Three Methods for Using Herbs in Soapmaking

Adding herbs to soap is nothing new, but always fun to experiment with!

They are added for the color they impart, as well as for the attributes they contribute to soap.  They can be added using several different methods, as well.

Among the herbs I’ve used in soapmaking, using one method or another, are the following.  In parentheses are the reasons I’ve used them.

  • Comfrey (skin)
  • Parsley (color)
  • Dill (color, exfoliant)
  • Marshmallow Root (mucilage, exfoliation)
  • Calendula (skin, color)
  • Chamomile (skin, exfoliant)
  • Sandalwood Powder (skin, color)
  • Cornsilk (skin, color)
  • Plantain (skin)
  • Chickweed (skin)
  • Turmeric (skin, color)
  • Paprika (just a touch for color!)
  • Lavender (skin)
  • Annatto Seed (color)
  • Green Tea (skin, color)
  • Rooibos Tea (skin, color)
  • Poppy Seeds (exfoliation)
  • Cornmeal (exfoliation)

The methods for using herbs in soap:

1.     Make a tea with the herb and use it as the water amount.

2.     Powder the herb and add it at trace

3.     Make an oil infusion with the herb.  Make it 4 – 6 weeks ahead by infusing the herb in the oil and then using it as one of your soaping oils, or add the herb as you heat the soapmaking oils and remove the herbs once infused.

You might be asking why soapmakers use different methods, rather than choosing one.  The answer is complicated, but in short, the method is chosen because it yields the best results–the best color, the strongest infusion, or is easier to use a certain way.

For instance, Marshmallow root is best extracted in water, so soaking the material in water overnight yields the best mucilage that will make the soap most gentle on the skin, rather “slippery,” if you will.  Of course, powdered root will add exfoliation, so if that’s your goal, simply add it at trace.

The possibilities for using herbs in soapmaking are virtually endless.  We’d love to hear what herbs you use and how you use them!