soap making oil chart

Free Download – Soap Making Oil Chart

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Base
Oil, Butter or Fat

Soft,
Hard or Brittle

Properties
in Soap

Recommended
Usage

Breaking
the Rules & Other Notes

Coconut
Oil

Hard

Abundant
lather, large fluffy bubbles, high cleansing, hard bar, white color

15-50%

High amounts of coconut oil can be drying, however you can always use a higher superfat to counteract the drying effect. The more un-saponified oils in your soap the more moisturizing it is.
Experiment with a 100% coconut oil soap with a 20% superfat. 

Palm Oil

Hard

Mild
stabilizing lather, hard, long lasting bar

25-50%

Palm oil is great for those that don’t want to use animal fats such as lard or
tallow. I personally do not use palm oil because of the environmental effects of producing it. 

Olive
Oil

Soft/Hard

Low
slippery lather, almost no bubbles, low cleansing

25-80%

The low cleansing properties of olive oil make it very mild and nourishing. Soap for sensitive skin, elder skin or baby skin should include high amounts of olive (60%). Castile soap is made with 100% olive oil.  I classify this
as a soft/hard oil because it makes a very soft bar of soap initially upon unmolding but cures into a rock hard
bar.  Soaps high (50%+) in olive oil need longer to cure and unmold.

Lard

Hard

Mild
stabilizing creamy lather, hard, white bar

25-50%

100% lard soap with no superfat makes great laundry
soap.

Tallow
(beef)

Hard

Mild
stabilizing creamy lather, hard, white bar

25-50%

100% tallow soap with no superfat makes great laundry soap.

Babassu oil

Brittle

Similar
to coconut oil, large fluffy bubbles, high cleansing but a bit milder than
coconut oil, white color

 15-30%

Babassu oil is a great oil to use in place of coconut oil for those that
have a coconut allergy.

Palm
Kernel oil

Brittle

Similar
to coconut oil, large fluffy bubbles, high cleansing but a bit milder than
coconut oil, white color

15-30%

Palm kernel oil is a great sub for coconut oil.  You can also use it with
coconut oil to add some hardness to your bar.  If you have a recipe that
calls for 20% coconut oil…try using 10% coconut oil and 10% palm kernel
oil. 

Cocoa butter

Brittle

Mild
stabilizing lotion-like lather, hard, long lasting bar

5-15%

You can experiment using cocoa butter and other butters in high amounts –
up to 80%.  Try a bar made from 60% cocoa butter and 40% coconut
oil.  You might like it!

Shea
butter

Hard

Mild
stabilizing lotion-like lather, medium hard, long lasting bar

5-20%

Same as cocoa butter.  I typically use 5-15% but occasionally will
experiment with using up to 60%.

Castor oil

Hard

Suspends
the lather created by coconut oil

5-10%

Some soap makers like to use 15-20% castor oil in their shampoo bars or shaving
bars.

Apricot
Kernel oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-12%

Apricot Kernel is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe. 

Avocado oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-12%

 Avocado oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe. It is high in vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals making it a great addition to
facial bars or bars for elder skin.

Jojoba
oil

Soft

Stabilizes
and suspends lather

5-8%

Jojoba oil, a liquid wax, can kill lather when used in high amounts.

Sunflower oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-12%

Sunflower oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

Grapeseed oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-12%

Grapeseed is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

Hazelnut oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-8%

Hazelnut is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

Hemp
Seed oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-8%

Hemp Seed is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

Safflower oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-12%

Safflower oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

Soybean
oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-12%

Soybean oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

Rice Bran oil

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing, gives soap a sheen making it look less dull

5-12%

Rice Bran oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

Almond
oil, sweet

Soft

Medium
lather, mild cleansing

5-12%

Sweet Almond oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

 

Soft, hard and brittle?  What does that mean?

Oils, fats and butters are generally classified as soft, hard or brittle.  You’ll see that I did so in the soap making oil chart.

Soft oils are generally oils that are liquid at room temperature such as olive oil, castor oil, sweet almond, rice bran…etc.  As a general rule, soap made from a high percentage of these oils will be on the softer side.  The only exception to this rule is olive oil.  Soap made from a high percentages of olive oil is soft upon un-molding but will cure to be a really hard bar of soap.

Hard oils are oils, fats and butters that are solid but scoopable at room temperature such as palm oil, lard, tallow, coconut oil, mango butter and shea butter.  Hard oils make a hard bar of soap.

Brittle oils are oils that are solid at room temperature but require some chipping at or a bit of elbow grease to break them up.  These generally include palm kernel oil and cocoa butter.  Brittle oils make a hard bar of soap.

Here are some general rules when talking about soft, hard and brittle percentages in your recipe.

Hard and brittle oils

Soap made with higher percentages of hard and brittle oils will be easier and quicker to un-mold.  These soaps set up quickly and harden faster than soaps made with high percentages of soft oils.  Recipes high in hard or brittle oils can be hard to swirl or do advanced designs with that take time as the soap can set up too quickly.

Recipes high in hard and brittle oils make un-molding soap easier in single cavity molds.

Soap made with higher percentages of hard and brittle oils will require higher temps when mixing.  If you soap at too low of a temperature you can get what is called false trace.  This is when the solid and brittle oils start thickening up/re-solidifying because of the low temperatures.  It looks similar to trace so you might end up pouring your soap before you reach trace.  Keep the oil temps in the range of 100-110 F.

Soft oils

Soap made with high percentages of soft oils tend to be softer and stickier when un-molding.  Simply leave them in the mold a day or two longer before un-molding and cutting.  If you are using single cavity molds, you can try freezing them to harden and hopefully the soap will pop out easier.

Soap made with soft oils, especially olive oil, is slower to trace and setup.  This makes them perfect for swirling.  You have more time to color and play with the soap batter.

What are your favorite oil combos and percentages to use?  Do you like to break out of the box and do anything wacky?  Please leave a comment!