opinions/experience using vegetables in soap

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Active Member
Aug 7, 2008
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Very Rural Birnamwood, WI
I am kind of new to soap making. I've started my adventures in soap making with the cp method but discovered I like the hp method best so thats where I'm going to stay for a while.

I'm experimenting making soap using fresh garden vegetables. So far I made a lettuce oil infused soap and it turned out divine!

My second veggie soap, I pureed cucumbers, froze it and mixed with lye in a cold water bath. The soap is really nice and soothing on my skin except for the smell! It had a cooked plant smell so at the end of cooking the soap, I added essential oils and that covered up the plant smell to a fair degree.

My concerns are,
1. I wonder how long of shelf life these soaps will have and
2. should I have used a preservative?

Please give me your thoughts and feedback.

Shelf life of soaps is only in reference to the oils used to make it. Oils can go rancid over time, & that depends on how fresh your oils are when you soap & how much you super fat. To slow rancidity, you can use an antioxidant like Tocoperol T-50.

I don't use veggies in my soaps, but I've been told in CP soap, they actually cook because of the high temps during gel/cure. Very few veggies hold their color in CP, most of the them turn tan or brown as the soap ages.

I would think that the high salt content of a salt bar would preserve the veg components. There is no way to save a natural plant green color though. The chlorophyll is going to die and turn brown....
The color is not a big issue with me. But I wonder if I should use a preservative in case of mold/rot.

Here's a pic of the soaps. I made the oil infused lettuce soap about 4 weeks a go. I made the cucumber on the left about 10 days a go. The cucumber was mixed with the lye. So afr I don't notice a color change. The soap was brown/green after cooking.

But my concerns are the soaps molding or rotting. So far everything seems fine but I guess we'll have to wait a see a month or two from now.


I guess I don't know how to add a picture on the forum. Sorry
Love the color of the cucumber. I would, as mentioned above, maybe use some vitamin E or other antioxidant to prevent rancidity. Plus, the antioxidants are good for your skin!
Those look wonderful. Do you mind sharing how you did the lettuce soap? What benefits do you get from using it?

Looks like it so soft on the skin
I do agree salt is an excellent preservative, (I used to cure deer hides with salt before tanning leather) but I didn't want a salty formula with this soap.

I have mixed feelings about the reliability of essential oils and/or herbs for preserving. Although I have read that no bacteria or micro's can live inside pure jojoba oil. I strongly believe this has some truth (sorry to get personal here) but I used straight pure jojoba as a personal lubricant for years and have never had an infection and any type of problem with it. But in order to get the preservative benefits from jojoba, I would have had to use the jojoba as the main ingredient and even then, I question, would it have been enough.

The benefits I get from the lettuce soap is that I feel as though with the high amount of Chlorophyll, the soap makes a good deodorant. It makes my skin feel soft and silky. I feel fresh, clean and energized after a shower with it.

I made this particular soap because my husband claims he detects a stronger body oder since using homemade soap. Well heck, he was addicted to Axe because our two son's have to keep up with the latest trends and naturally he wants to keep up with the life and times of their generation!

After having my family read the articles about the dangers of Axe ingredients, the boys and hubby thankfully have since stopped using it.

So you want to know how I made the lettuce soap? Sure! Brace yourself though! It's going to be a long post!

How I made lettuce soap (long post)

For those who wanted to know how I made the soap, I first apologize for this extra long post as this was a 2 day process!

You can use lettuce with any standard soap recipe. First make an oil infusion. You can make an infusion with any type of oil however I used vegetable shortening with this particular recipe.

Day one, I picked and washed about 3 heads of lettuce. Don't worry about drying the lettuce off after washing because I add some water to the melted shortening to collect any access dirt and particles.

On the lowest setting of my electric stove top, I melted the veg shortening. The whole 48 oz tub and added a cup of water. Now my recipe calls for 28 oz base oil. I am going to loose some oil through evaporation and the straining process and wasn't sure how much I was going to loose so I melted the entire 48 oz tub of shortening. (I had 1 1/2 cups left over when finished) You may also use a crockpot on WARM setting to make infusion.

After shortening is melted and water added, lettuce washed, I started adding some of the lettuce to the pot and proceeded to cook on very low heat. Enough lettuce so that the pot of oil had about 1/2 volume of lettuce.

You do not want the oil or lettuce to scorch or burn so very low heat is the trick here. Stirring occasionally. After about 2 hours, I scoop the lettuce out with a slotted spoon onto a clean white dish cloth. You can use cheese cloth too. The lettuce has turned dark green and is wilted. Let the lettuce cool enough not to burn your hands (I wore my heavy rubber gloves here) and squeezed the access oil out of the lettuce back into the pot. (A press works excellent for this process)

Your oil is going to look a little sludgy and dirty, it will not appear like a nice clear oil. That's ok for now. I added more fresh lettuce to the pot and repeated cooking and straining about 3 more times until I had a nice thick lettuce infusion and my oil had a slight light green color. This process can take about 6 to 8 hours depending on how much lettuce you want to extract. Now that I have all the lettuce leaves strained from the oil, I added a few more oz of water and I let the pot cool off then put in the refrigerator to harden the shortening over night.

The next day I skimmed the shortening off the water carefully not to stir up the sledge sitting at the bottom of the water. Pat any access water off with paper towel.
And there I have my oil infused lettuce ready to make soap. Now I want to mention that not all herbs can be oil infused. Some herbs don't break down in oil and need water instead. This is a whole nother subject!

I use a crockpot on the WARM setting to make all my soap.
Here is my recipe:

24 oz distilled water
9 oz lye

Melt hard oils in crockpot:
28 oz lettuce infused vegetable shortening
14 oz coconut oil
8 oz palm oil
8 oz palm kernel flakes
2 oz shea butter
2 oz beeswax (optional)

When hard oils are melted, add liquid oils:
5 oz castor oil
3 oz avocado oil

After the cook, super fat with:

1 oz vegetable glycerin, 3 oz hemp seed oil, 2 oz more castor oil

Additives I used:
2 grams finely ground parsley,
essential oils:
1.5 oz bergamot and 2 oz geranium. (the amount of essential oils may vary depending on their strength and brand)

Put your safety gear on.
In separate container add lye to water, mix well until dissolved.
Put your hard oils in crockpot on low setting. (later use warm setting for cooking the soap)
When hard oils are melted, I turn off the crockpot and add liquid oils.

I don't worry about temperature of lye solution and oils with doing hp process but I don't mix them at super hot temps either.
When the lye solution has cooled down some, oh maybe about 140 F slowly add lye to oils while stirring (I use a whisk at this point)
I drizzle the lye solution in the oils and I repeat slowly here.

After the lye solution is added I switch to my stick blender and burst it on and off while constantly stirring until trace.

Once I have reached trace I turn the crockpot on the WARM setting.
My crockpot takes about 2 hours, other crocks will vary.
During this time, I see only slight changes during saponification.
Around the edge it gets a little bubbly and rolls up over it's self, just slightly.
Depending what type of oil your use, you might see a pool of oil form on top the batter. When this happens, I poke the batter with my whisk and if the batter appears hard, I don't stir at that point. I check it again in about 10 - 15 minutes and if the batter in the center breaks easy I give it a good stir with the whisk. During the 2 hour cook period I may only stir the soap once or twice. After 2 hours, it's time to test the soap. I stir it up good and let is set a few minutes. If I see oil pooling on the surface in the little crevasses it's not ready to tongue test. Cook the soap 10 - 15 more minutes, stir again and look for oil settling any where on the surface. When I don't see anymore oil pooling and my soap appears sort of like Vaseline, with my gloves on, I take a dab out, rub it in my fingers until cool and touch it to the tip of my tongue.
If I'm zapped, I'll cook a little longer and test about every 10 minutes. Once the soap is done I turn the crock off and add my super fatting oils mixing them well into the soap with my whisk or stick blender depending on how thick my batter is. Next I mix in my essential oils and pour the soap into my mold. This seems to make about 6 1/2 pounds of soap. I like to make my hp soap kind of wet and give it at least 2 weeks dry time. Although the soap is ready to use right away after cooking it's too soft. This soap turned out nice and hard after the dry time.

Keep in mind, I am new to making soap so I'm open to suggestions!

MsBrenda - Thank you very much for sharing your lettuce soap instructions!! The pic of it does look divine. :D


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