wet shave soap on a brush

How to Make The Best Wet Shaving Soap (Recipe Included)

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This post comes to your courtesy of Veronica.

Shaving soap. It's a big deal in the world of wet shavers, and now, having made it, I can see why.

I ran into some issues when I first started to research shaving soap. Stearic acid is considered to be one of the best ingredients to use at high percentages in a shaving soap - the stearic helps bind the bubbles together thickly, creaming a thick dense foam, rather than large bubbles.

But, stearic acid is palm-derived, and obviously if my business is entirely palm oil free, I can't use palm-derived stearic.

(Is your target market just fine with palm derivatives? Enjoy this tutorial on making shaving soap with stearic acid.)

I was at a bit of a loss until, while researching other things, someone pointed out that Soy Wax is amazing in soap, and did we know that soy wax was actually 87% stearic acid?

BINGO.

So I set about testing recipes, substituting soy wax for stearic acid. After a few okay attempts, I have finally landed on this wet shaving soap recipe, and I honestly believe it could be the best shaving soap around.

The Best Wet Shaving Soap Recipe

This wet shaving soap recipe is a hot process recipe using dual lye. Please make sure you're familiar with the processes of soapmaking before attempting this.

I used individual oval molds for this soap. It is more than full water, so while it is ready immediately, you should leave it to sit for a fortnight, in my opinion.

I used Soapmaker 3 to calculate the lye ratios - this recipe uses 60% KOH (Potassium Hydroxide) and 40% NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide), but you can use any cream soap calculator.

Shaving Soap Formula Used

  • 325g Soy Wax (11.46 oz)
  • 195g Coconut Oil (6.97 oz)
  • 65g Cocoa Butter (2.3 oz)
  • 65g Castor Oil (2.3 oz)
  • 796g Water (28 oz)
  • 44g Sodium Hydroxide (1.55 oz)
  • 73g Potassium Hydroxide (2.61 oz)

Extra Additives for Shaving Soap

  • .2g of tussah silk (small pinch) (optional)
  • 10g Sodium Lactate
  • 20g Bentonite Clay

Note: Bentonite clay is considered to be the best because it is slipperier than other clays BUT... please look at the INCI of your clay when you buy it. Often Bentonite is the main component in a lot of cosmetic clays. Kaolin will also work if you have it, and not bentonite, but bentonite is my preference. It also tends to be hydrophobic, so mix it with a little of your oils.

Shaving Soap Fragrance

  • 15g (.5 oz) of fragrance oil - I used Country Spice from Kody's Candles at just over 2% weight of oils. I wanted a light smell.

Prep Work for Making Shaving Soap

Split your cocoa butter into two equal portions and set one portion aside to be added after the cook. This is your superfat.

Weigh your oils and clay, and leave them to melt in a slow cooker (aka Crock-Pot). Soy wax may take a little while to melt, but it's okay, hang in there.

In a lye safe jug, weigh out your water and add your finely chopped tussah silk and your sodium lactate. Weigh out both of your lyes (NaOH and KOH) and add them to the water, stirring until dissolved as usual.

 Potassium Hydroxide Flakes

 Soy Wax, weighed out and ready for melting

 Solid Oils Ready For Melting

 Starting to happen!

Getting Started Making Shaving Soap

When your oils are melted, add the lye solution and begin to stick blend, stopping to stir with a spatula often. It will take a while to come to trace - I stick blend, then stir, then leave it alone for a few minutes, then repeat. Don't worry if it starts to separate, a quick stick blend will bring it back together.

Once you hit trace, put a wet towel over the crock pot, put the lid back on, and leave it alone to cook.

 Adding the lye water. Dual lye keeps the soap softer, allowing for easier lathering with a shaving brush. I've used 60% KOH and 40% NaOH here.

 Separation of oils and water, right before the soap hit trace. My mix was very foamy at this point. I need a new stickblender I think.

Hot Process Shaving Soap

Hot process is a lot of fun, but requires you to pay attention! Keep an eye on your soap and try to prevent yourself from stirring it too often. The goal of the full water is to give you soap at the end which is smooth and manageable.

At this point you can test your soap to see if it is done cooking. Use Modern Soapmaking's guide for properly pH testing soap. Done cooking? You can melt and add your cocoa butter. (Hot process soap that hasn't fully cooked will be fine. It will just take a bit longer to cure.)

Your batter should still be fairly liquid at this stage. Mine was a little lumpy where I stirred the slightly-more-cooked edges through. I wasn't aiming for true vaseline stage, because I wanted my soap to still be fluid.

 Wet tea towel over the slow cooker to hopefully keep the batter fairly fluid.

 The soap batter was slightly lumpy. I could have stick blended it smooth at this stage, but I didn't want to push it to go any thicker. Testing showed it didn't need to cook any longer.

 

Adding the cocoa butter superfat. You can see the slight skin forming on the soap. I just hand mixed like mad.

 

All stirred through and ready for molding.

Pouring Shaving Soap Formula Into Containers

Once your superfat is mixed in, you can turn your crock pot off and leave the soap to cool down a little before adding the fragrance. You don't want it too cool, however, otherwise it will thicken up and make molding harder.

Using a spoon, spoon it into individual molds, or shaving soap tins.

If you're using tins, please make sure that your tins are stainless steel, just in case. JUST IN CASE.

Leave it somewhere safe and dry to cool.

Because I used more than full water, I'll leave these shaving soaps to cure for 2-3 weeks before use. Hot process soaps technically don't need curing, but I honestly believe all soap is better when it's a few weeks old.

Shaving Soap Lather

For best results, I recommend using a shaving brush and bowl to lather this soap up. It gives amazing lather, very similar to shaving cream, which is stable and thick.

 This wet shaving soap gives a beautiful creamy lather.

The Best Shaving Soap recipe is an original formula created by Veronica Foale for Modern Soapmaking. It is palm-free, and uses a 7% superfat. To make this recipe vegan-friendly, omit the Tussah Silk. Feel free to share!

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