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.