Hi everyone! I'm in a quest to find a great oil and fat combination to make hard soap. I saw a chart on line on what percentage of oils and fats to use to create hard or soft soap but it can be confusing. Please advise..
Your quest is one that we are actually all on, but there are so many variables to take into consideration when it comes to formulating, such as individual skin-type, allergies, water-type, etc..., not to mention the fact that 'hardness' is a very subjective thing from person to person. More specifics would be very helpful in helping us to help you.
For what it's worth, though, the top 3 fats that contribute hardness to soap are as follows:
Others that contribute to hardness (but are more expensive than the above 3) are butters such as cocoa butter, kokum butter, mango butter, illipe butter, etc...
Also, one of the surprising biggies that contribute to hardness is olive oil, but not as immediately as the above 3- it does so over time, eventually.
Coconut oil and palm kernel oil (PKO) also contribute much to hardness, but since they are also very high on the cleansing scale, you'll want to use them with discretion so that your soap doesn't end up too drying. Those 2 also happen to be 'bubbly oils' (they create much bubbly lather).
But hardness isn't all you should think about. A well-balanced soap should also have some conditioning oils in it, as well as lathering oils.
The best advice I like to give those new the craft is to 'start somewhere' by making a small batch of soap with a trusted recipe (such as the one Dixie posted, for example), cure it for 6 weeks, test it out, and then tweak things from there. For example, if it was too drying for you, then you can lower the cleansing oils next time or increase the superfat some, etc...
There is much advice we can give you to help you tailor your soap to your liking as far as your skin-needs or likes/dislikes are, but it's much easier to do so when there is a finished soap to use as a plumb-line.
Hi everyone! Thank you so much for responding to my question. I would like to concentrate on vegan soap. I started already with few batches. For starter, I made a batch of olive, coconut, jojoba oils with lavender essential oil soap that I've seen online. The recipe was gentle enough to use for my daughter who suffer from dry skin and eczema and for the whole family. I love it but I think it was 5-8% superfatted(not quite sure at that time as I didn't know about the lye calculator until few months ago) because while using it, the bar of soap become soft and slimy. The second batch, using the same recipe but modified (I up the amount of ingredients and based them on the percentage chart to use for oils and fats and lye calculator with 5% super fatted).
25% coconut oil
69% olive oil
5-6% jojoba oil
It's currently curing and will be ready next week and I'll find out if this batch will be a little harder and not slimy but of course very conditioning as I plan to use it again for the whole family.
I also did a Tallow, coconut oil, Shea butter with oatmeal and lemon grass and lavender essential oils in one of the soap making class that I attended 3 months ago. This batch was hard soap. We are currently testing this but it leaves our skin dry so I'll skip this recipe or maybe modify it when I'm ready.
I appreciate all your advice as I would like to try to make different types of handmade soaps. Take care!
Personally, I'd leave jojoba oil for direct leave-on products. It's expensive and I think you can get a great bar of soap with less costly ingredients, then use jojoba to its best effect, directly on the skin. You say you'd like to do a vegan bar but I see you are not opposed to lard. "Mild" can refer to the cleansing factor which would be affected more by your percentage of coconut than the use of lard/tallow/palm. Take notes on your bars so you can refine what you like and not.
The superfat is not what will make the bar slimy. If you did not dry the bar between uses or had a poorly draining soap dish, that would have a huge impact on the soft and slimy factor. Also the length that you cured it would as well. A younger bar is more likely to dissolve faster which if left wet, can increase your chances of having softness, although any handmade soap left wet will get gunky.
That bar got slimy due to the high olive oil content, and/or insufficient cure time. High olive oil soaps need months to cure properly. Try something like this, but you MUST use a lye calculator to ensure safety!
Lard/Tallow/Palm Oil(one at the time, not all) 60%
Olive Oil 20%
Coconut Oil 15%
Castor Oil 5%
You need to cure that soap 4-6 weeks before using it, though. It makes all the difference.(HP also requires 4-6 week cure.)
I would use lard, it makes the most lovely conditioning lather, IMHO.
Hi everyone! Yes, I do think I should decrease the amount of olive oil on my recipe and I should make sure the bar of soap I'm using for shower will have time to dry in between use. I shall tweak my recipe tomorrow and make a batch! So exciting! Thanks everyone for all your suggestions!
Hi Jules92207, may I ask if the recipe you posted here is gentle to use for baby with sensitive skin and eczema? Do you use 5% or 8% superfat? The one I made 4 weeks ago was modified due to lower weight for desire mold I have to use. By doing so, I didn't realize that I up the coconut oil amount which is cleansing and drying for baby's skin. I will not use this batch of soap for my daughter but just for us. Thanks!
Ditto what TEG said. When my son was a baby, I was told not to use any soap on him until he was about a year old (baby skin is so sensitive and their immune systems are still developing, etc...). So, we just used plain water to wash him and it turned out to be more than adequate.
^^They are correct, if it's an infant under 1 year I would not use any soap. Water should be sufficient for a nice rinse but they really don't need any soap yet. When they actually start getting dirty cause they can get messy on their own then this bar is probably ok, but you may want a more simple bar, such as a olive oil soap, to minimize to many factors they can be allergic to.
I started with olive oil soaps for him at first then once I knew his skin was responding well I tried other combos, like the one I posted. I would just test one at a time to be sure there is no reactions.
All the recipes I found on line calls for 80-90% olive oil and either combo of castor and coconut or coconut and other oils. So far, the batch that I mentioned soft and slimy works well with my daughter.. Just need to keep that soap dry so it won't melt on me.. Do you guys use the Lye Calculator when you double or triple your recipe? And does the lye calculator gives you accurate answer? I have not use it for multiple batch yet, only for 1 batch..
Always run a new recipe through a lye calc, even if you're just increasing or reducing the size. Yes, the commonly used lye calculators will give accurate answers. Many people use Soapcalc or the calcs at websites such as Bramble Berry, Majestic Mountain Sage, Summer Bee Meadow, etc, etc.
There will be differences in the answers from various calcs. The main reason for the differences is that the saponification values for various fats are estimates -- there is no one sap value for a given fat, because a given type of fat (olive oil, lard, coconut oil, etc.) is not perfectly the same all the time. This variation is normal when we use products from nature. The solution to this problem is to ignore it -- decide which calc you like best and stick with it.