Natural Neem Oil Soap Recipe with Lemongrass and Sage Essential Oils
Learn how to make neem oil soap with this cold process soap recipe. This homemade soap contains a natural lemongrass sage essential oil blend. However, it can also be naturally scented with lemongrass essential oil, if desired. Keep reading to discover the skin care benefits of neem oil in soap, and get step-by-step directions on making cold press soap from scratch.
Natural Neem Oil Soap
This natural lemongrass and neem oil soap recipe is formulated with neem oil and evening primrose oil as key ingredients. Both of these carrier oils are prized for their medicinal skin care properties that can help to tackle tough skin issues like eczema. In addition, this natural lemongrass and neem oil soap recipe is scented with an energizing blend of lemongrass essential oil with a touch of sage and tea tree oil.
This cold press soap recipe is suitable for all skin type, including for both acne prone and dry skin. It is especially beneficial as a homemade soap for problem skin.
Why Should I Use Neem Oil for Skin Care?
Neem oil gets a bad rap. In short, it stinks. Some folks don’t mind the smell so much. It’s sort of a nutty garlic scent. Unfortunately for most of us, the fragrance isn’t so appetizing. By dismissing neem oil due to its scent, however, you’re also missing out on many of the amazing skin care benefits of neem oil. Especially when there are ways to disguise, and even completely cover, the scent to make it more pleasant. So just why should you use neem oil for skin?
Skin Care Benefits of Neem Oil
Used both medicinally and cosmetically for hundreds of years, neem oil is naturally antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal and possesses hydrating and regenerative properties. In addition it also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing) properties and contains both vitamin E and essential fatty acids. These properties give neem oil its numerous skin care benefits and make it suitable for a wide range of problem skin conditions.
First used in India in 2000-4000 BC, neem oil is a key herb used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicine. Neem oil is commonly used topically to treat rheumatism, eczema, ringworm, athlete’s foot, cold sores, psoriasis, warts, chronic syphilitic sores, infected burn wounds, and slow-healing skin ulcers. It has also been shown to help control various skin infections including scabies and candida.
I love using neem oil as it really does help promote healing. It also balances out my skin when it becomes dry or irritated by external elements, so there’s no more uncomfortable itching. However, it is important to dilute to neem oil as used full strength it can cause skin irritation. Therefore, a really great way to use neem oil is in a cold process soap formulation.
How Do You Cover Up the Smell of Neem Oil in Soap?
As neem oil has a strong fragrance, it can be hard to disguise in soap. That is, unless you have a few tricks up your sleeve.
You can scent your neem oil soaps recipes with either essential oils or fragrance oils. However, not all fragrances cover the fragrant aroma of neem oil entirely. While the scent of neem oil does, in fact, fade once the soap has cured, there are certain essential oil and fragrance oils that mask the smell better than others.
Peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, orange, tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils all do a great job of helping to mask the unfortunate aroma of neem oil in soap. In addition, you’ll also find that essential oils with an earthier fragrance, such as patchouli, also help to quell the scent. The first homemade neem oil soap recipe I created calls for using a single essential oil — either lavender or lemongrass — depending on your preference.
Fragrance oils can be hit or miss at masking the natural fragrance of neem oil. Therefore, I recommend opting for earthier fragrance oils when making neem oil soap. My cocoa & cannabis neem oil soap recipe uses a fragrance oil of the same name. This scent is a blend of warm patchouli, spicy cinnamon, and dry cannabis mixed with cocoa and vanilla. It gives the neem oil soap bars a sweet and spicy aroma that is suitable for both men and women. After a full cure, the neem oil is nearly, if not entirely, undetectable.
Another way to ensure the neem doesn’t overpower the scent of your cold process soap is to keep the percentage of use in the recipe low.
Lemongrass & Neem Oil Soap Recipe
© Rebecca D. Dillon
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make cold press neem oil soap:
- 3.6 oz. avocado oil
- 1.8 oz. cocoa butter
- 5.4 oz. 76° melt point refined coconut oil
- 1.8 oz. evening primrose oil
- 13.3 oz. virgin olive oil (or pomace olive oil)
- 4.7 oz. palm kernel flakes
- 1.8 oz. safflower oil
- 3.6 oz. 100% neem oil
- 11.8 oz. distilled water
- 4.9 oz. sodium hydroxide/lye
- 2 Tablespoons white kaolin (cosmetic) clay
- .5 oz. lemongrass sage essential oil blend
- .2 oz. tea tree oil
- 1 teaspoon sodium lactate (60% solution)
Neem Oil Soap Notes:
This natural neem oil soap is a great choice for natural skin care. However, as a fellow soapmaker, you may wish to make changes to this cold process recipe. Therefore, I’m providing my notes with relevant information to help you resize a soap recipe or make changes. You will need to run any changes you make through a lye calculator. Otherwise, you may not get what you expect from the recipe. Alternately, you could end up with a lye heavy soap bar.
- The water as % of oils is 33%. You can safely reduce this to 30% to reduce the amount of water in the bar.
- I used 8% superfat for this natural neem oil soap recipe. If you don’t need the extra conditioning a higher superfat offers, you may reduce this amount to 5-6%.
- This cold process soap recipe will yield 10 bars of neem oil soap. Each bar will weigh approximately 5 oz. each, depending on how they are cut, after curing. This recipe for cold press soap will fit inside one of my DIY wooden loaf soap molds.
- This lemongrass and neem oil soap recipe is formulated using a high percentage of olive oil. Therefore, the recipe doesn’t make a super hard bar. It rates a 39 for hardness out of the recommended 29-54 range at SoapCalc. (Learn more about using lye calcs here.) To offset this, I added a small amount of sodium lactate to the recipe. (You can also reduce the amount of water used.) The sodium lactate is optional.
- If you don’t have palm kernel flakes on hand, which are included for both lather and hardness, you can substitute the flakes with palm kernel oil. Just be sure to run any changes back through a lye calculator.
- You can make this homemade soap recipe palm free by substituting the palm kernel flakes with lard. If you make substitutions, however, you MUST run this lemongrass and neem oil soap recipe back through a lye calculator.
- For visual interest I added two bars of soap to this recipe as soap embeds. To do this, I simply cut the existing soap bars into cubes. Then I placed the soap cubes inside my prepared soap mold before pouring the soap. The two bars of soap I used are my Lemon & Poppyseed Soap (recipe here) and my Natural Black Clay & Sea Salt Soap (recipe here.) Adding the soap will increase the final weight of the soap bars to around 6 oz. each.
- I did use an essential oil blend for this soap recipe. However the sage side of the lemongrass sage essential oil blend I used was a bit too potent for me, so I made it a little more lemon-y by adding the lemongrass essential oil and the tea tree oil which rounded it out quite nicely. You can always omit this blend from this homemade soap recipe if you’d like. Alternately, you can also create your own custom essential oil blend that suits your tastes.
How to Make Natural Neem Oil Soap
To make this natural lemongrass neem oil soap, you will need to follow my instructions on how to make cold process soap. If you’ve never made cold process soap, I recommend starting with a beginner cold process soap recipe. Be sure to take all proper safety precautions when working with lye, including wearing goggles and gloves.
Here are the steps on how to make neem oil soap:
- Begin by measuring out the distilled water in fluid ounces. Pour into a heat safe pitcher. Next, using a digital scale weigh out the lye. Slowly pour the lye into the water in a well ventilated area and stir until all the lye has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- Now weigh out the eight soapmaking oils and butter using a digital scale and combine in a stainless steel pot. Heat until the oils and cocoa butter have melted completely, then remove from heat.
- Now prepare your fragrance oil and essential oils by weighing them out into a glass Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside.
- Measure out the kaolin clay into a small container and also set aside.
- When the lye-water has cooled to around 90°-95°F – you want the soapmaking oils and lye-water to be about the same temperature – you’re ready to make soap.
- Measure out the sodium lactate and stir into the cooled lye-water.
- Add the clay to melted and cooled soapmaking oils. Mix with a stick blender until thoroughly combined.
- Now slowly pour the lye-water into the soapmaking oils. Mix with a stick or immersion blender until you reach a light trace, then add the fragrance and essential oils. Mix with the stick blender until you reach a medium trace.
- Now pour the soap into your prepared mold. (If you are using a wooden soap mold you will need to line it first.)
- Level the top of the poured soap with needed. Then lightly cover the top of the mold with a section of cardboard and set aside in a safe location where it won’t be disturbed.
- After 24 hours you can unmold your natural lemongrass and neem oil soap. (If you omitted the sodium lactate and your homemade soap is still soft, simply wait an extra day before unmolding.) Once you’ve unmolded the soap loaf, cut it into bars and set them aside to cure for approximately 4 weeks before use.
- After your natural lemongrass and neem oil soaps have cured, simply wrap your soap bars and label as desired. (Go here to learn how to make your own custom soap labels.)
Like this neem oil soap recipe? Then be sure to check out my other bath, body and skin care recipes that contain neem oil as a key ingredient. You can also follow me on Pinterest for more of my homemade soap recipes, as well as some of my favorite bath and body DIY’s from around the web.