Rosa Rugosa Soap Recipe (Palm Free)

Rosa Rugosa Handmade Soap from Roses

Quite possibly my favorite part of the year is that time around May when all of my roses start blooming at once.

When that happens, I gather together large amounts of rose petals and make all sorts of things from them, including this rosa rugosa soap.

If you don’t have access to fresh rose petals, don’t use ones from the grocery store or florist unless you’re sure they’re organic. Most are treated with pesticides that haven’t been approved for food or cosmetic use on humans. Just use dried rose petals instead.

Fresh Rose Petals

To start with, gather up a jar full of rose petals. I like to let mine sit uncovered, on my porch, for a few hours so that any bugs I may have inadvertently gathered have time to escape.

Once you’ve ensured the safety of any little critters, pour simmering hot water over the petals and cover with a saucer.

Let this steep for about ten to twenty mintues and you will have a scented pink water. (Don’t make it too strong though and be careful with red roses, as a too-dark tea can make your soap turn brown.) Strain and use in the recipe below.

bars of soap surrounded by fresh roses

Rosa Rugosa Soap (Palm Free)

  • 28 ounces coconut oil
  • 42 ounces olive oil
  • 12 ounces sunflower oil
  • 11.73 ounces lye (I like Essential Depot’s at Amazon)
  • 26 ounces strained rose petal infusion
  • At trace, stir in 1 tablespoon each of rosehip seed oil, jojoba oil and melted shea butter. (optional, makes a higher superfatted bar)
  • Also at trace, add a few teaspoons geranium (rose) essential oil (You can use rose absolute instead, but it’s much more costly.)

More detailed instructions for making soap can be found in my post Soap Making 101.




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  1. These pictures are so good, Jan, that your soap actually looks appetizing! Happy February…FD.

    1. Ha thanks Farmer Doug! It’s that wonderful summer sunshine and green background… I absolutely can not wait until spring and pretty flowers and more favorable photo conditions return! :)

  2. Pingback: Carrot & Honey Soap Recipe The Nerdy Farm Wife
  3. Just a question… your soap recipes are the first where I have noticed that additional oil is added at trace? Is there a reason for this?

    When calculating your recipes, do you allow for the recommended 5-6% superfat, and these oils are what is added at trace? I’m super curious about this method, thank you for responding!


    1. Hi Kristen, I learned to add in extra nutrients and such at trace from the book I used to teach myself soap making: The Natural Soap Book by Susan Miller Cavitch. I don’t see a lot of other people doing that either these days, but the habit just stuck with me, I suppose!

      I do calculate my recipes around 5 or 6% superfat, but don’t figure the additional trace oils into the equation. Those are just bonus oils; usually more expensive ingredients such as rosehip seed oil, tamanu oil, etc that I’m putting in for a specific purpose (anti-aging, eczema relief…)

  4. Thanks Jan for responding. I just requested the Cavitch book from my local library along with two others from Anne Linnet Watson and Marie Browning. The next time I make soap I will be sure to add the extra oils!

  5. Hi there. I would love to use just 3 oils when I make my soap, but when I checked this recipe using the Soapcalc, the cleansing is too high. Do you think this could be drying to the skin?

    1. Hi Corrie! The coconut oil does tip over the high end of the suggested range of 25 to 30%. Some people find higher amounts of coconut oil drying while some don’t. My dry skin does great with this particular recipe, but what I’ve been doing lately with newer recipes is dropping the coconut oil down to around 25% and adding an ounce or two of castor oil to make up for lost lather.

  6. Hello,
    Is there another oil that can be substituted for the coconut oil? My daughter has a mild coconut allergy.

    1. Hi Steph! You could use a combination of castor oil (for lather) and cocoa butter (for the hardness). :)

  7. I’m confused about recalculating a recipe that has oils measured by volume for superfatting. Would I need to figure out the weight of those and go from there? And could you address the benefits of superfatting at trace, rather than just all at the beginning? Thanks for your help and your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Marisa! I learned to make soap from a book that added oils at trace for superfatting purposes. The idea was that the lye would be “used up” on the initial oils and then you could add small amounts of your more expensive and beneficial ingredients to be sure your final bars had the benefits you wanted. (That really hasn’t been proven; so some people disagree with that theory.) The amount is so small that it doesn’t have to be calculated into the recipe. If you roughly halve the recipe, then halve the add-ins. If you quarter it, then quarter the add-ins. I’ve actually stopped doing a lot of add-ins that way with my newer recipes, so you could always leave them out if you wish. 1 tablespoon of oil is not quite half an ounce; I think most measure about .4 oz by weight. (going by memory so you’ll want to double check with a scale.) If it makes you more comfortable, you can certainly factor the extras into the recipe using the calculator, if you want to make sure your bar isn’t too high in oils. I hope that helped! :)

      1. Interesting and very helpful! Thanks for clarifying. So it looks like you superfat this recipe at 5-6% and then super-super fat with those extra oils. :)

  8. Hi, I would like to know whether Rose petals will discolour in CP Soap and whether green leaves will discolour in CP soap? How do I incorporate dried rose petals and dried green leaves in CP soap?

    1. Hi Carol-Ann! Unfortunately rose petals and green leaves will both discolor when stirred in cold process soap. What you can do is powder the dried petals or leaves very finely and stir in 1/2 tbsp or so into the soap batter for a speckled look.
      I’ve made soap with powdered dried rose petals, however, over time those will darken and turn shades of brown or black.
      One of the few flowers that holds its color in soap is calendula. You can mix in those petals or (my favorite way) finely grind them and stir in some of the powder for a textured yellow/orange.

  9. My friend read in one of her soap making books that it’s NOT good to use lye purchased from a hardware store for soap making… Is that true? I personally think Essential Depot’s prices are much better than the hardware store anyway but I was curious if this is true. Thank you.

    1. Hi Annamarie! As long as the lye is 100% sodium hydroxide, with nothing else added, then it can be used for soap making, no matter where you buy it. The problem I ended up running into with local supplies of lye is that they were really unreliable as far as how well they’d been stored. Since there wasn’t high demand, I kept getting bottles filled with clumps (indicating they’d gotten moisture in them and they wouldn’t measure correctly.) I really like Essential Depot’s consistent quality and it’s nice having it come right to my door too! :)

  10. Hi there….I’m wondering if I could substitute Rose Water for the rose pedal infusion? Maybe part Rose water and part distilled water? Thanks! Love the recipe!

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