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May 10, 2016
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Hello Everyone,

I'm Sue from East Malaysia and love DIY. I'm a newbie to soap-making and doing research on soap-making via online and ebooks. So far, I'm trying to find the available ingredients to make soap. In my town, so far I can't find any soap-makers except for a German lady but she don't teach.

Anyway, I can get cheap coconut oil and oil palm here; and would like to know whether this recipe is doable ? (so I can make for my own use and for my family/friends) I hope to make a soap that will lather well, moisturing and don't melt easily. All advises are very much appreciated.

This self-recipe, I calculate in the SoapCalc:
Total Oil weight = 500g, Water as % of oil = 26%, Super Fat/Discount =5%
Palm Oil 35% = 175g
Coconut Oil 35% = 175g
Sunflower Oil 30% = 150g
Lye = 130g
Water = 130g

By the way, what is Super Fat/Discount = 5% ? (read about it )
I can get caustic soap flakes/lye @ 99% here and it sells in a bag of 25kg at a cheap price otherwise I have to order online, for 1 kg at 30% of the cost of 25kg. As such, should I buy the 25kg ? :confused:

Thank for all your help.
Hey, and welcome!

You need to be sure that caustic soap flakes are sodium hydroxide (NaOH) before ordering any of them. I, personally, would not order 25 kg at once because I can't provide that much air tight storage. Sodium hydroxide (and potassium hydroxide) will absorb moisture from the air, and I live in a very humid area. I would order smaller amounts.

Superfat is what percentage of oils that does not get used by the NaOH. It helps keep you from having a lye excess in your soap. It also allows some of the oil to remain on your skin to help prevent dryness.

You may want to drop your Coconut Oil (CO) to 20% or less to help prevent it from drying your skin. It is the most cleansing oil you are using. I would add the remainder to the palm.

If you can get lard (pig fat) there, I would suggest using that instead of palm.

Do you have safety goggles and gloves? Those are VERY necessary!

Also, you need a good digital scale and an immersion blender (stickblender).

You need to read all the stickies in the beginner forum. There is a LOT of great info there.
I would not buy a large amount of lye at first. Lye can draw moisture if it sets around for a long period of time. A good lye calculator such as SoapCalc (which is available online for free), is essential.

I would tweak your recipe a bit:
Coconut 20%
Palm 40%
Sunflower 40%

I'm soap with lard myself, but if you have access to plentiful and cheap palm, I'd stick with that. Do you have access to olive oil or rice bran oil? If you do, you may want to replace some of the sunflower with that.
I agree with Susie and lsg -- their advice is good.

A 25 kg bag of NaOH will make about 200 batches of soap using 500 g of oils. Are you sure you want to make that much? :) I would start with 1 kg, if I were a beginner. Be absolutely certain you are buying SODIUM HYDROXIDE (NaOH, caustic soda), not sodium carbonate (Na2CO3, soda or soda ash) or any other chemical.

Superfat (lye discount) is a way to make sure your soap has a little bit of extra fat in it so all of the lye (NaOH) is completely used up. A little extra fat is safe, but extra lye is not. Leave the lye discount at 5% for now. You can always change the number later as you learn more about soap making.

Your recipe:
Total Oil weight = 500g
Water as % of oil = 26%
Super Fat/Discount =5%

Palm Oil 35% = 175g
Coconut Oil 35% = 175g
Sunflower Oil 30% = 150g

Lye = 130g
Water = 130g

The lye (NaOH) is much, much too high for the weight of oils in this recipe. The NaOH should be about 73 grams, not 130 grams, for this recipe. Recheck your work!

At "Water as % of oil = 26%" then your amount of water is correct, but that is a lye concentration of about 35%. With this lye concentration and 35% coconut oil in your recipe, the soap batter may turn into a solid very fast. That may not be a good thing, especially since you are a beginner. You may want to use the "Lye concentration" setting and set the lye concentration to about 30%. That should slow your recipe down so you have more time to work.

I am going along with the fats you have listed in your recipe. You can always try other fats (such as lard!) to see if you like them better than these. Do not buy a lot of fats right away -- you need to experiment to see what you like best.

There are several types of sunflower oil -- linoleic oil, mid-oleic oil, and high oleic oil. You need to know which one you have before using it in soap. See my article to figure that out --

If you have high oleic sunflower, this recipe is fine as written. It is higher in coconut oil than I like for my skin, but you may like it very well for your skin. Try it and see.

If you have linoleic sunflower oil, the soap may be too soft and may turn rancid fast. If so, you may want to reduce the sunflower to 50 to 75 grams and increase the palm oil so the total weight of oils equals 500 grams again. I would not increase the coconut oil.
Last edited:
Susie, Isg, Dixiedragon & DeeAnna; thanks very much for all your valuable advices.

I have amended my recipe and pls comment whether it is alright for me to proceed: Tks.

Lye - 70g and Water - 165g = Total Liquid is 235g

Coconut oil - 100g (20%), Palm Oil - 200g (40%) Rice Bran Oil - 50g (10%) and Sunflower oil - 150g (30%) = Totao Oil is 500g (100%)

p/s: I have a few queries which I come across in soap making but don't understand :
(1) what is coconut oil - 76 degree vs 97 degree ?
(2) how to use and function of vegetable shortening ? it is a substitute of shea butter ?

Thanks for all your help and have a nice day.
Coconut oil, 76 degree, is the regular coconut oil. It melts at about 76 degrees F. If the label just says "coconut oil" this is the kind you have.

Coconut oil, 97 degree, is much less common. It melts at a slightly higher temperature (around 97 degrees F) than regular coconut oil. It can be used to make soap exactly the same as regular coconut oil, 76 degrees.

Vegetable shortening is NOT a substitute for shea butter. There are many kinds of vegetable shortening. You must read the nutrition label to see what fats are in the shortening. Some shortening is 100% palm oil. Some is a mixture of palm oil and other fats. It is hard to say how to use it without knowing the ingredients first.
Hi sloh, welcome to the forum. You live in a beautiful place!

Depending on where you are on Borneo, I believe you have access to illipe butter and possibly mango butter? You can try either of those instead of shea butter in a soap recipe - I'd suggest 10 to 20% for a recipe.

Palm oil and lard provide many similar qualities to soap, and since you probably have a palm tree growing in your yard, I bet its far more accessible than lard.

You also probably have access to hemp oil. Many people like it in soap, but they also say it goes rancid pretty quickly, so should only be used in very small amounts.

It would help if we knew what kind of sunflower oil you have - can you send the nutritional information from your label and then we can tell you if its high or low oleic sunflower oil.

Instead of sunflower, you can use olive, rice bran oil, even some sweet almond oil.
DeeAnna and Lenarenee, thanks for your kind advices. I just bought 500g of lye and when I have all the ingredients in my hands, I will start my 1st basic soap for myself and my family. Can't wait to start my new hobby....