Lemon Zest Soap 18

I love citrus scented soaps and one can typically be found at my kitchen sink. I was making lemonade the other day and zippy, refreshing scent of lemons reminded me to think about making soap again. Then I started wondering if I could make a lemon soap and include the fresh lemon zest in my soap.

Today, I’m going to show that it is possible to using lemon zest!

Collect needed items:

Palm Kernel Oil
Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
Coconut Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Distilled Water
Lye (sodium hydroxide)
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil, USA
Lemon Zest from 3 Lemons
2 Gallon Soap Bucket
Soap Spoon
Guerrilla Soap Mold
Glass Beakers
Immersion Blender
Time spent:Weighing time: 8 minutes
Adding lye to water: 25 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of stirring
Heating of oils time: 4 minutes
Pouring lye solution into the fat mixture: 20 seconds
Using immersion blender to mix soap solution: 5 minutes
Pour into mold: 45 seconds
Allow soap to rest: 24 hours
Recipe in ounces:
16 ounces wt Palm Kernel Oil
16 oz wt Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (shortening)
16 ounces wt Coconut Oil
8 ounces wt Grapeseed Oil

21 fl oz Water (I used Reverse Osmosis Water)
8.38 ounces wt Sodium Hydroxide

0.5 oz wt Lemongrass Essential Oil
0.5 oz wt Lemon Essential Oil, USA

1.91 oz wt Lemon Zest (Zest from 3 Lemons, does not have to be exact)

Zest lemons. I used a fine Microplane / Zester to zest the lemon. Set aside.

Weigh the essential oils into a small beaker and set aside.

Measure fixed oils on your scale. Add lemon zest to fixed oils then warm on the stove or in the microwave. I melted the oils in the microwave. Add sodium hydroxide to the water. Mix well.

Combine oils and lye solution. Stir until thin trace. Don’t be alarmed when the soap turns a vibrant neon orange when beginning to mix the oils and lye solution together. Upon light trace, add the essential oils. Stir well. Pour soap into molds. I used the Guerrilla Mold from Dirk’s post. Allow to sit until soap is firm.

The next morning cut into bars. Stack to allow good air circulation. Allow to cure for several days before using. Longer curing will result in a harder bar.

I added the lemon zest to the oils before melting the oils to allow some of the lemon oil in the zest to infuse in the oils. This allowed a nice triple touch of lemon in the final soap.

As I was beginning to mix the lye solution and oils together and the mixture turned a bright orange, I was panicked. Oh, no! I continued to mix and while the color stayed bright, the soap behaved just like any other 5 lb batch I’ve made before. I poured the soap in the mold, covered it and then left it until the next day when I could cut it.

After cutting the soap, I took a small end piece and washed my hands with it. Oh, my! The soap had the best lemon scent as well as excellent lather. The zest was not noticeable in the finished soap as it has been broken down during the saponification process.

What can you do with the juice from the lemons that have been zested? Don’t add the juice to your soap because it can cause havoc with the saponification process. Instead, use the lemon juice to marinate a chicken, make lemonade, or bake lemon bars.

The Lemon Zest soap samples have been sent to the Shipping Department to send out in orders.

Try this recipe and tell me what you think! What other citrus fruits would you try?

Curious about kitchen spices or herbs in cold process soap? Vote now in our poll for future blog posts! The poll can be found on the right side of the screen between the Join In and Follow us on Twitter sections. Every vote counts! You can choose up to five answers if there are multiple spices or herbs you would like to see!


Finished soap.

Three zested lemons.

Adding lemon zest to oils before melting.

Partially melted oils.

Melted oils with floating lemon zest.

Adding the lye solution to the melted oils.

Beginning to mix the lye solution and oils together.

Almost to a light trace.

Soap in the mold.

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Lemon Zest Soap, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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About Andee

I'm a twenty something soap snob. I've grown up with hand made soaps and I love them! I really like making lotions, soaps and perfumes. I adore mixing scents to come up with something new. My favorite scent is either Wicked or Cotton Candy. I tend to hoard fragrances, I even have an Earl Grey Tea from the MMS catalog. I won't tell you how old it is, but it sure is good!

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18 thoughts on “Lemon Zest Soap

  • Kinky Witch

    I love the idea of using freshly grated lemon zest! I made a lemon batch using litsea cubeba essential oil. My husband ground up some dried lemon peel and we added most of it at trace to be mixed throughout. Then sprinkled the rest on top for added decoration. Since we ground is quite fine the lemon peel wasn’t rough at all and it adds a wonderful element to the soap. The lemon peel also gave it a nice light yellow color, too.


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  • Yvonne

    Several weeks ago, I made lemon/ginger soap. I had been intrigued by the idea, especially since I have a lemon tree in my backyard. I used fresh grated lemon rind and lemon juice. I also used lemon essential oil and ground ginger. It has a wonderful fragrance, I love it. I plan on making it again, but next time, I will add ginger essential oil as well.

    It lathers beautifully, and makes my hands feel so soft.

    Look out family/friends, you will probably receive lemon/ginger soap for Christmas this year, if my lemons are ready in time.


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  • Lorivet

    I have used fresh grapefruit zest in a couple of different soaps. The zest keeps it’s color throughout the saponification process and it looks so pretty! I am trying the lemon tonight! Wonder if there is anything I can do with peaches or plums?


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  • Taylor

    Considering the sugary nature of peaches and plums I suspect they are not good candidates for soap. At times the pits or stones are used to make a jelly (not a great idea since we now know more about the contents of pits and stones) and the color can be quite nice. However, remember that jellies are acidic environments and the color will not last in an alkaline
    environment. Sooo…… make jam, jelly, fuzzy navels or other peach items and forgo the soap when it comes to stone fruits.


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  • Judy

    Thank you for this soap recipe I’m going can’t wait to try it and your soap looks pretty. I’m also going to try this with limes and lime essential oil. What a great idea.

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  • Judy

    Sorry, meant to say can’t wait to try this recipe got alittle excited about this idea. Guess I’ve become a soapmaking addict.

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  • Susan

    I made this soap yesterday and cut it into bars today. Good color, great scent, and when I snitched a small piece to try I was happy to see that it lathers up well. One thing-the zest from three lemons weighed about a third of an ounce. Were your lemons the size of grapefruit? I kept zesting lemons until I got an ounce and a half, it took thirteen!

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    • Andee Post author

      When I zested the lemons, I did include pith along with the zest! I used three normal supermarket lemons. I hope this helps!

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      • sandra

        when using fresh lemon zest, do you worry about the life of the soap with the fresh additives w/o preservatives?? what would the shelf life be if not used right away? thank you

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        • Tina

          There is little water in zest, more essential oil. Adding zest to soap is a nice way to fragrance and give a slight texture to the soap. No preservative needed.

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            • Andee Post author

              This batch lasted just as long as any other soaps that I have made. The small amount of zest behaved like the addition of oatmeal or milk. The alkaline environment and water balance after curing are enough to prevent any mold or bacteria. As long as you don’t add large amounts of fresh zest, your soap can easily last months or years depending on storage conditions and the shelf stability of your recipe.

              I hope this helps!

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  • sandra

    how is it you can cut the soap in 24 hrs and already use it to wash your hands immediately to test it….are you not worried about lye in it? is this safe to do? thank you so much for your explanation of this … I have heard that after the gelling and the saponification process after the 24 hrs, there is actually no active lye in it and the only purpose to the curing process is to harden the soap…is this accurate? thank you again..

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    • Tina

      The chemical reaction is complete in 24 hours. Cure time is only giving up water. In the high desert where we live the soap will give up water fast, if we wait too long we won’t be able to cut the soap.

      No more active lye, it has converted the fat to soap and been used up. Fresh soap will still dissolve in the shower faster than dried soap so one bar is not too bad to lose, it will be consumed in 1 week with two people showering.

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  • Natasha

    Thanks for the heads up on the colour change – I used orange zest and I am looking forward to the final colour, and to see if the orange zest is still there tomorrow.

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  • Emily Hartman

    I happened to make my own soap today including fresh lemon zest (including pith) and the pieces turned bright red, the soap itself, orange. It doesn’t really bother me as far as aesthetics, except for WHY? I have looked all over and found nothing on the subject. I will admit, it did inspire me as it looked a lot like spicy curry. I ended up with my original idea of a scrubby lemongrass/lemon kitchen hand soap, but took it further and added coconut FO. It smells great! Win win! Perhaps the “red” lemon will change back to yellow, who knows!

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