This is a recipe for a deliciously fragrant and fun cinnamon soap enriched with shea butter and colored with turmeric. Turmeric and cinnamon are both well known for its anti-inflammatory, dissinfectant, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties.
Using Turmeric in Soap as Colorant
Although I’ve started using micas and minerals as colorants when starting to make soap, I’ve got really interested in using natural ingrendients like food, herbs or spices to color soap. It gives a nature-like tone to them, instead of bright lipstick red, vibrant blue, deep purple, etc. that pleases me when using soap.
One spice that I’ve got interested in is turmeric — a bright yellow spice made from the dried and powdered turmeric root. Depending on how much turmeric you use, you can achieve natural soap colors ranging from a pale pinky-yellow to deep burnt orange. It also adds a beautiful speckled effect to your soap although the amount of speckle can be controlled.
In this recipe, the turmeric is added to the lye water, it’s common knowledge from reading articles of several soap makers (including this recipe from Lovely Greens) that this is the best option to have a good color on your soap.
So, if you wish to have the color shown in this recipe photo, you will add 2 teaspoons of 4 ml to 1 Kg of soap batter. If you wish to have a deeper tone, add 3 teaspoons of turmeric in this recipe. If you wish for a lighter tone, add only 1 teaspoon.
If you wish for a speckled effect (not shown in this photo) add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder after trace or in alternative do not strain the lye water. If you wish no speckles, strain all the turmeric from the lye water, as it was done for this recipe.
This recipe uses a mixture of oils that are combined to complement turmeric’s color and to create a delicious bar of soap. Coconut oil gives fluffy lather, olive oil for conditioning and castor oil and sunflower oil for stabilizing the lather. Shea butter add hardness to the bars and a silky creamy texture.
My idea was also to add a vibrant, spicy, earthy scent to go along with the spicy turmeric color. So, I’ve used cinnamon essential oil to the essential oils blend, along with lovely ylang-ylang, clary sage and amyris sandalwood.
But be aware that cinnamon overpowers the other scents, it’s what comes out the most. Personally? I find it great!
A bit of information and concepts you should know about cinnamon essential oil. There are two types: cinnamon essential oil extracted from the bark and extracted from the leaf, although it’s the same tree. Cinnamon bark is actually what you know in the kitchen.
Cinnamon Leaf or Cinnamon Bark?
Cinnamon bark essential oil, due to its chemical compounds (cinnamaldehyde, mostly), it is known to be more prone to be a skin irritant. Cinnamon leaf essential oil is therefore more used in natural skin care, as it is milder but still carries the great cinnamon scent and good properties. I tried cinnamon leaf and personally I didn’t like it, so I keep the cinnamon bark in this recipe, but feel free to use what suits you!
Regardless of what essential oil you use, there are supplier recommendations to its concentration usage in soap. According to this article recommendations go from 0,1% to 0,7%. Ive tried 0,5% on this soap recipe of cinnamon bark essential oil. I recommend that you use the same percentage, 0,5%, of cinnamon leaf essential oil.
Personally, I’ve used this soap bar with spicy turmeric on it and spicy cinnamon essential oil (I’ve used the cinnamon bark, as I’ve mentioned) and had no issues with it, no skin irritation or rash or even dryness. But this is my personal experience. I suppose that, after so many years with harsh bath gels, my skin got resistant to milder skin irritants.
Turmeric and Cinnamon Properties
It’s always debatable if plant chemical compounds resist the saponification process, due to lack of studies on natural soaps. Some believe they do, some disagree. It’s mostly opinions, as there are no serious studies to backup one or another.
Personally, I take plant medicinal properties to be actually effective in topical usage with leave-in products like creams, lotions, tonics, as well as ingested as tea infusions.
Still, it won’t harm to list the benefic properties of turmeric and cinnamon, knowing that their major contribution for the soap was for color and scent.
Like most spices, they are both anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, dissinfectant, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant. No wonder they were used along the centuries and preservatives. Well, doesn’t harm to know that your soap might have some anti-bacterial properties…
Using a Soap Loaf Mold
This was the first recipe in this blog with instructions to use a soap loaf mold. Loaf molds allow soap makers to do a variety of designs, like layers, multi-color swirls, and shapes. It will also give you the freedom to cut soap bars as you wish, with the size and weight you want.
In this recipe, we will learn only how to use the loaf mold, and how to avoid gel marks, by insulating the soap loaf mold.
Insulating your Soap Mold
After you mix your after trace ingredients, it’s time to pour the dough in your soap mold. You might have some experience with the silicone ones, this one is easier, you just need to pour it all in one go, then tap it a little to avoid air bubbles inside the soap.
If you want to give it try, you can add some texture to your soap, see the following paragraph. If you leave it straight, trust me, the soap will still look great. There is beauty in simple things.
Then you should thermically insulate the soap loaf mold. First sprinkle the dough with alcohol to avoid formation of soda ash, and place a transparent film on top of the mold. Then insulate the mold with one of the two alternatives:
- Wrap the mold completely on all six sides with a blanket or a thick towel.
- Pre-heat your oven to 40ºC then turn it off. Place the mold inside the oven.
Leave the mold to sit for 48 hours insulated until it gets completely cold (room temperature).
After 48 hours, unmold the soap bar carefully, and use preferably a wooden box with a cutter to cut the soap into small bars. In this recipe, I’ve used a wavy cutter. The bars looked lovely.
For more on how to cut, cure and store soap bars, see Part 5 – How to Cure and Store Handmade Soap.
Creating Effects on Your Soap
If you feel bold, you can add some texture to the top of the soap. Watch this video explaining ten techniques, by using a spoon, spatula or fork.
Apply this immediately after pouring the dough inside the soap loaf mold. It’s funny, but if you leave a very slight indent on your soap batter, it will be much more visible than expected in your soap bar later on.
Find Where to Buy Handmade Turmeric Soap
If you’re not yet ready to try to make this recipe at home, but you still wish to enjoy natural soaps, you can find handmade rosemary soap in the following links:
- Gold Sea Moss Soap With Organic Turmeric Root
- Turmeric & Orange Soap
- Other Soaps – Apple Valley Natural Soap Reviews
- More about Vegetable Oils: Soap Making Oils Chart
- More about Essential Oils: Essential Oils for Soap Making
- More Soap Recipes: Cold Process Soap Recipes
- Recipes for Beginners: Homemade Soap Recipes For Beginners
Watch These Videos Before Starting Your Soap Recipe
How To Make Turmeric Soap
- 367 g distilled water
- 143 g lye (100% sodium hydroxide)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- Wear goggles and gloves! Look at “Safety Recommendations” in the video above or in How to Make Soap From Scratch
- Watch the video above or read the post How To Make Soap by Cold Process Step-by-Step for instructions on cold process. These are generic steps for all recipes.
- Assemble everything: ingredients, equipment, safety equipment. Prepare your workstations. Measure all the ingredients. Don’t start the recipe without having everything ready!
Heat the Oils
- Heat the oils until the solid oils are completely melted (it is not necessary to heat all the time).
Prepare the Lye Water
- Make the lye solution according to How To Make Lye Water. Add the turmeric to the water before making the solution. Mix it until the vapors start to dissipate.
- Measure and add the turmeric to the lye water, and mix well. If necessary, use a whisker. There should be no clumps and lye water will turn dark yellow/light brownish.
- Optional step – If you wish to have decorative dark spots on your soap: before adding the turmeric, stir the lye water very well until there are NO visible lye crystals. Then add the turmeric and mix with a spoon or whisker to avoid turmeric clumps. You can then skip the step of straining the lye water to have the turmeric spice floating on your soap. You can also add a teaspoon of turmeric later with after trace ingredients.
- Strain your lye water into the oils to catch all the turmeric and any remaining undissolved lye crystals.
Make the Soap Batter
- Use as a target temperature 40ºC for the oil-solution mixture. If necessary, you can reheat the oils, but not the lye solution. Reach trace with the immersion blender.
- Add the extract and essential oil(s) after tracing and stir with just a spoon. Cinnamon essential oil is known to accelerate trace so be aware, the mixture can turn solid very quickly, although I didn't have that experience.
Molding and Cutting
- Pour the soap batter into the large soap mold and, if you wish, make some effects on the top of the dough with a spoon, spatula or fork (see video or chapter above "Creating Effects on Your Soap")
- Sprinkle the dough with alcohol or witch hazel. Cover it with a transparent film.
- Now you need to insulate the large mold, so that the soap gels uniformly. You can cover it all around with a blanket or a thick towel. You can also use your oven: pre-heat the oven with 40ºC. Turn it off then place the loaf mold inside. See chapter above "Using a Soap Loaf Mold" NOTE: this is not an optional step, if you don't insulate your loaf soap mold the soap will gel in the center and not in the extremities. You will get a dark round mark on your soap. However, if this happens, the soap is perfectly good to use, the problem is purely visual and nothing else.
- Wait 48 hours, keeping an eye on the hardness of the soap.
- Unmold the soap and cut it into bars. See How To Cure Soap, in the chapter "Unmoulding And Cutting Soap" for more detail on how to cut soap.
- Let the bars cure for 4 to 6 weeks. See How To Cure Soap.