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How to Make Homemade Soaps with Herbs and Plants

By chadchaffin | Homemade

Dec 13

Making soap from scratch is a complicated process. However, if you start with a natural 100% pure soap base and add herbal ingredients it becomes fun and easy. By including healing herbs, you’ll increase the soaps’ soothing, moisturising and cleansing properties.

What to make homemade soaps with herbs and plants

You can make a range of soaps from solid soap bars to exfoliating scrubs for cleaning hands and greasy stovetops. To make a solid bar, no water is added to the melted soap. For a scrub, water is used to make a softer consistency. Both solid bars and softer scrubs can have a variety of ingredients added to enhance them, including ground-up pumice stone, herbs and herb-infused and essential oils.

What you’ll need to make homemade soaps with herbs and plants

  • Soap base. I use Farmhouse soap, from The Soap Barn, made from coconut oil and clay. One hundred percent natural, it’s easy to melt and infuse with herbal oils to make a variety of soaps from facial scrubs to shampoo bars (ideal for travelling). Glycerine soap is clear and good for making hand soaps.
  • Double boiler or a glass bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water.
  • Herb-infused or essential oils. Olive or coconut oil are good choices.
  • Fresh herbs or other ingredients, optional.
  • Plastic soap moulds, silicone sweet moulds or you can use
    oiled bread tins and cut your soap into squares afterwards.
  • Notebook to keep track of recipes and ingredients.

How to do it

  1. Cut the soap into chunks and place in the top of the double boiler then set it over gently simmering water to melt.
  2. Add herb-infused oil, essential oils and any other ingredients, stir through to mix and remove from heat.
  3. For solid soaps: Pour into the moulds, tapping gently to remove bubbles. Leave to set. To remove, run a sharp knife around the edges, turn over and give a sharp tap.
    For a scrub: Add water, stirring while you add, until it reaches the desired consistency. (It will solidify further as it cools.) Decant into wide-mouthed containers and seal.
    To make herb-infused oil: Place one part fresh or dried herbs and one part oil in a double boiler over gently simmering water for three hours. Strain. Use 1 teaspoon oil per 200g of soap.

What plants can be used to make soap?

  1. Lavender

    Its Latin name is derived from lavare which means to wash. The flowers have antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
    Growing tips: A hardy perennial, it likes full sun and is drought tolerant. Plant it in well-drained soil with good air circulation. It dislikes damp, wet conditions. Prune in early spring. Cut flowers regularly to keep it producing.

  2. Calendula

    The petals have soothing and healing qualities ideal for face soap.
    Growing tips: Grow from seed in full sun in well-drained soil. It flowers from late autumn, throughout winter into early summer. Deadhead flowers to encourage further flowering.

  3. Soapwort

    This soothing and anti-inflammatory plant is good for dry skins. Its leaves contain high levels of saponins, which foam when mixed with water.
    Growing tips: It’s a perennial that prefers full sun but will grow in semi-shade. Plant in well-drained, poor soil, as it can become invasive in rich soil. Don’t grow near a fishpond as the saponins can harm fish.

  4. Rosemary

    An antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, rosemary is good for skin blemishes and ideal for facial soaps. It also encourages hair growth and leaves hair shiny.
    Growing tips: Its preferred climate is hot and dry, but it does well in more temperate areas. Choose its spot carefully as it’s a large perennial that can live up to 20 years. Cut it back in late spring. In frost areas, don’t cut it back in autumn.

  5. Peppermint

    An aromatic herb, it’s a refreshing antiseptic and toner.
    Growing tips: Peppermint spreads quickly and is best contained in pots. It likes full sun and plenty of water. If it dies back in winter, it will pop up again in spring.

  6. Tea Tree

    A graceful tree with peeling white paper bark that grows up to 7m tall. The leaves of this powerful all-purpose healing plant make a good addition to soap for problem skins.
    Growing tips: Although it prefers moist soil, it will grow in most well-drained soils. It’s hardy and likes sun. Keep well watered throughout summer. Trim it to keep it smaller.

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