Dear Pumpkin Haters,
I realize this time of year has got to be difficult for you.
No matter where you turn, “pumpkin spice” tends to whack you in the face. From coffee to beer to cereal to body products to candles, and everything in between, there’s no escaping the pumpkin craze that hits August 31st at midnight…
And I’m going to add to your misery with today’s pumpkin soap recipe… Sorry.
I’m not into chasing the latest processed food fad laced with pumpkin “artificial flavoring”, but I AM a aficionado of the warm, comforting scents and flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Especially when combined in homemade baked goods or alongside homegrown pumpkin puree.
My blog is no stranger to pumpkin posts. We’ve talked about how to make pumpkin puree the easy way, how to can pumpkin, how to make your own pumpkin pie spice, how to make honey maple pumpkin bread, and I’ve even shared my #1 favorite pumpkin pie recipe.
But today I’m venturing off the beaten path with this spicy, soothing homemade pumpkin soap recipe.
Not only does it use real pumpkin, but it also calls for real spices, instead of artificial fragrance oils. I don’t claim to be a artisan soap maker by any means, and usually my soap recipes are pretty utilitarian. However, I had fun creating this recipe, as it’s a little more “gourmet” than my usual soaping adventures.
About This Soap Recipe
This pumpkin soap recipe uses the hot process method (aka crockpot soap). I used a very simple combination of fats to create a basic bar soap. “Real” soapers often use a wider variety of oils in their recipes, but I prefer to keep my ingredients simple and easy to source.
If you’ve never made soap, please first read through my How to Make Hot Process Soap post for all the details, safety advice, and equipment recommendations.
Pumpkin Soap Recipe
(this post contains affiliate links)
Always measure soap ingredients by weight, not by volume.
- 10 oz olive oil
- 20 oz coconut oil
- 8 oz distilled water
- 4.73 oz pure lye
- 3 oz pure pumpkin puree
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice– this is optional, but if you omit it, your soap won’t have much scent
- 15 drops clove essential oil (optional) (how I get wholesale prices on my essential oils)
- 15 drops cinnamon OR cassia essential oil (optional)
- Safety gear for handling lye (long-sleeve shirt, gloves, safety glasses, etc)
- Equipment for making hot process soap (see this post for details)
**If you change any of the ingredients at all, please run the recipe through this soap calculator to ensure you still have a safe ratio of oils to lye.
Weight out all of your ingredients using a kitchen scale (I have this one– it’s affordable and works great). When you are making soap, you must go by weight, not by volume.
When you go to measure out the lye, be sure you are wearing your gloves and safety glasses.
Turn on the crockpot, and place the olive oil and coconut oil inside. Allow the coconut oil to melt completely.
In a well ventilated area (I usually do this on the top of my stove with the fan running), with your safety gear on, carefully stir the lye into the water. Do NOT reverse this and pour the water into the lye, as this can result in a bit of a chemical reaction.
As you stir the lye into the water, the mixture will heat up rapidly, so don’t grab the container with bare hands.
Let the lye/water mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
Now, carefully pour the lye/water mixture into the melted oils in the crockpot. I stir gently as I pour, and then switch to my lovely stick blender. (Like I explained in this post, a stick blender is a MUST-HAVE when you’re making soap! Look for them at yard sales, or grab one off Amazon.)
Proceed to blend the soap mixture until it starts to thicken. It usually takes 2-4 minutes.
We are looking for the mixture to become more opaque and develop a pudding-like consistency. This is called “trace”.
When the mixture has achieved “light trace” (i.e. it’s thickened and smooth, but not quite holding its shape yet), mix in the pumpkin puree.
Continue blending until you’ve achieved full trace. You’ll know you’ve reached this point when you can drip the mixture on top of itself and it holds its shape.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and allow it to “cook” on LOW for 45-60 minutes. It will go through various stages of bubbling, rising, and frothing. I usually stay close as it cooks, just in case it wants to boil over the top. If you see this start to happen, simply stir it back down.
After 45-60 minutes, perform the ‘zap’ test to make sure all the lye is reaction. You can do this by pulling a tiny bit of the soap out of the crock, allowing it to cool for a minute, and then touching it to your tongue. If it “zaps” you, you know it needs more cooking time. If it just takes soapy and bitter, you’re good to go!
Remove the crock from the heat and stir in the spices and essential oils (if you’re using them). (I swirled my spices in only partially, as I wanted some variations in my bars.) The soap will want to start setting up, so work quickly.
Spoon the mixture into a mold, and set aside for around 24 hours to allow it to harden completely.
Now comes my favorite part– unmold the soap, and cut it into bars.
You can technically use the soap immediately, but you’ll have a harder, longer-lasting bar if you allow it to cure or air-dry for 1-2 weeks.
Pumpkin Soap Notes:
- If you’re running low, here’s how to make pumpkin pie spice.
- Hot process soap generally isn’t as smooth looking as cold process soap, but that doesn’t bother me. I kinda like the rustic appearance.
- The pumpkin pie spice blend adds a bit of exfoliation action to the bar. If you really don’t like exfoliating soap, you can omit the spice blend. However, your soap won’t smell very pumpkin-y.
- This soap recipe is 6% superfat. This means there is extra fat added to the recipe to ensure all the lye is completely used up in the chemical reaction and there is no unreacted lye leftover (which could cause the soap to burn you).
- Make sure you’re using PURE pumpkin puree, not the “pumpkin pie filling” that comes with sweetener and other ingredients already mixed with it. Here’s how I make pumpkin puree from my homegrown pumpkins.
- I used this cool crinkle cutter to cut my bars, but a regular knife will work just fine too.
- I’m getting a ton of questions about the mold I use. This is the one I got off Amazon. It’s a little floppier than I would like, but works fine if you prop something up against the sides.
- About Essential Oils in Homemade Soap: I get asked a LOT if essential oils make good soap additives, and my answer is usually “NO”. That might come as a surprise to you, considering how much I use and love essential oils in my home, but I’ve found time and time again that it’s just not cost effective to use my pure high-quality essential oils in my homemade soap ventures. It takes SO MUCH essential oil to scent a batch of soap, the final cost of the batch ends up being ridiculous. So yes, sometimes I do end up adding 20-30 drops of my favorite oil to certain recipes, but the scent usually doesn’t last very long and continues to fade over time. If you want super-smelly soap, you’re better off to purchase “fragrances” designed for soap making. I prefer not to use these in my homemade soap, so I opt for unscented bars OR I use other scent-producing ingredients like the spices in this pumpkin soap recipe.