Monday, February 25, 2013

More Soap Experiments

A nice citrus aroma is hard to get, naturally, in soap.  Apparently, the essential oils for orange, lemon, grapefruit and lime do not stand up well to the heat produced during the cold process soap making.  I'd made one small batch in the fall with Sweet Orange essential oil and got almost no hint of fragrance in the finished soap.  Essential oils are expensive, and I'd really like a citrus soap (without resorting to the faux fragrance oils), so I thought I'd try infusing some of the olive oil that I use to make my soap.

Around Christmas, we had a lot of Mandarin oranges around, so it seemed like the perfect time to try an infusion.  I have infused vinegar with the flavor of fresh herbs, a great result and really quite easy.  I was reading about infusing vinegar with orange peels for homemade cleanser and thought I could do the same with oil.  So, I started saving the peels of oranges and air-drying them on the counter.  More moisture in the peels means more possibility of mold/bacteria in the infusion, so I let them all get very dry and crispy.  Shortly after New Years, I packed a jar with the peels and covered them with olive oil.  I had a bag of dried rose buds and tried one with those, as well, because rose essential oil is outrageously expensive!

Six weeks later, they are suppose to be finished.  I can note a colour change in the oils and, sure enough, once I strained out the peels, the orange/olive oil has a light citrus scent.  Now, in our goats milk soap process, we keep everything as cool as possible - to avoid scorching the milk and keeping all the 'good stuff' that milk offers to the skin.  I think that I will keep the infused oil to add at the very end of the process: if the recipe calls for 900 grams of olive oil I will make the soap with 3/4 of that in regular oil and then add 1/4 of the infused oil at the very end of the process, when I add the essential oil.  I think I'll grind up the peels, once they dry, and add them for fragrance and exfoliation.  I have purchased a '5 Fold' lemon essential oil, which is suppose to be much stronger, so I'll make a citrus soap with not just an orange essential oil but the lemon, as well.  Maybe I should acquire some grapefruit essential oil before I do this.

I'm just about to strain the olive oil/rosebud concoction.  It has a nice rose fragrance, but the rose buds seem very soft - I may not be able to grind them to use in the soap, but I can use more of the plain, dried buds.  Should make for some interesting experiments in the kitchen!  What's your favorite fragrance for a soap?  


  1. I've always been a very big fan of lilac. The grapefruit sounds delightful!

  2. Love the idea of using the peels as an exfoliant. My favourite scent right now is made by a local company that does hand creams and soaps. They have one called 'Island strawberry' that is a wild strawberry scent, very mild, just a hint of strawberry and so pleasant. I'm really not fond of scents (and we can't have them at work) so it's nice to find something subtle.

  3. What a great idea! I can't wait to try infusing olive oil with orange peel- so much thriftier than the essential oil- and my favorite scent for skin. This year I'm hoping that my wild bergamot will flower and produce some sort of great smelling petal that I can infuse into lotion- I'm also starting regular red flowered Monarda as well, so hopefully between the two of them I'll get a scent/flavor that will actually stay.

    1. Angela, the scent after six weeks is quite light; don't know if it will stand up to the heat produced in soapmaking! I will still add essential oil, too. I don't know if infusing longer or having a higher percentage of peels would help!