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Make Your Own Planet Friendly Foaming Hand Soap

30 July 2021


Making your own household products is easier than it sounds. And foaming hand soap is especially easy – it only requires four ingredients!

But why make your own soap, and why bother making it foaming? Well, for starters it’s more planet-friendly than other kinds of soaps:

  • Studies show that when people use foaming soap, they use 16% less water to rinse off – multiply that by the number of times we wash our hands (these days that’s a lot!) and the number of people in Ottawa and you get big water savings!
  • Foaming soaps typically biodegrade faster than traditional soaps, partly due to the forced air that causes natural lathering. As a result, less soap ends up down the drain which is better for our environment.
  • Have you ever read the list of ingredients in a store-bought soap? It’s kind of nice to know that your soap only has 4 ingredients, all of which have names you can pronounce, like “water”.

There are other advantages too. You can customize the smell and texture to suit your personal taste, it won’t dry out your hands like store-bought soap. And it’s cheap, fun, and a great indoor activity to do with kids!

Make sure your ingredients are planet-friendly

To make foaming hand soap you will only need four ingredients:

  • Castile Soap
  • Jojoba Oil or Sunflower Oil (or any plant-based oil you have at home)
  • Essential oil (optional)
  • Boiled water (pro tip, use water from your rain barrel for extra soft soap!)

You will also need a foaming pump for your soap dispenser. You can repurpose a store-bought foaming hand soap container, just give it a quick rinse before you use it!

About the ingredients & where to buy them

Castile Soap

  • Is a vegetable-based soap that is both free from animal fats and synthetic ingredients. You can learn more about its properties and uses here.
  • For Ottawa residents, we recommend purchasing your Castile Soap from zero-waste friendly stores like Terra 20 and NU Grocery, as they both let you refill your bottles.

Jojoba Oil / Sunflower Oil

  • You can pretty much add any plant-based oil to your soap. But Jojoba and sunflower oils are two great planet-friendly options for folks in Ottawa.
  • Jojoba Oil is sustainable because it naturally grows in the desert regions of Mexico, southwest United States and requires very little water compared to almonds or olives. It has many beneficial properties and is used widely in natural cosmetics.
  • Sunflower oil is another great option, and there are lots of organic, Canadian choices out there. Where possible try and choose brands that are labelled organic, that say they are cold-pressed (heating oils destroys many of their natural properties) and if available to you buy in a glass bottle or bulk buy.

Essential Oils

You might think that essential oils are the most planet-friendly alternative to synthetic chemicals. But think again!

Essential oils are extremely resource-intensive. For example, it takes 1,500 pounds of lemon to make 1 pound of essential oil. So how the ingredients are grown and sourced is very important. Some essential oil ingredients are harvested in the wild, many of which are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, including popular essential oils like sandalwood, cedarwood and rosewood.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever use essential oils, but it does mean we should be mindful of their potency (use sparingly), only buy from trusted companies, and try to opt for oils made from plants that grow abundantly. A good place to start is by using essential oils like:

  • Lavender
  • Tea tree
  • Lemon
  • Sweet Orange or Wild Orange
  • Peppermint (not recommended for children under age 6)


  1. Boil about two cups of water and let cool
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of Castile Soap.
  3. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of your chosen oil (depending on how big your container is and your preferred texture)
  4. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil (if using)
  5. Take your container and fill it with water until it is about 80% full
  6. Screw the pump in and give your bottle a shake!

N.B: as there are no emulsifiers it is normal for the oils to float up to the top. You can just give your bottle a shake before using it to mix the ingredients together!

Learn more about …

The benefits of foaming hand soap: here and here.

The environmental impact of essential oils here and here.

How to choose essential oils for your daily life here and here.