Properties Oils and Fats Used in Soap Making

Use this table as a guideline to achieve the desired quality of soap.

Base Oil, Butter or Fat Soft, Hard or Brittle Properties in Soap Use Breaking the Rules & Other Notes
Almond oil, sweet Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-12% Sweet Almond oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Apricot Kernel oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-12% Apricot Kernel is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Avocado oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-12% Avocado oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe. It is high in vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals making it a great addition to facial bars or bars for elder skin.
Babassu oil Brittle Similar to coconut oil, large fluffy bubbles, high cleansing but a bit milder than coconut oil, white color  15-30% Babassu oil is a great oil to use in place of coconut oil for those that have a coconut allergy.
Castor oil Hard Suspends the lather created by coconut oil 5-10% Some soap makers like to use 15-20% castor oil in their shampoo bars or shaving bars.
Cocoa butter Brittle Mild stabilizing lotion-like lather, hard, long lasting bar 5-15% You can experiment using cocoa butter and other butters in high amounts – up to 80%.  Try a bar made from 60% cocoa butter and 40% coconut oil.  You might like it!
Coconut Oil Hard Abundant lather, large fluffy bubbles, high cleansing, hard bar, white color 15-50% High amounts of coconut oil can be drying, however you can always use a higher superfat to counteract the drying effect. The more un-saponified oils in your soap the more moisturizing it is. Experiment with a 100% coconut oil soap with a 20% superfat.
Grapeseed oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-12% Grapeseed is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Hazelnut oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-8% Hazelnut is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Hemp Seed oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-8% Hemp Seed is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Jojoba oil Soft Stabilizes and suspends lather 5-8% Jojoba oil, a liquid wax, can kill lather when used in high amounts.
Lard Hard Mild stabilizing creamy lather, hard, white bar 25-50% 100% lard soap with no superfat makes great laundry soap.
Olive Oil Soft/Hard Low slippery lather, almost no bubbles, low cleansing 25-100% The low cleansing properties of olive oil make it very mild and nourishing. Soap for sensitive skin, elder skin or baby skin should include high amounts of olive (60%). Castile soap is made with 100% olive oil.  I classify this as a soft/hard oil because it makes a very soft bar of soap initially upon unmolding but cures into a rock hard bar.  Soaps high (50%+) in olive oil need longer to cure and unmold.
Palm Kernel oil Brittle Similar

to coconut oil, large fluffy bubbles, high cleansing but a bit milder than coconut oil, white color

15-30% Palm kernel oil is a great sub for coconut oil.  You can also use it with coconut oil to add some hardness to your bar. If you have a recipe that calls for 20% coconut oil…try using 10% coconut oil and 10% palm kernel oil.
Palm Oil Hard Mild stabilizing lather, hard, long lasting bar 25-50% Palm oil is great for those that don’t want to use animal fats such as lard or tallow. I personally do not use palm oil because of the environmental effects of producing it.
Rice Bran oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing, gives soap a sheen making it look less dull 5-12% Rice Bran oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Safflower oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-12% Safflower oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Shea butter Hard Mild stabilizing lotion-like lather, medium hard, long lasting bar 5-20% Same as cocoa butter. I typically use 5-15% but occasionally will experiment with using up to 60%.
Soybean oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-12% Soybean oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Sunflower oil Soft Medium lather, mild cleansing 5-12% Sunflower oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Tallow (beef) Hard Mild stabilizing creamy lather, hard, white bar 25-50% 100% tallow soap with no superfat makes great laundry soap.
Connect with me

Leave a Reply