I’m so happy that you all loved last week’s Home Ec post so much, it’s so incredible for me when something I’ve worked really hard on and am super excited about is such a hit with you all as well!  After we tackled the cleaning products it was on to homemade soaps- grapefruit lavender and coconut mint to be exact!  These are just sooo pretty, fun and full of good-for-you ingredients, I’m a little smitten kitten.  They’re the perfect treat for your skin, your nose, your peace of mind. The best part- they are seriously crazy easy to make.  And wouldn’t they make the sweetest gifts wrapped up in linen and tied with baker’s twine?  They smell so good I want to eat them!  Ok, have at them!  xx- Sarah

Grapefruit Lavender Soap and Coconut Mint Soap

yields 7-8 bars of soap per 1 lb bag of shea butter

Ingredients + Supplies

zest of 1 grapefruit

1-2 tablespoons fresh lavender

3 tablespoons coconut flakes

8-10 chopped fresh sage leaves

15-20 drops peppermint essential oil

15-20 drops lavender essential oil

1lb bag shea butter

soap mold

Method for Soap Base

– Rinse soap molds to ensure they are free of any residue.  Let dry and place on baking sheet to make transporting them later easier.

– Check to make sure baking sheet fits in freezer, choose a smaller sheet if it doesn’t!

– Melt soap base according to package instructions (we used the shea butter listed above).

– For stove top melting use a double boiler system by filling a large pot with water and putting a smaller pot inside of it.

– Once water has boiled, place shea butter in smaller pot and turn heat to low/simmer.  Cover and heat.

– Stir every few minutes until shea butter is completely melted.

– While soap is melting gather grapefruit zest, lavender, chopped sage, coconut flakes, peppermint oil and lavender oil.

Method for Grapefruit + Lavender

– Once soap base has melted let sit for a couple of minutes.

– Pour out 1 cup of soap base into measuring cup.

– Add grapefruit zest, lavender and 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil to measuring cup, stirring frequently so ingredients don’t settle to the bottom.

– Pour into 3-4 soap molds.  

– Use spatula to ensure even distribution of lavender and grapefruit zest.

– Rinse measuring cup.

Method for Coconut + Mint

– Pour remaining soap base into measuring cup and add coconut flakes, chopped sage leaves, and 15-20 drops of peppermint oil stirring frequently.

– Pour into 3-4 soap molds.

– Use spatula to ensure even distribution of coconut flakes and sage leaves.

– Let sit for 1 hour then place in freezer for 1 hour.

-Soaps should pop out of mold easily with use of a knife to cut around edges.


– Any heat resistant container can function as a soap mold.

– If using baking dish/tupperware as a soap mold you may need to spray with cooking oil or use a liner to ensure soap doesn’t stick to pan.

– Soap base is going to be hot and may burn, handle carefully!

– Coconut flakes and grapefruit zest will act as exfoliants.  If your prefer a smoother soap chop flakes and zest into smaller pieces.

– Wrap soaps in wax paper to help prevent sweating in humid environments.

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Reader Comments

  1. Kate|

    These would make the most lovely gifts! Wonderful suggestion about the linen wrap and tied up in baker's twine! I will have to give this a try one afternoon. This would be a great activity for my twelve year old daughter and me. Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Abby|

    I had a soap kit when I was little and I loved making them! These look and (probably smell) amazing!

  3. Elle|

    Which soap base do you use? After googling, could not find an all natural opaque base. Are you using clear gycerine and the shea butter makes it opaque? Thanks!

  4. Nina|

    They look beautiful and I'm sure they smell awesome! I'd loove to give them a try but there are a few things I don't get. In the list of ingredients, you're not talking about soap base. What is it exactly? Is it the shea butter? If not, what do you do with the shea butter once melted? Mix it with the aformentionned soap base? Thanks for your answers!

  5. Kristyn W.|

    Can you include a link or more information about the soap base?

    Would love to make these!

  6. sarah yates|

    Hi everyone! Sorry for the confusion, the soap base we used is shea butter which is listed and linked to in the ingredients!

    • Alicia|

      Shea butter, is an oil. Not a melt and pour soap base. If you used shea butter you would have has to use lye and make a cold process soap. If you used s melt and pout shea butter base, that is not straight shea butter – which you linked too. These directions would make a sticky lotion bar (and barely that since ther eis no bees wax).

      • ashley|

        Thanks I was going to mention this. I was confused myself. I was thinking this will be more like a scratchy lotion bar if made with these links and directions.

  7. Ella|

    Maybe I'm missing something. Is this just supposed to be a lotion bar? Shea butter is a base but it isn't soap. There isn't saponification in this process and no soap base to replace that.

  8. sarah yates|

    Hi Ella! Soap in its traditional sense is a by product of the chemical reactions between lye and lard. Since we avoided that I suppose these could be considered cleansing lotion bars instead. The lavender and peppermint oils contain anti fungal and anti bacterial properties, the shea butter moisturizes, the bits of ingredients act as exfoliants. They can be applied to the skin directly or used during washing to exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize. I consider them soap although I can see how there is confusion.

    Many people are concerned about using lye directly because it is dangerous and can be irritating to the skin so we wanted to avoid that! Using lard seems unnecessary to me personally. And although melt and pour bases are an option to avoid directly using lye they most often contain dodgy ingredients–by only using shea and essential oils I'm so happy with having a soap that has ingredients that I love, that cleans, exfoliates, smells amazing, has antibacterial ingredients and is easy to make! Hope that clears up the confusion! 🙂

    • ashley|

      Thanks for the clarification! These might work in the winter here but I don’t like Shea doesn’t seem to be an easy supply to keep taking from how I understand its processed. Only fair trade and it is expensive. I could maybe tweak this and try a blend I make with beeswax and coconut oil.

  9. molly yeh|

    ooh i love this! i need all the moisturizing things i can get in this never ending dry winter! i wonder if using almond oil would work. i am sucker for all things almond!

  10. J.|

    I think this is just adding stuff to shea butter. Would smell nice but you need to add a lye to oils to make soap. And it takes 6 weeks to dry out.

  11. sarah|

    After reading all these comments and clearing up any confusion (that I didn't have until I started reading the comments) I'm even more excited to try these 'cleansing lotion bars' my skin is SO dry that this would probably feel like a treat!


  12. Ellie|

    I love that this doesn't involve lye – I will definitely be able to do this Can I use the same double boiler I use in the kitchen – I mean will it clean up again for cooking use, or be only dedicated to soap? Don't have a lot of extra pots/pans, thought I'd ask first before using a good one.

  13. Brigitte|

    These are so pretty! My niece and I just made a batch of 2kinds. A lavender and tea tree oil and lemon zest and lavender bits one and a patchouli and tee tree oil and rosemary bits one. They both turned out great! I think you might be able to skip the lotion if you use these. So excited to try them out. Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah!

  14. Michelle|

    So this isn’t actually soap. Shea butter is an oil so these would be considered lotion bars with exfoliating stuff in them. Not cleansing at all but good for moisturizing. They look pretty and I imagine they smell wonderful.

  15. lucia|

    Not sure how these can wash your skin when they are made with shea butter…can you please explain?

  16. Jody|

    Hi Sarah,
    These do look lovely! I would love to try to make them. I am a bit confused, is the Shea butter the soap base, then you added the remaining ingredients? I have only seen lye used and would love to try this if shea butter is the base.
    Thank you,

  17. Kiki|

    I’m sorry, but you can’t call this soap. Soap is what is created when you combine lye and a fat. A chemical reaction occurs and a NEW matter is created – soap. Some of your comments below just support the ignorance surrounding lye. Yes, using lye requires a healthy amount of caution, however, when you are finished you no longer have lye, the lye molecules have broken down as have the fat molecules and have rebounded into a new matter. I just want to scream when people say they don’t want to use “lye” soap. It’s JUST soap, not lye soap. This is 5th grade chemistry.
    Also, an FYI, commercially made soaps from big name companies are really detergents because they have so many chemicals in them.
    Please rename this blog post and remove “soap” from the name. I’m begging you.

  18. Katy|

    I bought a brick of shea butter from the health food store…will it still work the same. It’s already very soft.

  19. stephanie|

    hey there i came across your recipe.these are similar to body lotion bars.but they are soaps. i was wondering.i live in a hot country, a Caribbean island to be exact. would these melt in hot climates?

  20. tru leigh|

    What are coconut flakes? is that literally shredded coconut? Is this coconut butter? Coconut oil?

  21. Leslie|

    Sorry, but this is not soap. And those fresh sage leaves and fresh grapefruit peel the recipe contains are going to mold in quick order.

  22. Anna|

    I have just made these as Christmas gifts in a Christmas tree and snowman soap mould. Looks nice but not much of a smell (other than the Shea butter) more like a massage bar than a soap, but still makes a lovely homemade gift and fun to make.

  23. Donna J. Heagel|

    Love this ! Going to try it for gifts. Thanks for sharing this on Pinterest.

  24. Deborah|

    I made the lavender grapfruit and loved it as an exfoliator lotion bar. Gave some to friends who asked me if would make more.

  25. Jules|

    I made these last night. Really easy to make, slight issue getting them into the freezer without spilling – note to self, don’t fill the moulds so high. They smell absolutely divine. I used an organic 100% unrefined Shea butter and I expected them to be soapy but they are not. Is this how its supposed to be?

    • Brandy Stauffer|

      Probably because it’s not really soap it’s more of a moisturizing/massage bar not a cleansing bar ie soap….If you choose to use this in the shower or bath it can be used after soap or body wash or if you haven’t gotten really dirty in place of, just don’t expect suds. I would also consider keeping the extra bars in the fridge or freezer (just make sure they’re well wrapped or in foodsaver bags) because she’s butter melts at 89°-100°F and since most places get that warm I’d recommend a dedicated soap dish or travel soap dish for the open bar and for the rest to be frozen just make sure to label them…. you don’t want anyone trying to eat them.

  26. Hannah Peacock|

    such a great idea! Did you use just shea butter for the soap base, or did you mix it with soap?:)

    • Brandy Stauffer|

      No soap in it & it’s not a soap… It’s more of a moisturizing bar…And they will melt if left at room temperature if your house is above 70°F so definitely something to consider when deciding where to store finished bars.

      • Diana|

        She explains in the directions that she is using a Shea Butter melt & pour soap base. So the picture of her finished product & the actual product she made WAS in fact soap. Although she did not clarify that at all in the ingredient list & even links to actual Shea Butter. But if you read carefully in the directions & even at the top in the comments, she makes it clear that she used Shea Butter Melt & Pour soap base!!!

  27. Brandy Stauffer|

    For those who want to make soap and not a moisturizer bar (which in itself is a wonderful thing) you can order great Shea butter soap base here http://www.bulkapothecary.com/product/make-it/soap-making/melt-and-pour-soap-bases/shea-butter-stephenson-melt-and-pour-soap-base/. They also have a lot of other wonderful products including molds, fragrances, coloring, add ins and packaging. They are truly one of my favorite places to get my supplies and no I’m not being compensated in any way for that recommendation. Happy soap/body product making to you all.

  28. Nicola (UK)|

    Thanks for these natural recipes. Whether or not it is a soap or “exfoliating lotion bar” as noted in some of the comments above, personally, having never made any cleansing products before to give as Christmas gifts I feel assured that only natural ingredients are required. In the UK I sourced unrefined certified Fairtrade and organic shea butter at a reasonable price from a company that also stocked organic essential and carrier oils which I used to make up one or two of my own recipes.