Sweetly scented natural chamomile soap recipe with essential oil, chamomile flowers, and freshly brewed chamomile tea.
Have you ever made yourself a cup of calming chamomile tea? That same sweet and relaxing scent and is magnified in this natural chamomile soap recipe. I love making soap inspired by the skincare garden and this one sums up the sweet apple scent of summer chamomile. You’ll find that the simple recipe is reflected in the elegant design of the finished soaps too. A light sprinkling of dried chamomile hints at what’s inside but it contains no additional colorants or fancy techniques. Just a cup of freshly brewed chamomile tea that gives it that soft and creamy hue.
This soap recipe is blended with rich oils including nourishing cocoa butter, and the intense fragrance comes from chamomile essential oil. You use chamomile tea to create the lye solution and dried chamomile flowers decorate the top of each bar. It’s a beautiful and deeply fragrant natural soap recipe that you could even make with homegrown chamomile. It’s a perfect way to preserve those sweet blossoms long after summer has passed.
Making Natural Chamomile Soap
If you’ve not made soap before, this is a lovely beginner recipe to try. The instructions are using the cold-process method, and the ingredients are all-natural, Vegan, and relatively easy to work with. The soap recipe below will walk you through the process of making soap, and I’m sure that you will succeed the first time.
The most important thing to consider now is that making natural chamomile soap is a natural process. However, it is also chemistry, and there are steps and ingredients that need extra attention to detail. These include measuring the ingredients perfectly using a kitchen scale, knowing when soap has hit ‘trace’, and making sure to work safely with lye. I have a free series on beginner soapmaking that you are welcome to read through, and I also have a soapmaking ebook available.
German Chamomile vs Roman Chamomile
There are two main types of chamomile that you can both grow and get extracts from. Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is the type that you can grow low-lying chamomile lawns with. It’s a perennial and doesn’t grow more than a foot off the ground and is oftentimes much shorter. German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla syn. Matricaria recutita) is a much taller (18-24″) annual plant, so you start it from seeds each year and it benefits from supports. It does like to self-seed though so look for tiny seedlings in autumn and winter and consider transplanting them.
The two chamomiles smell similar but have different uses. Roman chamomile has a sweet, floral, and apple-like scent and is used for relaxation and digestive health. It’s also been shown to have high levels of antioxidants, making it an intriguing ingredient for anti-aging recipes. German chamomile smells like sweet summer hay and apples and is great for sore muscles, skin complaints, eczema, and making a relaxing cup of tea.
German chamomile essential oil is also a vibrant blue color! Both types of essential oil can be blue when you pour it from the bottle. German chamomile is bright blue but Roman is a much paler shade or may even appear clear.
Benefits of Chamomile for the skin
The essential oil I use in this recipe is Roman chamomile but you could use German if you wish. If you’re looking for more skin therapy from your chamomile oil though, German has far more benefits. Used in lotions, creams, and serums, German chamomile helps ease the symptoms of eczema and inflammation and helps regenerate the skin. That’s why I use it in this chamomile skin cream recipe.
Both types of essential oil are expensive though, so if you’d like to skip on them, feel free. Though I love how gorgeous it smells, essential oils are always an optional ingredient in soap recipes. Also, if you’d like to use a different essential oil, you can learn how much of each is safe to use in this essential oil for soapmaking chart.
Lastly, the chamomile flowers in this chamomile soap recipe are there for two reasons. To make the infusion, and for decoration. You can use German or Roman for both/either. Though the infusion will not have the strength of essential oil in terms of skin therapy, it will contain some, and it also tints the bars a lovely creamy color.
Drying Chamomile Flowers
Oftentimes dried chamomile flowers that you purchase from health food shops or cosmetic suppliers arrive looking very shriveled and brown. If you’d like prettier dried chamomile with fresher therapeutic properties, you can grow your own. I go through how to grow chamomile (both types) in my book, A Woman’s Garden Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things. It’s not difficult, and when they bloom in summer, you pick the flowerheads and dry them on a screen or in a food dehydrator. Dried chamomile is good for at least a year.
Natural Chamomile Soap Recipe
- Mason jar
- Stainless steel pan for melting the solid oils
- A large bowl for measuring the liquid oils into
Chamomile Tea (water infusion)
- 62 g Sodium hydroxide 2.19 oz
- 124 g Cooled chamomile tea 4.37 oz
Add after trace
- 1 tsp Roman chamomile essential oil 3.8 g / 0.13 oz (optional ingredient)
Make the Chamomile Tea
- Measure the distilled water into a mug or kettle and heat it to scalding. Pour over the chamomile flowers and leave to steep until the tea is room temperature.
- Strain the tea through the sieve, and reserve the liquid to make the lye solution. Measure it to get the correct amount though.
Prepare to Make Soap
- Prepare your workstation with your tools and equipment. Put on rubber gloves, eye protection, and an apron. Carefully pre-measure the ingredients. The solid oils into the pan, the liquid oils into a jug, the chamomile tea into another heat-proof jug, and the lye in another container such as a glass jar or ramekin.
Make the Lye Solution
- Next, dissolve the lye (sodium hydroxide) crystals in the chamomile tea. In an airy place, outdoors is best, pour the lye crystals into the water and stir well. There will be a lot of heat and steam so be careful. Try not to breathe it in. Leave outside in a safe place, or in a shallow basin of water (inside or outside) to cool.
Make Cold-Process Chamomile Soap
- Melt the solid oils in a stainless steel pan on very low heat. When melted, remove from the heat and set on a potholder. Pour in the liquid oils. If you have the olive and castor oils in the same container, stir them together first before pouring them into the pan. Castor oil is pretty sticky and it's easier to pour when mixed with a lighter oil.
- Measure the temperatures of the lye solution and the oils. You should aim to cool them both to be about 100°F / 38°C. A digital thermometer is great for soapmaking but an infrared temperature gun is miles better. There's less mess and it's much quicker.
- Pour the chamomile lye solution into the pan of oils. If you can, gently pour it against a spoon or spatula since this will reduce the chances of air bubbles.
- Dip your immersion blender into the pan and with it turned off, stir the mixture. Next, bring it to the center of the pan, and with both your hands, hold it on the bottom of the pan and blitz it for just a couple of seconds. Turn it off and stir the soap batter, using the blender as a spoon. Repeat until the mixture thickens up to 'trace'. This is when the batter leaves a distinguishable trail on the surface. The consistency will be like thin custard.
- Next, add the essential oil and stir in. You really don't need very much (relatively speaking) chamomile essential oil to make a big aromatherapy impact. This is 1/3 the amount of essential oil as you'll find in my other soap recipes.
- Working quickly, pour the soap into the mold. Give it a tap to settle it. I'm using a 1-lb silicone loaf mold in this recipe but you could use another type if you wish. The loaf mold is handy for gelling soap though.
- Next, add texture to the soap top if you'd like (a skewer comes in handy) and decorate it with dried chamomile flowers. Less is more in my opinion, but go as wild as you'd like. Just remember that if you have to cut through any of them, they may leave drag marks in your soap.
- The soap now needs to harden and cool. If you want an opaque white-cream color of soap, place the soap in the fridge overnight. If you want the same creamy color as mine, place the soap in an oven warmed to about 77°C (170°F) and keep it at that temperature for 30 minutes or until you see the soap slightly darken. It begins with a circle of darker color in the center and eventually spreads to the entire loaf. When you see this, turn the oven off then leave it there overnight.
- The next day, take the soap out of the oven and set someplace to rest for another day. Once 48 hours have passed, you can take the soap out of the mold. You can get around six decent-sized bars of soap from this batch. Also, if you're using a loaf mold want to avoid drag marks from the flowers, cut the loaf from the bottom.
Curing and storing your Chamomile Soap
- Cure the bars for 28 days. Curing means leaving the bars spaced out on a protected surface out of direct sunlight and in an airy place. This allows the extra water content to fully evaporate out. Here are full instructions on how to cure soap. The soap will also scent your room as it cures.
- Once made, your soap will have a shelf-life of up to two years. Check the oil bottles that you're using though — the closest best-by date is the best-by date of your soap. If your handmade soap is destined as gifts, check out these eco-friendly soap packaging ideas.
More Soap Recipes
If you enjoyed this chamomile soap recipe, I invite you to have a browse of my other soap ideas. I also have an easy recipe for chamomile-infused lip balm and chamomile skin lotion if you’d like to create more skin-soothing chamomile skincare. Here are more botanically-inspired soap recipes and ideas that I think that you’ll enjoy:
- Naturally Red Himalayan Rhubarb Soap Recipe
- Complete Guide to Natural Soap Additives (and what they do)
- Sweet Orange Soap Recipe
- Natural Peppermint Soap Recipe with real Peppermint
- Make Naturally Purple Soap with Alkanet Root