DIY Eco Friendly Shampoo Bars

By Sarah Fingarson

While it sounds too good to be true, these eco-friendly 2 in 1 shampoo conditioner bars will leave your hair feeling fresh and so clean while also reducing the use of plastic on your boat! Below you can learn the complete 'how-to' on making your very own bars aboard.

DIY eco friendly soap bars

Why go with the bar method?

Going plastic-free isn’t exactly easy on a boat. Luckily for us, this shampoo bar recipe is suitable for all hair types and will leave your hair feeling moisturized while simultaneously reducing your plastic consumption and saving precious boat space.

These DIY shampoo bars are more concentrated than traditional shampoos and conditioners so you can use less per application and they last much longer. As most boat owners can appreciate, these bars are multi-functional and can be used as hand soap, body wash, shaving cream, or bathing your pet in a pinch!

Before we begin, let's review facts on fats

Shampoo bar recipes will display super fat content in their recipe — it's helpful to know what amount is best for you and your hair. To put it simply, super fat is the leftover oil in a batch of shampoo after it cures and is often presented as a percent.

Some hair textures prefer higher super fat content, while others require lower levels.

Dry, brittle, or frizzy hair will benefit from higher super fat content, say 15-20%. The oils will condition and moisturize. Oily or extra-fine hair will benefit from a slightly lower super fact content, closer to 2%. Average or straight hair benefits from 5% super fat.

Shampoo bars are made through a simple chemical process called saponification—the same process used to make a bar of soap. Don't let this fancy word prevent you from reading on, these bars are easy to whip up using common ingredients and galley tools.

What is saponification?

Saponification is the chemical reaction that occurs when fat or oil is combined with lye, ultimately creating shampoo. It's what establishes the cleansing, lather, and moisturizing abilities we know and love in shampoo. It's then left to cure for about a month.

TIP: It's best to measure your ingredients beforehand and have them readily available, as some of the steps in shampoo bar-making must be carried out in quick succession. Before beginning make sure your space is well ventilated and stable. This recipe should be made whilst moored at the dock or in a very calm anchorage- this is not one for the open seas!

2 in 1 Eco-Friendly Shampoo Bar Recipe


9 oz (255gm) coconut oil

9 oz (255gm) olive oil

6 oz (170gm) castor oil

5 oz (140gm) cocoa butter

4 oz (113gm) almond oil

1 oz (28gm) shea butter

1 oz (28gm) beeswax

13 oz (368gm) filtered water

4.6 oz (130gm) lye

1 oz (28gm) essential oil of choice


An immersion blender (stick blender)


Quick read thermometer

2 or 3 quart/L heat resistant plastic or pyrex pitcher with lid

8 to 12 quart/L mixing pot

Silicone spatula

Wood mixing spoon

Bread pan or wooden soap mold

Pouring homemade shampoo bar


Lye must always be used with caution as it gives off a gas from the chemical reaction when added to water (for approx. 3 minutes), and it can burn the skin if it comes in contact. If a drop splashes on the skin you will feel an itch and burn after a minute. Wash it off with soap if it happens. Latex gloves are encouraged.

Mix lye solution in a durable and safe container with a lid. The container needs to be heavy, heat-resistant plastic or glass. I don't recommend mixing lye solution in a metal container because the solution gets incredibly hot. For this recipe, a recycled extra thick glass juice jar was used and holes were poked into the lid for easy pouring and ventilation.


  1. Measure and combine coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, almond oil, shea butter, and beeswax in a stainless steel bowl.

  2. Weigh the water in a heat-safe container and weigh the lye separately. Pour the lye crystals into the water and stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Allow to cool to 100F/37C or as close as you can get it within 5F/15C.

  3. Pour into 8 to 12 quart/L mixing pot the oils from the stainless steel container and melt over low heat. Allow the concoction to cool to 100F/37C. If oils or lye water are not cooling at the same rate, use a cold water bath in the sink.

  4. When both lye water and oils are at the correct temperature, carefully pour the lye water into the pot.

  5. Use an immersion blender to mix the shampoo bar mixture. After a few minutes, it will grow creamy, and start to thicken. Mix until it has reached "trace," the light pudding consistency.

  6. Add the essential oil of your choice and blend again to incorporate.

  7. Pour into mold. Swaddle the mold tightly in a towel and allow it to cure for 24 hours in a humidity-free environment.

  8. After 24 hours, remove the shampoo from the mold and slice it into bars. Let the bars cure in an area with no sunlight for 4-6 weeks. It's best to place them on a metal baking tray for optimal airflow under and over the bars.

TIP: Bars are okay to use after 24 hours but more time to cure is best.

Yields 10 x 4oz (115g) Bars

Get creative with different kinds of molds, textures, and fragrances.

This is your experiment to adjust and enjoy!

Sarah Fingarson

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she began sailing during college and has been on the water ever since. She's an advocate for the environment, an artist, scuba diver, free diver, and a nomadic sailor. In 2020, she quit her job as a learning and development consultant, sold everything, and bought a racing boat to fulfill her dream of living an intentional life while being connected to nature. She is a scrappy creator of many things, a lifestyle photographer, and a visual storyteller; one who openly shares her experience sailing the Pacific Ocean and raising her adorable red golden retriever. Her goal is to sail to the Caribbean islands and document her time on the open sea, a story she hopes will inspire others to dig deeper and find ways to connect to their life passions.

Follow along with Sarah's adventures and her gorgeous photographs


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