Lavender Oatmeal Cold Process Soap

Lavender oatmeal cold process bar soap in a pewter colored soap dishThe purpose of this soap was to experiment with natural colors,  in this case, alkanet root powder.  Alkanet is an herb whose roots have been used since ancient times as a dyeing agent and is used to dye fabrics, soaps, and even lip balms.  The powder itself has a bit on an earthy (ie. dirt) smell but that does not seem to carry over into the finished product.  Alkanet root is soluble in alcohol and oils, but insoluble in water.  Therefore, for coloring purposes, it should be infused in oils, strained, and the colored oil added to your recipe.

My soap recipe itself was a bit of a kitchen sink soap, that is, trying to use up the oils I had on hand.  I use soap calc.net to create my recipes, and you can see the predicted qualities of this recipe at the bottom of this post. You can substitute your favorite soap recipe if you like, and just follow the instructions for infusing in step 1, and then add the additives at trace.

Recipe:

3.5 oz (100 g) Apricot Kernel Oil (this is the oil I infused with Alkanet)
4.6 oz (132 g) Coconut Oil 76
4.5 oz (127 g) Palm Oil
3.0 oz (85 g) Rice Bran Oil
1.0 oz (30 g) Hemp Oil, unrefined
2.1 oz (60 g) Avocado Oil
2.1 oz (60 g) Castor Oil
1.4 oz (41 g) Cocoa Butter
1.6 oz (45 g) Shea Butter
9.12 oz (258.4 g) distilled water
3.32 oz (94.2 g) Lye

Additives (at trace):
1 1/2 T. Colloidal Oatmeal
1 T. Lavender flower powder
1 tsp Lavender EO
1 ml Vitamin E T-50

Alkanet Root Powder
alkanet root powder in a small white bowl

Soap making with lye requires some care and caution. If you have never made cold process soap before, I suggest taking a class, reading a good book such as The Natural Soap Making Book for Beginners (affiliate link), or watching this video series. 

Make your soap per your preferred method, and at trace add all of the additives as well as the reserved Alkanet infused oil. I am summarizing the basic steps here:

  1. Infuse the oil.  I placed about a generous tablespoon of Alkanet root powder into the 3.5 oz of Apricot Kernel Oil in a small canning jar, put the lid on, and let it sit overnight.  The next day I strained out the powder using a coffee filter.  Beware, it is a slow process to strain a thick oil through a coffee filter!  I might try a muslin cloth or double thickness cheesecloth next time.  The resulting infused oil was a wine red.  I reserved about 1 T. of the infused oil to add at trace, and used the rest of the infused oil in my recipe.  I am not sure there is a good reason for this, but I expected the alkalinity of the lye to mess with the color a bit, and thought maybe adding a little at trace when the reaction has started might help.  I have no evidence to back up this line of thinking though.
  2. Measure out your lye and water and set aside to cool.
  3. Measure out your oils and butters and heat to melt.
  4. When your oils and lye have come to temperature, mix them together until trace is achieved.
  5. Stir in your additives until blended in, as well as the reserved infused oil.
  6. Pour into your molds and let set for 24-48 hours.
  7. Unmold and slice, let cure for another 6 weeks before use.

After unmolding, the color is a bit grayish/lavender.  I think in future I would add less infused oil to achieve a lighter lavender color.  It is also worth noting that the soap likely picked up some color from the lavender flower powder.  Lavender flower powder is not actually lavender colored, but a grayish  green.  I think the addition of the lavender flower powder helped with the lavender fragrance, as I only used 1 tsp of EO in this small batch (total oil weight 24 oz.) and it still smells fragrant after 5 weeks of curing.

Soap calc predicted qualities:
Hardness: 38 (middle of suggested range)
Cleansing: 13 (low end of suggested range)
Conditioning: 58 (middle of suggested range)
Bubbly: 21 (middle of suggested range)
Creamy: 32 (middle of suggested range)

Update 6/23/2013:  I have been using this soap this week in the shower and it is a nice hard bar, with a slow, medium lather.  The fragrance continues to hold up well.  The color has some variation with some areas of beige along with the original color above.

This post was originally published on June 5, 2013 on my first blog, DIY Bath & Body.

More posts about Lavender

7 Great Projects You Can Make From Your Lavender Harvest

Lavender vs. Lavandin vs. Spike Lavender Essential Oil: What’s the Difference?

Lavender Essential Oil profile

Lavender Hydrosol: What is it and how to use it


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