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Tutorial: Shaving Soap Recipe with Stearic Acid

Last year, Veronica shared her palm-free shaving soap recipe, and it’s been quite the hit! However, a lot of soapmakers have been requesting two modifications:

  • A wet shaving soap formula with palm oil (not palm-free)
  • A palm free shaving soap formula without soy

Today, we’re going to tackle the first request: a traditional shaving soap made with stearic acid, which is often derived from palm oil (and sometimes, animal fats.) We’ll have to dive into a palm-free and soy-free version another time (but yes, it is possible!)

Tutorial: Shaving Soap Recipe with Stearic Acid
Tutorial: Shaving Soap Recipe with Stearic Acid

This shaving soap recipe can be poured into a cylindrical mold and cut into bars, poured into individual cavity molds, or poured directly in tins. It’s completely up to you! The soap during the pour is extremely smooth due to the higher water content, and the inclusion of sodium lactate. With each section, I’ve included notes as to why the formula is written how it is and should give you enough information to make decisions about making any changes!

This shaving soap recipe with stearic acid is sized for a small batch, giving you about ten shaving soaps coming in around 3.5 to 4 ounces each. You can resize it using a lye calculator for whichever mold works for you. As requested, the formula includes percentages for your convenience.

(If you aren’t sure how much soap your mold holds, you can find out with this guide to resizing your soap recipes to fit your mold.)

Shaving Soap Recipe Used

  • 10.8 ounces Stearic Acid (45% of the oils)
  • 5.8 ounces Coconut Oil (24% of the oils)
  • 3.4 ounces Olive Oil (14% of the oils)
  • 2.4 ounces Hemp Seed Oil (10% of the oils)
  • 1.7 ounces Castor Oil (7% of the oils)
  • 2.78 ounces Potassium Hydroxide (5% superfat)
  • 1.67 ounces Sodium Hydroxide (5% superfat)
  • 23.36 ounces Distilled Water (16% lye solution)

I bought these soapmaking oils from Soaper’s Choice.

This shaving soap recipe uses two types of lye, at a ratio of 2:3 (two parts Sodium Hydroxide to three parts Potassium Hydroxide or in other words, 40% NaOH + 60% KOH), which creates a softer soap that lathers easier. For a softer soap that will lather quicker, increase the KOH to 75% of the total lye amount and use only 25% NaOH. The lye amount is calculated at a 5% superfat, however, an additional ounce of oil will be added later that will increase the superfat to about an 8% superfat.

This shaving soap recipe also uses a lot of water (more than “full water”) to give the soap fluidity for easier pouring. Since this shaving soap recipe is cooked in a crockpot, you will see some water loss and evaporation during the process, especially if you uncover the crockpot a lot! I wouldn’t recommend reducing your water amount below 17 to 18 ounces (20%  lye solution).

Essential Oil Blend Used

  • 8 grams Ho Wood Essential Oil (23% of the blend)
  • 6 grams Amyris Essential Oil (18% of the blend)
  • 6 grams Folded Orange Essential Oil (18% of the blend)
  • 5 grams Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil (15% of the blend)
  • 5 grams Turmeric Essential Oil (15% of the blend)
  • 4 grams Juniper Berry Essential Oil (11% of the blend)

These essential oils are from Liberty Natural, but you can use any fragrances or essential oils your heart desires.

Additional Additives Used

  • 1 ounce additional oil
  • 1 ounce Sodium Lactate
  • 0.5 ounce Silk Amino Acids
  • 0.5 ounces Vitamin E
  • ½ teaspoon Nettle Leaf Powder
  • ¾ teaspoon Turmeric Powder

For this specific soap, I used one ounce of Argan oil as my additional oil, but this is where you can really customize and choose your favorite skin-loving oil without worrying about throwing the formula off too much. (If you want to replace other oils in this formula, you’ll need to replace them properly.)

I also added silk amino acids and vitamin E. Unlike other wash-off products and soaps, the lather of this soap will actually sit on the skin for a while and these additives add a little more love to the skin feel and post-shave skin conditioning. The sodium lactate is primarily serving as a viscosity aide, to ensure the soap is easier to pour into the mold or tins, but it has the double benefit of being a humectant, too.

I chose nettle leaf and turmeric as colorants, as well as for their purported skin benefits. However, as this soap is not a drug, no claims can be made about those benefits and their primary purpose is as a colorant.

PREP WORK: Weigh out your oils, place them in the crockpot, and set them aside.

In a lye-safe container, add both the sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide to the distilled water. I recommend adding the potassium hydroxide (KOH) first, as it will make a whooshing sound and bubble up a little from the amount of heat/energy created by a KOH solution. Once the KOH is fully dissolved, slowly add the sodium hydroxide and stir until dissolved.

In a glass or stainless steel jar/bowl (do not use plastic!), measure your additional oil, your essential oil blend (or fragrance), vitamin E, and your colorants (if using). These additives are all oil-soluble ingredients, so they can be prepped together.

In another container (plastic is okay here), measure your sodium lactate and silk amino acids. These additives are water-soluble additives, so they can be prepped together. Unlike cold process soapmaking, you do not want to add your sodium lactate to your lye solution. It will be added after the cook to make your soap a little easier to pour!

The dual-lye solution, the oil soluble additives, and the water soluble additives prepped for the shaving soap!
The dual-lye solution, the oil-soluble additives, and the water-soluble additives prepped for the shaving soap!

GET STARTED: Turn your crockpot on to low and wait for your oils to melt. The stearic acid will take a long time to melt on its own, and you may crank your crockpot up to high for a short period of time. Do not try to melt your stearic acid by itself – it will melt faster if it’s mixed with the liquid and soft oils!

Stir the oils periodically, as the movement of the oils will help spread the heat out and melt the solid oils/fats faster.

This shaving soap recipes contains a ton of stearic acid, which has a very high melting point. The melting process will take a while!
This shaving soap recipe contains a ton of stearic acid, which has a very high melting point. The melting process will take a while!
Add your other oils to your stearic acid, and stir the oils occasionally to prevent hot spots.
Add your other oils to your stearic acid, and stir the oils occasionally to prevent hot spots.
Allow the stearic acid to fully melt before moving on to making your shaving soap!
Allow the stearic acid to fully melt before moving on to making your shaving soap!

MIX IT UP: Once all of your oils are melted, you are ready to get started! If you turned your crockpot on high to melt the stearic acid, you will want to turn it down to low. Temp your oils, and if they are below 180° F (82° C) move right along with the next step!

Slowly pour the lye solution into the oils. When you do so, your lye solution will be cooler than your oils and will create a really cool effect as the high melt point fatty acids temporarily resolidify. (I captured it in this quick video I posted on Instagram!)

After pouring your lye solution into the oils, stick blend the lye solution and oils together. At first, they will accelerate quickly and turn into a texture similar to mashed potatoes. Keep stirring and mixing, and the shaving soap recipe will loosen back up.

Pop the lid back on your crockpot and cook the soap on low. Every fifteen minutes, stir your soap with a spatula so that the soap on the bottom doesn’t burn. (Meaning check your soap after the first fifteen minutes and every fifteen to thirty minutes thereafter, keep an eye on it! Different crockpots heat differently, and you could overcook the soap!)

(Based on comments, it’s become clear that everyone’s crockpots and methods for keeping it covered are greatly affecting their results. If your soap begins to thicken like a taffy but has completed the other phases pictured, stop cooking it and move forward. Refer to the photos below to identify the stages, the last photo in this series is the “taffy” consistency you should be looking for. There is no harm in ending the cook “early”, so don’t be afraid to act!)

When you add the dual lye solution to the hot oils, some of the fatty acids will resolidify. It looks like something is going wrong, but it's perfectly fine!
When you add the dual lye solution to the hot oils, some of the fatty acids will resolidify. It looks like something is going wrong, but it’s perfectly fine!
Initially, the shaving soap recipe will hugely accelerate into the mashed potatoes phase of hot process soapmaking. Keep stirring and it will loosen back up!
Initially, the shaving soap recipe will hugely accelerate into the mashed potatoes phase of hot process soapmaking. Keep stirring and it will loosen back up!
Once the shaving soap has become a nice fluid consistency, put the lid back on your crockpot and let it cook.
Once the shaving soap has become a nice fluid consistency, put the lid back on your crockpot and let it cook. You could move forward with additives and pouring here, if you would like.
Your shaving soap should look a bit like this - some translucent areas, but not all, thick but not unmanageable, still pretty wet and glossy.
The thickest you should allow your shaving soap should get is like this – some translucent areas, but not all, thick but not unmanageable, still pretty wet and glossy.

WRAP IT UP: After your soap has cooked and gone through all of the above stages, turn your crockpot to the warm setting (if it has one!) Give the soap a few minutes to rest and cool down, stirring it helps!

(In my crockpot, I cooked this soap for about an hour. After lots of others soapmakers have tried it, we’ve discovered that different crockpots are heating the soap differently – your crockpot may run much hotter than mine! It’s not harmful to “undercook” the soap, the initial heat will jumpstart saponification.)

Once the shaving soap is below 180° F (82° C), you’re ready to mix in your additives and pour. It’s important to be prepared. Once your temperature starts dropping, it will continue to drop dramatically. If you wait too long, the soap will start to harden and will make it difficult to pour. Be prepared, move quickly (and steadily – the soap may not be caustic anymore but it’s still hot!)

Stir in all of your additives: you can add your oil phase and water phase additives separately or all together. Personally, I like to add the water phase additives first, as the sodium lactate helps loosen up the soap a little bit more. Using a stick blender will help incorporate the additives quickly!

If you are reading this before whipping up this soap, a common mistake has been adding the additives (sodium lactate, extra oil, vitamin e, essential oils, silk, etc.) before or during the cook. They should be reserved for AFTER the cook as they will help loosen the soap back up!

Add your additives to the shaving soap, including your additional oil, essential oil blend, vitamin E, sodium lactate, silk amino acids, and colorants!
Add your additives to the shaving soap, including your additional oil, essential oil blend, vitamin E, sodium lactate, silk amino acids, and colorants!
Use your stick blender to incorporate the additives and smooth out the shaving soap!
Use your stick blender to incorporate the additives and smooth out the shaving soap!

POUR IT: It’s time to mold! If you are using tins or plastic jars, you want to make sure that you are not pouring too hot (consult your supplier for a melting point on plastic packaging).

The crock is going to be hot and heavy, so if you are more comfortable using a ladle to pour the soap, please do! For this tutorial, I poured some of this shaving soap recipe into PET wide-mouth plastic jars and the remainder in a mold.

(A few soapmakers have said they use a stainless steel ice cream scoop for portioning this soap into jars or tins – smart thinking!)

This shaving soap recipe poured into PET wide mouth plastic jars.
This shaving soap recipe poured into PET wide mouth plastic jars.

If you use jars and plan on selling this soap, you want to remember to weigh each jar as you pour the soap into the mold. Be prepared with a jar on your scale with the scale tared, so you can pour each jar in an assembly line fashion. If you pour into jars, you are welcome to pop the lid on the jars within 24 hours of pouring, just be sure the soap has completely cooled to prevent any condensation from forming inside the jar.

If you pour the soap into a mold, you will be able to unmold it within a couple of hours, but there’s no harm in waiting until the next day like you do with the cold process. When I made the final recipe for this tutorial, I was able to remove the soap from the mold and cut it after two hours!

This shaving soap recipe in both a jar and in a puck!
This shaving soap recipe in both a jar and in a puck!

Wait, we didn’t zap test this sucker?! Nope, we didn’t. The amount of heat we applied to the soap and the excess water will help saponify the soap. KOH is notorious for being stubborn without added heat, but following these directions will give you enough heat for saponification to do its thing. You can still test the soap during the cook if you wish!

I recommend allowing the soap to sit for a week before using it, and doing a pH test to check for any excess alkali before using. If your pH is higher than 10, allow it to continue to mellow. If your pH is still higher than 10 after two weeks, there is probably an issue with your shaving soap: your scale may be inaccurate, need new batteries, or need to be calibrated; your lye calculations may have been incorrect, or you may not have cooked the soap long enough initially to jumpstart saponification. 

Thick and luscious lather from this shaving soap recipe is due to the huge amount of stearic acid in the formula!
Thick and luscious lather from this shaving soap recipe is due to the huge amount of stearic acid in the formula!

You’ll want to package this soap within a week to prevent excess moisture loss and shrinkage. Your final shaving soap should be a semi-soft consistency that is pliable with a little force, which will allow it to lather quickly on a shaving brush!

If you run into issues, I recommend reading hot process articles here on Modern Soapmaking to get more familiar with the process. Molly wrote a great beginner’s tutorial for hot process soapmaking in a crockpot, and it’s full of great tips.

This shaving soap recipe featured in this tutorial is a hot process shaving soap recipe, it is not palm-free or vegan-friendly. If you would prefer a palm-free version of shaving soap, this tutorial would be a better fit for you! You can make this shaving soap recipe vegan-friendly by eliminating the silk amino acids and ensuring your stearic acid is not derived from animal fats. It uses a 5% superfat and a 16% lye solution. Feel free to adjust as necessary!

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131 Responses

  1. I learned something new here as I’ve been making soap for awhile and tweaked the previous shaving soap recipe to include stearic. I was never able to get mine this smooth but realize I didn’t add the additives after the cook period. For the life of me I’ve never been able to understand how you get it into puck form without using a container. Thanks for this.

      1. How are you Kenna?
        My husbond use this shaving soap: Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream Bowl, Sandalwood, but he does not like the smell. This shaving soap is more like a thick cream that you can put on the brush – it is not like a bar. But ingredients looks like your recipe – is there anything I can do to make a softer version of your soap bar? (here is ingredientslist for the Taylor shaving cream: https://www.westcoastshaving.com/Taylor-of-Old-Bond-Street-Shaving-Cream-Bowl-Sandalwood_p_58.html

        1. Hey there, Susanne,
          TOBs is a soft or cream soap, which dissolves faster in water than hard soaps and makes building that creamy lather needed for shaving much quicker.

          You are right that the ingredients are probably very similar. The trick is the proportions! As noted in the post, you can adjust the proportions of the lye types; increase the KOH to 75% of the total lye amount and use only 25% NaOH.

          This will make for a soap that is likely too soft to be molded and cut easily, so you will want to pour it right into a mug or other container, just like the TOBs (see those pouring peaks on the top?).

          Best wishes. Tell your husband we said, “You’re welcome!”

        1. I’m primarily a vegan soapmaker and haven’t used GM in this very specific recipe, but I don’t see why not. I would likely use a split of water and GM for a first test before diving in headfirst, though.

          1. Because you’re cooking the soap, the sugars in the milk will caramelize and impart a cookie dough scent into the soap. Otherwise, it works fine. I did this a few weeks ago.

    1. You pour it into a PVC pipe. I think mine is 3″ across and about 18′ long, make sure you get a good tight end piece on the bottom and either use cooking spray on the inside or line with wax paper.

  2. how long will this last in the pet jars with lids on before it dries out? what size jars did you use and how many would I need? thanks

    1. As long as you are using lids with proper liners, it should last quite sometime without drying out. I’d guess between between 8 and 12 months, but I haven’t tested this (it gets used up before then!) I personally used five 4 oz PET jars (with about 2.5 to 3 oz in each jar) and poured the remainder in a mold for “refill” soaps (another 8 bars at 2.5 oz to 3 oz each.) The total recipe will yield around 40 ounces of soap, as written, but it depends on how much water you use, how often you leave the lid off the crock (water loss during the process), and if you cure it or not.

  3. I made this exact recipe last night minus the silk amino’s (I didn’t have them on hand). This tutorial was very simple and easy to understand and the recipe is so nice! Kenna you are so generous to give out a nice recipe like this. This was my first time ever making shaving soap but I have been wanting to try it for a long time. It is beautiful on the skin and it hasn’t had time to sequester at all and still it is lovely! The lather is perfect! Thank you so much for doing this blog post!

  4. Hi Kenna! Thanks so much for this recipe! Do you know if adding tussah silk to the water before adding the lyes would be ok to substitute for the silk amino acids?

    1. Sure, you could do that. 🙂 It won’t work as well as using silk amino acids or hydrolyzed silk after the cook, but it will get some of that protein in there. 🙂

    1. I think you could definitely pull it off by using a double boiler (or a makeshift double boiler!). You likely won’t want to do it directly in a pot on the stove, as the heat would be too concentrated and may burn the soap. I know folks also hot process in the oven, at a relatively low temp (170 to 200) and follow similar instructions (keeping the lid on, stirring every 30 minutes, etc.) Personally, I haven’t tested this as our oven/stove is too tiny (standard for an RV). Hope that helps a little, give it a go and let us know!

  5. Hi Kenna, I gave my husband the bar of shave soap from the meetup last month and he loves it! Now he wants me to make it as well. We were discussing it at the meeting I thought you mentioned using Bentonite Clay for slip? I don’t see it on your ingredients list or is there another recipe I should be looking for? Also, I don’t have Hemp Seed Oil…is there another I could substitute it with? I also have a small amount of tussah silk, how would I incorporate that in instead of the silk amino acids (which I don’t have). I’ve never done HP so this should be fun. Thanks!

    1. I do not use clay in this recipe, as it can dull blades and isn’t very popular among the hardcore wet shavers. The recipe itself doesn’t need the slip from clay that other recipes tend to need. 🙂 The hemp seed oil is for a nice moisturizing boost. This article talks you through oil substitutions: http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/replace-an-oil-in-a-soap-recipe/

      You can use silk in your lye solution like cold process, it just won’t be the same. The silk amino acids make a huge difference. 🙂

  6. Hi Kenna,
    i love what you are doing and thanks so much for sharing! i put this recipe through Soapmaker3 and it says that the predicted soap qualities of hardness is 0. Is this right?
    i figured that this is a soft soap, but this soft? The rest of the predicted soap qualities are fluffy lather: 4.2, stable lather: 6.7 and moisturizing: 4.5
    i substituted the olive oil with safflower oil at 2.89 ounces plus cocoa butter at .48 ounces. Hemp oil was substituted with evening primrose oil at 2.4 ounces. i wish to make this soap – this will be my first time with using HP! thanks so much. :o)

    1. The olive oil substitute should be fine, but the Evening Primrose is much higher in linoleic than Hemp (and less linolenic), so you will want to be careful with rancidity (your linoleic and linolenic combined shouldn’t exceed 15%) and the soap’s lather and skinfeel won’t feel exactly the same. 🙂 Should be okay though!

    1. The high stearic acid content will make cold process extremely difficult and unworkable. I do not recommend it, but you are welcome to try, if you wish.

  7. Yikes! I have this in the crockpot now. I doublechecked my measurements and after an hour cooking it is the consistency of taffy. I don’t know what I did wrong! Maybe stick blend it too much? It went mashed potatoes then got really thick and never loosened again. I am befuddled.

    1. Before adding the additives, taffy is a good way to describe the consistency. You can see that before I added my additives (in the photos of the tutorial), it was the same way. The sodium lactate will smooth it out.

        1. Now this is exactly what happened. Is it possible the heat was too low? I subbed Hemp for sunflower oil because I didn’t have any. the soapcalc profile shows it to be the closest match. I will try again with hemp oil. I also left the double lye out all day to be cool. but it seemed to be not hot enough- already at 53 C? like it was gelling in the pot. when I finished and added in the additives, it was like blending gelled soap, lots of it didn’t break down. Any advice is so welcome. did the sunflower ruin it??

        2. Ok. First I love that you shared this and I will be using this until I master it. Second, I did not master it the first time. I’m a CP or CPOP soaper and got my slow cooking magic on for this first HP. Maybe that’s the trouble. But I had a ton of it. It turned to like super taffy within 10 min of adding lye. But I had faith. stirred by a timer ever 15 min. NO sticking is the only positive thing I could say. I used lye that had been mixed over 4 hr previously, completely room temp. Oils were heated on high to melt Stearic acid. very little rest time, mabye 5 min. it loosened back up as promised but 10 min later- taffy. When I added Sodium lactate + hydrolised silk protein powder it was 58C (is that too cold???)
          [disclaimer:] I subbed hemp (i have none) and used sunflower.
          It got 10 % looser when I added sodium lactate. but basically, it had nearly completely gelled in the cooker. I was whizzing up whipped white circles in the soap amongst the lovely golden gelled lumps.
          [2nd disclaimer:] to get anything to move I added an additional 20g sodium lactate. Seriously, nothing was moving.
          It was meant to be a trial batch, half scented half un. So I soldiered on. No extras in first half because I was in a panic and just tubed it. 2nd half had tumeric and Argan oil at prescribed rates by 1/2.
          tear-stained unwrapping today. it’s a horrible mess. I think letting it get too cool was the issue. but what else?? Too bad no photo upload feature I’ve got a doozy of a lesson for someone to learn from. Imagine: silky, lumpy, soap foam chunks in a pringle tube shape. Oh well. Hubby loves it. Ugly but it foams amazing!!! Thoughts on the rebatch or let it be ugly?

  8. Your recipe with just the oils is 24.1 oz and I want to make a recipe that is 48 oz with just the oils. I understand about converting all that but would I just double the additives you used so instead I would use
    2 oz additional oil
    2 oz sodium lactate
    1 oz silk amino acids
    1 oz vitamin E
    1 tsp nettle leaf power
    1.5 tsp tumeric

    That is the part that has always stumped me is how do you figure out the additives part of the recipe

    1. You could try. I’m not a milk soapmaker by any stretch, but I don’t think it will affect it too much. You may need to shorten your cooking time a lot, as the sugars in milks will add to the heat.

  9. I tried this recipe yesterday and while the end result is wonderful I was never able to get it to a smooth consistency for pouring and trying to figure out how you accomplished this. I followed your directions and make this exact size recipe you posted but subbed Avocado for Hempseed oil & Evening Primrose for Vitamin E. as I didn’t have any and left out the silk amino acids to make it vegan. My additional oil was Jojoba. Mine was like really thick vaseline when I was stirring in the additives and the stick blender seemed to make it worse so I continued stirring. I left it to cook for 2 hours and had to plop it into jars and molds and use a spatula to smooth out the tops. How did you get yours so smooth?

    1. Avocado has more saturated fatty acids than Hemp, which will contribute to a thicker trace and acceleration. Among the other recipe changes, did you recalculator your lye amounts? That’s quite a bit of changes in a recipe, and I can’t account for all the changes.

      The sodium lactate is there to loosen the soap. You could do what a lot of HP soapmakers do and add more water, more SL, or some yogurt (1 tbsp PPO). Making the recipe as stated will result in the fluidity of the pour, this recipe is hugely dependent on the specific oils/fatty acids chosen, as well as the additives.

      1. Thanks so much for your tips. Will try it again with the oils you used once I get some Hempseed oil and Vitamin E oil. No I didn’t recalculate the lye as I was in a hurry to get it made. Now I’m seeing the problem. Would subbing evening primrose for the vitamin E make a huge difference if I had the Hempseed oil. Also is there another liquid I can sub in for the Silk Amino acids to keep it vegan or maybe just add 0.5 oz of water to make up for it?

        On the plus side the lather of the bar is so beautiful. Thinking I’m liking this version more then my version of Veronica’s soy shaving soap as my previous batch used a higher stearic amount and hokum butter.

        1. I’m so glad you are enjoying the lather! 🙂

          If you make any subs, make sure to recalculate your lye! Always, always. 🙂

          If you skip out on the silk amino acids for a vegan friendly soap, I would do what you can to include the Vit. E, as those two additives are huge for how the shaving soap feels on the skin and post shave. However, there’s no harm in skipping out on them (it’s not going to ruin the soap – the soap will still lather like crazy) and using water in their place to increase fluidity.

          Many of the available stearic acid products on the market are derived from palm or animal fats, though, so keep that in mind. It’s part of the reason I went all out on this recipe vs. sticking to my typical vegan formulating. 😉

  10. Update….Maybe the heat wasn’t high enough on the crockpot. The edges gelled. I cooked it for 3 hours, then added sodium lactate and it liquified. It molded great and now it lathers like a BOSS.

  11. Hi Kenna,
    I made this tonight with your exact recipe. My additional oil was Evening Primrose. I’m pretty sure I followed the recipe exactly. After I let it cook for 2 hours I added my additives, but I couldn’t get it to loosen much. It certainly never went back to a liquid that I could pour. I just kinda glopped it into my jars. The only issue I can think of is that I had to go out after I put it in the crock pot and I didn’t get a chance to stir in the first hour. Could this cause it? If not, I’m at a loss.
    Second question: What lye calculator do you use that can handle the double lye?
    Thank you for sharing your recipes!

  12. Kenna I would like to formulate my own scent for a shave soap. I’m confused on which IFRA category this falls under. Is it category 9 for wash off products? Also I have lavender EO and Cedarwood Texas. Would they be the same rates as your lavender 40/42 and your Cedarwood Atlas? Thank you

    1. Yessum, shaving soap would fall under Category 9. Here’s a list of Category 9 products:
      Category 9 – Maximum Pragmatic Level 5%
      Bar Soap (Toilet Soap)
      Bath Gels, Foams, Mousses, Salts, Oils and Other Products added to bathwater
      Body Washes of all types (including baby washes) and Shower Gels of all types
      Conditioner (Rinse-Off)
      All Depilatories (including waxes for mechanical hair removal)
      Face Cleansers of all types (washes, gels, scrubs, etc.)
      Facial Tissues
      Feminine Hygiene – Pads
      Feminine Hygiene – Liners
      Fragranced Face Masks (not intended to be used as medical device)
      Liquid Soap
      Paper Towels
      Shampoos of all types (including baby shampoos)
      Shaving Creams of all types (stick, gels, foams, etc.)
      Toilet Paper
      Wheat Bags

      Yessum, you can sub Lavender EO for Lavender 40/42 and TX Cedarwood for Atlas, it won’t smell the same but won’t be bad either. You could also use the new EO Calc to calculate your usage rates or find blends for your shaving soap: http://www.eocalc.com/

      Hope that helps!

  13. Kenna,
    My soap gets really thick and after I add the additives etc it get a little loose but not much it is still thick and I have to spoon it into the molds. Could I add everything in before it gets super thick and gooey? Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Angela! 🙂 As mentioned above, the soap is never thin like liquid or water. The additives help loosen it and smooth it out, but won’t make it thin. Adding the additives sooner won’t change that, it’s the nature of the soap itself. You could use more water, SL, or add yogurt, like Molly does in her HP, if you wanted to, but I have not done so and can’t advise as to how much that would help. Have you read Molly’s HP articles here on the site?

      I recommend using a ladle to put it in jars or the mold because it is thick and heavy! 😉 Trying to pour it from a crock would be too difficult.

      1. You are so great I am glad that I am connected to you as you always deliver great info and detailed responses. I will check out Molly’s articles… thank you I just thought that it was something I was doing that was making it so thick. I am on the right track thanks again.

  14. Hi Kenna, I did make your recipe tonight and followed it to a T using all the same oils and such that you did. Once I got it to the mashed potato stage I kept blending it until it was creamy again like you said it would become. I then put the lid on the crockpot on LOW (I never had it higher than LOW) and the first time I went to stir it (after about 20 mins) it had already started to turn into a large glop. I figured it would loosen up as it kept cooking but every time I went to stir it ended up being even thicker to the point where it all stuck together in one large clump when I picked it up with my spoon (but it was smooth). This was before I got any of the additives in. Once I added those and stirred them in (with great difficulty and my stick blender) it turned clumpy and changed consistency from a large smooth clump to a lots of clumps with bits and pieces of solidified soap in it. I had to use my hands to scoop it out of the pot and press it into the molds. Where did I go wrong? I made sure to check my temps and I was always well below 185 throughout. Did I stick blend it too creamy after the mashed potato stage perhaps? Thanks for any insight you can give me.

    1. This is exactly what happened to me too. When I went to stir it for the first time (20 minutes in) it was a solid mass. I tried using a big wooden spoon and A LOT of elbow grease but no go. After an hour of attempted cooking I added the sodium lactate and kneaded it in like bread dough and then the oils and used a hand mixer to whip it together (kind of). I used an ice cream scoop to put it in a mold. It tested like high PH. If I cut it will it cure over 4-6 weeks like CP?
      thanks for any help you can offer.

    2. My soap is doing the same thing!!! A big glop that I cannot even stir. I do not have sodium lactate but added a little water. Still a firm glop mass!!! Did yours turn out ok when you put them in a mold or tins??

  15. Hi Kenna,
    I hope to make this soap this week if I get a response back from you. 🙂

    I do not have Hempseed Oil. I DO have Sunflower Oil and Avocado Oil. Could I substitute one of these for the Hempseed oil? I saw the article on substituting oils, I would rather have your opinion first. Thank you for all you do for us soapers!


    1. Avocado oil does not have as much linoleic or linolenic as hemp, but it does have more oleic which is still moisturizing. It will work out as a replacement just fine, but it will throw off the linoleic profile of the recipe which gives it a silky skin feel. The higher oleic will keep it from being stripping, though.

      1. Hi Kenna,
        Well, it is in the crock now. Used the Avocado oil instead of hemp. (I must order some) It smoothed out kinda thick but it is cooking now.
        I was wondering how I keep these pucks from drying out? I will be pouring this in a Pringles Can and then slice into pucks.
        Any suggestions?
        I am also scenting these with Sandlewood and Frankenscense FO blend. 🙂
        Thank you for all you do for all of us.


        1. Wrap the soaps to prevent them from completely drying out or place them in jars. 🙂

          It’s okay to cure them for a week or two, but if you cure them like regular CP, they will shrink and dry out a LOT. They’ll still work like shaving soap, but the goal is a semi-soft soap that a shaving brush can easily pick up.

          1. Thank you. As of an hour in I have a glop in the crockpot. How much water could I add to smooth this out?

  16. Ahhh 911 CHRISTMAS HELP!!!!
    Hi beautiful I am so incredibly excited and I’ve spent weeks secretly gathering my materials to make my husband, an avid wet shaver, homemade shave soap for Christmas. I was putting it into the lye calculator and nearly everything’s the same except just one kind of lye (NaOH) and reducing it to a total of 12oz ( just bc this is my first attempt and if I screw up I don’t want to blow half my supplies incase it needs a redo.) with a lot recent not so fun medical news, I’ve been incredibly busy and haven’t had much time to finally get down and make it til now. HOWEVER, I stayed up all night to work on his Christmas presents while he was sleeping (since he’s off the next 3 days.) That being said, I’m sure some of that 24+ hour delirium is kicking in and I’m having a little trouble calculating the water % of oils? I thought it was 20% but then when I print my final recipe it just seems way off to me or not quite right 🙁 can you please tell me what I’m doing wrong or what the water:lye ratio is?

    Thank you so much! I’m anxiously awaiting your reply 😁💕

    1. Yessum. 🙂 If you are using Soap Calc, it’s a 20% lye concentration. All recipes on Modern Soapmaking dictate lye solution strength (which is lye concentration), and not water as a percent of oils.

      1. The lye calculator I use doesn’t allow you to compute both types of lye. Is there a lye calculator that will compute both lyes?

      2. Thank you!!! And if I was only able too I acquire NaOH not KOH will it significantly affect the over quality,
        Lather, softness and should I increase any
        Particular ingredient to assist in softness and lather?

  17. I just ordered some Tallow Based Stearic Acid. Also called Stearine. Can’t wait to try this recipe out. I use tallow/lard in most of my recipes and don’t use Palm in any of my products.

  18. Hi Kenna,
    Thanks for this post…
    I’ve tried to make this recipe twice now. Both times it has not worked. I have followed the recipe to a “T”
    I am a seasoned Cold Process Soap Maker but pretty new to Hot Process.
    Here’s what happens:
    – When I add the water, lye, stearic acid and oils together it goes through the mash potato stage then I blend it and it is fine, it smooths out (Not sure if I blend this step too long?)
    – I set my timer for 30 minutes to come back and check it and give it a stir….
    – After 30 minutes the soap is clumpy, seems dry and too thick to stick blend.
    – I try hand stirring and it does nothing for the clumps…
    – It is not salvageable…
    – My main thought is that I have a new crock pot – maybe even the low setting is too hot? and the soap is going through the cook stage too fast?
    – Any thoughts?
    – I really would like to keep trying this recipe until I get it 🙂
    – I’ve read the other links you left on hot process.
    ***Can I use this recipe as a cold process soap and wait the 4 weeks or so to cure?
    Thanks so much! I appreciate the help and advice 🙂

    1. Every crockpot is different. It’s really important to keep this at a low heat, it sounds to me like your crockpot is too hot. Does it have a warm setting? Try that!

      Lots of folks have asked about making this cold process. Stearic acid’s melting point is extremely high, and it would be very difficult to get a good emulsion before it seized and hardened. However (!), I have not tried it and no one has reported back doing so. So, if you’d like to try it, let me know how it goes. 🙂

  19. I don’t have silk amino acids on hand. I do have silk peptide powder. Can I use it to replace the silk among acids? And if so how much would I use?

  20. Jaclyn… I too made this to a T yesterday and no substitutions for any oils.

    Kenna, your site is wonderful and I have to say both shave soap articles were outstanding. So insightful and painstakingly detailed for others to follow along. I wish I could say this adventure was a success, but it was not. Your help after reading this would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    I did not have the silk aminos so simply left that item out, but that’s an add so I do not think that would have an impact?? Upon initial mix, mine was applesauce, then mashed potatoes and then a beautiful creamy thick liquid texture before I put the lid on to cook….I WAS PSYCHED!! I should mention I only made 1/4 batch as I didn’t want 10 test bars…too much for me. I started out with it on HIGH to get it going, took the lid off at 30 mins to stir and it was already one solid lump not yet starting to gel at all. I turned to LOW at that point for the remainder of the duration. I “tried” to stir at 30 min intervals, but throughout the remainder of the process could only use a spatula to turn and mash.

    I was using a new “small” 2 qt crock pot that I bought just for this purpose as I am a CP soaper so really wanted to test the waters with HP and knew that shave soap (requested by the men in the family now) was a definite HP project. I’ve now done a total of 4 batches of HP…..NONE of which ever hardened…. first 2 were regular single lye soap and then 2 tries at shave soap yesterday. (this one and also tried a lovin’ one afterwards)

    I ended up adding another 1.5 oz of water after 2 hrs to “try” to get this to a thick something, but only ended up with a somewhat softer glob using spatula to mash. I pressed it all into round silicone rounds, but after overnight it’s still soft and no where near hard enough to get out of the mold.

    HELP!! Now I don’t have enough stearic left to even try the full batch recipe in case that has anything to do with my lack of success, but need some insight from you before I try again. So bummed because of all the recipes I’ve researched, THIS is the one I wanted to be the one. 🙂

    Thank you ! Pam

    1. Hi Pam!

      As another commenter posted, it again sounds like your crockpot may be very hot in comparison to mine. Especially with starting on “high.”

      This soap is not liquid during pour, it *is* thick and goopy ish, but it should be stirrable and spoonable. If it’s not, and the recipe was followed, it was cooked at too high of a heat, or cooked too long, or too much water evaporated during the process.

      Extra water can help, that’s why the recipe does include a lot of extra water – to keep it more fluid (as well as the sodium lactate). There is not a “too much” water threshold – the terminology “full water” is a misnomer. There is a minimum (the amount of water needed to dissolve lye), and anywhere after that is free. The important part is not using so much water that your soap cannot evenly saponify: the recommended amount in the tutorial is not anywhere near that threshold. There’s room for more.

      But water also heats the soap up more during saponification, so the cook time will likely shorten. The goal for pouring is *not* a ready to go soap that clears a pH test, it’s a soap that was exposed to enough starter heat to saponify on its own and not depend on external heat from the crock. KOH soaps are slow to saponify without extra heat, and some fatty acids or oils are more stubborn than others.

      Another side note is that this soap is *not* a hard soap. It is a traditional dual lye shaving soap. It should be softer than you are used to with cold process: fresh out of the mold, I could squish a bar in my hand with effort. This is intentional, a softer soap with lather faster than a harder soap. If you want it harder, allow it to cure – all that excess water is part of how soft it is.

      Shaving soaps are a balancing act between water, glycerin, and dual lyes. Water makes soap softer. Glycerin makes soap softer. Some oils make a soft soap. Some oils make a hard soap. NaOH makes hard soap. KOH makes soft soap. There are so many shaving soaps out there because different folks like different kinds of soaps – some softer, some harder. Make the adjustments you need for the soap you want. 🙂

      1. Thank you Kenna! I appreciate your help here…. I am going to order more stearic and try a full batch and cross my fingers. I do understand that this is a soft soap so I did not expect it to be hard like CP, if I gave you that impression. I would describe what I ended up with as super thick hard paste…but not hard enough to get out of my silicone mold after 24 hours. I will scrape it out and mush into a jar 🙂 I know you said you could unmold and cut after a few hours, so that was my expectation even after smashing it into the molds. I’m anxious to try it again….thank you !! 🙂

  21. This recipe looks great! How cool do you think you can realistically let the batter get before it becomes too thick to mold? I’d like to pour into some low profile jars, but the ones I have have a melting point of 130, and I’m having a hard time finding something that can handle anything as hot as 180.

    1. I would have to make it again and more rigorously temp it to answer this. I don’t tend to use a thermometer in soapmaking anymore, so I often forget to be meticulous about that. I do not think the soap was hotter than 130° F by the time I got the additives mixed in and poured, I used PET jars with no ill effect.

  22. Thanks for posting this. I’m about to give it a try but I would love some clarification on one aspect:

    Additional Additives Used
    1 ounce additional oil
    1 ounce Sodium Lactate
    0.5 ounce Silk Amino Acids
    0.5 ounces Vitamin E
    ½ teaspoon Nettle Leaf Powder
    ¾ teaspoon Turmeric Powder

    Not sure why but I didn’t order these items with the rest of my supplies. Are these essential in the process? The turmeric and nettle leaf powder are easy enough to find, but not sure about the others. If they are needed what can I replace them with that might be easier to find?

    Thanks for all your posts and any help.

    1. I definitely don’t recommend skipping out on the extra ounce of oil and the sodium lactate. They help loosen the soap up. The silk amino acids and vitamin E are part of why the soap feels so great on the skin, but aren’t 100% necessary. The herbs are completely optional. Hope that helps.

  23. Hi! I used soap Calc and ran this recipe through it to practice using soap calc and later switch out an oil. I did not get the same amount of lye or water and used 20 percent concentration! No clue what went wrong please advise!!

    1. If you change out an oil, you will get a different lye amount, which will then alter your water amount. I also use a different lye calculator, which has slightly different SAP values, which is going to cause some (minimal) variance.

      Every oil needs a different amount of lye to saponify. And if the water is being calculated as it should, it’s based on the lye amount. (As explained here: http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/lye-solution-in-soapmaking/ )

  24. I cannot find the recipe for the save soaps. What I see and read doesn’t seem to be complete. What am I missing to connect to the correct place?

  25. My “niche” is soap made with beer, I try to use local craft breweries and have been doing quite well. I made a beard oil, at their request, but am now getting requests for shaving soap. Could I substitute beer for some or all of the water? Would it add anything, take anything away or change the process in any way?
    Thanks! Love all your tutorials and expertise!

  26. Hi there!
    Could I make this recipe using the cold process method? I don’t really want to do hot process.. is there any changes I could make to make it work for me?

  27. Hi Kenna,
    Hope you’re still following the comments on this post. You advised packaging the soap within a week. What sort of packaging for the refill pucks to keep them from drying out? I was thinking of placing them into a square of waxed paper before placing them in other packaging. Seem logical?

    1. I think that should be fine, Janie. Test it out and see what happens. The wax paper should keep them from drying out, and even if they do cure out/dry out, it won’t hurt the recipe – it’ll just soak up more moisture on the first use.

      1. Thanks! I’ll let you know how they seem after a while in the packaging. Planning to sell these (adapted the recipe using Kokum for the stearic acid and tallow.) I don’t want to mess with coffee strainer wraps, so I ordered boxes for them. You have been so helpful Kenna!

  28. Kenna does a shave soap for men require the addition of glycerin? Is the sodium lactate taking the place of glycerin in this recipe? Thank you

    1. Annie,
      As noted in the post, the sodium lactate is primarily serving as a viscosity aide, to ensure the soap is easier to pour into the mold or tins, but it has the double benefit of being a humectant, too. As glycerin is also a humectant, in that way, sodium lactate could be a stand in for additional glycerin. (However, as it sounds like you are already aware of,the soap making process itself does create glycerin as a byproduct, and that is retained in this soap.)

      1. Thank you Stephanie. I was so wrapped up on the shaving forums I forgot the basics of what soap is 🙂 Can I ask which type vitamin E is used in this recipe? Is it regular clear vitamin E or the T-50 Tocopherols

  29. Hi there. Thanks for this recipe! May I ask if you know where I can purchase inexpensive shaving brushes in bulk? By bulk, I don’t mean 1000 but, like 20?

  30. I’d like to try your recipe verbatim (I have each of the ingredients) with ONE addition: Panthenol. I would add this after the cook right? Do you think it would change the two-lye amounts needed for 5% superfat?

    1. Hey there, K. Neither Kenna nor I have used panthenol in soap, but it shouldn’t affect the lye if it’s being used in a traditional low percentage. And yes, add after the cook with other additives.

  31. Hello and awesome tutorial! What’s the purpose of the Nettle Leaf Powder? If is just for coloring can I use another green like alfalfa powder? Thanks

  32. Hi question.. Someone gifted me silk strands to use in my soaps. I haven’t tried it yet. Do you thin kI can use them in place of the silk amino?

    1. Hi, Dee,
      While every tweak will make the soap a little different from the original, I think this would be a great recipe to try out your silk fibers. Silk will dissolve in your lye solution, as we did in this tutorial.

      Happy soaping!

  33. Do you think it would be possible to modify this recipe to make a latherable shaving cream? There’s a lot of recipes for shave soap out there (though this is by far the best!) but none that I can find for a true traditional latherable shave cream. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tim!

      I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure if you increased the percentage of soap made with potassium hydroxide, and then whipped the soap with a mixer as it sets up, it would be more cream like. I haven’t ventured into cream soaps in a long time, so it’s worth an experiment. 🙂 Let us know if you give it a try!


      1. I had some good luck with 85% KOH and 15% NaOH. It made a pretty dense cream. I think if I whip it up better it’ll take on a more traditional shave cream texture which I’ll try soon. Thanks for the advice!

      1. Thank you 🙂 Also i trying to run the recipe through soapee so I can shrink it but I cant get the numbers to add up

  34. Hi Kenna, I tried two soap calculators and I am getting this numbers for the 40/60 combo for the exact same weight:
    NaOH (5.000% Superfat) 1.36
    KOH (5.000% Superfat) 2.87
    My soap got really hard fast, and when I gave up on it, it was at 160 F. So I do not think it was cooked too hot. I did get a warning on a soap calculator about a high INS value. Your recipe called for more lye than this, and I am afraid my soap might be lye heavy, so I am not sure if it is safe to use it at this point, I put it into containers but it never became a fluid or semi fluid batter, just translucent chunks. Here is a link:

    1. Hey, Glenda,
      Here are a few things that stuck out to me based on what you said…
      -If you gave up on your soap at 160 F, I wonder if it ever got hot enough. Heat is one of the elements that makes the batter fluid, it’s only if you cook it too long or too hot that the heat will be the cause of resolidifying.
      -Also, if you used your version of the recipe, you used less water than called for, which would also reduce the fluidity.
      -I’m not familiar with the calc you used, but depending on who inputs the info and where they get it from, results are going to be different between lye calcs. (We think of each type of oil having a SAP value, but, actually every batch of an oil has it’s own SAP value, so lye calcs generally pull an average value)

      If you never really got to thoroughly mix your soap, it may well have lye heavy spots. As written though, the recipe is fine, especially with the additional oil added after cook that brings the superfat up to around 8%.

    1. Update – my second attempt yielded better results. Like others experienced, this shaving soap turned hard very fast. I had never made soap before so I didn’t know if this was abnormal or not. It turned equally hard on the second attempt but I used cling wrap to reduce evaporation and stirred every 15 minutes. I also added .5 oz water at the end because I didn’t have silk aminos. The final product was not fluid, but thin enough to “glop”.


      1. I loved seeing your live tweeting of making it the first time!

        This comment further up the thread provides some helpful hints for this recipe: https://www.modernsoapmaking.com/tutorial-shaving-soap-recipe/#comment-69272

        My crockpot is on the older side, so I wonder if it just doesn’t heat up as much as the newer ones. The big indicator is the visual stages. If you see each stage pictured in the photos (ending with the thicker taffy stage), move on to the next steps. The additives will loosen the taffy-like stage into a spoonable consistency. I’m able to pour it, but it’s like because I work faster than the average person who may be making this recipe. (Lots of practice!) The important thing to keep in mind is that cooking is more about what is happening (introducing heat to jumpstart saponification and getting through the key phases) rather than the time spent cooking. 🙂

        I’ve added some additional comments to the recipe itself to hopefully help more folks in the future! 🙂

  35. Hi, just would like to know why you could not mix superfat oil, fragrance oil, vit E and colorants in plastic? Glass and stainless steel were recommended. In many CP vidoes I watch, they seem to all be measuring and mixing them plastic. Appreciate your advise.

    1. Gina,
      At high concentrations, even skin safe fragrance and essential oils can degrade plastic. Many a soapmaker has come back to find the bottom eaten out of their disposable plastic cup and their fragrance oil dripping down their work surface.

      Always be wary of what you see in maker videos. Not all place appropriate importance on safe and GMP compliant practices. But, yay for those who do!

  36. .Do any of your contacts sell their products? I’m looking for a knockoff of the Old S[ice mug shaving refills.
    Glad to see what they have to offer..

  37. Every time I use this method, I get to the taffy stage in 15 minutes.

    Is there a problem with this? I know the tutorial says some crock pots may be faster, but 15 minutes??

    1. If your end result is satisfactory, I wouldn’t be too concerned.

      That said, I would review your batch records for any errors, make sure your scale has been recently calibrated, and make sure all of your ingredients are to spec, fresh, and properly labeled.

      Abient/ingredient temps, heavy blender use, different slow cookers, etc definately cause varying results.

  38. Just wondering how smooth the pour is. I have molds with a detailed logo impression. How crisp do you think the logo would show?

    1. Hey, Dave,
      Dual lye soaps are softer than bar soaps, so, your detail may not hold. Of course, you can tweak the formula, use a mold release, etc., but some serious finesse will likely be needed to get a good impression.

  39. I would like to make the shaving soap in a reduced quantity to test it so I don’t have 10 discs of soap. Do I just “half” everything, including the two lyes? I tried to run through soapcalc but couldn’t figure out how to proportion the two lyes.

    1. While smaller batches are tricker to deal with, yes, you can half the recipe. You will want to double check your numbers with a lye calculator that can handle duel lye.

  40. Hello- thanks for your instruction. I just make my first batch of shaving soap and do have a few questions. My lye temp only got to 104 after it dissolved? is this bc it was such a small batch. Also everything was going great- but my TAFFY stage came after 15 minutes. I did see you said it takes different times so i just moved ahead and added the other add ins. mixed with the blender as best I could bc it was very taffy like- I scooped it into the mold and am hoping for the best. I also ready that doing PH test is not really reliable. I am a little concerned it was so quick- and the temps were low. I guess time will tell. Is there anyway it can be lye heavy if it did not cook that long? Thanks for the insight…

    1. Jennifer, lye temp will vary some based on initial water temp, ambient temp, etc. Just make sure your tools (thermometer and scale) are accurate and your ingredients are fresh, have been well stored, and are to spec.

      Yup, taffy stage comes on quite quickly for many people. That’s not a concern.

      Our recommended method of pH testing is reliable. Many methods suggested for soapmakers are not.

      As long as everything was properly measured and the lye incorporated well, a short cook isn’t a concern. If anything, you might just need to cure it a bit longer.

  41. hallo, i want to make a shaving soap with oils coconut, palm, castor and almond. i will use both cocoa and shea butter and how much stearic acid to use? i will make 500gr testing bars. can i use less stearic 20% or 30% ? Thank you!

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