipes :) A bit of honey (not an equal amount as it has much more sugar) would be a good alternative to the molasses in this recipe, but if you’re new to soap making I don’t recommend it as honey can be quite tricky to work with and can ruin a batch of soap in an instant. Thanks for reading!

  35. beth says:

    Hi Marie, I was wondering how your molasses shampoo bar came out so dark. I love that rich, deep brown color! And yes, molasses is excellent for hair! They say if you eat a big ole spoonful everyday, it helps keep your dark hair from turning grey! Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

  36. Kim says:

    Hi Mary,
    Just have a little question for you. I made a couple of your soaps and these are my favorites:) Thé question: why do I have to let everything come to room temperature? Is it because of the molasse? Can’t want to try these shampoo bars:)

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