Formulating a Shave Soap Without Stearic acid or Soy wax HELP!

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New Member
Oct 1, 2015
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Cardiff, Wales. UK.
Hello All,
I would love to pick you soapers brains. I have been struggling with a shave soap recipe for some time. I am going to combine 40% NAOH & 60% KOH.
Now to get onto the major problem I have!! I refuse to use stearic acid as it is Palm derived. Also Soy wax is out for me!
Soo my idea is to use a large percentage of Kokum butter as this has 60% stearic acid content. Also perhaps some Cocoa Butter, Coconut oil, I hear that Olive oil should be avoided.
So I am roughly planning something like...
Kokum Butter 50%
Cocoa butter 10%
Coconut Oil 25%
Maybe Almond Oil 10%
And Er? 5%

Superfatting around 6%
I am a bit worried about using too many soft oils with high linoleic which may bring DOS.
Can anyone shed some light on this conundrum, or suggest other good shave soap oils?? Any reason why I shouldn't go so high with the Kokum??:)
You might be able to find Stearic Acid that's from animal fats instead of palm. I remember reading that Lush is trying to source palm-free, vegetable derived stearic acid also. Since you're in the UK, I have no idea of where you'd start to look for it. I know of some US companies that say their stearic is from sustainable palm (BB comes to mind), but I understand if you want to stay away from that too.

To get the thick, stable foam needed for shaving, you'e going to want to get that stearic as high as possible. If memory from the super-helpful shaving soap thread serves, I think most of the soaps have stearic present at least 40. Your recipe has is sitting at around 32. Honestly I'm not sure of how your kokum butter will behave since I haven't used it. I've seen it listed as a main ingredient on vegan-friendly shaving soaps - so it might be perfect. As a hunch, I'd probably take out that almond oil altogether, drop some of the CO, and use a tallow for the remaining amount. Goat has the highest amount, followed by: Deer, Beef, Sheep, and Pig.

I'm actually considering a similar approach - I'd love to hear other folks' opinions and the results of your testing if you decide to make it. Sorry that my post isn't really helpful...
Important for a shaving soap is stable lather. Using butters to get the stearic amount up is one thing, but that is just stability - you need the lather, too! Butters are known to be lather-inhibitors, so while you might be able to stabalise the lather to some degree, the lather itself might not be so good.

This might be particularly problematic when looking to use a mix of KOH and NaOH. For this I would strongly suggest using KOH only to help with lather production.

All things considered, dropping the co will not help matters at all - in fact, I would increase it.

Ultimately, though, finding an acceptable stearic would be the best option.
My first successful shaving soap- the one my hubby used happily for 6 years until I recently tweaked my formula to make it even better- had no added stearic acid in it. Instead, I used a hefty dose of tallow, kokum butter and illipe butter to get the stearic/palmitic %'s up.

My total stearic was 20% and my total palmitic was 15% for a total stearic/palmitic combo of 35%.

That might seem low to many of the wet-shaving afficianados, but hey- my hubby loved it (good glide, superior protection- no nicks, no cuts, and non-drying), and the lather was very rich and stable and remained 'intact' for at least 20 minutes without deflating- and it also got high praise from a wet-shaver on Badger and Blade who tested out for me, so there :p.

That's not to say there was no room for improvement, though. The one thing that it really needed improvement on was the 'ease of lather' factor. Both my hubby and the B&B tester said that if I could improve on that one aspect without changing any of its other qualities, it would be perfect (although they both said the other qualities were so good that they would still happily use it even though it took a little more elbow grease to get the initial lather going).

For what it's worth, here's the bare bones of my no-stearic formula to play around with on SoapCalc- the same one that hubby happily used for 6 years (made with 100% NaOH). It makes a hard puck, and for comparison sake, it is similar to the old Williams style of shave soaps:

60% combo of tallow and hard butters (i.e., kokum and illipe)
20% castor
10% bubbly oils (i.e. coconut/pko)
10% soft oils
Plus 10% glycerin ppo
Plus 1 tsp ppo kaolin clay
Superfat of 8%

I still use the same basic skeletal outline (for the most part, anyway), but I tweaked it some to eliminate the clay, and also to improve on the ease of lather factor.

One of the things that helped me improve on the ease of lather factor (without changing the other qualities my hubby loved) was to introduce KOH into my formula, so you are definitely on the right track there. :thumbup:

IrishLass :)
I've been wet shaving for a long time and tried many commercial soaps. My first try at shaving soap was better than anything I've ever purchased, and it was simple - tallow, olive, castor, avocado superfat, all NaOH. I'm sure it could be better, but I'm quite happy with it as is.

A couple of pieces of advice from a wet shaver:
1) Shaving soap lasts a LONG time because you use so little. Four ounces might last six to nine months if one shaves every day. If you're planning on testing several variations and making improvements, make SMALL samples, or years will pass. (Unless you're willing to toss the intermediate steps, of course.) A single ounce will last a month or two, while not being so small as to make lathering annoying.
2) Don't discount the olive oil. Many wet shavers are fixated on lather, but the reality is that the lather is just there to keep water and lubricants on the skin, and some of the more innovative new products don't lather at all. The slick, "slimy" feel that olive oil can provide is actually very useful for helping a razor glide over the skin. Don't go overboard because we want some lather- for aesthetics if nothing else - but 20% or so OO is useful.
3) Shaving soap doesn't need to clean. The lather should be going on an already-clean and prepped face. Coconut oil isn't necessary.
Thanks SnappyLamma,

I forgot to mention that it must also be Vegan! I know i'm really setting myself a challenge here. You are correct many suppliers used to stock coconut derived stearic acid but the Palm variety is becoming more popular (its cheaper). I have searched and searched, based in UK haven't had any luck! i may even consider buying some from US hmmm, seems mad as i am trying to be as ethical as poss!
Thanks IrishLas, This gives me hope! I have almost given up, I think I am going to go for it without the tallow. I make vegan soaps so bit of a challenge. Your recipe looks great. I am going to have a think, be brave and go mad with the Kokum! Also I am defo going with dual lyes. Will add castor to the recipe around 15%. It may be a total flop, have never worked with KOH, going hot process aswell, this should be fun!! Will keep ye posted.