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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.
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.
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.
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.
- Soap Making Ingredients
- Soap Making Equipment & Safety
- Easy Soap Recipes
- Step-by-Step Cold Process Soap Making
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
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.
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)
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.