Creating the Perfect Basic Bar

Coming up with your personal “basic recipe” is a goal for the novice soap-maker. Once you've mastered the basic techniques, you can begin to manipulate the ratios of oils to create exactly the properties you desire. Increasing one oil, eliminating another, replacing one for another — all these experiments will lead you to your perfect basic bar.

The recipes provided in this chapter offer a variety of bases. Differences in kinds and ratios of oils make different sorts of soaps. Remember that these recipes have been formulated with the purpose of inspiring you to create your own formulas. If you don't want to make your own formulas, these will, of course, provide you with enough variety to keep you busy!

Recipe Sizing

The recipes that follow are given in four manageable sizes. The amounts used to describe them refer, as always, to the number of pounds of oils, not the size of the whole batch. Additives are, for the most part, measured according to pounds of oils in a batch, so it's easier and clearer in that way to refer to a batch by how many pounds of oils are in it.

There will be a slight variation from “exactly” 1-pound, 2-pound, 4-pound, and 8-pound batches. Formulating for exactly 16 ounces can make the amount of lye difficult to measure on a standard scale with ¼-ounce increments, so some 1-pound batches will have, for example, 17 ounces.

Equipment

The equipment you use for your soap pot and lye solution container will change depending upon the size batch you are making. For the 1-pound batches, heatproof 4-cup glass measures work perfectly for mixing the lye, warming the oils, and mixing them together. You'll pour the lye solution into the cup already holding the oils, and mix and pour from it as well.

Test a pitcher before you mix lye solution in it by placing it in the sink and filling it with boiling water. If it melts, it is obviously not a good choice. When you go to buy a pitcher, look for the words “dishwasher safe.” Still test it, though. You cannot be too certain of this detail.

For the 2-, 4-, and 8-pound batches, an 8-quart stainless steel stockpot works great for warming the oils and mixing. For the lye solution for those batches, you'll need a larger pitcher. Be sure the pitcher is heat safe! It must be able to withstand nearly boiling temperatures.

Your lye pitcher should hold four quarts. It must have a secure lid and have a sturdy handle. Many soapers use glass juice bottles, milk bottles, and other glass containers. A plastic pitcher with a handle is easy to lift and doesn't get as hot. Also, it won't shatter if you drop it. (The heavy heatproof glass 4-cup measure is fine for the 1-pound batches because you're only using 6 ounces of water.)

For each of the recipes that follow, choose the size batch you want to make. That will tell you how much of each ingredient you need. Then follow the instructions for making Basic Cold-Process Soap, 1-Pound Batch, on page 104 in Chapter 8.

Base Recipes

Choose a base recipe that contains oils you can get easily. You can make serviceable soap with vegetable shortening, lard, soy oil, olive, and other easy-to-obtain oils. It is worth it, though, to go to the extra trouble to find other oils, especially coconut oil and castor oil. You can make an excellent bar with olive oil and coconut oil with a bit of castor oil for superfatting. Start with one-pound batches to help you conserve materials and increase your familiarity with the procedures.

Base Recipe

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Lye

2 oz.

4 oz.

8.25 oz.

1 lb. 0.75 oz.

Base oils

Olive oil

1 lb.

2 lb.

4 lb.

8 lb.

Superfat

Castor oil

1 Tbl.

2 Tbl.

4 Tbl.

8 Tbl.

Additives

Color

Scent material

Total 1 Tbl. EO or 2 tsp. FO

Total 2 Tbl. EO or 2 tsp. FO

Total 4 Tbl. EO or 4 tsp. FO

Total 8 Tbl. EO or 8 tsp. FO

Soybean Shortening

Check the label to be sure it is 100-percent soy. This soap will be soft and have a low lather. However, it works well and is extremely inexpensive.

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Lye

2 oz.

4 oz.

8.25 oz.

16.5 oz.

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8oz

3 lb.

Oil

Soybean shortening

1 lb.

2 lb.

4 lb.

8 lb.

Olive Oil

Olive oil soap is also known as castile soap.

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Lye

2 oz.

4 oz.

8.25 oz.

1 lb. 0.75 oz.

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Oil

Olive oil

1 lb.

2 lb.

4 lb.

8 lb.

Olive Oil and Coconut Oil

This is the ratio used by some of the best soapers around. It is hard and has great lather.

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Lye

2.4 oz.

4.8 oz.

9.7 oz.

1 lb. 3.4 oz.

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Oil blend

Olive oil

10.5 oz.

1 lb. 5 oz.

2 lb. 10 oz.

5 lb. 4 oz.

Coconut oil

5.25 oz.

10.5 oz.

1 lb. 5 oz.

2 lb. 10 oz.

Superfat

Castor oil

1 Tbl.

2 Tbl.

4 Tbl.

8 Tbl.

Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Lard

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Lye

2.3 oz.

4.6 oz.

9.2 oz.

1 lb. 2 oz.

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Oil blend

Olive oil

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Coconut oil

5 oz.

10 oz.

1 lb.

4 oz.

2 lb. 8 oz.

Lard

5 oz.

10 oz.

1 lb. 4 oz.

2 lb. 8 oz.

Superfat

Castor oil

1 Tbl.

2 Tbl.

4 Tbl.

8 Tbl.

Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Palm Oil

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Lye

2.4 oz.

4.8 oz.

9.6 oz.

1 lb. 3 oz.

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Oil blend

Olive oil

9 oz.

1 lb. 2 oz.

2 lb. 4 oz.

4 lb. 8 oz.

Coconut oil

4 oz.

8 oz.

1 lb.

2 lb.

Palm oil

3 oz.

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

Superfat

Castor oil

1 Tbl.

2 Tbl.

4 Tbl.

8 Tbl.

Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Palm Kernel Oil

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Lye

2.25 oz.

4.5 oz.

9 oz.

1 lb. 2 oz.

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Oil blend

Olive oil

9.5 oz.

1 lb. 3 oz.

2 lb. 6 oz.

4 lb. 12 oz.

Coconut oil

5 oz.

10 oz.

1 lb. 4 oz.

2 lb. 8 oz.

Palm kernel oil

1.5 oz.

3 oz.

6 oz.

12 oz.

Superfat

Castor oil

1 Tbl.

2 Tbl.

4 Tbl.

8 Tbl.

Soy Oil, Coconut Oil, and Palm Kernel Oil

Soy oil is inexpensive and readily available.

Ingredients

1-lb. Batch

2-lb. Batch

4-lb. Batch

8-lb. Batch

Lye solution

Lye

2.4 oz.

4.8 oz.

9.6 oz.

1 lb. 3 oz.

Water

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb.

Oil blend

Soy oil

9 oz.

1 lb. 2 oz.

2 lb. 4 oz.

4 lb. 8 oz.

Coconut oil

4 oz.

8 oz.

1 lb.

2 lb.

Palm kernel oil

3 oz.

6 oz.

12 oz.

1 lb. 8 oz.

Superfat

Castor oil

1 Tbl.

2 Tbl.

4 Tbl.

8 Tbl.

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