Oil combinations I. – how to make soap recipe (or not)
I know that you are all enthusiastic to start soapmaking and make your own soap recipes. However, there are some rules that should be followed.
For those that do not know, there is a nice soap calculator that not only calculates the lye that is needed for saponification of the given oils, but estimates the final soap bar characteristics – based on oil fatty acid profiles. It is cold SoapCalc.
While this is all very helpful, it is from far not sufficient – one of the main drawbacks is that it won’t estimate behavior of oils when emulsifying (in trace). Also, the range of characteristics is a suggestion and should be interpreted with care. For example olive oil has cleansing of 0, which could give an impression that there is absolutely no cleaning action. Yes, there is few bubbles, but their abundance increases with soap age and changes with type of water. In any case, olive oil soap cleanses.
One of my readers – Evka – as a beginner – started with enthusiasm to design her own soap recipes. She inspired me to write this blog post when she asked me, what is my opinion on the following recipe:
450 g olive oil
150 g castor oil
100 g duck fat
100 g coconut oil
100 g flaxseed oil
This recipe is not a good one as it contains three oils/waxes that are problematic:
- Beeswax– is a wax and therefore does not really make a soap. Usually it is added in recipes composed of large amounts of unsaturated oils, in order to add hardness. However, it does not add anything else. Do not use more than 3%, otherwise your soap may not lather at all…. Also – pay attention when mixing – beeswax hardens quickly and your soap can curdle before it emulsifies – this is a problem even for experienced soapmakers, therefore if you are beginners – avoid beeswax completely.
- Flaxseed oil – It might have good characteristics as to all goodies it contains, howevwer it is the quickest oil to get rancid – in fact, it is that quick that it has to be stored in dark, non-transparent bottles and once opened should be used up within few weeks . If you use it in your soap, bet on dreaded orange spots to be developed within weeks… For this reason I do not recommend this oil at all…
- Castor oil – Contains mainly ricinoleic acid, which is more hydrophilic than any other fatty acid. It is therefore added to increase lather (adds surface tension) and transparency (is a good solvent) of soap. However,because of these characteristics it accelerates the process of emulsification (trace) – which can be quite tricky for a beginner soapmaker not used to how the process should look like.
To sum up – this recipe would very probably resolve in:
- curdled emulsion (seizing) thanks to the combination of castor oil and beeswax, mainly if coconut oil and duck fats are present (both contain saturated fats that are quickly saponifying )
- low foaming soap – even if you somehow manage to address the seizing problem and the soap survives this without problems (this is not very likely, mainly if you are a beginner), you would face rather hard and non-foaming soap
- dreaded orange spots – 10% of flaxseed oilis a ticket for oxidation drive…
If you would put this recipe in SoapCalc, these would be its estimates
|Soap bar quality
|Hardness||29 – 54||20|
|Cleansing||12 – 22||7|
|Conditioning||44 – 69||67|
|Bubbles||14 – 46||20|
|Creaminess||16 – 48||27|
|Iodine||41 – 70||78|
|INS||136 – 165||107|
The hardness of the soap is 20 – this is below the recommended range, however, this is due to fact that beeswax has all the values of 0. This means if you had 100% beeswax soap, it would still calculate 0 hardness…. which is not true.
To sum up – if you are beginners – combine oils as you wish, just do not use the three mentioned ingredients. Not all combinations of other oils give perfect soap, however you minimize the disaster…
And of course – never forget to recalculate your NaOH!
Here are some of my posts I think are relevant for soapmaking beginners…
- Big test of single oil soaps I – trace
- Big test of single oil soaps II – foaming test, color, oxidation
In the next post I will address the question on why 100% olive oil soap is really not a good choice for beginners….
Do you like this style of posts? If yes, leave me a comment, I will happily continue in next posts!