DIY Bergamot + Earl Grey Soap

Earl Grey Soap recipe + instructions made with coconut oil, shea butter, and citrusy sweet bergamot essential oil #soapmaking #makesoap #earlgreyrecipe #bergamotessentialoil #soaprecipe
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How to make Bergamot essential oil Soap

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.

Earl Grey Soap recipe + instructions made with coconut oil, shea butter, and citrusy sweet bergamot essential oil #soapmaking #makesoap #earlgreyrecipe #bergamotessentialoil #soaprecipe

Bergamot + Earl Grey Soap Recipe

Makes approx. 8 bars (120g / 40z)

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Lye Water Ingredients
113g / 4oz Sodium Hydroxide
200g /7oz /200ml Water

Soaping oils
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

Earl Grey Soap recipe + instructions made with coconut oil, shea butter, and citrusy sweet bergamot essential oil #soapmaking #makesoap #earlgreyrecipe #bergamotessentialoil #soaprecipe

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.

1. Ingredients
2. Equipment & Safety
3. Basic Recipes and Formulating Your Own
4. The Soap Making Process: Make, Mould, and Cure

Step 1: Mix the lye-water

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-water in a basin of cold tap water. This will help it to cool down.

Step 2: Melting 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-water’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-water 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-water

When the temperatures are where they need to be, pour the lye-water 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.

Earl Grey Soap recipe + instructions made with coconut oil, shea butter, and citrusy sweet bergamot essential oil #soapmaking #makesoap #earlgreyrecipe #bergamotessentialoil #soaprecipe

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 colour on the inside light.

Step 7: Curing your Earl Grey Soap

Leave the soap in its mould for 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.

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, I invite you to 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.

Earl Grey Soap recipe + instructions made with coconut oil, shea butter, and citrusy sweet bergamot essential oil #soapmaking #makesoap #earlgreyrecipe #bergamotessentialoil #soaprecipe

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17 Discussion to this post

  1. Varga Zsuzsanna says:

    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!

    • lovelygreens says:

      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 🙂

  2. Audrey says:

    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?

  3. Clay says:

    A beginner here – any suggestions or tips on diluting the bergamot oil for all ages and skin types?

  4. Gia Jacobson says:

    I love love love sunflower oils in soap! Nice creamy bubbles, will be trying this recipe, thank you for sharing your recipe.

  5. Theresa says:

    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?

    Thanks.

  6. Lizzie says:

    Hi there

    A bit daunted so want to use the melt and pour method – do you list recipes for this type of soap making?
    Many thanks!

    • lovelygreens says:

      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.

  7. saleem says:

    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?

  8. Jennie says:

    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.

  9. Michelle says:

    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?

  10. Liz says:

    You can also substitute tea for the water to make the caustic solution. Which makes the sosp a lovely brown color 🙂

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