Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Calendula Soap

"Final boarding call for the Christmas Soap call."

That's what it felt like while making soap this week. Putting it off until the very last minute, I figured if I didn't get cracking, those hotly fantasised about soaps won't be ready to give as gifts in just a few short weeks time. Needing a good 6+ weeks to cure, the time for soapmaking was now. This was the moment!

Are you in? Are you making soaps to give as handmade gifts this year? Are you boarding the train with me before it pulls out of the station? I'm seated and comfy now..there's a good view to be had out of the hazy window...I think I even recognise a few fellow passengers already on board!

Cleaning out the sewing room recently, I came across a good stash of homegrown calendula petals from last year that were dried and ready to go. Ah, yes, calendula soap. I had wanted to have a crack at this for quite some time and my memory had been jogged after chatting soap and calendula with a vegie groupie just last week. Calendula is well known for it's skin soothing properties and as an added bonus, the petals actually keep their colour during the saponification process, when the lye and oils mix together to form 'soap'. I just had to give it a go..

(**This is not a detailed tutorial for making soap. Certain safety precautions need to be observed when making soap at home which I haven't covered here. See Rhonda's cold pressed soap recipe if starting out with handmade soaps for the first time.**)

The dried petals were infused in rice bran oil in my vintage crock pot, set aside for just such purposes. It has the mildest heat on 'low'! The oil and petals were left to do their thing for close to two hours..

..after such time the oil was strained and added to the oil pot. The heat of the calendula infused oil melted the already soft coconut oil and then the olive oil was added.

After a spell or rather, a sidetracked walk around the garden after tending the goats, the oils had cooled sufficiently to match the cooled lye solution (which had been prepared while the oil was being infused). The cooled lye solution was slowly added to the oils, both being at 105f.

My trusty soapmaking stick blender was called back into action. It's such a time saving device, I would only go back to using a free standing set of beaters while soapmaking under sufferance!

More dried petals were pulled out of the bag and whizzed to a fine, crumbly mix in the coffee grinder.

These were added at a thin trace. The mixture continued to be whizzed and stirred alternately until it reached as thick a trace as I was game to bring it to...

..and it was then poured into the prepared mould. A plastic container, greased and lined with baking paper.
Some extra whole petals were scattered across the surface and the lid was clamped down to seal the warming mass..

Wrapped tightly in a thick towel, it is left undisturbed for a day or two.


Me too! We'll just have to wait and see how it turned out...

Calendula Soap
(6% superfat, unscented)
226g lye (caustic soda)
500g distilled water

470g coconut oil
500g olive oil
650g rice bran oil

Total oils: 1620g

16g dried calendula petals to infuse into oil plus extra for scattering.

Don't forget the goggles, apron, open window and rubber gloves!

29/10/11 ETA:  - ...and here it is after cutting:

Sunshine Soap

Have you boarded the train yet? 


  1. Yep! I've dried my petals and waiting on the fat. I think I might also make some ointment with the petals too. I love the colour of them.

    1. Hi Tanya,
      ointment ooh, what would you use it for and would you share your recipe at all.
      Thanks Leanne

  2. Now I know what I am going to do with my calendulas....will pick the rest tonight and dry for the weekend soap train!

  3. What lucky friends and family you have. Hope they all turn out for you.

  4. I also mix calendula with chamomile. The scent can be so soft and sweet.

  5. Hi Christine,
    Yes i am on the soap train!! I have just run out of rice bran oil and for some reason can't find it in any of the local supermarkets- looking for a suitable alternative at the moment.I also have my calendula all dried too....and was thinking about soap all week this week, so was so pleased to read your method with the petals.
    A very helpful post.

  6. I don't infuse the calendula petals... I just throw them in and it works beautifully. I'll be making more soap this weekend... we're running out of goats milk soap and that will never do!!!

  7. Calendula soap! When I started reading, I thought you were writing about calendula soup! :)

    We love your goat soap, I'm sure this one is just as lovely!

  8. Oh I keep trying to gather up the courage to make soap. that looks so lovely, I am sure the recipients will be very happy.

  9. Thanks for the kick in the pants :) I also have dried calendula petals waiting for me to turn them into lovely soap... and of course, ALSO need to get that ball rilling pronto if they'll be ready for Christmas giving. I think this weekend is the one!

  10. i love your calendula soap! i have been trying to find calendula plants or seeds to grow my own but haven't any luck, so far.
    i also make soap for sale and gifts. Have you ever tried hot-process method soap? It is made in the crock-pot and is ready in a fraction of the time of cold-process. If you are interested, let me know and i can give you some directions.

    1. I just read this, would love some instructions on hot process soap if you are still around |;)

    2. Me too please, I am very interested in soap making but have yet to get started. I am looking at many aspects. Please share in this technique so I can make soap like this. Thank You <3

  11. A characteristically lovely and informative post!

    Once the crazy-schedule train slows down, I'll happily hop aboard the soap train. Can't wait!

  12. lovely tutorial Christine, I'm also collecting my Calandular petals for the same reason....I've been gathering them for a while now...still plenty of life left to harvest more too.
    Thanks for a lovely informative post.

  13. Yes Yes! I'm on that soap train, No calandular petals but I'd better get cracking before it's too late! Thanks for the reminder Cristine!
    Your soap looks great! :)

  14. i really want to get back into my soap making..yours sounds as if it will be really's so exciting when it's matured enough to remove from it's 'bedding' and cut up..and then of course there's the whole giving away and using it yourself pleasures..yours saponifically..jane

  15. Hi there Christine! I've been enjoying a wander through your blog and was excited to find your calendula & comfrey recipes-I've started growing both myself!

  16. I'm going to a soap making class on Sunday - I'm a very hands on learner so I'm really looking forward to it!

  17. Hi all, thanks for your thoughts! It's great to see so many of you motivated to make soap in time for the end of the year, too. I feel something addictive happening though..I've just made a second batch of soap and and plotting another! Bewarned!!!

    Jackie, I'd love to try hot process soapmaking sometime..from what I've read it sounds like it doesn't need much curing time and the essential oils can be greatly reduced because they are added after saponification? I'd really appreciate any links you have, thanks!

    I have to say, my mum thought I was babbling on about calendula 'SOUP' as well, Celia. How funny!

    Saponifically yours (love that, Jane;)), Christine

  18. VERY inspiring Christine, would love to take the plunge!such pretty sunshine soap

  19. Wow that looks amazing! We are preparing to make some Calandula ointment in a bid to soothe my husbands excema, not game to try making soap just yet! :)

  20. Hi can you substitute a different oil? The rice bran oil is pretty pricey. If so, what would the ratio be? Thanks.

  21. Hi Christine,

    About how much soap does this recipe make? Roughly 2-3 lbs? More or less?


  22. Love how it turned out. Such an awesome soap making DIY tutorial.

  23. Hello~ I just start to make cold process soap by my self.
    I 'll try this calendula soap recipe, but I don't have tha rice bran oil. Is there any substitute the rice bran oil instead?
    I hope to get reply from you.


Hi there, it's so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Chris x