Earl Grey Soap Recipe with Bergamot Essential Oil
All natural Earl Grey soap recipe featuring bergamot essential oil, dried Earl Grey tea, and rich oils including shea butter.
This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Making handmade soap is both a useful and creative skill. You can customize your bars to be anything you’d like, from plain and unscented to swirly and fragranced. Personally, I like to make natural soap that uses herbs, roots, plants, and essential oils. My soap is simple and beautifully scented.
Bergamot is a citrusy and uplifting essential oil that’s used to flavor Earl Grey tea. I used both the oil and the tea to make this DIY Bergamot and Earl Grey soap. It’s a palm-free recipe with a scent that will please both men and women. The tiny flecks of tea that dot the bars will over time bleed into the soap around them.
Bergamot + Earl Grey Soap Recipe
Makes approx. 8 bars (120g / 40z)
Lye Solution Ingredients
113g / 4oz Sodium hydroxide
200g /7oz /200ml Distilled water
256g / 9oz Coconut oil
42g / 1.48oz Shea Butter
304g / 10.7oz Olive oil
120g / 4.23oz Sunflower oil
80g / 2.8oz Castor oil
Add after trace
4 tsp /50g /20ml Bergamot essential oil
1/8 tsp dry Earl Grey tea
Special Equipment needed
Natural Soap Making for Beginners
If you’re new to making handmade soap, you might also want to check out my four-part series on natural soap making. It gives a good introduction on what to expect from ingredients, equipment, recipes, and how to combine everything together to make soap.
For this recipe, make sure that your main oils, water, and lye are pre-measured. Wear an apron, gloves, eye-protection and work in an orderly space free from distractions. Any tools, pans, or bowls that come into contact with the lye should be soap-dedicated. It’s best to not use the same items that you’d prepare food with. Make sure that the jugs that you measure the lye and water into are heat resistant.
Step 1: Mix the Lye Solution
Make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves and eye protection. In a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors if you can manage it, pour the dry sodium hydroxide (lye) crystals into the water. Hold it well away from your face and mix until the lye is dissolved. There’s steam and heat in this step so be prepared. When mixed, set the jug of steaming lye solution in a basin of cold tap water. This will help it to cool down.
Step 2: Melt the oils
On very low heat, begin melting the coconut oil and shea butter. Move the oils around in the pan to increase its surface area and to melt it quicker. Don’t leave the oils unattended — they melts quicker than you think. As soon as there’s just a tiny amount of un-melted oil in the pan, take it off the heat and continue stirring.
When its fully melted, pour in the liquid soaping oils and stir it all together.
Step 3: Balancing temperatures
Take the oil’s temperature; you’re aiming to get it to between 100-110°F (38-43°C). Once you have a reading, take the lye solution’s temperature too. You’re going to try to bring the oil down (or up) to the right range and make sure that the lye solution is between 5-10 degrees of the oils. Getting the right temperature ensures that you won’t run into any issues that may include unwanted colour changes, cracking, or issues with the next step.
Step 4: Mixing the oils & lye solution
When the temperatures are where they need to be, pour the lye solution into the oils through a sieve (fine mesh strainer). This helps to catch any particles of undissolved lye that might still be in your solution.
Next comes the magic of saponification! You’ll need a stick blender (immersion blender) and a few minutes to transform your ingredients into soap. Without a stick blender this next step would take well over an hour of manual stirring like it did in the past.
Step 5: Blending
Dip the stick blender into your pan at an angle — this reduces the amount of air in the head and thus in your soap. Do this each time you take the stick blender out and put it back into the batter.
With it turned off, gently stir the mixture together. Now bring the stick blender to the centre of the pan and while stationary, turn it on for a couple seconds. With it off, use the stick blender to stir the batter together. Having the blender on whilst stirring can kick up splatters of soap on you and at this point it’s not safe to have on your skin. Safety first when making soap.
Step 6: ‘Trace’
Repeat the stationary blending and then stirring until the soap thickens up. It will have the consistency of warm custard and will leave a trail on the surface if drizzled from the stick blender. When you’re able to see this, pour in the essential oil and dried tea and stir it in well with a spatula.
Working quickly, pour the soap batter into your mould(s). Pop it into the fridge to keep the bars light coloured, inside and out. Leave it there for 12 hours or overnight before moving the mould back onto the counter.
Step 7: Curing Earl Grey Soap
Leave the soap in its mould for a total of 48 hours. After this point, saponification is finished and it’s safe to handle. That’s how long it takes for all the sodium hydroxide (lye) to bond with the oils completely.
Next you have to cure the soap before it can be used. This is all about evaporating the excess water from your bars and allowing them to harden. For four weeks you need to leave your bars of soap in an airy place that’s not too hot or cold and out of direct sunlight. Space them out on a sheet of grease-proof (or baking) paper and let them scent the room for you while they’re finishing up. For full instructions on how to cure handmade soap head over here
After those four weeks are up you can use your bars or gift them. Once made, your soap can have a shelf-life of up to two years. Look on the backs of all the ingredients you use to make your batch and the best by date that’s closest is the one you need to use your handmade soap by.
To decorate your soap in the same way that I have, package with brown baking paper and tie with string. A staple on the paper tag makes it look similar to a tea bag label.
More soap recipes
If you enjoyed this earl grey soap recipe, have a browse of my other soap ideas. If you’re interested in making another ‘herbal tea’ type soap, check out my recipe for natural chamomile soap or natural peppermint soap.
Hi Tanya I love all your info on gardening an everything on soaps. do you have a book of recipe for crock pot soaps? If you do please let me know. Thank You very very much.
I don’t, sorry, but I have a hot process soap recipe you can try :)
I’m a beginner soap-maker and have been loving your recipes! Thank you so much for sharing. :) I do have a general question- if I want to cut a recipe in half, do I simply cut each ingredient in half or does it depend on the recipe? Thanks!
Hi Alison and yes, you can simply divide the recipe in half :)
Can this recipe be made using the hot process method? Thanks.
Hi Carol, and yes it can. Adjust the water amount to match the lye:water ratio of 1:3 and away you go :) The soap will look different to cold-process but the recipe will work for either method.
SOMEONE MENTIONED USING 1-2% OF CORN STARCH TO HELP RETAIN THE SCENTS. HOW MUCH WOULD THAT BE IN TSP OR TBS?
Whenever you see a percentage listed in soap recipes it refers to percentage by weight. Grams/ounces, not tsp or TBSP which are volume measurements.
Thank you for this recipe! I’m wondering if you can explain a bit more about putting the soap in the fridge? I took a soap making course and all other material I’ve read has said to make sure the soap is well wrapped and insulated from the cold to ensure the gel stage completes. Does putting it in the fridge not prevent this from happening / make the curing take longer? I just want to make sure my soap will be safe to use.
Hi Hebah, insulating soap causes the soap to gel and the color to intensify. Cooling the soap after, such as putting it in the fridge, stops gelling and keeps the soap light-colored. It’s an important step for white or light-colored soap recipes :)
Hello, I was wondering if you could put an Earl grey tea bag in the water then mix your lye solution with it? And would this make any difference to your soap , smell ect? I have seen this in recipes before. Obviously waiting until the water has cooled down before mixing. Will this change any of the recipe amounts ect? I’m struggle to find recipes with just purely palm free . You are the only one that I can find with most recipes how I want however I want to add bits to them but I just don’t seem to understand this soap cal and how to do it! So frustrating and hard . So Thankyou for what your already doing.
Yes, you could do that, but the color of your soap will be light brown in the end and different from what you see in this recipe. It doesn’t affect scent though. When working with botanicals, like earl grey tea, you don’t need to work them into the soap cal either :)
Absolutely love this soap! However, my batch reaches trace almost immediately and seizes up. I made an attempt to increase the water to 9 ounces and the batter still formed thick chunks. Any suggestions or feedback?
Hi Aly, this is a very simple soap recipe made for beginners and the ingredients listed are not ones that cause soap to seize. I think that it’s very likely that you’re accidentally using a synthetic fragrance oil instead of essential oil. They’re notorious for causing soap to solidify quickly and often arrive in essential oil looking bottles. Carefully read the label and please be aware that not all fragrance oils are skin-safe.
Hi. I really want to try this soap recipe but I’m confused about the grapefruit extract. There is no mention of it on the list of ingredient however people are mentionning grapefruit extract in the comment.
Also, the link for castor oil is actually a link for Grapefruit seeds extract. Am I missing something here ?
Grapefruit seed extract is an optional ingredient that you can add to soap to help prolong its life. It’s not a preservative, but it helps keep free-floating oils in the soap from going rancid. I tend to use five drops per pound of soaping oils.
I used to have the same issue until I found out that corn starch “holds on” to essential oils. So I made this very recipe (earl grey tea + bergamot oil) and could not believe that the soap retained the wonderful aroma. I just mixed bergamot oil with corn starch (1-2%) and added it in at the end. Love this soap!
Me too! What a pleasant surprise that the soap retained its aroma. I absolute adore this soap, the bits of tea work like a scrub, the oils are so nourishing and well the smell is out of this world. Love, love, love
Hello, Just wondering if I can just halve everything to make a smaller batch?
Thanks for a great website.
I wouldn’t make a batch smaller than 1lb (454g) of soaping oils. Feel free to reduce the recipe down to this amount though.
Thank you for such inspirering recipes! I’m all new to soap making.
Is it possible to leave out the sunflower oil and just have Olive, coconut, castor and shea? I can’t find a recipe on your blog with just those oils.
And which of the oils should I then add up instead?
Changing a soap recipe is literally like changing a chemical formula — it’s dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I wrote this other piece to answer your question (many other people have asked the same in the past): https://lovelygreens.com/change-customize-soap-recipe/
I wonder if this recipe could also be made as hot process soap?
Love this soap!! The problem that I’m having is that my essential oil scent fades. Smells so good and goes to practically no scent at all. Any suggestions?
Most citrusy essential oils will fade over time, unfortunately. That includes Bergamot to some extent. My advise would be to make small batches and use within a few months. If you’d like to make citrusy soap with a scent that lasts, use Litsea cubeba, aka May Chang. Here’s a recipe: https://lovelygreens.com/zesty-citrus-calendula-soap-recipe/
Hi, I’m a huge fan and have just started using your recipes and videos which I love, thank you! Can I omit the Shea butter in this or would I have to use a different recipe? And if so, do you have a recipe for just olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower and castor oil soap please? Sorry, just a beginner :)
Hi Rebecca, I tend to use shea butter or sustainable palm oil in my soap recipes to create a lovely conditioning bar. You can have a browse through my recipes here: https://lovelygreens.com/category/beauty/soap/
I would love to print this recipe, how may I do this cause I really want to make this please.
What if I don’t have Shea, sunflower and castor oil? I only have olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil. Could I just increase the portions?
You’ll need to use a completely different soap recipe Suzie. I’d recommend that you look at my piece on creating your own soap making recipe and work from there: https://lovelygreens.com/natural-soapmaking-for-beginners-basic/
I am just measuring my ingredients out to make this soap :) I was wondering about the final note regarding putting the soap in the fridge. Does the soap stay in the fridge for 48 hours? I’m not sure if I am reading that right, thank you!!
Hi Lisa — you only need it to be in the fridge for as long as it takes the whole loaf to cool down. I’d recommend 12 of the 48 hours or overnight. Happy soaping :)
Thank you! I just successfully made my second batch of soap by following this recipe exactly – I am so excited it worked! It smells amazing – I want to eat it ha. Thank you again for an amazing recipe :)
I made this soap yesterday and cut it this morning. After 8 batches I could finally hit the right, perfect trace – hurray! Not too thin, not too thick, just right. And now it is official – bergamot is my favourite EO. It is citrusy and uplifting, always makes me smile. I’m going to order a big bottle of it. Thank you, Tanya!
Great news! Bergamot is absolutely lovely isn’t it? It goes really well with other citrusy essential oils and also with some deeper scents like Oak Moss, Frankincense, or Clary Sage. Happy soaping Varga :)
Just a quick question about the essential oils. I don’t have either of those, can I substitute for something else and/or leave them out all together?
A beginner here – any suggestions or tips on diluting the bergamot oil for all ages and skin types?
As in this soap recipe? It’s already diluted when used in this manner.
I love love love sunflower oils in soap! Nice creamy bubbles, will be trying this recipe, thank you for sharing your recipe.
I’m just wondering about the purpose the grapefruit seed extract serves in the soap? It’s not something that I have in my home and I’m trying to not buy anything extra right now for soaping and am wondering if there is something that would be a good substitute for it in your recipe?
It’s optional Theresa but helps to keep your extra oils in the recipe from going rancid over time.
A bit daunted so want to use the melt and pour method – do you list recipes for this type of soap making?
I’m sorry Lizzie but I’m a from-scratch soap maker. I’m sure it would be easy to adapt this to M&P though — just omit everything but the ‘After Trace’ ingredients. Use M&P soap for the base instead.
Hi, Just made this recipe. As I am still new to this, I saw that trace happens much earlier than I expected. Had to work quickly and forgot to add the grapefruit seed extract. Will that have a very big impact on shelf life?
It should be fine Saleem — just try to use the soap within a year.
Hmm, gives me an idea. This seems to make for a good rebatch as well. Take the base soap and shred it, add in some shea, some tea, place in a crock pot on low, once it looks like mashed potatoes, turn it off then add in the bergamot oil. Blend well. Put into molds and set aside for a day or two. ( you just have to play with measurements) I wonder if that would be as nice or at least nice for home use? I love the earl grey scent. Its neither feminine or masculine but reminds me of Star Trek and Captain Picard. LOL.
Thank you for the simple and beautiful recipe!
Why do you prefer to add shea butter at trace, rather than with the rest of the oils before mixing in the lye solution?
You’re welcome! You add superfatting oils at Trace to minimize the chance of them transforming into soap.
You can also substitute tea for the water to make the caustic solution. Which makes the sosp a lovely brown color :)
Yes you could! I do this when making my Peppermint & Sea Kelp soap :)