How to Make Homemade Soap Lather Better
What makes soap lather in a cold or hot process recipe?
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Coconut or castor? Add sugar or add beer? People are constantly searching for how to make homemade soap lather better. The truth is, there are many methods for achieving this end. Whether you decide to cut your superfat percentage or seek out a recipe with lard, finding a balanced recipe that will teach you how to make homemade soap lather better is something everyone endeavors to find. In this article, we will explore many different methods for how to make homemade soap lather better.
To achieve the big, frothy bubbles you desire, one method involves changing up your recipe. A recipe that includes up to 30% of coconut oil or babassu oil will have an excellent balance between cleansing without being too drying to the skin. Castor oil is also excellent for building big bubbles, but it should not be used at a rate of more than 5% of your total oils. Used in too high of a percentage, it will yield a soft soap that melts away quickly. It also has the effect of accelerating trace slightly, so it is doubly important to keep the castor oil percentage low.
Another method for increasing lather, if you don’t wish to change your base oil recipe: adding sugar. Whether in the form of beer or wine for your lye liquid, or in the form of plain granulated sugar added to the hot lye water, adding sugars will increase the richness of your soap’s lathering qualities. To add plain sugar directly to your lye water, measure 1 teaspoon of sugar per pound of base oils. Add the sugar to your warm lye water and stir to dissolve. To use beer or wine as your liquid, weigh your liquid into a large, heat- and lye-safe container. Slowly add the lye in small amounts, stirring between additions, until all of the lye is dissolved. The beer or wine may foam up as the lye is reacting, so it is important to use a container big enough to accommodate some foaming and rising up. It is also a good idea to have your arms covered for this procedure — please consider wearing long sleeves. It is important to note that not all liquids are suitable for adding sugar to your recipe. Adding too much sugar will cause your recipe to overheat and possibly cause a soap volcano, cracking, heat tunnels, or other problems with your finished soap. Most fruit juices contain too much sugar to be used in soap making, except in small quantities — at most, one ounce per pound of base oils. The exception would be lemon or lime juice, which are relatively low in natural sugars, or unsweetened cranberry juice. Apple cider vinegar is another possibility for adding sugar in liquid form to your soap recipe.
Along the same lines as adding sugar, adding honey can increase the lather of your soap significantly. However, honey is a tricky ingredient. To use, add 1 teaspoon per pound of base oils to the warm lye water after it has had a chance to cool down a bit. If the lye water is too hot, you risk burning the sugars in the honey. Once dissolved, use lye water as usual in your soap recipe. Do not add any additional sugars to the recipe if you are adding honey, sweet liquids or plain sugar to your lye water. Remember that too much sugar can cause overheating. Additionally, adding too much honey can cause soap to seize entirely, resulting in what we ruefully refer to as “soap on a stick.” When this happens, it is often accompanied by overheating that scorches the honey and produces a bad odor in the finished soap. Lesson to learn: do not overdo it with honey.
Simply reducing the percentage of superfat in your soap recipe can also increase lather without the need to change your recipe in any other way. Extra oils in the finished soap have a dampening effect on lather, and the more oils are present, the more this effect is noticeable. Try reducing your superfat percentage to 6% and see how your soap feels to you. It may be moisturizing enough at 6% that you’ll never miss the extra superfat.
If you are willing to consider different soap making oils, adding shea butter or cocoa butter to your recipe can help to stabilize lather, making it longer-lasting. If you have access to animal ingredients, lard or tallow are also useful in the same ways, lending conditioning properties to the soap as well as offering lather stability. Shea butter is great at enriching lather in your soap recipe when used at 3-5% of the total soap making oils. Cocoa butter, at 5-15% of your total base oil recipe, will offer similar fluffy lather. While lard can be used at up to 80% of your total recipe, tallow can be used up to 100% in your soap recipe.
From additional sugar to rich oils to limiting superfat, there are many options to improve the lather of your soap recipe. What will you try? Please share your experiences with us!