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The Secret to the Absolutely Best Soap Recipe

Your perfect soap recipe probably doesn’t exist. Yet.

Tired of testing endless recipes from randos on the web, never finding the perfect one? Well, I’m going to let you in on the secret.

After years of formulating soap recipes for soap companies (including two of my own), I can create a soap recipe with a specific list of characteristics without even touching my supplies. That skill came from learning the basic building blocks of a soap recipe and how to combine them.

The Secret to the Best Soap Recipe

What’s your perfect soap recipe wish list?

What are your must-haves when it comes to making the perfect bar soap?

  • The best soap recipe produces a bar with a luscious creamy abundant lather.
  • It creates a rock hard bar of soap that is long-lasting (but not too long-lasting!)
  • A perfect soap formula cleanses without being overly drying and has just the right amount of skin-nourishing oils and additives.
  • And of course, the ideal soap recipe wouldn’t cost more than $1.50 per bar to produce.

Sound like music to your ears, rockstar?

Well, maybe.

The thing about the best soap recipe?

The perfect soap recipe is as unique as you are. It’s the holy grail of soapmaking.

Therefore, the features I like in my soap are probably different from what you like (and different than what your customers like!) I love creamy tight bubbles. When I drop a bar of soap on my floor, I love when it’s so hard that it’s completely unscathed.

Also, I like to lather a bar of soap in my hands (while you might like to use a loofah.) And I have semi-soft water on tap (while you might have extremely hard water.) These factors change how a bar of soap can perform.

So, that means the perfect soap formula for me is not necessarily the perfect soap recipe for you. And more importantly, what your customers feel is the best soap recipe might be wildly different from either. (Honestly, they probably aren’t as picky and keen to minute changes as we are, as soapmakers!)

First, list up what’s important to you in a bar of soap. (And, if you are selling, remember, what’s important to you is what your customer wants!

Takeaway: The perfect soap recipe is different for everyone. Decide what matters most to you and your customers.

Perfecting an existing soap recipe

If you are starting with an existing recipe that you already like, just a few adjustments may turn it into a soap formula you love. (But, if you are starting from scratch, things get a bit more complicated. More on that below.)

If you are looking to increase the size of the bubbles or the amount of lather in your soap recipe, try:

  • Increasing the percentage of oils that contribute to bubbly lather, like coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and babassu oil
  • Decreasing the superfat of the total oils, as too many free oils can cut down on lather
  • Using lather increasing additives like sodium citrate, sodium lactate, sugar, or rosin
  • Replacing the water with a lather booster that contains sugars, like beer or wine
The original samples from the Lather Lovers swap in 2012
Additive Testing – Lather Lover’s Swap 2012 (Check out the results right here!)

If you are looking to stabilize or sustain lather in your soap recipe, try:

  • Using castor oil at 5% to 10% of your recipe. (Be forewarned, using more than 15% castor oil tends to make the bar sticky, tacky, and rubbery.)
  • Adding or increasing oils that support lather, like almond oil, lard, tallow, cocoa butter, palm oil, shea butter, or sunflower oil
  • Decreasing oils that do not contribute a lot to lather (or hinder it), like olive oil

If you are looking to increase conditioning in a soap recipe, try:

  • Replacing the water with alternative liquids, like goats milk (or other milk), yogurt, or aloe vera juice
  • Increasing the superfat of the total oils to condition the skin
  • Adding or increasing nourishing oils, like apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, or sunflower oil
  • Adding “luxury oils” at 5% to 10%, like argan oil, evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, meadowfoam oil, pumpkin seed oil, or wheatgerm oil

If you are looking to increase bar hardness in a soap recipe, try:

  • Increasing your hard to soft oil ratio, by using a higher percentage of hard oils (oils that are solid at room temperature)
  • Adding stearic acid at 0.5% to 1% of the total soap formula
  • Including beeswax at 1% to 5% of the total soap recipe
  • Adding sodium lactate at 1% to 3% of the total soap formula

Want a soap recipe to start off with?

Check out my soap making tutorials to see if a recipe strikes your fancy, like this recipe featuring avocado or this one using coconut milk. 

Takeaway: It may seem simpler to start with an existing recipe, but starting from scratch gives you more control.

Formulate your best bar soap recipe from scratch

To formulate effectively from scratch, you must first learn about the properties of the oils you have available and their fatty acid profiles. Next, with that base knowledge, you can start putting a recipe together that ticks all your boxes for a perfect soap recipe. (Additives are the very last thing to consider when formulating a soap recipe.)

Formulating based on soap oil properties

If you want to give it a go formulating your own soap recipe, try this basic soap formula builder:

  • 60% Hard Oils
    • 25% to 45% Lathering Hard Oils
    • 15% to 30% Conditioning Hard Oils
  • 40% Soft Oils
    • 20% to 30% Nourishing Soft Oils
    • 5% to 10% Luxury Soft Oils
    • 5% to 10% Castor Oil

Hard oils are solid or semi-solid at room temperature.

Soft oils are liquid at room temperature.

Lathering hard oils include coconut oil, palm kernel oil, babassu oil, and murumuru butter.

On the other hand, conditioning hard oils are oils and butters such as palm oil, cocoa butter, lard, tallow, kokum butter, illipe butter, sal butter, mango butter, and shea butter.

Some examples of nourishing soft oils in a soap recipe are high oleic sunflower oil, high oleic safflower oil, olive oil, canola oil, almond oil, apricot kernel oil, and avocado oil.

Luxury soft oils include oils like evening primrose oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, hemp oil, rosehip oil, and pumpkin seed oil.

Lastly, castor oil stands in a league of its own. There are no comparable oils due to its unique fatty acid profile! Castor oil is well worth its inclusion in a small percentage in a soap recipe to sustain beautiful lather.

Remember, these are all rough guidelines to help you find YOUR perfect soap recipe.

Formulating your soap recipe based on fatty acids

Soap formulation software often makes use of fatty acid profiles behind the scenes. However, fatty acids are rarely explained. For instance, SoapCalc uses fatty acid profiles to determine their soap formulation quality numbers.

An oil’s fatty acid profile is a tally of what percent of each type of fatty acid that oil contains. A soap formula’s fatty acid profile is the tally of the combined oils in that recipe. Each type of fatty acid brings different characteristics to the party. So, look at your wish list for your perfect soap recipe and match your fatty acid profile to that.

(We actually surveyed the community to find out other makers’ favorite fatty acid profiles. You can see those and our own fatty acid preferences for body soap in the post: Most Popular Fatty Acid Profiles in Soapmaking.)

Oil properties are directly related to the fatty acids an oil contains. For example, coconut oil is high in lauric acid. That’s where coconut oil gets it’s lather boosting ability. And it is solid at room temperature because lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid.

But, familiarizing yourself with fatty acid profiles, rather than only the properties of individual oils is a smart move. Doing so allows you to:

Fatty acid characteristics

The major fatty acids found in soap oils are:

  • Lauric acid – a saturated fatty acid that contributes hardness, cleansing, and big fluffy lather
  • Myristic acid – a saturated fatty acid that contributes hardness, cleansing, and fluffy lather
  • Palmitic acid – a saturated fatty acid that contributes hardness and stable creamy lather
  • Stearic acid – saturated fatty acid that contributes hardness and stable lather in soapmaking
  • Oleic acid – is an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the conditioning/moisturizing abilities of a soap
  • Linoleic acid – an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the conditioning/moisturizing levels, as well as silkiness of the lather
  • Linolenic acid – an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the conditioning/moisturizing levels, and is typically present in very low amount in soap formulas
  • Ricinoleic acid – an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the conditioning/moisturizing levels, and the stability of lather

(Capric, caprylic and palmitoleic acids are generally at such low quantities that they don’t contribute to soap qualities in a noticeable way. However those fatty acids are similar to lauric and palmitic but more conditioning.)

The home stretch…

Once you have a recipe that looks good on paper, you are 90% of the way to your perfect soap. And you’ve narrowed down what you need so you don’t waste money on extraneous supplies. Try out your recipe, changing one variable at a time, until you are happy!

Do your first trial run without additives. All too often, we see folks trying to fix a bad recipe with additives when they’d be better off going back to the drawing board. And, it’s helpful to know the base color of your soap and if you have issues controlling trace before you add color and scent to the mix.

Takeaway: Don’t depend on additives to fix a bad recipe.

If you are totally stuck on trying to perfect your recipe: I can help you get there with my exclusive video class over at The Nova Studio. In plain English, I’ll teach you the chemistry behind soapmaking, the significance of fatty acids, the ratios to formulate different kinds of soap, and how to troubleshoot. Therefore, you’ll never rely on anyone else’s recipes ever again.

Sign up for my Formulating Soap Recipes eClass

Do you have any other tips or tricks to formulating the best soap recipe you want to share? Leave a comment and let me know!

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190 Responses

  1. What a great article! Thanks for the quality information.

    I get extra wow factor adding Moroccan Red Clay, it seems to add richness and slip.

    1. when I make soap I try to keep as natural and simple as possible. I found dividing my ingredients into thirds or fourths works best. So say 25 % coconut oil, 25% shea butter, which makes a nice hard bar, 25% olive oil, and 25% palm oil. I color only with natural ingredients for the most part, and also found the room temperature method so easy and nice at times. Love my soap.

          1. Lye contribute to the Chemical reaction needed to turn Oils and fats into soap. In order to create soap three things are needed, Water, Oils/Fats and Lye. the final product (SOAP) has no remaining Lye in it.

      1. I am yet to learn how to use natural colours. I heard these colours can change in the process of saponification and/or curing..

        1. I have no experience, but I have seen on Youtube that some natural colours will change quite a lot. And quite a lot of colours change to beige-brown-muddy-greenish type of colours. But there are also a lot of soap safe colours to use – those who doesn’t change much or at all, or changes to a nice colour.

          Some natural colours will change because they act as a PH strip. For example turmeric. In high PH, as it is when you add it to cold process soap, it will be a bright and dark red-orange. But as the PH drops down to closer to neutral, the colour will change to yellow. They say turmeric has three colours, yellow, orange and red. Red in high PH and yellow in low ph, and orange in between. So turmeric can be used as a rough PH indicator.

          So if a turmeric coloured soap stays red after curing, well, then it must be a lye heavy soap. And if it changes towards yellowish, the PH should be safe. So I guess adding a pure turmeric coloured line in your soap is very convenient, just look at the soap and read the approximate PH level without any further testing. (But since I have not tested this myself, it is best to do regular PH testing as well, at least to begin with, to see if it works like in theory).

          They say that clays in different colours do not change at all in a soap. Charcoal as well. Iron oxide is safe. Some soapmakers use only natural colours, so you can watch their Youtube and see if the colours change or not, and what they eventually change to. The best channel I have found is Hila All Natural Soaps in Israel. Hila in Israel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj9T2KhIkKBHyx_pFs3HMzA/videos

          1. Hello,
            I wanted to ask if you dont mind; how would I know If I over/under did lye into my batch in the end product?
            I did my first cp batch a few days ago .. im not even sure when to slice it ..
            When will it be safe to use .. and what is the risk of over doing lye?
            Thanm you ^_^

          2. Liliea,

            Well, first of all, if you used a good lye calculator and weighed your ingredients carefully, your lye should be OK. You can usually slice your soap after 24 to 48 hours, By then, most ot the lye should be neutralized. One way to check is to touch your tongue to a bar of soap. If you feel a zap, it is either lye heavy or not totally saponified, Give it a few more days and try it again. If you still get the zap then it is probably lye heavy and not a good batch. Overdoing the lye would make a hard, crumbly, very harsh, very drying bar, that could possibly burn or irritate your skin. You don’t want to use that, but it can be fixed by doing a rebatch. If you underdid the lye, chances are your soap would not set and get hard enough to cut, it would be oily and runny, cracked and leaking oil. Otherwise, let the soap cure (harden) for 8 to 9 weeks before you use it. Hope this helped.

          3. I use only natural colours in my soaps: spirulina, beetroot powder, tumeric, clays, charcoal, cocoa powder, maca powder. Never had issues. Always get beautiful colours.

          4. I do not like Iron oxides because they leave a ring in the bathtub. I have not found this to be the case with other colorants.

          5. Rune,
            I make turmeric soaps and are not lye heavy. I think it depends how much turmeric powder you add in a soap recipe. My turmeric soap turn from dark burgundy red to dark brown when they cure.

        1. Room temperature means the temperature you would feel comfortable — not hot, not cold. Generally speaking, around 70 degrees Farenheit (21 degrees Celsius.) Coconut oil, cocoa butter, lard, palm oil would be examples of hard oils. Anything you can pour at room temperature would be considered soft oils.

      2. Lori, what superfat do you use? I’m curious because I’m experimenting with my recipes right now, and I know usually the higher the coconut oil, the higher the superfat. In my upcoming tester recipe I’m trying to have my coconut oil at 26%, which I have put through a lye calculator, but just curious on your superfat. I love hearing every bit of knowledge an individual has gained from soap making, and you have helped me embrace a higher percentage of shea butter than just 11%. 🙂

      3. Hello my name is Judy and I have bad psoriasis so I decided to make my own soap, what are the measurements of the oils and butters? Like how many cups of each thank you 😊

    2. I have had that clay quite sometime and have been scared at the color it would turn out. In cp soap was it burgandy or more of a brown?

      1. I’ve used lots of different clays in my soap, and the color they are in my CP soap is pretty close to the color of the clay I used. You can get a pretty bar by dividing your batch in half at light trace and adding clay to one half. Add titanium dioxide to the other half or just leave it natural. Alternate pouring them in your mold, and then do a simple swirl. Don’t overdo it. The colors of clay are all earth tones, so not bright colors, but done with a white or off white swirl they look really nice. Hope this helped.

  2. I appreciate your advice through this article. I found the answer to my prayers and the new tips for my next batch of soap. God bless you and happy soaping!!!

  3. Fantastic article! Lots of homework here!
    In terms of bar hardness, when you suggest; “Adding sodium lactate at 1% to 3% of the total formula”, does this also include the lye and water amounts? I always thought it would be the ‘total amount of oils.

    Also, would I add powdered sodium lactate at the same amounts as liquid? I have powdered form and confused on this.

    1. When I list an ingredient or additive as a percentage, it’s a percentage of the entire formula for me. Obviously, if you use full water, you will end up with a smaller portion than if you used a discounted water formula. Find what works for you, and then stick with it. If you always infer the percentages as a percentage of oils, then do that, for the sake of consistency.

      Most liquid sodium lactates (which are what I use) are 60% aqueous solutions (sodium lactate in water.) So if you are using powdered sodium lactate, it is stronger than the liquid, and I would start at half the usage rate.

        1. Were do you get sodium lactates?
          I just grated a container full of old soap ends, put a bit of water in and microwaved it on defrost, when hot I beat it up with a spatula and packed it into soap boxes from bar soap that I just bought. Rich

          1. Rich, if you haven’t found the answer to your question yet, you can purchase sodium lactate from soapmaking suppliers.

            Do a google search for ‘soapmaking suppliers’ in your country and you should find a huge list to choose from.

          2. You will most likely find a huge list to choose from, if you don’t live in Norway! Because we have absolutely 0, zero soap making supply stores! So I can of course not find a thing I need here, but have to order online. And that is not very easy either because we are not EU members, and have customs regulations. A long story short – I can just buy cheap crap in small portions, otherwise I will be charged a lot i customs and VAT, often double VAT – Norwegian and the country I buy from. So that’s why my soapmaking is still in the beginning. I need a lot of supplies, and in Europe, there is not 1 shop that has everything, like those megastores in America.

            So when everybody write, use this oil and this butter and this and that, and dump in a little shea butter + a ton of mango butter and sodium lactate and castor oil, and not to forget argan oil and rose fragrance. Well, no, I have to use what I can find at the grocery store. And we by the way have the worst grocery stores in the world. Too many of them, and they are all far too small, so there is hardly any oil to find at all. To make soap here, the only option is castile, sunflower, rapeseed or coconut (if you want a way too expensive soap). I have made castile soap with success, but it needs to be improved for hardness and lather. And I want to continue with soaps as simple as possible, because it is very convenient to just go to the grocery stores and buy what you need instead of surfing a ton of online shops and pay a lot of freight from different vendors. Oils, lye, natural colorants and additives like honey, oats, milk powder etc can be found at the grocery store, and for me, that is the right place to begin. And I think for every beginner, the grocery store is the best bet. Sodium lactate is not a necessity. Not the butters either. Oil and wax can do the same roughly the same job. But some fragrance is necessary sometimes, and that can be found in a grocery store depending on the selection they have (here, they don’t have it, of course).

            Sodium lactate can by the way be made by lactic fermentation of sugar. I tried by using lactic bacteria tablets crushed in sugar and added water. Nothing happened as I could see. I dumped it in the soap. But I throwed the soap in the bin, since I burned it heavily, milk and oats an sugar and everything (my first attempt at the high temperature countertop hot process method). I even made the lye water into a lump of jelly 😀 So don’t believe those who say you should dump in some cornstarch in the lye water for that luxurios feeling. Cornstarch is the vegan silk. And that does not work, believe me. I knew that heat + water + starch would make jelly, but I thought the lye would destroy the starch, like the way lye dissolves hair or whatever you have in your sink that the drain opener eats up.

            Fragrance, yes, I have found something I will use as my trade secret, so I can’t tell by now. I don’t know how well it will work, because I have not tested yet. But I have like ten shopping carts full at ten vendors. Just have to deside what and where to buy first. But what I will say that fragrance don’t have to be limited to only two things – essential oils or fragrance oils. There are so much to be found that is not in those two categories. Something can be meant for another use than to fragrance soaps, and as long as they are skin safe (preferrably sold to be used on the skin), they are good to go (as long as they don’t fade to much, have added ingredients that will not go together with soap and this and that). So testing is needed. And I have not tested my trade secret line of fragrances. But I’m sure they will work.

            For me, I don’t like fragrance oils at all. Not that I have bought any. But I suspect it is the same stuff that you get in store bought liquid soaps. And they can sort of smell nice in a second or two. But they all smell very syntetic and chemical, and very “short”, like not any depth or anything. Like a whiff of a plastic scent.

            I bought some essential oil, but I was not happy with them at all. With two of them yes, but not the rest. Essential oils does often not smell nice out of the box, sort of. I find many have a harsh and strong solvent like scent. Maybe bad quality, I don’t know (mine was cheap). And they will often need blending with other essential oils. So I guess fragrance oils are way easier to use than essential oils. But I’m not totally there yet that I want to even buy a fragrance oil. I can buy synthetics, yes, but I’m not willing to risk money on buying fragrance oils. I guess I have to buy a few handmade soap on Etsy that has been made with fragrance oils, so I can see if they are just like some Palmolive or Axe from the grocery store.

            I do need something for a sandalwood fragrance though. I have googled discussion groups, and found out that those who searched for a natural smelling sandalwood fragrance oil did not find it. And since they could not find it, but most was soapy and laundry smelling, I suspect they have used the cheapest and most synthetic ingredients to make fragrance oils. Because it should exist many aroma chemicals that are very close to true sandalwood. So I will start by purchasing aroma chemicals at perfumers supply stores. The natural sandalwood is too expensive. Oud and roses as well, plus many florals.

            But I’m sure there are some very, very good suppliers of high quality fragrance oils out there, that are really usable. But for a newbie, it is impossible to do reasearch, since there are so many to chose from, and on forums, everybody says that this and that vendor is the absolute best, the next person say the total opposite. I tried, but I gave up, could not find out if this or that supplier is the worst crap or the highest halleluja. But If they can make a true sandalwood fragrance that does not smell soapy plastic laundry, well, then I believe in them and am willing to buy buckets full of it.

      1. I have a question regarding measurements. How do you measure hard oils if it calls for 12 oz of coconut, shea butter, etc is it weighed in it’s hard form or melted? I run into this all the time with not just soap, but with my lotions, etc….. Thank you 🙂

  4. Great explanation but can you give me some examples of the breakdown? I’ve listed what I think you mean here. Is this correct?

    60% Hard Oils

    *30-45% lathering hard oils (Coconut Oil, Palm, Palm Kernel, Shea, Cocoa Butter, Tallow)
    *15-30% conditioning hard oils (Olive, Apricot Kernel, Babassu, Hempseed Oil, Jojoba, Peach Kernel)

    40% Soft Oils (Liquid at Room Temperature)

    *20% to 30% Nourishing Soft Oils (Sweet Almond, Safflower, Grapeseed, Rice Bran, Olive, Avocado, Sunflower)
    *5% to 10% Luxury Soft Oils (Macademia Nut Oil, Babassu Oil, Argan Oil, Mango Butter, Safflower)
    *5% to 10% Castor Oil

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      I consider butters to be conditioning hard oils. And Babassu, Palm, PKO, tallow, and lard to be lathering hard oils. Babassu and PKO ride that line between lathering and conditioning, IMO – what you want to watch here is cleansing factor. Hard oils are oils that are solid at room temperature, soft oils are liquid. I consider Apricot Kernel, Olive, & Peach Kernel to be a nourishing soft oil, and the other soft oils listed in your list of conditioning hard oils to be luxury soft oils (jojoba, hempseed). It really is best to look at the fatty acid profiles and individual properties to formulate for a good synergy, but it’s hard to go wrong under those guidelines. I hope that helps!

      Kenna

      1. Now I’m totally confused! I thought hard oils were those solid @ room temperture and SOFT oils were liquid @ room temp. How is olive oil a HARD oil??? How do I go about identifying soft and hard ‘liquid’ oils? When is it ‘best to use’ those oils?

        1. Hi Christine! I’m not sure where you are getting that olive oil is a hard oil! Stephanie commented above asking if it was and I clarified that it IS a soft oil. 😉

          (When I originally replied, I copied her comment to make sure I caught everything. Maybe you saw it before I took out the copy & paste?)

          Olive oil can contribute to a hard bar, as in the final bar of soap is hard versus soft, but the oil itself is a soft oil (and a nourishing one!)

          To know when it’s best to use whichever oils is up to the fatty acid profile of the entire formula and what you are trying to achieve. The guidelines in the blog post itself are basic beginner guidelines to try & tweak recipes, but only specific fatty acid profiles can really give hard fast answers.

          I hope that helps clear it up for you! Formulating is not easy, and takes a lot of learning!

          1. Quick question, as the oils in their natural state have certain properties in terms of aromatherapy ie carrier oils. My question is what happens to those properties when you add lye solution, surely its changes or are those healing properties retained into the soap bar?

          2. Spot on this is great stuff lady ! How did I just find you , probably cause I was busy making soap…. but I want to make more and reading this blog is pure knowledge. It’s inspirational to talk with other soaper people.

      2. OMG!!! I have never read an article from anyone (in the soap world….or anywhere else for THAT matter) with more astounding knowledge…
        absolute-genius….and the best attribute I admire in these articles is the fact that you have not a hint of arrogance!!! I must say that it is so refreshing to read content from a truly talented person [from whom I can trust] the info that’s given. You are an anomaly my friend! Good luck in your upcoming endeavors & ♡God Bless♡
        Krissy (Ca)

      3. when i try to increase lauric and myristic it seems like i need to increase the babassu or coconut oil, i though over 30% would create a drier bar of soap. what are my options

  5. Wonderful information! I love that you love reaching out and bestowing some of your wisdom on your soaping friends. You’re pretty awesome, for sure!

  6. I hadn’t seen the photos of the different test soaps before – well done, Kenna ! I’m going to try your Argan and Avocado soap this weekend….that green color is gorgeous.

  7. Enjoyed reading your posts. Wondering at what temperatures are the oils and lye in the Argan + avocado soap recipe. The greens are gorgeous in this soap. I wanted to try this recipe this evening.

    1. Hi MJ,

      I haven’t taken temperatures in my everyday soapmaking in many years, so I really don’t know. I always soap near room temperature where my oils or lye solution containers do not feel too warm when I place my hand against them. Hope that helps!

      Kenna

      1. Thanks Kenna,
        Your soap and use of colors is fantastic. I have wanted to go lower temps and was not sure about the results. Your reply re- enforced my thoughts.

        Looking forward to making some soap!

        MJ

        1. With a few exceptions, I soap at the lowest possible temperature — a highly scientific one here — when my thoroughly blended oils start cooling to the point where the hard oils just start to “think about” looking opaque in the blend. To be more helpful, it’s when my oil blend feels very cool on the outside of the bowl, and I feel more resistance when I hand-mix them. Maybe slightly opaque around the edges. My lye is at room temp. Does anyone have better luck soaping at warmer temps?

    2. Im looking at lowering my water, Do i have to increase an oil to make up for the lack of water?
      Or do i just stick to my recipe and cit the water amount?
      Im new to all of this…

      Thanks

  8. Thank you so much for this article, Kenna! It is exactly what I have been looking for. I’ve been experimenting with making my own soap for about 20 years. Before that I always followed a recipe. It’s not always easy to get the wonderful, even exotic oils that one can only dream about. . . living out in the country means that shopping online for my oils is the cheapest method. But I can’t always afford the things I want. this article will help me achieve the results I’m looking for, even on a limited budget. I just need to learn how to balance a recipe using what I have, and this is now my “Go To” page! You’re a godsend! Thanks!

    1. I hear ya, Lisa! Even though I’ve read some soap studies that imply different oils don’t really make a difference in the finished soap (once the oils react and do their thing, it all comes out the same), they were done by big labs that work for big companies. In the hand-made world, we know there’s a huge difference in lather, visual appeal, and so on. After I discovered Kenna’s site, I’ve done a lot more experimenting. I’m having a blast!

      One more thing. Depending on where you live, you can find similar exotic oils at comparable prices, but do MUCH better on shipping if you find a big supplier closer to you. You might be scratching your head and thinking, “duh!” but it took me awhile to find the wholesale people who still sell small-enough amounts on my coast. Please email me if you want suggestions!

    2. I have never followed somebody else’s recipe since the first batch of soap I ever made I have researched my oils , read online at everything soap related I could find, read numerous blogs and discussions boards and have found that the best place to go for soapmaking is soapcalc. Com. It enables you to learn how to create a balanced recipe , sort oils and Co pare by values and it explains all the properties and even has an awesome spreadsheet you can down load to learn about which oils are best for bubbles, creaminess, hardness etc. They have a page where you put in the oils you want, you chose the percentages and it creates your recipe and has been 100% accurate for me since day one. And it will tell you the qualities of your final bar. This has been a life saver and enables me to create the perfect recipe for me because I can tweak the recipe as I go till I get to the point where my final recipe has the values I’m looking for. Then you can print and save your recipe so you end up with a beautiful recipe book for reference for all your batches.

      1. I hear ya! I can’t leave a recipe alone. I always wonder why it was formulated in that way, and how I could make it better. In fact, I’ve used only Kenna’s recipes without tweaking — hmmm, could I have trust issues?! 🙂 Seriously, formulating recipes is a joy for me. On the other hand, I’ve used up a lot of raw materials this way; sometimes an experiment is a flop. With some oils, I get very different results with unrefined, rather than refined, oils. I make lots of notes, and I’m guessing that you do, too.

      2. I’m planning my first bar of soap (mostly using the oils I have) and am referring to SoapCalc. What I miss about the program is the recommended values of the different properties. For example, how does the iodine content of my bar make a difference and what values are preferable? Same for conditioning/cleansing, how much is too much? Also, it doesn’t predict the consistency of my soap. Is there an info page that I can refer to regarding these properties?

  9. Hi! Thank you so much for this information! I am curious….how do I know the difference between nourishing and luxury soft oils? Is there a list somewhere showing which is what? I mean…I understand that luxury oils would be the ones that are more expensive such as argan and evening primrose, but where does safflower belong?

    1. Kenna, I hope it’s OK if I jump in here! I make both soap and skincare, mostly facial and body products. When you consider oils, it helps to look at their fatty acids and other components. I love, love, love all of these ideas, so please forgive me if I get infatuated with your question!

      * Different fatty acids have different effects on skin. I’m most interested in oleic, linoleic, and linolenic fatty acids for skincare. Oils high in oleic acid are very stable and have longer shelf lives. Oleic acid seems to moisturize well and also has anti-inflammatory properties. In soap, oils with higher oleic fatty acids could have a greater moisturizing effect. But cheap can be good! Plain ol’ soybean oil is high in both oleic and linoleic! Sesame oil is a hero, too.

      * Having said this, high-oleic safflower makes fabulous soap, in my opinion. On the other hand, I’ve had good results with regular safflower in acne products because it’s so high in linoleic acid.

      * Unrefined oils can also contain polyphenols, vitamins, and other compounds. Some have proven to be great for skin. However, there’s growing research that shows some unrefined oils are not-so-good for skin, so be careful with the “natural is always better” idea. Here’s where it gets difficult in soapmaking: If you settle on some good oils with effective polyphenols, which ones survive the soap-making process? Is it better to use your money on exotic oils for lotion and serums? I’m not sure; I’m still trying to figure it out.

      Marketing appeal is another consideration. Even though I include an ingredient list on my soap, I’m still wondering how to promote my ingredients ethically. For example, if I’m not sure whether the skin-loving properties of argan oil survive in soap, should I flash it in neon?

      I hope this helps, even without a black-and-white answer. Happy soapmaking!

  10. Interesting. I frequently use 20%+ castor oil in my cp recipes and one formula has 30%. Not a single bar has ever been ‘sticky’ or otherwise less than perfect; customers love them. Of course a lot may depend upon other oils and ingredients used, but I generally only use 3 oils – 4, on rare occasions at an absolute maximum.

  11. This was reassuring information to read through as it assured me that the formulations I’ve worked up are good ones after all. I’ve been using coconut milk for a long, loooong time and love the creamy dense lather it brings to the bars. I’ve also tried aloe juice, coconut water, mead, champagne, beer, to name a few and the sugars these all have in their own chemical makeup are ideal partners in foam for soaps! They bring a truckload of bubbles to the shower and the feel with the silk is out of this world! So glad to know that hitting on those was the right choice! Thanks for the affirming read! Love the fun way you have of putting forward all your experience and knowledge! 🙂

  12. Hi, thank you for the very informative article! Pardon me, can I just clarify something..

    “Adding beeswax at 1% to 5% of the total formula.” was recommended to help increase hardness.

    Is it (oils) + (beeswax of 1-5%) = 100% or that beeswax is 1-5% of the total oils?

    Thank you very much!

  13. I love my soap recipe when using slabs and log molds, however, I’m not a fan when using it with cavity molds. Is there a rule of thumb percentage wise, specific oils, etc..when using cavity molds that have lots of detail?
    Thanks!

  14. Ok here’s a recipe I was thinking of using it is my OWN formulation I don’t copy recipes I like to formulate my own. Anyways here’s the recipe and I’d like to know will this be a good recipe for soap to make a hard bar. I’d like a nice hard bar with creamy bubbly lather. I’d also like to add sunflower oil into the equation so not sure how much to add. My total oil weight is 35 oz and that’s the weight I need for my soap mold. Thanks you so much this is a very valuable and informative blog and I have learned some new things I didn’t know 🙂
    Canola oil 10% … Castor Oil 8.57% … Coconut Oil 12.29% … Olive Oil 17.71% … Palm Oil 11.43% … Shea Butter … 8.57% … Soybean Oil … 14.29% … Lard 17.14 % that’s my percentages of oils I’d like to add sunflower oil what percentage would I add and keep my total weight at 35 ozs? I’d like a nice hard bar of soap with creamy luxurious lather . Thank you.

    1. play around with the soapcalc calculator plugging in different weights until you get the results you want.

    2. You cannot base your oil weight on the size of the soap mold. You must consider the liquid weight plus the oil weight in order to be accurate. If you need 35 ounces for the mold, your oil weight should be 23 ounces assuming 38% water as percent of oils. Your recipe is very conditioning but low out of normal range for cleansing. You should increase the coconut oil for cleansing, and decrease the conditioning oils a bit.

      1. Actually, you can base your oil weight on the size of the mold. The formula, for a rectangular/square mold is Length times Width times Height times .40 gives you the amount of oils to use.

        For example, for a mold 6″ wide, 10″ long, and 3″ deep, the formula is 6x10x3=180 180×0.40=72, so that mold needs 72 ounces of oil.

        I use the formula all the time, it works perfectly.

  15. Thanks for the information Ms. Kenna.

    I appreciate this formula you’ve made.

    I was thinking of a soap to make with Aloe Vera Juice, Holy Basil Extract, Neem Extract, Yucca Root Extract and a SMALL Amount of Wintergreen Oil. but makes a tight creamy lather while being a VERY hard bar that lasts a long time.

    I was also thinking of using a superfat of some sort, would you have any recommendations?

    I’d appreciate it.

  16. Hi, I have tried making soap with basic ingredients, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, lye and distilled water. At the very end when I am pouring it into my molds(using milk cartons) it starts to turn into curds. The oils tends to separate. What am I doing wrong. Can’t figure it out:(

    1. Did you follow a measured recipe? If your oils tended to separate, either you didn’t bring the soap to trace, or you didn’t use enough lye.

  17. Great article!

    Part of being a Soap Witch or achieving some mastery of this craft is figuring out a recipe. I appreciate your insight and contribution to the soaping community and my knowledge.

    I find adding a touch of silk adds to the touch of the soap as well. 🙂

  18. I have found out that my soap dries better and has a good lather if I use a little sea salt to my batch. Is this a good idea? Would you keep adding the salt to all the soap batches or just certain ones? Thanks!

    1. Hi Donna,
      I do add salt when I use soft oils. It makes the bar harder. I also use sugar or liquids that contain sugar (milk, wine, beer, etc.) to increase lather if needed. Citric acid on the other hand helps get rid of insoluble salts that you can see as bathtub rings. While preparing soap for my hair I always add citric acid. I have hard water at home and if I wash my hair with the soap not containg c.a., it gets matted and sort of oily. In such a case I need to rinse it with a solution of c.a. and water (or vinegar and water). If c.a. is added to the soap, no additional rinsing is needed.

  19. Thanks for the tips, I would just leave out the Palm oil and would encurage others to do the same. I won’t lecture about it but you can look up why it’s harmful.

    1. Hi Ali….I use powdered goat’s milk and I just stick-blend it into my melted oils before adding the lye/water solution. I use one scoop per pound of oil. Works beautifully! Hope this helps.

  20. Great article! Very helpful in developing our own formulas.

    I must share my castor oil experiences. I once made a soap with 25% castor, which is of course, quite a bit higher than normally suggested. The resulting soap lathered beautifully–big, long lasting bubbles and not waxy feeling, nor did the soap “drag.”

    My second experience was with a handmade soap I recently bought from a friend. Reading the label, I noticed castor oil listed first and automatically reasoned the ingredients were not listed in order of predominance. Using it proved otherwise, however. The soap felt waxy. It was hard to wet and work up a lather. Once it did, however, the bubbles were huge and stuck around. After several uses, it did lather up faster and turned out to be a more pleasant soap than in initial use, although nothing to cause me to change my formula.

    Incidentally, the bar did not last long in the shower, but was never waxy or rubbery. It was hard and unbendable, as well.

    I’d have to say, oils do make a huge difference, and trying various oils in different percentages is fascinating for soapmakers!

  21. Hi! Thanks for the information above. It will certainly help when I start formulating my recipe. My problem is elsewhere however. I see almost everybody providing % for oils. I, on the other hand, do not even know what % of oils vs water vs lye to use on what will be my 1st batch of soap. I do know that I will need 2 litres of soap mixture to fit in my soap box. How much of that 2 litres should be water, how much lye, and how much oils? I understand that the amount of lye to use will depend on the type(s) of oil in the recipe. Beyond that, I am at a loss. I am afraid that I have yet to come on a webpage that provides simple answers to those questions. If you could help, it would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    1. If I could interject a moment (I was leaving a comment and then saw your post). First, take a deep breath; we have all been there at one time or another. 🙂 Second, take the actual measurements of your mold as opposed to the liquid weight measurement. So Length x Width x Height. Take that number and multiply it by .40. The number you end up with will be the amount of base oils you need for your recipe. (example: my loaf is 11″ x 4″ x 4″ = 176 x .40 = 70.4 base oils) Then, take that base oil number and put it into a soap calculator like the one found at soapcal.net. On that recipe calculator, you put the 70.4 number into the section that says “weight of oils” and continue filling it out until you’ve completed everything. Then have the calculator do the calculating for you. It will tell you how much lye, water and fragrances you need to use using the base oils you put into the calculator. If you add them all together, you will have the total weight of your entire batch. Hope this was helpful. Good luck!

  22. Wondering if you ever had the issue of yellow streaks or blotches throughout your soap? I made some soap using the same exact recipe that I have used for years, but lately, it seems like I get DOS and yellow streaking in my soap even while it is curing in the first couple weeks. Have you ever experienced that before? It is very frustrating and I am baffled. Thanks for any help!

  23. Adding stearic acid for hardness. At what point is it added. Do you add to lye solution. To the oils or at trace? Does this cause acceleration or seizing.

  24. Hi. I’m new to soapmaking and I’ve made about 4 batches of HP soap, but they all seem to dry out my hands. Am I supposed to let it sit for a week or two? I’ve been letting it cook in the crockpot for 1 hour. I’ve followed recipes to their exact measurements using a scale. Also, I cannot smell the oils, with the exception of the Jasmine one I’ve tried. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Hi Angela,
      I have made several HP batches recently and I cook on low. I do use goat milk powder and therefore like to stir every 15 minutes. My cooks take 30 minutes. My first stir after about 15 min. is of the oils separating and you can use your stick blender or whisk or spoon to incorporate it all back. Cover and let cook another 15 minutes give or take, stir. Keep doing this until it turns a shiny color. I cook it a little longer. You’ll see the edges turning white as it folds in. When stirring it looks a little like vaseline and it sounds like a sticky swoosh, swoosh, swooshing sound, then it is done. This has worked for me every time. For a more fluid batter, I have read that adding a big dollup of yogurt after the cook will make it more fluid. Will have to try this soon. May take a little longer to cure excess liquid out though. Hope this helps you out. Happy soapin!

  25. Keanie this is absolutely powerful I like this article it has really changed my view about soaps especially the bars. I made up my mind right now to produce my own soap. Actually I was surfing the web to know how a good soap is produced because I designed a plant to make soap production easy seeing the paraphernalia in turning the reagents mixture to form soap.
    Thanks a zillion for this mind blowing article and God bless you in all your endeavors…….keep up the good work

  26. Hi, I was wondering what you think of this recipe. Do you think I should use less coconut because it might be drying? I find if I use less coconut I don’t get enough lather and bubbles even with the caster oil. Thank you.
    Olive oil – 29.5 %
    Coconut – 29.5 %
    Palm oil – 23.4 %
    Shea butter – 11.6 %
    Caster oil – 5.2 %
    5% super fat.

  27. I used 10% superfat on my last batch of soap and processed using cpop method. My when I removed my soap it felt oily on the outside. To eliminiate this should I superfat at 5%?

    1. Even though this is an older post, there is nothing wrong with 10% superfat… I do CP soapmaking and soap with 7% superfat. Sometimes, depending on the oils in your recipe, it takes a few days for the oils to be completely absorbed. Your soap will not be perfect in 1 day. Patience grasshoppers, patience. My recipe is more soft oils so I wait 2-3 days before unmolding and sometimes another day or 2 after that to cut… Don’t change your recipe abruptly or drastically … If I am unhappy with my recipe, I tweak it in small percentages at a time … make small batches in a smaller mold…. NEVER try out a new recipe in large amounts … hope that helps.

  28. Hello there.. I was wondering if its possible to add anything directly to Melt & Pour Soap base to make it foamy and more bubblier? The Stephenson’s white opaque soap base seems ‘flat’ when you lather it with your hands, and I am now looking for something to use as an additive to increase its foaminess… please help if you can anyone x

    1. Did you ever find out what would make the lather better with Stephensons Melt and Pour white base? I am almost ready to throw mine in the garbage. Thanks. Shelby

    2. Unfortunately, though I worked with many different types of Melt and Pour soap base I never found anything that would improve the lather. MP has its’ advantages, for sure, like you don’t have to wait for cure time, you can get straight even layers and so forth but it cannot be customized for specific properties like large lather the way Cold Process and Hot Process can. You can add oils to it after the fact but I wouldn’t really recommend it, it only makes the resulting bar softer and reduces lather. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer to your question.

  29. Hi,

    Thanks for the above article. Very useful info. I am from India and interested in making soaps. Looks like your web site will help me in my endeavour.

    Thanks

  30. Thank you for the useful information, as an entrepreneur i dont have much idea about a soap but i have a thought of unique type of soap, but the main question is do i first need to make a formula for my soap , because my product is organic and wont use any chemicals to it.

    Thank you

  31. Kindly mention the percentage of sugar in recipe for improving the bubble or any idea to increase bubble…. kindly mention the rate of sugar. Thanks from Pakistan

  32. This may sound odd, but my favorite recipe to date is 100% coconut oil with 5% superfat and a generous spoonful or two of castor oil added per half kilo of soap – roughly – after trace. Cleans beautifully, and does not dry (unless I forget the castor oil). Another variation is 80% cocconut oil and 20% kokum butter (first adding lye to coconut oil and then adding kokum butter after mixing some). And then the usual castor oil.

    Haven’t found such recipes online, but this really works very superbly for me.

  33. Hi Kenna,
    Thank you for this amazing article. It is my first time to make soap and I am wondering whether you can help me to decide how much oil I should use for each category to achieve the awesome soap you mentioned? I want to use olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, Shea butter and mango butter. Would this combo work well you think? Many thanks!!!

  34. Hello, first let me say that this is by far my favorite soap making blog!! I’ve been trying for days to take a soap recipe that I found on this page, the Argen oil and Avacado soap recipe, and alter it to fit what I have on hand but still make sure it’s beautiful and luxurious. And for the life of me I can’t find an alternative recipe that has the properties I want. When it comes to conditioning I’m way on the low end of the scale. What alternatives would u suggest for babbusu oil? My final recipe ended up just like urs with the same super fat and lye discount, but I was going to use Argen oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, cocoa butter, and jojoba as well as the Avacado purée, and aloe Vera juice as some of the water in the recipe. Could u tell me where u think I’m going wrong? Am I using to many conditioning oils somehow? And my second question is how do u go about adding in things like aloe juice abd avacado purée into a soap calc? Usually I use soap calc but there’s no where to input that info, and I would think that ingredients like that would greatly change the outcome of the soap. I’m sorry About my long windedness- I’ve just been playing with this recipe for days and I just can’t get it right! Thanks everyone in advance. Any advice would be great. I haven’t quite gotten to formulating my own recipes. So far I’ve either been following them exactly or changing recipes that o find to fit what I need. I guess u can say I’m certainly no expert!!!

    1. Hi Maggie,
      I will try to answer you. SoapCalc does not have anywhere to input additives like botanicals and alternate liquids. IMO the est time to add the avocado puree and aloe juice would be at trace. Be sure to discount your water to account for the additional liquid. That is the important step. Babassu oil is similar to coconut oil and is used similarly, but is less drying.

      Tonight I modified one of my own recipes that was too cleansing and not conditioning or bubbly enough in my opinion, even though it fell within the acceptable ranges listed on SoapCalc. My original recipe was very basic – just coconut, palm, olive, and shea OR cocoa butter. When I changed it, I decreased both the coconut and palm oils, increased the olive oil, increased the cocoa butter, skipped shea butter, and added about 5% castor oil to my recipe. I ended up with a recipe that is just as hard but slightly less cleansing and way more conditioning/bubbly. Good luck with your experiments. I know it’s frustrating and such a waste when a batch fails but don’t give up!

  35. Hi there. I’ve been making soap for a few years now and love it! I recently started making goats milk soap and now that I’ve experienced it’s creamy goodness I want to keep making that type of soap. I really want to use avocado puree in my cp soap. Here’s my question… do I just add the puree to my soap as is? Or do I need to decrease my water per how many ounces of puree I put in? Unfortunately soap calc doesn’t have a puree option to let me know. I also want to add in green sea clay. If you could let me know if I need to decrease my water per ounce of puree I would really appreciate it. I’ve been trying to find avocado recipes online but they all have oils I don’t have. I use coconut, olive oil and avocado oils. All these recipes have babussa oil?

    1. You do need to decrease your water when adding avocado puree. You also need to decrease it a bit for the clay. I would add both puree and clay at trace and with the clay, it’s easiest if it hydrate it with a little water first. I have learned that the hard way!

    2. Avocado soap is one of my favourites. I add my avocado puree and green Clay at Trace. I do not make any adjustments to the water or milk in the recipe and find that it produces a beautiful, bubbly, hard bar of soap.
      Happy soaping!

  36. Hello!

    I love your site! I was wondering how a fragrance/essential oil calculator works if you want to use more than just one essential oil in your cold process soap recipe. For example, if I wanted to use lavender, orange, and patchouli in my cold process soap recipe, what percentage of each should I use?

    Thanks!

  37. I have a babassu question. I have used this straight out of the jar for years, as it melts on contact with skin and really helps my eczema. I recently purchased some that is so hard I have to dig it out of the container and melt it in a pot (wax-like), as hot water did nothing. After applying it, I always have it hardened white around my fingernails. The seller would/could not explain this to me, (after multiple emails). Is there some refining that does this? I can find no info on the web.

  38. I m a recently started soap maker. Just 2 soaps i hv prepared first time yesterday through cold process, just basic coconut oil based soap. Will u guide me? I hv taken Ingredients & there quantity- 200ml coconut oil, 90ml minral water & 0.75oz lye. First u tell me – is it ok? Then first, i pour lye in water, & wait for 100○F temperature & during this waiting period, i melted coconut oil, without observing temperature. It was just luke warm, when i mixed lye in it & lye was 100○F. Tell me is it ok? Then i stir it well by whisk for around 90 min. but even aftr 90 min. of stiring, surface was oily. Plz tell me is it ok or what was the reason? But then i put it in the molds for 24 hrs covering by cardboard & 2 towels, & aftr 24 hrs, when i opened it, it was enough hard (not much) & shaped. Now i want to know about the curing period for these soaps. Plz answer keeping in ur notice the ingredients & their particular quantity. Waiting eagerly for ur reply. Guide me plz. I m very much interested in making soap but not financially strong. Thnx.

  39. Hi, great article. Planning start soap making industry in kenya. Will apprecite much get this knowledge from you.

  40. what can I use to retain the weight and shape of my finished soap.I.e after some weeks the finished soap will b reducing in shape what can I do to stop this
    thank you for your time.am into cp soap

  41. Would you say coconut oil can cause a soap to be drying to the skin? I’ve added coconut oil to some of my recipes to help with the hardness of my bar of soap, plus it’s super cheap! Also when adding beeswax to cold process soap to you have any advice or tricks to be successful?

    1. Ivy
      Coconut oil is one of nature’s greatest gifts to mankind. (Forgive my enthusiasm). It’s said to be drying because it’s a natural degreaser. It wipes out any kind/form of oil where it’s been used . The larger the percentage in a bar the more oil stripping it is. Read above comments; a lady said she uses 100% coconut oil with SUPERFAT & it’s perfect for her skin while myself bathing with that would feel like I’ve been sun-dried after taking a mud bath.
      It’s all about preferences. Our bodies are different. But if you’re sellin g those bars, I’d advise strongly to stick with 25-30%.
      Hope this helps.

  42. I’m a newbie a this, just bought a few bars of castile soap. 130 gr. bars. I’m trying to make soap bars for my dogs as one of them has allergies. I cannot for the life of me figure out the ratio for blending in what I want in the soap, but will not give up..anyway, I like to add shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, beeswax, vitamin E and a little color. The thing is, I cannot get my soaps to lather. Any suggestions as to finding the ratio so my bars will lather? I’ve used soap fram DerMagic and they are perfect for my dogs, but too expensive, especially sine I have to have them shipped overseas. Any advice would be appreciated!
    Thank you,
    Shirley from Iceland

    1. Hi Shirley
      If you’re trying to make a soap from scratch for your dogs, go to soapcalc.net. play around by adding the oils you want like the coconut oil, Shea Butter, beeswax at different percentages until you get the desired properties. Whatever amount of water you’re given after pressing the “calculate recipe” substitute with aloe Vera instead. It’s simple. That’s my favorite part of soap making. Good luck

  43. Hello,
    What about liquid soap? How would the ingredients and procedures differ from what you listed for bar soap?
    Thanks!

  44. Hello, I am a novice soap, I was amazed by your site
    very well done, I am following your advice, to improve my technique
    I just wanted to thank you for your time and your advice
    (Sorry for the translation, I do not speak English)
    regards

  45. Hi, I’m searching for the perfect shaving soap recipe. I’ve tried a few. My husband likes one I actually made as a face wash, which I got from mommypotamus.com. It’s 100% coconut oil superfatted at 20%. I added some French green clay. The only drawback is that, while the lather is abundant, it’s not stable or longlasting. I was wondering about keeping the superfat at 20% and adding 5% castor oil as a percentage of the oils. Any thoughts?

  46. Hi! Great articles – thanks so much. Do you think this might produce a hard bar of soap? I’m considering trying it with the hot process crock pot method:

    Coconut Oil (76 degrees)16.00 oz 40.0 %
    Olive Oil8.00 oz 20.0 %
    Shea Butter (Refined)16.00 oz 40.0 %
    Total40.00 oz 100 %

    Is it okay if my hard oils (coconut and shea butter) combined total 40% and the soft oil, olive oil, make up for 20%?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer 🙂

  47. I had been making soap for only about 4 months when I came across this article. I followed your recipe for a perfect soap, played with it for a couple of hours and found the perfect recipe for me! My customers love it and it is the epitome of a balanced bar-in amount of cleansing, conditioning, and lather. So far, I only use that one recipe and just change fragrances and colors. Thank you!
    I do have one question…..how do I really know how conditioning my recipe is, if I substitute the 100% of water with goat milk?? I like using soapcalc.net, but it doesn’t have a place for a water substitution…..any ideas???

    1. PS- I’ve been making and selling soap now for over a year and want to change up my recipe a little…..maybe offer a bar that is more conditioning, or more cleansing, etc. I’m hoping I can factor in the properties of the goat milk into future recipes for a more accurate description/understanding of the bar’s qualities.

  48. Great article, there really is no perfect recipe, it’s just trial and error which is part of the fun.

  49. Kenna Hi,
    this recipe you wrote is great. However I have one question. Could you please write recipe for black soap from Africa? People in Africa are using this soap for babies and it is a part of their culture… This is what I have on my mind http://www.bubblemelody.com/bath-products/exotic-soaps/

    I bout one for me and it is quite good, now I would try to make one by myself and maybe to try selling it online?
    I’m not familiar with handmade soap and step by step recipe would be great 🙂 Also, I believe it would be good for your blog which is great already.
    Thanks a lot

  50. Hello! i see you have a lonnnnnnnng list of comments and im sorry to add to it, i just wanted to say thank you for all you help and info. Ive NEVER made soap and ive beem living off my own homemade scrubs because ANY commercial soap dries my skin and after just one bath im ashy! Which led me to a beautiful natural life of homemade shea and cocoa butter creams with a host of oils to nourish my skin. Yet still depressed about being soapless. So! I thank you immensely and pray that you are repaid in full by the Lord of the worlds with all goodness in your life. *mwah*

  51. hi, i would like to try to make a soap with almond, coconut, argan and may be aloe vera, usually i make my soaps hot process since they can be sold inmediately, but for something like this if i absolutely have to do cold process i wouldnt mind, i havent found a recipe with those oils in the soap which leads me to think may be are not the best mix? i dont have a problem adding castor oil to harden nor lard, any ideas on how could i make a soap like that? thanks!

    iris

  52. Hello
    Thanks for the article. I am coming to this a bit late 🙂 but i have a question. You wrote “the ideal soap recipe wouldn’t cost more than $1.50 per bar to produce.” Is this just materials costs or it all costs (material, time etc…)? Because unless i start buying things by the drum i don’t see how i can reach that amount.

  53. where does fractionated coconut oil considered a soft oil? it’s liquid at room temperature but still a coconut oil which is a hard one

    1. Hey there, Alex,
      Fractionated coconut oil has had its long-chain (aka saturated) fatty acids removed, rendering it a soft oil for soapmaking purposes.

      Hope that helps!

  54. Use a good soap calculator. Put in your oil quantities and it will tell you how the soap qualities are rated, softness lathering, cleansing, ect. You can adjust the oils to get a perfect bar of soap.

  55. For soap making I love my holy trinity: olive pomace, virgin coconut oil and the king of fats: lard. I am in love with lard.

  56. I noticed an area that mentions oils to sustain lather but some oils were mentioned that have anti-lathering properties based on controlled tests.

    https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/single-oil-cold-process-soap-lather-tests/

    Check that out, very interested and in personal experience I’ve seen nothing to contradict those findings. A lot of oils people think help the lather do not, lather is weak, too dense and oily, sticky. Cononut Oil had the best results, the studies isolated oils and used no lather additives to yield proper results.

  57. Anyone try a little ammonia, as well as borax and washing soda? I like bubbles that survive greasy dishes and clothes. Coconut oil works great for me, but I’m trying to use the beef tallow I rendered also.

  58. My soap is giving me good lather, conditioning and all but it’s not washing off completely with soft water. Even after using more amount of water i can again produce a very small amount of lather. But if you use a little amount of hard water its gone completely even without a trace. What to do to overcome this obstacle. Any idea is appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Sriram,
      Soft water will always do that. It feels slippery, but it’s actually a cleaner rinse than hard water. The slimy feel is generally not residue but actual hydration of the skin thanks to the lack of minerals interfering.

      The difference between the two is why commercial soaps use chelating agents. Sodium citrate and tetrasodium edta are the two most common and readily available. You can read more about them in our posts about testing additives.

      To reduce the slick feeling of soft water, you can:
      – use less soap. Most folks are in the habit of using more soap than necessary.
      – use potassium soap rather than sodium soap (liquid rather than solid). Some softened water is sodium ion exchanged, which can feel worse with sodium soaps. (And vice-versa with potassium ion exchange)
      – modify the formulas to be higher in lauric and myristic acid. Most formulas aim for super high oleic content, which isn’t necessary with soft water.

      Hope that helps!

  59. Okay, so I’ve made a soap recipe of my own before, and I’ve been trying to work on a new one. I’ve used Kenna’s basic soap making formula and am stuck for what to put for the lathering hard oil. I frequently use coconut oil and lots of it!(or seems like a lot compared to the rest of the recipe). In this new recipe I’ve put some coconut oil but wanted to add another hard oil.
    I picked palm kernel oil after reading both the best soap making recipe ever and he revised one on fatty-acid profiles etc.. first of all this product seems nearly impossible to find and settled on buying something that looked very similar, (after talking to the health food store clerk, who though the product must be it due to texture and colour). I google the packaging to find out it was palm oil that had just been refined bleached and deodorized, which is probably the farthest thing from what I wanted, and will be returning it..

    Does anyone know of anything I can substitute the palm kernel oil with that will still contribute to a finished product of a hard bar and lather? Please help!

    Thank you :))

    1. Palm kernel oil is common at online suppliers, which are generally more economical and offer a fresher product than grocery stores. You can snag our list of suppliers to help you in your search.

      That said, most palm kernel oil you find is going to be refined, bleached, and deodorized (RBD). We tend to recommend refined oils because, by definition, they have less dirt/debris/impurities.

      Specialty suppliers who cater to soapmakers are also helpful with questions and can make suggestions for you. They often list the melting point and/or consistency of oils at room temp, so you will know if an oil is hard or soft. Dont forget to look at hard butters as well!

  60. Hello Kenna,

    Can you tell me the measurements for oils? What is the ratio we need to keep in mind for carrier oils and essential oils?

  61. Wow, thanks for the tips, i was doing experiments but now you gave me good answers ans inspiration! I’ll share the love for home made products around me .

  62. I am hoping that someone can help me with this problem. I’ve been making cold press soap for personal consumption for a couple of years. The problem I have is that when I add essential oils, they seem to dissipate with a short period of time. I’ve had great luck with fragrance oils maintaining their lovely scent for well over a year, but not essential oils.
    Is there something in particular that must be added to the soap for the scent to hang on to?

  63. KENNA, hello! My name is Paulette, I just turned 58 years old, but I feel young in my spirit. I came across your site a few days ago. If I do not say anything but THANKYOU SO MUCH for your giving of soap knowledge. These tips are wonderful. You are truly a soap queen. I guess you can call yourself Queen Kenna. You are awesome. We all have gifts and this is surely one of yours. May the Lord Our God continue to bless you with a desire to share with others. You know I see so much online. I am a realist that Loves Jesus, type of person and you are real to what you like to do and it shows. May you continue to bless others online and thanks again Kenna.
    Paulette C.

  64. Thank you for sharing such invaluable information. There is a ton of info out there and many research hours go into finding it, reading and deciphering to end up with enough info to “begin” a recipe. That’s where you start building your own experience which can take months and years in soap making to produce great soap. I’m very appreciative of soapers like you that care enough to help others and pass on your knowledge and experience to help us be better.

  65. I recently started a liquid soap business hoping to use it to support my educational pursuit and financial need but its not of market competitive quality status yet. Please help me. My name is Daisy.

  66. I loved your blog and thanks for publishing this!! Here you will come to know about the secret for the best soap recipe. I am really happy to come across this exceptionally well written content. Thanks for sharing and look for more in future!!

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