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Soap making business in Malawi is one of the good businesses ideas to start in Malawi. Too good is the fact that making soap at home does not demand technical skills. Unless you want to venture into large-scale business, soap making does not need to buy expensive materials.  You can make soaps using materials found in the kitchen. This tutorial is a step by step guide on how to make soap at home.

Why soap making?

Making soap is easy task which is both interesting and profitable. Soap making is a business that requires less capital to start. Materials used to make soap can easily be found and they are affordable.

The chemicals used in making soap are caustic which means they can burn the skin. As such handle equipment and chemicals with care. Read safety rules before attempting to make your first soap. This tutorial provides details on how to make your own bar soap at home.

Soap making business is lucrative because there is always demand for the product. Regardless of the season, come rain come sunshine people will always want soaps for bathing, washing, and cleaning. As you know many people cannot do without soaps, even for a day.

Read: What Small Business to Start in Malawi

How is soap formed?

Soap is made by combining three major ingredients. The main components of a soap are distilled water, lye (base), and vegetable oils or animal fat. The type of oil determines the characteristics of the soap formed.   Some oils make hard soap while others makes soft soaps but more lather.  It is possible to make soaps with moderate hardness that forms more lather (foam) by proper combination of oils.

Safety rules

  • Wear safety gloves and goggles when making soap
  • Make soap outside the house. Soap reactions produces strong fumes
  • Lye is a caustic chemical
  • Use water to neutralize contaminated skin


  1. Lye (Sodium hydroxide or Potassium Hydroxide)

-NAOH makes hard bar soap

-KOH makes soft. Hardened by add common salt

  1. Oils from vegetables or animal fat (Lard and Tallow)
  2. Fragrance
  3. Colors
  4. Thermometer (resistant to high temperatures up to 120 )
  5. Pots (steel metals, aluminum should not be used)
  6. Stick blender
  7. Vinegar
  8. Distilled water (rain water) tap water
  9. Molds
  10. Cutter/knife
  11. Packages
  12. Stirring stick
  13. Essential oil
  14. Scale (kitchen scale)
soap making business in Malawi good business in Malawi

Digital scale, gloves, and cooking oil


Being able to make soap recipe is one of the most important thing for soap makers. The ability to make own recipes gives the freedom to make soaps with customized qualities. If you cannot design a recipe then you can buy some formulas.  In the next few words I explain how you can you can decide the amount of each ingredients to use. The main ingredients in soap recipes are lye, oils and water. Optionally you can add, perfumes, fragrances, and colors to make your bar soap more attractive. Basic mathematical skills are required to successfully make soap recipe.

Calculating amount of Lye

Lye is pure sodium hydroxide which is a base used in soap making. Multiply SAP values with the mass of lye (e.g. .136 x 24 = 3.6 ounces of lye). Every type of oil has a specific saponification (SAP) value.

Weighing (Lye, oils and fragrance)

In soap making all measurements must be correct. Inaccurate weighing may result into making the bars soaps to either be too hard or too soft.   Weigh all ingredients in grams for accuracy. Do not measure the amounts in Volume even the volume of water.

Read: How to Register a Business in Malawi

 Superfat your recipe

To superfat soap a recipe is to reduce the amount of lye to make the soap soft and less harsh. Many experienced soap makers superfat by (5 -10%), but 8% is common.

Calculate amount of water needed

As pointed out already measurements including the amount of water has to be in grams. In order to find the amount of water to be used in the recipes multiply the amount of lye in grams by 2.5.  For instance if 6.5 grams lye will be used amount of water will to use will be equal to 2.5 x 6.5 (16.25g)

Soap making business in malawi

A sample Soap Bar

Soap making Procedures

  • Pour distilled water in a bowl
  • Put on rubber gloves and goggles
  • Slowly pour lye crystals into water (while stirring with a spoon or stick)
  • Allow lye water to cool to 100(solution become clear)
  • Mix the oils (solid oils be melted by using double boiler to melt them but do not burn)
  • Slowly pour mixed oils in the bowl with lye water.
  • Start stirring with stick or stick blender
  • Continue to stir in one direction until you reach TRACE
  • Add essentials oils, fragrance,  and (Common salt to harden KOH soap)
  • Pour soap into molds (line it with paper/oil the surfaces)
  • Cover the mixture with wool
  • Leave it for 12 – 24 hours to solidify
  • Cut them into pieces
  • Let the soap air dry for 4 – 6 weeks

Read: Why is Malawi Poor


The table below shows saponification values for different types of oils and specific characteristics of bars which will be formed. To have a good soap you may need to mix more than one type of oil. However, for practice you can work with a single type of oil.

OILSAPSoap Characteristics
Sunflower.136Lathering and conditioning
Soybean.136Lathering, conditioning
Olive.135Lathering, conditioning
Corn.136Lathering, conditioning
Sesame.133Lathering, conditioning
Coconut.191Hardening, lathering
Palm.142Hardening and lathering
soap making business in malawi

Sample Soap Bars I made

After following the steps in this tutorial you will be able to start making quality bar soaps. Making perfect soap requires more practice and patience.

If you’ve any questions related to soap making business in Malawi  let me know in the comment section or through email.


  1. Ibrahim assan
    • Chimwemwe Nuka
  2. Chifundo Namitepa
    • Chimwemwe Nuka
  3. Fortune kwacha
  4. Andrew
  5. alinafe Nyirenda
  6. Mel
  7. Emmanuel
  8. Salomy
  9. Nisha
  10. Frank
  11. Jonathan
  12. Dennis
  13. Savita
  14. Spax
  15. simion kabango
  16. foster mutale
  17. Martha
  18. Rodgers
  19. Snogger
  20. Miriam jonga
  21. Lester Carsten
  22. Martin
  23. Mada
  24. Aaron Chibalo
  25. Christopher Chikadza
  26. Allan Kalima
  27. Yougoh
  28. Eliza
  29. Lazarous Peter Maluwa

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