Before you create your first soap recipe…


please consider some things:

Have you ever created a cake recipe? In order to do so you need to understand what each element adds to the finished cake. What adds the moistness or keeps the cake dry? What makes a big fluffy cake as opposed to a stubby dense one?  If I gave you a chart that said density or fluffiness are cause by this element and moisture vs dryness are cause by this element you would have one LARGE advantage over making your first soap recipe and it’s this: You already know what moistness, dryness, fluffiness and density mean in a cake. You can envision the feel of it in your mouth as you read those words.

You do NOT know this about the properties listed in soapcalc although you may think that you do just because they are common words: Hardness, cleansing, conditioning, bubbly and creamy.  Soapcalc (and all the other soap calculators) are wonderful tools but you can’t know how to build a house or a cake or soap just because you have a toolbox!

It is deceptive that we are given a range of acceptability by soapcalc and people try to build their recipes in that range. That does not work if you do not know what each property feels like. Soap is tactile. If you want to build webpages, I can teach you how to do that without getting your hands wet, using only your brain and a keyboard. Web pages work that way. Soap does not. Soap requires either following an existing recipe for soap you like or learning what each property feels like – and accomplishes – so that you can create your own recipe.

When I teach people to make soap, the soaps we make are:

Castile (olive oil, lye and water)

Coconut oil soap ( coconut oil, lye and water)

Lard soap (lard, lye and water).  I have decided to teach this again even though I do not use animal products in my soaps because many people do use animal products and those people should know about this fat.

You need to make these soaps (or at least the first two) to begin to learn what the properties are and how they feel and what they do. After you have made a soap then look at it’s properties in soapcalc and it will give you much more of a knowing about what you are doing. You won’t mistake a soap with a “0” cleansing factor for one that doesn’t clean or one with a high cleansing factor as one that is too cleansing or drying.

Soap Cleans

All soap cleans all kinds of things. Some do better than others on different surfaces but soap is a good – very good – cleaner. Yes it cleans bodies but that is kindergarten for soap. It also cleans dishes, walls, floors, appliances, fabrics, dogs, cars and trucks, decks and porches and anything else you need to clean.

Daily I and we (in soap groups) are getting questions because the “cleansing value” of various fats is not understood as used by soapcalc and other calculators.  Consider this: “0” as a  cleansing factor is perfectly adequate. (Especially on bodies.)

What the cleansing factor more correctly means is the ability to strip oils and the conditioning factor means to not strip oils. Soap does not “technically” condition skin (or anything else) but what is called “conditioning” is what we call the lack of oil stripping.  Therefore castile soap (real, traditional castile which is made only of olive oil, lye and water) is a very nice and mild soap for skin. Soap with a high cleansing factor such as coconut is also very nice if superfatted sufficiently

Another hint that I will write more about later: No soap needs 7 oils or very expensive oils. If you are a hobbiest you can use any arcane and expensive oils you want but if you plan to every make money at soap making – which is a flooded market right now – you have to be prepared to keep it as simple as possible.

Happy Soaping!

Please see related article about soap math and soap calc