Aleppo Soap Recipe
Aleppo Soap is an ancient Syrian soap recipe made from just olive oil, laurel berry fruit oil, water and lye.
It’s reported to be beneficial for those with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and rashes.
For more information about the rich history of Aleppo soap, check out this article from Montreal Gazette.
True Aleppo soap is an artisan treasure that grows increasingly difficult to source. This soap recipe is inspired by, but is not meant to exactly duplicate, true Aleppo soap handmade in Syria.
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The star ingredient in Aleppo soap is laurel berry fruit oil. (Read more about it and its potential benefits HERE and HERE.)
Laurel berry fruit oil should NOT be confused with bay laurel (or laurel leaf) essential oil. They’re from the same plant, but are two completely different things.
It’s tough to find laurel berry fruit oil and what can be found is on the expensive side, but after a lot of searching, I bought some that I really liked from Amazon. Another sources is Bescented.
Note: Laurel berry fruit oil smells a bit like medicinal herbs crossed with old cigarette butts. It’s not overly unpleasant, but it’s a little strange and quite strong! Be assured that the scent will mellow a lot as the soap cures.
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Normally, I try to use light colored olive oil so it won’t discolor my final soap a shade of green or greenish brown.
In this case though, I wanted the soap to turn a natural shade of green from the oils alone, so chose extra-virgin olive oil, especially for its darker color.
I bought the tree mold that says “NATURAL” on it, from Amazon. It took several weeks to arrive, but I loved how easily the soap released from the mold and plan to buy several more for larger batches.
The individual “HANDMADE” molds in the photo below also came from Amazon.
Since I had a small quantity of laurel berry fruit oil, I made a small test batch of soap. Percentages are given so you can increase the recipe size as you’d like. (70% olive oil and 30% laurel berry fruit oil is another nice combination.)
Aleppo (Inspired) Soap Recipe:
- 4 oz (113.4 grams) extra virgin olive oil (80%)
- 1 oz (28.35 grams) laurel berry fruit oil (20%)
- 0.65 oz (18.4 grams) lye/sodium hydroxide (5% superfat)
- 1 oz (28.34 grams) distilled water (see *note)
*I originally was going to use a 2:1 ratio of water to lye, but instead used an even steeper water discount to make this soap, because I wanted it to reach trace and firm up in the mold more quickly than castile-type soaps usually do.
Click on the image below for the recipe per Soapcalc:
Directions to Make Soap:
If you’ve never made soap before, be sure to thoroughly research the process and precautions before proceeding. You can find more information in my Soap Making 101 post or check out my Handmade Natural Soaps eBook Collection.
RELATED VIDEO: Here’s a video of me making a batch of Oatmeal & Honey Soap – if you’ve never seen the cold process soapmaking process before:
Step 1: Wearing safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves, weigh out the distilled water in a heatproof container. Next, weigh the lye and pour it into the water. Stir well to make sure the lye is fully dissolved. It will heat up quickly and give off strong fumes that you should avoid breathing in directly. I like to do this step in my kitchen sink, next to an open window, in order to contain any spills or splashes. Set the solution aside in a safe place, out of the reach of children and pets, and let cool for about 30 to 40 minutes. The temperature should drop to around 100 to 110°F (38 to 43°C) during that time.
Step 2: Weigh the oils into a small saucepan or double boiler. Heat gently over low heat, keeping a close eye on it. Aim to reach a temperature of around 90 to 100°F (32 to 38°C), though you don’t have to get too hung up on trying to make the temperatures match.
Step 3: Now, you’re ready to mix! Working carefully and still with gloves, goggles and long sleeves on, pour the lye solution into the oils. I found that this recipe did well with mostly hand stirring. You can blend for a few seconds with an immersion (stick) blender (looks like THIS), but you won’t need to do that too much because of the reduced amount of water.
Step 4: Stir until trace is reached. “Trace” means that your soap batter has gotten thick enough so that when you drizzle some of it across the surface of itself, it leaves an imprint or “tracing” before sinking back in. Pour the soap into the molds. Cover lightly with a sheet of wax or parchment paper and then with a sheet of cardboard (a plastic lid or magazine works in a pinch too). You may want to insulate with a small blanket or towel, especially if your room is on the cold side.
Step 5: Let the soap stay in the molds for at least 24 to 48 hours. Remove and let cure in the open air for a minimum of 6 weeks before using. This soap will benefit from a long cure time of around one year; the outside will turn yellow-green then fade to brownish-green over time.
Thank you! I must try this one!
Hi Carla, Happy you like the recipe! It’s a lovely soap!
I found your book in a Barnes and Nobles, and absolutely loved it (I bought it right away)!
Then I couldn’t wait to see you blog and again, I couldn’t believe when I saw that you have a recipe for those ancient and most lovely Aleppo soaps. I learned about these soaps with a friend from Siria and now I keep hitting Arabic ethnic stores to buy them. Although, if things don’t change quickly in Syria, I am not sure how long we will be able to find them anymore….
I went to your amazon link to buy laurel berry oil, but now I am a bit confused. I was under the impression that Aleppo soaps ask for Laurus nobilis’ berry oil. However, the scientific name of the berries sold at Amazon is Cinnamomum cecidodaphne (I found it at the company’s website).
Can you please clarify that?
And again, Looooooved your book/blog!
Thank you so much for buying a copy of the book; I’m so happy that you like it! :)
That’s a great link about Aleppo Soaps – thanks for sharing that too!
I just checked my oil from Amazon and listed on the bottle, under Ingredients, it says:
“Laurel Berry Fruit Oil (Laurus Nobilis Fruit Oil)”.
This is the listing I see when I check the company’s website:
“Scientific name : Laurus Nobilis Fruit Oil
Oil origin : Berries
Extraction : Water Extraction
Odor strength: High
Origin : Turkey”
So, it should be the correct one. I need to reorder more in a month or so and if I find out they’ve changed anything, I’ll be sure to let you know!
That is awesome, thanks! I will buy some and try it. Can’t wait!!!!!
I had seen a video of how Aleppo soap is made over a year ago and was very intrigued by it. I decided I wanted
to try to make some. I used 75% olive oil and 25 % laurel fruit berry oil. Since I had a sandalwood fragrance oil sample from Bramble Berry, I added that as I wasn’t sure I would like the laurel berry scent. Suffice it to say, it smells fantastic. I dried it for 6 weeks, then loosely wrapped in tissue paper and stored in a cardboard box. Can’t wait until September 9th to try it.
I have a question about essential oils and the brambleberry calculator. When it asks for batch size (to figure out the essential oil amount), is it asking for total batch size or just the amount of oils?
Hi Roberta! That’s a great question! I was confused about that before too. It looks like they want you to enter in the amount of the oil + water + lye.
They have more info on using it here:
Hi Jan, I too am wanting to make Aleppo soap. A friend of mine brought some back from Turkey. A lovely fresh smell and of course beautiful on the sink. I’m in Australia and getting the bay berry oil is proving very tricky!
I have confusion around working out a yield. I followed the recipe my teacher change me and I missed the bit where she said she discounted the water – and certainly didn’t get the implications of that. My rough guide is to weight all the ingredients and that should make the volume to full the moulds. Or should I just use the water and oil content ? I would love a bit more ease here. My first soap from an internet recipe – that I adjusted to fit with my teachers recipe – made much less soap. then I guess there will be shrinkage ?
Hi Brigid! To get a rough idea of how much soap a recipe will yield, you would add the weight of lye + water + oils.
That will only give a rough estimate though since oils and butters vary in volume, even if the weight is the same.
Yes, you’re exactly right too – the soap will shrink over time. Happy soapmaking! :)
ps… I love your creation and inspiration.
Happy you like the recipe! :)
Hi. I got some laurel oil before I even knew it was used for Aleppo soap, but then could find very little about homemade Aleppo except for this site (thanks!).
Well, I made some almost a week ago and it was still in the mold (plastic bag lined litter box) until yesterday. Finally, I took it out and the bottom side is even more gelatinous. I can’t imagine cutting it yet.
Do you have to wait quite awhile before you can even cut this stuff?
Did you use the lower amount of water when you recalculated it to fit your mold/box?
With a standard amount of water that lye calculators usually give, the soap will be soft for quite some time because it acts basically like a castile soap – soft for a long time until it cures and then gets very hard and long lasting.
Reducing the water by a significant amount really helps firm it up so you can unmold a lot faster.
With a plastic lining inside a plastic box, it wouldn’t have a chance to get air around it either (same with silicone loaf molds), so hopefully now that it’s out in the open air it will start firming up for you.
I did lower the water percentage from the typical 38% on soapcalc.net, but only to about 33%. If I were to do it again, I’d go down to something like 25% or even lower.
But I did cut it last night, leaving the inside edges much like Neosporin gel, but I expect that to “crust over” soon and then start the long wait until next spring. :)
Hiya, I’ve noticed most of the Aleppo soaps available for sale list Bay laurel oil and not Laurel berry fruit oil. Do they have different effects in the soap? Or is one ‘bad’?
Your mould is so pretty, btw.
Thanks Abbie! I love that mold too – definitely want to buy more of them! :)
Bay laurel oil is an essential oil, so perhaps they’re using small amounts in their soap for scent. It looks like this:
Laurel berry fruit oil is an oil that can be used in soapmaking or skin care and you could use much more of it, compared to an essential oil.
So, one’s an essential oil and one’s a carrier oil and couldn’t be interchanged in the recipe.
Hi, Thank you Thank you so much for sharing this recipe .
Definitely i will try my first soap ever soon possible. I need to collect ingrediients first.
I am not sure if i will find laurel berry fruit oil .
Wish me luck .
Hi Samar! I hope you have lots of good luck and fun making your soap!
I just discovered Aleppo soap, and an eager to make this soap. Would you please answer a few questions for me? First, do you think I can double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe? Second, I’ve only ever used a stick blender; approximately how long would it take for me to reach trace with hand mixing? Third, do you recommend curing the soap for a year? Fourth, with such a long cure time, is there greater likelihood of the dreaded orange spots? Thank you very much for the recipe and for answering my questions. By the way, I bought your e-book, and it’s great! Best wishes, Christine
Hi Christine! Yes, you could definitely double, triple or quadruple the recipe. It’s good to put the new numbers through a lye calculator whenever you make changes; I like this one: https://www.thesage.com/calcs/LyeCalc.html But in general if you’re not changing the oil types, it should double & triple pretty straightforwardly.
Hand mixing should only take a few minutes, though it might vary with the type of laurel berry fruit oil you buy. (I’ve heard from some people that their particular oil sped up trace faster than I experienced with the kind I bought.)
You could cure for a year, but I ended up giving and using all of mine by 4 months and got only rave reviews from everyone that tried it.
To prevent DOS, you can add ROE (rosemary oleoresin or extract):
I add 1 gram (about 40 drops) to a 2.5 lb soap recipe. (Weight of recipe is oils + lye + water amounts.)
I’m so happy that you like the ebook! :)
Traditionally this soap should be left to cure for a minimum of 7-9 months. I am an American born Syrian and the only people I have seen let their Aleppo cure for less time is Americans. Which is not good. The soap needs to sit for 7-9 months so that the bar can reach it’s hardest and used longer so that the laurel is not wasted by melting that will occur in a bar that only sits for 6 weeks. I make Aleppo in huge batches so yes you can make huge batches. I let my soap sit in the mold for a week before unmolding. Laurel berry should be used 3% – 15% for just normal cleansing, dishes, laundry. But should be at 18% – 30% for medicinal purposes. Altering the recipe such as adding any other ingredients is not Aleppo soap. In fact in Syria there are laws that protect Aleppo soap and how its made to be considered Aleppo soap. Or at least there were but all that seems a bit destroyed now. Hope this helps.
Hi Nada, Thank you so much for sharing your valuable expertise and experiences with us! :)
Bescented.com has the laurel Berry oil a lot more reasonable. Jen had to order it in mass quantities, but she is able to offer it currently for about $25 for 1lb.
Hi Eric, Thanks for sharing! Someone else recently let me know about Bescented & it looks like a great place. I’m looking forward to trying them out with my next supply stock-up!
Thank you for the informative and well done article about my beloved Aleppo soap. I have been making “Aleppo” laurel berry fruit oil soap for almost ten years, and since I live in the western part of Syria ” the original home of laurel” I started collecting the fruite to get my own home made oil , yet the hard long process it is worth it. So if you want good quality laurel berry oil I can hook you up ;)
Again thank you for the great toturial.
Hi Ali! Your oil sounds so wonderful! Would you mind sharing a link so others who visit this page can check it out? Thanks! :)
I made aleppo soap and used 20 percent laurel berry fruit oil with extra virgin olive oil at 80 percent. My soap at a 2 month cure is still a very light yellow. I was hoping for green. Did i do something wrong?
Hi Shannon! For a stronger green you could try using a deeply colored extra virgin olive oil – the darker the green, the better. You could also increase the amount of laurel berry fruit oil to 30%. The soap lightens over its long cure time though & will eventually be a softer yellow-green.
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