How to Make Cinnamon Bark Soap

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Mold and decorate your homemade cinnamon bark soaps creatively to give as gifts.
Mold and decorate your homemade cinnamon bark soaps creatively to give as gifts. (Image: belchonock/iStock/Getty Images)

With its warm, tantalizing aroma reminiscent of fresh-baked pastries and spicy Christmas cookies, cinnamon bark is also a wonderful natural additive in homemade soap. Cinnamon sticks, derived from the inner bark of new shoots of the cinnamon tree, are easily ground into a powder with a coffee grinder and then added to your soap to create pretty brown speckles throughout. With a few natural ingredients, you can transform a basic bar of white soap into yummy-smelling, luxurious hand-milled cinnamon bark soap in an afternoon.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups grated unscented white, hypoallergenic baby soap or pure vegetable soap (2 to 3 bars)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup palm oil
  • 1/4 cup sweet almond oil
  • 5 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil
  • 10 drops sweet orange, mandarin, tangerine, bergamot or ylang-ylang essential oil
  • Cinnamon sticks to make 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder, or store-bought cinnamon powder
  • Glass bowls or other glass containers
  • 8-cup heat-resistant glass measuring bowl
  • 2-cup glass measuring cup
  • Large saucepan
  • Glass droppers or pipettes
  • Hand grater
  • Food processor (optional)
  • Coffee grinder or electric spice grinder (optional)
  • Wood or metal drying rack
  • Sharp knife
  • 7-inch 2-1/2-inch diameter PVC pipe
  • Hacksaw (optional)
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Petroleum jelly

Measure the Additives

Gather together all the additives, soap, utensils and equipment you need. Experiment with the cinnamon, sweet orange, mandarin, tangerine, bergamot and/or ylang-ylang essential oils to create pleasing one-of-a-kind blends. Note the recipes for future reference.

Grind the cinnamon sticks in the coffee grinder to make cinnamon powder, or measure 1/4 teaspoon store-bought cinnamon powder -- place in a glass bowl and set aside.

Measure the palm oil and pour it into a glass bowl. Measure essential oils as per your recipe and pour them into a glass bowl. Measure the water and pour it into a glass bowl. Set the measured additives aside.

Cut the PVC pipe into 7-inch-long pieces with the hacksaw to make your molds, or buy molds. Sand all the edges until smooth, and wipe off the dust. Rub a thin film of petroleum jelly inside each mold to ensure easy removal of your hardened soap. Cover the bottom opening with several layers of plastic wrap, and secure with a thick rubber band.

Prepare the Soap

Grate the soap over a bowl using the hand grater. Process it further with a food processor, if desired.

Transfer the grated soap into the 8-cup heat-resistant glass measuring bowl. Add the palm oil to the soap.

Place the glass bowl containing the soap and oil into the saucepan. Add about 2 inches of water to the saucepan. Place it on the stove on medium-high heat.

Turn the heat down when the water begins to boil. Keep the water at a simmer, and mix the soap periodically as it melts.

The Three-Stage Melting Process

Watch the soap carefully as it melts and take note of its melting stages. In the first, the soap clumps together. Break up the lumps with a wooden spoon to incorporate the water into the soap. Continue mixing gently.

Second, the soap becomes smoother and starts to look like watery cottage cheese. Continue to stir it.

Finally, the soap begins to look like lumpy marshmallow cream -- known as the string or rope stage. After 10 to 15 minutes, all the water has now combined with the soap and the mixture has thickened. Remove the glass bowl from the saucepan.

Complete the Soapmaking Process

Add the essential oils and cinnamon powder to the soap, and then add the sweet almond oil. Stir well to thoroughly disperse the ingredients.

Spoon the soap mixture into the prepared mold. Tap gently to remove air bubbles, and then set it aside to harden for about four or five hours, or place it in the freezer until frozen solid.

Remove your hand-milled soap from the mold. Slice it to your desired thickness, and then set your soap disks onto the drying rack to cure for about three weeks. Turn the soap periodically to prevent warping, especially during the first few days.

Tips & Warnings

  • Grinding your own cinnamon is simple, but store-bought works just as well.
  • For a whimsical gift, wrap your cinnamon bark soap in corrugated cardboard tied with raffia and embellished with cinnamon sticks, a dried orange slice and a handwritten label featuring a fun name for your soap and a list of ingredients.
  • The sweet, tenacious scent of cinnamon is beautifully balanced by citrus-based essential oils. Create zesty and invigorating fragrance variations in your soap by custom blending a combination of sweet orange, mandarin and ylang-ylang essential oils, or substitute lemon, lime or grapefruit essential oils for the orange-based oils.
  • When melting the soap, it is imperative that it reaches the final string or rope stage before you proceed.
  • Cinnamon powder can be scratchy on the skin -- take note to use only the recommended quantity or less.
  • Cinnamon oil contains antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and astringent properties which may cause irritation in allergic individuals.

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