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.


    • This will work perfectly in hard water, because it contains a surfactant (Sodium cocoyl isethionate) and not soap, and natural foam boosters (glucoside).

  1. Hi Jackie – I have just made my first batch of solid shampoo bars following your recipe. It all seemed to go pretty well until the final step when I added the BTMS / Cocoa Butter mix to the SCI paste. My mix went lumpy like lumpy mashed potato despite lots of stirring and further quick blasts in the microwave. It also did not flow into the mould (had to kinda spoon it out and it ended up a bit of a mess). I am wondering if my SCI paste was not fluid enough before I added in the BTMS mix. My SCI paste was a soft fluffy powdery paste but by not means a fluid. Should the SCI paste be kept in the double boiler and kept runny until the BTMS mix is added? Thanks. Jody.

    • In my shampoo classes, where I don’t have as many pots and jugs to use, I get the students to melt the oils, butters and BTMS first, and then add the SCI and glucoside to it. It seems to me that it is actually a better way to keep the paste more fluid, so maybe give that a try.

  2. HI Jackie, I read that the recommended SCI usage on my supplier’s ingredient note that “The recommended maximum dosage is 3%-20%”. Elsewhere I read the percent is up to 53%. This formulation is using 240g. Should I be concerned? Any suggestion how to lower the SCI percentage? I just made them (4 pieces) yesterday.

    • Hi Nicole! These are the usage rates for liquid shampoo. Solid shampoo bars are formulated differently and are also used in much lesser amounts than liquid shampoo. Hope this helps clarify! It’s so annoying that supplier’s they don’t adjust their usage rates to include solid shampoo bars. In any case, you shouldn’t be concerned. SCI is currently the mildest surfactant available, so you can safely use it as suggested in the recipe.

      • i see. Thanks.

        Btw, my weather here is hot and humid, i find the soap a little soft after the first use. can we substitute the 10ml with thickener cetyl alcohol to make it harder?

  3. Hi Jackie,

    Can I use regular/soap silicon molds for this or clamshell molds have some important task?

  4. Hi Jackie,

    I haven’t been able to source Dehyquart 50 in Sydney. My local soap supplier has suggested the following , can you confirm if any of the following would make good substitutes please? Many thanks
    Guar hydroxypropyl Trimonium Chloride
    Behentrimonium Chloride
    Cetrimonium Chloride.
    Cetearyl Alcohol
    Quaternium 80
    polyquaternium 7


    • Hi Katie! You can use a combination of Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride and cetearyl alcohol instead. Or you can simply increase the amount of BTMS-25. These are all natural and mild options. The other options you gave are synthetic and not natural, but would also work. Hope this helps!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing, if I wanted to use some SCI noodles as well, should I just put half powder and half noodles in? Thank you

    • Yes, you can use noodles and half is about the maximum I would use, otherwise it can get crumbly. Hope this helps!

  6. Hi, thanks for sharing these usefull recipes ❤️
    can i add aloe vera gel to it? If yes, what quantity and do i need to change any other ingredients and quantities?
    And also i cant get dehyquart F75 in my area, can i leave it out? Or i have to Replace it with something else?
    Thank you xxx

    • Hi Rasa! Yes, you can add aloe vera gel to it at a usage rate of maximum 5%. Too much and you’ll risk a soft bar. If you can’t get dehyquart F75, you can either leave it out, or replace it with the same amount of BTMS-25. Hope this helps!

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