Natural Lavender Soap Recipe (Cold Process)

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Full instructions for how to make lavender soap from scratch using essential oil and a natural purple soap colorant. Includes tips on using lavender-infused oil, lavender tea, and lavender flower decorations in making any lavender soap recipe.

Lavender is a beautifully scented flower that’s also great for the skin. It can help clear acne and calm eczema, and lavender essential oil is even known for helping speed up the healing of wounds and burns. Over the years, I’ve created and shared recipes for various types of lavender soap. Some of them include a blend of essential oils, while others have added exfoliants, flowers, or natural soap colorants. The lavender soap recipe I share in this piece is, by comparison, pure and simple. It’s a single beautiful color and uses just a single fragrance – lavender essential oil. I show how to make it with common soapmaking oils and a natural purple soap colorant called alkanet.

There are many ways to make lavender soap, though. Generally, it’s accepted as soap that is scented like lavender. Sometimes that scent is natural, and sometimes synthetic perfumes are used. Other ways to make lavender soap include using homemade lavender-infused oil or lavender flower tea and decorating it with lavender flowers. I’ll go over each of these before we head into making this natural lavender soap recipe.

Full instructions for how to make lavender soap from scratch using essential oil and a natural purple soap colorant. Includes tips on using lavender-infused oil, lavender tea, and lavender flower decorations in making any lavender soap recipe #soapmaking #lavender #soaprecipe
Lavender soap recipe with pure lavender essential oil

New to Making Soap?

If you’re new to making handmade soap, I recommend that you enroll in my natural soapmaking for beginners online course and go through the four-part soapmaking series below. It gives a good introduction to what to expect from ingredients, equipment, recipes, and how to combine everything together to make soap. It’s especially important to be careful when handling lye, and part two will tell you what to expect and how to prepare yourself.

Soapmaking Series

  1. Natural Soapmaking Ingredients
  2. Soapmaking Equipment & Safety
  3. Beginner Soap Recipes
  4. How to Make Cold Process Soap
Full instructions for how to make lavender soap from scratch using essential oil and a natural purple soap colorant. Includes tips on using lavender-infused oil, lavender tea, and lavender flower decorations in making any lavender soap recipe #soapmaking #lavender #soaprecipe
This lavender soap recipe makes about five to six bars.

Lavender Essential Oil for Soapmaking

Lavender soap is generally understood to be a soap that smells like lavender. The real deal is always made with lavender essential oil, which are the volatile oils extracted from lavender flowers. It’s deeply fragrant and has more beneficial properties to the mind and body than I can list here. You can even grow English lavender to use in soap and skincare recipes; however, making essential oil is a whole other ballgame. It needs to be extracted with a steam distiller, and you’ll need about three pounds (1.36 kg) of lavender flowers to create just 15 ml of essential oil. That’s why most soapmakers buy essential oil.

These are the two main brands of lavender essential oil that I use in soap recipes.

When sourcing lavender oil for soap recipes, also be aware that there are two main types of essential oil. Lavender flower oil labeled Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender) flower oil is the more common and the type I recommend. The second is distilled from a similar plant called Lavandula latifolia and is more commonly known as lavender spike oil. It smells like lavender but has a touch of camphor and herbaceousness to it.

How to grow English lavender with tips on cultivars, growing conditions, and growing lavender in containers #herbgarden #growlavender #gardeningtips
English lavender Lavandula angustifolia

How much Lavender Essential Oil to Use

The below homemade lavender soap recipe has an amount of essential oil already provided, and the amount is a moderate one at just 3% of the recipe. Even though you’ll see other recipes include more, it’s best to stick to that essential oil usage rate until you’re able to work out the specifics of the product you’re using. That’s because not all essential oils are the same, and the levels of allergens can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. It’s a bit of math and finding the right documentation for the specific essential oil you use. Sometimes it’s listed in a general PDF for all the essential oils a company manufactures. Sometimes it’s in a separate allergens declaration document.

The amount you use in soap is dictated by the levels of these 26 natural substances found in essential oils. That’s because if you include too much of them, your soap can cause allergic reactions in some people. The current main allergens to be vigilant of in lavender essential oil are geraniol, limonene, and linalool. The European Union is currently planning to add another 56 substances to this list, so, at least in Europe, the legal usage rate for lavender essential oil in soap recipes may change.

Lavender-infused oil is not the same as an essential oil.

Lavender-Infused Oil in Soap Recipes

There’s another type of lavender oil that you can use in soapmaking, too, but it’s not an essential oil. Homemade lavender oil is liquid oil infused with lavender flowers, and though it won’t scent your soap, it can be a way for you to include homegrown lavender in your soap recipes. To use it, replace an oil called for in the recipe with the same oil that you’ve infused with lavender. For example, you could replace all of the olive oil in a soap recipe with lavender-infused olive oil. This castile soap recipe is made with 100% olive oil, so you could replace all of it with lavender-infused oil if you wish.

Alkanet root-colored soap alongside a purple mineral and madder root soap.

Lavender Tea in Soapmaking

Another way to use lavender in soap recipes is to substitute the water amount called for with lavender tea. It doesn’t add scent or any real properties, but again, it can add a special-to-you element to your soap recipe. It can also tint your soap a light beige, which is a nice effect. To make lavender tea for soap recipes, heat a bit more distilled water than is called for in the recipe to scalding. About 5% extra is fine. For every cup (237 ml) of water, add one teaspoon of dried lavender buds or two teaspoons of fresh. Leave to steep until the liquid is room temperature, then strain the lavender from the water, and measure the water for the amount called for in the recipe. Make the lye solution with the lavender tea as usual.

Dried alkanet root

Alkanet Soap Recipe

Aside from the subtle color that lavender tea may give to your soap, lavender in itself won’t naturally color soap recipes. Especially not blue or purple. You can, of course, leave the soap its natural creamy color, but it’s fun to match the color of the soap with the scent. I’ll show you to do this later on using alkanet Alkanna tinctoria, a natural purple soap colorant. It begins with infusing the roots in liquid oil and then using that oil in the soap recipe. I recommend that at least 30% of the oils in an alkanet soap recipe are infused with alkanet. This recipe includes fifty percent, which gives a really deep and lovely color. The infused oil is also about six months old, so the color is more intense. With alkanet, you can get various shades of earthy purple, from quite light to very dark.

Alkanet-infused oil is ruby red when finished

Alkanet is a common dye plant that is mainly wild harvested in south-eastern Europe, India, and Pakistan. Many soapmaking suppliers stock it, and it comes as chips of dried roots. There’s a lot of color potential in the smallest amount! I highly recommend that you buy alkanet from a trusted soap ingredient supplier, though. A lot of online sellers label a similar plant, ratanjot Onosma echioides as alkanet. It looks similar but will not give you a lovely purple color.

Naturally Coloring Soap Purple

Gromwell root Lithospermum erythrorhizon is another excellent natural soap colorant and is used in the same way as alkanet. Brazillian purple clay is popular, too, though it gives an even earthier purple color, as most clay soap colorants do. Infusing whole cannabis plants in a carrier oil and using it in soapmaking can also give a light purple color, though I’ve not tried this. Mixing indigo and madder may also give a lavender-like hue.

Lavender soap recipe made with ultramarine purple as a soap colorant.

Ultramarine purple mineral powder is also popular in the soapmaking community for its stable and vibrant color. It’s not considered natural but rather a nature-identical mineral pigment. The purple it gives is much more of a conventional purple, though. Clean and bright and quite lovely in its own right. Though I don’t use mineral pigments in my commercial soap anymore, I don’t have a big problem with them like other natural soapmakers do. I used half a teaspoon of mineral powder per 1 lb (454 g) soap batch to create the color of the above soap.

Full instructions for how to make lavender soap from scratch using essential oil and a natural purple soap colorant. Includes tips on using lavender-infused oil, lavender tea, and lavender flower decorations in making any lavender soap recipe #soapmaking #lavender #soaprecipe
Pale purple lavender soap

Using Lavender Flowers in Soap

If there’s one way to communicate lavender soap immediately, it’s decorating the bars with lavender buds or flowers. There’s just one major issue with using them in soap: they have a tendency to turn brown wherever they touch the soap. Mix them into your soap batter, and they will definitely turn brown. Sprinkle them on top, and they’ll probably turn brown. And if you’ve ever had mice in the house and seen what they leave behind them, you’ll realize why mixing lavender buds into soap is a bad idea. The connotation between mouse droppings and your lovingly-made product is not a good one!

Homemade lavender soap recipe with shea butter & lavender essential oil. Includes tips on using lavender flowers, natural purple colorants, & light exfoliants #soaprecipe #soapmaking #lovelygreens
Honey & lavender soap recipe with dried flowers

There are two tricks to prevent lavender from turning brown in your soap, though. The more lavender buds that don’t touch the soap or only minimally touch, the less browning you’ll see. The first one is using dried lavender buds still connected to the flower stalk. If you lightly press them into your soap about five minutes after you pour it, you can get away with just the smallest amount of browning. Make sure that only the bottom edge is actually touching the soap, as shown in the photo above. It also helps to use darker lavender varieties, such as ‘Hidcote.’ They’re so deeply colored that you don’t notice as much color changing, and they stay beautiful for months on end. All the more reason to grow lavender at home.

Homemade lavender soap recipe with shea butter & lavender essential oil. Includes tips on using lavender flowers, natural purple colorants, & light exfoliants #soaprecipe #soapmaking #lovelygreens
Add one Tablespoon of rolled oats to your lavender soap recipe for light exfoliation

Stick Lavender on Soap with Rubbing Alcohol

The other method to stop lavender from turning brown on soap is even more clever. Pour the soap batter into the soap molds and allow it to sit for 24-48 hours. Pop the soap out of the molds, and cut them into bars, if applicable. Next, spray the tops with rubbing alcohol, sprinkle lavender buds on top, and spray them again. As the alcohol evaporates, the lavender will stick to the soap. Although, over time, lavender can naturally brown, it will take weeks or months before you see it happening with this method.

More Lavender Ideas and Recipes

Lavender Soap Recipe

Tanya Anderson
This lavender soap recipe involves first creating alkanet-infused olive oil and then using it to create a naturally purple soap. The recipe calls for a variety of both solid and liquid oils that are balanced to create a hard bar with plenty of creamy lather. This recipe also calls for olive pomace oil, but you can use another light-colored olive oil if you wish. Extra virgin olive oil will give the bars a yellower color, at least initially. Makes a 454g (1 lb) batch with a 5% superfat. Depending on the mold you use, it will create 5-6 bars.
5 from 6 votes
Author Tanya Anderson
Cost $20

Materials
  

Alkanet-infused oil

Lye solution

Solid oils

Liquid oils

Add after Trace

Instructions
 

Make the alkanet-infused oil

  • At least one month before making soap, mix the alkanet root with the olive oil in a mason jar and leave it in a dark but warm place to infuse. Shake the jar every couple of days. You'll get a good extraction of color after a month, but if you can wait for longer, the color will be much deeper. Up to a year for good deep color! Keep an eye on the best-by date of the olive oil if you plan on a longer infusion period, though.
  • Alternatively, and for a quicker infusion, measure the alkanet and olive oil into a mason jar and place it in a slow cooker set on a tea towel. Fill the slow cooker up to the level of the oil in the jar, and heat on low for eight to twelve hours or overnight. Then turn it off, remove the jar from the water, and allow the oil inside to cool to room temperature. Strain the oil through a cheesecloth. Make sure to squeeze the alkanet in the cheesecloth to get every last drop.
  • The dark purple soap color you see in this soap recipe's images is from oil that was double-infused. To replicate this, infuse the oil in a warm but dim place for three months. After then, strain the oil through a cheesecloth and discard the alkanet pieces. Add fresh alkanet root to the oil and let it infuse for another three months before straining and using it to make soap.
  • Measure the amount of olive oil needed for the soap recipe. You may have a little leftover that you can save for another batch.

Preparation

  • Get everything prepared and measured before starting to make soap. Get the equipment set out and measure out all the ingredients, including the distilled water in the heat-proof jug, sodium hydroxide into a jar, and solid oils into the pan.
    You should also be wearing closed-toe shoes, a long sleeve shirt, hair pulled back, and wearing eye protection, and rubber/latex/vinyl gloves.

Mix the Lye Solution

  • Work in an airy place, such as near an open window, and pour the sodium hydroxide into the water and stir well. There will be heat and steam, so be careful. Try not to breathe it in. Leave the jug of lye solution to cool in the kitchen sink shallowly filled with cold water.

Melt the Solid oils

  • Place the pan of oils on low heat and stir and break up the oils to speed the melting time up. When there are just a few small pieces that are unmelted, take the pan off the heat and continue stirring on the side.
  • When fully melted, pour the liquid oils into the pan: the alkanet-infused olive oil and the castor oil. Save the essential oil for later. One tip for reducing air bubbles in your final soap bars is to pour the liquid oils against a spatula or immersion blender placed in the pan. It helps the liquid oils to flow in rather than splash in. Air bubbles aren't necessarily bad, just something that soapmakers try to avoid for aesthetic reasons.

Taking the temperature

  • When making this small soap recipe, aim to cool both the oils and lye solution to around 120°F (49°C). They don't need to be bang on but should be around that mark. An infrared thermometer makes quick work of this task but a digital meat thermometer or glass thermometer work too.

Immersion blending

  • When the temperatures are around 110°F (43°C), pour the lye solution into the pan of oils through a sieve. It will catch any bits of undissolved lye. You could also pour the lye through the sieve and against a spatula or immersion blender to again reduce the chance of air bubbles forming in your soap. This is optional, though.
  • Next, dip the stick blender into the pan and press it to the bottom of the pan. With it turned off, stir the mixture, keeping the head of the immersion blender against the bottom. Next, bring it to the center of the pan, still pressing down, and blitz it for just a couple of seconds. Turn it off and stir the soap batter, using the blender as a spoon. The color of the soap batter can be anything from blue to gray to purple at this point.
  • Repeat until the mixture thickens up to a light Trace. This is when the batter leaves a distinguishable trail on the surface. The consistency will be like thin custard. The batter may also look gray or blue right now, and that is completely normal.

Essential oils & molding

  • Now, at light trace, pour in the essential oil. Stir it in quickly but thoroughly. You will notice the soap getting thicker as time goes on, and you'll probably be at medium trace now. It will be more like pudding.
  • When the essential oil is completely mixed in, pour the batter into the molds, using that spatula to get every last bit of soap. It should fill up the 1-lb loaf mold well but have a heaping top. That's fine, and what I've done here is create swirls on top with a skewer. Just use small circular motions up and down the soap. This is optional though, and you can use whatever texture or non-texture you'd like.
  • Another optional step is decorating the tops of the bars with lavender flower heads. I've only lightly pressed them in, being mindful that the buds will turn brown anywhere it touches the soap. I've placed them so that one flower head will be at the top of each bar of soap.

Cure the Lavender Soap

  • Once the soap is in the mold, it helps to force the soap into gel phase. This is a period of prolonged but gentle heat that can deepen the color of the soap. It's always a good idea to do with alkanet soap recipes. There are two main ways to go about this, with the first being to wrap the soap mold up in a towel, protecting the top surface of the soap with cling film, and leave it overnight. The second way is to oven process it.
  • Oven processing is very easy. Heat the oven to 170°F (77°C) and place the soap inside. I tend to place the soap mold on a square of baking paper or cardboard. Turn the oven off, close the oven door, and leave the soap in for twelve hours or overnight. Take the soap out afterward and leave it on the counter for another day.
  • After two full days have passed, saponification is mostly complete, and you can pop the soap out of the mold(s). Cut it into bars with a sharp knife, if using a loaf mold, and cure the soap for four weeks before using it. The purple color will fully develop during this time, and depending on the strength of the alkanet and the length of time it was infused into the olive oil, the bars will be light to dark purple.
  • To cure the soap, place the bars in an airy but dim place with plenty of air flow. Leave them there, undisturbed, for at least four weeks before using it. You should also store handmade lavender soap in the open in a dim and airy place. Doing this helps keep the soap dry and in good condition for years.

Notes

Lastly, are you a beginner soapmaker looking for more guidance on how to make handmade soap? Enroll in the Natural Soapmaking for Beginners Online Course to get up to speed quickly. You’ll learn all about soap ingredients and equipment and be guided through step-by-step soap recipe videos. Learn more
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Recipe Rating




35 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t to make this but don’t have any palm oil! Can I substitute it with something else?

      1. Susie Appleby says:

        5 stars
        That’s great. Thank you Tanya

  2. 5 stars
    Me gustan mucho tus recetas. Good job!!!

  3. 5 stars
    Love💜 the colour of the Purple Lavender soap.
    How would this work for hp soap?
    ~Cheers
    ~Wanda

  4. Catherine says:

    Oooops, forgot to ask if the Sunflower oil is high oleic , mid oleic or a linoleic sunflower oil?
    THANK YOU,
    Catherine

    1. You can use any type of sunflower oil for this recipe – it won’t affect the amount of lye needed. I’ve used standard sunflower oil that is not labeled with a linoleic profile, meaning it’s likely a medium level. The fatty acid profile will change a bit if you use high-oleic sunflower oil, though. Linoleic and oleic, especially, which means that your bars could be more conditioning and have silkier lather. They may also be more prone to DOS.

  5. Catherine says:

    Hi Tanya/Lovely Greens’
    This is Catherine. New to soap making. Is the palm oil used in the lavender soap a palm kernel oil or a palm liquid oil? My apologies, have never worked with palm. Are certain palm oils liquid and others solid?, and which one is used in the above recipe?
    Thank you, sincerely
    Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine, stick with standard palm oil, which comes as a solid white fat. Try to find sustainable palm oil, though, because a lot of palm oil is dirty and destructive to rainforests. There’s also palm kernel oil and red palm oil that can be used in soapmaking. They all come from the fruit/seeds of the same plant, Elaeis guineensis, but are extracted and processed differently.

  6. So many soap groups are adamant that lavender will “mold” and that it is dangerous to use the buds and should NEVER be used, or maybe sprinkled. I find this attitude ridiculous, as many soapmakers even in retail stores, use lavender buds all throughout their soap, the buds are brown, but I highly doubt they are “moldy” or “gone bad”, they are just discolored. What do you think?

    1. Lavender buds don’t mold for me on or in soap, but I don’t live in a hot and humid place. Those that do have reported dried flower petals, such as lavender buds, rehydrating, and sometimes forming mold. So the answer depends on where you live or where the soaps are stored.

  7. Hi lovely green :)
    I wanted to ask if the Ultramarine Violet color considered as natural color and from where I can get them please

    1. Hi Haifa, Ultramarine Violet is considered ‘nature-identical’ since it is indistinguishable from the mineral found in nature. However, it’s not mined from the earth but rather re-created in a controlled environment. This is mainly to ensure it’s not contaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, but because of how it’s produced, it’s not considered natural. I still use it and other nature-identical minerals, though :) They’re also the same pigments that are used in mineral make-up.

  8. Hi there! I’m thinking about adding taro powder or puree (I haven’t decided yet) as a colorant, do you think it would have any bad effects since it has starch?

    PS. thank you for the recipe!

    1. Hi Julia, an interesting question! I’ve not used taro in soapmaking before so can’t say what your bars would come out looking like. I suspect that the powder would need to be reconstituted and if you used purple taro, the bars would come out brown though. As for starch — in small amounts (like you’d use with taro) starch can create silky feeling bars and lather.

  9. Sorry I forgot to ask, why do you add the shea butter at trace.

    1. It’s optional to add it at trace, but the idea is to add it to the mix so that it’s not emulsified with the lye. Oils and fats that are emulsified will (most likely) turn into soap first, leaving the fats added after trace to (mostly) survive in the bars as the superfat.

  10. How can I replace the palm oil? It isn’t available in my country 😞

  11. how can I prevent the turning of colors though? I purchased clear glycerin and goats milk but I want the pretty colors of the flowers to appear so I can re sell= Is there any way to keep that color?

    1. Because of the pH of soap, lavender buds will turn brown if you mix them into your soap bars. I would not suggest doing this for soap you hope to sell — brown lavender buds look suspiciously like mouse droppings!

  12. How do you determine when to use GSE?

    1. You can use it in every soap recipe or opt not to use it — it’s an optional ingredient that can help prolong the soap’s life. It’s not a preservative but helps free-floating oils from going rancid too quickly. Ideal for superfats that can spoil quickly.

  13. Hi Today its been my second time attempting this recipe and I’ve broken my blender while I was trying to get a thick consistency but in my opinion it was too watery but everything else was absolutely fine. What did I do wrong?

    1. So many things and all simple human error. You could be using the wrong ingredients, mixing at the wrong time, not stick-blending properly, etc. PS — if you’re using an ordinary blender, then there’s where you’re going wrong.

  14. Hi, I’m thinking of making this soap for a student sustainability club at my university. Because of this, I can’t use palm oil nor animal products for ethical reasons. Can I omit the palm oil altogether and replace it with olive oil? If not, what would you suggest? Thanks

  15. 5 stars
    If you have any questions on how to make this natural lavender soap, please ask :)

    1. Susan Menzmer says:

      The Amazon product linked to for the Ultramarine Violet color is currently out of stock. ? I know it is an optional ingredient, but I am trying to find a similar product on Amazon. I see mica powders—are these the same thing?
      Thank you!

    2. Hi. I have lavender infused olive oil and would like to make a pure castile pastel red and green soap. Will the infused oil affect the colour of the soap?
      Thanks.

  16. Gail Roper says:

    hi can I just double the lavender soap receipe or would I have to adjust the lye /water amounts.

    1. Feel free to double/triple/quadruple… it to your heart’s content. Just remember that larger batches of soap can heat up quicker and retain it for longer. If you pour all of it into a large loaf mould then temperature should be adjusted or you could get a partial gel. Not a big deal but it can affect the colour of your soap