Image: homemade soap in a basket
Image: homemade soap in a basket

Sunflower Oil and Deer Tallow Soap Recipe

About this Soap

This recipe makes a very mild, conditioning, and emollient soap. It is gentle on dry, flaky skin, insect bites, or skin rashes. This hypoallergenic soap does not have any additives.

Soap Making Process

This recipe can be used equally well with the cold or hot process methods. (The methods are not described in this post.)

If you use sunflower oil in a cold process, keep in mind that it slows down trace. I like this characteristic for this recipe because I am using deer tallow, which has a low melting point. Because of that, deer tallow can cause false trace. You can see the definition of false trace in the glossary of soapmaking terms. Hopefully, sunflower oil will counteract the false trace. My goal is to make sure that all of my lye and fats are properly saponified.

If your soap batter has a low temperature, the tallow may solidify before all ingredients are properly mixed. That’s a false trace. You may end up with undissolved lye pockets in your final soap. You want to increase the temperature of your batter to keep your tallow melted and avoid false trace. But high temperatures accelerate trace and may cause seizing of the soap altogether. That’s not a good thing either.

That’s where the sunflower oil comes to the rescue. Because sunflower oil slows down the trace, you can raise the temperature of your soap batter without the risk of seizing. And you can add some extra water to help out.

The Type of Lye Used in this Recipe

This is a recipe for a solid soap. So, the lye that is used is sodium hydroxide (NaOH). (Generally, you use NaOH lye for solid and potassium hydroxide (KOH) for liquid soap.)

How Much Lye and Water?

My preference for the water-to-lye ratio is 2 : 1. If you are not comfortable with this ratio, you can use more water, that’s fine. It will not affect the recipe. Instead, it will only increase the soap curing time. You can use less water, but you are risking that your lye will not dissolve completely. The lowest acceptable water-to-lye ratio is 1.1 : 1. (I’ve never done that!).

Image: pure filtered rainwater
Pure filtered rainwater.

Amount of Super Fat in the Recipe

The super fat in this recipe is 5%. This is a relatively low super fat level. It can go up to 15%, sometimes even 20%. But that would make a very greasy soap.

My recipe is very simple. It has no colorants or fragrances. Essential oil of choice can be added as an option. For example, you can use one ounce of lavender essential oil for every kilogram of soap.

If you noticed, I am mixing ounces and kilograms in the same recipe. The reason being is that the soap calculator suggests 31 g of fragrance per 1,000 g of the recipe. It’s just a little over an ounce of essential oil.

The unit preference for soap recipes is a personal choice. You can use grams or ounces depending on what you feel more comfortable with. Many soapmakers, myself included, like to work with grams. You can read more about it here.

Let’s get back to the recipe and see which oils are used and in what amounts.

Oils in the Recipe and their Proportions

This soap has very simple, but beneficial ingredients:

  • Sunflower oil: 15%
  • Deer tallow: 30%
  • Olive oil: 55%

Although I named my soap after the sunflower oil and deer tallow, the most abundant ingredient in this recipe is olive oil. The reason for that is the limitations of the recommended amounts for the ingredients. This table summarizes the effects of the most common oils used in soap making. Let’s take a look at every ingredient separately.

Olive Oil in Soap Recipe

Image: olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is used in the soap recipe.

Olive oil gives hardness to the final, cured soap. The soap starts out soft, but it becomes very hard while it cures. Olive oil also gives the soap a very creamy lather and low bubbles. This means that olive oil makes soap more conditioning and not very cleansing.

In general, the cleansing and degreasing qualities of soap correspond to the abundance of bubbles. This happens through so-called surfactant action.

Although olive oil makes creamy and not very degreasing soap, it can still be used in any amount. In fact, Castile soap is made with 100% olive oil by its definition.

I am using a generous amount of 55% olive oil in this recipe.

Deer Tallow

Image: deer tallow
Rendered and filtered pure deer tallow.

Deer tallow overall gives similar qualities to soap as to palm oil. It makes a hard bar with a stable and not very foamy lather. The soap becomes even more creamy and conditioning for the skin when deer tallow is added to the recipe.

The recommendation for deer tallow is not to exceed 35% in a soap recipe. I used 30% of deer tallow for this soap.

Sunflower Oil

Image: sunflower oil
Unrefined sunflower oil has a beautiful golden color and it smells like roasted sunflower seeds.

So far, I have a hard soap that conditions skin with limited lather and low foam. Sunflower seed oil makes soap softer. Its conditioning quality is still very high. Adding softness to the bar is not a concern in this recipe because the majority of soaps make the bar hard.

Soap that Conditions and Cures

This recipe makes a very gentle conditioning soap with emollient qualities. It is good for dry and irritable skin. This soap is very forgiving. It does not cause irritation, especially when used on skin with insect bites or rashes.

Image: homemade soap in a recycled container
Soap made in a recycled cream container.


Leave a Reply

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