The Right Essential Oils Make the Best Homemade Soaps Even Better

Feb 3, 2016 | Health & Wellness

Wouldn’t you love to get out of the shower feeling relaxed, refreshed, and smelling like peppermint, eucalyptus, or lavender?

Lavender spa

That’s what many passionate soap makers feel every day. And essential oils are the most natural way to infuse your homemade soaps with all the enchanting smells and health benefits your soap can offer.

Soap making is a complicated process that requires a number of safety measures, and adding essential oils is only one step in a long operation. Because of the complexity that goes into soap making, we won’t focus on the overall processes in this article.

We will, however, discuss the many ways you can add essential oils to your soap to create new scents or add medicinal benefits, as well as other feel-good and smell-good additives you can add to your homemade soap.

Prepare to Make Soap

Soap making is an ancient practice that dates back to 2800 BC. Although the methods and materials have changed dramatically over the years, soap production is still an important part of society and many take on the challenge as a profession, hobby, and passion.

The soap-making process has evolved over the years, but one seemingly archaic ingredient still remains the cornerstone of soap production: lye.

Lye, or sodium hydroxide, is the key ingredient in soap making, even though it is a caustic and somewhat dangerous element. When making your soap, be sure to use caution when working with lye and wear appropriate safety gear, like gloves, goggles, and a mask.

Other ingredients you will need include:

Coconut oil – to produce good lather
Olive oil – which makes a hard and mild bar
Other liquid oil – like almond, grapeseed, or sunflower oil
Cool water – use distilled or purified

You will add essential oils and other elements to your soap after mixing lye, oils, and water to create “trace” and just before you pour your soap into molds to let it set. It may take some experimentation to find out which scent combinations and amounts work best for your soap, so be patient as you become a soap-making master!

Your Guide to Scents

Essential oils are popular in soap making for many reasons. They are all-natural, so they don’t add chemicals to your soap like other fragrances. They are powerful scents that come in just about every variety you can imagine, and they carry many medicinal and healthful benefits.

First, we will discuss how to balance scents and find scent combinations that you love, and then we’ll discuss some of the therapeutic benefits you can get from different essential oils. Then we will look at other additives you can include in your soap mixture.

Mixing Essential Oil Scents

Essential oils are broken down into three scent types. To make a well-balanced blend, you should choose oils from each category.

Top notes are strong at first, but quickly fade. They provide a gentle initial scent that becomes almost undetectable after the first few moments.

Middle notes are the most difficult to detect. They may take a few moments to notice, but they serve an important function as the body to a scent blend.

Base notes are the strongest. They tend to be more rich and long lasting. They linger from beginning to end and act as the base from which all other scents arise.

To test new scents, you can use the toothpick method. This allows you to experiment with scent blends without wasting your oils.

Dip the tip of a toothpick into an essential oil. That counts as one drop. You can soak toothpicks longer if you want that scent to be stronger. Gather each toothpick together and see if you like that scent. If you like the initial combination, put the toothpicks in a small container and let them sit for a while. Come back and smell them again. If you still like the blend, go forward.

Experiment with different combinations until you find a scent that you love.

Therapeutic Essential Oil Blends

Soap serves many functions in our lives, so you should find essential oil blends that complement your soap’s function. Here are a few key oils you may want to consider when making your soap.

Lavender – This oil is calming, soothing, and relaxing. Use it for stress and headache relief, as well as to aid with skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and sunburns. Lavender blends well with almost anything.

RosemaryRosemary is an uplifting scent that can be used to boost mood as well as your immune system. It is a stimulant, and shouldn’t be used by individuals who are pregnant or suffer from epilepsy. Mix with lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, basil, and lemongrass.

Peppermint – This refreshing scent helps circulation, muscular pain, and the respiratory system. Use peppermint with rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, and lavender.

Patchouli – Patchouli is a strong base oil that can be overpowering in large amounts. When blending, use patchouli sparingly until you know how it reacts with other scents. This oil is anti-inflammatory and is useful in relieving dry skin.

Lemongrass – A very refreshing scent, lemongrass oil might work best for hand and kitchen soaps. It’s known to help with acne and improve muscle tone. Mix with citrus oils, peppermint, eucalyptus, and a bit of patchouli.

Soap Additives

In addition to essential oils, you can add elements such as herbs to give your soap more aesthetic appeal or encourage exfoliation. Here are a few popular elements home soap makers add to their creations.

Herbs and Flowers – Dried herbs and flowers can be used to add some color and aesthetic appeal to your soap. You can use calendula petals for golden orange, alkanet root for purples, and madder root for pink. Other popular plants include lavender, chamomile, and lemongrass.

Oatmeal – Use fine blended oatmeal to add light exfoliation to your soap. Oatmeal will also help absorb the essential oils in your soap and hang onto the scents so the smell is stronger and lasts longer.


The possibilities are endless when it comes to soap making. Here, we only touched the surface. The amount of creativity, experimentation, and growth that comes with soap making is probably why the practice has remained so popular over the years.

Soap making takes a lot of patience, but the reward of having an all-natural soap that is tailored to your wants and needs is worth it. Have fun creating!