How to Make Tomato Soap

Tomatoes Are Just One of Many Fun Soap Ingredients for Summer

How to Make Tomato Soap
Reading Time: 6 minutes

In August, hopefully your garden is in full swing. Tomatoes are ripening, and the fresh herbal snap of tomato leaves fills the air each time you brush past them. Why not make tomato soap? The garden is full of potential soap ingredients to pamper your skin and make good use of your bounty. Tomato is among my favorite soap ingredients, both for the lovely reddish brown color it imparts and for the fruit acids it offers for your skin. The addition of Moroccan red and French green clays enhances your tomato soap with even more skin-smoothing soap ingredients. Tomato soap provides a lovely variety to the tomato products you can create, and makes a wonderful gift packed with summertime goodness.

For this soap, I used a gorgeous, well-behaved fragrance called Tomato Leaf. It is sold by Candlescience.com. There are many other tomato-inspired fragrances on the market that you can try. Make sure that your fragrance oil is cosmetic grade and is tested in Cold Process soap. If you prefer essential oils, basil essential oil would also go well with tomato soap. The tomato adds a pale reddish-orange-brown color to the finished soap on it’s own, but I chose to enhance my soap with optional Moroccan red and French green clays. For this recipe, I will be demonstrating a simple In The Pot Swirl technique for added interest.

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Because we will be using an In The Pot Swirl technique for coloring soap naturally, it is important to stir the soap batter only to very light trace. To get the proper consistency in your soap batter, I recommend you use room temperature (between 80-100F) oils and lye solution. I recommend that you research the soap scents you are planning to use, to make sure they do not cause acceleration or other problems. Last of all, I will not be using an immersion blender to mix the soap batter. This is a job for a good, old-fashioned whisk. You will know you have reached very light trace when the soap batter thickens slightly, but before it leaves a “trace” when drizzled from the spoon back into the pot.

Tomato Leaf Soap with Fresh Tomatoes And Natural Clay

Makes one 3 pound loaf of soap, about 10 bars.

  • 6.4 oz. Palm oil, melted and cooled to room temperature (80-100F)
  • 8 oz. Coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 12.8 oz. Olive oil
  • 4.8 oz. Castor oil
  • 5 oz. Fresh tomato puree, chilled
  • 5 oz. water
  • 4.25 oz. Sodium hydroxide
  • 1.25 – 2 oz. Tomato Leaf fragrance oil, or other cold process soap fragrance, optional
  • 1 Heaping Tbsp. Moroccan Red clay, hydrated with a little of the water
  • 1 Heaping Tbsp. French Green clay, hydrated with a little of the water
  • .65 oz. Sodium lactate, optional*

Before making the soap, prepare the tomato puree: add 6 oz. of seeded tomato pulp to a blender and process well. It is important to remove the seeds because often they will not pulverize in the blender, and they will leave large bits of organic matter in the soap which can cause spoilage. Once blended, measure out 5 oz. of blended pulp and set aside. Make sure there are no large pieces of pulp in the tomato mixture.

Also, before you begin, make sure that all of your soap ingredients are pulled and ready to use. Prepare your mold, if necessary. Put on your gloves and your protective goggles. Choose a time and a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed while you work. In a well-ventilated area, preferably with a fan, pour the lye into the water and stir gently until dissolved. Add the chilled tomato puree to the lye mixture, and allow it to rest until room temperature (between 80-100F). Meanwhile, weigh and combine your oils, and allow them to also reach room temperature. Add your fragrance or essential oils to the oil mixture, if you are using them.

Once ingredients are room temperature, pour the lye/tomato mixture into the oils and stir well with a whisk. If necessary, you can step away from the soap batter for a short time, one to two minutes, and come back, and it will have thickened slightly. Once it has reached the emulsion state and has just begun to thicken, pour a portion of soap batter into the cups with the red clay and the green clay. Mix well. To create an In The Pot Swirl, drizzle the red and green colored soap back into the soap pot in a random pattern. Save a small amount of colored soap for decorating the top, if desired. Pour the combined soap batter into the mold, and you will be able to see the streaks and swirls of colors forming as the batter pours. Drizzle the remaining colored soap over the top in a random pattern, then use a chopstick or a skewer to make designs on the top of the soap.

tomato-soap
The colors of the clays appear much brighter when wet in this fresh loaf of Tomato Leaf soap. Photograph by Melanie Teegarden.

Allow the soap to saponify in the mold for 24-48 hours, then remove carefully once firm enough. Slice into bars and allow to cure for six weeks before use. Store in a cool, dry place. A linen closet is perfect for this purpose. These soaps make a wonderful gift of summertime all year long.

What do you think of using tomatoes in soap making? We hope you will give it a try! Let us know your results!

*this naturally-occurring, plant-sourced ingredient makes soap firm up faster and makes it easier to release the soap from the mold.

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This is the cut loaf of saponified Tomato Leaf soap. Photograph by Melanie Teegarden

Ask the Expert

Do you have a soapmaking question? You’re not alone! Check here to see if your question has already been answered. And, if not, use our chat feature to contact our experts!

Hi. I am Kaneez Fathima. I tried the tomato leaf soap. I followed every step from the recipe given. It’s three days and my soap looks good and hard from the top. But is still not set at the bottom of the mold. How long does it take to harden so I can remove it from the mold?

The soap looks lovely, nice swirl pattern on top! It looks like, from the level of fullness in the mold, that you didn’t accidentally double any ingredients or anything obvious like that. Sometimes soaps just take a little longer to set up. Is the bottom of the soap soft or completely liquid underneath? If the soap is simply soft, I recommend placing it in the freezer until solid, then turning it out onto waxed paper to air out for a few days. That should solidify things well. This particular batch of soap may end up being a little slow to harden up, but by six weeks of curing it should be similar to others. 

However, if the soap underneath is truly liquid and not set at all, that would indicate separation of the contents. That might be caused by not coming to a full enough trace. It can also possibly be caused by the particular fragrance oil you have used. Whenever buying a fragrance oil for the first time, I definitely recommend reading the comments from other users to see if anyone has had problems with a fragrance oil in cold process soap. 

But if the soap is indeed separated in the mold, never fear – hot process can fix the mess and turn it into usable soap. Simply turn out the contents of the mold into a crockpot set on Low and process, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fully incorporated and thick like oatmeal or mashed potatoes. Test it to make sure the lye is finished working, either with a pH testing strip or with the tongue-touch “zap” test. If the lye is done, pour into the mold and allow to set. It should be very firm within 24 hours and easy to turn out and slice. – Melanie



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