Spiced Essential Oil Soap for Men

How to make spiced soap for men

I love using homemade soap. I love it even more because I can make it myself. Soap-making can be quite addicting. There are countless recipes and options allowing you to completely customize your soap to fit your needs and desires.

My husband, however, was not exactly thrilled about using my girly scented soap, so I set out to make some manly-smelling soap just for him. He loved the result and has been using my homemade soap ever since.

This is a cold process recipe, however, if you prefer to make your soap using a hot-process method, this recipe should work well for that too.

Working With Lye

Lye is a necessary part of the soap-making equation. Soap is the result of a chemical reaction between lye (that has been activated by water) and an oil or animal fat. This reaction is called saponification. You cannot make soap from scratch without lye but with a properly calculated recipe, no lye will remain in your final product.

It can be intimidating to work with lye for the first time and it is definitely necessary to follow safety precautions, but don’t let that stop you from making your own soap!

Safety: When I work with lye there are a few things I do to ensure I am using it safely. This article also has excellent information on safety, but these are the precautions I always take:

  • Wait until children are in bed. Children or animals underfoot can cause distractions or spills and working with lye is a task that should be done when they are not around.
  • Wear protective eyewear and rubber gloves as well as long sleeves.
  • Have a clean workspace so that nothing is ruined in case of a spill.
  • Mix lye in a very well ventilated area. I personally do it in my back yard so that I don’t have to worry about the fumes in the house and then if I were to spill it would be outside.
  • Always add lye to the water. DO NOT add water to lye. This will cause a caustic eruption. Many veteran soapers use the expression “snow floats on the lake” as a reminder for the order they should be mixed.

Soap Making Ingredients

As I mentioned before, there are countless possibilities when you create your recipe. For this soap I wanted a hard yet moisturizing soap with a lot of lather for my husband so I used the following ingredients.

Tallow – makes a hard bar with high cleansing abilities. It is a great basic ingredient for soap. Most commercial soaps are made primarily with tallow. It is easy to render your own. If you want a pure vegetable soap you can substitute palm oil (sourced sustainably) but make sure you recalculate how much lye you will need before you begin.

Olive oil – this is another classic soap ingredient. It initially makes a softer bar but with age can become quite hard. It is very moisturizing but does not have the best lather.

Coconut oil – gives a wonderful, fluffy lather but can be drying so it is best kept to no more than 30% of your soaping oils.

Castor oil – I almost always include castor oil in recipes that contain coconut oil because it helps stabilize the lather made by the coconut oil. Use no more than 10% to avoid creating a lather that feels a bit slippery.

Beeswax – adds to the hardness of the bar.

Essential Oils – your choice for desired scent.

I used orange, patchouli, cinnamon, and clove essential oils to create a manly spiced scent. Patchouli helps to anchor other scents so that they last longer. I only used a very small amount of the cinnamon and clove because these oils are potent and can speed up trace, which can make it difficult to get the soap batter into the mold.

Soap-Making Supplies

I have a set of supplies I keep on hand for making soap. You can use your kitchen tools if you are diligent about cleaning them thoroughly but I prefer to keep them separate.

  • Glass jar or high quality plastic pitcher for mixing lye and water
  • Second glass jar or disposable plastic cup for measuring lye
  • Non-reactive pot or slow-cooker for warming oils
  • Small glass bowl for measuring essential oils
  • Digital infrared thermometer or 2 candy thermometers (one for lye and one for oils)
  • Soap mold
  • Immersion blender
  • Digital scale
  • Spoon for mixing lye
  • Spatula
  • Protective gloves and eyewear
  • Vinegar for final clean-up

Spiced Soap for Men Recipe

All quantities are measured in ounces by weight. This recipe makes 3 pounds of soap.

  • 13 oz tallow
  • 12 oz olive oil
  • 4.5 oz coconut oil
  • 2 oz castor oil
  • 1.5 oz beeswax
  • 10.9 oz distilled water
  • 4.39 oz lye
  • 1.5 oz orange essential oil
  • .4 oz patchouli essential oil
  • 22 drops cinnamon essential oil
  • 15 drops clove essential oil

Soap for Men: Instructions:

  1. Prepare your mold. If you are using a wood mold it will need to be lined with wax paper. Silicone molds are ready without any special preparation. You can also use any box if you line it with wax paper or a thick garbage bag.
  2. Wearing your protective gear, place the glass jar on the scale and tare your scale. Pour distilled water into the jar until it reads 10.9 oz. Set aside.
  3. Put the second jar on the scale and tare the scale. Wearing your protective gear, carefully pour lye into the jar until your scale reads 4.39 oz.
  4. Take both jars and your spoon outside. Still wearing your protective gear, slowly pour the lye into the water. Stir the mixture. It will become quite hot so keep this in mind if you need to move it. Let this mixture sit and cool to about 100 degrees.
  5. While the lye is cooling, measure all other ingredients EXCEPT the essential oils and warm them together in your pot or slow-cooker. The beeswax will take the longest to melt. Once it is melted, remove these oils from the heat and let cool until 100 degrees. I use the infrared thermometer about every 5-10 minutes to test the temperature. This works really well. A candy thermometer placed in each container also works. If one is cooling faster than the other you can put your oils back on the heat source or the lye/water mixture in a warm water bath to slow the cooling process a bit. Ideally, you want the lye water and the oils to both be around 100 degrees and within 10 degrees of each other.
  6. When the temps match, slowly pour the lye/water into the oils. Use the immersion blender to bring the batter to a light trace. It should be slightly thick and resemble cake batter.
  7. If you are adding essential oils now is the time to do so.
  8. Blend essential oils in by pulsing the immersion blender a few times. This should bring the mixture to a medium trace. You can tell when you have reached a medium trace by lifting your blender up out of the mixture (in the OFF position) and observing how the drips behave. They should sit on the surface without sinking back in.
  9. Pour the soap batter into your prepared mold. Remember that the soap is not fully “cooked” yet at this point and could still irritate your skin so you should still be wearing your gear.
  10. Place an upside down cardboard box over the soap and cover with a towel. If you live in a warm climate the towel may not be necessary.
  11. Let sit for 24 hours. You can then un-mold your soap and cut it. This makes about 10 bars each weighing just over 4.5 oz.
  12. Stand bars up in a dry area with an inch or so of space in between to allow for air circulation and let them sit for 4-6 weeks. This will allow the soap to complete the saponification process and also dry them out a bit so they last longer in the shower.

What essential oils do the men in your life prefer? Have you ever tried them to make a soap for men?
A simple homemade soap for men with a special blend of essential oils, coconut oil, tallow, olive oil, and castor oil for a man's skin.

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Reader Comments

  1. Hello , first wanted to say thanks for sharing this recipe! And I was just wondering where do you purchase your essential oils from?


      • Thank you 🙂 Did you have a recipe for just soap (not men’s or women’s) kid safe lol .

        • Hi Katie,

          Instead of using essential oils can you infuse the olive oil with the herbs? I know you can do this in dandelion soap. I am just wondering in the scent with carry through the process.

  2. I will add this recipe for our next batch of soapmaking. It sounds like a great soap for an old school shaving brush.

  3. I’m wanting to just make a manlier scent in lotion for my hubby without using oils that are hot to the skin…any suggestions?

  4. Hi, I am interested in making soap but I am scared of the dangers since I have three young children. If I purchase a detergent free sls free melt and pour soap base would this be a better option than store bought soap? If so I could include my children with the making of the soap!

  5. My husband and I were just discussing giving soap making a try the other day. I have to be honest with you, after reading about the lye and all that is involved, I’m thinking I’m just going to buy mine from the soap maker at the farmer’s market. 🙂

    My hat is off to you for making your own! You are amazing!

  6. Thanks for the recipe. I think ill try tonight. (My man is partial to bamboo)

  7. Making your own soaps is so much better than buying soap. The detergents in store-bought soaps are not good. I started making my own over two years ago and will not go back. It is fun and worth the handling of the lye. You should try it!

  8. Katie,

    As a busy full time working mom of 3, I don’t have time to do the awesome DIY projects you suggest but would LOVE to buy your recipes! Have you ever considered selling your own homemade projects? I love organic products but not only can I not afford to buy most of the ingredients/kitchen gadgets required for a lot of the projects, first time DIY projects usually turn my kitchen into a biology experiment gone wrong (hehe..), my 2 yr old doesn’t leave me alone and then the ingredients ($$$) go to waste when the consistency or whatever isn’t correct in the end. I’d much rather prefer to save time and $ (on ingredients) and buy already made products from you (who has everything and knows what they’re doing!)

    Any thoughts on that?

    • I’ve considered it and actually did sell a few years ago on a very small scale, but the time it takes to make, sell, then ship is not worth it to me. Family time is much more important 🙂

  9. Awesome scent blend for men! Worth mentioning to anyone new that it might not be good for sensitive skin, though, because of the cinnamon & clove. I especially like blending citrus & woody scents for my menfolk 🙂

    • Hello Lori! Do you have a recommendation for a woody-smelling essential oil that could be added?

      • Try cedarwood – smells amazing!

  10. I have a bar of soap my hubby loves! It’s made with cedarwood and sage. I bought it from a farmer’s market. I definitely want to learn to make some of those. Even just sitting in the shower, it smells so good in the bathroom!

  11. I can’t use coconut oil in my soap. What would a suitable replacement be, that provides a similar lather? Also is it possible to use the warm process instead of the cold process on a recipe? What would need changes or is it best to stick with the cold process. Thanks for your time.

  12. Wow! This should smell so nice I could almost perceive the scent right here! Lol.

    Well done Katie.

    Could you do something on homemade air fresheners please?

  13. Hi Wellness Mama,
    A few things. Just made this two nights ago and unmolded last night.
    – Why does your soap in the picture look creamy white while mine turned out a dark yellow/brown color? Was it supposed to turn out white/cream?
    – This may sound dumb, but: Are the amounts of essential oils by the fluid ounce? I’m fairly new to soap making but have made quite a few recipes of soap so far and have always been puzzled by adding essential oils. A recipe seems to always call for a huge amount of oils. This can get expensive quickly! 1.5 oz. orange essential was three of the small half ounce containers from mountain rose herbs! Did I do this correctly by going by the fluid ounce? I used all the same amounts as you except I only used 1 oz. of orange because it seemed SO excessive. The bars have a very strong scent when I unmolded. Will this dissipate as the bars cure?
    – I’m not sure if you meant to put parchment paper instead of wax paper in your recipe, but the wax was a huge pain in the rear end! I knew that i had only ever used parchment to cover my molds before, but I said ok, if Wellness Mama says to use wax, I’ll use wax! But it stuck horribly in small pieces to my soap, and the wax kind of melted into my mold so it was a big pain to even pry the wax away from the soap mold. Eek!

    THANK YOU for your help! I love your site and go to it as a major health resource…yay self-advocacy! You empower your readers by giving us research-based insights, so it makes it easy to find answers to our problems or at least spark ideas to give us a great starting place for our own research.

  14. How much soap does this make? I’m trying to cost-effectively make this DIY soap for gifts, and so far, (outside of entry costs for extra pans and spoons and stuff for the lye), I’ll spend $40 or so on ingredients alone. Fancy soap at Whole Foods runs from 2-10$ a bar, so how cost-effective does this soap run?

    • I have made this soap and sold it with some of my other soaps at a craft fair recently so I had to figure my costs up. I bought all high quality ingredients – most from mountain rose herbs, so I tried to include all costs in my configuration, including online shipping, etc. I cut one batch of this soap recipe into about 10 good sized bars, so came up with each bar costing me about $5.75. Hope this helps.

      • Yes! Thank you. Just made some and not only does it smell amazing, but Christmas gifts this year are gonna rock!! This was my first time making soap, and your post was not only clear but covered all the bases! Thanks!

    • If I shop around and buy in bulk I can make a bar that cost me about $0.44 an ounce. I try to use oils that I can buy in large quantities at Sams club, Costco or Walmart at a cheap price, like coconut, lard and olive oil. Olive oil can be pricey per ounce, you can replace part of it with a less expensive oil like canola oil to reduce cost. I avoid Shea and other expensive butters and oils. I use 5% aloe juice for extra bubbles, and about 5% almond for nourishment. I wouldn’t use more almond because it drives the price up. Putting in about 0.5% clay makes a bar better for shaving. Bees wax is expensive as well, you can leave it out. Look for a good lye calculator online and run the recipe through it before making it. I use a site called http://soapcalc.net/calc/soapcalcwp.asp The really great thing about this site is it gives you the individual oils properties of each oil, which makes it so you know what can be substituted with what. (how much bubbly, cleansing, conditioning, hardness, creamy, Iodine and INS#). It makes it so a beginner can change the oils around and still get a good soap. Also see if you can buy the Essential oils in larger quantity for less. buying 3 x .5 oz bottles of oil is going to add up. The oils in this recipe are not to expensive. Use caution with citrus since as they are known to fade. That might be why this recipe calls for so much citrus, you can look up how to fix oils in soap . Check out your local natural grocers for pricing or look online for good deals. I find whole foods to be expensive, see if there is another provider in your area. Make sure to do a background check on who you are buying from as not all oils are of the same quality. I have found NOW oils to be of good quality for a good price. Artificial fragrances can be much less expensive than some essential oils, they are worth checking out. Check out Brambelberry. There oils are at a competitive price and of good quality and they do a test batch for you so you can see how there oil behaves in soap.. Brambelberry also is one of the few sites with a cent calculator telling you how much to use. This is super nice because you can get the right amount of smell from the get go. Good luck.