The secret to the absolute best soap recipe (2023)

Your perfect soap recipe probably doesn't exist.Still.

Tired of testing endless rando recipes on the internet and never finding the perfect one? Well, I'll let you in on the secret.

After years of formulating soap recipes for soap companies (including two of my own), I can create a soap recipe with a specific list of properties without even touching my supplies. This skill came from learning the basic building blocks of a soap recipe and how to combine them.

The secret to the absolute best soap recipe (1)

What's your perfect soap recipe wish list?

What are your must-haves when it comes to making the perfect bar of soap?

  • The best soap recipe results in a bar with rich, creamy foam.
  • The result is a rock-hard bar of soap that lasts a long time (but not too durable!)
  • A perfect soap formula cleanses without being overly drying and has just the right amount of skin-nourishing oils and additives.
  • And of course,The ideal soap recipe would cost no more than $1.50 a piece to make.

Sounds like music to your ears, rock star?


The best soap recipe thing?

The perfect soap recipe is as unique as you are.It's the holy grail of soap making.

Therefore, the features I like about my soap are probably different from the ones you like (and unlikewhat your customers like!) ILovecreamy firm bubbles. When I drop a bar of soap on my floor I love it when it's hard enough that it iscompleteintact.

I also like to lather a bar of soap in my hands (while you might like to use a loofah.) And I have semi-soft tap water (while you may have extremely hard water.) These factors alter the performance of a soap bar.

So this means that the perfect soap formula for me is not necessarily the perfect soap recipe for you. And more importantly, what your customers think is the best soap recipe can be wildly different from both. (In all honesty, they probably aren't as picky and willing to make tiny changes as we soap makers are!)

First, list what is important to you in a bar of soap. (And when you're selling, think about what's important to youwhat your customer wants!)

Getting away:The perfect soap recipe is different for everyone. Decide what is most important to you and your customers.

Perfecting an existing soap recipe

When you start with an existing recipe you already love, just a few tweaks can turn it into a soap formula you love. (But when you start from scratch, things get a little more complicated. More on that below.)

If you want to increase the size of the bubbles or the amount of suds in your soap recipe, try the following:

  • Increasing the level of oils that contribute to bubbly lather, such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and babassu oil
  • Reducing the excess fat content of the total oils as too many free oils can reduce foam
  • Usefoam-increasing additivessuch as sodium citrate, sodium lactate, sugar or rosin
  • Replace the water with a foam booster that contains sugar, like beer or wine
The secret to the absolute best soap recipe (2)

Additivtests - Lather Lover's Swap 2012 (Check out the results right here!)

If you want to stabilize or maintain the suds in your soap recipe, try the following:

  • Use castor oil at 5% to 10% of your recipe. (Be warned that using more than 15% castor oil will result in the bar becoming sticky, sticky, and gummy.)
  • Add or increase oils that help lather, such as almond oil, lard, tallow, cocoa butter, palm oil, shea butter, or sunflower oil
  • Decreasing oils that don't add much to the foam (or prevent it), like olive oil

If you're looking to improve conditioning in a soap recipe, try the following:

  • Replace the water with alternative liquids such as goat milk (or other milk), yogurt or aloe vera juice
  • Increasing the excess fat content of total oils to condition the skin
  • Adding or increasing nourishing oils like apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, or sunflower oil
  • adding "luxurious oils" with 5% to 10%, such as argan oil, evening primrose oil, linseed oil, hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, meadowfoam oil, pumpkin seed oil or wheat germ oil

If you want to increase the bar hardness in a soap recipe, try the following:

  • Increase your hard to soft oil ratio by using a higher proportion of hard oils (Oils that are solid at room temperature)
  • Adding stearic acid at 0.5% to 1% of the total soap formula
  • Includes beeswax at 1% to 5% of the total soap formula
  • Adding sodium lactate at 1% to 3% of the total soap formula

Want a soap recipe to start with?

Boxmy soap making tutorials to see if a recipe suits your taste,like thisRecipe with avocadoorthis one with coconut milk.

Getting away:It might seem easier to start with an existing recipe, but starting from scratch gives you more control.

Rewrite your best soap recipe from scratch

To formulate effectively from scratch, you must first become familiar with the properties of the oils available and their fatty acid profiles. Next, with this basic knowledge, you can start putting together a recipe that meets all of your criteria for a perfect soap recipe. (Additives are the very last thing to consider when formulating a soap recipe.)

Formulation based on soap oil properties

If you want to try formulating your own soap recipe, try this basic soap formula builder:

  • 60% hard oils
    • 25% to 45% foaming hard oils
    • 15% to 30% caring hard oils
  • 40% soft oils
    • 20% to 30% nourishing soft oils
    • 5% to 10% luxurious softening oils
    • 5% to 10% castor oil

Hard Oilsare solid or semi-solid at room temperature.

soft oilsare liquid at room temperature.

Foaming hard oilsThese include coconut oil, palm kernel oil, babassu oil, and murumuru butter.

On the other hand,conditioning hard oilsare oils and butters such as palm oil, cocoa butter, lard, tallow, kokum butter, illipe butter, sal butter, mango butter, and shea butter.

Some examples ofnourishing soft oilsin a soap recipe are high oleic sunflower oil, high oleic safflower oil, olive oil, canola oil, almond oil, apricot kernel oil and avocado oil.

Luxurious soft oilsThese include oils like evening primrose oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, hemp oil, rosehip oil, and pumpkin seed oil.

Last,castor oilis in a league of its own. Due to its unique fatty acid profile, there are no comparable oils! Castor oil is worth including in a soap recipe in a small percentage to give a nice lather.

Remember these are all rough guidelines to help you find YOUR perfect soap recipe.

Formulate your soap recipe based on fatty acids

Soap formulation software often uses fatty acid profiles behind the scenes. However, fatty acids are rarely explained. For example,SoapCalc uses fatty acid profiles to determine the quality numbers of their soap formulations.

AoilFatty acid profile is a count of what percentage of each type of fatty acid the oil contains. Asoap formulasFatty Acid Profile is the count of the combined oils in this recipe. Each type of fatty acid brings different properties to the party. So search your wish list for your perfect soap recipe and adjust your fatty acid profile accordingly.

(We actually polled the community to find out other manufacturers' preferred fatty acid profiles. You can see these and our own body wash fatty acid preferences in the post:The most popular fatty acid profiles in soap making.)

Oil properties are directly related to the fatty acids that an oil contains. For example, coconut oil is high in lauric acid. This is where coconut oil gets its foaming ability. And it's solid at room temperature because lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid.

However, becoming familiar with fatty acid profiles is a smart move, rather than just the properties of individual oils. This allows you to:

  • Replace oils in an existing soap recipe
  • controlthe cost of making your soapB. by selecting cheaper oils
  • Choose oils that are attractive to your target market.

Properties of fatty acids

The most important fatty acids in soap oils are:

  • Lauric acid- a saturated fatty acid that provides hardness, cleaning and big, fluffy lather
  • myristic acid- a saturated fatty acid that provides hardness, cleaning and fluffy lather
  • palmitic acid- a saturated fatty acid that provides hardness and stable creamy foam
  • stearic acid- saturated fatty acid, which provides hardness and stable foam in soap production
  • oleic acid- is an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the conditioning/moisturizing properties of a soap
  • linoleic acid- an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the care/moisture and silkiness of the foam
  • linolenic acid- an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the conditioning/moisturizing levels and is typically present in very small amounts in soap formulas
  • ricinoleic acid- an unsaturated fatty acid that contributes to the conditioning/moisture content and stability of the foam

(Capric, caprylic and palmitoleic acids are generally present in such small amounts that they do not appreciably contribute to soap qualities. However, these fatty acids are similar to lauric and palmitic acid, but more conditioning.)

The home track...

Once you have a recipe that looks good on paper, you are 90% on the way to your perfect soap. And you've narrowed down what you need so you don't waste money on unnecessary accessories. Experiment with your recipe and change one variable at a time until you are satisfied!

Do your first trial run without additives. All too often we see people trying to fix a bad recipe with additives when they'd be better off going back to the drawing board. And it helps to know the base color of your soap and if soTracing control issuesbefore adding color and fragrance to the mix.

Getting away:Don't rely on additives to fix a bad recipe.

If you get stuck trying to perfect your recipe:I can help you get theremy exclusive video class over at The Nova Studio.In plain English, I will teach you the chemistry behind soap making, the importance of fatty acids, the ratios for formulating different types of soap, and troubleshooting. Therefore, you will never again rely on someone else's recipes.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for formulating the best soap recipe that you want to share? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Author: Mr. See Jast

Last Updated: 02/20/2023

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