July 18, 2024

Mckerrinkelly

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How to Make Soap to Sell: 2023 Business Guide

10 min read
How to Make Soap to Sell: 2023 Business Guide

If you’re an eager entrepreneur or an avid DIYer, here’s a unique idea for a squeaky clean business: homemade soap.

While the virtue of cleanliness may not sound like a viable income stream, learning how to make soap offers you a chance to scratch your creative itch while creating an in-demand product customers are clamoring for.

Sold on the idea? Here, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of how to make soap, and then tackle the topic of turning this DIY beauty biz into a viable home business.

How to make soap, step by step

  1. Gather your ingredients 
  2. Get your soap base ready
  3. Stir and combine
  4. Pour soap and let it set

When it comes to making soap as a beginner, it’s often best to start off simple. That’s why we’ve compiled a recipe below using a simple glycerin base. 

But as you get more experienced in the process of soap making, it’s easier to make blends with your recipe with changes in oils, scents, or other additives.

Combining different oils will lend your final product different characteristics. Some oils will help make your bars harder or will provide a better lather. On the other hand, oils like olive and coconut will create the chemical reaction that actually turns all these liquids into soap. Other materials like shea butter will offer moisturizing qualities.

With that preface, let’s take a deeper look into how to actually make your first bars of soap.

1. Gather your ingredients

soap ingredients

Grab all the materials to cook up your first batch. Here’s what you’ll need and ideas for where to find your ingredients:

  • Glycerin base: Grab a bulk amount from a marketplace like Bulk Apothecary or Etsy.
  • Stir sticks: You can acquire these from almost any grocery store or your local craft store.
  • Essential oils: Again, these are available at your local craft store, and on Etsy and Amazon.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Any pharmacy, dollar store, or bulk retailer will have bottles of this readily available.
  • Microwave-safe containers: Any kitchen supplier or craft store will carry these.
  • Molds: See below for ideas on how to discover molds for your soaps.

Just like with making bath bombs, you have a variety of creative options when it comes to soap molds. If you browse a site like AliExpress, you’ll find dozens of beautiful options, with most costing less than $7 per mold.

Get your soap base ready

illustration of how to make soap

Once you’ve gathered your materials, next you need to cut and melt down your glycerin base. Cut small chunks of glycerin, place them in your microwave-safe container, and microwave for 30 seconds.

Stir and combine

how to make soap part 2

Use one of the stir sticks to stir the melting glycerin base and continue to microwave for short spurts until the base is fully melted throughout. Then stir in several drops of your chosen essential oil and combine.

While those ingredients are combining, use a spray bottle to spritz rubbing alcohol on your molds to prevent any bubbles from forming in your bars of soap.

Pour soap and let it set

making soap step 3

Once the ingredients are combined and the molds are ready, pour the contents into the molds and allow to cool and set. When the bars have hardened, pop them out of the molds and your bars are complete. From here, simply lather, rinse, and repeat.

filling soap molds

Extra recipes for making soap

extra soap recipes

Want some ideas on ways to tweak this recipe to make it your own? Here are some options for different essential oils you can switch out to achieve a different scent and feel for your soap bars.


Get started with Shopify POS

Only Shopify gives you all the tools you need to manage your business, market to customers, and sell everywhere in one place. Unify in-store and online sales today.


Is selling handmade soap profitable?

Homemade soap isn’t exactly a new product. Some sources trace the origination of homemade soap all the way back to 2800 B.C., when ancient Babylonians handily mastered soap making from fats boiled down with ashes.

While soap making has certainly evolved over the past few thousand years, some of the primary ingredients have remained the same. Soaps have a fat and/or oil base, like lye or glycerin, that is customized with additional ingredients, such as different combinations of essential oils, moisturizers, and other additives.

The demand for this hygienic necessity will always be high, and there’s a growing interest in natural and homemade varieties of soap.

According to a quick glance at Google Trends, you can see that global searches online for “soap” have grown steadily since 2018.

google trends about soap

In addition to the obvious interest for soap made with natural ingredients, the cosmetics industry deserves the attention of eager entrepreneurs on the prowl for a new business idea. 

The global organic bar soap market size was estimated at $34 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $55.29 billion by 2027. You can easily expand into different categories like bath and body soaps, kitchen soaps, and even laundry soaps. 

Not only is there an obvious demand for this kind of natural, hand-crafted product, but it’s relatively inexpensive to make your own soap at home.

Types of handmade soaps

There are a bevy of natural soaps—and they also boast different advantages. 

Many of the different types are dependent upon the ingredients you use, but they all generally rely on the same chemical reaction that occurs when your preferred materials are combined. And generally, natural, handcrafted soaps use food-quality ingredients in their recipes.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the types of homemade soap, here are some of the most common ones you can create in your kitchen.

Cold process soap

cold process soap
Source: SoapQueen

Primary ingredients like lard, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, or lye are combined with additional ingredients and mixed (we recommend a stick blender). Once the consistency has thickened to trace (i.e., emulsified so it looks almost like pudding), you can then pour the soap mixture into your mold, let it harden, then cut and cure it for four to six weeks.

Hot process soap

hot process soap
Source: The Prairie Homestead

Here, the maker actually cooks the soap as part of the process. The ingredients are combined and heated (for example, in a slow cooker), placed in molds, and allowed to harden overnight.

While this type of soap may take a little more time to create than cold process soaps, the resulting bars often are smoother to the touch.

“Ready-made” base

ready made
Source: Bulk Apothecary

This is one of the simpler soap-making methods. Crafters purchase already made bases, melt them down, add colors and scents, and pour the mixture into their preferred molds.

The benefit of this process is that the chemical reaction to make the soap has already occurred; the maker is essentially putting their own fingerprint on the soap. Because this type of homemade soap isn’t technically made from scratch, it’s also easier to create intricate shapes and designs with this base.

These bases are created with everything from glycerin, shea butter, and goat’s milk, and can be purchased from your local craft store, or online in bulk from sites like Bulk Apothecary or Etsy.

How to market your homemade soap business

Online

You now have a handy homemade soap recipe to get you started—it’s time to start selling. There are plenty of digital channels you can use to get your handcrafted products in front of as many buyers as possible.

Consider building your own online store, or listing your products on Amazon and the bevy of other digital platforms we’ve outlined below:

  • Instagram: This visual social platform is a great medium to build a large following. Here, you can reach out to brand evangelists, provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how you created your terrariums, and create gorgeous images that show off your products.
  • Pinterest: Home décor is a particularly active category on Pinterest. As such, merchants selling terrariums should consider the platform to find new customers.
  • TikTok: While TikTok is a relative newcomer compared to the other major social media platforms, it’s one of the fastest-growing, with a more than 1.5 billion user base. Those kinds of numbers have caught the attention of many businesses, and many more merchants are looking to reach their target customers through this channel.
  • Giveaways and contests: Set aside a few terrariums and offer them as prizes in a branded giveaway or contest. Yes, you may be giving away some of your products, but contests offer the chance to increase your customer base, introduce your products to new customers, and grow your small business as a result.
  • Email marketing: You can reach people right through their inboxes with targeted email campaigns. Offer subscribers and customers great deals, promotions, and business news to help move them along in the buyer journey. There are many email marketing apps like Shopify Email you can get started with right away. 

In person

Homemade soaps, particularly when paired with beautiful packaging, can be attractively presented in person. That’s why it makes sense for eager beauty biz entrepreneurs to set up a market booth at local craft shows or flea and farmers markets to take advantage of in-person sales.

Soap makers can also sell their wares in temporary retail spaces like a pop-up shop, local boutiques, or beauty/cosmetics stores.

Temporary retail stores and wholesale opportunities also allow early stage entrepreneurs to test out their homemade soaps on customers in person and receive feedback in person.

If those aren’t enough reasons to sell you on in-person sales, then consider the following benefits of physical sales:

  • Meeting other entrepreneurs and crafters: While every entrepreneur’s primary goal for in-person sales is to, well, make sales, merchants can also discover some serious inspiration at markets and fairs. Connecting with fellow entrepreneurs and DIYers can offer a wellspring of ideas for new products and new ways to market current inventory.
  • Connect with wholesale customers: It’s no secret that bulk buyers visit markets and fairs to find the next hot product to feature in their stores—which is why these events are a great way to forge new relationships with potential wholesale customers.
  • Live product testing: As aforementioned, these temporary retail events are ideal places to test new products out on shoppers. In-person feedback can give you great ideas on how to improve, and offers you the opportunity to address customer pain points on the spot.
  • Add to social followings and email lists: Your in-person marketing efforts don’t have to be siloed from your digital marketing. Use in-person sales events as a way to curate a larger social following for your branded accounts and add potential and current customers to your email subscriber list.

Although in-person selling might initially sound intimidating for those planted firmly behind their computer screens, the right know-how can help set you up for success.

In addition to learning how to nail the in-person selling experience, ensure you’ve got a point-of-sale system like Shopify POS that helps you take payments on the go.

Start your own soap making business today

You’re now equipped with the knowledge to build your own homemade soap business, it’s time to get started. Not only do you have the info on making soap, but you’ve also got some viable ideas on how to market your new DIY business online and offline.


Get started with Shopify POS

Only Shopify gives you all the tools you need to manage your business, market to customers, and sell everywhere in one place. Unify in-store and online sales today.


How to make soap to sell FAQ

Is selling homemade soap profitable?

Yes, selling homemade soap is a profitable business. You can charge between $5 and $10 per bar and easily make an extra $1,000 per month.

Do you need approval to sell soap?

Selling soap does not require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval if it is only used for cleansing. However, your soap can be considered a cosmetic or drug, depending on its use. Say you create a soap that treats dry skin; it would be considered a drug and would require approval by the FDA.

Also, the manufacturer might need a special license or certification if the soap contains certain ingredients, like fragrance oils. Regardless, you will need liability insurance to sell your soaps in-store or through your own website. Talk to your local regulatory bodies for more information about the specific requirements for selling soap in your area.

How do I start selling my own soap?

Start by researching the soap-making process and buying your supplies. Create unique soap colors, scents, and shapes to stand out from other soap brands. Once you’ve created several bars of soap, you’re ready to build a business.

You may want to start online, but you can also appear at flea markets and local vendor events to start selling your products. Create social media profiles to let interested customers know where they can find you.

What are the 3 main ingredients in soap making?

Oil or fat, lye, and water.

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