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Thursday, February 6, 2014

How to Make Winter Rose Soap

Jan Berry
Hobby Farms Guest Blogger

How to Make Winter Rose Soap - Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com

Spring is right around the corner, and I can't wait! To help brighten the dreary grayness of this final month of winter, I've been pulling out my dried flowers from last summer and making pretty things with them, such as this winter rose soap.

To make your own, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried rose petals, divided
  • 2 cups water
  • 4.3 ounces lye (sodium hydroxide)
  • 3 ounces avocado oil
  • 8 ounces coconut oil
  • 12 ounces olive oil
  • 2 ounces shea butter
  • 6 ounces sunflower oil
  • rose clay (optional for color)
  • essential oils (optional for scent): rose absolute, palmarosa, and/or rose geranium

I sized this recipe to fit a wooden mold that my husband made for me. If you’d like to make your own, its internal measurements are 8 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches. It yields about seven bars. You don't have to have a special soap mold, though, to enjoy this recipe. Use plastic containers or paper milk cartons as serviceable substitutes.
Please note: This is an overview of the steps needed to make this soap and not a complete guide. Check out my Soap Making 101 post for a cold-process soap tutorial.

Step 1: Make Rose Tea

How to Make Winter Rose Soap - Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com

To make a rose tea, pour two cups of simmering water over 1/2 cup dried rose petals. Let this steep until it's cool, then strain and measure out 11 ounces.

Step 2: Add Lye
Wearing the proper soap-making safety gear (gloves, goggles, long sleeves), measure out 4.3 ounces of lye (sodium hydroxide). I buy my lye at the local farm-supply store, but you can also find vendors online.

Carefully, pour the lye into the cooled rose tea. I do this all in my kitchen sink so it will catch any spills and because it has a window right above it that I can open for ventilation. Even so, I turn my head to avoid breathing in the lye fumes directly.

Place the lye solution in a safe spot, high away from pets, children and husbands who might think it's a drink.

Step 3: Prepare Oils
While the lye is cooling, weigh out your oils and place them in a stainless steel or enamel-lined pot. (Never use aluminum when making soap.) Heat the oils gently until the shea butter has melted.

Step 4: Prepare Clay and Rose Petals (optional)

How to Make Winter Rose Soap - Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com

While the oils are heating, take a mini coffee grinder and pulverize 1/2 cup of dried rose petals until they are reduced to a fine powder. Add 1/2 tablespoon rose clay to the ground rose petals and set aside. The rose clay will color your soap pink and the ground rose petals will add pinkish-brown speckles. Both ingredients are optional.

Step 5: Line Your Mold
At this time, you'll also want to prep your mold by lining it with parchment paper. Place a sheet of waxed paper on the table next to your mold, in order to have a safe spot to lay down your raw-soap-covered immersion blender and spatula when you're ready to pour.

Step 6: Combine Ingredients
Check the temperature of your lye. There’s a lot of personal preference between soap makers when it comes to the temperature at which you should start mixing. I like to have my lye mixture and my oils roughly the same temperature, in a range between 90 to 125 degrees before proceeding.

Carefully, drizzle the lye mixture into the oils and stir gently a few times. Making sure your immersion blender is completely submerged, turn it on and mix for about a minute.

How to Make Winter Rose Soap - Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com

Dump in the rose powder and rose clay from step 4, and continue mixing, stopping to stir by hand and check consistency every 30 to 45 seconds. It usually takes only a few minutes for my soaps to reach trace. ("Trace" means the mixture is thick enough so that when you lift up the immersion blender and drizzle some back into the pot, it will leave a definite pattern or "trace" before sinking back in.)

Once you've reached a light trace, you may wish to add a tablespoon or two of essential oils for scent. Rose  absolute can be quite expensive, so I like to stretch the amount out with rose geranium and palmarosa essential oils.

Step 7: Pour Into Mold

How to Make Winter Rose Soap - Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com

Now, you're ready to pour into your prepared mold. Remember, the soap is still caustic at this point, so keep your gloves on.

Working quickly, pour your soap into the mold, smoothing the top with a plastic spatula or spoon.

You can gently press whole dried rose buds into the top of your soap, sprinkle with crumbled rose petals, or leave the top plain.

Step 8: Cure Soap
Cover your mold with a layer of parchment paper, then insulate with a towel or blanket. After 24 hours, you can unmold, slice and admire your beautiful soap. However, it needs to cure for four to six weeks before using. This amount of time ensures a long lasting, gentle bar.

Step 9: Decorate
After curing, you can use strips of scrapbook paper or ribbon to decorate. Homemade soap is always a well received gift.

How to Make Winter Rose Soap - Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry/TheNerdyFarmWife.com


Jan Berry at The Craft Hub
About Jan Berry
Jan is a goat-chasing, soap-making, homeschooling farm wife who loves vintage tea cups, word games and turning weeds into beautiful things. She joins the Craft Hub each month with DIY body care recipes and projects. She can also be found at her blog, The Nerdy Farm Wife.


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How to Make Winter Rose Soap

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Reader Comments
Hi Julie! Sometimes, clay soaps start off looking dark and will lighten as they cure, so it may just need more time. The type of avocado oil I use is pale greenish-gold, but I've found that using very green olive oils can muddy up the final color of a bar, so your suspicion that the dark oil may be a factor could be correct. Hopefully though, the bars will lighten over the next few weeks for you!
Jan, the Nerdy Farm Wife, VA
Posted: 3/23/2015 6:43:09 AM
Hello Jan,
I just made your soap and it has turned out to be quite dark compared to your beautiful light pink. I used the pink clay. Do you know why this would be?? Would it be the oils...avocado oil is quite dark??
Thanks Julie
julie, International
Posted: 3/21/2015 8:38:04 PM
Hi Regina!

The shelf life of homemade soap is often suggested to be around one year, but it really depends on many things including age/quality of oils used, how the bars are stored (you want dry/cool/out of direct sun), composition of the recipe, and amount of superfat.

Soaps that are 100% or very high in olive oil benefit from a longer cure time and actually improve as they age. I have some bars here that are at least three years old and are still in great shape. (In contrast, some hemp oil based ones I've made before didn't make it quite a year.)

Your soaps sound wonderful and in theory should be good in May, though you'll probably want to still use them up before a year. If the bars start smelling like old oil or develop yellowish/orange spots, you'll know that they're past their prime. Someone recently told me that they make up a large amount of soap at a time and then freeze the fully cured bars to prolong the shelf life. (I haven't tried it, but it sounds like a feasible idea!)

I hope that helps answer your question and congratulations on the new baby!
Jan, the Nerdy Farm Wife, VA
Posted: 1/5/2015 9:45:42 AM
I keep reading about some soaps going rancid. What is the normal time frame? I made a baby soap, for the intention of using it after baby is born, which will be in May, so, it is going to sit for 6 months it is infuse olive oil with chamomile and a little castor oil. I also made a goats milk, fully olive oil, and a shaving soap with clay, and ground oatmeal. Thanks!
regina, Raleigh, NC
Posted: 1/4/2015 5:57:15 PM
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