Formulating recipes advice for fast or slow tracing

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Oct 17, 2014
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Dunedin New Zealand

I've been working on formulating soap recipes using fatty acid profiles. My question is can you look at a recipe and tell if it will trace really fast? That would be more to do with the oils wouldn't it? What makes an oil trace quickly, does it come back to it's fatty acid profile? Or is there just a list of oils. I know that olive oil is slow and cocoa butter is fast, but if I have 2% cocoa butter in a recipe will that speed up trace by itself or is it a holistic whole recipe thing?

Thanks for your advice, apologies for the vagueness and apologies if I have posted this in the wrong place as it isn't a recipe per se.


Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2013
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It is more about the FO/EO for me than anything else. My base recipes trace very slowly, but those FOs can give you soap on a stick in a hurry. Other than that, you will learn which recipes/fragrances trace faster through experience.


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Apr 11, 2015
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New York City
I like ngian's link. Maybe the only thing left out was free fatty acids.

Free fatty acids result from triglycerides (oil molecules) that have been broken up. This can happen over time, often accelerated by heat and moisture. Increasing FFAs is one part of oils turning rancid, though it's not the part that makes them smelly.

In contrast to triglycerides, free fatty acids saponify instantly. The stearic acid flake or bead that is sometimes used in soaping is free fatty acid and demonstrates the effect. More than a very small percentage will seize up your batch.

So, if you want slow trace, you should be sure to use fresh, good quality oils. The FFA content of oil can increase over time and speed trace. Certain oils can also typically have higher FFA amounts. This can include tropical butters, especially unrefined, and some olive pomace oils, so these might not be the best ingredients to avoid fast trace,

I would also add that I had the same impression about lauric and myristic acid (characteristic of coconut oil) accelerating trace as stated in that article. However, it turns out that 100% coconut oil doesn't trace all that fast, so maybe that's overstated.


Well-Known Member
Oct 29, 2014
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Eagle Point, Oregon
If you keep you hard oils down to 45%, and use full water, or only slightly discounted water, and don't over mix (mix just to emulsion to buy time when using a lot of colors)and don't use a notorious fast tracing FO, you should have a good recipe that will give you plenty of time for anything you want to do.

My latest recipe has 48 hard oils, but 10% of those is lard, which is a bit more forgiving than say Palm oil, which is a faster tracer than Lard. The butters are also faster tracers, although my latest recipe has 9 Mango butter, and seems to be OK, so far.
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