Lemon and poppy seeds soap

Lemon and poppy seeds

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars

There are many variants of lemon poppy seeds soaps on the internet, and it’s one of the highly popular soaps. The lemon gives the soap a delicious fresh fragrance, and the poppy seeds not only make for a striking effect, but also add a little exfoliation to the soap. It’s the perfect morning shower soap!

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

I’ve kept the recipe simple, using my favourite olive oil and castor oil combination. This recipe makes for a wonderful white soap, which, after sufficient curing, gives a hard and long lasting bar, that stays hard and doesn’t go all mushy in the soap dish.


The little swirl dots on top are optional. If you leave them out, you’ll find this recipe a great beginners soap, if you don’t feel too confident yet using special techniques. For those who want a bit more advanced techniques, or try their hands at piping soap, this would be a ideal project to start your piping adventures with.

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!


ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap and set aside to cool.


TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil, and give it a quick stir.


THREE: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves! Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then, using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate) – this is also called thin trace.


FOUR: Add the lemon essential oil and stir well. Soaps using essential oils can be prone to orange spots in the soap over time, this is due to not mixing the essential oil properly into the soap mixture. So make sure you mix well or even use the stick blender to give it another couple of pulses.

Optional: separate about 150 ml (2/3 cup) to use as icing later on top of the soap.


FIVE: Next add the poppy seeds. I used about a tablespoon of poppy seeds, but feel free to add less or more, depending on how much of a sprinkle effect you want in your soap.


SIX: Pour the soap into the mold and lightly sprinkle poppy seeds over one half of the surface.


OPTIONAL: If you have separated some of the soap earlier to use as icing, check the consistency of the soap. If it has thickened sufficiently to pipe (in other words, keep its shape), add to an icing bag and pipe little swirls along one side of the soap. If the soap is still to thin, carefully use the stick blender to thicken it to the right consistency. For these swirls I used the piping tip #1M

SEVEN: After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 8-10 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.


Lemon and Poppy Seeds Soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!


  • 950g olive oil
  • 50g castor oil
  • 128g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • sodium lactate
  • 30 ml lemon essential oil
  • poppy seeds


  1. Measure out 250 ml of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out the caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear.
  2. Add 2 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye water. Set the lye aside to cool down.
  3. In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil, and give it a quick stir.
  4. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully pour the lye to the oils.
  5. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir, avoiding any splashes, until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  6. Add the lemon essential oil and stir well. Optional: separate approximately 150 ml of soap into a separate container to use as icing later on.
  7. Add roughly 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds and give it another good stir.
  8. Pour the soap into the mold and sprinkle poppy seeds over one half of the soap.
  9. If you have separated some of the soap earlier to use as icing, check the consistency and if necessary thicken with the stick blender until the soap can hold its shape. Scoop into an icing bag with #1M tip, and pipe little swirl dots along one half of the soap.
  10. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to dry for another couple of days, before cutting into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 8-10 weeks until ready for use.


  1. With the high amount of Olive Oil, you noted that it cures for 8-10 weeks. When you use it, does it feel slimy? I’ve made a 100% Olive Oil soap and I wanted to love it but was highly grossed out by how slimy it was.

    • Hi Monica! Yes, unfortunately olive oil soaps are pretty much always a bit slimy. So this one is a typical olive oil soap. If you want an olive oil soap without the slimy feel, look for recipes that have 50% olive oil or less, and include butters in them. However slimy does not have to mean mushy. Mushiness is different, and is usually due to insufficient curing. You can also reduce mushiness in soap by ensuring it goes through a complete gel phase.

  2. Your soap recipes look lovely and I can’t wait to try some. My question is about essential oils. When I first started taking classes the lady teaching would tell us to go very easy on the essential oils since they are so strong but all the recipes that I see call for what seems like a lot. Since most bottles of oils are 5ml to 15 ml it seems like you need a whole bottle or more. Am I missing something?

    • Hi Kelly! I agree, it does sound a lot when you first start, but if you consider that an average recipe makes about 10 bars, and each bar of soap lasts for quite a few washes, the amount of essential oil or fragrance per wash is only a minute amount. Usually, a recipe calls for anywhere between 30 and 60 ml of essential oils. As to where to buy your essential oils, don’t buy them from pharmacies or places where you can only get small bottles. These are usually overpriced! Buy your essential oils from reputable suppliers, such as Pure Nature (www.purenature.co.nz) here in New Zealand or Brambleberry (www.brambleberry.com) in the US. Hope this helps!

  3. Hi Im a new soap maker and I was reading your basic cold process tutorial. In the first part you have 120 ml of water and then scrolling down to the ingredients, you have 120 gm of water – are these the same? Thanks, Wendy Feisst


    • Hi Wendy! Yes, water can be measured in both grams and ml, since 1 gram water = 1 ml water. But I should have written both in the same unit, so not to confuse anyone! Thanks for pointing it out and good luck with your soaping!

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