Homemade Soap: Calendula Cleansing Bar

Calendula is a mild cleanser in this cold-process soap. It’s great for sensitive skin, mature skin or young skin.

Calendula is one herb whose flowers seem to have their light source. Calendula’s bright yellow-orange flowers are a great example of the warm glow it emits. It’s no surprise, then, that Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide states that the flowers are believed to promote a sunny disposition, good health, and a good mood throughout the winter.

This humble and hardy flower is not only a warm but also a powerful healer. This flower is a popular choice for skin treatments such as creams, salves and ointments because of its ability to repair and promote cell growth. It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities. It is gentle and soothing and can be used even on sensitive skin.

Anne-Marie Faiola, the soap queen, writes in her introduction to this soap recipe from soap crafting that there are two ways to incorporate calendula’s benefits into soap. One way is to infuse the herb with oils as per the recipe. Another is to add the herb directly into the soap batter. Both methods are combined to make a bar that has a mild, soothing lather and the pleasant scent of lemongrass.

A handcrafted soap bar made from flowers grown in your garden is a wonderful way to show love and appreciation.

Before you begin:

You should have both standard soapmaking equipment and any recipe-specific equipment.


  • Newspaper or cardboard
  • Use heat-resistant bowls to measure lye or water
  • Large, heat-resistant measuring cup for oils. It can hold oil and lye-water with enough room to mix.
  • Mixing utensils that are heat-resistant
  • Measurement cups and spoons
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Scale
  • For swirling, use chopsticks or skewers
  • Soap molds (and freezer paper liners)
  • Stick blender
  • Whiskey
  • Spray bottle containing 91% isopropyl alcohol rubbing alcohol
  • Thermometer
  • Sharp knife

Reminder about soap safety


  • You should work in an area that is well-ventilated. Avoid inhaling fumes
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants with closed-toe shoes.
  • During the whole soapmaking process, wear safety glasses (regular glasses do not provide sufficient protection) and rubber gloves.
  • Do not allow pets or children to enter your workplace.

Anne-Marie Faiola, author of brambleberry.com has an amazing library of soapmaking videos. You should check out her tutorials, especially if you are new to the craft.

Calendula Cleansing Bar

Makes about 12 bars


Lye-Water Amounts
  • 5.2 ounces sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • 13.4 ounces of distilled water
Base Ingredient Amounts
  • 10.0 ounces sweet almond oil (recipe below)
  • 30.0 ounces of olive oil
  • 2.3 ounces lemongrass essential oil
  • Calendula petals, 0.5 to 0.8 ounces dried (about 1 cup in volume).
  • Equipment standard (see boxed article in the article above).
  • Double boiler
  • Fine-mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth
  • silicone loaf mold


  1.  Prepare the calendula-infused honey almond oil: Pour 10.5 ounces sweet almond oil over 1/3 cup of dried calendula flowers. Let the infusion sit on low heat for about 1 to 4 hours. The infusion will become stronger if it is left on the heat for longer. To remove as much as possible, strain the infusion using a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh strainer. You can infuse slightly more oil than the recipe calls for to ensure that the recipe is fully covered. However, some oil will still be absorbed by flowers.
  2.  Mix the soap ingredients. Stir the lye into the water. Let the mixture stand for a while.
  3.  Combine the olive oil with 10 ounces sweet almond oil that has been calendula-infused.
  4.  When the oils and the water are below 120degF each, add the lye water to the oils. Pour it over the oils using a spatula, or the shaft of a stick blender, to reduce air bubbles. To release air trapped between the blades, tap the stick blender against the bowl a few times. You should not turn the stick blender on until it is completely submerged. Blend for 30 to 90 seconds until you get a light trace (the consistency like a milkshake). Due to the high amount of olive oil, trace may take longer than normal.
  5.  Add the lemongrass essential oils. Blend with the stick blender until you get a medium trace (a consistency similar to cake batter).
  6. Reserve some of the dried calendula flowers for a few tablespoons to sprinkle on top of the soap. Mix the remaining petals into the soap batter. Stir well using a whisk or spatula.
  7.  Pour the soap batter in the mold.
  8. Sprinkle any remaining calendula onto the soap to give it a rustic appearance. Use a gloved hand to press the calendula into the soap.
  9.  Last steps: Wrap the soap in plastic wrap or use a cardboard cover to protect it. Wrap the mold in a towel and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours before unmolding. You can remove the mold in 3 to 5 days.
  10. Cut soap into bars and let them cure in a well ventilated area for 4 to6 weeks. Turn the bars every few days to ensure even cure.


Vivian D. Craven

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