How to make Calendula Soap: a natural yellow to orange colored soap

How to make Handmade Calendula Flower Soap
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Recipe and instructions for how to make calendula soap with dried or fresh flower petals. This calendula soap recipe turns out a natural yellow-orange color

Calendula officinalis is a skin-beneficial plant that we can use to make healing salves, skin creams, and even handmade soap. In soap, we use them primarily because they’re one of the few flowers that can withstand the soap-making process and come out the other end their original color. They look pretty, naturally color your bars, and may impart some of their skin-beneficial properties when you wash. Natural components found in the flower are used by herbalists to gently treat skin conditions such as eczema and the healing of wounds and burns.

This calendula soap recipe shows you how to add flower petals directly to your bars. I also have a recipe showing how to make golden calendula soap without adding the petals directly. Instead, the other calendula soap recipe shows you how to make soap using calendula-infused oil. The pin below shows how both recipes look, side by side.

Recipe and instructions for how to make calendula soap with dried or fresh flower petals. This calendula soap recipe turns out a natural yellow-orange color #soaprecipe #calendula #soapmaking

Use Fresh or Dried Calendula Flowers to make soap

Calendula petals are one of the only flowers that you can blend into cold-process soap and still retain a nice color. Others such as lavender will turn greenish-brown and rose petals will change from vibrant red and pink to an unattractive rusty brown. Calendula stays bright and colorful.

There are a few ways that you could make calendula soap. First off, you can choose to use either fresh or dried flower petals. When using fresh petals, it helps to chop them finely using a knife or immersion blender. Larger pieces of petals might not preserve well and could cause mold or rancidity.

Herbal Courses To Choose From

Dried calendula petals can be used freely when making soap. You can stir them in without chopping them up or scatter them on the tops of large loaves as decoration. Because they’re dried, they won’t introduce pockets of moisture inside your bars which might create issues. Here’s more on growing and using calendula.

Calendula soap recipe + instructions on how to make calendula soap
Calendula flowers are used by herbalists to treat skin conditions

Natural Soapmaking for Beginners Series

If you’d like to learn more about making natural soap, read through my four-part free soap making series. It includes background on soap making ingredients, equipment, safety precautions, basic recipes, and the full process of making soap. Continue below for instructions for this recipe.

  1. Soap Making Ingredients
  2. Soap Making Equipment & Safety
  3. Easy Soap Recipes
  4. Step-by-Step Cold Process Soap Making
Calendula soap recipe + instructions on how to make calendula soap
Calendula soap made with an infusion of the petals

Calendula Soap Recipe

800 g (1.76 lbs) batch (refers to oil content)
Makes approx. 8 bars & fits in this silicone loaf mold
Technical info: 6% superfat and 33% lye concentration

Lye Solution
109 g (3.8 oz) Sodium hydroxide (also called lye or caustic soda)
218 g (7.69 oz) Distilled water
2 tsp Dried Calendula petals (or 4 tsp fresh)

Solid Oils
200 g (7 oz) Coconut oil
150 g (5 oz) Shea Butter

Liquid Oils
400 g (14 oz) Olive oil
50 g (1.76 oz) Castor oil

Add at Trace
8 drops Grapefruit seed extract (optional)
4 tsp Litsea cubeba essential oil

Special Equipment needed
Digital Thermometer
Digital Kitchen Scale
Stick (Immersion) Blender
Silicone loaf mold

Calendula soap recipe + instructions on how to make calendula soap
Making a calendula infusion, a flower petal tea

Prepare Your Work Area

Measure the solid oils into a stainless steel pan dedicated to soap making, the liquid oils into a bowl, the water, and sodium hydroxide into heat-proof plastic jugs. The other ingredients and equipment can be set out at the ready. Now you’re ready to make calendula soap.

Make the Lye-solution

In a well-ventilated area and wearing safety goggles (or onion glasses) and rubber gloves, pour the sodium hydroxide into the water. Hold it away from your face so that you don’t breathe in the steam and stir until it’s all dissolved. There’s a lot of heat and steam let off in this process (yay chemistry!) so be prepared.

Cool the Lye-solution

Once dissolved, set the jug in cool water to help speed up the cooling of the contents — I usually place mine in the sink. Put the flower petals into the hot lye solution now and give it a stir.

Melt the Solid oils

Put your pan of solid oils on the stove at the lowest setting possible. Stir it gently to help the larger chunks of oil to melt.

Mix the Oils

When the solid oil has completely melted, pour the liquid oils into the pan and stir it together. Take the oil’s temperature with your digital thermometer. Also, take the temperature of the lye solution — ideally, they should be within 10 degrees of one another.

On Soap Making Temperatures

You can create good soap with oils that are between 90-120°F. The warmer the temperature, the darker your final soap is likely to be, especially if you insulate it with a towel. When your oil is in this range and the lye solution is within 10 degrees of it, it’s time to blend.

Calendula soap recipe + instructions on how to make calendula soap

Make Calendula Soap

Pour the calendula-infused lye solution into the pan of oils, flower petals, and all. Now dip your stick (immersion) blender into the pan and while off use it as a spoon to stir the oils and lye solution together. Bring the blender to the middle of your pan and at a standstill, turn it on for a few seconds. Stop and then use it (turned off) like a spoon to stir the soap together. Keep doing this until the soap thickens to ‘Trace’.

Looking for ‘Trace’

Trace is when your calendula soap batter thickens to the consistency of warm custard. It will leave trails on the surface of your soap if you lift the blender out and let the batter drip down. When your soap is at Trace, it’s time to add the essential oil and grapefruit seed extract. Stir them in well with a spoon or rubber spatula.

Pour into the Mold

Pour your soap batter into your mold while it’s still runny. Move quickly or the soap will begin to set inside your pan. To create a more intense color, wrap a towel around the mold, making sure that it doesn’t touch the wet soap. Sustained warmth will make your soap ‘gel’ — it will give you the color of the soap at the top of the photo below. For a lighter colored soap, don’t insulate with a towel or even pop the entire mold into the fridge (recommended for lightening soap in loaf molds)

Calendula soap recipe + instructions on how to make calendula soap
The soap on the top was insulated after being poured into the mold. The one at the bottom was not.

Un-Mold & Cut the Calendula Soap

Leave your calendula soap to harden for 24 hours before popping it out of the mold. Afterward, cut it into bars using a kitchen knife and then set them on baking paper to dry out. The soap will be completely saponified (fully soap) 48 hours after you make it but your bars need four to six weeks to ‘cure’ before you use them. This is the time it takes for the water to completely evaporate out of the bars. If you use the soap before this time it may disintegrate so please be aware.

The best place to cure your soap is in an airy, cool, yet dim area. A bookshelf out of direct sunlight would work a treat. Space your bars out and enjoy the lemony fragrance of the essential oil for the next month. After the cure time is up, store the soap in the open air until you’re ready to use or gift them. For full instructions on how to cure handmade soap head over here.

More Calendula Inspiration for you to Explore

37 Comments

  1. Hi

    My mum used to make this soap and I’m down to my last bar 😕 I’m using a vegetable based melt and pour product instead of lye, how much should I use ??

    Thank you

    1. Naturally coloring melt and pour soap with calendula is much different than in cold process. You’d heat the soap base with water and calendula petals for about half an hour before straining and pouring the soap into molds.

      1. Is the oil content the same??
        Solid Oils
        200g / 7oz Coconut oil
        150g / 5oz Shea Butter

        Liquid Oils
        400g / 14oz Olive oil (or Olive oil Pomace)
        50g / 1.76oz Castor oil

  2. Hi Tanya,
    can i substitute some of the olive oil with some calendula infused olive oil? I was thinking 200ml of olive oil and 200ml of calendula infused olive oil. Should be fine right?
    Thanks

  3. Has anyone tried this as a shampoo substitute? If not, do you have any suggestions for a shampoo that works well with this soap? Thanks!

  4. Hi Tanya. When pouring the lye solution into oils do we strain petals from it through the sieve (wet petals) and then add new dry petals? Or just pour infused lye solution with those petals straight into oils? Sorry, new soap maker here. Many thanks.

      1. Hi Tanya, I did as suggested pouring lye solution with calendula petals straight into the oils however I ended up with lumps in my soap. How do I fix this? Love calendula and want to make this work as a beginner soap maker.?Thank in advance xx

        1. Hi Nelia, I’m nearly 100% certain that the lumps in your soap are not from the calendula. Unless the lumps are pieces of petals, of course :) Lumps in soap can be the result of quite a few different things, but the most common is using fragrance oils (opposed to essential oils). Many of them cause tiny white lumps in the soap.

          1. Thank you for your quick reply. The lumps were white and this was happening before trace during stir and pulse phase with hand mixer. I had not added essential oils yet. ?

    1. Your soap has gelled in the center. Though it may lighten over time it will likely remain dark. The next time you make soap, consider soaping at a lower temperature — closer to 100F — to reduce the chance of this happening.

  5. Is there a substitute for Litsea cubea EO? It is not available in my local shops. Ordering to make the Calendula soap will delay making many days. Tia

  6. Hi Tanya,
    I enjoyed your video very much!! I have Calendulas is my garden and I love them!! I am hoping to make some Calendula soap for my first grandbaby’s baby shower. I am concerned thought because my patch of Calendulas are planted my a rose bush and the Japanese beetles were so bad this year that I broke down and sprayed my rosebush with Sevin, now I am worried about using the Calendulas for fear that they may be contaminated with chemicals. They did not get directly sprayed with Sevin however, they are vey close to the roses. I look forward to checking out your blog and learning new things, thank you for your time.

  7. Dear Tanya, how much water is needed for calendula soap (454g) , 120g in the recipe, but the soapcalc shows 172.9g? Thanks & Regards!!!!

      1. I love your website! I am just gathering things to make my first soap. I had calendula petals but needed to preserve, so I put them into olive oil. Can I use that? Also your harvesting of flowers on you tube was very helpful!

        Thank you,
        Susan

        1. You’re so welcome Susan :) Yes, crack on with using the calendula infused olive oil. You could also use it to make skin lotions and balms which might even be a better use of it.

      1. Tabassum & Tamara, there are several ways to measure how much water to use. As beginners, you might not be aware of this or how water amounts can change how the soap looks, traces, heats up, etc. I’ve provided the optimum amount for this recipe in this recipe and would advise that folks stick to it for success.

  8. can this be made into melt and pour? I want to start making soap and Im gonna experiment with melt and pour first just to get the feel of it and start experimenting with different herbs and scents. Im also very impatient and would hate to wait 4-6 weeks until my soap cures to be able to try it out lol.

  9. Hahaha! ;) I suppose soaping can be a fun activity for the winter when there's less to do with preserving and around the garden. But stock up on your dried herbs and botanicals before autumn rolls around – I'm going out today to pick plantain, goldenrod and horsetail! :)

  10. Stop it, you're giving me too many ideas that I want to try ;)I have promised myself not to play with soap until all the jams, chutneys& etc. have been done and you're tempting me to break my promise. It all sounds too enticing… we may end up with Jam Soap ;) Mo

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