Making Your Own Soap Recipe

As you journey through the world of soap making, you'll encounter lots of delightful recipes, from the most dermatologically pleasing soaps to the utterly flashy ones. Most of these recipes are available on the Internet, while quite a number of them can be obtained from soap making books or magazines. At some point in your soap making career, the little daredevil inside you will wake up, and you'll eventually want to experiment and try concocting your own recipe. In fact, if you've become a soap making aficionado, I'm pretty sure you're already thinking of a catchy name for your soap. (Don't even deny it! I know you're guilty). If you've never made soap before, I strongly suggest you check out basic information on how to make soap first before you try making up your own recipe. It's always safer to try tested recipes when starting out.

What do you want to get out of your soap?

That's the first question you will need to ask yourself before you go listing down ingredients for your recipe. Do you want to get a nice rich lather from it when you use it? Do you want it to smell in a certain way? Do you want it to be a "healthy" soap full of vitamins and minterals? Do you want it to serve a special purpose (i.e. anti-acne, anti-eczema)? Asking these questions serves as a prelude to the actual steps of creating your own recipe.

Selecting Which Oils To Use

The first step in creating your own recipe is picking out the oil or oils you are going to use. Each particular type of oil contains a different combo of fatty acids that will give different properties to your soap. The oil you pick depends on what you want out of your soap. Try researching on the various types of oil you can use in soap making and their properties (or you could check out our page on oils here). But it doesn't stop there. You have to note the following factors too:

  • Saponification Index. This is the measure of how much lye is needed to transform that oil into soap (the process called saponification). Each oil has a different saponification index value. This is why you cannot just switch out oils while you're already following a written recipe.
  • Iodine Index Number. This helps you determine if you're bar is going to be a hard bar or a soft one. If a certain type of oil has a low iodine index number, it means it will produce a harder bar. Higher numbers mean that oil will create a softer one.
  • Superfatted oils. These are added to the soap mixture and will remain unsaponified during and after the process. These oils help create a more moisturizing bar of soap.

Calculating the Amount of Lye Required

Designing your own recipe requires calculation as well as knowledge on how to use a lye calculator. Why calculate? Well, each type of fat requires a different amount of lye to change it to soap. There are a lot of lye calculators available on the Internet these days. You can familiarize yourself with how to use one or two of those to get you started.

Selecting Your Additives

You can also include other ingredients in your recipe to improve the quality of your soap, like skin softeners, exfoliates, or herbs and spices. You can do research on various types of additives and what they can do to improve your soap. There are a variety of choices. However, take note of the following pointers when it comes to picking out your additives:

  • Food coloring is a no-no. So are fabric or candle dyes, crayons (melted) or paint. Besides, some of the chemicals in these substances may not be approved for use in dermatological products, which is one of most important things to consider when making soap.
  • If you wish to have your additives suspended, do not add them until right before you pour your soap into your molds.
  • You can make use of natural preservatives to help prevent your soap from getting spoiled or rancid. Examples are Vitamin E oil, carrot oil and grapefruit seed oil.

Fragrance is another addition to your soap that you shouldn't miss (unless you intend to make unscented soap). Scent products you can find in the market nowadays are tailored to duplicate scents that are already present in nature. Essential oils are most often obtained from natural extracts while fragrance oils are synthetic and are created to "copy" scents from nature which are hard to chemically extract. Now if you're aiming to design your own recipe, you most likely want to create your own blend of scents. Scents are split into 3 classifications (called "notes"):

  • Top Notes - These scents are generally more stimulating and uplifting (i.e. citrus scents such as orange, lemon or lime).
  • Middle Notes - This is also called the "modifier". This adds "character" to your soap's scent.
  • Base Notes - Also called the "end note" (most appropriately if you ask me), this is the scent that remains long after the top note and the middle note scents have faded away.

Although the decision to scent your soap and the choices your pick are entirely dependent on your personal preference, note that there is a guideline when it comes to blending. The following are the amounts you can add per batch for each class:

  • Top notes: Use 15 to 20 ml
  • Middle notes: Use 5 to 10ml
  • Base notes: Use 2.5 to 5ml

Those are the basic steps to designing your own soap recipe. If you have time, consult expert soap makers over the Internet about your recipe and find out what they think. Who knows? The soap recipe you might end up creating may be the next big thing in the soap making market.