Soap-Nut & Oat Milk Shampoo Bar

Finding a natural cleansing source for my hair (that didn’t cost $40 a bottle) was my biggest challenge when trying to kick chemicals and ingredient names I couldn’t pronounce!

I tried the baking soda and vinegar method. Dry, cracking hair wasn’t exactly what I had in mind! And I attempted plain ole’ hot water, but a greasy head wasn’t exactly desirous either.

I discovered soap nuts and used them for a while. While I loved the gentleness of the cleaning job, it took effort! Read the story  here and discover why I gave up, though I loved their properties!

Why soap nuts failed on their own

My next attempt was shampoo bars. Too greasy, too drying, too something every time. I almost gave up.

“Slap chemical-laden shampoo in and wash it out, quick as you can,”  my mind instructed me in the seemingly lost battle.

And then? I found a hot-process recipe and re-vamped it to suit my own purpose. And it does include soap nuts!

The recipe that sparked my brain is written by Jerica, blogger of She calls herself the “green mama” and has lots of amazing ideas and recipes for natural hygiene. If looking to make changes, I highly recommend you check it out!

I tweaked her recipe, mostly because I didn’t want to buy coconut milk. One thing led to another and here is the variation that I love using on my hair (note: its not the fine kind!). In fact, I use nothing but! This one does it all!

Favorite shampoo bar

Soap Nut Shampoo Bar

Yields 22.75 oz shampoo bars

Instead of mixing lye into plain ole’ water, you will be mixing lye into the following infusions:

In one pot combine:

  • 3/4 C water
  • 1/4 C rolled oats

In another add:

  • 1/2 C marshmallow root
  • 1/4 C horsetail root
  • 4-5 soap nuts
  • 2 C water
  • note: a rough 1 Tbs hair herbs may be added (lavender, mint, calendula, rosemary, etc)

Directions: simmer oat milk for 20 minutes. Strain and measure 3.10 oz of liquid. Simmer soap nut infusion for 30 minutes. Strain and set aside 2 oz of liquid. Stir the two together.

Infusion for Shampoo Bar

Oils used here may be a stretch for you, unless you make your own soaps at home. While it will cost something to get set up, the stash will supply your soap-making needs for a long time!

Place the following ingredients in a crock pot on low heat (or high if desirous of speeding the process)

  • 0.75 oz beeswax
  • 3.0 oz castor oil
  • 1.0 oz cocoa butter
  • 5.00 oz coconut oil
  • 2.50 oz olive oil
  • 1.50 oz shea butter
  • 2.25 oz sweet almond oil
  • 1 tsp jojoba oil (or 1 extra tsp almond or olive oil will suffice)

Directions: Weigh ingredients on scale. Finely slice beeswax for quickest melting and add butters and oil. Cover crock pot with lid.

Best Shampoo Bar ever!


When liquidized, mix together infusion with lye:

  • 2.13 oz lye crystals
  • 5.11 oz liquid (this is your soap nut and oat milk liquid)

Directions: dump proper amount of lye into glass bowl or jar. Always use non-reactive utensils! Wearing long sleeves, take a glass bowl or jar outside and (always) add liquid to lye…never reverse this operation! Stir with wooden spoon (one you don’t mind having destroyed), being careful to avoid splashing, staying down-wind of steam. Should you get some of this liquid on your arm or hand, slather the area in oil or it will irritate the skin! Container will get hot! After liquid seems smooth and even, take inside.

Pull out the hand-mixer and gently pour the lye mixture into hot oils. Blend until it resembles a light pudding or gravy. When consistency is reach, set crock on proper temperature (low for me with this small batch but if doubling recipe, high may be ok). Cover crock with lid and let cook for approx 30 min.

Best shampoo bar ever!

Test when soap begins to take on a translucent color. Cool hot liquid until touchable. Rub between fingers and quickly tap soap smears on tongue. If it has a zip or “shock” to it, continue cooking. Re-test. When you taste nothing but soap, its done!

Pour into a bread pan lined with parchment paper. Cover top of bread pan with cardboard or a cutting board and insulate with towel. Let set for 24 hrs. After that, it may be cut to bars of desired size.

I leave mine on the baking rack with space between each one for circulation and to finish curing. May be used immediately, but best when left for several weeks.

To use: place bar in one hand and starting at top of head, slide bar down. Do top, sides and back of head. Set bar aside and using circular motion, rub soap into scalp. It won’t take much!

For long hair, follow above procedure, then bend forward and pull hair to one side. Take bar once again in hand and curl fingers around. With bar resting on palm, “comb” fingers through hair. You’ll get both a brushing and washing in one!

Wash your hair last! Long amounts of time spend under water will strip natural oils in this soap. Quickly rinse (until soap is removed) and hop out. If you plan to linger for 3-4 more minutes, know your hair may become a bit more snarly.