Homemade Lavender Soap
Today, I’m sharing a recipe from my Handmade Natural Soaps Ebook Collection.
It’s a lovely, old-fashioned bar that’s simply scented with lavender essential oil and naturally colored with purple Brazilian clay. If you’d like a whiter soap, instead of the pale purple tint shown, just leave out the purple clay called for in the recipe.
Oils, water and lye should be measured by weight. You need an accurate scale to make soap.
- 14 oz (397 g) olive oil (50%)
- 8 oz (227 g) coconut oil (28%)
- 3 oz (85 g) almond oil (11%)
- 3 oz (85 g) sunflower oil (11%)
- 3.95 oz (112 g) lye
- 9 oz (255 g) distilled water
- 2 tsp purple clay (stir in hot lye solution)
- 1.23 oz (35 g) lavender essential oil
If you’ve never made soap before, be sure to thoroughly research the process and precautions before proceeding.
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Directions to Make:
Wearing protective gloves and eyewear, carefully stir the lye (sodium hydroxide) into the distilled until dissolved. Work in an area with good ventilation and be careful not to breathe in the fumes.
Stir in the purple clay, if using for color. Set the lye solution aside to cool for about 30 or 40 minutes or until the temperature drops to around 100 to 110°F (38 to 43°C).
Gently heat the coconut oil until melted then combine with the other oils.
Pour the cooled lye solution into the warmed oils. Using a combination of hand stirring and an immersion blender, also called a stick blender, stir the soap batter until it thickens and reaches a light trace. Trace is when the soap has thickened enough so when you drizzle a small amount of the batter across the surface, it will leave a fleeting, but visible imprint or “trace” before sinking back in.
Stir in the essential oil(s) for scent. Pour the soap batter into your soap mold. Cover lightly with wax or freezer paper, then a towel or light blanket. Peek at the soap every so often; if it starts developing a crack, uncover and move to a cooler location.
Keep the soap in the mold for 1 to 2 days, or until it’s easy to remove, then slice it into bars when it’s firm enough not to stick to your cutting tool. Cure on coated cooling racks or sheets of wax paper for about 4 weeks before using.
The soap is safe to touch 48 hours after making it but it needs the extra time to allow the excess moisture to evaporate out.
We never tire of Lavender around here. Your soaps turned out gorgeous of course =)
Thanks Anne-Marie! Bramble Berry’s Hungarian Lavender essential oil smells divine in this soap! :)
Hello! Is there anything that can be substituted for the 15oz of olive oil in your lavender soap recipe? Also will I be able to use the pans/blender again after I use them with the lye for soap making (even if I wash them)?
Also I just finished my first batch, it turned out brown, not purple…any chance it will turn purple as it cures?
Hi Jennifer! Clay does have a dull, browner tinge at first and then as it goes through gel phase after pouring into the mold, will look very dark at times. Once you slice it and let it start curing though, it should lighten up, especially if you used the brand of clay and amount listed in the recipe. One factor though, that can tint your soap differently, is if your olive oil is a very strong green shade. That color might come through the soap making process and muddy up the final shade of the bar.
Hi Jennifer! You may be able to substitute with rice bran oil or perhaps canola oil. I use separate pans & stick blender for soap making, but I have seen a few soapers say they use their regular dishes. My thought is that anything the soap batter gets on is probably fine (like the pan and stick blender), since after sitting for 24 hours, that soap batter usually isn’t caustic any more and can be washed off like the soap that it is. For the container used to measure out dry lye and the one used to mix the lye and water together – I would use something disposable or for soap-making-only for that, since it would be hard to wash off and I’d be very concerned about any traces coming in contact with food or drink.
I’m still new-ish to soapmaking, your website has been incredibly helpful and inspirational. :)
For this recipe…
What could you use instead of meadowfoam oil?
and, I don’t have brazillian purple clay, but do have a bag of alkanet root coming to me soon. Do you have any tips for how to alkanet root to get a nice purple?
And finally, does the clay add a lot to the feel of the soap? if so, would it worth adding another clay such as kaolin? Again, i’ll be using alkanet root for a purple colour.
Thanks for any help you can give!
Hi Michelle, I’m so glad that the site has been helpful! :)
In a recipe, meadowfoam oil lengthens shelf life, conditions skin and gives a creamy lather, so you want to substitute something similar. It’s also a “soft oil” that doesn’t make your bar hard, so you can substitute it with another “soft” oil such as sunflower or avocado oil. Those don’t really contribute to lather though, so you might want to add a smidge of castor oil as well, if you have any on hand. (Castor oil also boosts lather.)
Alkanet root makes a nice purple too. If you look on the sidebar on the right side of my blog, on the cover of my soap making ebook, you’ll see a stack of colored soaps. The sixth one down is colored with alkanet root(compared to the 9th one down which is colored with purple clay) For that purple shown I used 1/4 teaspoon alkanet root in a batch that had probably 28 to 30 ounces of oil in it. (So same size as this one.) Alkanet has a grayer tone to it in fresh soap and when you first make and pour it, you’ll think you made a mistake because it’s gray! But, it will purple out for you as it cures. (Let it go through gel phase, don’t try to cool it or anything, so the color develops nicely.) It’s not as pure purple toned as the clay, but it works! It will get speckled looking if you don’t mix it in very well with a little bit of oil before adding to your soap. You can infuse some oil with it for several days beforehand to get an even smoother look.
I personally love soaps with clay, but I know another soap maker who dislikes the texture. Of all of the bars I give to family and friends, I get the most say their favorites are made with some type of clay. It seems to really be a personal preference thing!
Good luck on your soap making!
Hi Jan! Approximately how many pounds does this recipe make? I’m using an adjustable wooden 1-5lb mold.
To figure up approximately how many pounds of soap a recipe will make, you can add up the amount of oils + amount of liquid + amount of lye.
So, this recipe would be:
29 + 9 + 4 ounces = 42 ounces or 2.6 pounds
(double check my math though – it’s not my strong point!) :)
Do you handle any classes for live demonstration? I want to learn this but am not confident enough without seeing it.
Where do I get all the materials from and how long is the process? Looking forward for your reply via email.
Hi Hina! I don’t teach live classes, but if you check around at a few local places, you might be able to find someone who does. If you’re in the U.S., you could check with your: library, health store, craft store, or perhaps a county extension agent. You might be able to connect with someone local on a soap making forum as well. Have you seen the video tutorials from SoapQueen.com? https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAADF6209996265D2 Good luck and happy soap making!
I’m just wondering if I cooked tap water would that be ok to use in soap making or would it still have an adverse reaction to the lye?
Hi Tracy! I have well water and sometimes use it instead of distilled – even though it’s very hard and I’ve heard that hard water can cause problems in soap. (It hasn’t yet though.) While it is recommended to use distilled, to be sure of consistent results, not everyone does. Here’s a forum thread that might help: https://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?s=189f1ce539027a6e100c2fac2cdee8be&t=30949
Thanks for getting back to me. I will certainly have a look at the soapmakingforum.
Hi! I have a question, so how much is a one bar of soap? I need to make about 50 bars and each of the bars has to be 4 oz or 4.5 oz for my project and I was wondering if you could help! Thanks!
Hi Marc! I happened to still have the exact bar that I used to take the photo for this post so I weighed it. It’s now 3.7 ounces (they start out heavier, but as water evaporates from it over cure time, they grow lighter.) It was probably close to 4 ounces when freshly made. That was made using a cavity mold though. If you use a loaf mold and cut it in about 1 1/4″ slices, they should be around 4.5 ounces, when fully cured. This site has a plan for a mold that will make around 10 to 12 four ounce bars. (Just cut them thicker to get 4.5 oz.) https://soapdelinews.com/2013/06/how-to-make-a-soap-mold-for-cold-process-soap.html
Good luck with your project!
Hello Jan, I love your site and have all your books! You are a great inspiration. I was wondering if infusing the olive oil with lavender would be beneficial at all with recipe like you did with your calendula soap?
Hi Janeen, I’m happy that you like the site and thank you for the kind words! Yes, infusing the oil with lavender would be a lovely idea and a great addition to this recipe. I love to use herbal infused oils in soap, whenever I have them on hand.
Hey, how long does this soap take to cure? Thanks
Hi JR! Cold process soap usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to cure, though I start testing bars out on myself around 3 weeks.
Can I use almond oil instead of olive oil?
Hi Shalom! Olive oil has a different makeup than almond oil, so it won’t act the same in soap. If you use more than 5 to 10% of almond oil in your soap recipe, it will tend to make your bar too soft. One good substitute for olive oil is rice bran oil, if you have that available. You might also be able to use half canola oil and half sunflower oil instead of the olive oil (though I’m not positive since I haven’t tried that out.)
Hi Jan, thank you for the recipe. I was hoping to make this as hot process soap is there anything different I should do? Thank you for all your lovely recipes. You’re amazing?.
Hi Tammie, Thank you so much for your kind words! :)
Everything should be just the same except instead of adding the lavender essential oil, reserved oil and clay at trace, go ahead and put that oil back with the soap making oils. Take the essential oil and clay and stir it together with an extra 2 tablespoons of water. Make your soap exactly the same, bring to trace, cook for one hour and then stir in that EO/Clay/Water mixture.
Also, I have a bit of a water discount with this recipe for cold process so it will set up faster in the mold, so if you make it hot process, you might want to increase the initial amount of water by maybe 1/2 an ounce. I think that would work nicely! :)
Printed the Lavender recipe and fell in love with it. Have never purchased an e-book, but I am considering it. Have never posted either, not sure if I am doing it correctly. Will there ever be a chance you will make this book into a paperback? I am nervous about buying it!
Hi Lucy, I’m so happy that you liked the Lavender Soap recipe! You are indeed posting your comments correctly! I have to keep comments moderated to control spam, but try to check them every day or two, to answer them as I can. I don’t know if I’ll make the soap making ebook into a paperback anytime soon, since it would have to be reformatted, and that’s a good bit of work. It’s always a possibility though! I do however, have a new book for print coming out in Spring, 2016! It will have a chapter on soap making and will also be about other things you can make from your garden flowers and herbs such as lotions, creams, bath scrubs, home remedies and so forth. You’ll be able to buy that one from your bookstore or online book sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ll be sure to share more details as they become available! :)
Thanks You! for getting back with me so quickly. Can not wait for your book. Please let us all know when it’s finally out. I think I am going to take the plung and purchase my first ever e-book. Because I keep finding myself looking at your web site. And I do purchase alot from BB so I will try to do that form your site. Thanks you for your wounderful recipies. Have a question. How would I make your lavender reciped bigger? I want to put it in the 5 lb. wooden mold my husband made me.
Just read your reply to Juliet. Sorry!
Hi Lucy, I’m glad you found your answer! :)
I love your soap making ebook and I cannot wait to try out a few recipes.
I am brand new to soap making.
I was just wondering if I need to buy PH strips to test my soaps?
Thank you!! :)
Hi Athena! I personally don’t use pH strips to test my soaps since I’ve heard that they’re not overly accurate. Some soap makers are comfortable doing the zap test (touch a finished bar on your tongue and if it ‘zaps’ you, then it’s still lye heavy), while others like checking with pH strips. I just make sure that my recipe is balanced and if the bar looks like it did well when making (no crumbly chunks of lye or big separations or anything worrisome), then it’s virtually always fine to use. I test a bar of every recipe I make on myself first, to make sure, before gifting or selling. I hope you have lots of fun making soap & I’m happy that you like the ebook! :)
Thank you for your quick response. That is super helpful to know. :)
Wow those ideas are amazing. Thank you! I have a full new bottle of meadowfoam so I might try that recipe first but a firmer bar sounds really nice. I’m using the Calendula and loving it at just 4 1/2 weeks old but I can break it in half with my hands. But we LOVE it. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes. oxoxo
Jan I stayed with your original recipe and took the soap out of the mold tonight. That is a super soft bar. I like the idea of the meadowfoam helping with soap shelf like. I also have quite alot of mango butter so would it work if I tried this recipe ?? You are the expert :)
48% olive oil
26 % coconut oil
8 % Apricot Kernel Oil
8 % Meadowfoam
10% mango butter
That sounds good to me and one that I’d certainly try out! Let me know how it goes!
Hi Annie R! Yes, the calendula and other high-olive oil soaps will take several extra weeks (and sometimes a couple months) to harden. Then it should be a lot firmer! :) Happy you like the recipes!
Love the questions and your answers. It’s so interesting and educational. I’ve never made soap, but have always wanted to and now is my time! Can I do this one as a first timer? How do you measure the quantities, by weight or volume? I’m gearing up to get my first set of equipment and supplies. How do you recommend I do this? Online and/or craft shops? Any particular hints you can add for me? Thanks!
Hi Louise, I’m so happy that you’re going to try making soap! You could make this as a first recipe.
All measurements for soap is done using a scale. You have to go by weight to make sure that everything is accurate, since measuring cups can be off depending on manufacturer and human error.
You can check locally for supplies, but a place like BrambleBerry will have everything you need in one stop!
I like to buy my lye from Amazon or locally from my Tractor Supply store.
Definitely read over my Soap Making 101 post here:
and watch some videos on the process, like these:
before you make your first batch.
It seems like a lot at first, but if you follow all of the steps carefully, I think you’ll find that your first batch goes a lot easier than you think!
Happy Soap Making! :)
I love your calendula recipe Jan, We are using it every night and I can’t wait to feel that peppermint tingle from the garden mint soap. I’ve started to help my cure with our portable DE-humidifier. I’ve been keeping it on in my curing area several hours a day the first week of cure. This seems to be really helping these palm free soaps. I have 4 different batches curing like that at the moment. This is so much fun. And your recipes started it all. :)
That’s a great idea about the dehumidifier! I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying your soap making! :)
I think your site and you are just full of awesome.. I have made dandelion, calendula, and even arnica and lavender salves and some soaps too that I would never have had the courage to try if not for your kindness in havign such an informative, well written website you make things seem easy to accomplish, and so far everything I have tried has been awesome.
Is there any other oil besides Olive Oil that I can sub for the apricot kernel oil or the meadowfoam oil? I have never seen those in the small area I live… I can find grape seed oil, or avocado oil, or castor, or safflower or canola.
Hi Joni B, Thanks for the kind words! That’s wonderful that you’ve made so many awesome things!
One way you can adjust the recipe is this way:
15 ounces olive oil (52%)
8 ounces coconut oil (28%)
3 ounces castor oil (10%)
3 ounces avocado oil (10%)
For a 6% superfat, that changes the lye only a little bit – up to 4.03 oz (if you stayed with the 4.01 oz, you’d still be okay too, but pushing closer to 7% superfat.)
I used to have a more cost effective source of meadowfoam seed oil, but don’t anymore, so nowadays just use castor oil in its place in all soap recipes and it seems to work out great.
Over a year I’ve been making your calendula soap, everyone loves it and now is the time to try another recipe. I have an acne prone skin and I thought of this clay soap. Sounds great. so to the above recipe (without meadowfoam oil)sounds great. Is it still ok to add 2 teaspoons of bentonine clay blended with 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp water. Can I ask is this ok to add so much of the lavender essential oil (2-3 tablespoons) or can I use less?
thanks for all your tips!
Hi Mariana, I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed the calendula soap recipe! Yes, you can use bentonite clay in this recipe instead of the purple clay, your soap will just be a different color, but they work in a similar manner.
The only thing to keep in mind is that when you add clay to soap, it tends to thicken the soap batter up, so once it’s stirred in, be prepared to move fast if needed. I LOVE clay in soap though – gives it a great feel!
You can definitely use less lavender essential oil if you’d like.
With essential oils, the scent may start out strong, but they tend to fade faster over time than many fragrance oils.
Around 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of lavender should give you a hint of lavender scent by the time the bar is around 6 months old.
By upping it to 3 tablespoons (45 ml), your scent will be a little stronger for a little longer time.
If you tend to use your soap up within a few months, you may find that 1 tablespoon (15 ml) or less is plenty for you. (Also some essential oils are stronger and you need less of those.)
Happy soap making! :)
Thank you so much Jane for all your advises. You are great! Does the recipe change when you change the essential oils quantity?
Happy to help! :) The recipe won’t change when you change the amount of essential oils. Those are extra add-ins, so you can adjust the amounts as you’d like.
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