Gardener’s Hand Soap Recipe

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How to make a gentle gardener’s hand soap with shea butter, poppy seeds, and essential oil. This is a cold-process soap recipe using natural ingredients and a recycled paper soap mold.

Lavender & Rosemary Hand Soap Recipe #soap

Many handmade soap recipes focus on creating luxurious bars for the whole body but really what part of you do you wash the most? Hands! Especially if you’re a dedicated kitchen gardener. This recipe for lavender and rosemary scrubby hand soap is great for cleaning dirty hands and nails without stripping your skin of moisture. You can even use a bar of it to make liquid soap if you’d like.

Natural Soapmaking for Beginners Series

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

The batch is for one pound (454g) and is enough to fill one plastic takeaway box, giving you five stubby bars, or a paper milk/juice carton, which will give you four decent-sized square bars. I prefer the latter since the shape is both rustic and pleasing, making them ideal to use at home or to give as gifts. Use the instructions in the above links to make the recipe.

Lavender & Rosemary Hand Soap Recipe #soap

Recycled Mould Ideas

You can use practically any paper or plastic container as a soap mould though and I’ve seen others use margarine containers, yoghurt dishes (for round soaps), and even cardboard boxes for larger batches. In fact, I know of a professional soaper who uses USPS boxes to make her soaps.

Lavender & Rosemary Hand Soap Recipe #soap

The positive thing about using recycled containers as moulds is that you spend less money on your handmade soap, you give a container that might have otherwise ended up in the landfill a second chance at usefulness, and lastly, you don’t have to worry about not destroying it getting your soap out.

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Lavender & Rosemary Scrubby Hand Soap Recipe

1 lb batch (454g) and enough for 4-5 bars
Amounts of most of the ingredients are in weight – you’ll need a Kitchen Food Scale to make cold-process soap

Lavender & Rosemary Hand Soap Recipe #soap

4oz / 115g distilled water
2.1oz / 62g Sodium hydroxide (Lye)
7.9oz / 225g Olive oil
3.9oz / 112g Coconut oil
3.2oz / 90g Sunflower Oil

Superfatting oils
0.77oz / 22g Cocoa Butter
0.18oz / 5g Shea butter

Natural Colour
1/8tsp Ultramarine violet mineral pigment powder (optional)

1 tsp / 6ml Rosemary Essential Oil
2 tsp / 10-12ml Lavender Essential Oil

10 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract (optional)

Botanicals – Scrubby bits
1-1/2 tsp Poppy Seeds

Lavender & Rosemary Hand Soap Recipe #soap

How to Make Gardener’s Hand Soap

Follow the soapmaking instructions in this post and don’t forget to also check out what equipment you’ll need to make soap. The temperature I mix oils and lye solution together for this recipe is 100 degrees F and once you’ve poured your soap into the moulds make sure to insulate them really well with towels or blankets for at least twenty-four hours. Also, cover the tops of your soap with plastic wrap if you think they might come into contact with fabric during the time they’re insulated.

After a day has passed, take the blocks of soap out of their moulds, slice them up with a knife, and leave them in an airy place away from direct light for four to six weeks to cure. You need to wait this length of time mainly for the excess water in the soap to evaporate out. It’s also to ensure that all the lye reacts with oil, turning into soap, so using the bars before they’re ready isn’t a good idea. For full instructions on how to cure handmade soap head over here

Lavender & Rosemary Hand Soap Recipe #soap
Gardener’s Hand Soap cut and ready to be cured

Curing your Soap

It’s hard waiting for the soap to cure, but try to forget about it and mark the ready-by date on your calendar. Use it to your heart’s content after this point and make sure to make enough to give to friends. I can guarantee that in the month between you pouring the soap and the time it’s ready that you’ll have a waiting list of friends and family wanting to try your handmade creation.

For those interested in this recipe but not able to make your own batch for a bit, I offer a Herbal hand soap through my online shop. It’s similar to this recipe but uses pumice stone for the scrubby bits and combines Rosemary essential oil with citrusy Citronella. It’s very popular and helps remove dirt, grime, and strong scents such as onions and garlic. It’s also highly moisturising and strong enough to cleanse and condition the grubbiest of hands.

Lavender & Rosemary Hand Soap Recipe #soap
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  1. Hello, I was wondering if this recipe can be doubled or tripled in order to make a bigger batch?
    Also is it ok to use my goat milk for this recipe??

    Thank you

    1. Hi Deborah, and yes, feel free to double/triple it to suit your needs. Goat milk can be added to it, too, but it should be added in a specific way so that the sugars in the milk don’t cause the soap to scorch. You can see how, in my goat milk soap recipe.

  2. Hello
    This recipe sounds great! Wondering if I could substitute sunflower for avocado oil? And also I have cocoa butter but no shea, could I just substitute with all cocoa butter?
    Thanks so much

    1. Very sorry, Jill, but you can’t substitute different oils for soap recipes like that. Remember, cold process soapmaking is chemistry not cooking. Here’s more information on how to change a soap recipe.

  3. Good evening!!!!!
    I have made this soap twice and I love it. However, every time, jut a few hours after i have poured it, it develops orange spots. The spots are only in the outside of the soap, if you cut into them, they will be find.
    Any ideas? The first time I did it a 120F, the second time at 100F, because i didn’t want it to gel, which it did anyways.
    I have measure carefully the ingredients, the only thing i have used diferent is the coconut oil, because the one i have is unrefined. Also haven’t used the ultramarine, the first time i made it with extra virgin olive oil, now i used pomace infused with alkanet.
    Any ideas who they develop dos?
    Thank you so much!!!

    1. When I hear ‘orange spots’ it makes me wonder if you’re getting instant DOS (dreaded orange spots). It’s a rancidity reaction that you see in soap when using oils that are old (past their best-by date) or making soap with heavy water (tap water high in minerals or contaminants). Send me a photo to one of my social accounts or email?

      1. Hi Tanya, I’ll send you some pictures via email. Thank you so much.
        I don’t think orange spot behave like DOS, based on what i have read, but the form anyways. When do you add the grapefruit extract? Since its next to the essential oils, i added with the essential oil at the end and mix by hand. I have done this twice, and it always happens, I wonder if it’s the grapefruit extract that have to be added with the main oils. All the oil are good and unexpired, and i hav made it twice with different batches of oils and it happens, just an hour or so after i have made it. Thank you so much.

        1. Got your photos and yes, it’s a yellowing of the soap linked to rancidity. Rancidity can happen in a number of ways in soap but is usually the result of using old oils, tap water, other out of date ingredients, or oils that have been exposed to heat/light and that have gone off early.

          1. I’ll try to remove the GSE next time, because I have made it twice with diferent batches of oils both good, also the same oils i have used in other recipes and nothing has happened. I’ll keep you posted ;-) Thank you.

  4. Bree Keyes says:

    Hello Tanya! Is there anything that can be substituted for the coconut? A friend of mine is allergic to it and I’d love to make her some of this soap. Thank you :)

    1. Hi Bree, first I’d ask her to look at the products that she’s already using. If there’s an ingredient called sodium cocoate in any of them then she is using coconut oil on her skin already. Sodium cocoate is saponified coconut oil. Often, people who are allergic to eating certain foods don’t have a reaction to using it on their skin. A lot of folks are surprised to find this out. As for a substitute — babassu oil will work, but you need to recalculate the lye amount in a recipe if you want to change any of the oils, including for this substitution. Alternatively, begin with a coconut-free recipe like this one and this one.

  5. Hi Tanya
    I have some finely ground pumice – how much would I add to the batch – I have heard somewhere that the pumice speeds up trace – so I will hand whisk it into the batter just before pouring I am just not sure how much is the right amount

    1. I wouldn’t use any more than a half-teaspoon of pumice in this recipe, although you can use more if you want really rough soap. I’ve not had issues with pumice making soap trace quickly, but I have had very fine pumice form lumps if added after trace. I tend to put it in with my liquid oils and allow the stick blender to disperse it while the soap comes to trace.

  6. Catherine says:

    Hi Tanya,
    Could you confirm the amount of lavender mica to use in your lavender and rosemary soap recipe? Is it an eighth of a teaspoon? Or 1 to 8 teaspoons?

    Many thanks, Catherine

  7. Thanks Tanya. On day off i tried to make a cream ” Wild rose & Honey Hand Cream Recipe” by your recipe , it was really very cool the cream is very absorbed into the skin does not leave fat as i have oily skin and i tried it on my face on body and it’s really super)) it’s my first cream by your recepe!!!! Now i want to do more. But i have a question how to understand which emulsifier to choose for a cream by what principle and if is differences for face or bođy. For example i understand that there are emulsifiers especially for water \oil and oil\water. But for example i would like to do cream Oil\water and there are a lot of emulsifiers and i cant undetstsnd what kind of them will be better for cream , how can i oriented in them.

  8. Hello, Tanya. I would like to ask you is it important what kind of oils ( unrefined or refined) for soapmaking

    1. It’s entirely personal preference. However, oils are subject to both heat and caustic soda in soap making so I like to reserve my better oils for lotions and creams. Refined oils are also more costly and have a stronger scent which is why I always use refined coconut oil in my own recipes.

  9. Lindsey Rose says:

    Thank you so much for the lovely recipes!!

  10. Hi, thanks for the recipe. I just have one question can I use Lavender butter for this recipe? or for the other Lavender soap recipe you share with us in your post “Natural Soapmaking for Beginners – Basic Recipes and Formulating Your Own”. If I can, how do you sugest to integrate this new ingredient in the recipe?

    1. I’m unfamiliar with Lavender Butter – could you provide more specific information on what it is? What ingredients is it made with?

  11. Hi Tanya! I really would like to try this! I’m a little intimidated about using lye, can I use a “melt & pour” lieu of the lye? If so, would I still be able to add Shea & coconut oil, as well as the lavender essential oils? I have dried thyme & lavender that I grow, can I use that in the soap as an added botanical/ exfoliant? Please help! When I get a tad braver I will make the soap using lye

  12. Your lavender and Rosemary hand soap turned out beautiful. Lavender is such a lovely scent =)

  13. Hi Tanya…I would really like to give this a try….is it possible to get small amounts of the ingredients needed so I only have enough to make this batch of soap?? Or maybe you sell them as a sort of 'have a go starter kit' on your site for people who would like to give it a go??

  14. I have long wanted to learn soapmaking, but it seemed a little daunting. Your recipe and instructions make it sound doable. This particular soap looks gorgeous and I love scrubby soaps. Can't wait to try it! Beautiful photos, too.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Rodemary and Lavendar I adore those two and I buy soaps of this kind when I got a little bit of money they are not cheap in Washington state, I ususally find mine in Seattle where the taxes take a big bite out of any purchase but they are worth it as in my tiny town they are not to be found..I use them after I garden and anytime I need to mini scrub my hands without taking the skin off and they smell so good! thanks for the recipe I will try to make them and give them to very special friends only. happy Passover and happy easter! ciao!