Hang in there, grapefruit

I received a challenge from a customer this summer.  She asked if I could try making a grapefruit soap scented with essential oil.  I've used it in the past and the scent utterly vanished after a month or so. I did some research and asked other soapers for advice and this is what I came up with for my second attempt.

1) Clays and/or cornstarch in the soap will help the scent to "stick."
2) A touch of other essential oils, like benzoin, litsea cubeba (may chang), and patchouli may also up the "stick" factor.

I'm not quite certain about the actual definition of "sticking"--does that mean the scent remains the same strength as when added, or to a lesser degree?  I would be happy with even a faint grapefruit-y smell. 

As suggested, I mixed the essential oil with the clay and cornstarch before adding it to the soap mixture.  I didn't discount the goat milk at all because I was afraid a lot of the liquid might be absorbed by the clay and cornstarch.  I also didn't let the soap gel, just in case the grapefruit oil might cook off with extra heat (maybe I'm paranoid.)  It was a little lesson in patience waiting for it to harden enough to cut it!

So now I wait.  And sniff.  Every time I walk by the bars I sniff them.  And I exhale happily, because they still smell like grapefruit.

Does anyone have any experiences with getting essential oil scents to survive saponification?  Or any advice for me for next time?  I'm anxious to learn!

P.S. A year (plus) later--After some time, I realized that I was smelling litsea, not grapefruit.  I forgot to document when exactly I noticed the grapefruit scent faded, but it did indeed, and it was soon enough that I will avoid using it in soap in the future.  So sad.


  1. Tricky business essential oils... my tricks are - adding more, adding anchors (like litsea, patchouli, cedarwood etc., basenotes), my trace ingredients I also mix with castor oil, which I add right at the end before pouring into the mould, yes clays help (let me know how the cornstarch thing goes, the few times I tried it, I got a strange smell in my soaps like fingernail shavings... hmmm), and curing. Curing for me is key. Curing in a dark room. Sunlight REMOVES essential oil scents. Totally. Oh I also water discount rather high now which also helps. Let us know how it goes and if you learn anything else you can pass on to me!! xo Jen

  2. Love the poppyseeds on top! Sorry I don't have anything to offer, but I'm curious to hear how the grapefruit scent holds up after a month. :)

  3. Good luck, I hope it stays for you.

  4. That sounds like a might nice soap Amy! One of my favorites is still one of the first soaps I ever made, a salt CP with patchouli and grapefruit. I don't notice that the grapefruit disappeared after all this time, so maybe that is true about patchouli!

  5. The soap looks very well.I love the grapefruit e.o. scent, I combined it once with lemon and I was really content by the result.

  6. That's a great tip! I'm gong to have to try it out and see if I can get it to work. :)

  7. Thanks for your suggestions, everyone, and Jen, you sound like the expert! (I should have come to you first! ) :)

  8. hey...I know this is an old "issue' but in my opinion Grapefruit EO is one of the strongest oil I've ever encountered, here in Australia we're lucky to have the best of essential oils. In every batch of soap I make I always add a tsp of orris root powder and I find that it helps the scents to stay in the soap even for a long time. Grapefruit and Lavender is a perfect combination and they seem to last forever in my goat's milk soaps! After 6 weeks cure, I store them in a shoe box lined with baking paper and they get stronger even after 3 years or so, that's how aged my soaps are! Just my opinion...love your blog! xo

    1. Really--orris root??!!! That's an idea I've never heard of. I will have to try some. I know it's a potpourri fixative, so that makes sense. And I never thought to put grapefruit and lavender together. Ooooh, I love aged soaps, too!


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