A double boiler is handy to use in the home kitchen for gently melting personal care ingredients over indirect heat. Instead of doing the job directly over the burner, and thereby exposing important ingredients to scorching, the double boiler method is gentle on the ingredients that you will be using on your skin.

Double boilers can be purchased commercially but they are simple to assemble at home with two common household items.


A double boiler, in essence is a small pot of simmering water with a bowl that sits atop without actually touching the simmering water. The indirect heat is used to melt oils, butters, soap bases, and other ingredients. It is important that double boilers be used over very low heat.

How to Assemble a Double Boiler

  1. Bring a small pan holding a couple of inches of water to a simmer over very low heat.
  2. Carefully place a heat-proof (glass or stainless steel) bowl so that it sits just inside the pot but does not sit so low as to touch the simmering water. At least an inch of space between the water and the bottom of the bowl is ideal.

How to Use a Double Boiler

  1. To use the double boiler, simply add the ingredients to the bowl that require melting, simmering, or mixing. Mix the ingredients occasionally throughout the melting period and  remove the bowl from the heat as soon as the ingredients are melted.
  2. To remove the bowl from the heat, either carefully remove the bowl from the simmering pot and set it aside or remove the pan and bowl all together just before all ingredients are completely melted. The residual heat will finish the job.

Safety Precautions When Using a Double Boiler

The bowl sitting inside the pot will be extremely hot. It is best not to handle it right after the heat has been turned off, as steam will escape and can cause burns. Instead, remove the pan and bowl from the heat for a couple of minutes.  Using hot pads, carefully remove the bowl from the pot.