Herb beds are a great addition to the home garden. Flowering lavenders, savory sage and rosemary, mild calendula and pots of delightful peppermint are just some of the herbs that can add flavor and scent to your garden, dining table – and your soaps. One of the easiest ways to make homemade herbal soap is to start with the glycerin kind.

Herbal soaps

Use the herbs in your garden to make cream-colored Soothing Soap, green-hued Rosemary Aloe Soap or purple-shaded Lavender Soap. It’s an easy, fun and affordable project, as well as a creative gift idea!

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Soap ingredients

Some of the ingredients and tools you’ll need to make herbal soaps include glycerin bars, dried herbs and flowers, a mortar and pestle for grinding them, and a mold to pour your soap into. Essential oils and colors can also be added.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Motar and pestle

Grind larger dried ingredients (such as flowers, leaves or oatmeal) into fine powder using a mortar and pestle.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Layered soaps

Your soap can take many different colors, forms and textures: Soap No. 1 (far left) is a suspension-formula glycerin, with ingredients disbursed. No. 2 is regular glycerin with settled ingredients and a muddy color. No. 3 improves on the regular formula by coloring the soap. No. 4 is regular glycerin in an opaque formula that created a beautiful cream/oatmeal layered effect.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Glycerin soap is a great base to experiment with using dried flowers and herbs. Not only is it easy to use and makes beautiful bars, it’s also very forgiving: If you add too many herbs or drops of oil and make the scent too strong, just melt it with a few more cubes of plain glycerin to dilute the soap, then pour the liquid into your molds to form new bars.

Whether you’re using dried herbs and flowers or essential oils from your garden, creating your own glycerin-based soap is a wonderful way to express your creativity and make lovely bars – for yourself or for your friends. You can make one or two bars at a time to try something new, or make several bars at once after you’ve found your favorite formula.

Basic Ingredients

  • Glycerin soap base (available at most craft and hobby stores)
  • Dried herbs or flowers such as calendula, lavender, rosemary, sage or chamomile
  • Essential oils
  • Nonmetal mixing spoon or spatula
  • Microwaveable mixing bowl
  • Soap mold (available at most craft and hobby stores) or a plastic food container
  • Mortar and pestle for grinding herbs
  • Towel for drying soap

Glycerin soap base comes in clear, white or with moisturizing additives. (Soap dyes can be added if you’d like more color – they’re found in most craft and hobby stores, as well.) The soap base is also available in a suspension formula, which allows heavier ingredients such as ground oatmeal or raspberry seeds to be equally disbursed into the soap instead of settling on the bottom of the bars.

For example, in the first recipe below, if you choose a suspension formula, the oatmeal and flower petals will mix evenly into the soap. If you use a white non-suspension formula, the oatmeal and petals will settle to the bottom of the mold, creating a pretty layered cream and brown look. To create a smoother look to the layered soap, use your mortar and pestle to grind the oatmeal and flower petals to a very fine powder, then heat the soap for another 30 seconds after adding the powdered ingredients before pouring the mix into the soap mold.

Soothing Soap (2 bars)

Materials

  • 2 tablespoons calendula or chamomile petals, ground
  • ¼ cup oatmeal, ground
  • 8 ounces glycerin soap base

Instructions

Grind the oatmeal into a powder, and grind or tear the calendula or chamomile petals into small pieces.

Place the glycerin squares in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Check to see if the glycerin has melted. If not, microwave on high for 30 seconds more. Repeat with 30-second intervals until the soap is completely melted. Mix in the ground oatmeal and flower petals.

Pour the melted mix into the molds, and allow the soap to set for about 30 minutes, until slightly firm at the surface, then put the molds into the freezer for 20 minutes or until the soap is cool and firm. Place the mold over a towel and gently remove the soap bars out and onto the towel to finish drying. Your soap will be sticky for a couple of days – just keep it on the towel and allow it to completely dry there. Store the bars in a plastic bag or a sealed plastic container.

Lavender Soap (2 bars)

Materials

  • 5 drops lavender soap coloring
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 8 ounces clear glycerin soap base
  • 1/8 teaspoon lavender flowers

Instructions

Melt glycerin soap base in microwave on high using the steps outlined in the Soothing Soap recipe. When the soap has melted, add the soap coloring, essential oil and lavender flowers. Mix thoroughly. Pour the soap into two soap molds.

Allow the soap to set for about 30 minutes, then place in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until soap is cool and firm. Gently remove the soap from the mold and allow it to dry on a towel for two days.

Rosemary Aloe Soap (2 bars)

Materials

  • 5-6 leaves dried rosemary, ground to a fine powder
  • 1 tablespoon aloe gel
  • 8 ounces glycerin soap base
  • 6 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)

Instructions

Melt glycerin soap base in microwave on high using the steps outlined in the Soothing Soap recipe. When the soap has melted, add the dried rosemary powder, aloe gel and peppermint essential oil and mix thoroughly. (If the aloe doesn’t mix into the soap, microwave the soap mix on high for 15 seconds and mix again.)

Pour the mix into the soap mold and allow it to set for about 30 minutes. Then place the soap into the freezer for about 20 minutes or until it’s cool and firm. Gently remove the soap from the mold and allow the bars to dry for two days.

Making soap couldn’t be much easier – so why pay big bucks for the scented stuff sold in stores? Save some of your favorite homegrown herbs for this simple project (and potentially new favorite hobby) and have some good, clean fun!