Milling Soap: A Kid-friendly How-to


This is a basic procedure, not a recipe. I haven’t included specific measurements but have instead described the process and what to look for as you’re working. For specific recipes using this technique, see The Practical Herbalist Recipes.
Equipment you’ll need to mill soap:

  • a mixing bowl
  • a cheese grater
  • a rubber scraper or a spoon
  • waxed paper
  • soap molds (optional)

Ingredients for milling soap:

  • One or more bars of unscented, natural soap
  • 1/4 cup of warm to hot water for every 4 ounces (approximately 1 cup, grated) soap
  • essential oils, herbs, abrasives, or other ingredients

Procedure for milling soap:

  1. Grate the soap into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add water, approximately 1/4 cup per 4 ounces of soap, and stir well.
  3. Let the soap stand for several minutes until the water is thoroughly absorbed.
  4. Add any further ingredients, such as  essential oils, herbs, honey, or abrasives.
  5. Stir the mixture thoroughly so all the ingredients are well-distributed.
  6. Scoop a quantity of roughly a quarter cup of the mixture into your hand and form it into a ball, squeezing it to remove any air bubbles and smoothing it once you’re done shaping it. You want the soap ball to be a size and shape that feels good in your hands.
    Spoon into molds, pack the soap well so there are no air bubbles.
  7. Set the soap onto a wire rack or piece of waxed paper to dry and harden. If you used soap molds, set the molds aside to cool, dry, and harden.

Finishing and Storing your Hand-Milled Soap

SoapballsforkidsAfter your soap has dried and hardened thoroughly, which may take as much as a few weeks, store it in an air-tight container. It will last for a long time, but after a few months any scent you have added to it may lessen. You can re-mill the soap to add more essential oils to it, if you wish.

Try grating a few leftover non-toxic crayon stubs onto the waxed paper and rolling your soap ball around on the shavings. The crayon chips will add color to your finished product. Some crayons come with sparkles already in the wax. These crayon chips will give your soap ball a very fancy look.

If you are using a soap mold and you want to try the crayon chip method of decorating your soap ball, sprinkle the crayon shavings into the soap mold before adding the soap mixture. The colored chips will embed themselves into the soap. Enjoy!

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