Solid shampoo bars

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 45 mins

Yields: 4 bars

Learn how to make this gentle cleansing shampoo bar, which leaves your hair soft, silky and tangle-free. Suits all hair types, and this tutorial is a great introduction for those wanting to venture into making solid shampoo and conditioner bars. Also check out this hydrating solid conditioner bar!

All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature or your local soap making supplies shop.

Please note SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate) powder is very irritating if breathed in or gets in your eyes. I know it sounds like a total contradiction, since it is a very mild, non-irritating cleansing surfactant. But we work with it as a very fine, light powder, which is easily airborne, and our lungs really, really don’t like it. So make sure you wear goggles and a breathing mask (dust mask) and have your windows open!

ONE: Start by preparing all your additives. First add 1 teaspoon of citric acid to 10 ml of hot water and then stir until the citric acid has dissolved. Then add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, the orange essential oil and the mica, if you decide to add colour. Stir everything together.

The citric acid helps to soften the water, especially in areas of hard water (see blog post about hard water here). It works by reacting with the mineral ions in the water, and basically rendering them inactive.

Coco-caprylate is one of my favourite little secret additives. It is a natural alternative to silicons derived from coconut. It is a lightweight emollient, which coats and seals in moisture, making your hair smooth, tangle free and shiny. But unlike silicons, it doesn’t build up in your hair, is easily washed out and is biodegradable.

Provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, keeps your hair hydrated. The provitamin B5 turns into pantothenic acid when absorbed into the hair shaft, where it binds water and thus retains moisture inside the hair.

And the essential oil I’m using in this shampoo bar is orange essential oil, which is not only a delicious fruity fragrance, but is also full of anti-oxidants and vitamin C, is known to increase the ability of absorbing vitamin C as well, and is an excellent moisturiser with calming, soothing qualities on both skin and mind. And also who doesn’t love orange?

TWO: This part can be skipped if your sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) comes in powder form. In any case for this part and the next part, you will need to wear goggles and dust mask to avoid breathing in the powder and to prevent it getting into you eyes.

If your SCI comes in pellet form, use a bullet or food processor to grind it into a fine powder. The finer the powder, the easier it will be to work with. SCI is very difficult to melt due to its high melting point, and by using powder instead of pellets, you can significantly reduce the melting time from hours (pellets) to minutes (powder)!

The benefits of sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) is that it is a very mild and gentle (anionic) surfactant which is naturally derived from coconut and also biodegradable unlike most anionic surfactants (except soap).

Be careful to let the powder settle before opening the bullet or food processor and to tip the powder in at once from a very low height. I usually go outside to do this and let the dust settle again before going back inside. Like I said, the powder makes you sneeze!

THREE: Once you have your SCI in powder form, weigh the correct amount and then add the coco-glucoside. The coco-glucoside is also natural and derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars. It is added as a non-ionic co-surfactant, which acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent and conditioner. Basically, it helps make a nice smooth fluid paste, makes sure you have a great lather when you use it, and it conditions your hair while you clean it.

Once you’ve combined the SCI and the coco-glucoside, it’s time to melt it. You can either use the microwave or directly on your stove. If you are using the stove, use the lowest setting and keep stirring gently. You can also use a double boiler, but that will take longer. I found if I use the lowest setting on my stove, it works just as well as a double boiler!

However, I’m using the microwave here. When you use the microwave, use it in burst of 30 seconds initially and then reduce the burst to 10 seconds. Stir briskly between the bursts and always keep an eye on it in the microwave because it can boil over! When it starts rising, stop, stir, and then put it back in for 10 seconds, until you have a paste similar to the photo below.

FOUR: In another pot, add your BTMS-25, cocoa butter and Dehyquart F75. These are all conditioning agents. Melt it until liquid in the microwave or stove top, and then add it to the SCI/coco-glucoside paste.

The BTMS-25 is naturally derived from rapeseed, coconut and/or palm oil. It is a conditioner pellet made from 25% behentrimonium methosulfate and 75% cetearyl alcohol. For those following the curly girl method, behentrimonium methosulfate is a very mild, non-stripping and non-irritating conditioning agent, and not a sulfate like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium coco sulfate (SCS) and other similar harsh surfactants.

Dehyquart 75 is another conditioning ingredient, which soften and moisturise hair. It is made of distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate and cetearyl alcohol, and comes in off-white waxy flakes or pellets. The active ingredient is the distearoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate, which is a quaternary ammonium salt like the BTMS, and like BMTS-25 is not he prohibited ingredients in the Curly Girl Method. The cetearyl alcohol is a combination of cetyl and stearyl alcohols, which help stabilise the emulsion, but also give the shampoo its silky and creamy appearance and helps soften and hydrate your hair.

If you don’t have Dehyquart 75, you can add another 10 g of BTMS-25 instead. 

Cocoa butter also has excellent conditioning properties, is incredibly nourishing for your hair and leaves it soft and shiny. There’s just the right amount of cocoa butter in this shampoo, so that it will condition your hair without leaving it feel greasy and heavy.

FIVE: Mix everything to a fluid paste like in the photo. It will take a little while to stir until everything has been thoroughly incorporated into the paste.

SIX: Then add the additives that you have pre-mixed in the beaker and stir everything until it is an even colour.

SEVEN: Pour the shampoo mixture into your moulds and let them cool down and set overnight before using. I prefer to let them dry out for about a week before I shut the lid or use them, just because I find that it helps make them long-lasting that way.


This has become my personal favourite shampoo bar at the moment, because I don’t need any conditioner with it. I’ve also mixed up the essential oil blend a few times, just because I don’t like using the same thing over and over again. Lavender and mint is a nice alternative, or just plain lemongrass, which is the one I’m currently using. Feel free to experiment a little!

Solid shampoo bars

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print


  • 240 g SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate)
  • 80 g coco-glucoside
  • 40 g BTMS-25
  • 20 g cocoa butter
  • 10 g dehyquart F75 or extra 10 g BTMS-25
  • 10 ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon coco-caprylate
  • 1/2 teaspoon provitamin B5
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange mica
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 4 clamshell moulds


  1. In a small beaker, add the citric acid to the hot water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the coco-caprylate, provitamin B5, essential oil and mica, and stir until it is a slurry. Set aside.
  3. If the SCI is in pellet form, grind it up into powder using a bullet or food processor. Make sure you are wearing goggles and a dust mask, and have your windows open. DO NOT BREATHE IN THE DUST!
  4. Carefully, still wearing goggles and mask, combine the SCI and coco-glucoside and either melt in the microwave or stove top, until melted to a fluid paste. Be careful in the microwave, as it can suddenly start boiling (foaming) over.
  5. In another small jug or pot, add the BTMS-25, cocoa butter and dehyquart, and melt it until liquid.
  6. Pour it to the SCI/coco-glucoside mixture and give it a very good stir.
  7. Add the contents from the beaker (see point 1 and 2) you’ve set aside and stir everything until it has blended to a smooth paste.
  8. Lastly, pour the shampoo mixture into the moulds. You’ll need to work fast, as the mixture starts to set and thicken quickly.
  9. Leave the bars to cool down completely before unmoulding. They can be used immediately, though it’s better to let them dry for about a week before use.


  1. Pure nature haven’t had dehyquart F75 for quite some time, is there anything else I could use instead of this in a shampoo bar? Is Euxyl PE 9010 a good substitute? I like your recipe, and want to try it, but have been waiting ages for it to come back in to Pure Nature, it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere else in NZ

    • Hi Helen! Dehyquart F75 is a conditioner and detangler. You can easily leave it out, or you can replace it with the same amount of Lamesoft PO65 or extra BTMS-25. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Heidi! Yes, you can use a silicone. Coco-caprylate is a natural silicon alternative, so you can use any silicon instead.

  2. I can’t find it in my area (Argentina), so what do you suggest I substitute coco-caprylate with? Thanks for such an informative blog!!

    • Maybe replace coco caprilate with Glycerine? or Cetyl Alcohol? Or Sulfated Castor Oil?

      • Sorry for the late reply! If you don’t have coco-caprylate, you can leave it out. It is a natural silicon substitute and not necessary for the shampoo itself. The other ingredients are all different and won’t have the same effect. Glycerin is a humectant, and cetyl alcohol works as an emulsifier and conditioner. Sorry for not being of more help!

  3. Hi can I use anything else instead of coco-glucoside? The place I order stuff through doesn’t have it. Could I use a powder surfactant? Or does it have to be liquid?

    • It has to be a glucoside: coco-glucoside, decyl-glucoside, lauryl-glucoside. You can leave it out, but it doesn’t really work as well with something else I find.

  4. One more question…. the provitamin b5 you use in this recipe, is it liquid or powder form? I cant find the liquid form anywhere… so if its that then what could i use instead?

    • If it’s in powder form, check if it’s water or oil soluble and then dissolve it either in the melted oil, or in a little apple cider vinegar.

    • Yes, you can use that instead of coco glucoside. They’re not quite the same type of surfactant (CB is amphoteric and CG is anionic), but both are used as foam boosters and co-surfactants and in this recipe your fine to substitute one for the other. FYI CB is not a natural ingredient.

  5. Hi, I am really keen to try this recipe, but unfortunately the dehyquart f45 is out of stock 🙁 are there alternatives? Could I use Kumarahou extract for example?

    • Hi Rochelle! The dehyquart is a conditioning agent, and you could substitute it by adding an extra 10 g of BTMS-25. It is interesting you asked about kumerahou. Kumerahou contain contain saponins, which possess soap like qualities. It wouldn’t replace the conditioning properties of the dehyquart, but would definitely work in the shampoo bar!

      • Thanks for your reply, I have given the recipe a go twice now, and have a couple of quick questions. When I melt the SCI and coco glucoside, I get it to a point that it looks like a bit like meringue, but Im not sure if I should keep heating it. Then when I add the BTMS and cocoa butter the mix does not really to go to a paste, more like a thick batter.

        The end product has white lumps that dont colour and is firm but tacky at the same time. Am I not melting the SCI enough or could it be not mixing the BTMS in well enough?

        My other question was is it possible to rebatch the ones I made that didnt work?

      • Hi Rochelle! It does sound like you’re not heating it enough. When it’s melted sufficiently, the paste will be slightly opaque. Also make sure you melt the BTMS and cocoa butter completely so that it is fluid and hot before adding it to the SCI paste. If at any stage it does thicken, you can pop it back in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to melt it again.

        And yes, you can easily re-melt the ones you’ve made. The ingredients, apart from the essential oils are not affected by the heat, but you will have to add a bit more of the essential oils again.

        Doing a rebatch or a second melting also helps make the bar smoother, so it’s possible to omit the essential oils the first time. Let the bar harden and then cut them up the next day, re-melt and then add the essential oils before pouring them into the mould. A little bit more work, but a smoother bar in the end. Hope all this info answered your questions! 😊

  6. This looks like a great recipe. Do you happen to know if I can grind the pellet form SLSA that I purchased by mistake the same way?

    • Hi Vanessa! You can grind the SLSA the same way, but make sure you have good air circulation and are wearing a dust mask, because SLSA is extremely irritating (and not healthy) if you breathe it in. I always grind pellets up, because they’re a pain to work with. But I know others actually like the pellet look in their products, because it makes them seem more handmade. Just so you know you don’t have to grind them up to use them! 😉

  7. Can I use silicone mold instead of clamshell mold? And how long should I let it sit in the mold?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Supapit! Yes, you can use a different mould for the shampoo bars! Both silicon and plastic will work fine. 🙂

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