Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Skip to content


Palm oil soap production

Step-by-step instructions for making soap from palm oil

2005 Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish

Woman holds bar of blue soap in the palm of her hand and holds blue bucket.

A woman holds soap and a jug of water for handwashing outside Abalac Primary School, in Obalanga parish, Uganda. Photo: Todd Weller/Tearfund

Resource icon

From: Sustainable healthcare – Footsteps 37

Working together to establish health priorities and improve local healthcare provision

I read issue 26 and was very interested in the subject of self-financing projects. In my work as a community health nurse I visit many homes. One successful example of a self-financing project I have observed is soap-making. Here is the method they use:

  • Soap-making uses dangerous chemicals. First keep children away and protect your hands with rubber gloves or plastic bags.
  • Weigh 1.5kg of caustic soda. Measure 4 litres of cold water and pour into a large plastic or wooden bowl. Pour the soda into the water very carefully and allow it to dissolve and cool. (Be very careful. This mixture can burn the skin – wash off immediately. Avoid breathing the fumes.)
  • Pour 16 litres of palm oil into a pan (22 measures using a standard 720ml bottle) and heat until the oil changes colour from red to yellow or white and then allow to cool.
  • Pour the oil very carefully into the caustic soda solution, always stirring in the same direction to avoid splashes, until a thick blue paste forms.
  • Pour the paste into a wooden frame (100cm x 65cm x 3cm in height) lined with cloth on a level surface.
  • Level off the soap and allow it to harden before cutting into bars (wire is useful).
  • Allow to harden for seven days before handling and using.

Similarly Tagged Content

Share this resource

If you found this resource useful, please share it with others so they can benefit too.

Subscribe to Footsteps magazine

A free digital and print magazine for community development workers. Covering a diverse range of topics, it is published three times a year.

Sign up now - Subscribe to Footsteps magazine

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.