If someone gives you a bundle of locally grown, organic lavender and you’re a soap nut like myself, what do you do?
Well, duh, turn it into soap, of course.
In order to get the most skin loving properties out of said bundle I infused the lavender buds in olive oil and used a lavender tea for my lye solution.
Now, I didn’t have a lot of that precious lavender on hand, so I made a small one pound batch. But I trust that you have a lot more lavender buds to your disposal either by growing it yourself or by buying some. That’s why I resized the batch to the more standard 3 pounds.
Sadly, infusing lavender in oil or steeping it in water is not enough to carry any of the calming lavender scent over. In my experience, lavender essential oil seems to be a rather fleeting scent in cold process soap. That’s why I added a tad bit of patchouli to anchor the lavender scent. Don’t worry, this won’t turn into a hippy dippy sort of a smell, the lavender will still dominate the blend.
This soap packs a triple punch or lavender goodness and it turned out so creamy and soothing.
I’ll stop yapping now, so we can dive into the recipe. Let’s go!
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What you’ll need:
- two heat resistant containers (non aluminum) – a smaller one to mix your lye and a bigger one (50 oz capacity) to melt your oils and mix your soap in
- stick blender
- mason jar or empty glass container with lid for the oil infusion
- coffee filters, cheese cloth or very fine sifter
- Crafter’s Choice silicone loaf mold
- silicone spatula
How to make an oil infusion
There are two ways to infuse dry herbs or flowers into oil: Cold or heat infusion. Both methods start with combining plant material with oil in an airtight container (preferably made out of glass).
So, for this recipe you would take 3/4 cup of lavender buds, place them on the bottom of a mason jar, add 8.7 oz. (247 g) of olive oil, close the lid tight and give it a good shake,
Now, depending on how much time and patience you have, you can either:
a) place the mason jar on a sunny window sill for 3-4 weeks, or
b) fill a saucepan with a couple of inches of water, stand your mason jar in it, put it on a very low simmer for 2-3 hours. For this you will have to check on your oil frequently and make sure the water hasn’t evaporated.
After the lavender is done infusing the oil, it’s time to strain the lavender buds. I used a colander that I lined with a coffee filter, but you can use a cheese cloth or very fine sifter instead.
Note: I only recommend infusing DRY plant material into oil. The water content of fresh herbs and flowers is too high and will overtime lead to mold and a very bad smell. Don’t even ask how I found that out 😉 So, if you grow your own lavender at home, make sure you dry it hanging upside down in a dry, cool and dark place for at least 2 weeks.
This recipe will yield around 42 oz of soap (8 average sized bars), you can resize the recipe to your heart’s desire using a lye calculator. It is always a good idea to run every recipe you find online (including this one) through a lye calculator, just to be safe.
This recipe uses a superfat of 6% and a 38% lye concentration (this, I find, really keeps the soda ash monsters at bay).
- Distilled water: 6.8 oz. / 193 g
- Lye: 4.2 oz. / 118 g
- Lavender infused Olive Oil: 8.7 oz. / 247 g (29%)
- Coconut Oil: 8.1 oz. / 230 g (27%)
- Tallow: 5.4 oz. / 153 g (18%)
- Shea butter: 4.5 oz./ 128 g (15%)
- Castor Oil: 1.8 oz. / 51 g (6%)
- Hemp Oil: 1.5 oz. / 43 g (5%)
- Lavender essential oil: 25 g
- Patchouli essential oil: 6 g
- Kaolin clay: 3 Tbsp
- Lavender buds: a little less than 1 cup (3/4 cup for the oil infusion, 1 Tbsp for the “tea”)
- Optional: about 8 little lavender twigs or buds for the top
- Safety First: Put on your googles and gloves and make sure you’re not soaping around children and/or pets. Keep your space ventilated or soap outdoors
- Measure out 8 oz. of distilled water (a little more than the recipe calls for) and boil it in a small sauce pan. Add 1 Tbsp of lavender buds to the hot water, stir and let it cool to room temperature
- Using a coffee filter, cheesecloth or fine sifter filter out the lavender
- Weigh your water again and depending on how much has evaporated either add or take away as much as needed
- Slowly and carefully add the lye, gently stirring until fully dissolved.
- Place lye solution in an ice bath (if the lye water turns too brown it will color your soap brown as well)
- Melt coconut oil, tallow and shea butter over low heat
- Add hemp, castor and infused olive oil
- Add essential oils
- Add kaolin clay and mix until there are no more clumps
- When lye solution and oils are about room temperature combine the two and stick blend until medium trace (thin pudding consistency) is achieved
- Pour soap batter into mold and tap it down a couple of times to release any air bubbles
- If you wish to decorate the top with lavender twigs or buds, make sure that the soap is at VERY thick consistency at that point. For me that was 10 minutes after I poured the soap. This will prevent them from leaving brown marks on the top of your soap.
- Insulate mold, cut into bars after 24-36 hours and cure for 3-4 weeks
Until next time. Happy Tinkering!