Sub-a-Dub-Dub, Soapmakers Learn About Oils for the Tub

Sub-a-Dub-Dub, Soapmakers Learn About Oils for the Tub. . . yes, it’s a little cheesy, but it leads to the question, “How do I know which oil would be a good substitute for the usual oils in my soap?”

 

If you’ve been making soap, no doubt you’ve asked this question. Perhaps you’ve run out of an oil and need to substitute, or you’re unable to find the oil called for in the formula or you choose not to use the oil specified, you’ll need to know how to substitute oils.

 

If you look at the fatty acid profile for the oil you’d like to substitute and then look for an oil with a similar profile, you can probably make a direct substitution. I know, I know, you’re probably asking if there’s an easier way than¬†possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of any given oil. Fortunately, the answer is yes.

 

Consider, for instance, that you usually want to use coconut oil, but have run out or have a customer who is allergic to it. You want to make a bar that is identical or nearly identical to your usual formula. You may look up the fatty acid profile (and it’s a good idea), but it’s also enough to know what coconut does for soap. It makes a hard bar and a great deal of lather. By looking up oils high in lauric and myristic acid, you’ll know that the other lathering oils include babassu and palm kernel oil. Therefore, you know that you can substitute coconut oil with these two oils and also that they are the only oils that provide the abundance of lather that coconut does.

 

As stated in our last blog, this is the breakdown of the fatty acids:

 

Lauric, myristic – hard, lathering

Palmitic, stearic – hard, some conditioning

oleic, linoleic, linolenic, ricinoleic – conditioning

 

You’ll have to do a bit of work to find out what the properties ¬†are of the oils in your formula and the oil options you have for substituting, but with just a bit of sleuthing, you’ll be on your way.

 

Want to learn more about soapmaking? Subscribe to the Saponifier!

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

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