Bath, Body, and Beyond: DIY Bath Products from the Homestead

Jenny Flores
13 Min Read

I love the hard, dirty work that goes along with homesteading but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the fancy, scented soaps and lotions at the store.  I do… I just don’t want to pay what they’re asking for a product that is loaded with chemicals.  Luckily, DIY bath products are very easy to make.

Natural, homemade bath products are good for everyone but especially important to those with sensitive skin, allergies, or asthma.  You can customize your DIY bath products based on the needs of your family.  Once you learn how to make your own bath and body products, you will never want to buy them at the store again.  Instead of spending money on these products, you will want to make money by selling them—and you can.  They are extremely popular at local craft shows and farmers’ markets.

If you are going to make your own bath and body products it is a good idea to buy supplies that are only used for this purpose. Although these are natural ingredients, you still don’t want your soap-making supplies mixed in with your food-prep supplies.  To save money, buy your materials in bulk. You can source all of these materials online at specialty sites or places like Amazon.

There are two techniques to know before creating your homemade bath products.  The first is herbal tea and the second is herbal oil. Herbal tea for bath items is quick and easy.  Simply place 1/2 cup of dried plant material in a jar.  Bring 1 cup distilled water to a boil and pour over the plant material.  Put the lid on your jar and let sit 20 minutes to an hour.  Strain the tea through a strainer or cheesecloth until most of the plant material has been removed.  Use immediately in DIY bath products.

Herbal oils take a bit more time but they are also very easy to make.  Fill a glass jar with herbs almost to the top, leaving a 2-inch headspace.  Do not pack the jar tight.  Pour the oil of your choice over the herbs, covering completely.  Leave 1/2-inch headspace.  Press the herbs down with a chopstick, making sure all of the plant material is submerged and that there are no air pockets.  Tighten the lid on the jar and place the jar in a sunny window.  Shake the jar every day for two weeks.  Strain the finished oil through a cheesecloth until most of the plant material has been removed.  This oil can be used as-is after a shower or on dry skin as a moisturizer.  It can also replace the oil called for in any bath product recipe.

Shampoo is one of the simplest homemade bath products to make.  You can reuse commercial shampoo bottles that you have washed out.  If your hair is dry, add a teaspoon of olive oil to the following mix.

To make herbal shampoo, combine 1/2 cup liquid Castile soap, 1/2 cup herbal tea, 1 tablespoon glycerin, and 30 drops of your favorite essential oil in a large bowl.  Stir them together and pour into an empty shampoo bottle.  When using the shampoo, shake the bottle before applying.

Bath salts are everywhere, from specialty shops to Pinterest.  Many of the DIY salt recipes are simply Epsom salt and essential oil.  This is fine, but to make a luxurious bath salt either for yourself or a gift, let’s take it up a notch.  The first thing to know is there is not just one type of salt, and the salt you choose can make all the difference.

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The “salt” we are most familiar with for making bath salts is Epsom salt.  You may be surprised to learn that Epsom salt is not really a salt, but a chemical compound that contains magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.  It is very cleansing and drying and contains anti-inflammatory properties.  It is also very inexpensive, making it an economical choice.  If you are using a more expensive salt, feel free to cut it with some Epsom salt.

Sea salt is another popular salt to use in DIY bath products.  Because it is abrasive, drying, and drawing, it is a good choice for hand and foot soaks and body scrubs.  Look for unprocessed sea salt for maximum therapeutic benefit.

If you want to wow the recipient of your salts, consider using pink salt or black lava salt.  Pink salt has a high iron content and a high concentration of different minerals.  Pink salt is perfect for treating psoriasis, eczema, and rashes.  Black salt has been mixed with activated charcoal and is a detoxifying salt.  It can turn the bathwater gray, but the striking color of the salt more than makes up for it.

Another ingredient you don’t often find in bath salts is clay.  Clay is filled with nourishing nutrients that draw and firm the skin, reducing wrinkles and tightening pores.  These qualities make it a perfect addition to bath salts.  There are many types of clay, but kaolin clay is the least drying and is good for all skin types.

To make your own bath salts combine 2 cups salt, 1 cup dried herbs, 1/2 cup kaolin clay in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add 25 drops of essential oil and mix again.  Pour the salt into jars or plastic bags.  Seal and label.

Herbal bath teas are another simple and inexpensive product to make for yourself or friends.  You can add this product directly to the bath but that will leave a mess.  I like to package them in muslin bags that can be added to the tub with zero mess.

Put 1/3 cup of dried herbs in the muslin bag.  Add 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, powdered milk, or cornstarch.  These bath tea bags have a long shelf life, so make a bunch and store in a cool, dry place.  A box of bath tea bags is a great gift and is always a big seller at craft fairs.

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Sugar scrubs and body butters are two popular—and expensive—bath products.  These are also very simple to make at home. Sugar scrubs are excellent for exfoliating rough patches on knees, elbows, and feet.  Body butters are thicker than lotion and contain less water.  This means it takes slightly longer for body butter to soak into your skin, but it is extra moisturizing for extremely dry skin.  To make your own sugar scrub, combine 1 cup white or brown granulated sugar with 1/2 cup herbal oil.  Add 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil and 1/2 teaspoon of Vitamin E oil.  Use a tablespoon or so in the shower.

Body butter can be made by combining 1/2 cup shea butter, 1/2 cup cocoa butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil, and 1/2 cup herbal oil in a double boiler.  Bring to medium heat and stir until all ingredients are melted.  Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and add 20-30 drops of essential oil.  Let this mixture cool in the refrigerator for an hour.  Once cool, whip mixture for 10 minutes with a hand mixer.  Let your whipped body butter cool in the refrigerator until set, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a jar with a lid.

Lotion is another DIY bath product you can make at home.  It is possible to make any style of lotion but I prefer lotion bars, both for storage ease and they eliminate the need to purchase bottles.  You will need a kitchen scale for this recipe and for the soap recipe that follows.  You can buy soap-making molds or use muffin tins, cookie cutters on waxed paper, or bread pans.

For your lotion bars combine 1 part cocoa butter, 1 part herbal oil, and 1 part beeswax, by weight, in a heavy-bottomed pan. Heat this mixture gently, stirring constantly, until the ingredients have melted.   Remove from heat and add essential oil (10 drops per 12 ounces) and Vitamin E (1 teaspoon per 12 ounces).  Pour into molds and let cool completely.

The only oil in Coconut Oil Soap is coconut oil which makes a good lather and has a long shelf life.  Take all the necessary precautions when using lye in your homemade bath products as it is caustic and will burn the skin and eyes.  Rubber gloves and safety glasses are recommended.

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Coconut Oil Soap

This recipe makes 3 pounds of soap.


  • 33 ounces coconut oil
  • 4.8 ounces lye
  • 9.6 ounces distilled water
  • 1.5 ounces essential oil


  • Pitcher
  • Mason jar
  • Kitchen scale
  • Heavy cooking pot
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Stick/immersion blender
  • Soap molds

Step One: Make the Lye Solution

Place a pitcher on the kitchen scale and zero-out the weight.  Add 9.6 ounces of distilled water.  Remove the pitcher from the scale.

Place a Mason jar on the scale and zero-out the weight.  Add 4.8 ounces of lye.

Slowly add the lye to the water.  Do not pour the water into the lye.  Gently stir until the lye has dissolved.  Put the lid on the jar and set aside in a safe place.

Step Two: Prepare the Oil

Put your soap pot on the kitchen scale and zero-out the weight.  Add 33 ounces of coconut oil.  Slowly heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat when it reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit but continue stirring until the oil is completely liquified.

Step Three: Combine Ingredients

Have your essential oil ready, as well as your stick blender.

Let the coconut oil cool to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Slowly add the lye mixture to the pot of coconut oil.  Using the stick blender as a spoon, but not yet turning it on, blend the lye and oil.

Turn the stick blender on in short bursts, manually stirring in between bursts.  Repeat until the mixture is thoroughly combined and approaching trace.  To test trace, dip a spoon in the mixture and let it dribble back into the pot.  If it leaves a coating (or “trace”) on the spoon, it is ready.

Add the essential oil and stir manually to thoroughly incorporate.

Pour the soap into your molds.  Pick the mold up and gently tap on your countertop to remove any air bubbles.  Let your soap sit, undisturbed, for 12-18 hours.  If your house is cool, cover with a clean towel while they are curing.

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This is a great year to learn how to make your own bath and body products. Homemade bath products are less expensive, you have more control over the ingredients, and you can customize your products based on the specific needs of your family.

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