Help A Newbie Out?

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New Member
Dec 9, 2014
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Thanks in advance for any and all info anybody can give me!

I've been looking around online at soap recipes and I wasn't quite sure what kinds of oils I should be using. SOOOOO I went to my local health food store (I'd kind of prefer to stick to organic, non GMO stuff) and they had coconut oil, olive oil, food grade almond oil, and SWEET almond oil that was being sold as a bath/body product. The almond oils seemed to be cheaper and they had them in bigger bottles so I'm kind of leaning toward those, but can anyone explain exactly what the difference between almond and sweet almond oil and which is best for soap making (if there's any real difference at all)? Also, it would be greatly appreciated if anyone would like to share their favorite soap recipes. ANNNNNND one last thing: do I need a stick blender, or is that something that makes things easier but isn't completely necessary?


Supporting Member
Aug 16, 2014
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Near Charlotte NC
Hi and welcome meanbucket! I would say a stick blender is pretty necessary. You could hand stir, but it could take hours to do what could have been done in minutes. Check thrift stores in your area; some folks have had good luck getting them there.

As far as almond vs sweet almond, I *think* the non-sweet one is bitter almond oil which has different properties. I'm not sure if it is suitable for soaping though as I haven't run across a SAP value for it.

Each oil in a soap recipe has different properties that bring individual elements to the party. I suggest reading back through the beginner section of the forum to get an idea or hows and whats that folks like. Another great resource is the Soaping101 channel on youtube.

My go-to recipe is:

45% Lard
20% Coconut
30% olive Oil
5% Castor

5-8% SF depending on who I'm making it for
Aug 1, 2013
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I am going to hit you with some links first to answer the almond/sweet almond question:

However, only has one almond oil listed on it. That is sweet almond oil. Which leads me to believe they have the same SAP value.

Next, I find my stick blender invaluable. Saves hours of hand stirring. Some people don't use them, but I don't understand how they don't look like a body builder in one arm. If you are looking to cut costs, check your local thrift stores(Goodwill and the like) for stickblenders. I have gotten 2 there for about $2. While you are there, look for crock pots and pick one up if you can. Plug them in before you pay for them to be sure they work. Getting spares of these is not a bad idea if they have more than one available.

You are going to need a good digital scale. One that weighs in at least tenths of ounces and grams. This is NOT where you save money. Buy the best you can afford. Don't get a postal scale as they are not good for weighing while contents are being added.

You are going to need to do some homework before making your first batch. The first of which is to learn to use a lye calculator. This is not negotiable. You need to run every recipe through a lye calculator for yourself no matter where you got it. Typos happen and your safety is involved. I use, but other lye calculators are available. Here is an excellent tutorial on using

Next you need to watch some videos to see how it is done. Here is a good starter video with her follow up on equipment and supplies you can find at the dollar store:



You don't need to follow her recipe, but you do need to watch the techniques and pay attention to safety. Plan to get a good pair of safety goggles. The ones that do not have holes under the eyes. Even if you wear glasses, you need safety goggles over the top of them. Gloves are not optional. Neither is long sleeves. Do not wear your best clothes to make soap in. Do wear real shoes(no sandals or slippers) with closed toes.

You need to tell us what kind of soap you want to make, and whether you have any aversion to using animal fats before we can offer recipes. Also helpful to know would be whether you have dry or oily skin and whether you live in a dry climate or a humid one.

OH, and welcome to the forum, and the addiction. Resistance is futile.
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Staff member
Feb 11, 2008
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Right here, silly!
Welcome Meanbucket!

From what I understand, there are only 2 different types of almond oil- sweet and bitter. The only almond oil I am familiar with is the sweet kind. That's the kind we use in our soap, which I believe is also the same as food-grade. The bitter kind is from a different kind of almond tree and has a very strong smell and is used more like an essential oil in small quantities to scent things (instead of soaping with it).

A stickblender is not an absolute necessity, but it sure does help. I don't like being without mine, but I could definitely make soap anyway if I didn't have one.

A good starter recipe that I don't mind sharing is:

40% olive oil
27% lard (or palm)
25% coconut oil
8% castor
Superfatted @ 6% or 7%

IrishLass :)


Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2014
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South Texas
Welcome mean bucket. I think the others have you covered. I stay in pretty good shape, so I'm sure I could hand blend Castille soap to a heavy trace without a problem. Doesn't mean I'd want to do it. :) Get yourself a cheap stick blender, it makes life so much easier.


Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2014
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So Cal
Yeah get the stick blender - my friend thought she didn't need it, on her first batch she pinged me like TWO HOURS after she had started and it still had not traced and she was sure she'd done something wrong. It FINALLY traced, but thats when I went out and bought a spare stick blender cause why would you want to suffer like that?