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.
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?
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 moulds 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.
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)
- .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.
- 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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
Zap test the soap. If it zaps, leave it to cook a little longer. As soon as it’s zap free, you can melt and add your cocoa butter.
(You can use Phenolphthalein drops to test your soap. Not sure how to do that? This blog post on The Nova Studio will clear it right up for you or this guide here on Modern Soapmaking about pH testing soap could help!)
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.
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 moulding harder.
Using a spoon, spoon it into individual moulds, 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.
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.
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!