Gardeners Soap Recipe with Exfoliating Botanicals
This homemade cold process gardeners soap recipe is made with exfoliating botanicals and three skin conditioning body butters. So it doesn’t just get you clean, it also helps to nourish skin!
Life is messy. Sometimes it’s even dirty. So when it comes time to clean up the dirt left behind from your summer shenanigans, projects and gardening, you need a soap that’s created just for such situations.
Formulating a Gardeners Soap Recipe
The problem with a lot of gardening soaps is that they are super cleansing. Obviously if you need soap that’s powerful enough to get off that caked on grime – and whatever else water is fleeing in sheer horror from – they’re likely to strip your skin. You’re clean, but your skin also feels tight and dry. So you try an extra conditioning soap bar instead. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work as well as you need it to on your muck and mayhem. And in this day and age, no one has time to scrub their skin into next weekend.
So why not make a gardeners soap recipe that embraces BOTH of these characteristics? That’s just what I did! Formulated to be extra cleansing – with the inclusion of exfoliating botanicals to help scrub dirt away – this cold process gardeners soap recipe is also extra conditioning. So you get clean AND your skin stays balanced.
I then took my gardeners soap recipe to the next level by adding a simple blend of essential oils that outdoor bugs and mosquitoes prefer to stay very far away from. And while the general consensus is, that soap being a wash off product, isn’t effective at discouraging biting insects, I figure it can’t hurt.
I used to make my brother lemongrass soap every year before his annual camping trips. He swore up and down it worked for him – he never came home with mosquito bites – so I’m not about to knock that notion totally out of the water.
If you’re looking for a leave on mosquito repellent, however, be sure to check out my insect repellent body butter recipe here. You may also want to check out these research based tick repellent recipes with essential oils from the Tisserand Institute.
Now let’s make this cold process gardeners soap recipe!
Homemade Gardeners Soap Recipe
© Rebecca D. Dillon
5.3 oz. distilled water (33% of oil weight)
2.1 oz. sodium hydroxide/lye (8% superfat)
.1 oz. lemon eucalyptus essential oil
.1 oz. marjoram essential oil
.1 oz. Virginia cedarwood essential oil
1 Tablespoon French green clay
1/2 teaspoon calendula flower powder
1/2 teaspoon cornsilk powder
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon Alpine green mica, optional
Gardeners Soap Making Notes:
If you’ve never made cold process soap before, I encourage you to check out my soap making tutorial on how to make soap from scratch. Or check out the book, The Complete Guide to Natural Soap Making, by Amanda Gail Aaron.
This homemade gardeners soap hardens up rather nicely and is easily cut the next day if using a loaf mold. If you’re using individual cavity molds, however, I recommend waiting an extra day or so before unmolding so your edges come out clean. Alternately you can use a steeper water discount – I’d recommend 30% of the oil weight – or you can also add either a teaspoon of sodium lactate or salt to this gardeners soap recipe to get a firmer bar out of the mold.
I used both the succulent silicone soap mold from Brambleberry as well as this silicone chrysanthemum mold for my gardeners soap recipe. The end recipe yielded four 2.5 oz. succulent shaped soaps and three 4 oz. chrysanthemum shaped soaps.
I chose the botanical exfoliants for this soap based on what I had on hand. While pumice is common in a gardeners soap recipe, I decided to use gentler exfoliants instead. However, you can swap out any of these exfoliants as desired with those of your choice.
This gardeners soap recipe is made using the cold process soapmaking method. You need to follow all safety precautions when making cold process soap from scratch. This includes using heat safe containers and non-aluminum containers and utensils. Protective clothing and eyewear is also highly recommended.
To make this homemade soap, begin by measuring out the water (or other liquid) called for in the recipe in a heat safe container. Then use a digital scale to weigh out the lye into a separate container. Carefully pour the lye into the water in a well ventilated area. Then mix well until all the lye has dissolved and set aside. (This step can emit fumes. Therefore I recommend using an exhaust fan. Alternately, you can mix the lye into the water outdoors.)
Next, weigh out all the soapmaking oils and butters. This includes the babassu oil, castor oil, olive oil, mango butter, shea butter and tucuma butter. Combine the carrier oils and soap making butters in a heat safe container. Then melt the ingredients on the stove, in a crockpot or at reduced power in a microwave. Once melted, remove the melted oils and butters from the heat source and set aside.
While the lye-water and soapmaking oils cool, weigh the essential oils out and combine in a glass measuring cup. Likewise, measure out the clay, mica and exfoliants and combine in a small dish or container separate from the essential oils.
Once both the lye-water and soapmaking oils are about 95°F, you’re ready to continue making my gardeners soap recipe.
Start by adding the clay, exfoliants and mica to the melted soapmaking oils and butters. Mix briefly with an immersion blender to distribute the additives throughout the oil mixture.
Follow with the lye-water. Then mix until you achieve a light trace.
Add the essential oils.Continue mixing the soap batter until you reach a medium to heavy trace. (I overmixed my soap batter to be sure I did not get a false trace as my gardeners soap recipe calls for a high percentage of hard butters.)
Finally, pour the soap into your molds. Cover the tops of the soap with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Then set a tea towel on top of the soap to insulate the soap and ensure goes through gel phase. (You can learn more about the gel phase in soap making at Lovin’ Soap here.)
Unmold your soaps after 24 hours, then leave in a cool, dry location to cure for four to six weeks. At which point, you can wrap and label your soaps for personal use or handmade gifts.
If you’d like to sell the homemade soaps you make from my gardeners soap recipe, you need to follow good manufacturing practices (GMP) when making your homemade soaps. The book, Good Manufacturing Practices for Soap and Cosmetic Handcrafters by Marie Gale, is a valuable resource if you’re just getting started making your own homemade soaps, skin care products and cosmetics.
In addition to GMP, you also need to follow FDA guidelines for labeling your homemade soaps. If you’re unsure about the rules and regulations regarding labeling cosmetics, the book, Soap and Cosmetic Labeling: How to Follow the Rules and Regs Explained in Plain English by Marie Gale, spells out everything you need to know to legally label your products in the United States.
If you like my gardeners soap recipe, then be sure to pin it for later. You can also try my gardeners soap recipe from last year. It can can be found here.
Not quite ready to make my gardeners soap recipe or simply need a scrubby soap you can use right away? Shop for handmade artisan gardeners soaps on Etsy here.
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