Learn to make natural soap using Rosemary and Blue Clay
Instructions for making natural rosemary soap recipe for oily skin. Includes a video showing how to make it using fresh rosemary & cambrian blue clay
There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of cleansers on the market for oily skin. Many have harsh additives that irritate or that strip your skin completely. When this happens your skin tries to recover by producing even more oil that can then make the issue worse. I have oily skin myself and when I was younger I tried anything and everything to clean it and treat my blemishes. These days I only use natural cleansers on my face and also try to cleanse less frequently. It has truly helped to even out my skin tone.
When I’m not using this easy DIY soap-less cleanser, I’ll use one of my own soaps on my face. I generally use the latter during ‘that time of the month’ when my skin feels a bit more oily. This is one of my soap recipes that includes anti-bacterial rosemary essential oil and cambrian blue clay for its oil drawing properties. The recipe includes all natural Vegan oils and I’ve made the recipe very easy to make for beginners.
Interested in Naturally Colouring soap?
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Using Cambrian Blue Clay in Soap
You may have found this recipe through my piece on natural colours for handmade soap. There are so many wonderful natural ingredients that you can use to tint your batches but some have properties other than just a pretty colour.
Cambrian Blue Clay is found as a natural element that is mined from areas in northwest Russia. Clay is used in beauty products for its oil pulling ability and you’ll know its use in face masks or in drawing salves. In soap its used for tinting but if the right enough is used then that clay can also work to cleanse oily skin.
Blue clay’s colour comes from having a high content of chemically reduced iron and this has been linked to its ability to naturally eliminate bacteria. Bacteria causes pimples and blue clay is the perfect ingredient to use to gently treat blemishes and break-outs.
Rosemary also kills bacteria
Like Blue Clay, rosemary oil also works to kill bacteria, fungi, and other microbes. Actually, it’s been observed to specifically kill Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that causes pimples. This makes it ideal in natural skincare for problematic skin in both its fresh plant form and in concentrated essential oil.
This recipe uses both, and the fresh rosemary can be grown in your own garden or purchased. Fresh rosemary has a very low water content and even in relatively large pieces I’ve never had an issue with it not preserving well in soap.
When chopping the rosemary for this recipe I do recommend that you get it as fine as possible. It adds visual interest and potentially allows more of the rosemary extract to be released into the soap. Larger pieces can also be off-putting when you’re using the soap. I personally don’t like large chunks of dried leaves coming out of bars and ending up in the shower tray. Everyone is different though so if you’d prefer you could chop them a bit rougher.
Natural Rosemary Soap Recipe
454g / 1 lb batch — makes six bars
The full video instruction on making this soap is at the bottom of this piece. The recipe may be a little different from other cold-process soap recipes since it uses quite cool temperatures. In fact, this is a room-temperature soap making recipe. This technique helps to make the soap making process easier and also stops the soap from ‘Gelling’ or getting darker.
If you use extra virgin olive oil in the recipe expect for your bars to come out a soft grey-green. If you’re using a lighter coloured olive oil pomace, the colour will be more blue.
3g or 2tsp Cambrian Blue Clay
30g or 6tsp Water (preferably distilled)
Oils to add after Trace
14g (049 oz) or 4tsp Rosemary Essential oil
Dried herbs to decorate with
3g or 1tsp chopped Rosemary leaves
Special Equipment needed
- Digital Thermometer or Temperature Gun
- Digital Kitchen Scale
- Stick (Immersion) Blender
- 6 Cavity silicone soap mould
Other Equipment needed
- Stainless steel pan
- Heat-proof plastic jug
- a bowl
- fine mesh strainer
- a spoon
- Rubber gloves
- Eye protection
Natural Soap Making for Beginners
If you’re new to making natural handmade soap, you should read my four-part series on natural soap making. It gives a good introduction on what to expect from ingredients, equipment, cold-process soap recipes, and the soap making process.
Step 1: Making the lye water
I’ve recently stepped into making room temperature soap and while it’s not ideal for all recipes, it works great for this one. We’re using a water discount of 33% to help speed up the trace and to also reduce the chance of the soap gelling. The temperature and water discount work together in this.
A couple of hours before you make soap, pour the sodium hydroxide in the water and stir very well. You should do this in a well ventilated area and try not to breathe in the steam. It will be over 200 degrees at this point so be careful. Set the jug someplace safe and leave the lye mixture to cool to room temperature.
Step 2: Mix the Clay
Just before you’re about to make your soap, chop the rosemary and mix the clay together with water. Though the video in this piece shows adding this to the soap after Trace, it’s actually easier to add it to the cooled lye water. It really helps with dispersing the clay.
If you’re using the optional Sodium lactate, add it to the lye water once it’s cooled too. Sodium lactate helps harden bars quicker and this can be handy for soaps that have a lot of olive oil, like this one.
Step 3: Melt the solid oils
When the lye water has cooled, melt the solid oils on the stove. When they’re just melted, remove the pan from the heat and pour the liquid oils in the pan. Stir well and cool the oils until they’re about 27 °C (80 °F). Floating the pan in cool water whilst stirring helps.
While it’s cooling, add the clay-water to the pan and stir. Adding the clay before stick blending helps the clay to disperse better. It also helps cool the oil temperature down a little.
Step 4: Make your Rosemary Soap
When cooled, pour the lye water through a mini strainer and into your pan. Use the stick blending technique shown in the video below and blend until you reach a light trace. Stir in the essential oil then the rosemary and pour into your mould. It may be a grey colour at this time but it will change.
Leave the soap to harden up inside the mould for 48 hours before taking it out. It may be a little sticky when removing, especially if you decide not to use Sodium lactate. In this case, you can leave the soap in the mold for longer, even a week or more. You can also put the entire mold in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. They should pop out easily after that.
Cure the soap for four weeks before using it. The lather is stable and creamy and the colour of the soap will be grey-green to grey-blue depending on the quality and colour of your olive oil. There’s a clip of the lather in the video below.