Pansy Inspired Soap

This soap is made up of three simple layers, colored with purple clay and indigo, and scented with a floral essential oil blend. Feel free to change up the colorants and scent to put your own spin on the recipe!

bars of soap topped with dried pansies

I first made this recipe back in spring of 2018, and recently realized that I’d never shared it anywhere!

It’s loosely based on my “Beach Bum” soap recipe, found on page 97 of my print book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking.

Ingredients

Oils & Butters:

  • 11.5 oz (326 g) olive oil (38.5%)
  • 7 oz (198 g) coconut oil (23%)
  • 4 oz (113 g) sweet almond or sunflower oil (13.5%)
  • 3 oz (85 g) shea or mango butter (or tallow) (10%)
  • 3 oz (85 g) refined cocoa/kokum butter (or more tallow) (10%)
  • 1.5 oz (43 g) castor oil (5%)

Lye Solution:

  • 9.9 oz (281 g) distilled water (water: lye ratio of 2.4: 1)
  • 4.14 oz (117 g) sodium hydroxide (lye) 6% superfat

At Lightest Emulsion, Add:

  • 20 g lavender essential oil
  • 10 g bergamot essential oil
  • 4 g rosemary essential oil

Colorants:

  • 1 tsp purple clay mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 tsp indigo mixed with 1/2 tsp castor oil
three containers of soap batter

How to Make:

If you’ve never made soap before, stop here and read my Soapmaking 101 article and study the craft further before making your first batch. You may also find my Handmade Natural Soaps eBook Collection helpful!

  1. Be sure you have on proper safety gear of gloves and goggles.
  2. Mix the soap batter, following standard cold process soapmaking procedures.
  3. Blend the soap to a very light emulsion, then stir in the essential oils.
  4. Next, divide the soap batter: Pour 1/3 of the soap batter into a container and leave it plain, with no added colorant. Mix the remaining 2/3 of the soap batter with the diluted purple clay.
  5. Divide the now-purple soap batter in half and place in two separate containers.
  6. Leave one part of the purple soap batter as it is and set that container aside.
  7. Stir the indigo into the remaining container of purple soap batter, to make a darker purple color.
  8. You should now have three containers of soap batter with roughly the same amount in each one (it doesn’t have to be perfectly even): white, light purple, and darker purple.
  9. Stir/blend the darker purple until thickened, then spoon into the bottom of a soap mold and spread the top smoothly with a spatula.
  10. Next, stir the lighter purple to a thick trace and spoon into the mold, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  11. Finally, pour/spoon the white soap batter into the mold.
  12. Optional: Texturize the top with a spoon and carefully top the soap with dried pansies.
  13. Don’t let the pansies touch the soap batter other than the very center stem part. The petals will turn brown where they touch the raw soap batter.
  14. Leave in the mold for at least 24 hours, then slice into bars.
  15. The pansies will fade quickly in sunlight, so keep the bars in a dark location while curing and during storage. If topped with dried pansies, plan to use or share this soap within a few months after curing for best appearance.
bowl of dried pansy flowers and leaves

Dried Pansy Toppers

It took a bit of experimenting to get pansy/viola flowers dried properly so they looked good on soap.

Pressed flowers didn’t give the look I wanted, and air dried pansies shrink and shrivel.

I did some searching around and found the method of drying flowers in the microwave. This would normally not be my preferred way to dry flowers, but in this case, it works out best.

To dry pansies or violas in the microwave:

  • Place the flowers face down on a paper towel.
  • Leave just a little bit of stem to make attaching to the soap easier.
  • Fold the paper towel over the flowers, or use a second paper towel, to cover loosely.
  • Microwave in short bursts of 5 to 10 seconds at a time, checking frequently. It takes about 30 seconds to dry a pansy with my microwave, yours will surely vary a bit.

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bowl of dried pansies and fresh soap in mold
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Jan
 

Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • Sheila says:

    I love this recipe, can’t wait to try it!

  • Jazmyne says:

    Can I use alkanet powder instead of purple Brazilian clay?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Jazmyne! Yes, you could use alkanet powder for a purple color. In that case, I’d mix the alkanet root with oil instead of water (you could take the oil from the recipe.)
      You probably won’t need as much alkanet root though, maybe half as much? Alkanet needs to go through gel phase to develop the best purple color and it might take a couple of days for the purple to show up, so don’t despair if it looks gray at first. Also use light colored olive oil (not extra virgin) to make sure the alkanet color doesn’t get muddied by the green tones.
      If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes! 😊

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