Soap ingredients and their properties
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
Soap Making Ingredients
Sweet Almond Oil is often used for superfatting soaps. It is a great moisturizer, makes a stable lather and helps condition the skin. Add 1 ounce per pound of fats to your soap batch at trace.
Aloe Vera is used in creams and lotions. It's a well known healing and soothing agent for damaged, dry skin. It is soothing and healing for burns, skin irritations, and raw open wounds. Liquid aloe vera may be added to cosmetic formulations, soaps, and straight on the skin.
Apricot Kernel Oilis often used for superfatting. It is also a good moisturizer and helps condition the skin. Use one or two ounces in every pound of fat at trace.
Avocado Oil is a great moisturizer and is often used for superfatting soaps. Avocado oil contains vitamins A, D, and E, which makes it healing as well as moisturizing. Try it in a gentle baby soap. Use up to 30% as base oil.
Beeswax has the sweet smell of honey. Beeswax makes a harder bar of soap and is also used in creams, lotions, lip balms and candle making. It contains a high percentage of unsaponifiables. At best, half of these substances participate in the normal soap making reaction. You can use it at about 1 oz per lb. of oils in your base oils to make your soaps harder.
Calendula Oil has many therapeutic benefits and is known to successfully heal a variety of types of skin damage. (burns,wounds,dry skin) To superfat soap use 1 2/3 tablespoons per 5 lbs of soap at trace or use up to 20% added to other oils at the beginning of the soap making process.
Canola Oil is a good moisturizer but is less saturated than other fats, so it can be slow to saponify. Use it in place of more expensive oils like olive. Needs to be mixed with other saturated fats in order to speed up saponification. Use as a base oil up to 50%.
Castor Oil is often used to superfat. It attracts and holds moisture in the skin. Use it in combination with other vegetable oils to produce a nice hard bar of soap. You can add a bit at trace for superfatting or add it to other oils at a rate of no more than 30% in the beginning of the soapmaking process.
Cocoa Butteris used to make soaps harder. When used in soap as a superfatting oil it acts to lay down a protective layer which holds the moisture to the skin, so it is an excellent skin softener. It has a natural chocolate scent but it is also available in unscented versions. You can use it from anywhere about 1 ounce to a pound at trace, to 15% of your total base oils, depending on your preference.
Coconut Oil makes soaps lather beautifully but can be drying when it makes up a large portion of your soap's fats. It will make a very hard, white bar of soap with abundant lather. It even lathers in very hard water or even sea water). Coconut oil is a saturated fat. Use it at a percentage of no more than 20-30% in your base oils.
Cottonseed Oil produces thick and lasting lather, in addition to having emollient properties. It can be vulnerable to spoilage depending on the season, so use less of this oil. Maximum recommended usage - 25% of total base oils.
Emu Oil is reported to help heal skin tissues and help draw other ingredients (like mint) down into your skin so they are more effective. Use 1 ounce per pound at trace.
Evening Primrose Oil is absorbed quickly into skin and provides essential fatty acids that are reported to help inhibit bacterial growth and encourage antibodies so the skin is better able to defend against infection or inflammation. It is not recommended as an additive in soaps made for oily complexions. Recommended Usage - 2 tablespoons per 5 pounds of soap, added at trace.
Grapeseed Oil is a lightweight oil that absorbs into the skin quickly without leaving a heavy greasy feeling. Used in soaps as a superfatting oil. Use one ounce per pound at trace.
Hazelnut Oil is an excellent moisturizer for soaps. It is low in saturated fatty acids, so use other more saturated fats to lessen your trace time and yield a harder bar. Recommended maximum usage - 20% of total oils.
Hempseed Oil is not as stable as some other oils and can spoil quickly. It creates a silky bar of soap even if it is only used to superfat your batch. It is a less saturated fat, and since it is prone to spoilage, keep it as a small percentage of your mix to avoid having a soft, squishy soap that may spoil in a few months. Usage - As a Superfatting at 5% at trace or Base oil at 20-30% but no more than 40%.
Honey (not an oil but can be used as an additive) s also a humectant, so it helps retain moisture on the skin in much the same way as glycerin. Use it at about 2 Tablespoons per pound of oils, added at trace.
Jojoba helps to promote a stable lather and is good at conditioning skin. Because of its expense, it's usually used to superfat soap batches or in shampoo bars. It is an excellent emollient for skin conditions like psoriasis, because it has a chemical composition very close to the skin's own sebum. It is suitable for all skin types, beneficial for spotty and acne conditions, and good for sensitive and oily skin. It also helps to unclog the pores and remove any embedded grime, restores and conditions hair. When using Jojoba in soap, limit its usage to one or two ounces per pound at trace. Jojoba naturally accelerates tracing in soap recipes. Used as a Superfatting oil.
Kukui Nut Oil The kukui nut is native to Hawaii and is high in linoleic acid. It is quickly absorbed into the skin. Excellent for skin conditioning after sun exposure, as well as for acne, eczema, and psoriasis. It offers just the right amount of lubrication without leaving a greasy feeling. For soap making, use 2 tablespoons added to 5 lbs of soap at trace just before incorporating the essential oils to add richness to the soap. A higher percentage, 10-20% of the total fats also makes an outstanding soap.
Lard is made from pig fat much like bacon fat. Its advantages are that it is cheap, easily obtainable, and makes a nice lathery, white bar of soap. This fat should be combined with vegetable oils such as coconut or palm to compensate for the lard's shortcomings Without other oils it can tend to be soft and not work very well in cold water. Use it as a base oil. Recommended at 70% max of total oils.
Macadamia Oil is a luxurious and slightly expensive oil. It has a long shelf life so it can be purchased in quantity for a good price. It is a wonderful addition to any soap. It is easily absorbed into the skin and acts as an emollient protecting skin cells from deterioration and thus leading to better condition for your skin. Use for superfatting your soap. Use 1 ounce per pound at trace.
Mango Butter is extracted from the mango fruit. It is a yellowish oil and has almost no scent. It is a great moisturizer and should be used to superfat batches. Can be used at up to 15% of base or as a superfatting agent at 5% at trace.
Monoi Oil , also known as Monoi de Tahiti, is expensive but luxurious product made from coconut oil. It oil has wonderful moisturizing properties and is great for your skin. Use it as a base oil at 60% or higher.
Neem Oil Extracted from the bark of the Neem Oil Tree. This oil has the ability to treat a variety of skin disorders such as dandruff. Use as a base oil up to 40%.
Olive Oil is excellent as a base oil in soaps, either in whole (Castile soap) or in part. Avoid extra virgin olive oil. It is great for cooking but not for soap making. The lower the grade the better. Olive Oil prevents the loss of your skin's natural moisture, softens skin and attracts external moisture to your skin. It helps keeps your skin soft, supple and younger looking. If you're making an especially mild soap use Olive oil. Use as a base oil up to 100%
Palm Oil , also known as Vegetable Tallow, makes a hard bar that cleans well and is also mild. It is a good substitute for tallow in all-vegetable soaps. The quality of Palm oil is far superior to other vegetable oils that are filler oils. Palm oil is universal and used in many expensive luxury soaps. Use is as a Base oil at 20 - 30%.
Palm Kernel Oil Like Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oilmakes a soap that is very hard and lathers well. It has most of the same qualities as palm oil. Use it as a Base oil at 20-30%
Peanut Oil contributes long-lasting lather to a soap. It is highly unsaturated though, so it is prone to spoilage. Avoid using more than 20%. Peanut oil is similar to olive and castor oils and has a good amount of vitamin E. Use is as a base oil up to a 20% maximum.
Safflower Oil is an unsaturated oil and should be used in combination with palm, coconut, or a similar oil. It is valuable for its moisturizing properties. Use it as Base oil up to 60%. 20% of total is more highly recommended.
Sesame Seed Oil is said to be good for Psoriasis, Eczema, Rheumatism, and Arthritis. It makes a good superfatting oil due to its moisturizing ability. It has a strong nutty scent. It makes a softish bar unless used in conjunction with other, more saturated oils. Use it as a 10% addition to base oils.
Shea Butter is a wonderful superfatting agent and contains a large percentage of ingredients that do not react with the lye thus remaining in the soap to nourish your skin. Use it with your base at up to 20% of your total oils or as a superfatting agent at 1 2/3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of oils added at trace.
Vegetable Shortening or Soybean Oil Vegetable shortening is normally made out of Soybean Oil. It is cheap and readily available and produces a mild, stable lather. Use it in combination with other exotic or moisturizing oils. Use this as half of your fats to keep costs down. It is a good filler and makes a very hard white bar when used alone and when mixed with other oils it makes a wonderful hard bar of soap. Use vegetable shortening as a base oil or combine it with other, harder oils for better results. Recommend use as base up to 50% of total oils.
Sunflower Oil is a less expensive alternative to olive oil. It contains Vitamin E, so it naturally resists going rancid (Vitamin E is a preservative). Despite that, don't store it longer than six months. It is a less saturated oil so you want to combine it with other, more saturated, oils -- try to avoid using more than about 15-20% sunflower oil. It can make your soaps take longer to trace and to harden. Use as a Base oil up to 20%
Wheat Germ Oil This oil is thick, sticky and antioxidant. It's also very rich in vitamin E. Can be used to nourish dry or cracked skin and soothes skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. Helps to prevent and reduce scarring and may prevent stretch marks. Mature skin, in particular, will benefit from wheat germ oil. Some people use it as a preservative in vegetable oils, soaps and toiletries, and others totally disagree as to its preservative powers. On its own, wheat germ oil oxidizes rapidly. It should be kept refrigerated. Use at 1 ounce per pound added at trace.
Other ingredients that may be used in soap making
Sodium Lactate is a liquid salt that is naturally derived from the natural fermentation of sugars found in corn and beets. In food, Sodium Lactate may be used as a preservative, acting as an inhibitor of bacteria growth. In CP soap, Sodium Lactate helps to produce a harder bar of soap that lasts longer in the shower. Because Sodium Lactate is a salt, it is a natural humectant, providing moisture. This makes it a great additive to lotions, typically replacing glycerin in the recipe.
Isopropyl Alcohol, 99% also known as rubbing alcohol is almost pure isopropyl alcohol. This is a must have ingredient from most soap makers. Isopropyl alcohol has many uses in soap making. Spray it on top of cold process soap to prevent soda ash or on melt and pour to get rid of bubbles and help layers stick together.
Activated Charcoal – Our activated charcoal powder comes from various hard woods (a renewable resource). It is produced by a high temperature steam activation process and is used in pharmaceutical and food industries. We use it to make beautiful black and rich gray colors in our natural soap.
Colloidal Oatmeal: This micro-fine, ground oatmeal is not rough or abrasive. Colloidal Oatmeal makes a soothing addition to your favorite recipes. This product is excellent in face masks, milk baths, soap, and creams. Usage rate varies depending on the product. Soap recommended usage rate is up to 5%, milk bath, up to 50%, masks, up to 25% and creams up to 1%.
Powdered Goat Milk: Handcrafted, handmade soap is great for the skin and adding milk only makes it better. Goat milk is particularly moisturizing and nourishing to the skin because of capric-caprylic triglyceride. Capric-caprylic triglyceride is an effective skin moisturizer that helps to contribute to skin softness by forming a barrier on the skin to help inhibit the loss of moisture. It is the only milk that contains naturally occurring capric-caprylic triglycerides. The protein strands of goat milk are shorter than other types of milk and are more readily absorbed by skin. Goat milk is also fantastic in handmade soap because it has a lower pH (between 4.0 and 6.4), thus reducing the overall pH of the final bar of soap.
Goat milk also has naturally occurring lactic acid that helps keep skin smooth by encouraging skin turnover (it acts similar to a gentle peel). It also contains many vitamins, specifically A, D and B6, as well as the anti-oxidant Selenium.
Sea Salt can help cold process soap cure faster. Some salts such as pink Himalayan sea salt are said to be detoxifying and soothing to skin.
Arnica Flower is said to help sore muscles recover faster.
Kaolin Clay is a natural mineral used to provide ‘slip’ in shaving soaps
Slippery Elm Bark Powder is added to shaving soaps to help condition the skin and recover from abrasions
Colorants – various colorants are used in Sylvan Soaps. Some are naturally occurring and some are lab created. All are safe for most people when used in soaps.
Dye – lab created liquid used to color soaps
Pigment – lab created powders used to color soaps
Colored Clay – naturally occurring colored clay used to provide color to soaps
Herbs, Plant Powders – natural powders of herbs or plants used to add colors or for other special properties. If you know you are allergic to a herb or plant do not use a soap containing that herb or plant.
Mineral Powders – naturally occurring minerals used to add colors or exfoliating properties
Mica Powder is a naturally occurring mineral dust that adds some sparkle to soaps. It often dyed to add color as well
Bees’ Wax is used in beard balm to provide some ‘hold’ to style the beard
Lanolin This is a waxy like butter that is fabulous for luxurious lotions, soaps, balms and lip products. Lanolin is known for its excellent moisturizing properties. Because of its waxy texture, lanolin locks in moisture so it's fantastic for dry skin types. Lanolin is extracted from freshly shorn sheep wool so no animals were hurt in the process.
Vitamin E oil helps slow the oxidizing process or use it in your soap and lotions as a wonderful anti-oxidant. This is a thick, viscous oil that is easy to mix into lotions and liquid oils. This product is synthetic.
Exfoliants – powders added to soaps that provide microabrasions to help clean or refresh the skin.
Pumice, Walnut Shells, Orange Peel Powder, Coffee Grounds