How to Make Kajal (Surma) at Home| Kan-Mai Preparation

Any makeup for women will be incomplete without applying eyeliner. We call this traditional eyeliner kohl/kajal/ kan-mai. Though I am not a person who loves makeup, I love to apply eye kohl. In fact most of the time, it will be my only makeup. Making kohl/kajal at home has been done for centuries in India and I am sure most Indian women would have seen or at least heard of homemade kohl/kajal.

This homemade kajal made with castor oil, really keeps the eyes cool and bright. If you are a person who are allergic to chemical based kajals, then please try this homemade kajal. Homemade kajal can be made with either clarified butter or castor oil as a base. I chose castor oil, as it has a very cooling effect on the eyes and I used clarified butter to mix the soot. You can try with both and choose the one that you prefer.

The quality of the kajal depends on the quality of the oil you are using, so try to best quality castor oil you can get. To make this homemade kajal, fill a small lamp with castor oil and light it up and place it between two bricks. I used a small diya, but you can use any lamp that you prefer. Place a clean plate on top of the bricks in such a way that end of the flame touches the plate.

Traditionally a silver plate was used, but you can use a copper or an ever silver plate too. Use a very thick wick for burning the diya, as it needs to burning for at least 40 to 50 minutes to get the soot. After enough soot has been collected, carefully remove the plate with a help of a cloth, as it will be very hot to touch.

Let it cool completely, then scrape the soot that has been collected with the help of a knife into a clean cup. Now add required amount of ghee/clarified butter to make it into a thick paste. Please make your own ghee/clarified butter, as most of the store bought ghee has got additives. Mix it with your hands to make it into a paste and fill it into a small airtight container and your kohl/kajal is ready!

How to Make Kajal (Surma) at Home

1. Take a small diya and fill it with good quality castor oil and light it.

2. Place it in the middle of two bricks. You can use two big boxes of same height, if you don’t have bricks.

3. Take a thick plate and place it over the bricks. Make sure the end of the flame touches the plate.
After 40 to 50 minutes, enough soot would have collected. Carefully remove the plate and let it cool.

5. This is how the soot looks like.

6.Scrape the soot onto a plat or a bowl with the help of a knife.

5. Mix with enough clarified butter to make it into a smooth paste with your hands. Transfer the paste to a small airtight box.


  • Using clarified butter or castor oil is your choice.
  • You have to wait patiently for at least 40 to 50 minutes for the soot to collect.
  • Since we are using it for our eyes, make sure to wash the plate and knife thoroughly before making kohl/kajal.
  • Use only homemade clarified butter/ ghee to mix the soot.
  • When you are mixing, you hands and nails do get black. But if you wash your hands twice with soap it will go away.
  • Use an eyeliner brush to apply the kajal on your eyes.


    February 15, 2014 / 4:46 am

    Awesome stuff Ramya- You are just too good..sharing this & plan to make it soon as well..

  2. AGwalior
    February 15, 2014 / 5:06 am

    it's really good for everyone to how to make natural cazal.

  3. annam senthil
    July 23, 2014 / 7:53 am

    Super Ramya! My Mom used to do in the same method, but she used to make wick dipped in Karisilankanni extract and sun dried.

  4. Anonymous
    September 23, 2014 / 12:34 am

    Can I use castor oil to mix instead of ghee:

  5. Ramya Venkateshwaran
    September 24, 2014 / 11:54 am

    Yes, you can use castor oil….

    • Abinaya Narayanan
      July 9, 2015 / 5:08 am

      i couldnt get which soot we need to take ? you mean the one which is on plate??? Please tel me

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      July 10, 2015 / 4:00 pm

      Yes, the one that has been accumulated on the plate….

    • Maria Papadrosos
      May 23, 2017 / 5:58 am

      I would love to see this made in a youtube video if you can make one, thanks!

  6. Anonymous
    March 28, 2015 / 12:30 pm

    i hv heard that home made kajals spread easily.. is it true?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      March 29, 2015 / 5:19 pm

      Yes, homemade kajal smudges…..

  7. abhitanu
    June 13, 2015 / 10:49 pm

    Super explanation with pictures. Thanks a ton. I am planning to make it this week…

  8. Gitanjali Roy
    February 28, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    I have made this kajal as explained by you and using it….the castor oil made my lashes thicker and the whites of my eyes looks clear and whiter…(dont know if its for the kajal)…previously it used to be red (I work long hours in front of the computer). I apply this at bedtime but I would have loved it had a tinge of blackness remained next morning too…which doesn't. But it does not matter…I have stopped using commercial kajal after trying this.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      March 16, 2016 / 5:27 am

      Dear Gitanjali, I am so glad that you like this homemade kajal…

  9. Divya Nila
    April 1, 2016 / 2:28 am

    Hi it is so wonderful to see this post. I also want to try this.mam can u please tell what is the shelf life of this product?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      May 25, 2016 / 2:34 am

      Thank you Divya :). This homemade kajal lasts for months together without any problems….

  10. Anonymous
    June 20, 2016 / 10:35 am

    hi priya can u please suggest a method for making a paste that is used as bindi for babies

  11. Poornima Athreya
    December 18, 2016 / 12:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful traditional kohl method. the conch shell container is lovely. where can it be bought?

    • Anonymous
      March 9, 2018 / 5:38 pm

      i would also like to know where do u get such beautiful containers from? did you use steel plate to make the kajal? i want to use silver plate but afraid that it will get damaged. Ramya please clarify. thanks.

  12. Anonymous
    December 4, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    hey, I have a request, could you please share and true and tried method to make henna/mhendi , I am looking for a super blen that is a guarantee dye as my skin does not usually absorb well.than you

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