How to Formulate Soap Salt Bars

Are you subscribed to Soap Week Update? The theme of this past issue was salt bars. Here are some great salt bar blog posts from other soapmakers.

The Soap Bar BlogSalt Soap Tutorial by Ladybug Soapworks

CandleAndSoap.About.comHow to Make Salt Soap Bars

Soap QueenPretty in Pink: Salty Soap Bars

Great Cakes SoapworksSalt Bar Soap Challenge

I’d Lather Be SoapingPineapple Ginger Salt Bars

Adventures with the SageSalt Soaps by Tess

Lovin’ Soap BlogCharcoal and Sea Salt Acne Soap, Orange Oatmeal Breakfast Salt Bar, Cocoa and Coffee Salt Bar, African Black Soap Salt Bar, Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Salt Bars

Auntie Clara’sSilver Dapple Soap (not quite a salt bar, but interesting technique)

Let’s talk about how to formulate your own salt bar recipe.

orange oatmeal breakfast salt bar

What is a salt bar?

A salt bar is typically a soap made with 50-100% of oil weight in salt. For example, if your salt bar recipe contains 32 oz. of coconut oil and 8 oz. of castor oil, then you would use 20 – 40 oz. of sea salt.

Why on earth would we want to make a salt bar?

  1. Sea salt is purifying, drawing and acts as an astringent. This website explains how salt helps your skin here. It is great, especially, for acne.
  2. Salt bars last FOREVER in the shower. In my experience, they last longer than regular bar soap. (This is a great selling point.)
  3. Salt bars are hard! Salt soap cures out super hard. Salt bars are great for individual cavity molds that you can’t usually use with your regular recipe. The soap gets hard fast and will pop right out.
  4. They are inexpensive to make. Salt bars contain mostly coconut oil (a cheaper oil than say…olive oil or shea butter) and sea salt, thus creating a pretty inexpensive bar of soap.
  5. They are easily marketed as spa type or facial bars of soap. Customer love to hear about the benefits of sea salt and will pay more money for these special bars of soap.
[bctt tweet=”Salt soap bars have a creamy and dense lotion-like lather! It is decadent!”]

Base Oils – Coconut Oil

Salt bars usually contain a high amount of coconut oil. You can use 80-100% coconut oil.

Why so much coconut oil?

Salt is a lather killer! It kills the suds. To combat the lather killing effects of salt, we use a high amount of coconut oil.

Some typical oil combinations include:

  • 100% coconut oil
  • 80% coconut oil + 10% butter + 10% liquid oil
  • 90% coconut oil + 10% butter
  • 90% coconut oil + 10% liquid oil

Liquid oils can be any liquid soapmaking oil…castor oil, olive oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil…whatever your favorite is.

Butters can include shea, cocoa, mango, sal, kokum…or whichever cosmetic butter you prefer.

Superfat – 20%

What do we know about coconut oil in high percentages?

It can be drying. To combat the drying effects of using high coconut oil, we use a high superfat to leave oils unsaponified to make our soap moisturizing and nourishing. A typical superfat for a salt bar is 15-20%. I usually use 20%.

In a recipe not containing salt, this might make our soap mooshy or soft. But not in a salt bar. The salt helps to harden the soap. Even using a high superfat of 20%, this soap turns out super hard.

Salt – Which to use?

There are many different types of salt. Most any type of salt will work except dead sea salt. My favorite salt to use is fine sea salt. I get mine from Wholesale Supplies Plus.

Dead sea salt is actually more mineral than salt. It makes for a weepy, wet and yucky salt bar. Check out Amy’s post where she learned the hard way.

I don’t use Epson salt either. I’m not sure if that works or not…

Size doesn’t really matter. I prefer fine grain, but you can use up to large grain. It all melts with the warm water so isn’t that scratchy or exfoliating.

For varied color, you can use pink salt. I love this pink sea salt from Bramble Berry.

How much salt do you use?

You can use anywhere from 50% – 100% of your oil weight in salt.

Individual Cavity Molds

Salt bars get hard fast! It is best to use individual cavity molds when making salt bars. My favorite mold for salt bars this mold from Bramble Berry. I love the way the half cylinder bars fit in my hand.

If you pour salt soap into a loaf mold, you have to monitor it closely and cut it before it gets to hard. This can be 4 hours after you pour or 8. Sometimes it is hard to tell when they are ready to cut.

Let’s formulate a salt bar recipe!

Step 1How much soap will your molds hold?

I’m going to use the above Bramble Berry molds for this example. I want to fill up two of the molds. Each cavity holds 4 oz. for a total of 48 oz. of soap (oils + water + lye + salt). There is no easy formula to determine your oil amount because everyone uses a different amount of salt; some use 50%, some use 100%.

Step 2Formulate your base oils.

Let’s take a shot in the dark and start with a recipe that uses 24 oz. of coconut oil. Plug 24 oz. of coconut oil into soapcalc.net with a 20% superfat. For water, I ignore soap calc and when formulating salt bars, I simply multiply the lye amount by 3. So we end up with a recipe of :

  • Coconut oil – 24 oz.
  • Lye – 3.4
  • Water – 10.5

Step 3Determine how much salt you want to use.

Let’s see what it looks like with 50% salt and 100% salt.

  • 50% Salt Bar
  • Coconut oil – 24 oz.
  • Lye – 3.4 oz.
  • Water – 10.5 oz.
  • Salt – 12 oz.
  • Total oz. (49.9 oz.)
  • 100% Salt Bar
  • Coconut oil – 24 oz.
  • Lye – 3.4 oz.
  • Water – 10.5 oz.
  • Salt – 24 oz.
  • Total oz. (61.9 oz.)

Since our molds will hold 48 oz. of soap, the 50% salt bar will fit nicely. If we want to use 100% salt, we will need to scale the recipe down.

  • 100% Salt Bar
  • Coconut oil – 19 oz.
  • Lye – 2.7 oz.
  • Water – 8.1 oz.
  • Salt – 19 oz.
  • Total oz. (48.8 oz.)

This 100% salt soap will fit in our molds.

Step 4 – Fragrance or Essential Oil

I calculate my rates based on the amount of oil in my recipe. For salt bars, I calculate based on the amount of oil + salt.

My standard rate for fragrance oil is .7-1 oz per pound of oil + salt. My standard rate for essential oil is .5 oz per pound of oil + salt. Rates vary depending on the strength of your oils, but these are good starting off points.

  • 100% Salt Bar with fragrance oil at 1 oz. per pound of oil + salt
  • Coconut oil – 19 oz.
  • Lye – 2.7 oz.
  • Water – 8.1 oz.
  • Salt – 19 oz.
  • Total oil + salt = 40.7 oz.
  • FORMULA 40.7 / 16
  • Fragrance oil = 2.5 oz.

 

  • 100% Salt Bar with essential oil at .5 oz. per pound of oil + salt
  • Coconut oil – 19 oz.
  • Lye – 2.7 oz.
  • Water – 8.1 oz.
  • Salt – 19 oz.
  • Total oil + salt = 40.7 oz.
  • FORMULA (40.7 / 16) * .5
  • Essential oil = 1.27 oz. (round to 1.3 oz.)

Step 5 – Add your colorant.

Most of the time colorants are simply a matter of preference. You can start with adding 1 teaspoon per pound of oils of mica, pigment or natural colorant and go up from there based on the color that you are trying to get.

So in the above example, you would add 2.5 teaspoons of a colorant and see how it looks. Adjust if more is needed to achieve the color that you want.

Our Final Recipe:

  • 100% Salt Bar with essential oil
  • Coconut oil – 19 oz.
  • Lye – 2.7 oz.
  • Water – 8.1 oz.
  • Salt – 19 oz.
  • Essential oil = 1.3 oz.

Equipment Needed
Digital scale
Containers for measuring & mixing lye solution
Container for mixing soap
Spatula or spoon
Individual Cavity Molds

Salt Bar Process

Step 1 – Wearing safety gear, make your lye solution by weighing out the lye and water into separate containers. Sprinkle the lye into the water while stirring. Stir until dissolved and set aside to cool.

Step 2 – Weigh out coconut oil and melt.

Step 3 – Add the essential oils, additives and colorant to the melted coconut oil. Stir.

Step 4 – Check the temperatures of your lye solution and oil mixture. Each should be under 90 degrees F. If not, let cool a bit longer.

Step 5 – While stirring the oil mixture (with stickblender off), pour lye solution into the oils.

Step 6 – Using short bursts with your stickblender, mix until light trace has occurred.

Step 7 – Mix in fine sea salt. Mix well. Pour the soap into your molds.

Step 8 – Allow to sit and harden. You can usually unmold salt bars the same day. Allow to cure for a minimum of 4 weeks.

Enjoy your salt bars!

 

I hope this helps you when you formulate your own salt bars! If you have any questions, post in the comments.

 

Happy Soaping!

Amanda Gail

 

By | 2017-02-08T10:58:42+00:00 September 1st, 2015|Cold Process Soap Recipes, Soapmaking Tips, Soapmaking Tutorials|39 Comments

About the Author:

I am a soapmaker, author and blogger! I started blogging in 2008, sharing soap recipes, design tutorials and publishing articles on various topics of soapmaking.

39 Comments

  1. Amanda August 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    I have a lot of dentric sakt in hand right now, could I use this type of salt or would it be best to just wait for my five grain sea salt to arrive? Also, I was wondering if a 25% SF would be too much?

  2. Pam July 30, 2017 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Can I use goats milk in place of the water in a salt bar?

  3. VideoPortal March 21, 2017 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Another really great option for salt soap bars is divided slab molds like this one – or even single cavity molds where each mold holds one bar of soap.

  4. Gry March 3, 2017 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Big thanks for sharing this! So clear and action-appetizing. I was wondering – is it necessary to use a stick blender for this recipe? I know it’s a must have for soap making, but as it’s not on the equipment list and only comes in short bursts in the mixing 😀 I just feel like double checking. Thanks again

  5. MarieMcC February 8, 2017 at 8:16 am - Reply

    On the Soap Making Facebook page, everyone told me that the salt had to be dissolved in water before adding the lye. They said it wouldn’t harden the soap bar properly if added after the oils and lye were mixed. I added a teaspoon of salt per pound of oils to two different batches after the lye and oils had been combined, just as in your recipe above, to harden my bars. In both batches, the soap batter thickened to the consistency of room temperature butter almost immediately after adding the salt. It was hard to glop it into the molds fast enough, and I ended up with huge air pockets that no amount of tapping the molds could get out. Any thoughts?

  6. Rayna February 8, 2017 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Hello Amanda,

    I want to make facial soap but i never made any soap salt bars…
    If i made 50% of salt for soap salts recipe, can i add other ingredient like activated charcoal or bentonite clay?

    thank q

  7. Lori December 27, 2016 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Hi Amanda. I’m new to soapmaking (4th batch) and I just made your salt soap recipe. I added ground lavender and oatmeal, only less than a half ounce total. I used a bar mold, against your recommendation, because I recently made it myself and was dying to use it. and also fine Himalayan salt, which I just read was not a good choice. when I cut it after 7 hours, it crumbled pretty badly. Is there anyway I can re do? Reheat and repour? Also, it did not get real thick as you said it would. It poured kind of thin.
    Thank you for any advice.

  8. Poi December 19, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Just wondering. Using 50-100% of oil weight in salt…does that literally mean JUST oil weight, or does that include butters too? Thanks.

  9. Katz December 13, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Hi Amanda, I made a batch with Himalayan Pink Salt a month back and the bars are still dripping water! Why does this happen? Does the climate have anything to do with this? I live in Kerala, India where the normal temperature is between 28 degree Celsius to 32C.

    • Janna December 20, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      Himalayan pink salt isn’t good for salt bars, they will weep. Table salt or fine sea salt is ideal!

  10. Alana November 23, 2016 at 11:44 am - Reply

    hi there, just wondering how many regular bars of soap your final recipe makes? Also, I’m waiting for my individual molds and was hoping to try this recipe before they arrive via post. I heard 1 litre milk containers work as soap molds. I read you’re not a fan of log molds but if I were to use it just for a test batch, what recipe/ratio of coconut oil and salt would you recommend (to best avoid the crumbling).

    Thanks in advance!
    Alana

  11. Melissa August 8, 2016 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for breaking down the math! It was like the clouds parted and the sun was shining

  12. Raquel August 1, 2016 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Hello Amanda 🙂
    I really appreciate this..salt calculation seem so complicated. I have a question~
    I have 24 oz trays as well (24 bars), I would like to make the 100 coconut oil to 50 salt recipe. To that I would like to add 4 oz fragrance (that may seem high but, my family likes a strong fragrance) Also two tablespoons of poppy seeds. I want to make 4 trays at once with no left over (waste). What would be the recipe please? I’ve been trying to work it out all day! *Feeling frustrated* Thank you.

  13. Sara July 31, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Amanda,
    Thank you for sharing this.
    This morning I made the exact size batch as you did and it is almost 9pm and my bars are still soft. I tried unfolding one and it came apart and is still wet feeling.
    Any ideas what I could have done wrong?

    • Amanda July 31, 2016 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Sara! Exactly what kind of salt did you use?

      • Sara July 31, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

        I used sea salt. Not dead Sea salt.
        I did replace one ounce of the coconut oil with caster oil. Do you think that could be the issue?
        Some FB groups I’m in have suggested that I should have discounted the water.

        • Amanda Gail August 1, 2016 at 9:29 am - Reply

          Hi Sara! Replacing an ounce for an ounce shouldn’t make a difference. I honestly don’t know the issue. I make these all the time and they come out rock hard. How are they today?

          • Sara August 1, 2016 at 9:31 am

            They are much harder today. I was able to get them out of the mold without breaking apart. I think I was just jumping the gun. I always hear salt bars harden so fast so I thought 8hrs would be enough but I guess I should have waited longer.
            Thanks for your help and the awesome blog!

  14. Vanessa July 22, 2016 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Hi!

    I want to do the 80/10/10 recipe. My questions is for the liquid oils do I have to use 10% of the same oil or can I use two different liquid oils? I want to do 5% olive oil and 5% castor oil (which would total the 10% liquid)

    Thanks in advance

    • Amanda Gail July 22, 2016 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      Hello! yes, you can mix and match oils to get the full 10%.

  15. henry May 23, 2016 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Good day all. I want to go into soap production after goin through your blog I got some information which can help me improve on my soap making.but I want to ask
    (1) What can I add to my soap to increase the quantity of the soap.
    (2) what kind of salt can I use to harden my soap?like kind I add normal Hcl salt we use at home.
    (3) what is the best foaming agent I can use to increase the lather.
    Thank as I wait for you response.

  16. tori April 8, 2016 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    So which oil is your superfat in the final recipe? I just see coconut oil. Am I missing something? Thanks for the very simple and clear directions!

    • Colleen July 31, 2016 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      I don’t know if you got a reply, but superfatting can be done through the SoapCalc. Technically, it’s the reduction of lye. So set your super fat percentage in the SoapCalc first at 5% and look at the amount of lye in the recipe, then change the super fat % to 20 and look at the new amount of lye. I had the same question until I figured it out through SoapCalc.

  17. Heidi Reese April 4, 2016 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Since the bars harden so fast do you cover and insulate after poring?

    • Amanda Gail April 5, 2016 at 9:43 am - Reply

      No need to cover and insulate. 🙂

  18. Jeffrey March 24, 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Hey Amanda,
    This is an AWESOME tutorial – thanks so much!!

    • Amanda Gail March 24, 2016 at 11:23 am - Reply

      You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  19. Jenalle March 12, 2016 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Hi there!
    If I were to use a wooden rectangular mold, what size would you recommend? (2lbs, 3lbs, etc).
    Thanks!
    Jenalle

    • Amanda Gail March 13, 2016 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      I really wouldn’t use a log mold for salt bars… But if you really wanted to, I would make 2 lbs. You run the risk of them getting too hard that they are crumbly when cutting.

  20. Julia January 6, 2016 at 6:23 am - Reply

    Hello,
    Thanks so much for your post
    I have been doing the salt bars for a year now and I encounter a problem with the bars sweating after cure. Can you help me, maybe there is a way to keep them from sweating cause the salt absorbs water.
    Thank you

  21. irawati December 14, 2015 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    hi amanda, can i use water discount for salt soap? for example 40% lye concentration. thanks

  22. Linda Meza December 14, 2015 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Amanda, I am interested in making a few batches of salt bar soap and was a little concerned after reading Soapmaking 101 about how quickly this can set up. I too have two Bramble Berry molds, the 9 bar cube and the 12 bar squares, how fast is fast? Is there enough time to get the soap into the individual cavities? Thanks!

    • Amanda Gail December 14, 2015 at 8:08 am - Reply

      There should be time to stir and pour. Be sure to soap cool; let the coconut oil cool down to room temp without going solid. I use individual molds all of the time and have enough time to pour. Let me know how it goes!

      • Linda Meza December 14, 2015 at 9:09 am - Reply

        Will do, thanks!

  23. Amy September 18, 2015 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    How long until this soap is not zappy? I followed the recipe and instructions to a t, and HOLY ZAP! Any thoughts?

    • Amanda Gail September 18, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Amy! It shouldn’t be zappy after about 48 hours. It has a pretty high superfat (20%) so there is room for error. How long has it been?

      • amy September 18, 2015 at 6:06 pm - Reply

        Phew! I’ll be more patient! It’s only been a little over 24.
        Thanks for responding so quickly!

  24. Anne-Marie Faiola September 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this! This is so awesome and informative. Your final recipes sounds awesome and thanks for the mold and salt recommendation shout-out.

  25. Jill September 2, 2015 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Great post! I have greatly enjoyed my first salt bars and can’t wait to make more. Thanks for the info!

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