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oil substitutions for soap making

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reflection

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i thought it'd be good to have one thread discussing substitutions for various oils, specifically for soap making, as i keep seeing mention of them online and jotting them down & can't remember where i jotted them. i know some don't use animal fats, others don't use palm, some have allergies and of course cost considerations.

here are a couple i've heard:

Coconut Oil for Palm Kernel Oil

Canola Oil for Olive Oil

questions: is there a sub for Castor Oil? can butters replace things like lard or tallow?

if you want to add substitutions for additives that is cool too. (e.g. subs for beeswax for the vegans).
 

earlene

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I don't know if others have found this to be the case, but I found sesame oil alone produces a lot of bubbles, so I use it for castor sometimes. Or adding anything with sugars can increase bubbles. Egg yolk boosts bubbles, too. (Just run the faucet into a bowl after beating eggs for an omelet and see all the bubbles.)

Rice bran oil for olive oil.
 

topofmurrayhill

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i thought it'd be good to have one thread discussing substitutions for various oils, specifically for soap making, as i keep seeing mention of them online and jotting them down & can't remember where i jotted them. i know some don't use animal fats, others don't use palm, some have allergies and of course cost considerations.
There are categories of oils based on what fatty acids they contribute to the soap. Oils within a category can substitute for each other. With more experience you can even learn to adjust the amounts so that alternative recipes are more similar to each other, for instance by looking at the fatty acid profile of a recipe in Soapcalc.

Here is more info about what oils fall into the various categories:

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showpost.php?p=595379&postcount=18
 

lsg

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I have never heard of a good substitute for Castor oil. I do not use canola oil because it is prone to rancidity and the soap is prone to DOS. High oleic rice bran oil is a good sub for olive oil. I order my rice bran oil in bulk from Riceland.
 

dixiedragon

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I don't consider canola a substitute for - well - anything in soap. IMO - cheap filler oil. It goes rancid more quickly and it makes a tacky feeling soap.

Lard, tallow and palm are fairly interchangeable.
If you want to use a butter instead of one of those, try shea butter at 50%, but drop your superfat to 2%. I've got a batch of that curing now and I'm eager to try it.
Substitute SOME olive for sunflower. But not all.
Substitute SOME olive for rice bran. But not all. IMO, these three - rice bran, sunflower and olive, work together. I haven't done a blind test, though.
 

Arimara

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Babassu is a nice but pricey sub for coconut oil and I really think it's more gentle too. Besides using avocado oil in place of olive oil sometimes, especially when I don't have olive oil on hand, I tend only to use substitutions for when I don't want a cleansing factor but still want a hard bar in 12 weeks.
 
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dixiedragon

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Sounds like you are looking for some kind of "master list". That's not really possible. The oils people choose for their soaps are based on lots of things - cost, availability, ethical/cultural/religious considerations (vegan, palm-free, no lard, etc), water (water affects how soap performs) and finally their personal preference.

You probably won't find one single substitution that will get universal approval. For example, IMO, a soap that is 50% palm doesn't feel as good as 50% lard. Maybe it's my skin, maybe it's my water, maybe it's all in my head. A lot of us think castor is crucial. But quite a few of us are "meh. I use sugar and it's fine". Some people like avocado oil in their soaps. IMO, it's wasted in soap but lovely in any kind of leave on product.

I do like to Google "properties of soap making oils" and read the various lists. It gives me ideas. But those are only IDEAS and guidelines.
 

reflection

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Sounds like you are looking for some kind of "master list". That's not really possible. The oils people choose for their soaps are based on lots of things - cost, availability, ethical/cultural/religious considerations (vegan, palm-free, no lard, etc), water (water affects how soap performs) and finally their personal preference.
i get what you're saying. how about rough guidelines, then. :) it just helps to know what the options are & i thought it might be helpful to other newbies.

i wouldn't use canola oil myself but thought i'd post it as i read the info. i luv olive oil.

I do like to Google "properties of soap making oils" and read the various lists. It gives me ideas. But those are only IDEAS and guidelines.
i'll keep that in mind. i found a couple great lists the other day:

qualities of soap making oils
properties of soap making oils
 
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Arimara

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Sounds like you are looking for some kind of "master list". That's not really possible. The oils people choose for their soaps are based on lots of things - cost, availability, ethical/cultural/religious considerations (vegan, palm-free, no lard, etc), water (water affects how soap performs) and finally their personal preference.

You probably won't find one single substitution that will get universal approval. For example, IMO, a soap that is 50% palm doesn't feel as good as 50% lard. Maybe it's my skin, maybe it's my water, maybe it's all in my head. A lot of us think castor is crucial. But quite a few of us are "meh. I use sugar and it's fine". Some people like avocado oil in their soaps. IMO, it's wasted in soap but lovely in any kind of leave on product.

I do like to Google "properties of soap making oils" and read the various lists. It gives me ideas. But those are only IDEAS and guidelines.
Are ya sure 'bout that? I've made an 100% avocado oil soap and it feels nothing like a castile. I've found that it adds a nice slickness so to speak, especially when coupled with olive oil. :mrgreen: But I can't say I don't agree with you about the leave-on products. my recent batches of lotions are fantastic (I finally found a recipe to use and it uses avocado oil). Too bad I can't buy any more cetearyl alcohol for a while.
 

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For me:

Olive sometimes gets subbed with Hazelnut or Avocado
Coconut is normally split with Palm Kernel Flakes since they play really well together
Lard could be subbed with tallow or palm - but why? It's too lovely in soap to fiddle with...
Castor is a unique snowflake

If I plan on using Pumpkin Seed Oil, I borrow from my Olive Oil portion but still put in some Olive Oil since I watch my fatty acid profile on pumpkin. I did the same for using Hemp, but had DOS even watching my fatty acid so just don't use it anymore.

I use milks in almost all my soap and sub in Coconut Milk for Goat Milk if I'm making something vegan OR in salt bars (just like to stick with a coconut theme on those + the lighter lather boost goes nicely imho). Sometimes I'll combine them in the regular recipe depending on the lather I want. I keep meaning to try almond milk too. I do not sub in cow's milk/cream as my nose picks up on the butyric acid - blech in my recipe.

I use butters fairly often but consider each pretty distinct. I normally reach for Shea since saponified Mango feels harsh to me (love it in B&B though). Cocoa Butter gives my primary recipe a texture I don't care for though I do have a vegan recipe where that texture works well. I'm planning on trialing more butters in the future for grins.
 

reflection

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guys, this thread is super helpful. :)

I use milks in almost all my soap and sub in Coconut Milk for Goat Milk if I'm making something vegan OR in salt bars (just like to stick with a coconut theme on those + the lighter lather boost goes nicely imho).
oooh, coconut milk in soap. that sounds amazing. once i get a few batches of soap down i'd like to try a milk soap. i didn't realize people used coconut milk. i have a hair conditioner with it that i buy and it is so rich & creamy.
 

Susie

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There is no substitute for personal experience. None. We can tell you all day that we substitute this for that, but until you try it yourself, you just don't know that YOU like what it brings to the soap. The best idea is to start with a simple 3 or 4 oil soap and go from there. Castile (100% Olive Oil) takes 6-12 months to cure, so I do not recommend it for a newbie that needs to learn the properties of the oils.
 
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snappyllama

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guys, this thread is super helpful. :)



oooh, coconut milk in soap. that sounds amazing. once i get a few batches of soap down i'd like to try a milk soap. i didn't realize people used coconut milk. i have a hair conditioner with it that i buy and it is so rich & creamy.
It gives more bubbles just like with goat milk, but I think they are a little fluffier/less dense than goat milk. You can either use canned coconut milk or use coconut milk powder which is easier and goes a long way.

When you get ready to try it, let us know... we can give tips on successfully using milks in soap. :)
 

Steve85569

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IMO, coconut milk is WAY easier than animal milk.
Yup. That make two of us.

I know it's redundant but:
ALWAYS run any change in a recipe through a lye calculator since oils all have different SAP values.
I have a list somewhere that I think I got here. It may have been the link that TOMH put up earlier in this thread...
 

reflection

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There are categories of oils based on what fatty acids they contribute to the soap. Oils within a category can substitute for each other. With more experience you can even learn to adjust the amounts so that alternative recipes are more similar to each other, for instance by looking at the fatty acid profile of a recipe in Soapcalc.

Here is more info about what oils fall into the various categories:

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showpost.php?p=595379&postcount=18
i'm bringing your post over to this thread in case anyone wants to read it hear as it's really good:

Oils and Fatty Acids 101

As you read this post, look at the fatty acid numbers in Soapcalc for the various oils, so you can see what I'm talking about.

Oils tend to be composed of several fatty acids, but they can also be broadly classified as being a good source of a specific fatty acid. If you are aiming at a certain fatty acid profile, you will tend to turn to these oils:

Palmitic Oils
Palm oil (duh), lard and tallow.

Stearic Oils
Tallow, high melting point soy wax and tropical nut butters (shea, cocoa, etc.).

Lauric Oils
Coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm kernel flakes, babassu.

Oleic Oils
Olive oil (duh), olive oil, olive oil, and olive oil.
Also specially-bred versions of certain oils such as high-oleic sunflower oil and high-oleic safflower oil. Also some specialty oils like avocado and sweet almond.

Linoleic Oils
Soy oil, regular sunflower oil, regular safflower oil and various others that have similar fatty acid profiles if you look in Soapcalc.

Ricinoleic Oils
Castor oil.

Some random notes:

There is no such thing as "sunfloweriness". Linoleic sunflower oil and high-oleic sunflower oil have completely different fatty acid profiles and bring completely different properties to soap. When you talk about or purchase one of the oils that is available in different versions like sunflower or safflower, you have to be clear about which one you're thinking of. They are different oils even if they are both produced by the same plant species.

As a point of interest, olive oil, palm oil and lard are more similar than they seem. Palm and lard can be solid because they have a greater amount of palmitic acid (saturated, so it tends to solidify the oil), but they also have a lot of oleic acid. Olive is an oleic oil (monounsaturated, which tends to make oil liquid), but it has a bigger helping of palmitic acid than most other oleic oils. If you put it in the fridge, it will partly solidify. This inner hardness quality helps olive make an acceptable single-oil soap (castile). It contributes a little more hardness to any recipe compared to other oleic oils.

Some people like to use rice bran oil and some consider it a substitute for olive oil. RBO is an unusual oil and not so classifiable. It has significant amounts of palmitic and oleic acid, but it also has a large helping of linoleic acid. The palmitic gives it that inner hardness like olive oil, but the linoleic acid limits how much you can use, so it's not entirely an OO substitute.
 
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