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Using Herbs and Flowers in Handmade Soap

One of the pleasures of making your own soap is the freedom to choose the ingredients that you want to use, and many students attending my courses are very excited at the prospect of using flowers and herbs from their own gardens.

Adding herbs and flowers can create beautiful bars of soap by adding colour and texture. They can transform an ordinary soap bar into a work of art!

However, there is a caveat when you are using dried herbs and flowers and often budding soap makers are disappointed when I tell them that these ingredients can tend to turn brown. This can completely spoil the look of your soap. There are a few tips and tricks to try and avoid this happening though so read on for further information.

Flowers and Buds

One flower that retains its colour really well in cold process soap is calendula. The dried petals can be added to the soap mix or they can be sprinkled on top of each soap to add lovely yellow flecks of colour. Calendula also has the added bonus of natural healing properties.

Chamomile, rose and lavender can be picked from your garden and dried for use in your soaps. They tend to discolour during the saponification process so its best not to add them to the soap mix. One way to minimise the chances of this happening is to add them to your soap bars when they are fully cured. At this stage there will be no lye present to affect the flowers which is the main culprit for turning them brown. Another trick that you can use for rose buds is to dip them into some melted wax such as olive wax before pressing them into your soap bars and then they will have no direct contact with the soap.

Garden Herbs

Herbs from the garden can be added to soap if chopped finely. Some herbs retain their colour better than others, so it is worth experimenting to see which ones work best. Among the best herbs you can use to add interest to your soap include lemon verbena, rosemary, thyme and peppermint.

The best way to add herbs to soap is by making an infusion. There are two types of infusions that you can make using water and oil. You can read all about infusions in my previous blog.