Soap recipe

Wild crafting rose petals: a sensory delight with castile soap recipe included!

Mason jar filled with wild rose petals

It is hard to drive down a gravel road on a sunny day without ogling all of the wild roses that appear to be waving at me, reminding me to stop to pick them.

I asked my husband to help because he doesn’t mind the thorns and is able to crash into the bushes like a bear to pick the petals in half the time that it takes me to do it.

My main goal is to make a rose petal infused olive oil to stir into a batch of soap. But instead of one of my regular recipes, I want to do a pure olive oil soap otherwise known as Castile soap.

I have been wanting to try this for a while as it is getting harder and harder to find oils that don’t have some sort of socioeconomic or environmental costs associated with it and as far as I know there are no human or animal rights issues with olive oil to date.

It was a sunny Sunday when we went hunting for wild rose petals.

It was hard to reach many of the rose petals as some of these plants trailed up over 30 feet in the air. But after a short time, we got a bag full. I took them home and sorted through gently on a piece of white clean cloth to get rid of bugs and then piled them into a clean glass mason jar. I poured olive oil to cover and mussed them up to allow the petals to release their fragrance to infuse in the oil. I set this into a pan of water and brought it to a boil to heat it up. I then set this aside with a tight-fitting lid in a dark place and shook it for a few days. I used this infusion after only a week.

After the petals have been stewing for a week or so, I  strained out the petals, which have discoloured considerably, but the leftover scent of oils is extremely fragrant and a lovely addition to my pure olive oil soap.

I am nervous about using an olive oil only soap. When I ran the numbers through a lye calculator, the one I like to use is as it gives an easy to read recipe that gives you options, such as how much to superfat and how creamy or cleansing the bar will be. In this case, it is telling me that the bar is 0 for cleansing! I am curious about how this feels in the shower but I will have to be patient. ( Update: it feels fabulous and smells amazing!)


2834 grams extra virgin olive oil ( I ran out part way and had to use about 250 grams of pomace olive oil)

850 grams water

356 grams Lye

French pink clay for swirling

Essential oils weighed out in grams about 114 grams in total

20 grams rose geranium

40 grams palmarosa

20 grams clary sage

20 grams jamarosa

14 grams lavender

I used mainly extra virgin olive oil for this batch, I weighed it out as usual but then topped it up with the strained wild rose oil infusion.

Follow basic soap making instructions wearing all of your safety gear as usual.

The extra virgin olive oil gave the soap a nice deep orangey yellow colour as I was stirring it up. At trace, I stirred in a healthy dollop of the infused olive oil for extra scent.

I had my oils and lye water at about 97 degrees and later covered the batch with a sleeping bag. I found them easy to pop out of the mold. I think they overheated because they had a bit of a darker swirl in the middle, so next time I might not insulate them so heavily. I might only use a towel.

Below is a picture of my wild rose olive oil soap after I cut them into large chunks.

They smell divine. I am going to use this essential oil combination again, as it’s a winner.

I will let these cure for at least 6 weeks before I use them. I love the pink clay swirl and must note that the base colour is more yellow in real life than the photo portrays. This yellow colour is from using the extra virgin olive oil and some of my essential oils would have changed the colour. I do not like to add titanium dioxide to whiten my bars because I don’t believe that you should add extra ingredients that are unnecessary.

Wild Rose Olive Oil Soap
Soap recipe

Rhassoul Clay and Apricot Oil Sudsy Shampoo Bar Recipe

Today I was in the mood to make up a recipe to use up some Rhassoul clay that I ordered and forgot about. I thought it might be fun to use some of my delicious carrot seed essential oil and lemongrass to scent it and for extra goodness, I added a considerable amount of apricot kernel oil which besides being very good for all parts of your body is also great for your hair.

I decided not to super fat this batch and left it at 5 % which is not usually my style but I noticed my husband who faithfully uses my superfatted nettle shampoo bar for years has been getting a bit of build up, and we are not the kind of people who will buy cider vinegar to use in our hair as a rinse- we love it in our salad dressing! So anyways, I will get back to you to let you know how fabulous it is for hair or not… Rhassoul clay is purported to leave your hair soft and reduces flakiness. Which was why I must have ordered it in the first place; I thought it would make a decadent shampoo bar ingredient.

See recipe below:

Rhassoul Clay and Apricot Oil Sudsy Shampoo Bar Palm free!

900 grams of coconut oil

640 grams of castor oil

640 grams pomace olive oil

260 grams of apricot kernel oil

260 grams of cocoa butter

1026 grams of distilled water weighed out on a scale

384 grams of lye

42 grams Rhassoul clay stirred in at trace

about 100 grams of essential oils

in this batch, I used a combination of clary sage, lemongrass, lavender and wild steam distilled carrot seed oil stirred in at trace.

Please see basic soap making instructions if this is your first time making soap.

This batch took a short 8 minutes of combination hand stirring and blender stirring. I made sure to blend the clay well at trace. I insulated this batch for about 24 hours, popped them in the freezer for a few hours while I visited my friend down the street while she served me tea and cookies on her deck.

When I returned they easily came out of the mold. I let it sit for one night and cut them this morning into nice chunky pieces. My hands already feel very soft ( I should have been wearing gloves I know but I couldn’t find them.) Or it could be the Himalayan salt lotion bars I made but that will be another post. The clay gave the bars a lovely earthy dusky, colour and they smell sharp like a combination of sunshine and green leaves, just what I want my hair to smell like.

And if it doesn’t work for my hair type, I know my skin will love it.


Here is another easy recipe to use with this versatile ingredient

Rhassoul clay face mask.

Put about a heaping tablespoon of Rhassoul clay into a nice non-metal bowl, slowly add a little bit of water enough to make a paste that will stick onto your face, add a drop of tea tree or lavender oil and spread this paste to dry on your face. Let it do its work for about 10-15 minutes, wipe off. How easy is that? And no bad preservatives.

Please note: some people have allergies to clays and essential oils so test on a small patch of skin first before slathering onto your face!

Also, don’t breath in the tiny particles… for obvious reasons.

Fernando by ABBA for my mom on mothers day…



Soap recipe

Gardener’s Hand Soap Recipe

I have a standard and very easy gardener’s hand soap recipe. I use ground pumice and ground orange peel as the scrubby elements. These natural and gentle abrasives, along with Calendula petals and some strong antibacterial essential oils are what makes this recipe a winner.  Orange peel in your bar soap recipe gives your soap a nice scrub without hurting the outer layer of your skin- it also anchors the scent of your essential oils, making it smell delicious right down to the last bubbly scrap.

The cocoa butter in this recipe adds a nice bit of extra conditioning properties for your skin and also speeds up your trace time. The stir time for this batch was less than 8 minutes!

Adding cocoa butter to your soap also has the benefit of adding a little extra hardness to your end product.

Besides being great for dirty, muddy gardener’s hands this works very well for removing grease. I once had a young man sneak up to my market table to secretly buy it because he loved it so much for cleaning his hands. He didn’t want his other friend who made soap to know!

I usually make most of my soap in lovely starfish molds that my husband makes for me but for this batch I used a plain old plastic bin greased up with some olive oil. Really— sometimes I get tired of starfish ( tough for a company called Starfish soap company- poor me!)

To give the bars a nice rough looking edge I cut them with a wavy vegetable cutter that I picked up a second-hand store.

Starfish Soap Company’s Gardener’s Hand Soap

Weigh out all of your ingredients in grams except for the Calendula and orange peel

1 cup of calendula petals

2 cups of ground orange peel

50 grams ground pumice

70 grams beeswax

100 grams of cocoa butter

932 grams of palm oil

1060 grams of coconut oil

1410 grams of olive oil

Essential oils

56 grams of tea tree oil, 8 grams of lemon, 18 grams lavender, 38 grams lemongrass, 14 grams lime.

Distilled water- 1358 grams

Lye- 486 grams

In a well ventilated space stir in your lye into your measured water. Cover and set aside to cool. I like to set my lye outside on these cool days to allow the hot mixture to cool down quickly.

Melt your oils and beeswax. Stir in your olive oil and set aside until both your lye water solution and your oils are the same temperature. I usually stir at about 100 degrees F. Hand stir quickly for about 5 minutes. Then use a stick blender for one minute, hand stir for one minute- keep alternating until you reach trace. First time making soap? Find my basic soap making instructions in this blog.

At trace quickly stir in your essential oils and pumice, Calendula petals and your orange peel. Pour into your mold, put a piece of waxed paper on top and then insulate for 24 hours.

To help get it out of the mold, I usually put the soap in the freezer for 2-3 hours. I then pry the sides with my straight edged soap cutter and push it out on a clean piece of packing paper.

In a few hours or even the next day, cut the bars with your funky wavy vegetable cutter and air dry at least 3-4 weeks.

These are lovely gifts to give to your favourite garderner or mechanic, or I like to set my big old chunky bar on the edge of my kitchen sink to wash my hands after tackling some greasy pots and pans. This bar also feels great if someone is in the shower with you to scrub your back.

Image(s) courtesy






Soap recipe

Lost in the Nettles


It was not until I moved to a little island in BC that I found that I loved wildcrafting. Born and raised in the bustling city of Winnipeg- the idea of hunting for your food in the ditch was not common knowledge and was most likely frowned upon. When I first moved here many people went on and on about how in the spring they made nettle lasagne. The first spring that I was out here I asked someone to take me out to show me how to find and pick stinging nettles. And what do you know?  I found that my family loved nettle lasagne. This made me feel good because I learned that besides being free, the nettles provided more nutrients than spinach or even kale.

Soon I began collecting the nettles to make and freeze pesto.  I learned to hang and dry the leaves to use with dried peppermint to make a lovely nutritious and cleansing tea.

One day I overheard this conversation on the ferry,  ” drink your nettle tea, it will make you feel better” said a mother to her young daughter holding a steaming ceramic mug( perhaps from the Madmudslinger?)… And I knew that this was the mantra of most people once they lived out on an island for long enough. Eventually, of course, nettles found their way into my soap and now I make a lovely natural green nettle shampoo bar.

Nettle Shampoo Bar Recipe

Collect about four to six cups of stinging nettles. Carefully wash out the bugs etc and put them into a Rubber maid container. Pour boiling water over the nettles and allow to cool to room temperature. I make sure to use distilled or reverse osmosis water as this will become the lye water eventually. When the water/nettle mixture is cooled I puree the whole thing with a stick blender. Then top up with distilled water to make up the portion of your lye water. Measure out your lye and pour into the green soupy nettle water mixture. I do this outside and with full protective gear on. Let sit until about 100 degrees. Melt your oils as usual and when everything is at the same temperature, around 100 -stir up as usual.

This recipe is palm free so it takes at least 6 weeks to cure. I add castor oil for extra bubbles for the shampoo part.

I like to use 90 grams of Lavender and 46 grams of Geranium essential oils in this recipe. This recipe is sometimes tricky to get out of the mold so grease it well before you pour it. I would say that this recipe is not really for beginners but somewhere in the middle of beginner to advanced because of the messing around with the lumpy nettle parts.

You don’t need to add any colour as the nettles give it a lovely green hue.

Lye=490 grams

water distilled or reverse osmosis=1354 grams

apricot kernel oil=50 grams

castor oil=400 grams

cocoa butter=260 grams

coconut oil=1200 grams

olive oil=1700 grams

Lost in the Nettles


Soap recipe

Coffee Bars

Making coffee soap takes one extra step that I find bothersome, but I believe it is worth the trouble because people go gaga over these bars.

Here is the recipe- remember I weigh everything out in grams.

  1. Coconut oil 76 degree-1060 grams
  2. Palm oil-932 grams
  3. Beeswax-70 grams
  4. Olive oil -1410 grams
  5. Cocoa Butter- 100 grams
  6. 80 grams or so of orange peel at trace- I order this from Aquarius Aromatherapy
  7. 1 cup of dry coffee grounds at trace
  8. clove essential oil-54 grams
  9. peppermint essential oil-80 grams
  10. distilled water made into coffee-1358 grams
  11. lye-486 grams

The first thing to do when you are making coffee bars is to take the distilled water and boil it up to make up some nice dark coffee. I weigh it out to make 1358 grams of hot coffee in my Bodum- and then pour it into my special lye/water container(rubber maid juice pitcher with a lid). This usually takes two or three Bodums full depending on the size of your little coffee press.  Add 20 grams of white sugar and 10 grams of salt to the hot coffee, stir well and set aside until room temperature. Adding sugar to your soap recipe helps to increase lather. Salt is also helpful to increase hardness. I don’t recall why I started doing this for these bars but I always have. After this one step, you can proceed with regular soap making instructions. I usually set the lye water/ coffee container in a pan of cold water while I am adding the lye in case it overheats. I usually do this outside or in a well-ventilated space as the coffee and lye solution is quite smelly. Melt your solid butters and oils and beeswax as usual-set aside until the correct temp. is reached. Begin stirring everything together once you reach the temperature of 100 degrees. At trace, stir in the coffee grounds, orange peel, and essential oils and pour into molds. Insulate 24 hours or so. The next day, set them in the freezer for a few hours to help remove them from your molds. Remember how I told you in a previous post how I hated using pvc pipes to make round bars? This batch is the reason why. It came pouring out the bottom one evening when I was making soap late at night. I screamed, “Help!” to no one in particular. Funny now, not so funny then.

Pictured here is a bag of locally roasted coffee that my sister gave me. I didn’t use it in this batch of coffee soap. I drank it before I made the soap. I used a cheaper brand for making the batch because that’s the way I am.

These bars are excellent for removing grease from hands. It is also excellent at getting rid of garlic fingers- although some people love the scent of garlic on their skin. People tell me all kinds of things at farmers markets… you would be surprised.  I suppose if you are a dentist or some other profession where your hands are in people mouths you might be conscious of strong scents that cling. The orange peel and coffee grounds are the reason that it is so good at cleaning kitchen hands. I like to call this batch Kitchen Goddess, but I also call it Kitchen God depending on who is using it. I use a combination of Clove and Peppermint essential oils because these oils have amazing antiseptic properties- naturally.

Soap recipe

Beer soap

Warning: For adventurous soap- types only… some swearing and music by Cake may be involved. Not meant for beginner soapers!

Here’s another popular recipe that men love. A soap brewed up with Irish Cream Ale. The best part of making beer soap is that my recipe only takes 4 beer, so if you buy a six pack, then that leaves two for you!

I  like to swirl it with activated charcoal to make it look nice and manly and add some other men type oils like clove and lavender with a splash of patchouli. The trick with beer soaps is boiling out the alcohol. I boil 3-4 beer at a low temperature the night before. Also try different beer types. Stouts give a nice dark colour to your finished bar.

 I set it in the refrigerator for the next day when I am planning on making the batch. This recipe is for the advanced soap maker… for the more adventurous types…as using any additives in place of the water should be done carefully.

I love using the online soap calculator, Soapcalc…. It gives you a great detailed account of what your oils do for your batch… for instance this batch tells me it is 42 in the range of hardness and 56 for conditioning…

Some of this will change when you consider the great skin care properties of beer. Feel free to interchange whatever oils or butters that you have on hand, and run through the calculator to make sure you have the correct amount of lye and water, etc. I am very experimental! I love to try new ingredients all of the time and encourage you to do so.


SoapCalc © Recipe Name: Beer Soap
Total oil weight 2860 g
Water as percent of oil weight 38.00 %
Super Fat/Discount 10 %

Grams— I weigh out everything in grams.
Beer/Water mixture  1,086.80 g
Lye – NaOH 384.26 g

Apricot Kernal Oil   200 g

Coconut Oil, 76 deg   1,000 g

Olive Oil pomace       1,400 g
Castor Oil                   60 g
Beeswax                     100 g
Cocoa Butter            100 g


essential oils 114 grams…of your choice

Here is my combination… sometimes I might put in a little bit of cinnamon or rose geranium… but don’t tell the guys… they seem to like it!

Lavender essential oil-50 g

Patchouli essential oil-24 g

Clove essential oil-40 g

Activated charcoal for swirling…you may also use orris root to anchor the scent if you have some kicking around

Soap Bar Quality Range of Your Recipe
Hardness 29 – 54          42
Cleansing 12 – 22         23
Conditioning 44 – 69  56
Bubbly 14 – 46              25
Creamy 16 – 48             19
Iodine 41 – 70               55
INS 136 – 165             158
Lauric                            17
Myristic                           7
Palmitic                          11
Stearic                             4
Ricinoleic                        2
Oleic                               42
Linoleic                           9
Linolenic                        1

Additives Notes— Boil up 4 bottles of beer in an open pot on a low simmer for about 25 minutes. Do not leave this unattended, as you don’t want it to boil over. Put in a sealed container in the refrigerator over night and use in place of distilled water. Top up with distilled water if you have lost too much to evaporation when boiling… to make up the 1086 grams. Add the lye slowly to the beer/ water mixture try to not let it bubble up like a volcano. But if you have boiled out the alcohol and set out overnight, you should be fine. I do this in the sink and have lots of protection!!! Set in a safe place to cool down for a few hours while you melt your oils in your soap pot. Have all of your molds greased and towels ready to throw on top. Measure your essential oils, cut out your wax paper for the top of your soap. Now go and do your laundry while you are waiting… or dance around the living room singing to Cake’s version of I will Survive, it’s up to you— as the fun part is about to begin!! Ie, stirring it up, getting to trace, adding the essential oils, and then swirling in the molds. Click on the link for I Will Survive…  

I stir up the lye and oils at about 100 degrees.  A quick note on charcoal. I have a nice clean container set out for when the soap comes to a light trace and because I am using clove oil, I try to work fast as clove oil can be a “bitch” to work with. It may cause your batch to curdle or seize. Pour about 1\8th of your batch into the Rubbermaid container, stir in the charcoal so there are no lumps.  Do a nice fun swirl of the black lovely charcoal through the rest of your soap batch.  Although it is difficult to clean up afterwards… ie. your gloves will be black and gritty, the look of it in your finished bar will be well worth the cleanup. I use papertowels to wipe up the sludge before cleaning out with water. And charcoal really is a lovely ingredient for your skin. You can google up the skin benefits of a soap made with beer. Internet lore tells me there are many skin softening benefits. But really my take on it is this—this is a bar of soap made with lovely natural ingredients. Why wouldn’t your skin feel great afterwards? Because I didn’t use palm oil… which I will explain in a long blog post on another day, set these bars out to cure for at least 6 weeks.