No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe

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Easy-to-make sensitive soap recipe with soothing calendula oil and healing chamomile oil blended into sulfate-free soap. No handling of lye required.

No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe

People who suffer from skin conditions like eczema need cleansers that are mild and not over-drying. This sensitive soap recipe is not only easy to make but will replenish the skin with every wash. Though it’s a soap recipe, it uses a natural pre-made soap base so handling lye isn’t required.

This simple soap recipe uses healing calendula oil, rich shea butter, and German chamomile essential oil. The essential oil gives the bars a lovely natural fragrance but it’s also been shown to be effective in the treatment of eczema. It’ smells beautiful and it’s generally non-irritating to sensitive skin, as long as you don’t have an allergy to plants in the ragwort family.

No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe

Makes approximately four bars of soap boosted with calendula oil and skin-soothing chamomile essential oil. Takes about 30 minutes to make

No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe: easy-to-make sensitive soap recipe with soothing calendula oil and healing chamomile oil blended into sulfate-free soap. No handling of lye required #soaprecipe #soapmaking #calendula

Calendula-infused oil

This recipe calls for calendula-infused oil and the instructions for making it are below. Please note that you could use any light oil to make it including sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, cold-pressed sunflower oil, or olive oil. The important thing is that you infuse it with high-quality calendula petals. You can grow the flowers yourself or purchase them from a reputable herb seller.

Calendula is a sensitive but powerful skin herb that soothes inflammation and speeds up the healing of minor wounds, burns, and dermatitis-related skin issues. You can also find calendula used in Lovely Greens recipes for rich body cream and this calendula cold-process soap recipe. I advocate calendula so much that I’ve even written an ebook that shows you how to grow, harvest, and use calendula in skincare.

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No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe
Calendula infused sweet almond oil

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Step 1: Make Calendula-infused oil

You can purchase pre-made calendula oil but it’s actually very easy to make yourself. Fill a clean and dry jam jar with dried calendula flower petals. Pour your choice of liquid oil over the top, filling almost to the brim, and then screw the lid back on. Place the jar inside a brown paper bag and then set it in a warm window sill for 2-3 weeks, shaking the jar every few days.

After two to three weeks have passed, strain the oil from the flowers and into another clean and dry jar. Discard the flower petals. Your calendula oil is complete and has a shelf-life of a year or the expiration date of the oil you used. Whichever is closest.

No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe
Melt the soap gently in a microwave or using a double boiler

Step 2: Melt the soap base

Cut the melt-and-pour soap into cubes and melt it with the shea butter using a microwave or the double boiler technique. If using a microwave, heat for 30 seconds at a time and then stir. Repeat until fully melted.

For the stove-top method: Place the soap and shea butter in a pan that’s nested inside a second pan filled with simmering water. The indirect heat will melt the soap in a consistent way without the fear of scorching it. A lid over the pan will help melt the soap quicker and stop evaporation of water from the soap base. Stir occasionally while the soap is melting. When the soap and shea butter are completely melted, take it off of the heat and stir it together with the calendula oil and essential oil.

No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe
Sprinkle the dried calendula petals over a thin layer of soap

Step 3: Molding the soap

Working quickly, pour about ¼” of the soap base into silicone soap molds. Sprinkle dried calendula flowers on top and then fill the rest of the mold with the melted calendula soap. If there are bubbles on the surface, lightly mist with rubbing alcohol. This is optional but makes the bars look more professional.

No-Lye Sensitive Soap Recipe
This recipe makes four bars of naturally sensitive calendula & chamomile soap

Leave the soap to cool to room temperature before popping the bars out of the mold. This will take at least a few hours but I recommend leaving the soap to cool and harden for six hours or more. Once popped out of the mold, the soap is ready to use and has a shelf life of up to a year.

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  1. It should be recept hiw to make soap without lye as I understood and Melt and pour soap is with lye.

    1. Hi Vera, sorry to disappoint, but ALL soap is made with lye. This recipe is one you can make that avoids handling lye.

  2. Isn’t there already lye in the pre made melt and pour soap?

    1. Technically, no. Lye is used to make ALL soap but at the end of the process, there is no lye left. Soap molecules are formed from the molecules of fat bonding with the molecules of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. That’s just what soap is and you can learn more in how to make soap without lye.

  3. what dried flowers should be avoided? i’d like to use a funeral bouquet in remembrance of someone dear. ty

    1. That’s a lovely idea to remember a loved one :) You should avoid any flowers that are poisonous or that could cause contact dermatitis. You’ll need to research each one you’d like to use.

  4. After I make the calendula infused oil and strain it, can I use those same flowers in the soap itself?

    1. Yes you could, but often the petals will have faded a bit. If so, it would be better to use dried calendula that has not been infused with oil first.

  5. Looks great, but I’m wondering about “lye-free.” The base contains glycerin and glycerin is made with lye, so…?

    1. Hi Melody, first of all, ALL true soap is made with lye and you can read more about that here. However, after the fats and lye saponify during the soapmaking process, there is no lye left in soap. It chemically bonds with the fats/oils to create a new compound that we know as soap! Melt and pour soap is a type of soap that can be completely natural or mixed with synthetics. Either way, any lye that was used to create it is no longer in the soap as lye. As an aside, you’ll find lye (sodium hydroxide) used in many skincare items as a pH balancer and also in some food recipes for the same reason. Pretzels absolutely require lye to be made! There’s no need to be afraid of it as an ingredient. PS — Glycerin is not made from lye, but is a by-product of the saponification process. It comes from fats/oils

      1. Also questioning why this is labeled lye-free. Glycerin is in fact made with lye, as stated by Melody. The product you link to states it in their ingredients.


        1. Again, glycerin is not made with lye. It is the by-product of the saponification process. To clarify, saponification is what happens when lye and fats/oil react to form soap. The glycerin element is a part of the fats/oil that is released during saponification.

      2. Christina Hammock says:


      3. I put baking soda in the water for my pretzels. It turns out the same. But use a huge pot. It will make a m was.

  6. Is there a way to make the soap colorful like blue or purple or would that maybe interact with the essential oils poorly? And do the essential oils need to be top quality or can a cheaper oil do the trick? I diffuse young living at night next to my bed, but it is very expensive. Thank you!

    1. Hi Carrie, there are blue and purple clays available and you can add 1 tsp of clay per pound (454 g) of melt-and-pour soap. Otherwise, you could use ultramarine violet or blue for the color. Avoid Young Living and other MLM essential oils in soapmaking. They’re after your money rather than trusted sources of quality essential oil. Depending on where you are, you can get high-quality essential oil directly from small farms that produce it (lavender especially!), soap ingredient suppliers, and trusted vendors of essential oil. In the UK I use Naissance essential oils.

  7. Sulaiman Sargar says:

    Great info!
    Can I make an aloe vera soap on melt and pour method?
    I can’t fimd calendula here in Afghanistan.

  8. Is there any alternative for shea butter in soap making without lye ?Thanks.

  9. Hi. I’m interested in trying your no lye soap recipe (it would be my first attempt at soap) but just wanted to confirm the quantity of chamomile essential oil you add? 1 teaspoon seems a lot – I live in the UK and a good quality chamomile essential oil is expensive here. The one I’m looking at buying is £12 for 5ml. I know it is optional but I would like to add it for its therapeutic properties as my husband suffers from psoriasis. Many Thanks

    1. Yes, that’s the correct amount. Most soap recipes include about 3% essential oil by weight which for a 1-lb recipe like this one can be the equivalent of about three teaspoons. Using less than this will often result in a weak or non-existent scent in soap. However, if you’d like to make this without essential oil that’s fine. The soap just won’t have a scent.

  10. Hello,
    I was wondering if I have to use calendula flowers or can I use any flower? Also can I not use flowers and instead just use essential oils?

    Thank you!

    1. Not all flowers are skin-safe Karl, but you could use chamomile or lavender too.

  11. Billy Newton says:

    Hello Tanya, I keep honeybees and have lots of honey and beeswax. Is there a way to combine melt-and-pour soap base with some honey and beeswax to make bar soap?

    1. I’ve never added beeswax to m&p before and don’t see the purpose of doing it? It will probably interfere with lather and is not necessary as a hardening element. Honey you can add at the rate of half a teaspoon per pound of melt and pour base.

  12. Doreen Chindezwa says:

    Hello and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. I have just seriously started my au naturel journey and it’s such a blessing to not have to recreate the “wheel”.
    My question though is how effective is soap that doesn’t contain lye as compared to one that does?

    1. Hi Doreen — all real soap is made with lye. Melt and pour soap simply arrives with that step already completed for you so that you don’t have to handle lye. Hope this makes sense.

  13. Hi Tanya,

    I am a big fan of your no-lye calendula soap, however, I find it a bit dry. Would adding higher quantities of shea butter or oil help? I am not sure how much I can tweak formulas. I’ve never done soap before :)
    I would really love to see more recipes of no-lye soaps and even hair conditioning. Would you have some to share?

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Ana — since it’s a melt-and-pour soap I’d recommend that you try using another soap base. There are various manufacturers and types out there, and that single factor will influence how dry/conditioning the soap can be.

  14. Superb..
    i made one rose botanical soap.. but after one week the rose petals in the soap darkened. tell me some remedy..

    1. There is unfortunately no remedy. Rose petals IN soap will always turn brown. You can sprinkle them on top with better colour lasting effect.

  15. Carmen Lancour says:

    Hello this is the best soap making yet. I’ve seen so many thinking it will pass as a good recipe. I see you mentioned some soaps helping with pain. I’ve been dealing with so much and different body pains since my stroke April 2011 and just starting to get some pains calm down. The point is can there be some Essential Oils to help with that? I’m so happy to find you. I will be making your soaps! I’ll be checking with you often now. Thank you so much for putting this out there to help all of us who need it.
    Have a great day and rainbows to you! Carmen Lancour in BC Canada ??

  16. Danielle Lowy says:

    Hello Tanya. I have made ‘proper’ cold press soap but don’t really want to work with lye and would rather use melt and pour as it’s easier to make small batches. I followed your recipe using a Melt and Pour Soap Base (Organic, SLS, SLES and MPG Free) from the Soapery, and the shea butter. I used calendula flowers I’d saved and dried from my garden,and some essential oils (Sweet orange) but not the almond oil. I found it does not lather well though, even though I’m in Manchester where we have lovely soft water from the Lake District. Is there a particular melt and pour soap you would recommend for more lather?
    Also, do you think it’s ok to use shea butter after the use by date? It looks and smells fine :-)
    Thank you very much. Really enjoy your newsletter and website.
    Danielle xx

    1. Melt and pour soaps are hit and miss when it comes to lather. Especially the clear glycerin type soaps. I’m mainly a cold-process soap maker so don’t tend to use M&P often enough to give you a good recommendation on which one to choose. I know that some suppliers have a reviews section so I advise having a look there. Or being wooed back to natural cold-process soap making :) I have a video course coming out this summer that I hope you’ll try. With cold-process you’ll have much more control on the lather and ingredients in general.

  17. I keep seeing posts about how people are so scared of the lye. I used it in my very first soap-making experience and it was just no big deal. And it’s not lye anymore after you process the soap.
    I like knowing every ingredient that’s in the soap I make. I don’t want someone elses base with unrecognizable ingredients in it.

  18. Could you replace some of the Sweet Almond Oil with Neem Oil?

    1. Possibly, although I’ve not tried it before. When using Neem oil in cold-process soap, keep the total amount to 5% or under. In melt and pour I’d probably use less. Maybe just a teaspoon in this recipe and leave the shea butter out.

  19. Elisabete Balula says:

    Hello. I am very very new in this. And this will be my first try in soap making, can you please tell me when you say pour in 1/4 of the melted soap base first, then the dried calendula petals, and then on the top will be the rest of the soap base mixed with the infused oil and the camomile oil? Is that right. Thank you so much for your time.

    1. No worries Elisabete! When the soap and shea butter are melted you then stir in the infused oil and the chamomile essential oil. You do this before pouring anything into the mould.

  20. Joanne Grant says:

    I am New to the soaking world, still gathering knowledge as I wait for supplies to gather. I have so enjoyed reading your four part article for beginners. There is a huge wealth of information here. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing this. My daughter-in-law suffers terribly with eczema. Can you tell me please if the cold process calendula soap is as mild and gentle as the melt and pour? I’d prefer doing the CP if so.

    1. Yes, it will be just as gentle — however I’d recommend leaving out the essential oil. Citrus essential oils don’t play very well with eczema. Pleased you enjoyed the 4-part series and hope you have a fun time making your own soap!

    2. Hi there,
      I’ve just made this soap and loved it. The only thing is that my skin feels dry after using it. Any recommendations on how to fix this? I would like to use this soap on my toddler skin as it’s prone to dermatitis. What are your thoughts?

      1. Hi Mariya, and it comes down to the melt-and-pour soap base you’re using. Some are better than others, so if you’d like to work with it again, read the reviews and make sure that it’s gentle. Otherwise, I’d recommend that you try making soap from scratch. Most of my recipes are from-scratch recipes, including this one, which is ideal for sensitive skin.

  21. If there is no lye, how does the soap clean or disinfect? Is there something in the soap base that takes care of this? Love this recipe! Thank you.

    1. Melt-and-pour soap is made with lye — however, there’s no lye left in it by the time you work with it. It’s all been converted to soap! This recipe is about making a sensitive soap without having to handle lye yourself.

  22. Great post. lots of people want to try soapmaking but don’t want to handle lye, this is the perfect solution.

    1. Absolutely — it’s handling lye that puts a lot of people off trying to make their own. Hopefully this is an easy solution for those who want to make natural sensitive soap.