Natural Clay Soap Recipe

Natural Clay Soap Using Funnel Pour Method
Clays are one of my favorite additions to soap recipes. Not only do they add natural color, but I love how the resulting bars leave my skin feeling so clean and refreshed!

Clay soap is especially helpful for itchy, inflamed skin conditions, like bug bites and summer heat rashes. It can also be used as a complexion bar to gently cleanse acne prone skin.

When I first started making this soap, I dug some of last spring’s violets out of my freezer and was going to couple it with Purple Brazilian Clay to make a light, floral, girly type of soap.

However, after I posted this photo on social media:

Frozen Violets and Purple Clay

a resulting conversation about using activated charcoal & clays in soap inspired me to head in a completely different direction!

I used a tried and true soap recipe, but feeling tired of the same old, same old pouring method – I decided to try out the funnel pour technique from my new copy of Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps, by Anne-Marie Faolia, (“The Soap Queen.”) Alternatively, she has a great online video tutorial of the process HERE.

I really like how it turned out and can’t wait to try more of the techniques in the Soap Crafting book!

One note about the Purple Brazilian Clay: I find it looks more rosy-mauve in my final soap than purple, but that could be because I didn’t use enough. I think next time I experiment with this clay, I’ll combine it with alkanet root and see how that works out.

Natural Clay Soap Using Funnel Pour Method

Natural Clay Soap (made with Funnel Pour Method)

  • 3 ounces Avocado Oil
  • 8 ounces Coconut Oil
  • 12 ounces Olive Oil
  • 2 ounces Shea Butter
  • 6 ounces Sunflower Oil
  • 4.3 ounces lye (6% superfat)
  • 8 to 12 ounces water or liquid (I used 11 oz violet tea)

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 article or check out my Handmade Natural Soaps eBook Collection.

The batch is sized small to fit a roughly 3 pound wooden mold that my husband made for me with inner dimensions of 8 inches x 3.5 inches x 3.5 inches.  It yields seven to eight bars.

Without essential oils, this soap has an earthy smell from the clay. I recommend adding 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of peppermint essential oil for an especially refreshing wash.

Right before mixing the lye solution into the oils, mix up the following additions in three separate small bowls or cups:

  • 1 teaspoon purple Brazilian clay* + 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon activated charcoal + 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon bentonite clay + 2 or 3 teaspoons water

After mixing just to light trace, divide into three glass, plastic or stainless steel bowls. (I used leftover yogurt containers.)

Stir the bentonite clay into one part of the soap mixture, the purple clay into the second, and the activated charcoal into the third portion.

* Clays can be purchased HERE or HERE. Instead of the purple, you could also substitute another clay such as French green or rose, for a different color profile.

Clays for Funnel Soap

Situate your funnel over the middle of your mold and begin pouring each color in, one at a time, for just a few seconds. Alternate the colors until you run out of soap mixture.

Natural Colorants


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  1. I know of no one else who puts as much effort into creating such informative and aesthetically pleasing blog posts as you do, Jan. Being this talented helps a lot too! Thanks again.

  2. Wow! It looks really great! I’ve been wanting to try funnel pour for a while, now I really want to!

    1. Absolutely! You can substitute other oils, you just want to make sure to run the new numbers through a lye calculator, such as this one: – to figure out the new amount of lye needed. So, for this recipe, if you decide to just use more olive oil instead of the sunflower – the new recipe would look like:
      3 oz avocado oil
      8 oz coconut oil
      18 oz olive oil
      2 oz shea butter
      and the lye would change from 4.3 oz to 4.29 oz which isn’t a big change at all in this case, but sometimes, depending on the oil types, you will see a more significant change. So, it’s always best to double check!

  3. love your color scheme – absolutely elegant. I will give this recipe a try right now, but today will do this in my favorite lined PVC tube
    Should be interesting what that will look like. I shall use rose clay instead of the purple clay now (only have green and rose and bentonite – and charcoal).
    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. oh forgot to mention , I only have Safflower oil instead of sunflower – and yes I did run it through the lay calc.

  4. well, I unfolded and cut: interesting patterns but colors somewhat dull – and I made a mix-up in the order of pouring. Better next time.

    1. Hi Petra, Thanks for sharing how it turned out in a PVC tube mold! That would definitely give a new, interesting pattern – I bet it looks great! I believe I remember thinking that my colors looks dull at first too, at least until they went through gel phase. One other thing I will do next time is add some essential oil. I really like how it cleans, but it does smell a bit earthy because of the clays. I think peppermint essential oil with green clay will be a nice combination.

      1. Just reporting back – colors of the round PVC one not too bad now – muted, but nice.
        Did a batch in a big mold with French green clay, Bentonite and charcoal – so beautiful I can hardly stand it!! Thanks again for your wonderful idea.

  5. Can you use more clay? Say a tablespoon each kind. Why or why not? Thanks

    Also, your soap is inspiring.

    1. Hi Krissi, I usually use fairly low amounts of clay, but that’s just an instinct thing. I don’t want it to be too drying. You could always test out adding more in a small batch and see how you like it!

  6. Hi Jan, I had become a fan of your blog! Love your soaps recipes! I had bough soap colorants from Michaels, (finded in soap making dep.) what is your opinion about it? Like can I use them in my HP or CP homemade soap? Thanks Osiris

    1. Hi Osiris, thanks! I haven’t tried the soap colorants from Michaels before. If it doesn’t say how to use them on the package, then maybe you could ask someone that works there? I know at our Michaels store, they are really nice and helpful! I hope they do work out for you!

    1. Hi Carrie! You can usually turn most cold process soap recipes into hot process so I *think* you could with this one too. (I make a lot less HP soaps so am wayyyy less experienced with it than CP.) You’d just have a different design since you couldn’t pour. (Though you could probably do a camouflage style if you wanted!)

  7. WOW! I love your site. It’s so useful and easy to navigate. And your goodness shines through. Keep up the good work!

  8. Greetings and thank you for this great information. Have you ever used clay with melt and pour soap? I’m new to soap making, so I was going to start with a base soap so that I don’t have to handle lye. Thanks again for the information.

  9. Hi, I used this post for a recipe tonight. I increased the percentage of coconut oil, decreased the olive oil and had to add some mango butter in with Shea, BC I ran out of Shea. So, I have green clay, red French clay, and activated charcoal. I cooked my soap in a crockpot, until Vaseline stage, turned off heat and didn’t have patience to wait for the reasonable flash point of about 120°. So, I mixed each clay or coal in a separate loaf pan, with water, but both clays wouldn’t smooth out. I plopped hot soap on top of it and attempted to stir in, and didn’t get any red or green variation and just a little bluish for the coal. So, the soap has a wonderful lather, and feels nice and soft, and then squeaky clean, and soft hands directly after. But, after a minute or so, my hands feel soft, but tight, really tight like I have a mask on my face that is ready to come off. So, can you tell me what it is that made it feel this way? Oh yeah, this was my first beer soap, Coors light, boiled and frozen ice cubes for about a week. Have you made beer soap? Thanks for all your great recipes!

    1. Hi Regina! I’ve not made beer soap, but I have made a butter beer soap that I made in a similar way. It was a big hit with my daughter! It sounds like you got really creative with your soap recipe – that’s awesome! How much did you increase the coconut oil by? Since it’s so cleansing, that’s often the culprit in leaving a dry feeling on skin. The clays too might contribute. How long has it been since the soap was made? Even though it’s hot process, it might benefit from a few more weeks of cure time. Did you change the lye amount, after changing the coconut oil/olive oil amounts? If not, it might be a bit lye heavy. (Did you try to touch it to your tongue and see if it zaps?) If it doesn’t zap, with that wonderful lather you could try it as a shampoo bar. A lot of people like a more cleansing feel to shampoo bars, so it might work well for that. (Just follow with a vinegar rinse to restore pH and prevent buildup.)

  10. I have done several batches of CP soap…began in January this year and have made about seven batches…I can’t stop! But I want to make a few batches using clay as a more natural color alternative. Is it true that clay tends to dry the soap out, and does your recipe deliberately use the more moisturizing oils as a means of counteracting that?

    1. Hi Carolyn! Sounds like you’re having lots of fun with your soap making! :) If used in small amounts, I don’t find clay in soap too drying, but that may vary depending on skin type. Like you said though, it’s a good idea to keep a nice level of moisturizing oils in the recipe and your superfat at least 6% or so. (Clay soaps at 5% superfat with a higher amount of coconut oil, do seem too drying to me.) Too much coconut oil can be drying for some skin types, so you could always reduce the amount in your recipe a bit and replace it with more olive or another moisturizing oil too. One final thing to keep in mind with clay, is that it’s very absorbent. You should dilute it with water before adding to your recipe at trace and then be prepared to work quickly, since it tends to thicken up soap batter.

  11. Hi Kathy!
    Would you say that the bentonite clay gives off color to the soap?


  12. Hi Jan
    Loved making this soap, and found the funnel pour method really clever. And liked the different way of slicing to effect differing patterns.
    But, my batch is still softish after a week of curing. Will it harden up do you think?

  13. Would I be able to use 3 teaspoons of French green clay or 3 tsp of Rose clay if I don’t want to use bentonite clay and activated charcoal?

  14. Thank you, these look beautiful. I do have a question – the water used to mix the clays- is that additional water or do you reserve some of that from your initial quantity of water to mix with clay. I am new to soap making and not sure if adding the extra teaspoons will “upset” the ratio of liquids in the recipe.

    1. Hi RM! I usually add extra water to help make up for clay’s tendency to thicken soap. Fortunately, you have a fairly wide range when it comes to adding water to soap, so there’s no need to worry about a few extra teaspoons. Some soap makers use a full amount of water in their recipes, while others only use twice as much water as lye, while others reduce the liquid even more! The main thing is that you have enough water to dissolve the lye (so at least an equal amount water as lye) and not *too* much water, so the soap never sets up. In between, there’s lots of room to play! :)

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