There are many scents, such as beeswax, you can use to personalise your soap (photo courtesy of flickr user Cuttlefish).
After you understand the basic soap making ingredients and have mastered a basic soap recipe, you can further personalise your homemade soaps by adding soap making oils. This article will give an idea of the benefits of adding oils to your soap, but for our comprehensive post on essential oils, fragrance oils, example oils, their properties and quantities to add to your soap recipes, please click here.
There are a variety of oils that can be used in the soap making process – each oil has different properties, making the saponification process a bit different for each, and resulting in different qualities in the soap produced.
Each oil must also be used in a slightly different quantity. Below is a brief list of the many oils that can be used to make soap, the qualities of each, the quantity in which each should be used, and when each should be added to the soap mixture.
Note: Oils indicated for use at the trace stage are superfatting oils, and should not be taken into consideration when calculating lye content for your recipe.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil in soap makes a good moisturizer and helps soften skin. Add 1-2 ounces per pound of fats.
Avocado Oil in soap acts as a preservative and anantioxidant. It is a great moisturizer and contains vitamins A, B, D, E, and lecithin. Good for baby soap, and beneficial for dry or wrinkled skin.
Beeswax makes a harder bar of soap and contains a high percentage of unsaponifiables.
it is a skin protectant, often used in lip balms and hand salve.
Heals a variety of skin damage. Add 1 and 2/3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of soap at trace, or up to 20% as base.
Less saturated and can be slow to saponify; needs to be mixed with other saturated fats/oils. Can be used in place of more expensive oils, add up to 50% of base.
Makes soap harder, but is an excellent skin softener and lubricant. It has a natural chocolate scent, add 1 ounce per pound of fats at trace, or 15% of base.
Makes great lather, but can be drying to skin if too high a percentage of base oils. It will make a very hard white soap as it is a saturated fat. Add 20-30% of base.
Lard (Made from pig fat)
Cheap and easily obtainable, it makes a white, lathery bar of soap. Without other oils it can make the soap soft and not work well in cold water. Add up to 70% of base.
Excellent base oil,but avoid extra virgin. The lower the grade the better – olive oil soap moisturizes and softens skin and is very mild. Add up to 100% of base.
Palm Kernel Oil
Has most of the same qualities as palm oil; it lathers well and makes a hard soap. Add 20-30% of base.
Palm Oil (Vegetable Tallow)
Makes a hard soap, but is mild and a good substitute for tallow in all-vegetable soaps. Palm oil soap soothes and moisturizes dry skin. Add 20-30% of base.
Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seed soap is said to be good for psoriasis, eczema, rheumatism, and arthritis. It is moisturizing with a strong nutty scent and makes a soft bar unless used in conjunction with other, more saturated oils. Add up to 10% in addition to base.
Lots of substances don’t interact with lye, and stay in soap to nourish skin. Add 1 and 2/3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of fats, added at trace, or up to 20% of base.
Soybean Oil/Vegetable Shortening
Cheap and readily available, it produces a mild, stable lather. It will make a hard soap. Add up to 50% of base.
Sunflower oil in soap acts as a preservative and is a less expensive alternative to olive oil soap; contains vitamin E and is a less saturated oil, so must be mixed with more saturated oils. It can make soap take longer to trace and harden. Add 15-20% of base.
Base oil Vitamin E Oil
A preservative and an antioxidant, it is great for your skin. Add up to 10% in addition to base.
Above are listed some of the more common fragrance oils that can be added to your homemade soap. It is important to understand the characteristics of any oils that you add in the soap making process, and the impacts they might have on the end result. Remember to read our full, comprehensive post on fragrance oils and essential oils by clicking here.
Take the next step
Make sure you download our FREE comprehensive beginners guide, ‘How To Make Soap At Home’, by clicking here.
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