Make the perfect bar of soap







How to Make a Perfect Bar of Soap
By Jeffrey Dorrian

Soap makers are in search of their own holy grail when it comes to the perfect bar of soap. One that lathers just right, but also has the moisturizing qualities that their customers desire. How do we get such a bar? Does such a bar exist? Is there a perfect formula hiding in this old soap making book you just bought at the garage sale?

Each different oil used in soap making is made up of different percentages of acids that have different properties when it comes to making soap. Some oils are very moisturizing and other oils lather like crazy. It is the proper combination of soap making oils that is going to create the right balance of soap qualities that will qualify as the perfect bar.  What would be the perfect combination of oils to make this bar? Let us explore some of the oils and the possibilities.

Our first oil is the ubiquitous coconut oil. This is found in most bars as it is the oil that is most responsible for the lathering properties of soap. The trouble with coconut oil is that it can dry out some types of skin, so it must be used in the right proportion with other more moisturizing oils.

My favourite oil is olive oil. This soap making oil has been used for thousands of years in the production of soap. This is not why I love it. It has moisturizing properties that cannot be beat. Also the price of olive oil is somewhat high in relation to other oils, a lot of soap makers will skip this oil in order to save on their costs. This gives you an opportunity to make an exclusive bar that other soap makers are not making.

Next, you must incorporate oil that has hardening properties. Most soap makers will use palm oil for this task. I have found many a good recipe that uses hydrogenated soybean oil (shortening), for this part of the recipe. It is much cheaper and is available everywhere. Give it a try and see if you can use the soybean oil for this purpose.

These are the three main qualities needed in soap making. All additional oils will be to enhance one of the three previously mentioned properties. A couple of contenders for super oils are almond oil and shea butter. Both of these are very high in oleic acid which is one of the components that adds moisturizing qualities to your bar. The addition of just the right amount of either one of these oils could just make you the perfect bar.

In the lathering department, the great contenders are babassu and castor oils. These two oils actually have different components that add to their amazing lathering qualities. Remember, you must add the castor oil before adding the lye. It must go through saponification in order to become a super lathering oil. Some soap makers use castor as a super fat and add it at trace. This will not help you at all as far as the lathering aspect of your handmade soap bar.

It will help in making a soap that is more like a shampoo with great rinsing and conditioning qualities.

Essential oils and fragrance oils will sell your soap. Having a great fragrance will be the way you get customers to try your soap. They will however have very little effect on the cleansing properties of your soap. They are such a tiny part of the overall formula, their properties are over whelmed by the other oils.

Now that you know the basic make-up of handmade soap bars, you need a precise formula. For this, go to your local bookstore and find a book by an experienced soap maker. Not crafter who finds soap making their craft de jour. These soap makers have years and years of experience, don’t doubt them.  They will tell you which recipes are their favourites, use one of these. They are their favourites for a reason. I have found that simple recipes usually work the best. Sometimes soap makers try to out do themselves and they usually do. They make a bar with so many ingredients, they turn their recipe into an inferior formula. Keep it simple and enjoy this wonderful hobby.

The author is Jeffrey Dorrian webmaster at thesoapguy.com. he specializes in quality olive oil soap. Check out his best selling  wholesale soap.