Image: bottles with oils
Image: bottles with oils

Oil Properties & Recommended Amounts in Homemade Soap

Use this table as a guideline to achieve the desired quality of soap.

Oils/FatsHardnessPropertiesUseBreaking Rules & Other Notes
Almond oil, sweetSoftStable lather, mild cleansing15-20%Use for dry, irritated skin. Good sub for olive oil.
Apricot Kernel oilSoftMedium lather, mild cleansing5-15%Apricot Kernel is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe. Moisturizing.
Argan oilMediumStable latherup to 10%Good for skin problems. Moisturizing. Great for shampoo bars.
Avocado oilSoftMedium
lather, mild cleansing
up to
Excellent for dry & sensitive skin. Makes a softer soap if too much is used. Good sub for olive oil. High in vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals making it a great addition to facial bars or bars for elder skin.
Babassu oilHardLarge fluffy bubbles, high cleansing, white color 15-30%Good sub for coconut oil. Similar to coconut oil, but milder.
Castor oilSoftBoosts lather.up to
Some soap makers like to use 15-20% castor oil in their shampoo bars or shaving
bars. Suspends the lather created by coconut oil.
Chicken fatModerateCreamy latherup to 40%Mild, conditioning soap. Good for sensitive skin.
Cocoa butterHardCreamy latherup to
Use the refined version if you don’t want the scent to carry to your final bar.
You can use more than 15% but may cause it to become brittle. Try a bar made from 60% cocoa butter and 40% coconut oil.  You might like it!
Coconut oilHardAbundant lather, large fluffy bubbles, high cleansing, white colorup to
High amounts of coconut oil can be drying, however, you can always use a higher superfat to counteract the drying effect. The more unsaponified oils in your soap the more moisturizing it is. Experiment with a 100% coconut oil soap with a 20% superfat. 
Grape seed oilSoftMedium lather, mild cleansingup to
Good sub for olive oil. Lightweight and helpful for acne soaps. Has a shorter shelf life.
Hazelnut oilSoftMedium lather, mild cleansingup to
Good sub for olive oil.
Hemp seed oilSoftMedium silky lather, mild cleansingup to
Good sub for olive oil. Moisturizing. Keep oil refrigerated.
Jojoba oilSoftStabilizes and suspends latherup to
Conditions skin & hair. Excellent for shampoo bars. Helps extend soap shelf life. It’s a liquid wax, and it can kill lather when used in high amounts.
Mango butterHardLow lather5-10%Moisturizing
Meadowfoam OilCreamy lather10%Increases shelf life of soap, conditions skin.
Neem Oil5-10%Skin healing, antiseptic, repels fleas and ticks. Great for pet soaps. Has a strong fragrance.
Olive oilStarts soft,
cures hard
Low creamy lather,
almost no bubbles,
low cleansing
any amount up to
Very mild, conditioning, and nourishing. Soap for sensitive skin, elder skin, or baby skin should include high amounts (60%). Castile soap is made with 100% olive oil.  Soaps high (50%+) in olive oil need longer to unmold and cure.
Palm kernel oilHard to BrittleAbandoned lather,
high cleansing,
white color
15-30%Good sub for coconut oil. Similar, but milder than coconut oil  You can also use it with coconut oil to add some hardness to your bar.  If you have a recipe that
calls for 20% coconut oil…try using 10% coconut oil and 10% palm kernel oil. 
Palm OilHardMild stabilizing lather, hard, long-lasting bar25-50%Interchangeable with lard or tallow.
Peach kernel oilup to 15%Excellent for the skin.
Rice bran oilSoftMedium lather, mild cleansing5-12%Good sub for olive oil. Gives soap a sheen making it look less dull.
Safflower oilSoftMedium lather, mild cleansingup to
Good sub for olive oil.
Shea butterMedium-hardMild stabilizing lotion-like lather, long lasting barup to
Moisturizes and nourishes the skin. Similar to cocoa butter.
Soybean oilSoftMedium
lather, mild cleansing
5-12%Soybean oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Sunflower oilMedium-hardSilky lather,
mild cleansing
up to
Good for the skin. Slows down time to reach trace. Adds some hardness to soap.
HardLow creamy lather,
white bar
up to
Can be used to replace palm oil in recipes.
100% lard soap with no superfat makes great laundry soap.
Tamanu oilup to
Excellent for various skin conditions


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *