Making soaps is a great way to create value-added products from your herb garden. You can add color, texture, and even scents to your homemade soaps-right from your garden!
The drawback to this is that most herbs change color during the soap making process. Unfortunately, this color change means brown or black-both of which looks just awful in your finished bar of soap. The way around this is to add herbs that are known to keep their color, powder your herbs and add at the end, or simply top a soap log or bar before it sets, with your complimentary herbs.
Despite the problems that you can have, here are 5 must-have herbs that I always use in my homemade goat milk soaps with great results.
Calendula is one of the very few herbs that stays just as bright and attractive through the entire soapmaking and curing process. I love to use calendula in all my baby soaps. Remember to use a light hand when adding, however. The dried petals are so thin, but plump back up a bit in the bars and you may end up being overwhelmed with the amount of calendula in the finished bars. You may have better results if you crush or snip up the petals so the pieces are smaller.
Lavender goat milk soap is in my top 3 best sellers of all time. Unfortunately, lavender can turn brown in the soap bars. The only way I have found to keep this from happening is to apply the lavender buds as an accent to the top of the soap log before curing or add in a light enough amount that the least amount of buds are exposed to the air at a time.
Dill is a bright and cheerful herb for soaps. Add it to any soaps with a gardener theme, combined with lemon and basil scents. Dill is great because it keeps it’s pretty green color, and the leaves are so thin and soft they can be used in any soap without irritation.
I use dill sometimes just for the color. Try it in soaps with naturally white color for an ethereal result. Dill, in this case, refers to the dill leaves, not the flower or buds.
Mint is great, but it has to be added in a powdered form to lightly color (in hot process and at the very end this works well). The scent does not come through when using just the powdered herb, so add your favorite scent if desired.
Divide the batch in half and color half with the powdered mint leaves and leave the other naturally white. Swirl lightly for a marbled effect. It’s a winner!
Rosemary is an abrasive herb when used in soaps. It can certainly be used to your advantage, however. To use, chop it up well and use it in any soap that you want to have extra scrubbing power. I like to add it to my gardener’s soap or handyman’s soap. Combine it with a little cornmeal and you have a great scrubbing soap to remove grime and dirt.