Want to Build Your Own Successful soap Biz?

Tutorial: Activated Charcoal and Tea Tree Soap Recipe

You can’t reinvent the wheel but you can definitely take a new spin on it. I love a classic activated charcoal and tea tree soap recipe myself! Instead of doing an all black bar or monotone bar of soap, I wanted to design a soap that paid homage to the tea tree plant with it’s vibrant green and lovely buds. Let’s dive in!

Tutorial: Activated Charcoal and Tea Tree Soap Recipe
Tutorial: Activated Charcoal and Tea Tree Soap Recipe

This soap is sized for a 2.5 Pound Tall and Skinny Mini Basic Mold. You can resize it using a lye calculator for whichever mold works for you. As requested, the formula includes percentages for your convenience.

(If you aren’t sure how much soap your mold holds, you can find out with this guide to resizing your soap recipes to fit your mold.)

Soap Recipe Used

  • 2.5 oz Apricot Kernel Oil (8.2% of the oils)
  • 2 oz Castor Oil (6.6% of the oils)
  • 8 oz Coconut Oil (26.2% of the oils)
  • 9 oz Olive Oil (29.5% of the oils)
  • 8 oz Palm Oil (26.2% of the oils)
  • 1 oz Sunflower Seed Oil (3.3% of the oils)
  • 4.3 oz Sodium Hydroxide (5% superfat)
  • 10.07 oz Liquid (I use 7.07oz Distilled water and 3 oz Coconut milk, which makes a 30% lye solution total)

All soapmaking oils were purchased from Soaper’s Choice (Columbus Foods).

Fragrance Oil Used

  • 1.5 oz of Tea Tree Essential Oil

This essential oil is from Bramble Berry, but feel free to use any fragrances or essential oils that your heart desires.

Looking for essential oil blends to use instead? Check out the Essential Oil Blending Calculator here on Modern Soapmaking! 

Colorants Used

  • 1.5 tsp Activated Charcoal
  • 1.5 tsp Hydrated Chrome Green
  • 0.5 tsp Titanium Dioxide (Oil Dispersible)

All colorants were purchased from Bramble Berry, but feel free to use any colorants you like!

Additional Ingredients Used

PREP WORK: Slowly and carefully add the lye to the water and gently stir until the lye has completely dissolved and your solution is clear. Weigh out your soaping oils and set aside. I like to do these steps first to allow time for my lye solution and oils to cool down.

(Soaping at a cooler temperatures will allow you more room to play with swirling techniques. I recommend soaping around room temperature – 100° F. Read up here for more information on controlling trace in cold process soapmaking!)

Once your lye solution has cooled, add 2 teaspoons of Sodium Lactate and stir to dissolve. Sodium Lactate is a liquid solution that helps produce a harder bar of cold process soap and  aids in the unmolding process. It should be used at a usage rate of 1 teaspoon per pound of oils.

To premix your colorants, use 1 tablespoon of a light liquid oil like sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil per 1 teaspoon of mica. (Or use 1 tablespoon of oils from your soapmaking oils, if you prefer not to add additional oil to your recipe!) For this recipe, mix the activated charcoal with 1.5 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of Hydrated Chrome Green with 1 tablespoon of oil and finally, combine 1/2 tsp Hydrated Chrome Green and 1/2 teaspoon of Titanium Dioxide with 1 Tablespoon of oil.

Measure out your fragrance. I like to incorporate the kaolin clay with my Fragrance oil to help anchor the scent and to add slip to my soaps.

Slowly add your lye solution into your oils to avoid air bubbles, by using your stickblender or a spatula to break the stream while pouring.
Slowly add your lye solution into your oils to avoid air bubbles, by using your stickblender or a spatula to break the stream while pouring.

GET STARTED: Once your oils have cooled, place your stick blender into the oils and burp it to release any air bubbles. Slowly add your lye solution to your oils and stick blend until emulsified. Once emulsified, I like to add the coconut milk into batter and pulse to just combined.

POUR IT / SWIRL IT: Divide a portion of your batter into two additional containers while reserving a larger portion in the main bowl. The large portion will be colored using the activated charcoal, while the other two will be colored green and light green respectively. Once your containers have reached a uniform color, hand stir in the fragrance oil.

By hand stirring your colorants and fragrance oil our raw batter will remain more fluid allowing you time to play with your soap instead of thickening up too quickly
By hand stirring your colorants and fragrance oil our raw batter will remain more fluid allowing you time to play with your soap instead of thickening up too quickly
Pour the light green and green soap into the black activated charcoal soap to create an in-the-pot swirl.
Pour the light green and green soap into the black activated charcoal soap to create an in-the-pot swirl.

Next, using the black pot as your base soap, we are going to do an in the pot swirl. Using the darker green, pour it in 3 spots around the outside of the bowl, then pour the lighter green in 4 spots in the center.

You can pour the colors randomly into the pot, but I like to have a bit more control. If you want to mimic the swirl I did on the top of the soap batch, reserve a tiny bit of each color for the end. Swirl the colors separately in the pot and pour it into the mold.

Lightly swirl the colored soap into the black soap to create this activated charcoal and tea tree soap with an in the pot swirl!
Lightly swirl the colored soap into the black soap to create this activated charcoal and tea tree soap with an in the pot swirl!

FINISHING UP: After tapping down your mold to release any trapped air bubbles, scrape out any of the remaining batter into your mold. Using the remainder of the light green batter, dot it down the center of the mold, then add the darker green randomly on top, followed by the black. Taking a skewer, swirl the colors together without over mixing.

Swirling up the top of the activated charcoal and tea tree soap recipe in the mold!
Swirling up the top of the activated charcoal and tea tree soap recipe in the mold!

Spritz the top of your activated charcoal and tea tree soap with isopropyl alcohol to help avoid soda ash and insulate for 24 hours. Carefully remove from the mold and cut into bars, allowing the soap to cure for 4-6 weeks.

Cut and cured activated charcoal and tea tree soap recipe!
Cut and cured activated charcoal and tea tree soap recipe!

Want to see this soap being made before you try it yourself?

This activated charcoal and tea tree soap recipe featured in this tutorial is a vegan-friendly formula. Unlike many other Modern Soapmaking tutorials, this soap recipe is not a palm-free formula. It used a 5% superfat and a 30% lye solution. Feel free to adjust as necessary!

Share this post

Share on pinterest
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on email

Remember to keep it clean (oh, so punny). We moderate comments for keyboard warriors and spam, read our comment policy for more information. If you need a little extra TLC, please reach out so we can best serve you!

16 Responses

    1. Lye is used to make soap, no lye no soap! After saponification however no lye is left present in the soap BUT Glycerine is. So even though the recipe ingredients do include Lye and do not contain glycerin, the final bars of soap have no Lye and do have some glycerin. Soapmaking is Chemistry.

  1. Hi! I’ve tried this recipe for several batches, but my soap is not curing well. It’s very mushy and won’t adhere to the molds. It gets chunky pretty quickly when I’m pouring it, and it won’t smooth out no matter what I do. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. Hi Courtney,
      I’m sorry to hear that you have been having issues with the recipe. I’ve made this recipe time and time again with no issue. Are you soaping at a high or low temperature? That can make a difference as to how slowly or quickly your batter will emulsify. Sometimes fragrance oils can play a factor in how the recipe reacts as well.

  2. I made this recipe and everyone who uses it loves it and wants more. They say their skin feels amazing and pores are smaller. The color is beautiful and it poured easily and I had no issues with the swirl.

  3. Hi, my wife and I are about to embark on our first soap making journey with this recipe. We are a little confused however on the lye part. There is no Lye listed as an ingredient in the recipe however the first sentence under “Prep Work” instructs to “add the lye to the water”.
    The last ingredient in the recipe under “Soap Recipe Used is “10.07 oz liquid” and instructs the soaper to combine distilled water and coconut milk. Is this a mistake? Should it say to combine distilled water and lye?
    Any feedback would be MUCH appreciated as we are doing this primarily for Christmas gifts! Thank you!

    1. Hey, Tim,
      The recipe does call for lye, “4.3 oz Sodium Hydroxide (5% superfat)”. Sodium hydroxide is the type of lye you use for bar soap making. It sounds like this is your first time making soap, but this is not really the best recipe for beginners. You might want to do a practice run with no color, scent, or alternative liquid (meaning use water only) for your first time at the soap pot.

      Hope that helps.

  4. Great recipe (as always), but It would be a huge help to those of us living outside the USA if you could include metric equivalents in your recipes. Many thanks.

  5. This is a wonderful recipe for soap people with oily skin. My friend who uses proactive told me she no longer needs it! I am not making medical claims however it worked for her. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and the clay absorbs oil. This time I added some lavender oil to the tea tree oil. I can’t wait to see how it smells. I could not really smell lavender at all. Kenna thanks for being so generous to post awesome recipes.e

  6. Hi, do you have a particular % for the isopropyl alcohol you used at the end to spray? It’s not in your list of ingredients.

    Thanks!

  7. I cannot wait to try this. I have lots of teenage nieces and nephews who can benefit. I am a total n00b though and need to get a few basic recipes under my belt first. Thanks for the recipe! With regards the oils use, I have sunflower oil, but not sunflower seed oil. Is there a difference? Also, can I use sweet almond oil in the place of apricot kernel oil? I don’t have that either :/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.