100% one oil soap test - trace

Formulating your own soap recipe can be tricky. There are some nice tools estimating the final soap characteristics like hardness, conditioning, bubliness, creaminess of lather like for example soapcalc.


But getting the real feel of it is an experience.


And while this estimate gives you an idea on the final soap characteristics, it won’t tell you how each oil reacts in the saponification process, what would be the color of the soap or how fast it will go rancid (although this can be estimated from the oil shelf life itself)


Therefore I decided to make a test of ten 100% one-oil soaps, to get a feeling about:

  • how the oils react in the saponification – e.g. do they trace fast or you have to whip long time?
  • the cure time
  • the final soap color
  • hardness, bubliness, creaminess of lather


I will share with you my experience in two posts. The results are more interesting than I expected – some soaps did not behave according to estimates at all…

The one oil soap experiment set up


  1. For molds I used individual 150 ml plastic containers I had from some diary product. Therefore I set up the oil quantity to 50g, so that after adding the lye I still can stir comfortably.
  2. I marked the molds with numbers so that I know which contains which oil
  3. Because the molds are individual, and loose quickly heat, I tried to have higher oil+lye mixing temperatures – I opted for the recommended 47°C from The Soapmaker’s Companion
  4. I also tried to stir first by hand – to find out if the blender is necessary – only if I found it too long (more than 10 minutes), I used the blender – I aimed for thick trace


Table 1 shows the recipe and experimental conditions for each soap. The sodium hydroxide was calculated using SoapCalc.

SAPgroup Oil Weight (g) Superfat Mixing temperature (°C) Trace temperature (°C)
Oil NaOH Distilled water Oil NaOH
Coconut oil
50 8.7 19 5% 48 33 33
Palm oil
50 6.7 19 5% 44 49
Olive oil
50 6.4 19 5% 49 34 29
Corn oil
50 6.5 19 5% 49 29 30
Peanut oil
50 6.5 19 4% 30 45 30
Cocoa butter
50 6.6 19 5% 48 49 NA
Castor oil
50 6.1 19 5% 49 50 37
Shea butter
50 6.1 19 5% 48 40 35
Jojoba oil
50 3.1 19 5% 50 47 30
50 3.2 19 5% 68 68 42

Jojoba oil and beeswax are waxes and need only half of the quantity of sodium hydroxide, because they can contain 50% or more unsaponifiables.


100% oil soaps – behavior in trace


Table 2 Summarizes how the soap behavior until trace.


Oil Hand stirring Blender
Photo in trace


Coconut oil 7 min – no trace After blender, after very fast thick trace Forgot to take…


Palm oil 11 min thick trace Not used Palm Oil Soap in trace
Olive oil 17 min – no trace After blender – obtained just light trace OliveOilSoap
Corn oil 8 min – no trace After blenderfast thick trace CornOilSoap
Peanut oil 8 min – no trace After blender until thick trace PeanutOil
Cocoa butter 11 min – no trace After blenderthick trace CocoaButterSoap


Castor oil 3 min – fast thick trace Not used CastorOilSoap
Shea butter Directly thick trace Not used SheaButterSoap


Jojoba oil Not used Used directly blender, after few minutes a trace occured.However, after few minutes separation occured. Next 2 hours I hand stirred the soap every 20-30 minutes, at the end by blender.Every time the stirring helped into trace, however after time the trace always separated. JojobaOilSoap
Directly thick trace, however, in minutes it dried out and curdled. I had heat it up, add 32g of water (20g, then 12g) in order to get cream consistency.

Castor oil, shea butter, palm oil and beeswax traced without using blender, castor and shea tracing the fastest, followed by palm oil.
Beeswax behavior was rather strange – first it soaked in all the lye solution and then turned into very dry mass. As the temperature decreased, beeswax solidified, so I had to reheat and add more water.  Later I have read that it is better to saponify beeswax by hot process, which is of course logical – so that it does not solidify.
Why to saponify beeswax when 100% beeswax does not foam at all? You can use it as a home-made emulsifier.
Corn oil, coconut oil and peanut oil – needed blender in order to reach trace, but after it traced within seconds.
Olive oil and jojoba oil were the most difficult to trace, even with a mixer. Jojoba oil separated all the time, so I left it separated to cure.

Soaps after 24 hours – unmolding


I unmolded soaps after 24 hours. A nice adventure 🙂 Of course, I took pictures and tried soap hardness by thumb imprint before unmolding.


SAP group

Soap type

Hardness (thumb test) after 24 hours

Unmolding after 24 hours

Picture before unmolding

1 Coconut oil No thumb trace Easy    CoconutOilSoap-24h
2 Palm oil No trace More difficult  PalmOilSoap-24h
Olive oil No trace Very easy  OliveOilSoap-24h
Corn oil No trace, but soap is elastic Difficult, I broke it  CornOilSoap-24h
Peanut oil Thumb left trace Impossible to unmold, after 72 hours I put it in the freezer in order to unmold  PeanutOilSoap-24h
Cocoa butter No trace Relatively difficult, I had to bend the plastic to get it out CocoaButterSoap-24h
3 Castor oil No trace Relatively easy, interestingly quite elastic (the very thin layer unmolded with the soap)  CastorOilSoap-24h
Shea butter No trace Very easy  SheaButterSoap-24h
4 Jojoba oil Still two phases, the bottom one very soft, top one floating Impossible, still in two phases  JojobaOilSoap-24h
Beeswax When touched, changes color to darker, very soft, deep trace Too soft – probably because of water I added at trace.After 72 hours was put in freezer and unmolded  BeeswaxSoap-24h

The softest soap was from peanut oil, the hardest was from cocoa butter.



Soaps after 24 hours – soap color


There were significant differences in color between soaps. The best is to compare color between soaps on one photo. Also, I did not reproduce well the color on the pictures I have taken, however I did my best. Here you have a series of pictures of unmolded soaps that hopefully help you get a feeling…


As a bonus, I have made a video.


The whitest soap was the coconut oil soap, followed by castor oil soap, which was slightly translucent. Both followed by palm oil soap which was of white-creamy color, a bit more creamy were shea butter and corn oil soaps.

Rather cream yellow was peanut oil soap.

Olive oil soap was yellow-green and started to loose color through expanding white spots within the following days after unmolding.  After two weeks it was completely cream-white.


Cocoa butter soap kept the darker yellow color of the cocoa butter and jojoba oil soap – or rather the floating part of it – was bright yellow.

Beeswax soap was beige, interestingly, upon touch it darkened.


100% one oil soap test - trace




Left – cocoa butter soap, right – castor oil soap
Coconut oil soap


Olive oil soap


 Corn oil soap unmolded
Corn oil soap


 Coconut butter soap unmolded
Cocoa butter soap
Shea butter soap

Although I could unmold the peanut oil soap  with help of freezer after 3 days, it remained very soft.


 Peanut soap unmolded
Peanut oil soap after 3 days

See the following part:

1. A big test of 100% one oil soap – soap foaming after 2 weeks of curing and pH test

2. A big test of 100% one oil soaps – after 15 months