Orange Citrus Soap with Beeswax

 I am experimenting with different varieties of handmade soap and I love orange flavor, and recently made some citrus soap bars. They turned out great, so wanted to share this variation on the base of olive oil soap.  I call it Orange Citrus Soap.

Orange Citrus Soap

Orange Citrus Soap

This is your basic procedure and ingredients. Make the base up first and then go to step 12 where I add the special ingredients to introduce the orange flavoring.

I love handmade soap, preferring it to the commercially overly scented variety, picking it up at local craft fairs and boutique stores.  The cost was adding up, plunking down $5 or $6 for a small bar, and I looked into making it at home. I have always hesitated to make soap due to the use of caustic lye in creating the chemical process of making soap, which is called saponification.

In the old days, when people had to make their own soap in addition to their lye, they made lye with wood ashes. They would take the white ash left over from a hardwood fire and boil it with rain water and liquid lye would float to the top. It sounded so simple, that I really considered doing it for about 1 second and then thought that the soap making would be enough of a challenge without complicating things.

Commercial lye which is also used as a drain cleaner- very toxic!!!!

Commercial lye which is also used as a drain cleaner- very toxic!!!!

Lye is 100 percent sodium hydroxide, NaOH. I got mine at Lowes in the plumbing aisle as Crystal Drain Opener.  It can be hard to find as it is used in the illegal manufacture of meth ( who would have thought!!!) and it has been pulled from drugstore shelves.  You can also buy it online.

I also wanted to use my accumulated hoard of beeswax in my soap so started looking for soap recipes which included beeswax.

Beeswax cakes from my hives

Beeswax cakes from my hives

Gather Materials

Immersion blender, scale, large saucepan, large juice jug, plastic disposable cup, wooden spoon- I don't have the thermometer here but you need a good digital instant read one

Immersion blender, scale, large saucepan, large juice jug, plastic disposable cup, wooden spoon- I don’t have the thermometer here but you need a good digital instant read one

First off, make sure that you have the containers and equipment needed.  They are:

  1. Immersion blender
  2. Digital cooking thermometer
  3. Kitchen scale
  4. Variety of containers and cook pots that you will only use for making soap like a heavy saucepan, plastic 2  quart beverage container, wooden spoon
  5. Soap mold- I bought a small kitty litter pan
  6. Old clothes and apron
  7. Goggles
  8. Rubber gloves
Safety items- apron, goggles, white vinegar, rubber gloves

Safety items- apron, goggles, white vinegar, rubber gloves

Safety Precautions

I recommend making soap in your kitchen or basement laundry tub where curious kids and pets cannot get into it. Lye is very caustic and you need to respect that, but don’t be afraid of making soap because of that.  If you are careful and use common sense, you will be fine. Keep a bottle of white vinegar handy, if you spill any caustic lye on your skin.

Assemble all your ingredients and equipment in advance and put on old clothes and an apron, though I have never damaged any of my clothes in the process. Put on your safety goggles and rubber gloves and you are ready to make soap!!

Recipe for Olive Oil Beeswax Soap

36 ounces olive oil

6 ounces coconut oil

3 ounces castor oil

2 ounces of grated beeswax

12 ounces water (distilled is best)

6 ounces lye

2 ounces essential oil of your choice ( I used Vitamin E, but the possibilities are only limited to what you can think up)!

Olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil

Olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil

  1. Measure your plastic pitcher first and then measure 12 ounces of water into the pitcher. Your scale should subtract the weight of the pitcher from the weight of the water.  Everything has to be measured precisely. Set your pitcher in the sink.
  2. Weigh out 6 ounces of lye. I used a plastic disposable cup.
  3. Pour the lye from the cup into the water in the pitcher NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!! And gently stir it in with the wooden spoon.
Pour the lye into the pitcher of water and stir

Pour the lye into the pitcher of water and stir

A thermal reaction will occur and the solution will get very hot and give off some fumes. It stinks!! At this point, I set the pitcher outside to cool off –  away from animals. I hate the smell of the fumes.

Measuring out your oils on the scale

Measuring out your oils on the scale

4. Weigh your oils and beeswax and put them into the wide saucepan and heat on a low heat until everything dissolves. Remove from the heat to cool.

Heating the oils- the beeswax melts the last

Heating the oils- the beeswax melts the last

5. Test the heat of the lye solution by touching the outside of the pitcher to see if it is cooling down a bit. It should feel tepid to the touch, not hot.

6. Take the temperature with your digital thermometer of the oil solution and the lye solution, making sure that you wipe off the probe with a paper towel between each use. The trick is to get the two solutions around the same temperature, around 98 degrees to 110 farenheit.  This is the most difficult part of the whole process.  The lye solution will take about an hour to come down from a high of around 160 degrees to the lower temperature that you need. The following is a useful video on how to do this:

7. Plug in your immersion blender so it is ready to use.

8.Combine the two solutions once they have reached the right temperatures (see above), pouring the lye solution into the pan of oils and stirring with the wooden spoon a couple of times.

10. Without turning on the blender yet, immerse it into the mixture down to the bottom of the pan. Make sure that your gloves and goggles are on because you could get splattered a bit.  I also like to put the saucepan in the sink for this step. You can do this by hand without a blender, but it will take much longer with a lot of stirring!

11. Turn on the blender and slowly circulate it around the circumference of the pan. Keep blending, watching the consistency.  Within a few minutes, the mixture will start turning opaque and thicken. Keep blending until the mixture starts forming a ‘trace’, which is just part of the mix leaving a visible swirl on top.  The mixture should be the consistency of runny pudding.

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12. Add your essential oils ( I used 1/4 ounce each of lemon and orange oil). Grate 2 oranges to get about 1/4 cup of grated skin and add to mixture. I also sprinkled some turmeric on top to increase the orangey color.  This is for color only, not for any flavor. Mix in and I liked the swirls of turmeric so didn’t mix that in completely.

Grated orange peel, oils, turmeric, and mold with immersion blender

Grated orange peel, oils, turmeric, and mold with immersion blender

Adding the oils and grated orange peel

Adding the oils and grated orange peel

Turmeric sprinkled on top

Turmeric sprinkled on top

Swirl the colors and oil in

Swirl the colors and oil in

Pour into a milk carton mold and cover with a towel for 24 hours

Pour into a milk carton mold and cover with a towel for 24 hours

13. Pour your soap into your mold (here I used a wax covered milk container with the top cut out).

14.  Wrap the container in an old towel and set aside for 24 hours.

15. The next day, the soap is still soft enough to be cut into blocks with a sharp knife. I peel off the container and chop it up with a warmed knife.

Peeling off the milk carton

Peeling off the milk carton

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Out of this one batch, I made 20 blocks of soap which should last me a long time for my use and for gifts.

Clean up

To clean up your mess, I take bunches of paper towels and wipe everything off thoroughly and throw the towels into a garbage bag to go outside. Remember, this stuff is very caustic and can still burn you. The immersion blender I treat the same way, and then take off the blender stick and thoroughly clean it in hot soapy water –  same with the digital thermometer.


You have to let the soap age about a month before using as it will retain some of its caustic nature immediately after you make it. I leave it out in a sunny window to age it for a few months before using or giving it as gifts.

Related articles:

About thegardendiaries

Claire Jones is a landscape and floral designer and owner of Claire Jones Landscapes, LLC. She designs and helps people to create their own personal outdoor oasis and loves to write about her gardening failures and successes.
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13 Responses to Orange Citrus Soap with Beeswax

  1. I’ve always wanted to make soap. I must have a go. Your excellent post is really helpful, I’ve certainly no excuse.


  2. This is a great post ,I used to make soap and I miss it,its so exciting when the batches are ready !
    Love the way you mapped it all out,perfect for first time soap makers.


  3. It is easier than you think. I was scared for years because of the fear of lye but once you get over that, it is easy!


  4. After you make it the first time, you realize it’s a lot easier than it may appear. I love making homemade soap. Occasionally I’ll add different herbs or essential oils into my blends. My nine year old daughter enjoys helping with the soapmaking process also.

    In the future, perhaps I’ll be able to include beeswax into my own soap blends. I’m not looking to do that this year, since this will be my first year as a beekeeper but it’s something for me to look forward to in later years.


  5. Always wanted to try this and we have a good supply of olive oil so maybe I’ll give it a go – looks gorgeous and thanks for the tips,


  6. Kaleigh says:

    Great post!

    Do you only put in 1/4 lemon essential oil and 1/4 orange? At the top of this recipe you call for 2 oz. Did you make up the difference with vitamin E oil?


    • Yes, I do make up the difference. These additions don’t have to be exact, just approximate.


      • Kaleigh says:

        I tried this recipe out today but I was having issues with my lye water mixture not getting hot. Do you know why that might be and what I could do to fix this? I am using 100% pure lye crystals and distilled water.



      • I have always had a problem with the lye solution getting too hot! and I let it cool off for about 45 minutes. The trick is to get the 2 solutions about the same temperature and then combining them. Let me know how it turned out. Youtube has great tutorials about getting these temps.


  7. Pingback: Lavender Honey-Scented Body Butter | The Garden Diaries

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