What Is Vanilla Soap?

Drue Tibbits

Vanilla soap is soap that uses a vanilla fragrance as one of its ingredients. The vanilla gives the soap a sweet scent. True vanilla extract can be irritating to some skin types, so synthetic vanilla fragrance oils are usually used when scenting soaps. Vanilla soaps are available in both liquid and solid forms.

Vanilla-scented soaps usually use synthetic scents because real vanilla extract can irritate the skin.
Vanilla-scented soaps usually use synthetic scents because real vanilla extract can irritate the skin.

Scented soaps are available in almost any conceivable fragrance. Some scents, such as peppermint or cucumber, are refreshing and invigorating. Other scents, such as vanilla or lavender, are considered soothing and relaxing. Vanilla soap imparts a sweet, warm fragrance and is a popular scent in many bath products.

Vanilla soap.
Vanilla soap.

Bar soap is made using a combination of sodium hydroxide and different combinations of oils. Once mixed, the ingredients go through a chemical reaction that neutralizes the sodium hydroxide and solidifies the oils. Vanilla fragrance oil reacts with the soap-making ingredients and causes the soap to become tan or brown. As a result of this reaction, vanilla bar soap is usually dark in color. Liquid soap, however, does not go through the same chemical process and can stay light colored even after the addition of a vanilla fragrance.

Very few commercial soap manufacturers offer vanilla soap in bar form. Not only does the vanilla fragrance turn the soap a dark color, the synthetic vanilla scent is not as stable as traditional essential oils. This causes vanilla soaps to lose their scent quicker than traditionally scented soaps. Many commercial soaps combine vanilla with other fragrances so that the soaps retain an attractive scent once the vanilla fragrance has dissipated.

Some hand-crafted soap makers offer vanilla soap as one of their scented soaps. Hand-crafted soaps are usually made without preservatives, and consumers of these specialty soaps are instructed to use them as soon as possible rather than keeping them in storage. These soaps are made in smaller batches than commercial soap. These smaller batches mean the soap is sold while fresh rather than waiting in warehouses for distribution.

Makers of hand-crafted soaps often create unique and distinctive soap fragrances by combining vanilla with other scents. The combination of vanilla and apple fragrances, for example, smells similar to an apple pie. A peaches-and-cream fragrance can be created by combining peach and vanilla fragrance oils. The scent of vanilla works well with either almond or orange essential oils. Vanilla is also used as a base for other scents to deepen and sweeten the fragrance of the soap.

Scented soaps are available in almost any conceivable fragrance.
Scented soaps are available in almost any conceivable fragrance.

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Discussion Comments


I've been using vanilla soap for years and every year, this type of soap is getting harder and harder to find. I don't know if people are losing interest in vanilla soap or if manufacturers are having a difficult time making it. I remember in the past, vanilla soaps were usually brown or a very dark tan color and that was completely expected. Now, a lot of the vanilla soaps are cream colored or white and I don't understand that. Consequently, the vanilla soaps I can find are less scented and the scent disappears quickly.

I feel like pretty soon, I'm going to have to learn to make soap in order to get good quality soap with a nice and strong vanilla fragrance.


@fify-- The article has already mentioned some of the issue with making vanilla scented soap bars. Some of them smell very good but I do recommend smelling them before buying them because the scent can vary a lot. It's true that these soaps usually have several other ingredients and additional scents. So it's best to smell it for yourself to see if you will like it.

There are many soap shops where you can check the products before buying them. And soap makers sometimes sell their hand made soaps at farmer's markets too.


I use a vanilla scented shower gel. I love anything with a vanilla scent. And I prefer using bath products with this scent because like the article said, it's relaxing. Vanilla just makes me feel better. I've never used vanilla solid soap before though. Does it smell as good as vanilla liquid soap or shower gel? If it does, I would like to give it a try.

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