Soap Making Oil Chart
A Comprehensive List of The Best Oils for Soap Making
Reading Time: 10 minutes
In creating a soap making oil chart, I am hoping to clear up some confusion regarding which are the best oils for soap making. Different oils have different fatty acid content and give different properties to the finished soap. A soap making oil chart must, therefore, cover the basic oils as well as the more exotic oils that are becoming more common in soap making today. While there is little agreement on the best oils for soap making, a few basics are well known to be good for this purpose. For example, olive oil, palm oil, and coconut oil are all well-known soap making oils that create a good quality soap, especially when mixed with other oils that have other properties. In most cases, experimenting with an online lye calculator will allow you to predict the properties of a finished recipe. Now let’s take a look at the oils themselves.
Almond butter is a blend of almond oil and hydrogenated soybean oil. Almond butter contains lots of essential fatty acids and natural waxes that are soothing and emollient to the skin. Use at up to 20% of your soap recipe.
Used at a rate of 3-6% in your soap recipe, aloe butter gives a light, lotion-like quality to the lather of your soap. This butter is made by combining aloe extract with coconut oil to form a soft solid butter that melts immediately upon skin contact.
Aloe Vera Oil (Golden)
This oil is made by macerating the aloe plant in soybean oil. When using in soap making, reference the SAP value of soybean oil if golden aloe vera oil is not listed. I do not recommend clear aloe vera oil, as it is macerated in a mixture of oils containing mineral oil, which does not saponify.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is high in linoleic and oleic acids. It produces small bubbles. Use at 15% or less in your recipe. Too much apricot kernel oil can result in a soft, fast-melting bar of soap.
Argan oil, native to Morocco, has a silky and moisturizing feel, and it is also a good source of vitamins A and E. Use it in your soap recipe up to 10%.
Avocado oil is rich in many beneficial nutrients for hair and skin. However, too much avocado oil can yield a soft soap that melts away quickly. For this reason, I suggest using no more than 20% avocado oil in your recipe and combining with a good portion of hard oils.
Beeswax can be used at up to 8% in cold process recipes, and will yield a very hard bar of soap. Using too much beeswax will give you a soap that has no lather, but never melts away. It will also accelerate trace, so be prepared to work quickly. You will need to soap at temperatures above 150F in order to keep the beeswax fully melted and incorporated in the soap.
A wonderful source of many fatty acids, and is the highest natural source of linoleic acid. Use it in your soap recipe at up to 33%.
High in Omega-3 fatty acids, more commonly found in fish, this is a very nourishing and emollient oil for soap making. Too much will yield a soft bar of soap. Try it at no more than 5% in your soap recipe.
Canola oil is cheap and readily available. It produces a creamy lather and a moderately hard bar. It can be used in place of olive oil in your recipe (always run through lye calculator!) You can use canola at up to 40% in soap making. Despite being common and easily accessible soap making ingredients, canola oil should be used with caution because it goes rancid fairly quickly.
Carrot Seed Oil
Carrot seed oil is wonderful for sensitive skin, and a great source of natural Vitamin A. It can be used in soap at up to 15%.
This thick, sticky oil is harvested from the castor bean plant. It creates a wonderful, rich, strong lather in soap making. Don’t use more than 5% in your recipe, or you will have a soft, sticky bar of soap.
Chia Seed Oil
This oil is full of good nutrients, and it can be used in soap making at around 10% or less.
Whether natural or bleached, use cocoa butter at 15% or less in your soaps. Too much cocoa butter yields a hard, crumbly soap with low lather.
Coconut oil is so cleansing that it can be drying. Although you can use up to 33% in your recipe, I recommend keeping it under 20% if you have sensitive or dry skin. When making shampoo bars, coconut oil can be used at up to 100%, but a little added castor oil is a nice thing to have.
Coffee butter contains around 1% natural caffeine. It has a natural coffee scent and a soft consistency. Coffee butter can be used at up to 6% of your soap recipe.
Coffee Seed Oil
This oil is extracted from roasted coffee beans. It can be used in your recipe at up to 10%.
This fruit butter, derived from a relative of the cocoa plant, can be used in your soap recipe at up to 6%.
Cucumber Seed Oil
Cucumber seed oil is great for sensitive skin types. Use it in soap at up to 15%.
You can use up to 13% in your soap recipe. Too much emu oil will yield a soft soap with low lather.
Evening Primrose Oil
This quick-absorbing oil is wonderful in soap. It can be used up to 15% in your recipe.
A light oil that you can use in your soap recipe at up to 5%.
Grapeseed oil has lots of linoleic acid. It can be used at up to 15% in soap making.
Green Tea Seed Oil
This nutrient-rich oil can be used in your soap recipe at up to 6%.
This oil is low in essential fatty acids, therefore it is slow to reach trace. Hazelnut oil is used at 20% or less of your soap recipe.
Hemp Seed Oil
Rich in fatty acids, very hydrating and a boon to lather – that’s how to describe hemp seed oil. Use at up to 15% in your recipe.
Yields a very good bar of soap at low concentrations. Use at up to 10% of your recipe. This is actually a wax rather than an oil, and is very similar to the skin’s own oils.
Kokum butter may need to be tempered to eliminate crystal formation. It can be used in your recipe at 10% or less.
Kukui Nut Oil
Kukui comes from Hawaii. You can use it in soap making at up to 20% of your total recipe.
Lard can be used at up to 100% of your recipe to yield a hard, creamy bar of soap that comes to trace very slowly, allowing time for special effects. It is best at 30% or less of your recipe.
Lingonberry Seed Oil
Full of antioxidants, lingonberry seed oil is wonderfully rich and can be used at up to 15% of your soap recipe.
Macadamia Nut Oil
Use macadamia nut oil at 10-30% of your soap recipe.
This soft butter melts on contact with the skin. Creates a hard, well-lathering bar of soap. Use at up to 30% of your recipe.
Meadowfoam oil feels very similar to jojoba oil on the skin. It yields a creamy, silky lather in soap. Use at 20% or less in your recipe.
Moringa Seed Oil
Moringa seed oil can be used at up to 15%. It is very lightweight and non-greasy.
Use at up to 5% of your total recipe.
Need oil can be used at 3-6% in soap recipes. Adding more can result in an odor in the finished soap.
Wonderful in soap making, especially when combined with colloidal oatmeal. It can be used at up to 15%.
This rich oil gives a thick lather and a very hard bar of soap, after a long curing period. It can be used at up to 100% of your total recipe.
Palm Kernel Flakes
This is a mixture of partially-hydrogenated palm kernel oil and soy lecithin. Only use up to 15% in your soap, or you will end up with a hard bar of soap with no lather.
Peach Kernel Oil
Peach kernel oil gives a lovely, stable lather to soap. I recommend it up to 20%.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Use this oil, rich in Omega 3,6 and 9 acids, at up to 30% of your recipe.
Raspberry Seed Oil
Use in soap at up to 15%. This lightweight oil absorbs quickly and hydrates the skin.
Red Palm Oil
Creates hard bars and beautiful golden orange color. The highest natural source of vitamin A for your skin. Recommended at no more than 15% of your recipe due to the possibility of staining skin and clothing.
Rice Bran Oil
An economical alternative to olive oil in soap making recipes. Use at up to 20% in your recipe. Too much more can cause a soft bar of soap with low lather.
Rosehip Seed Oil
Rosehip seed oil is wonderful for dry, aging skin types. High in vitamins A and C. Try it in soap making at 10% or less.
An excellent lightweight oil that does not clog pores. It can be used up to 10% in soap recipes.
Shea butter helps harden soap and can be used at up to 15%. It can form crystals and for this reason it is best to temper the butter before use.
Shorea (Sal) Butter
Similar to Shea butter, you can use Sal butter at up to 6%. As with shea butter, cocoa butter and some others, tempering is recommended with sal butter to reduce crystallization.
Soybean produces a hard bar of soap when mixed with palm or coconut oil. Usually used at 50% or less in soap recipes. I recommend no more than 25%. Soybean oil is prone to rancidity fairly early. Does soap go bad? The answer is yes and no. Dreaded Orange Spots (DOS) may appear, along with an unpleasant odor. Although not fit for sale, bars with DOS that smell okay are still safe for personal use.
You can make soap exclusively from sunflower oil, but it will be a soft bar with low lather. I recommend keeping usage rates below 35%.
Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil feels light and luxurious in soaps. It can be used at up to 20% in your recipe.
Tallow yields a very hard bar of soap, but used in too high of a percentage it can mean no lather at all. Best to keep tallow below 25% for this reason.
Tamanu oil can be used at up to 5% in your recipe. It forms a barrier on the skin that locks in moisture.
Tucuma butter yields a lovely, gentle lather. Use at up to 6% of total recipe.
This oil, which is high in B vitamins and niacin, conditions and moisturizes. It can be used at up to 15% in soap.
Wheat Germ Oil
This richly emollient and deeply nutritious oil can be used in cold process at up to 10%.
While there are other oils and butters that could be used, this soap making oil chart covers the most common and a few of the more exotic oils. Just about any oil you find will be available for experimentation in the online lye calculators, leaving a world of options for you and your soap recipes.
Did we miss anything on our soap making oil chart? What do you think are the best oils for soap making?
Ask the Expert
Do you have a soapmaking question? You’re not alone! Check here to see if your question has already been answered. And, if not, use our chat feature to contact our experts!
Is mustard oil safe to use in soapmaking? It is from India and I bought it in Hong Kong. Thanks. – Raja
There are two products that are referred to as mustard oil. The first is a cold-pressed oil that is extracted from the seeds. The second is an essential oil derived from distilling the crushed seeds with water. Only the cold-pressed oil can be used in soap making, and only with an abundance of caution: mustard oil can be a strong skin irritant. These soaps should never be used on the face or any part of the body with mucous membranes because it can be too harsh. As a hand and foot wash, soap enriched with up to one-half ounce of mustard oil per pound of base oils can be used. Mustard essential oil should never be used in any quantity because it contains natural cyanide products that are a powerful poison. Avoid mustard essential oil completely. – Thanks, Melanie Teegarden
Hi, I am new to soap making. Where do they buy oils (olive oil, coconut oil, lard, and others)? Of course, all grocery stores are too expensive. Please advise. – Lisa
I am located in the United States, so the companies I can suggest from first-hand experience are limited to the ones that sell here. It is true that the larger the bulk, the less expensive the base price when it comes to oils. As a beginner, of course, you can always use what is easily available at your local store and save on shipping costs, but when you are ready to start purchasing in quantities of a gallon or more, it really does pay to use one of the many soap supply companies out there. One of my favorites is www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com. They have everything you need from oils to molds, fragrances, and colors, plus equipment and supplies for making lotions, scrubs, and many other bath and body goods. If you order $25 or more, shipping is free. Www.brambleberry.com is another good source for all things soap making. They sell their oils in bulk and also feature pre-mixed oils that only need lye and water added. Their oils come in bulk bags that can be frozen, boiled or microwaved for convenience. They are located in Washington state, so they are a good choice for shipping if you are on the west coast. Last, I would be remiss if I did not mention www.saveonscents.com, one of my all-time favorites for a wide variety of fragrance oils to use in soap. They now sell fixed oils in bulk as well. Their quality is always top-notch, and their shipping times and rates can’t be beat. They are located on the East coast and so might be a better choice for those located over in that area. – Melanie