The skincare and beauty industry is going back to its roots. People are going back from chemical-based products to natural organic ones. Organic products can give us desired results with fewer side effects than chemicals. That’s why there is now an entire industry based on organic skincare products. The good thing is we can also make many of these organic products at home. You have seen many people doing skin and hair care DIYs. One of them is essential oils for soap. Nowadays, soaps with essential oils have replaced traditional soaps for a number of reasons. But the main ingredient which makes all of them stand out is 'Essential Oils'.
What are essential oils, and why are they used in soaps?
Essential oils, also known as volatile oils, are aromatic compounds present in plants. Due to different aromatic structures, every compound has its own unique aroma or fragrance.
Although the role of essential oil and its quantity, especially in skincare is controversial, they're now well-known for their benefits. They're anti-inflammatory and promote skin cell turnover. Essential oils are also popular for their anti-aging properties.
Above mentioned benefits of essential oils, along with their scent, make them a product of choice for bathing purposes. That is why essential oils soap making has become popular, whether at home or on a commercial level.
In this article, I'm also going to tell you the whole procedure step by step. The first and foremost part of the recipe is the choice of suitable ingredients; then, other steps include what quantity we're using along with the instruments required.
The soap base is the first thing to choose. Following are the different bases we can use for soap making.
1- Hot Process Soap Base:
These types of soap bases involve the process of saponification with heat. Thus heat is not produced during the process. Instead, we heat the mixture externally to yield results in less time.
2- Cold Process Soap Base:
Another type of soap base which we can use is a cold press soap base. As its name indicates, the process doesn't involve any heating procedure. Sometimes slight heating of oils makes them homogenous, but saponification processes occur at room temperature. This takes a little bit more time than other soap bases. So, the base to prepare and undergo saponification completely takes at least 4 weeks.
Although the process is long, no heating helps in retaining the properties of ingredients which in turn benefits the user of the soap.
3- Melt and Pour Soap Base:
Usually, for homemade Eo soaps, a melt and pour base is used. These types of bases have undergone a saponification process. Thus, they're safe to use. And this is the main reason for using them in soap making.
Also, as the name indicates, they're easy to use. You have to cut the base into pieces/ chunks, melt it and finally, after adding all the important ingredients, pour them into your desired soap molds. The basic components in these bases are water, oil, glycerine, and lye (sodium hydroxide).
We can customize and enhance the benefits of the soap base by adding olive oil and shea butter. Glycerine, along with these ingredients, helps retain the moisture in the skin, lowering the signs of aging.
Soap bases for all skin types!
Below I'm listing different types of soap bases having different effects on the skin. We can choose accordingly before making soaps with essential oils.
- Aloe vera soap base: It has soothing properties and can be used for irritated/acne-prone skin. As we all know, aloe vera is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory helps treat acne.
- Oatmeal soap base: It is good for dry skin as it softens the skin. Oatmeal is a gentle exfoliator assisting in clearing dead skin cells.
- Goat milk soap base: This is best for mature skin as the vitamins and proteins present in goat milk help rejuvenate the skin cells resulting in a baby's soft skin with a glow.
- Shea butter soap base: Shea butter in skincare products serves moisturizing purposes. Thus you can use shea butter soaps for skin conditions like eczema and dry scalp.
- Honey soap base: Honey is famous for its antioxidant and humectant properties. Therefore you can use a honey soap base for all skin types, i.e., dehydrated ones.
Selection of Soap Base:
The selection of a suitable soap base depends on certain factors. One of them is the time requirement you can give to the overall soap-making step. Which essential oil you're choosing? Soap colorant's essential oil compatibility is another thing to consider.
These are some of the melt and pour soap bases that we can use. Let's talk about the other main ingredient, which is essential oil. I have already told you about them.
Here we will discuss which essential oils can be used for soaps.
I have told you above what they are. Now here we discuss other aspects of essential oils. Eo soaps are mainly used for fragrance. The most famous of them are rosemary, lavender, and geranium. Scents are not the only reason for using Eo soaps; their therapeutic properties play a great role in their popularity.
Excessive use of essential oils for soap:
Eo soaps are natural, therapeutic, and vegan friendly but excess of anything is harmful. Over addition of essential oils in soaps can cause more damage than good. So it is very important to know which essential oil to add for the type of result you want and the amount of it concerning soap base.
Allergens In Essential Oils:
Causes of essential oil becoming harmful rather than beneficial is the presence of allergens. Allergens are naturally occurring organic compounds in these oils which don't suit the skin. As a result, allergens can cause allergic reactions like rashes, blistering and swelling.
So, before choosing essential oils for soap, one must know the allergens present in the respective aromatic compound.
Also, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), which sets standards for the amount of fragrance used in the process, fixes the amount of essential oils for soaps on a commercial level.
Depending upon the brand, every essential oil has a different range. And we have to add any essential oil according to its brand values. Also, some of them have a low usage rate due to which they didn't add in soaps, while some have toxic properties. Their use is contraindicated in some individuals, like pregnant and lactating women.
Another thing to know is that essential oils are toxic, so don't ever try to taste or ingest them.
Now here I'm sharing my favorite essential oils for soaps which you can use in your soap-making recipes.
Top 5 Essential oils for soap that you can use
We have talked about how essential oils can affect the skin. It means there are some essential oils for soap making, and some are not. Following are my top 5 picks of essential oil to add to soaps for giving them a unique fragrance.
- Rosemary Essential Oil: There are different varieties of rosemary oil available in the market. Its cost varies according to the variety and suppliers. One rosemary oil is Moroccan with a herbal and woody aroma, while Spanish rosemary oil smells like camphor.
- Lavender Essential Oil: It can be extracted from true lavender or Lavandin Grosso or Lavandin abrialis. It has a floral scent and can blend well with other oils, making it a great choice to use in Eo soaps.
- Clary Sage Essential Oil: This oil has a floral scent with some earthy sweet notes. It also comes in different varieties and is slightly more expensive than other essential oils. It can blend well with cedarwood, lemon, and orange essential oil.
- Peppermint Essential Oil: This essential oil has a unique, sharp, minty aroma. It can blend well with other essential oils like citrus, camphor, and tea tree essential oils.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil: One of my favorite oils is tea tree oil, which has medicinal properties. It has a sharp camphor-like aroma. Its price range is moderate and can blend well with herbal, minty essential oils.
Calculation Of Usage Rate of essential oils for soap:
First of all, know that we will take the weight of essential oil in ounces and grams. It is for commercial production. For homemade soaps, it's better to calculate the volume of oils equivalent to their weight.
How do we do it?
- First, we will know how much is the usage percentage of essential oil in a soap base of 1 ounce.
- Then with the help of the usage percent of respective Eo for soap, evaluate its amount in grams.
- Divide the grams with specific gravity. Now the exact value of essential oil for soap is here.
- Calculate the equivalent ratio between grams and spoons and add accordingly.
Other than soaps and essential oils, you can add soap colorants and preservatives to Eo soaps.
Different essential oils are added as a blend, and there's a percentage of the blend which goes as top, middle, and footnotes.
According to experts,
- The top notes should contain 30 % of the essential oil blend.
- The middle note should be 60 %, while the remaining base note comprises 10%.
Also, keep in mind that the overall amount of essential oil in soap must not exceed 3% of the overall soap weight. Some essential oils cannot be added more than 1-2% in soaps.
Following are some examples of how top, middle, and base notes can be placed.
Top Note Middle Note Base Note
Clary sage Chamomile Cinnamon
Grapefruit Fennel Frankincense
Orange Myrtle Rose
Peppermint Nutmeg Rosewood
Lemon Geranium Ginger
Essential oils which don't do well in soaps:
Commonly used Eo for soaps are peppermint, rosemary, and lavender. They're widely known and used in scent soaps. However, although essential oils are a good choice in soap making, you cannot use all essential oils in soaps. You cannot use Cinnamon and clove oil in leave-in products. Essential oil from citrus fade in cold process soap. At the same time, oils like juniper berry are contraindicated in kidney patients and pregnant women.
Instrumentation Required :
We have knowledge about all the important ingredients now step towards the instruments. Following are the instruments we need:
- Cups for oil.
- Measuring spoons.
- Weighing scale.
- Canning jars.
- Soap molds.
- Gloves and protective goggles.
Steps for making soap with essential oils :
Step 1. Clean the area in which you are going to make Eo soaps. Wear gloves and gather all the essential ingredients used in soap making.
Step 2. Take water in a canning jar and start heating it with protective gloves. Slowly pour sodium hydroxide into the water with constant stirring.
Step 3. Heat and mix the essential oils you want to add, and wait until the lye and oil mixture drops to 120 F.
Step 4. Now add the oil mixture into the lye and gently stir.
Step 5. Blend and stir for 10-15 minutes until we get a trace. Here the mixture will look like pudding.
Step 6. Place the cooker on the stove/microwave and heat the trace for 50 minutes.
Step 7. Now add the essential oil of your choice. Also, add colorants to it.
Step 8. Let the soap mixture cool.
Step 9. Choose the soap mold of your choice and clean it.
Step 10. Pour soap mixture in it and let it cool and take the shape of the mold.
Step 11. Let the soap mixture sit for 24 hours in the mold.
Step 12. Now gently put out the soaps from the molds. Use silicone baking molds or flexible soap molds for this purpose.
Step 13. Cut them into pieces with the help of a knife or soap cutter.
To make the Eo soaps more appealing, we can add certain colors to the soap mixture. The scent from essential oils and color from colorants will result in attractive homemade soaps.
Soap colorants can be natural or artificial. Artificial ones are usually bold and vibrant, while natural ones are subtle and calming.
Following are some natural substances that impart different colors to soap bases.
- Yellow color = Calendula and Cornmeal. It also has healing properties.
- Purple color = Alkanet root.
- Beige to yellow = Chamomile.
- Green Color = chlorophyll and Alfalfa.
- Black to brown color = coffee. It has healing properties too.
- Olive green color = Henna.
- Brownish Yellow color = Sandalwood.
- Blue shades = Woad powder.
- Brown to burgundy color = rosehip oil. It is also high in vitamin C resulting in decreased hyperpigmentation.
Preservatives are an important part of any product. Bacterial growth occurs especially in those products which have water in them. This can damage the product made. To preserve them and increase their shelf life, we need preservatives.
Liquid soaps need preservatives to remain in their original condition. In Eo soaps made through the melt and pour or cold process method, we don't need any preservatives. As they have an alkaline pH of about 9-10. This pH ceases the growth of bacteria, and hence we don't need any chemical to add to increase their shelf life.
Now! I will be answering some general and repeated questions that arise and ask when essential oil soap making is done.
The main concern is will the soap base retains the aroma of essential oils?
Well! If you want to ensure that your soap recipe doesn't lose the soap, use the soap base ingredients carefully.
Here are some suggestions for making the scent of oils last longer in soaps.
- Calculate the usage calculator correctly and add a concentrated, safe amount of essential oil to the soap base.
- Give essential oils something to adhere to. Kaolin clay is a good option as it helps retain the aroma of oils. It also soothes the skin and makes good lather.
- Avoid direct contact with sunlight or heat. Finished soaps must be stored in a cool and dry place.
FAQs about EO soap making
Can discoloration occur in soap due to the addition of essential oils?
Well, it rarely happens! We don't have any exact info about which essential oil can cause discoloration and which doesn't. A simple trick we can use is to see if the essential oil itself is dark in color? If the answer is yes, it can cause a slight to medium discoloration. Otherwise, essential oils do not impart colors to soap bases.
Is lye harmful to the skin?
Yes, Lye in soaps chemically known as caustic soda, is harmful to the skin. It can cause burns when it comes in contact with the skin. While it can be fatal if consumed.
Now here, another question arises if lye can damage skin, why are we using it in Eo soap making?
Actually, in the process of saponification, lye is completely consumed, and it becomes soap. Chemically lye reacts with water and oil and changes to soap and glycerine. Thus, lye becomes soap, and its chemical properties change. And that's the reason lye doesn't damage our skin in soaps.
Can soaps be made without lye?
This is the most common question asked by homemade soap makers. They don't want to handle lye directly, so they're searching for any lye-less soap recipe. So, If anyone doesn't want to work with caustic soda, melting and pouring soap base is the solution. In these bases, the saponification process is done priorly. We have a ready soap base, so you don't have to handle lye and oil by yourself here.
Are there any benefits of EO soaps related to beauty?
In my opinion, the answer to this question is yes. Essential oils are rich in nutrients and used in skincare and haircare brands. Therefore, when used continuously, Eo soaps make skin supple and soft. They prevent the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.
Furthermore, they maintain the pH value of the skin. And also helps in retaining moisture leading to an anti-aging effect. Some essential oils containing soaps have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Thus Eo soaps are used for glowing and lightening the skin. Some of them are used in treating acne and fungal infections.
Finally, I conclude this blog by having added all the necessary things related to Eo soaps. After reading all the info related to Eo soaps, you can easily understand what things to consider. It would be wise to do thorough research before deciding on a soap base and volatile oil. So, you will have a batch or number of batches of handmade soaps with essential oils to use and gift away.