Marshmallow Root Shampoo Bar

I confess:  I have tried the no-poo, wash-your-hair-with-baking-soda-method, and it is not for me!

In fact, I kinda hate it. 🙁 If I had to pick between commercial shampoo laden with chemicals and surfactants, and baking soda and water, of course the baking soda would win.  But, when I wash with baking soda and water my hair becomes greasy, stringy, dull, and lifeless.  So, it has become obvious to me that the no-poo method is not my first choice.  Yes.  I stuck with the no-poo method for over two months.  I allowed my hair to “adjust” and do it’s “hair thing,”  but I just couldn’t quite make it work.  Same with the herbal shampoo I made.  Neither were right for my hair type. Read: THICK, wavy, grows-like-a-weed hair; so I needed to find a better solution, because I wasn’t going back on the chemical-train for nuthin’.

It was around my time of peak frustration when my sweet friend V called me from a farmer’s market in Eugene.  She said, “there is a shampoo bar here that I think you will love!  What kind do you want?”

Oh, Sweet V! She didn’t even know I was in pursuit of something else to wash my hair with.  Life is funny like that, you know?  🙂  I had her grab me a rosemary and a lavender travel size bars, and when I tested them out, I loved them instantly.

In researching shampoo bar recipes I realized that mine was not a solo fan club.  It seems shampoo bars have sort of a cult following, and that I am late to the party… as usual 🙂  I decided that DH and I could easily make some, but deciding what kind to make first was the challenge!

What we settled on was a variation of this recipe, and made a shampoo bar that is 5% super-fatted, (not too drying, not too oily),that uses high-quality, moisturizing oils and butters, coconut milk and a marshmallow root infusion.

Marshmallow root is great for hair due to it’s mucilaginous nature.  It provides some “slip” to the hair making detangling easy.  It soothes a dry and itchy scalp, stimulates hair growth, and gives hair a natural shine and softness. Coconut milk has many of the same properties and benefits for hair and compliments the marshmallow root infusion beautifully.  Coconut Oil and jojoba oil make a brilliant lather in a soap

I noticed a difference in my hair after just one use! 

We use the hot process method for soap making, and if you are new to soap making and would like a bit of help, I highly recommend you check out these books by Susan Cavitch.  In the tribe of soap makers, Cavitch is the Guru.

You will first need to gather a few tools:

  • crock pot
  • stick blender
  • digital scale
  • small glass bowls or mason jars
  • plastic spoon with long handle
  • rubber spatula
  • protective equipment: long-sleeved shirt, plastic/rubber gloves, safety glasses or protective eye gear
  • soap mold – A standard sized bread pan is perfect for this batch, cardboard boxes will also work. We used our wooden (DIY) mold which was a bit too big, so we added cardboard to the ends to make it smaller.
  • parchment paper for lining the soap mold



*Measure all ingredients on a kitchen scale*





  • 4 oz. Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)

Herbs and Essential Oils

  • 0.5 oz. dried Marshmallow Root (for the infusion)
  • 0.5 oz.–1 oz.  essential oil (optional)

To get the right amount of lye, I ran all of my ingredients through my favorite lye calculator on the Bramble Berry website.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com


1. Add marshmallow root to 4 oz. boiling water and let steep.
2. Measure all oils and butters and beeswax individually on kitchen scale and add to a hot crock pot.
3. Strain and squeeze the marshmallow root infusion and add enough extra water to equal 4 ounces again.  (The herb absorbs some of your liquid).
4. In a glass bowl, add coconut milk to the marshmallow root infusion, (you should have a total of 10 ounces of liquid), and out of doors, add your lye to the mixture.

Precaution:  Lye is caustic and dangerous.  It is the responsibility of every soap maker to be familiar with how to safely handle such chemicals.  Do your homework!  Especially if this is your first soap-makin’ rodeo.

5.  Let the lye mixture cool while stirring (with wood or plastic).
6. Add the lye/liquid mixture to the crock pot and stir
7. Blend in crock pot with stick blender until trace.  (It will look like banana pudding).
8. Cook on high in crock pot for approximately 45-1 hour, or until the mixture folds in on itself and looks a little translucent.

To test: Take a pinch from the crock pot and rub in between your fingers.  It should feel waxy.  You can also put the tip of your tongue to your sample, and if you feel a zing, like that of a 9 volt battery, it’s not finished. When it’s finished, it will taste like soap.

9. Pour it into your greased or parchment paper lined mold and allow to cool. Cut into bars.

You can use your first bar right away, but allow the others good ventilation to continue to harden.

This initial cost of this recipe was steep, but it made 14 bars plus the end pieces, and I figure that I can give a few away and still wash my family’s hair with these shampoo bars for a whole entire year!  I love knowing what is in each bar–exactly, and that we created them in our kitchen.  I am really pleased with how they make my hair look and feel, and I have got to say that this is my most favorite “soap” that we have ever made!

After washing with this shampoo bar, I use this homemade Conditioning Rinse.

Hibiscus and ACV hair rinse

**I personally don’t add essential oils to my soap because I have them in my rinse.  The frugal gal in me is horrified at having to give up a half to a whole ounce of her essential oil stash for soap making.  So, as of yet, all of my soaps have been unscented 🙂

What about you?  What does your hair care routine look like? 

Continue the conversation in the comments below, or with us on my facebook page.  

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Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that provide a small commission to me when purchases are made through that link–-at no extra cost to you. I only affiliate with companies whose products I personally use and can whole-heartedly recommend. Thank you for supporting Sustain, Create and Flow.

Shared with: Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways; Wildcrafting Wednesday, From the Farm, LHITS DIY Linky





  1. i made my first batch of shampoo soap last week. horrible. my hair was awful. i have to try this with marshmallow root. sounds like what i need. btw, i can’t justify using that much essential oils in soap either.

    • Did you do a vinegar rinse after the shampoo bar? I think that’s key. Also, if you are just coming off commercial shampoos, I’d imagine there would be an adjustment period which wouldn’t be very glamorous 😉 Try this one though. I am seriously in love with it!

    • It can take about a week for your hair to adjust because of other product build up. I use an olive oil blend and love it! I like the idea of a vinegar rinse.

  2. What a great looking recipe! I’ve been no poo for one and a half years and it works well for me, but I do miss the lather and the fragrance. I’ll have to give this a try! I’d like to welcome you to From the Farm Blog Hop. Every Friday we have a link up and this article would fit in beautifully. We get between 200 and 300 articles linked up and over 10000 views a week so you’ll get some hits! Check out tomorrow for the latest linky. Thanks!

  3. I apologize if you’ve mentioned it above but do you have the crockpot on the low or high setting? I’ve been looking for a recipe for a shampoo bar and this looks fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Wow..very simple and it looks good. Almost good enough to eat. I’m thinking I’d really like to try this.I’m visiting from the Farm Blog Hop.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. I would love for you to share and link up at my weekly TGIF Link Party if you haven’t already this week. The party is open every Thursday night and closes Wednesday’s at midnight. AND starting Wednesday June 4th I will be hosting a Wordless Wednesday link party. Hope you will join us!
    Have a wonderful week!
    Hugs, Cathy

  8. I enjoyed reading about your shampoo bars today they look wonderful! Our family has been using shampoo bars from your same recipe source for about 15 months now and love them. I just had to make a new batch and did use my hoarded essential oils of Grapefruit and Rosemary. Thanks for sharing your recipe =)

  9. Looks wonderful! I made my first batch of shampoo bar soap a few months back. I really like it, but I do miss the lather. It takes longer (obviously (: ) to apply than liquid soap, but I love knowing what’s in it! I tried a liquid soap recipe that used Bronners castile soap, but I haven’t cared for it as it leaves my hair somewhat greasy looking. Note: I mixed everything in the crock pot and almost immediately it overflowed! I was using a medium sized crock pot, not a large one. It was a terrible mess to try and clean up, so be careful! The crock pot was not full at all, but it started expanding and wouldn’t stop! Once I stirred it, it settled right back down and didn’t cause anymore problems. : ) Thanks for sharing the recipe! : )

    • I had this happen to me and it “cleaned” stripped my linoleum quite well! The temp’s were too high! They must both be @ or around 90-100degreesF when you mix them, or otherwise, VOLCANOE!

  10. How come you crossed off parts of the recipe? Did you decide it was better without it? Thanks for the info like this recipe!

  11. I have been posting more of your stuff lately and you are quickly becoming a hero in my book. thanks for the research and posting your great ideas. from another idea lady, Holly

  12. While I find your recipe admirable, I can quite understand the results received from some of your commentators. Being a professional formulator, having spent some years learning hair chemistry, I kind of cringed at the some of the ingredients. I would not recommend the recipe for hair. But I’m sure you’re an awesome soap maker. Beeswax is not an optimal emulsifier – in general, and I see it often as a choice in homemade recipes – such as creams, etc. (almost as often as I see honey as a “good preservative”). You’re already asking it to do a lot for all of the oils and marshmallow tea in your recipe. Beeswax is not good for the hair, either.

    Marshmallow is awesome for the hair. It’s also great for the skin. But there’s really a reason why professionals make products containing it. The marshmallow in your recipe used is not even an extract, or even a hydrosol, it’s a tea – and will not have any active topical properties whatsoever.

    The Marshmallow extract that I use, for example in my Marshmallow Milk & Manuka Shampoo Bar is a liquid extract, with the active properties isolated, into a vegetable glycerin base. It is then a potent LIQUID extract (though extracts also come in powders, I prefer working with the liquid).

    Then, if anyone were to formulate a homemade shampoo bar and wanted to incorporate water and oil elements together, you need a real emulsifier. The preferred emulsifiers and easiest to work with for a novice would be: emulsifying wax,or e-wax, then to harden the bar; stearic acid. Both of these are from vegetable sources, so they’re not as scary as they sound. BTMS is also an important ingredient for a good shampoo bar (yes, we are getting complicated, but a good shampoo bar is not easy!)

    Also,76 degree coconut oil has few active properties to it, as it has been through the heating process (e.g. “76” degrees) and the most important triglyceride factor – the medium fatty chain- that makes it so wonderful for hair are removed in the refining process. 76 degree coconut oil is cheaper because it “thins” coconut oil – and you get more for your money – but you’ve thrown all the great properties out the window. 76 degree coconut oil is good for soap making.

    If making your own “shampoo” or using (yikes) castile soap (which rips the acid mantle from skin and hair follicle) and you find your hair feels flat, greasy, tangly – then the pH is completely off and you’re now doing more damage than any “chemically laden” shampoo on the market.

    Lastly, though I formulate and sell a shampoo bar, I do NOT recommend shampoo bars for African Hair. African hair is already prone to breakage and requires LOTS of oils, and no alkaline. ESPECIALLY Shampoo bars made using the soap method (your recipe) that entirely alkaline.

    My educated guess would be your shampoo bar pH is about a 9-10. The ideal pH for shampoo is around 5.5 – 6. After shampooing with products out of the right pH range, the cuticle of our hair doesn’t lie down, and this can lead to abrasion between the hairs. This is a serious cause of mechanical hair damage, and once you have damage, it’s hard to repair it, even with the most intense conditioners.

    Just my input! I just don’t want to see more ladies doing damage to the hair!

    • Thanks for tearing apart this recipe. Now that you have done so, with your expert advice, can you please be so kind as to share a recipe (as this kind blogger did) made from all natural ingredients (NOT emulsifying wax) that works well? No? I didn’t think so. Somehow we survived thousands of years with products that weren’t massively processed (as is emulsifying wax) for keeping our hair clean.

      • Leona, while I understand your hostile reaction –and even I might have reacted the same way 5 years ago, it was not my intention to “tear apart” the blogger’s generous posting (and I thank her for posting the comment) the recipe. My comment was actual meant to thought provoking.

        But, hear me out, before steam comes out of your ears again 😉

        The perception has been among some is, before the evil skin care industry (more on that later), there existed the ultimate “pure” shampoo – the shampoo bar. Imaginings of bandanna clad, apron-wearing pioneer women, stirring lye over an open fire, adding infusions from mason jars and creating this wonderful shampoo bar. They had beautiful, silky, hair – and these old recipes…lost, but perhaps, could be found in a recipe book from someone’s grandmother.

        That was in no way meant to be condescending… because I thought that too! But, read on, this really might enlighten everyone, and dispel that myth.

        Before the 1800’s, in the hundreds and thousands of years you mentioned, to keep hair healthy, tonics were used, for the most part, with natural fragrances, massaged into the head. It even became a profession for some folk. Even the word shampoo – is derived from Hindi.

        Then there were no-poo like methods or a vinegar type, infusions methods, with herbs for to give hair shine; and depending on your geographic location, even milk, sea water, mud, but rinses, tonics, appear universally.

        It wasn’t until the 1930’s soap was introduced. However, soap had the distinct disadvantages of being irritating to the eyes and incompatible with hard water, which made it leave a dull-looking film on the hair. Even early emulsifiers, until modern chemistry (REALLY modern, like last 5-10 years) were actually more dangerous than the some of the massively produced, you mentioned – but we can now use emulsifiers, and thickeners that are completely natural. Those are the ones I use.

        In the early 1960s, the first synthetic detergent shampoo was introduced, although it still had some disadvantages. The 1960s brought the detergent technology we use today. There’s an excellent article I recommend on the history of shampoo if you wish to read further: – wikipedia is a good source, as well.

        I don’t know how old you are – but it’s not been that long we even had a choice to have commercially available shampoos without sulfates (with small independent skin care companies trailblazing the way, as usual), and- glad I live in the age when we don’t have to.

        I was with a famous apothecary in Florence for a few years working as an apprentice, Santa Maria in Novella. This apothecary dated back 1200’s – and that’s where I received my knowledge of botanicals. I now combine that knowledge with cosmeceuticals, which I DID have to learn.

        I began this response about the “evil empire enemy” skin care industry and some are, but, I also learned more about modern cosmetic chemistry – to differentiate between the two.

        A lot has been discovered about SLS’s, and SLES’s. Why would you trust big companies? I can even count myself among them 5 years ago. The only difference between let’s say, the general public, and myself, back then, is I could pretty much understand the INCI ingredient labels (and I urge all to do the same!)

        INCI (The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, abbreviated INCI), is a system of names usually in Latin, so it can be read internationally. Short ingredient names in English, end up written, in the Latin version, as confusing 13 syllable words. Some of these ingredients are actually wonderful, and beneficial – like, aloe: Aloe Barbadensis, which is easy enough for any of us to figure out but what about, methylsulphonylmethane? Perhaps you’ve heard of it by this name: MSM, a naturally occurring sulfur found in our own bodies – only recently rediscovered as a cosmeceutical to help grow hair.

        I am thrilled to be in an age where we have much more of a choice – than SLS’s, or SLES’s; with more coming out, nearly every month now, all naturally derived. Though the cost for these new ingredients (especially for small companies like me who have folks with scalp conditions) like decyl glucoside, lactylates, are five times more.

        I wish I could offer a shampoo recipe that is easy for the novice. Those I would recommend to try for the novice (you asked) that would resemble the purest form of what our ancestors used would be the tonic, or different infusions as after-rinses(some excellent ones I came across on this blog, yesterday), the no-poo.

        But there is a peace pipe offering… here’s something I do like to do

        Take an empty 8 ounce spray bottle, add 1/8th of your conditioner, add either spring water, or even the marshmallow tea infusion from the recipe above; shake to mix and you have an awesome light, leave in conditioner! You’ll have to shake each time you use, as there is no emulsifier. To have it last a bit longer – leave it in the fridge, it will last up to a week…but without a preservative, it will probably go bad after two weeks.

        However, if the shampoo bar recipe works for you, that’s great! If one finds they have the results I spoke of, I wouldn’t want them to permanently damage their hair, and suggest stopping its use immediately.

  13. …from Italy…. so please excuse my english … 😀
    Shampoo done and already tested… It’s certainly the best shampoo bar recipe that i ever tried…
    Thanks for sharing

  14. Please excuse my ignorance but to make the Marshmallow Root infused water. Could you tell how to make it. Is it like making tea enough to get 4 ounces of liquid

  15. Sorry about that I guess I didn’t read enough. I found how to make the infusion. Thank you I would love to try this recipe.

  16. I have two questions. Where do you get and what’s your favorite brand of essential oils?
    And could I use the crockpot “liners” for easy cleanup and such?

    • Hi Sarah, My favorite brand of essential oils is by Mountain Rose Herbs. They are a Pacific Northwest compan that takes great care to ethically source and wildcraft high quality ingredients. Their website is loaded with TONS of great herbal goodies, so be forewarned 🙂 You can check them out here: Mountain Rose Herbs Essentail Oils
      As for the crock pot liners, I wouldn’t recommend it. On the bright side, it’s a pretty easy clean-up anyway 🙂 I hope you enjoy the shampoo bars, there are great!!!

  17. Hi, I love how your recipe sounds, especially the not getting tangled part, which is just the thing I need for my 2-year-old with long hair! My foray into soap making started only recently, so excuse me if this question is going to be stupid, but I make cold process soap. Crock pots aren’t widely used where I live (Eastern Europe) and they cost insane amounts of money at the few stores that do sell them, so hot process is out of the question for me. Do you think I could use these same amounts to make cold process shampoo, or is there a difference in ratios and/ or ingredients between cold process and hot process soap? Thank you so much for your reply!

    • I have never made cold process soap because I love hot process soooooo much. I don’t want to give bad advice, so I’m sorry, I can’t help. Hopefully someone else will read this and chime in…

    • You can definitely use the same recipe for a cold processed soap. Just remember that the bars will not be useable until the cure time is completed as the saponification process has not taken place yet. Both processes use the same recipes they just come out slightly differently in the end. Usually it is the texture if the soap that is different. Many people call hot process more rustic looking.

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  19. A few questions – i have fine stringy, greasy hair. No-poo was a no-go for me also. I use a natural-ish shampoo, and I am running a super small natural company and I am looking for products to expand. I was thinking about trying out these bars. Where do you get your lye from? How many washes do these bars last? I have MOST of the ingredients you listed already, but do you have an idea how much the cost for all the bars was? I wouldn’t mind making soap once or twice a year, or even frequently, if I can turn a profit from it…..if it is affordable enough for me to make and last a while, and charge a reasonable price for people to order it… :-\

    • I got my lye from the hardware store. It is marketed as “crystal drain opener” or something of that nature. I am not sure about the washes or the cost to make. I wasn’t paying attention to that at the time. I do remember the bar didn’t last as long as a normal bar of soap though. Sorry I can’t be more helpful! Best of luck in your business 🙂

  20. I’ve heard great things about marshmallow root for the hair. I haven’t tried it myself but I definitely love my shampoo bars. My favorite is honey hemp and green tea. I’m not crafty enough to make them myself but I can always find a good deal online! 🙂

  21. Hello! I am super excited to try out this recipe! I have a question though 🙂 My soap mold is for 3 lbs. Do you happen to know the percentages you used for this as opposed to the oz? I can use the Lye calc to make a 3 lb batch but only if I knew the percentages. Or do you happen to know how many lbs this recipe makes?

    Thank you so much and I can wait to make this!

  22. I was wondering how important you think the distribution of the different oils is? For instance, can I use more almond and less jojoba? You’re right about the large upfront cost, but I thought this would be a great use for all the oils that have piled up in my medicine cabinet. Thanks!!

    • Any change in the recipe will have to be ran through a lye calculator, but by all means, make this recipe your own! Each oil has a different property and provides different results, but I am a firm believer in making do with what you have. Just recalculate it to make sure you’re safe and saponified 🙂 Brambleberry has a good calc on their site…

  23. You really don’t need to cook this in a crock pot for an hour unless you want to use it right away. Just mix it to trace and pour it into a mold(s). The last time I cooked a bar soap recipe it didn’t set up. Not wasting the oils and the effort on doing it that way again.

Speak your mind! But, be kind :)