Making Neem Oil Soap - Recipes

This is the detailed version of two neem oil soap recipes. We're making neem soaps from scratch.

Making neem soap from scratch is for people who enjoy playing chemist or alchemist.

It is a serious undertaking!

If you can't make cake from a cake mix, don't try this at home.

There is an easier way of making neem soap. There are also many suppliers out there who sell absolutely wonderful, totally natural and handcrafted neem soap.

When following these recipes to make neem oil soap you will be using lye = caustic soda/sodium hydroxide. Caustic soda is seriously nasty staff and causes bad burns. Make sure you understand how to use it, that you follow instructions carefully, and that you take adequate precautions (e.g. wear protective clothing and safety glasses).

All right then, let's start with the ingredients for your neem oil soap:

Neem oil soap recipe #1

This is a recipe for a mild neem oil soap that can be used daily. It is good for young people with oily skin, doesn't stress dry skin, it should clean up mild acne, prevent skin infections, soothe irritations, and do all the other wonderful things that neem oil soap does.


  • 176 grams olive oil
  • 176 grams sunflower oil
  • 50 grams coconut oil
  • 40 grams palm oil
  • 18 grams castor oil
  • 40 grams neem oil

You also need:

  • 66 grams caustic soda
  • 200 grams water (yes, grams, not ml. You should weigh your water. Measuring jugs are far too inaccurate.)
  • 15 grams essential oil (which fragrance or essential oil you use is your choice, but you want to make sure you mask the smell of the neem oil...)

Neem oil soap recipe #2

This neem oil soap recipe is actually a recipe for a neem shampoo, but a solid one. A neem oil shampoo bar, so to say. You can use it daily. It is mild and good for all hair types. It leaves your hair shiny and strong, and if you have kids you'll be glad to know that it should also prevent head lice infestation.


  • 125 grams coconut oil
  • 125 grams olive oil
  • 90 grams palm oil
  • 35 grams almond oil
  • 35 grams neem oil
  • 90 grams castor oil
  • an additional 3 tbsp castor oil to add later (the extra castor oil creates a really frothy lather, great for a shampoo)

You also need:

  • 71 grams caustic soda
  • 200 grams water (infused with nettle, rosemary, fennel and melissa, and again, weigh the water)
  • 1 tsp each of rosemary, lavender, tea tree, and lemon essential oils

Obviously there is room for variations here. You may have your own preferences of herbs and essential oils to add, according to your particular hair type or problem.

If you wonder why these neem oil soap recipes use so many different oils, the mix of oils makes for a better lather and also improves the keeping quality. You can of course experiment with varying amounts, which will give you different softness or hardness. But the amounts above are tried and tested and make a good bar.

The instructions from here onwards are for both neem soap recipes, as the method of making neem oil soap is always the same.

Utensils needed:

  • An accurate scale
  • A thermometer
  • A large bowl or pot, made from pyrex, stainless steel or enamel.
  • A pyrex jug
  • Another small jug or cup
  • A clean stick or spoon, plastic or stainless (to stir the lye solution)
  • A wooden or slotted spoon (if you use a wooden spoon, do never use the spoon for anything else other than soap!)
  • A mold for your soap. (You can buy pretty molds, but old margarine tubs work just as well. You need enough to hold about 500 grams.)
  • Rubber gloves, goggles, a heavy apron. Also some long sleeved top and long pants that you don't mind throwing out... Better ruining the clothes than your legs!

Neem Oil Soap Recipe - Method:

Put on all your protective gear, grab the caustic soda, and read the label and all the warnings. Make sure you understand everything. This stuff can burn big holes into you! Put it down again. Sure you want to proceed? Ok. Here's what to do.

  • Tare the jug on the scale (so the scale with the jug on it shows zero) and weigh your cold water. Never, ever use warm water with caustic soda!
  • Weigh your caustic soda into the cup
  • Slowly add caustic soda to water - Slowly! - and stir it with your clean spoon or stick. Keep stirring! (Note, I said add lye to water, NOT the other way round. Never add water to lye. Never!!)
  • Your mix will get hot, very hot. And it will give off nasty fumes. Don't breathe in the fumes. (Don't do this in a confined space. Ideally you should be outside.)
  • Ok, set the jug aside so it can cool down a bit.
  • Put all your oils in the big bowl.
  • Heat them to about 175F/80°C (either very carefully in the microwave, on the stove, or over another pot of boiling water)
  • Both the oils and the lye solution should be at 175F/80°C.
  • Now slowly pour the caustic soda solution into the oils while stirring, stirring, stirring, stirring, stirring, ... you get the idea.
  • Keep stirring. The color and consistency of the mixture changes as the chemical reaction happens (the saponification which turns lye into soap).
  • Once the mix has turned into something like custard, pull your spoon out and draw over the surface. If it leaves a trace that falls back slowly, you are done. The stage is called trace or tracing. Another way to describe it is that when you pull out the spoon and let some mix fall back into the bowl, it leaves a dent on the surface.
  • Now is the time to add any essential oils, fragrances or color if you like, (and, if you are making the shampoo bar also the three extra tbsp castor oil ). Stir everything well.
  • Done! Pour the mix into your molds.
  • Cover the mold (use a plate if you have no lid for your mold) and insulate everything by wrapping it into an old towel.
  • After 24 hours you can pop the soap out of the mold and cut it into individual bars.
  • Do not use it straight away! Leave the soap to cure in the open air for another four weeks. This makes sure that saponification is complete and absolutely no lye is left.
  • After the 24 hour setting period you can also wash up your utensils. (If you do it sooner you are pouring pretty raw soap which still contains pure lye into your drainage system.)

Now, if this neem oil soap recipe is your first adventure into soap making ever, I recommend you do get a good soap making book first. On top of soap recipes it will have information on what to do and how to salvage your ingredients if things go wrong.

For example, if you find liquid filled holes when you cut your soap, then you have lye pockets. You can't use that neem oil soap or you will get burned! You can however salvage it and have another shot at making neem oil soap.

And don't forget, you can always use the easy recipe to make neem soap
Have fun, and enjoy the results!

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