Cucumber Borage Soap Recipe

Cucumber & Borage Homemade Soap
Cucumber soaps are one of my all-time favorites! The soothing properties of the cucumber and the drawing power of the French green clay makes this soap recipe especially helpful for acne, bug bites, and other itchy, inflamed skin conditions.

Never made soap before?

Read through my Soap Making 101 post to find out how to get started. You may also like my Handmade Natural Soaps eBook Collection.

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Cucumber & Borage Soap

  • 4 ounces (113 grams) avocado oil
  • 22 ounces (624 grams) coconut oil
  • 38 ounces (1077 grams) olive oil
  • 16 ounces (454 grams) palm kernel oil (*see note)
  • 11.69 ounces (331 grams) lye (sodium hydroxide)
  • 1/4 of a fresh, organic cucumber (unpeeled)
  • handful of fresh borage blossoms and leaves
  • water

Puree the cucumber and borage together with around 12 ounces of water. Strain through a colander then add enough water to total 25 ounces of liquid. Add your lye and proceed as directed in the post Soap Making 101.

At trace and before pouring into molds, add:

  • 1 tablespoon softened mango butter
  • 1 tablespoon tamanu oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of French green clay (this is what gives the bar its pale green color)

(You can buy all three of these specialty items at Mountain Rose Herbs. Feel free to use a different butter or oil other than the mango and tamanu, just keep the total amount to around 2 tablespoons or less.)

This recipe is sized to fit my wooden box molds which are non-standard and homemade – the inner dimensions of the molds are: 16 inches by 11.5 inches by 2 inches.  Here’s my article that will tell you how to calculate how big a batch of soap you should make for the size mold you have.

*This recipe contains palm oil. I’m aware of the controversy surrounding palm oil and in the past only bought certified organic, sustainably farmed from Mountain Rose Herbs. Now though, I’m palm-free. You can find a variation of cucumber soap, without palm oil, HERE.

Cold Process Palm Free Cucumber Soap Recipe
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  1. Love this recipe! I’ve been a bit obsessed with borage lately, so I definitely want to try this. I was wondering though is there any substitute that I can use for the coconut oil? I’m insanely allergic to it and unfortunately it seems like every soap recipe has it. I’ve heard some people having success with olive oil. Have you tried this for your soaps? If so, any tips? Thank you so much for your great site!

    1. Hi Karen, That’s a tough allergy to have – seems like everyone is coconut crazy these days so it’s in everything! My niece doesn’t do well with olive oil, so I can relate to the frustration of trying to avoid a common ingredient such as that.

      I’ve ran out of coconut oil before and just substituted with more palm oil – I like to throw in a third oil as well, to kind of balance it from having just two types of oil, but this recipe already has avocado oil so that won’t be a problem.

      So, you could take the recipe and substitute most of the coconut oil with more palm oil and make up the remaining few ounces with more avocado and/or olive oil. I try to keep my bars roughly around half olive oil (at least) and almost half coconut/palm with a few extra oils (sometimes) making up the balance.

      Any changes you make, just run through a lye calculator before making since it will change the amount of lye you’ll need.

      If you need more help figuring, let me know!

    1. We use this up pretty fast, but I do have a few slices left from last year’s batch and they are still in great shape. The high heat from the lye plus the high alkalinity seems to help with any potential spoilage, though quite often in soaps of this type, I like to add a bit of Rosemary Antioxidants, just in case.

  2. Hello Jan! Your site is definitely useful!! I really enjoy all about herbs and your site is like this!
    Im newer doing soaps, I have only 2 batch in my history :P and I really like all your soaps. Your site helped me a lot. Now I want to do this one (cucumber) but I only have dried borage and I want to aks you if you’ll approve to make a borage tea and use this insted water and combine it with the cucumber? excuse me for my bad English :P And best wishes to you!

    1. Hi Ana,

      I’m glad that you’re making soaps! How fun! :) Yes, you can certainly use dried borage to make a tea and combine it with your cucumber. Just don’t let the tea get too dark or brown, or it might make your final soap a little on the brown side. So, just make a light colored, weak borage tea.

      Good luck with your soap batch! :)

  3. I have a strange request. I am going to a place in which is highly populated with various bees and I am very allergic to them. I seem to be a magnet to them and I use a non scented soap, non scented deodorant, no perfume, no bright colors, no hair products, I use the non scented soap as shampoo too so that there isn’t anything on me to attract them but for reasons I can’t explain nor understand they still come to me. I read an article where putting cucumbers out around food will detract bees and I was wondering if you could make a cucumber only soap for me without adding anything sweet smelling or flower smelling to. Please, if you can, I hope you can help me with this. It won’t keep me from carrying multiple epi-pens with me but hopefully it will keep the bees away from this year. Thank you for reading my post

    1. Hi Tina, I’d not heard that cucumbers repel bees – I’ll have to test that theory out this summer and see how it works! The thing about using cucumber (or any fruit or veggie) in a soap is that the lye deactivates the smell, so you’re still left with an unscented soap, so I’m not sure that would be effective. I’m also unable to make custom soap batches, but if you check out there are tons of wonderful soap makers on there and I bet you can find one that takes custom orders and can work with you. I can definitely sympathize with your situation – I have a little nephew that comes to visit and it seems that bees will zoom across the yard and sting him. He attracts them as well and I’m completely unsure why. It must be a body chemistry thing. :( I hope you stay safe and sting-free on your travels!

  4. Hi I’m currently living in North Africa and I can’t get hold of glycerin or lye. Is there a recipe for soap using milk??

    1. Hi J, You have to have a caustic substance (lye in modern days, wood ash in olden days) to turn oils into soap. This is true for people making it at home and even large companies that make the soap you buy in the store use it. Glycerine soap is just a meltable and pourable base where someone has already handled the lye for you. So, no true soap can be made lye-free. I’m sorry to say, there is no other way (that I know of) to turn milk into soap without using lye.

  5. This cucumber borage soap…. ever find a substitute for palm oil? What can I use instead? Have anymore great recipes for acne and/or roscecea skin (red skin, don’t know if I spelled that right)?
    This recipe seems like it might be good for roscecea.

    1. Hi Ginger, I do have a palm free cucumber soap I made sometime back that I need to dig up the recipe for and post here. Thanks for the reminder – I will try to do that this month! I have to find it to be sure, but it will be similar to this Garden Mint Soap just use the cucumber puree instead of mint. I find a lot of people like using Honey Dandelion Soap for skin conditions too:

  6. It’s me, again. lol I used to make cp soap over a decade ago. I made a LOT of it for my shop. I mostly made a basic soap recipe, then milled it for specialty recipes, such as cucumber soap. I used a lot of recipes that called for fresh ingredients. Since getting back into soapmaking, I’ve learned that it’s a waste of time to mill soaps and to skip that time consuming step. I’m new to all of these herbs going into soaps (except Calendula) and am really excited to get cracking. The hubby built two large elevated garden boxes for me yesterday so I can garden without my back killing me. (I’m a tall girl…doesn’t help.) I want to grow everything on my own and have purchased Lemon Balm plants. The fresh ingredient recipes I used back in the day called for Benzoin. I don’t hear of it too much, anymore. I’ve read that GSE and Rosemary Antioxidants are not preservatives, so am a little confused. I don’t know what to use, now, but want to stay as natural as I can. Also, even with HP you say to allow weeks to cure to a hard bar. How do you know how long to let your CP soaps cure? If you don’t wait long enough, will it burn your skin from the lye or what will happen? I remember letting my soaps dry on a purchased wooden screen and turning them ever so often. But, I can’t remember how long I actually let them cure and what I looked for to know when they were ready to package. I have a lot of concerns, but, help! Do you use the cylindrical mold for CP batches, also? Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Joy, Your garden boxes sound wonderful! You don’t really need preservatives in your soap. (Those are for when you have something water based like a lotion or cream and don’t want it to spoil quickly. The pH of soap makes it pretty stable!) I think the thing with benzoin is that it turned out to be something of a skin irritant (or maybe lung irritant?) I can’t quite remember, but I do recall reading something that put me off of using it. GSE also has some concerns, but rosemary antioxidants are great. They will only help prevent against rancidity in oil though, and also not a preservative. I used to put rosemary in my soaps, but found it wasn’t as necessary as I thought, so mostly stopped. The main thing with letting your soaps cure longer is that it gives time for the excess water to evaporate out and you get a harder, longer lasting bar. I think most of the saponification happens in the first day or two, but the soap does get milder and milder over time. I start testing on myself after a bar is about 3 weeks old, but wait until at least 4 before giving or letting other people use, just in case! For cold process soaps, I do use a cylindrical mold sometimes, but I use a loaf mold a lot too. Often I just grab a glass bread loaf pan from my kitchen cabinet and line it with a cheap (unscented) trash bag. It works great and it’s a lot less hassle sometimes! I hope I covered all of your questions! Good luck getting back into your soap making! :)

  7. I knew I would forget something….do you ever use Jojoboa Beads in your soap recipes?

  8. Jan, this soap looks scrumptious! How do you get it so white, and so creamy looking?

    1. Hi Teddi, Thanks! Some of that is actually poor lighting. :) I took that photo with my old camera that had a bad lens and many other problems. It turned out more of a pale green shade in real life. I want to revamp the recipe and take all new photos – it’s on my to-do list!

  9. Can’t wait to try this soap. I have borage growing in my garden so I will have no problem with that. Wondering if you have converted this recipe yet from using the palm oil. Can any oil be substituted for it? And can shea butter be substituted for the mango butter (as I already have that on hand)? Also what can be substituted for the tamanu oil? Just tooo expensive! ;-)

    1. Hi Gayle! I was updating this post and saw that I missed your comment – I’m so sorry about that!
      I just hit publish on an updated variation of this recipe that doesn’t have palm oil, right here:
      Shea and mango butter can usually be swapped out for each other in a soap recipe, without needing to make any adjustments.
      Tamanu oil can be replaced by any other light oil that you have on hand (like sunflower, avocado, jojoba, hemp, sweet almond, etc)
      I hope that helped and I’m sorry again for missing this! :)

  10. I love the idea of this Cucumber Borage soap and the Garden Mint soap. ( I have made so many of the balms on your site already and absolutely love them.:)) I am going to make both of these soaps this week and am just wondering what temp do you combine your oils and liquids (lye water)? I usually CP a little on the cooler side. Your thoughts.. especially for these two soap recipes would be great! Thank you :)

    1. Hi Jennifer, I’m glad you’ve had good success with the balm recipes! :) I like to give a range of 90 to 110 degrees F, since I learned that way and always had good luck with it. More often these days though, I let my lye solution cool for around 45 minutes to an hour, melt anything solid in the oils/butter portion, then combine it with the other unheated oils. This puts me a little bit higher than room temperature soaping. (Keeping in mind, in my house, room temp is in the upper 70’s, where coconut oil stays liquid.) I know some soap makers like to soap at a lot higher temperatures, and that’s not a bad thing either. It seems to be just a matter of personal preference. :)

  11. Hi! I’m thoroughly enjoying your site ? I’m a chicken/goat girl & I ended up with a freezer full of milk from breeding them in the spring so now I’m a soap making girl, lol. I’ve made two batches of the milk soap recipe you have posted to get started & now I’m drooling over a few of these. Is there anything I should keep in mind when switching recipes over to a milk substitute? I read I can just use the milk anytime I would have used water. I’m gonna have my husband make the mold you use, is it 2″ for the width or the height? Thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Morgan, Hooray for other chicken/goat/soap making girls! :) You are 100% correct – you can use milk anytime that you would’ve used water. With this cucumber soap recipe, you could puree the cucumber (and borage if using) with a little bit of milk then strain. Add enough milk to total how much you need in the recipe and then freeze. A lot of people like to freeze their cucumber puree anyway, so it won’t brown (though I haven’t ran into that), so it won’t hurt it one bit to do so.
      The 2 inches for that mold is height. They’re kind of shallow and tray-like. Here’s a (not so great) photo of one, though I have it divided down the middle with a little piece of wood in that picture, since I was making half-batches:×210.jpg
      One day I will get my husband to help me make a whole post on soap molds and how he made them – and then I will have some better pictures! :)

  12. Also, you mentioned that the scent from the cucumber would be deactivated thru the process, so is there a scent to this soap? What could I add to give it a cucumber scent? An essential oil maybe? I am so obviously new to all of this, lol.

    1. Hi Morgan! This soap is unscented and just smells nice and clean, like soap! :) For a cucumber scent, you’d have to go with a fragrance oil, since there are no natural ones (that I know of). has a bunch to choose from. I really like mint with cucumber soap, so usually add a couple tablespoons of peppermint essential oil. If you like florals, you could try a blend of lavender, litsea and maybe geranium.

  13. Thank you so much! I also thought mint would be perfect & oddly enough just received my Brambleberry shipment with it yesterday ? along with cranberry seeds for exfoliating! I think the green & red with the mint smell could make great Christmas bars…. Or I could be getting very ahead of myself, haha. Which is how I got in this situation to began with….
    Thank you for the mold pics, crafty, soaping supporting, mold building husbands are a blessing.

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