Our Soap Oil Properties Class will teach you all about soaping oils and soaping butters, such as coconut oil 76, beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, and more. This class will explain how the various soap oils and soap butters will perform and the values of a typical bar of cold process soap. This free soapmaking class will have you making soap like a pro in no time at all! To view the full Soaping Oil Properties Class click the "Download Class" button above.
Soap is made by the chemical reaction that occurs when mixing fatty acids, lye (NaOH for bar soap, KOH for liquid soap), and water. Lye acts as the chemical emulsifier that bonds fatty acids with water molecules by generating heat. This process is called saponification.
Soap cannot be made without lye.
Each soaping oil/butter has its own fatty acid composition, and these fatty acids provide finished soap with important characteristics. The following are the most common fatty acids found in soaping oils/butters along with the qualities they provide in a finished bar of soap.
Lauric Acid: Provides hardness, cleansing, and bubbly lather.
Linoleic Acid: Provides conditioning
Myristic Acid: Provides hardness, cleansing, and bubbly lather.
Oleic Acid: Provides conditioning.
Palmitic Acid: Provides hardness and a creamy lather.
Ricinoleic Acid: Provides conditioning, bubbly lather, and a creamy lather.
Stearic Acid: Provides hardness and a creamy lather.
Each soaping oil/butter has a unique saponification value (the number of milligrams of lye required to saponify 1 gram of the specified oil/butter).
In order to create a quality bar of soap, it is necessary to find a balance between hardness, cleansing, conditioning, bubbly lather, and creamy lather. This usually involves using a combination of oils/butters in your soap recipe. A typical bar soap recipe calls for 38% water content, and a 5% superfat (the percentage of oils that do not saponifiy).