How to Make Plant-Based Soap: Melt-and-Pour Vegan Soap Made Easy

For those following a vegan lifestyle, finding plant-based alternatives for everyday products can be a challenge, especially when it comes to something as personal as soap. While most homemade plant-based soap recipes require intricate processes involving lye, safe handling practices, and specialized equipment like double boilers, kitchen scales, and immersion blenders to make cold-pressed soap, the goal of this article was to simplify the soap-making experience. The aim was to find a melt-and-pour version that not only adheres to plant-based and vegan principles, is free of palm oil but also offers an easy, creative, and enjoyable process.

So, let’s dive into the world of easy plant-based soap making and discover how to transform this simple, vegan-friendly base into a luxurious and pampering herbal experience that not only nourishes your skin but also brings joy and satisfaction to the crafting process.

soap stacked and tied with a moss green velvet ribbon.

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About Orange, Thyme, and Calendula Soap: A Refreshing Botanical Blend

This soap-making project combines the vibrant and refreshing scent of sweet orange essential oil with the earthy notes of fresh thyme and dried calendula petals. The result is a luxurious and invigorating soap bar that not only cleanses but also nourishes and rejuvenates the skin.

The star ingredients in this plant-based soap are:

  1. Sweet Orange Essential Oil: Renowned for its uplifting aroma, orange essential oil adds a zesty and energizing fragrance to the soap. Its citrusy notes are perfect for creating a refreshing and revitalizing bathing experience.
  2. Fresh Thyme: Harvested straight from the garden, the fresh thyme adds a delightful herbal twist to the soap. Its warm and slightly minty aroma complements the orange essence beautifully, creating a well-balanced scent profile.
  3. Dried Calendula Petals: Calendula just screams sunshine with their vibrant orange-yellow petals! In my recipe the calendula flower not only add a pop of natural color to the soap but also infuse it with their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.1 Calendula is known for its ability to nourish and calm the skin, making this soap an ideal choice for those seeking a gentle yet effective cleansing experience.

By combining these natural ingredients with a plant-based, vegan-friendly soap base, you’ll create a handmade soap that is not only kind to your skin but also gentle on the environment. The process of melting the soap base and incorporating the essential oils, fresh thyme, and dried calendula petals is straightforward, allowing you to indulge in the joy of crafting your own personal care products from scratch.

Whether you’re looking for a refreshing and invigorating soap to start your day or a soothing and calming bar to unwind after a long day, this Orange, Thyme, and Calendula soap promises to be a delightful addition to your self-care routine.

the ingredients for these soaps.

Ingredients and Supplies Needed

Shea Butter Melt and Pour Soap Base The foundation of this project is a high-quality, plant-based, and vegan-friendly shea butter melt and pour soap base. This pre-made base eliminates the need for handling lye, making the soap-making process easier and more accessible.

Sweet Orange Essential Oil To infuse your soap with natural fragrances, you’ll need pure essential oils. For this project, we’ll be using orange essential oil to capture the zesty and uplifting citrus aroma. Additionally, you may want to consider adding a complementary essential oil like calendula or lavender to create a more complex and balanced scent profile.

Natural Colorants (Optional) While the dried calendula petals will provide a beautiful orange-yellow hue to the soap, you may choose to enhance the color further with natural colorants like vegetable-based powders or infused oils. This step is entirely optional and depends on your personal preference.

Dried Calendula Petals (Optional) These vibrant, dried petals will not only add a pop of natural color to your soap but also contribute to its soothing and nourishing properties. Make sure to use high-quality, food-grade calendula petals for the best results.

Silicone Mold or Soap Mold To shape your soap into bars or intricate designs, you’ll need a silicone mold or a dedicated soap mold. Silicone molds are flexible, easy to use, and allow for easy unmolding of the soap once it has hardened.

3 soap bars stacked with orange and thyme.

Other Supplies

  • Microwave-safe container (for melting the soap base)
  • Spoon or spatula for stirring
  • Mixing bowl
  • Double boiler (optional, if not melting in the microwave)
  • Soap cutter or knife (for trimming the soap bars, if needed)

In addition to these primary ingredients and supplies, you may want to have a few additional items on hand, such as gloves, a soap dish or curing rack, and packaging materials (if you plan to gift or sell your handmade soaps).

As we’ll be melting the shea butter soap base in the microwave for this project, it’s essential to follow proper safety precautions and heat the base in short bursts, stirring frequently to ensure even melting and prevent overheating.

The calendula and thyme mixed in with the melted soap base.

How to Make Plant-Based Sweet Orange, Thyme and Calendula Soap Using a Shea Butter Melt and Pour Soap Base:

  1. Prepare the Work Area

    Clear a clean, flat surface to work on. Lay down some parchment paper or a silicone mat to protect the area. Gather all the required ingredients and supplies.the ingredients for these soaps.

  2. Melt the Soap Base

    Cut the shea butter melt and pour soap base into cubes or smaller pieces. Place them in a microwave-safe container or bowl. Microwave the soap base in short 30-second bursts, stirring well after each burst, until it is fully melted and has a smooth, liquid consistency. Be careful not to overheat.

    Tip: Once the soap base is liquid, work quickly to add the rest of the ingredients because the soap base hardens rapidly. If it begins to harden prematurely, place it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds.
    The soap base melted in a bowl.

  3. Add Essential Oils

    Once the soap base is melted, it’s time to add the essential oils. Start with 10-15 drops of orange essential oil, then add any other complementary oils like calendula or lavender, if desired. Stir gently to incorporate the oils into the melted soap base.
    Note: If adding colorant you could add it at this point.putting essential oil in soap base.

  4. Incorporate Botanicals

    Gently fold the dried calendula petals and finely chopped fresh thyme into the soap mixture, making sure they are evenly distributed throughout.Adding the calendula and the thyme.

  5. Pour into Molds

    Carefully pour the soap mixture into your prepared silicone mold or soap mold. For decorative effects, you can sprinkle some extra calendula petals or thyme on top of the soap before it sets.

    Tips: Place your molds on a hard steady surface like a cookie sheet, you will not be able to lift and move them after the soap base is poured. Use a pour container to make the soap base, making it easier to fill the mold with the liquid. Wait for the top to solidify slightly before adding extra calendula on top; otherwise, it may sink into the soap.
    The soap in the mold.

  6. Allow to Cool and Harden

    Once poured into the molds, allow the soap to cool and harden completely at room temperature. This process can take several hours or overnight, depending on the size of your molds.the soap in the mold with extra calendula sprinkled on top

  7. Unmold and Finishing Touches

    Once the soap has hardened (typically 3 hours), gently remove it from the mold. If desired, you can use a soap cutter or knife to trim the bars into neat shapes or sizes. Allow the soap bars to cure for a few days in a dry, well-ventilated area before using or packaging.cutting the edges of the soap with a knife.

  8. Package and Label

    If you plan to gift or sell your handmade soaps, tie them in a pretty bow. To store: Package them in airtight containers or wrap them in eco-friendly materials. Don’t forget to label each soap bar with the ingredients and any relevant information.Top view of a stack of soap with velvet bow.

Note: The curing time for melt and pour soap can vary depending on several factors, including the ingredients used, the thickness of the soap, and the humidity of the environment. In general, melt and pour soap typically requires about 4-6 weeks to fully cure. During this time, the soap continues to harden and any remaining moisture evaporates, resulting in a harder, longer-lasting bar of soap. So, while it may be ready to remove from the mold in 3 hours, it won’t be fully cured and ready for use until several weeks later.

Herb, Essential Oil, and Dried Flower Combinations for Vegan Soap Crafting

One of the joys of crafting your own vegan soaps is the ability to create unique, personalized blends tailored to your preferences. While the soap base offers a gentle foundation, the true artistry lies in combining herbs, essential oils, and dried flowers harmoniously.

The following chart presents a variety of botanicals that can be mixed and matched to craft your signature vegan soap bars, from the earthy aroma of sage to the vibrant hues of calendula. Feel free to experiment and let your creativity shine! Choose herbs that resonate with you, select desired essential oil scents, and incorporate dried flowers or botanicals that add visual appeal and enhance nourishing properties.

The magic happens when you combine these elements in a way that aligns with your senses and preferences. Don’t be afraid to forge your own botanical blends, creating a truly unique and artisanal vegan soap experience.

The soap base acts as a consistent, nourishing canvas for you to customize with desired aromas and ingredients. Each blend allows you to pamper your skin with natural goodness while adding a personalized touch to your self-care routine.

Use this chart as a starting point, but explore and experiment as you embark on the enjoyable process of vegan soap making. The possibilities are many when creating your own soap blends.

HerbsEssential OilsDried Flowers/Botanicals
RosemaryLemon, EucalyptusCalendula, Rose Petals
LavenderLavender, BergamotLavender Buds, Chamomile
MintPeppermint, SpearmintCornflower, Hibiscus
ThymeLemongrass, Tea TreeMarigold, Lavender Buds
BasilSweet Orange, Clary SageRose Petals, Chamomile
SageFrankincense, CedarwoodCalendula, Lavender Buds
ChamomileRoman Chamomile, GeraniumChamomile Flowers, Rose Petals
LemongrassLemongrass, GrapefruitCalendula, Cornflower
GingerGinger, LemonTurmeric, Calendula
RosehipRose Absolute, GeraniumRose Petals, Hibiscus

These pairings are just suggestions, and you can mix and match different herbs, essential oils, and dried flowers/botanicals to create your own unique soap blends. When choosing ingredients, consider their complementary aromas and colors. Additionally, make sure to use high-quality, food-grade, and ethically sourced ingredients for the best results.

me holding a completed soap.

Fresh or Dried? A Candid Look at Using Herbs in Handmade Soaps

When incorporating herbs into my handmade soaps, I often find myself debating between using fresh or dried varieties. While dried herbs offer convenience and a longer shelf life, there’s something special about the vibrancy and aroma of certain fresh herbs. Through my soap making journey, I’ve discovered that herbs like thyme and rosemary work exceptionally well when used fresh, as long as they are finely chopped or minced. The key is ensuring the herb pieces are small enough to distribute evenly throughout the soap batter without leaving any large, wet clumps that could lead to spoilage. I typically use 1-2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary per pound of oils in my soap recipes. However, I exercise caution with more moisture-rich fresh herbs like basil and parsley. Unless they are chopped into an almost powdery consistency or pureed, these herbs can create a mucky texture and potentially cause spoilage in the final soap bars. It’s all about striking the right balance between preserving the vibrant essence of fresh herbs while ensuring a stable and long-lasting final product.

A wooden herb stripper with fresh thyme being run through.

Fresh or Dried Flowers: Decorative and Delicate Additions

While herbs can provide aromatic and textural elements to your handmade soaps, the addition of flowers can lend a delicate, decorative touch. When it comes to incorporating flowers into your soap creations, you have the option of using them fresh or dried.

Fresh Flowers: A Vibrant, Yet Delicate Touch Fresh flowers can add a beautiful, vibrant pop of color and a subtle, natural fragrance to your soap bars. However, it’s important to handle fresh flowers with care, as they can introduce moisture and potentially lead to spoilage if not used properly. If you choose to incorporate fresh flowers, it’s advisable to use only the petals and remove any moisture-rich elements, such as the calyx or stem. Gently press the petals into the top of the soap after pouring the mixture into the mold.

Dried Flowers: Longer-Lasting Beauty Dried flowers offer a longer-lasting alternative and can be easily incorporated into the soap batter itself. When using dried flowers, it’s essential to ensure that they are food-grade and free from any potential contaminants or pesticides. You can find a variety of dried, edible flowers suitable for soap making, such as calendula, lavender, rose petals, and chamomile.

Edible Flowers: A Safe and Natural Choice When it comes to using flowers in your handmade soaps, it’s highly recommended to choose edible varieties. Edible flowers are generally safe for use in personal care products and are less likely to cause any skin irritations or allergic reactions. Some popular edible flowers for soap making include calendula, lavender, rose petals, chamomile, and hibiscus.

Whether you choose to work with fresh or dried flowers, or a combination of both, remember to use them sparingly and evenly distribute them throughout your soap mixture or as decorative elements on top. With the right floral additions, your handmade vegan soaps will not only nourish your skin but also delight your senses with their natural beauty and fragrance.

A handful of dried flowers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Plant-based Soap

How long do handmade vegan soap bars last?

Most handmade vegan soap bars have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year or longer, depending on proper curing and storage conditions.

How long should I cure my handmade soap before using it?

It’s recommended to cure your handmade soap bars for 4-6 weeks after unmolding them. This curing process allows the bars to harden, become milder, and last longer.

What is the best way to store handmade soap bars?

Store your cured soap bars in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and humidity. Ideal conditions are around 65°F to 75°F temperature and 50-60% humidity.

Can I store my soap bars in airtight containers?

Yes, using airtight containers or zip-top plastic bags is an excellent way to store your soap bars. This prevents the bars from drying out too quickly or absorbing unwanted odors.

If I don’t have airtight containers, can I wrap the soap bars instead?

If you don’t have airtight containers available, you can wrap the soap bars individually in materials like muslin, paper, or wax paper as an alternative storage method. However, airtight containers are preferred to better protect the bars from air exposure.

How can I keep track of my soap bar batches?

Rotate your stock, using older bars first, and label each batch with the date to help keep track of their age. Most bars will last 6-12 months when stored properly.

Should I avoid storing soap in bathrooms?

Yes, it’s best to avoid storing handmade soaps in bathrooms, where humidity and moisture can cause them to get mushy or develop unsightly blotches over time.

For more soap recipes, check out these posts and consider swapping the goat’s milk base for a plant-based melt and pour base:

the soaps that were in a flower shape mold on a white plate with a fresh carnation next to it.

Quick and Easy DIY Herbal Soap for Beginners: Dive into the aromatic adventure of making herbal soap at home. Utilize your garden harvest creatively with melt and pour base, herbs, flowers, and essential oils.This post features my Ylang Ylang Lavender Carnation Soap DIY Herbal Soap Recipe.

stack of soaps with lavender sprig.

DIY Lavender Soap Made Easy: Discover the art of crafting your own lavender soap at home. Indulge in the soothing properties of lavender while nourishing your skin with natural ingredients. Explore easy-to-follow recipes and tips for creating a luxurious soap tailored to your preferences.

The world of DIY plant-based soap making offers a delightful and rewarding experience for those seeking natural, cruelty-free alternatives to traditional soap. By choosing the cold process method or exploring simple pour soap recipes, you can create luxurious bars of soap without the use of animal fats or products.

The saponification process, which involves combining oils (such as olive oil, coconut oil, or castor oil) with a lye solution, is the backbone of traditional soap making. However, for those new to the craft or seeking an easier approach, melt-and-pour soap bases provide a fantastic starting point, allowing you to infuse your creations with natural ingredients like cocoa butter, fragrance oils, and dried flower petals.

Whether you prefer the hot process or cold process method, attention to detail is crucial. Follow a good recipe, measure ingredients precisely, and account for the amount of lye required. Invest in the right tools, such as an immersion blender or stick blender, to ensure a smooth and well-incorporated soap batter.

For those with sensitive skin, consider gentle options like castile soap or herbal soap recipes featuring soothing botanicals. And remember, the most important thing is to have fun, embrace your creativity, and take pride in crafting small batches of organic soap tailored to your personal preferences.

A side view of 3 soap bars stacked with the ingredients around them.

Thank you for visiting the blog today for How to Make Plant-Based Soap: Melt-and-Pour Vegan Soap Made Easy! I would love to hear about any plant-based soap combinations you have created. Feel free to share your favorite blends of herbs, essential oils, and dried flowers that you’ve successfully incorporated into your handmade vegan soaps. Swapping ideas and inspiration with fellow soap makers can spark new ideas and help refine our crafting techniques. Whether you’ve experimented with invigorating citrus scents, calming floral notes, or earthy herbal aromas, I’m eager to learn about the unique botanical blends you’ve forged in your soap-making journey.

my signature which is a drawing of me sitting.

  1. Bokelmann, J. M. (2022). Calendula (Calendula officinalis). In Medicinal Herbs in Primary Care. Retrieved from ↩︎

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  1. Congratulations on the official launch of Celebrated Herb! I love that you follow your passions and make your dreams come true!