marseille soap making

Homemade Marseille Soap

Making soap at home is something satisfying. You can play with oils and colors to get your own unique soap.  If you are interested also in the chemistry behind, you can find here all the details.  Recently, I also wrote a post about what you should know (but nobody says about it) before starting to make soap. Please read it, could be important! You can find it here! Today, we will have fun making soap only with olive oil! The traditional recipe for Marseille soap includes additional cooking at 100 or 110 degrees (about 220 Fahrenheit) and several washings with saltwater. I will avoid these steps because living in a small apartment would be difficult to have a dedicated space, so I will readjust the recipe with the cold process (as for the preparation of Castile soap).

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Marseille soap recipe

Marseille soap is a bar made from olive oil. It was produced for the first time around 1300 BC and continues to be used nowadays. It has always been known as a multi-purpose soap suitable for hand washing, housekeeping, perfume closets, and so on. For this reason, today I want to tell you briefly how to make your own soap at home 🙂

Contrary to glycerine soap, preparing soap in a traditional way requires attention and awareness of what you are going to handle. Soap is the result of a reaction between fats or oils and lye. Due to this, it is important to wear always gloves and goggles. So let’s start!

Marseille soap ingredients

ingredients soap

How to make Marseille soap

First and foremost protect yourself with safety gloves and goggles and do it in a well-ventilated room. We are using lye that is extremely corrosive so be careful. In case of contact with the skin, wipe the excess of lye off and flush the area with running water.

  1. Weigh the water in a glass
  2. Pour the olive oil in a jar, big enough to contain about 300g (10.6oz) of the finished product.
  3. Weigh the lye in another glass
  4. Pour gently lye into the water and mix with a wooden or glass spoon. I would not use plastic or metal spoon to avoid potential reactions with the lye.  REMEMBER: DON’T pour water into the bowl of lye. The solution will get hot at about 90°C (194°F) leave it cool down till about 45°C (113°F).
  5. Warm up the oil in a water bath or microwave until about 45°C (113°F). Oil and lye solution should have the same temperature.
  6. Pour the lye solution into the oil jar and mix the two phases with a mixer.
marseille soap recipe

When the compound gets thicker and opaque, it’s ready to be poured into a plastic mold. It will need 1-2 days to get solid but it will be worth the wait. It will be really satisfying to use your own Marseille soap.


Although this soap uses lye as an ingredient, I find the Marseille soap gentle on my skin. I use it mainly to wash my hands because I think that it could be too aggressive as shampoo. It has a great cleaning action, but it doesn’t make bubbles and lather. Many people think that the cleaning action is a consequence of the lather. Well…it is not so 🙂

marseille soap making


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