Kombucha Soap Recipe

How to Make Kombucha Soap Palm Free Recipe


This recipe is a terrific way to use up extra homemade kombucha. (If you’re not sure what the heck “kombucha” is or how you’d go about making it, check out my friend Kristi’s post, HERE, to learn all about it.)

Besides its possible health benefits, kombucha (a fermented tea drink) is reportedly great for your skin too. I’ve been using homemade infused kombucha as a facial toner for a while and do love it!

Something I’ve noticed about kombucha soap is that it has that faint and slightly medicinal smell, that you also get when you add witch hazel to soap. I’m not a huge fan of that scent, so like to add essential oils to brighten it up. Lemongrass, lavender or peppermint are three of my favorites that I buy through Bramble Berry.  (I’ve found that they have the best prices on quality essential oils that actually stick around in soap.)

Try adding around 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) to lightly scent a batch of soap this size. I usually use the Bramble Berry fragrance calculator (found HERE) to get an idea of how much essential oil is needed in my recipes.

This website contains affiliate links to Bramble Berry, Mountain Rose Herbs and Amazon. If you click on one and make a purchase, I earn a small commission for sending a customer their way. This costs you nothing extra, but does help to support my site and lets me keep doing what I do. Thank you!

 

How to Make Palm Free Kombucha Soap

To create this recipe, I started with a base of Olive Oil, a basic soap making oil with emollient properties, plus Coconut Oil, another soap making staple that adds great lather and hardness. If you’re allergic to coconut oil, try using babassu oil instead.

I then added some Rice Bran Oil, which is rich in vitamin E and also a good replacement for some of the olive oil in a recipe, Sunflower Oil, high in fatty acids and provides a stable, conditioning lather and Cocoa Butter, which adds extra hardness to soap – a characteristic that’s especially useful when making palm-free recipes. Cocoa butter will influence the scent of your finished soap, so I like to use the deodorized form in this recipe.

For the majority of soap recipes on this site (and in my ebook – Natural Soap Making), I use a homemade wooden loaf mold (inner dimensions are 8″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″), this 12 Cavity Rectangle Silicone Mold (filling around nine of the twelve cavities) or this silicone column mold for round soaps (if using this one, reduce the liquid by around 1 ounce so it will fit in the mold and firm up faster). You could also try using a sturdy shoe box or empty milk carton, lined with an inexpensive, unscented trash bag, to make a disposable mold.

I use and recommend Essential Depot’s food grade lye HERE (from Amazon).

If you’ve never made soap before, research the process thoroughly before proceeding. An overview of basic directions can be found in my Soapmaking 101 post. For more in-depth information including tips on coloring soap naturally, how to read a lye calculator, plus 25 of my favorite palm-free recipes, check out my ebook: Natural Soap Making: Cold Process Basics & Recipes.

Natural-Soap-Making-eBook

 

Kombucha Soap Recipe

Superfat is 6%. All measurements are by weight. You must use a digital scale to make soap.

  • 5 oz (141 g) chilled kombucha
  • 5 oz (141 g) chilled water
  • 14 oz (397 g) olive oil
  • 7 oz (198 g) coconut oil
  • 4 oz (113 g) rice bran oil (or more olive oil)
  • 3 oz (85 g) sunflower oil
  • 2 oz (57 g) cocoa butter
  • 4.14 oz (117 g) lye

 

Kombucha mixed with lye

Step 1: Weigh out the chilled kombucha and water into a heat proof plastic or stainless steel pitcher or container.

Step 2: Wearing safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves, weigh out the lye and pour it into the pitcher of kombucha and 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, 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 3: Weigh the coconut oil and cocoa butter into a small saucepan or double boiler. Melt gently over low heat, keeping a close eye on it. Weigh the other oils into your soap making pot or container and then pour the melted oils into there too. The melted oils should bring the temperature up to 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 4: Now, you’re ready to mix! Working carefully and still with gloves, goggles and long sleeves on, pour the lye solution into the oils. Stir by hand for around 30 seconds then begin mixing with an immersion (stick) blender. Do not use a hand mixer – you want a stick blender that looks like THIS.

Step 5: Blend for around 30 to 40 seconds, then hand stir with the motor off for 30 to 40 seconds. Alternate 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.

Step 6: After trace is reached, you can add in any extras that you’d like, such as essential oil, honey, oatmeal and so forth.

Step 7: Pour the soap into the prepared mold and cover with a sheet of wax paper, then the mold’s top or a piece of cardboard. Insulate the mold with a towel or small quilt, but peek every so often to make sure that the soap isn’t overheating. It will darken in spots and take on a gel-like appearance at some points (that’s all normal as it goes through “gel phase”), but if you see a crack developing down the middle, it’s getting too hot and should be uncovered.

Step 8: Allow the soap to stay in the mold for at least 24 to 48 hours. Remove from the mold and slice into bars. This recipe yields around 8 bars of soap. Let the soap cure for at least 4 weeks before use.

kombucha soap in a wooden loaf mold

Hot Process Variation: 

To make this soap in your crock-pot, follow steps 1 through 5, as written. After trace, place the soap batter in a slow cooker, turned to low heat. Cook for 1 hour, checking and stirring every 15 minutes. The soap will darken and go through many phase changes as it cooks. After the cook time, you can stir in essential oil or any extras that you’d like. Spoon the hot, cooked soap into a mold and allow it to firm up for around 24 hours. Slice into bars and you’re done! You can use hot process soap right away, but it still benefits from a few weeks of cure time.

 

If you have any questions I didn’t cover, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Because of pesky spammers, I have to keep several layers of spam filters in place and unfortunately some legitimate comments get lost in the process. If your comment doesn’t show up in a week or so (it sometimes takes me that long to get to them), then try again with a different email address. I try to answer every single one that I see. Thanks! :)

If you enjoyed this tutorial on making kombucha soap, be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE to get my best herbal projects, soap ideas, and DIY body care recipes sent straight to your inbox, once per month. (No spam ever, unsubscribe at any time.)

You may also like:

Aloe Rose Soap | Homemade Lavender Soap | Oatmeal & Honey Soap

Aloe Rose Palm Free Cold Process Soap Recipe  lavender soap  Oatmeal & Honey Soap

 

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42 Responses to Kombucha Soap Recipe

  1. Kristi Stone says:

    You are so creative, Jan! I would have never thought of using kombucha in soap, but what a great idea for a facial soap. Thanks for the mention, friend! :)

  2. Nellie Shapiro says:

    Jen ,since mixing kombucha/water with lye creates so much heat, do you think it still be beneficial ? Can we add kombucha to water/lye mixture once it cools down ?

    • Hi Nellie! It seems to me that the heat might be a problem too. I probably will experiment with adding an ounce or so of kombucha at trace at some point & compare.
      This link: https://www.kombuchakamp.com/rand-hill-naturals-kombucha-soap
      says the early pioneer of kombucha soap had hers lab tested:
      “Rand Hills Naturals has had their soaps tested at the same lab that Michael Roussin used for his Kombucha research in 1995. The lab determined that the active ingredients in Kombucha (glucuronic acid, B vitamins, etc) remain intact passing along those benefits to you.”
      It’s all very interesting, that’s for sure!

  3. Brandi says:

    What a great idea! I have a rather large scoby hotel that has been neglected, so I need to put them back to work and make some soap! I wonder if pureed scoby would add benefits… I know many people blend extra scoby’s with a little finished kombucha to use as a facial treatment.

  4. Sissy says:

    Jan, I’d be interested in knowing how well adding booch after trace works for you. I hot process and many add liquid after the cook for fluidity. I might give that a try.

    • Hi Sissy, I’ll let you know when I try it out! It will be a while, since my refrigerator died, unbeknownst to us until it was too late, and I lost everything, including my stashed scoby. (Or maybe it would’ve still been good, but it was looking kind of suspect, so I didn’t chance it.) I’d love to hear how it goes if you give it a test run! :)

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  7. Anna says:

    Hi, I’m going to make this soap tomorrow. I have some sweeter Kombucha (normal continuous brew) and some 30+ day I’ve been using for my scoby hotel. Which would you re comment I use please? Thanks so much!

  8. Anna says:

    …and would to hear your Kombucha toner recipe please! Thanks :)

    • Hi Anna! I put fresh basil leaves and rose petals in a small jar and poured kombucha on top. (You could use all sorts of fresh or dried herbs though!) I let it infuse in the refrigerator for a week or so before using. (It will keep growing a mini scoby on top, but I just worked around it or scooped it off when it got in the way.) We had our refrigerator malfunction and lost EVERYTHING, so I need to get a new scoby and start all over again so I can continue my experiments! :)

      • Anna says:

        Hi Jan, I’ve had some ‘old’/ strong kombucha tea infusing with calendula leaves in the fridge for about a month (I forgot about it!). So I guess it’s ready to use as a face toner. Would you dilute it or use it straight? Thanks, Anna :-)

  9. Michelle says:

    Have you tried using the Kombucha mother (scoby) in the soap and not just the fluid?? Really curious about maybe mixing some of that solid piece in there.

  10. Monica says:

    What a great idea…thank you for sharing! Unless I missed it somewhere..can you explain why the Kombucha needs to be diluted with water and did you need to let it go flat before using? Can’t wait to try this!

    • Hi Monica! I wasn’t really sure how kombucha would work in the soap, so I diluted it with some water (like I usually do apple cider). It was just a wild guess though, and it might not even need to be. My kombucha wasn’t very fizzy to start with, but it might be a good idea to let it go flat first if you see lots of bubbles in yours. (I hadn’t thought of that aspect before – thanks for pointing that out!) :)

  11. Carolina says:

    Thank you, Jan
    What could I replace the rice bran oil with?

  12. Terry Friedman says:

    What other oil could be substituted for Rice Bran?

    Thank you.

    Terry

  13. regina says:

    i have yet to make kombucha, but i do have water kefir. Have any idea if I can sub that?

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  16. Suzanne says:

    Hello
    I am wondering if you add any Rosemary oil extract or grape seed extract as an antioxidant to your superfat recipes?
    Also, do you always superfat your recipes?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Suzanne! In the past, I did add Rosemary Extract (ROE) to my soap recipes, but don’t do that any longer.
      There’s an interesting paper by Kevin Dunn that shows it does increase shelf life though:
      http://cavemanchemistry.com/HsmgDos2006.pdf
      I do superfat my soap recipes. When I first started making soap, I was around 7%, then I dropped to 6% and now sometimes use a 5% superfat (most often for milk soaps). Anything lower than that dries my skin out.

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  18. Natalie says:

    Jan- I made this soap this past weekend and ended up with what (I think, but am not sure) are Lye pockets! I did add sea clay to this recipe, is that why it might have happened? I added it (about two tablespoons)by putting it in about one ounce of the water a while before starting the recipe and then using that water, measuring the other 4 oz into it on the scale (so it was at 5 oz of water), then adding it to the komucha before adding the lye to it. I wish I could figure out how to upload a pic of the finished bar. It was just in the middle of the soap, about two, three bars. I am still new to soap making, I have about 10 batches under my belt and haven’t really done any experimenting with my own recipes. Any thoughts on what I did wrong?

    • Hi Natalie, I’m so sorry that happened! Since I didn’t get to answer comments for a stretch – how’s your soap looking now?
      Am I reading right that you added the clay to the lye solution? Since clay is so absorbent, it starts to thicken soap batter when added, which is why it’s usually stirred in at the end of the recipe.
      Do you think perhaps it’s just a pocket where the clay bound to the lye solution and didn’t completely blend into the oils?
      If you feel those bars may be have lye pockets, you could try rebatching them in a crockpot or over low heat.
      Here’s a good post on how to do that:
      http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/hot-process-hero-2/
      It’s a great idea to dilute your clay with extra water, just try stirring it in at trace next time and I think you may be happier with the results!
      If you’d like to leave a photo on my Facebook page, you can do that too & I’ll check it out! :)
      https://www.facebook.com/TheNerdyFarmWife

  19. Naoko says:

    I just love your website and inspiring me so much! I am making handmade soap in Washington. It is super dry area I live, so I am pretty “Soap Snob” for what I make. Thanks again for your hard work!

  20. Nahla hanna says:

    Hello,
    Im confused about some points. I hope u can help
    1) Ive seem soapers add the superfatters at trace rather than at the begining with the rest of the oils. What is more appropriate?
    2) why is hot processing used sometimes? Is it to correct errors in recipe? What are the drawback?
    Thanking ur valued help in advance!

    • Hi Nahla! Happy to help!

      1.) Back when I learned to make soap, we were told to add costlier superfat oils at trace, so the lye would work on the cheaper oils first, leaving more of the extra oils as “superfat”. It’s been shown since then though, that it doesn’t matter when you add the extra oils in, it all turns out the same. So you can add the extras with your other oils, or choose to still add them at the end – it’s just a matter of personal preference.

      2.) People use hot processing so they can use their soap quicker. You can cook your soap and use it the next day, though it still does a lot better if you let it sit to cure 3 to 4 weeks just like cold process. Hot process soap is also more rustic and rough looking – you can do more swirls and a smoother look with cold process. It’s a matter of how long you want to wait (patience) and personal preference too!

  21. Diana says:

    Someone in my soap making group just mentioned that she is now making kombucha tea soap. I’ve been making soap for 6 years and never thought about doing it with kombucha. I’m in Maine and many customers have asked if I would consider making this kind of soap. This is a perfect recipe to try out! Thank you for sharing your talents. I enjoy your website so much!

  22. Renee Picard says:

    Merci beaucoup . I use ice Komboucha with lye and scooby after Trace.

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