How to make Pumpkin Spice Soap (Cold Process Recipe)
Use real pumpkin puree and natural essential oils to make pumpkin spice soap using the cold-process method. Instructions include making homemade pumpkin puree and using it to naturally color soap yellow.
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With autumn comes pumpkins, whether you grow them in a garden, visit a farm’s pumpkin patch, or see a stack of them at the supermarket. Also synonymous with autumn is pumpkin spice! We go nuts for this spicy blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices and have it in drinks, desserts, diffusers, candles, and countless other products. We can even get pumpkin spice soap, though I suspect most are made with synthetic ingredients. That’s why I’m sharing how to make pumpkin spice soap using the cold process method. It’s completely natural, meaning no synthetic fragrance or coloring, and it’s also from scratch.
In this recipe, you’ll use a blend of essential oils for fragrance and homemade pumpkin puree for that gorgeous pumpkin color. If you’d like, you could decorate the tops of your bars with sprinklings of cinnamon and spices, but I love the simplicity of a few pumpkin seeds. The deep green really pairs well with the light orange bars.
Cold-Process Pumpkin Spice Soap Recipe
Many of the recipes you’ll find for pumpkin spice soap are melt-and-pour and use synthetic ingredients, such as fragrance oil. Though those recipes are easier to make for the average person, they’re not natural, which is something that is important for me as a soapmaker. Nearly all of the soap recipes you’ll find on Lovely Greens use natural ingredients and the cold process method.
In cold-process soapmaking, you work with whole oils, such as the coconut, shea, olive, and castor oils in this recipe. You also need sodium hydroxide to break apart the oil molecules, bind with them, and together transform into the compound we know as soap. You can’t make soap without lye.
In this pumpkin spice soap recipe, I use the base oils and processes you’ll find in my eco-friendly soap recipe. I add just a few extra ingredients to transform it into a beautiful light orange soap that smells of pumpkin pie spices. One of those main ingredients is pumpkin puree.
Coloring Soap Orange with Pumpkin Puree
Naturally coloring soap is a fine (and fun!) art. You can use clay, leaves, flowers, roots, and many more different ingredients, both vegan and not, to color most soap recipes. You can use natural ingredients to make soap in practically any color, including red, blue, and yellow. One way to add plant-based color to your bars is through vegetable purees. In this pumpkin spice soap recipe, we’ll use real pumpkin puree.
Vegetable purees are vegetables that have generally been cooked and then pulsed into a liquid. I’ve previously shown you how to use purees in making carrot soap, as well as a rebatched parsley soap recipe. We also made a puree with cucumbers in the cucumber soap recipe. If you’ve tried any of them, this new recipe will be a breeze!
When you use purees in soap, you should consider their quantity as part of the distilled water amount. Purees vary in water content, but pureed pumpkin is about 90% water. That’s why the water amount is so low in this recipe — if we added a normal amount of distilled water AND the puree, our soap would be very soft at first and more prone to getting soda ash.
Choose the right pumpkin for Pumpkin Spice Soap
The average pumpkin you can find at the supermarket is bred to be a jack-o-lantern. It will have poor flavor, and oftentimes the flesh will be a faded shade of yellowy-orange. I wouldn’t advise using them to make this recipe because the color of the flesh will dictate how orange your final bars will be.
One place to get high-quality pumpkins is your local farmers’ market. Ask the grower about the varieties and which has the deepest color inside. Alternatively, you can grow your own! Growing pumpkins is easy, and if you’re limited in space, several varieties are suited for containers. When you grow your own, one benefit is that you can choose tasty varieties that have deep orange flesh. You can use these both for eating and for making pumpkin spice soap! Some favorite varieties for orange flesh are Queensland blue and Red Kabocha, but many heritage variety pumpkins have colorful flesh.
If you’re not a gardener and are unsure about the pumpkins on offer, then you can use butternut squash for this recipe or pumpkin puree from a can. With the latter, please read the ingredients and only use it if it is 100% pumpkin puree.
Creating Natural Pumpkin Spice Soap Fragrance
Pumpkin spice, as a scent, can often be a synthetic fragrance. If you are not opposed to synthetic, you can use a bottle of skin-safe pumpkin spice fragrance oil for this recipe. You can use all-natural ingredients, though, and it smells incredible! For this recipe, I blended cinnamon bark, ginger, nutmeg, and folded orange essential oil. It’s honestly my current favorite blend!
A word of caution, though. The cinnamon bark and nutmeg essential oils can be skin irritants if you use too much in soap recipes and other skincare. The usage rate for cinnamon bark essential oil in soap recipes is no more than 0.07%, and for nutmeg, it’s 0.12%. So please don’t be tempted to add more than what I share in the recipe.
The folded orange essential oil is the same type I use in my sweet orange soap recipe. Ordinary orange essential oil will fade to no scent in around a week in cold process soap. Folded orange essential oil (10x or 5x) not only lasts but lifts this fragrance from traditional pumpkin spice to something a bit more Christmasy. I love it!
More Holiday Recipes and Inspiration
Natural handmade soap makes excellent gifts over the holidays. They’re the perfect size to tuck into Christmas stockings, and you could use eco-friendly soap packaging and give them to friends and co-workers. They are honestly one of those handmade gifts that friends and family will actually want and use! If you’d like even more DIY gift inspiration, here are some more holiday soap recipes and ideas to try:
- Christmas Soap Recipe with Festive Swirls
- How to use Annatto Seeds to Naturally Color Soap ORANGE
- Cinnamon Soap Recipe (it looks like fudge!)
- Christmas Tree Bath Bombs
- Homemade Kahlua Recipe — Inexpensive coffee liqueur
Pumpkin Spice Soap Recipe (Cold Process)
- Stainless steel pan for melting the solid oils
- A large bowl for measuring the liquid oils into
- 63 g Sodium hydroxide 2.22 oz
- 90 g Distilled water 3.17 oz / about 11 tsp
- 114 g Coconut oil (refined) 4.02 oz
- 91 g Shea butter 3.21 oz
- 227 g Olive oil 8 oz
- 23 g Castor oil 0.81 oz
- 40 g Pumpkin puree 1.14 oz
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon bark essential oil optional
- 1/4 tsp Ginger essential oil optional
- 1/8 tsp Nutmeg essential oil optional
- 1/4 tsp Folded Orange Essential Oil this is folded essential oil, not ordinary orange eo
- 1 TBSP dried pumpkin seeds
Make the pumpkin puree
- You can make the pumpkin puree for this soap recipe up to a day in advance. Cut a small to medium-sized pumpkin/squash in half and clean out the seeds. Place the squash on a baking sheet face down and cook for thirty-five minutes at 375°F (190°C /170°C) fan.
- Scoop the flesh out of the pumpkin and place it in a blender or food processor and blend to a puree. Measure the amount needed for the soap recipe using a kitchen scale and use the rest of the puree to make pumpkin pie, soup, or other food dishes. Note: you can also use the immersion blender needed for soapmaking to make the puree.
Soap Making Preparation
- Ensure that your soapmaking station is set up with all of the equipment, materials, and tools you need. Pre-measure each ingredient using a digital scale. Take care to wear gloves when measuring the lye.
Make the Lye Solution
- For full information on soap-making safety and equipment please head over here. It’s important to read it before trying to make soap the first time. Put on your rubber gloves and eye protection (goggles) and set yourself up in an area with good ventilation. Under a hob, on the doorstep, or outdoors is perfect. Pour the sodium hydroxide into the water and stir with a stainless steel spoon. Be careful not to breathe in the fumes.
- Stir well and leave someplace safe to cool to 100°F (38°C). I tend to set the jug containing the lye solution in cold water in the sink.
Melt the Solid Oils
- In a stainless steel pan, heat the coconut oil and shea butter on very low heat until just liquefied. They’ll melt quicker than you think so don’t be tempted to turn up the heat.
Add the Liquid Oils, Pumpkin Puree, and Essential oils
- When the solid oils are melted, take the pan off the heat and pour in the liquid oils and the pumpkin puree. If you pour the liquid oils against a spoon or spatula held just inserted in hot oils, it will help to reduce air bubbles forming in your final bars.
- Stir well and keep an eye on the temperature. You want the oils to cool to just above 100°F (38°C).
- When cooled, pour in the essential oils and stir well. It's unusual to add essential oils to soap this early, but spice essential oils can speed up trace. It's better to add them before so that you have better control of how thick your soap batter gets. Please keep in mind that the essential oils create the scent but are optional. If you leave them out, you'll have a lovely unscented pumpkin puree soap.
Make Pumpkin Spice Soap
- Preheat your oven to 170°F (75°C). Get the soap mold prepared and double-check that your goggles and gloves are on and that you won't be disturbed for the next ten minutes.
- When the lye solution and oils are both about 100°F (38°C), pour the lye solution into the pan of oils. Pour the lye solution against a spoon held in the oils as this will reduce air bubbles in your final bars.
- Dip the immersion blender into the pan at an angle — this helps air that's trapped in the head to escape. Next, set the immersion blender completely upright on the bottom of the pan. Gently but firmly tap the blender a few times against the bottom. This can release more air that you might see escape as air bubbles.
- With the immersion blender turned off, gently stir the contents of the pan together for a few seconds.
- Next, bring the immersion blender to the center of your pan and press it firmly against the bottom of the pan. Turn the immersion blender on for a few seconds on its lowest power. Do not move the immersion blender while it's on as it will create air bubbles and splatters in a recipe this small.
- Repeat the gentle stirring and immersion blending described above until the soap reaches a light to medium trace. This stage of trace will give you soap batter that looks about the thickness of warm pudding. You will also notice a texture on the surface, especially if you drizzle batter down on top of it.
Mold and Cool the Pumpkin Spice Soap
- Pour the soap into your mold, and I recommend a single silicone loaf mold. That's because silicone is easy to pop the soap out of and a loaf mold helps the soap to gel and your final color will be deeper.
- Create texture on the surface of the soap with a spoon, dabbing the sides first then down the middle. Next, decorate with pumpkin seeds (and/or sprinklings of spice). The decorations are optional but add lovely visual interest. When you add the pumpkin seeds, think of where you want to cut your bars and avoid sprinkling them in those places.
- Place the soap mold in the preheated oven. Keep the oven on for thirty minutes then turn it off. Don't open the oven door and leave the soap inside for twelve hours or overnight. This step helps force the soap to gel, and for the color to intensify.
Cut and Cure your Soap
- Use an ordinary kitchen knife to cut it into bars. Their thickness is up to you but might be dictated by where you placed the pumpkin seeds. Try not to cut through them, if you can. The color of the bars will be a light yellow at this point.
- After you cut your bars, leave them someplace airy and out of direct sunlight to cure for at least four weeks. At the end of the cure time, the soaps will be light orange. For full instructions on how to cure handmade soap, and why a minimum month for curing is important head over here
- Once made, your soap will have a shelf-life of up to two years. Check the oil bottles that you're using though, since the closest best-by date is the best-by date of your soap. That's because some of that oil is free-floating in your bars as the superfat, and it can go rancid over time.
Looks awesome!!! How well does this hold up in a humid environment?
Handmade soap of all types will break a sweat in hot, humid conditions. If you’re a soapmaker in a humid region, it would be wise to keep your bars in a room with a dehumidifier running at all times.
Hi Tanya, Sorry me again! Do you think it is possible/ sensible to use 5 fold orange essential oil and double the amount used?
If you’re using 5-fold essential oil on its own, you can use up to 1oz (28g) in this recipe. With other essential oils, you must use less to avoid having too many allergens in the soap and potential skin reactions.
If you don’t have the essential oils listed, can you use the spices instead?
I’m afraid that the spices will add no (or very little) scent to your soap. What they will add is a scratchy texture that may be unpleasant-feeling when using the soap.
This looks like a beautiful soap! Will the color last? Would the nuts get moldy or just get hard with time as a decoration?
The yellow color lasts indefinitely — pumpkin and squash puree is a really good soap colorant! The seeds don’t mold either. Adding dried plant material to the tops of wet soap, be it leaves, petals, seeds, or fruit, is perfectly fine as long as the soap isn’t stored in a humid environment.
Thank you for this generous recipe Tanya, I’m so excited to try this after our Halloween pumpkins have served their decor purpose! I don’t have Shea butter on hand, but I do have tallow. I’ve not yet had the confidence to stray from a given soap recipe as I’m nervous I’ll get the calculation wrong, especially here with the pumpkin/ water merge! If you have the time to check I’d be grateful if you could let me know if you agree with my calculation that switching shea butter for tallow (all else remaining the same) I would need 67.5g lye and 157.5g of water/ pumpkin?
Hi Kellie, off-hand that seems about right. There’s no need to change the pumpkin puree and water amount, by the way, just the lye amount. Water (including puree) is a variable in soap recipes and the amount listed here is best for the overall recipe.
Much appreciated :) Thanks so much. I shall be trying this recipe this week
Hia Tanya- Thank you for the recipe– I haven’t tried it yet because I made my own pumpkin puree this season and have it frozen in frig , my questions is Im worried about water content of my pumpkin because before freezing I had to squeeze as much water out as I could– this may effect my water content– should i get another pumpkin and start from scratch? Thank you Kathy in NJ
Hi Kathy, and no, don’t worry about starting from a new pumpkin :) Use what you have but keep an eye on how quickly the soap comes to trace since it might be faster than you imagine. Your soap may have a slightly different water discount than this, but it’s not a big deal. In this case, it would simply affect how quickly the soap traces and how easily it gels.