How to Make Hand-Milled Soap

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Hand-milling is a great way for beginners to make their own customized, all-natural soaps. The process melts down pre-made soap with ingredients like oils, herbs, and clays, creating new bars that are totally customized—not to mention creamy,
bubbly, and a pleasure to use.

Make Hand-Milled Soap

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In soap making circles, hand-milling is also called rebatching or rebatch soap.
The process starts off by grating natural soap bars into shavings, then melting them down with liquids. Additives like carrier oils, herbs, and essential oils can be added to the melted soap in order to create custom recipes. Because the hand- milling process uses a relatively low heat it doesn’t damage fragile ingredients the way that from-scratch soap making can. This makes hand-milling a great choice for specialty recipes like shampoo bars.


Did you know that there can be over one thousand components contained in a single ingredient marked as a fragrance? Manufacturers aren’t obligated to share their ingredients because their fragrance recipes are considered proprietary.
This might not seem like a big deal until you learn more about the kinds of chemicals that can be found in fragrance.

Studies have found some pretty nasty stuff—like neurotoxins, allergens, and sensitizers. Specific substances, like phthalates, get called out every now and then but for every ingredient that gets banned or drops out of use there could be many more right behind it. This explains why so many people find themselves sensitive to fragrances in body products, air fresheners, and laundry detergents.

Start off with a high-quality bar soap made with pure oils and butters. Castile soap is ideal because it is made from 100% olive oil. Some soap making suppliers even offer a rebatch base, a pre-shredded soap base made specifically for hand-
milling. Avoid using commercial bar soap and melt-and-pour soap bases as these are made with totally different ingredients, making them unsuitable for the hand milling process. It’s also important to look for bar soap that doesn’t contain salt.

Salt is often added to natural soaps to harden the bars, but this makes them a real pain to meltdown. Castile Bars from Vermont Soap, Austin Natural Soap, or castile rebatch base from Bramble Berry all work really well.
You’ll need a double boiler or a crockpot to make hand-milled soap. Direct heat will burn the soap, and it won’t melt (or set back up) properly once it’s been scorched. The soaps should be poured into molds made of wood or heat-proof silicone. Other kinds of molds may be too flimsy to handle hand-milled soap and could melt right along with the soap!

1  Grate the soap into shavings, then combine them in a double boiler or crockpot with liquid (water, beer, etc.).

2  Heat the soap and liquid until the ingredients are fully melted together. Be sure to stir the ingredients often.

3  Remove the ingredients from the heat. Stir in any additives while the mixture is still nice and hot.

4 Pour the melted soap into a silicone or wooden mold lined with wax paper. Allow the soap to cool until it is hard enough to handle. This can take anywhere from 1 to 3 days.

5 Once the soap has hardened, carefully remove it from the mold. If you used a large mold, now is the time to slice it into bars. Set the individual soaps on a drying rack and allow them to cure until fully dried and hardened. This can take any- where from 1 to 3 weeks.

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