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Oil Properties for Soap

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Properties of soap making oils

Base
Oil, Butter or Fat

Soft,
Hard or Brittle

Properties
in Soap

Recommended
Usage

Breaking
the Rules & Other Notes

Argan

Med

Stable rich creamy bubbly lather

 5- 10%.

Referred to as "liquid gold" in Europe, Argan oil is used in soap to provide antioxidants, nutrients and Soaping Oil/Butter Hardness Cleansing Conditioning Sap Value NaOH/KOH Misc. Information conditioning to the skin. Provides a stable, conditioning to the skin.

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.

Camellia oil

       

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.

 

The iodine value is a measure of the saturation of a fat or oil (how many centigrams of iodine can be dissolved per gram of oil or fat). Saturated fats have low iodine values, and unsaturated fats have high iodine values. There are a few exceptions, but usually fats with high iodine values make softer soaps and fats with low iodine values make harder soaps. Keep iodine values in mind as you combine oils to make your own soap recipe. — North Country Soap Making Library

 

Oil Iodine Value
Almond oil, sweet 105.0
Apricot kernel oil 102.5
Avocado oil 80.0
Babassu oil 15.5
Castor oil 85.5
Camelia oil  78
Cocoa butter 36.5
Coconut oil 10.4
Coconut fractionated  1
Corn oil 122.6
Cottonseed oil 105.7
Jojoba 85.0
Lard 58.6
Moringa  68
Neem oil 71.0
Olive oil 81.1
Palm oil 54.2
Palm kernel oil 37.0
Peanut oil 93.4
Safflower oil 145.0
Sesame oil 106.6
Soybean oil 130.0
Sunflower seed oil 125.5
Tallow, beef 49.5
Tallow, mutton 40.0
Wheat germ oil 125.0

 

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