Calendula citrus soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 9 soaps

I love using the calendula infused sunflower oil from Pure Nature. Even a little amount will give my soaps a beautiful, deep golden hue. But in this soap I’m not just using it as a natural colourant. Calendula, also commonly known as marigold, has been used throughout history as a skin healer, due to its soothing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. This makes it an ideal additive in soaps aimed specifically at sensitive skins.

You can make your own calendula infused oil by following the tutorial here, using your own flowers from your garden or by purchasing organic dried calendula flowers from Pure Nature.

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

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


ONE: Making sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves, measure out the water in a Pyrex jug or other heat proof non-metallic container.  Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water, and avoiding any splashes, keep stirring until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, a natural additive derived from a fruit sugar, which will help harden the soap. Set the lye aside to cool down.


TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and either heat in the microwave (if using a Pyrex jug) or on the stove (if using a pot), until completely melted.


THREE: Weigh out the olive oil, calendula infused sunflower oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil, and give it a quick stir.


FOUR: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. When 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).


FIVE: Add the essential oils and keep mixing with the stick blender until the soap has thickened to a medium trace.

I’ve formulated a special synergistic blend of essential oils (lemon, sweet orange, mandarin, bergamot and spearmint) to compliment and boost the skin healing properties of calendula, although each of the essential oils can lay claim to their own beneficial traits, including anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, promoting cell regeneration and growth, and having a soothing and calming effect on skin.


SIX: Once you have reached medium trace, pour the soap into the soap mold. The soap mould I’m using here is a 9 cavity cube silicon soap mould. Pure Nature has a similar mold with 25 cavities.


SEVEN: Because of the amounts of soft oils (olive oil, sunflower oil, castor oil) used in this recipe, the soap may take a little longer than usual to be firm enough to unmold. If it is still soft and sticky, leave it for another few days before checking. I did my second batch of this recipe when it was very humid here, and it took more than a week before I could unmold the soap.


ATTENTION: The picture above is of the soap after it had cured for 6 weeks. After 3 months it was still golden, but slightly paler. Six months on, the soap is losing the beautiful golden hue and at the moment isn’t looking too flash –  yellow and white flecked soap. I just wanted to let you all know and I’ll keep you updated with what the soap is doing. My guess: it will fade to white over the next months 🙁

Calendula citrus 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!


  • 500 g olive oil
  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 200 g calendula infused sunflower oil
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 133 g caustic soda
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 10 ml lemon essential oil
  • 8 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 6 ml mandarin essential oil
  • 4 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 2 ml spearmint essential oil


  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 coconut oil, and heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until completely melted.
  4. Add the olive oil, calendula infused sunflower oil and castor oil to the melted coconut oil and give it a quick stir.
  5. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
  6. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add the essential oils and keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
  8. Pour the soap into the mold and leave to harden for several days.
  9. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold, otherwise leave it to set for another few days before checking again. The soaps will need to cure for at least 10-12 weeks before they’re ready to use.


  1. Hi, I have just started my soap journey. I have all the ingredients except sodium lactate. Is this ingredient necessary and what does it do? Thanks

    • Hi Maria! Sodium lactate is a naturally derived liquid salt, made from sugar beets I believe. I add it instead of normal (non-iodised) salt to my soaps, because it helps to harden my soaps quicker so it makes it easier to unmould. It doesn’t affect the total curing time though. Unlike salt, sodium lactate doesn’t inhibit lather, so it keeps all the bubbles. This is especially beneficial in Castile soaps, which are already lacking in bubbles. Hope this helps and good luck on your soap journey!

  2. Why 10-12 weeks to cure ? It is a long time , i cure my soaps 6 weeks before starting to use them.

    • There are different processes happening when you cure a soap. The most obvious one is that you need to cure it to finish the complete saponification, making sure the soap isn’t still caustic. This usually happens in the first 4 weeks, depending on various factors. Secondly, you need to cure out the additional water you have added to the recipe. The saponification process uses equal parts of water to lye, but the remainder is added solely for the purpose of being able to work with the soap, to slow down the chemical reaction. This water needs to evaporate out of the soap. Soaps that still contain water go mushy in the soap tray.The last reason for long curing time is the process of crystallisation, which also plays a huge part in if a soap goes mushy or not. This is something that few soap makers seem to be aware of. The sodium salts of soap crystallise slower or faster depending on the fatty acid that they are derived from. Sodium stearate and sodium palmitate crystallise first and remain solid, even if the soap sits in water. It is the sodium laurate and sodium olivate that dissolve and cause all the mush. So soaps with high amounts of these sodium salts, should cure for a lot longer than what most soap makers advice. I hope this helps!

  3. Thank you for this awesome recipe, I am going to make it as I make an ointment with calendula. Do you think it is possible to make a soap bar that can work on hair and body or should I make 2 different types? I want to move a way from store bought shampoos and soaps.

    • Hi Anna-Marie! Kudos to you for wanting to move away from store bought shampoos. The problem with using ‘normal’ soaps as shampoos is that the superfat in them can weigh your hair down and make it limp and heavy, and the superfat in this soap is quite high. But give it a try, and see how it goes. Also keep an eye out for shampoo bar tutorials and ebook in near future! 😉

      • Thank you so much, yes I will keep my eye open for the tutorials and books. I am thinking now of making rather two types, one for body and one for hair.

  4. FYI – Step Three here has some rogue ingredients mentioned. I made this soap yesterday and am looking forward to turning it out of the mold!

    • Well spotted! Thank you for letting me know. I’ve fixed it. I’ve also added a note about the soap 6 months on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the colour will hold in the long term, like most natural colours. That said, it still smells delicious and is fantastic on the skin!

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