Oils for Unscented or Lightly Scented CP Soap

Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums

Help Support Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums:

Pims

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2013
Messages
19
Reaction score
4
I've noticed that some unscented or lightly scented soaps smell better than others. The good ones have what seems like a slight natural sweetness to their scent. Other soaps just smell neutral or even slightly off. I've found sometimes my own soaps smell slightly off, even when I've used only brand new oils. Wondering if anyone else has experienced this and what you think may be the reason. Are some oils naturally sweeter in scent than others? Any recommendations for the best oils to use for unscented soaps in this regard?

I'll add that I use Kirkland Pure Olive Oil as my main oil a lot of the time.
 

szaza

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
1,383
Reaction score
2,546
Location
Belgium
Unrefined cocoa butter has a nice scent.
Yes!! I once made a 'chocolate soap' with 25% unrefined cocoa butter (colored with cocoa powder and melted chocolate) that actually smelled like chocolate even though I didn't add any fragrance. The smell also stayed for a long time.

Laurel berry oil also has a very distinct smell in soap.

I think mainly oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids can smell a bit off (they tend to smell a bit fishy before saponification and go rancid more easily). They do add nice properties to soap though..

Other than that some people can pick out lard soap based on smell. I also feel I can smell the difference between for example (high) coconut oil soap and (high) olive oil soap, but that's already getting pretty subtle and might just be all in my head.
 

Anstarx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2019
Messages
393
Reaction score
1,017
Location
Cloud District
100% Coconut soap. I made one test batch of it for dish soap, and it smells just like that, clean and fresh detergent smell. Somebody may not like the smell but I was amazed. I usually throw in some light herbal or citrus scent and they mix well.

Also I found different olive oil smells different in soap. Even when I both used virgin OO, a brand would smell different from the other.
 
Last edited:

earlene

Grandmother & Soaper
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2016
Messages
9,611
Reaction score
11,661
Location
Western Illinois, USA
I also notice the same thing in terms of some no-added-scent soaps smell nicer than others.

It really depends on your personal sense of smell. What I may like the smell of, you may not.

What I would suggest is that you keep a bar of every soap you make with different formulas and take note of which ones you prefer the scent of. Refer back to the oils used in the soaps you prefer and go from there.

For me, I really do like the scent of cocoa butter in soap. It smells a lot better to me than soap with shea butter, if I use only one of them in a particular formula. Used together, the odor changes, like they recombine to make a new odor or cancel each other out somehow.

There are many oils that have distinct odors in soap (or out of bottle), that some of us may find enjoyable while others would not. An example for me is hemp oil. It smells a bit like seaweed to me when used at 100% in soap (or another high percentage). But I like seaweed. I eat it; I harvest it; I grew up near the Pacific Ocean and have always loved the odor of seaweed washed ashore. But many others hate the odor of seaweed and would not even want to use soap that smells like that. Neem oil is another strongly scented oil that some people like while many other find really too strong without an added scent to mask or alter scent in the end product.
 

Pims

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2013
Messages
19
Reaction score
4
Thanks for all your thoughts - I appreciate it. What I'm trying to get at, is not so much oils or butters that smell nice in the way unrefined cocoa butter has a natural cocoa scent; but rather soaps that have a sweetness to them without a particular scent profile. It's hard to describe. Maybe it's an additive some soapmakers use. I once found a sweet but technically unscented bar at a show and the soapmaker told me it was the beer in the soap but I've smelled the same sweetness in other soaps without beer. It's just a pleasant neutral sweetness to the bars that I can't trace to a particular source.
 

earlene

Grandmother & Soaper
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2016
Messages
9,611
Reaction score
11,661
Location
Western Illinois, USA
Beer soap does have a distinct odor, but I also think the type of beer used can make a difference, as well as how it blends with the odors of the particular formula. It does fade over time however, or perhaps we just become less sensitized to it as it cures, which can happen with odors that our noses are exposed to on a regular basis.

I think the sweetness can be from additives or other water replacements, as well as from solid or powdered additives. I've used different liquids to replace water in the lye solution and they all tend to alter the odor somewhat. Anything with carbohydrates (simple sugars) could possibly contribute to a sweet smell.

Others may produce a more sour odor. For example, dairy products in soap sometimes produce a sour odor noticed my some people, while others don't really notice.

So again, I suggest trying different soap formulas (that includes additives) and determine, based on your own personal nose, which formulas seem to please you more and go from there.
 

Suchisam

Active Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2022
Messages
42
Reaction score
85
Location
Montreal
This topic really interests me because I want to make a naturally scented soap without essential oils because I'm allergic. I'd be interested to know about other oils, water replacements, extracts or other additives that smell nice in unscented soap. Gotta try that cocoa butter chocolate soap!
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
7,541
Reaction score
13,675
Location
US
I've noticed that honey or molasses in my unscented HP soap adds a definitely sweet smell. Both are heaters so it is best to warm them up and add them post-cook, which has the bonus of helping with batter fluidity, too. The downside is that they do darken the batter, especially the molasses.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
237
Reaction score
281
This may not be what you're looking for but something I do quite often is to make an infusion, usually of chamomile, a strong one, and make it as water replacement to mix the lye. A lot of ppl, my family and friends, tell me there's a slight scent of caramel or butterscotch to those soaps, whether or not I add honey to them. And I use the holy trinity of oils/fats: lard, olive and coconut, sometimes castor, oils. Rarely does anyone guess there's lard in them.
So if you've smelled sweetness, my guess is that those soaps have probably been made with a water replacement more so than a specific oil or fat. I find that the fatty acids are broken apart from their "moorings" much more easily than the components of whatever scents are in the infusions. At least the ones I've made so far.
 
Top