my 6 basic soap recipes at a glance

I tried a lot of soap making recipes and decided on keeping it simple with one main basic soap making recipe. Sometimes we needed a back up soap recipe depending on the oils on hand, resulting in 5 basic recipes. These recipes will make about 24 – 4 oz bars, you can cut the recipe in half, or double it, just keep the proportions the same.

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you may need different base recipes for different soaps, and good to have backup recipes too if you run out of specific oil

To keep your basic soap making recipe nice and easy, Canola oil and Olive oil have the same saponification values. Meaning that the lye will interact with either oil in the same manner, whereas other oils may need more or less lye to saponify. Don’t exceed 75% Canola oil or your soap will develop small brown spots, this is due to the natural proteins found in Canola oil. It’s harmless yet can blemish your pretty soap. When recipes state lye crystals, it refers to sodium hydroxide, NOT potassium hydroxide. Sometimes lye crystals are also referred to as ‘caustic soda beads’.

Below are the 6 base recipes that I used at my soap store, and the first 3 recipes were used almost every single day at the soap store:

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your soap base at trace, with no scent and no color

Basic #1 with Olive, Coconut, & Palm Oil:  (more details here)

  • 51.2 oz Olive oil (can use up to half in Canola oil)
  • 6.2 oz Coconut oil
  • 6.2 oz Palm oil
  • 23.4 oz water
  • 8.6 oz lye crystals
  • for a total 95.6 oz of soap base

Basic #2 with Olive, and Coconut oils (no palm oils): (more details here)

  • 51.2 oz of Canola and/or Olive oil blend
  • 12.8 oz of coconut oil
  • 23.4 oz water
  • 8.7 lye crystals
  • for a total 96.1 oz of soap base

Basic #3, with Olive, Coconut and Palm Kernel Oils: (more details here)

  • 51.2 oz Canola and/or Olive oil blend
  • 6.4 oz palm kernel oil
  • 6.4 oz coconut oil
  • 23.4 oz water
  • 8.6 oz lye crystals
  • for a total of 96.0 oz of soap base
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your soap base poured into a mold, and it will have this amber color

These 2 were for recipes with high volumes of needed scent:

Another version of a basic soap making recipe was made specifically for our orange scented soaps, because of the high volume of orange essential oil we needed to get a decent scent, this would dilute the soap base, and result in a softer bar that took too long to cure, hence just adding less water improved on this.

Basic #4, Olive, coconut and palm oils, but less water for Orange scented soaps: (more details here)

  • 51.2 oz Canola and/or Olive oil blend
  • 6.2 oz coconut oil
  • 6.2 oz palm oil
  • 19.0 oz water
  • 8.6 oz lye crystals
  • for a total soap base of 85.0 oz

Basic #5, Olive, coconut oil, extra palm kernel oil, but less water for an orange scented bar: (more details here)

  • 48 oz Canola and/or Olive oil blend
  • 9.6 oz palm kernel oil
  • 6.4 oz coconut oil
  • 19.0 oz water
  • 8.7 oz lye crystals
  • for a total of 91.7 oz soap base

Recipe #6 is an Olive Oil only type bar, aka Castile, the most basic soap making recipe ever:

Basic #6,  Pure castile soap recipe: (more details here)

  • 64 oz of Olive oil
  • 23.4 oz water
  • 8.7 oz lye crystals
  • for a total of 96.1 oz of soap base

But if you still want a less-tempermental bar with bubbles, go with my #1 recipe with Olive and Coconut oils:

  • 51.2 oz of Olive oil
  • 12.8 oz of coconut oil (will be approx. 20% of the oils)
  • 23.4 oz water
  • 8.7 lye crystals
  • for a total 96.1 oz of soap base
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a plain uncolored bar of soap will have an ivory or off-white color due to the color of the oils


Regarding those palm and palm kernel oils:

The big debate is on regarding the use of palm oils. Palm and Palm Kernel oils were perfect for using in any basic soap making recipe, as they added a moisturizing effect as well as adding a little hardness and longer-lasting ability to the soap bar. Because of the use of palm oils for bio-fuels, and the unethical production of such, a lot of soap makers have decided to eliminate this oil from their soap recipes.

Although I doubt that this will create a lesser demand for the bio-fuel oil considering that there are only so many natural soap makers, and it wasn’t the natural soap makers causing the demand and subsequent deforestation in the first place, but there ya go.  Also, if you do use it, customers will interrogate you like you actually do the deforestation, then finally, get into their new SUV with their acrylic nails, silk shirt and leather shoes.

And what is saponification? Read all about that here.

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