Oils. Who loves oils more than those who make soap and body products?
Many of us try as many oils as we can get our hands on (or afford), eagerly reading the fatty acid profiles and attributes of each oil while planning which products would be the best use of our precious oils.
To be honest, previous to soapmaking and bath and body, I never paid much attention to oil. I’d use it in cooking, but I never wanted it on my skin. Once I began my journey in producing skin products however, I saw oils in a totally different light. Oil was good. It was pure and was beneficial. It nourished my skin and helped me to heal. It had vitamins! Oil was in nearly every product I created, from soap to salves to lotion and more. What’s not to like?
And yet, the subject of oils causes a great deal of consternation among soap and bath and body makers. Which oils should I use? Which oils are good for soap or lotion or shampoo or liquid soap? Indeed, there is so much to learn that I feel as if I have only scratched the surface. I think I have a grasp on the breadth of oils available to me and then I hear of another one I never knew existed. Isn’t the continual opportunity to learn what makes this job or hobby so much fun? By the way, for the purposes of this discussion, my use of the term, “oils,” pertains to fats, as well.
Consider CP/HP soapmaking, for example. We have a hundred oils we might use, but we need to narrow our choices down to a manageable few. So, what do we choose? For a long time now, I’ve been convinced that if we were to choose our soapmaking oils and fats according to their fatty acid profiles and properties, we’d choose much differently than we often do and would value certain oils more than others because our opinions had no base in cost.
Nevertheless, we are usually restricted by price and availability, which may seem like a bad thing, but it isn’t. There is no shame in using inexpensive oils that are easily available. In fact, many would argue that using expensive luxury oils in soap is a waste of money since it’s washed off almost as soon as it’s applied. Others insist that certain oils, albeit pricey, give their soap a luxurious performance that cannot be matched with “everyday” oils.
I tend to side with the former, believing that some humble, commonly found oils are actually excellent oils, providing us with lovely soaps to bathe with. What about you? Do you enjoy using more common, less expensive oils, or are you a person who appreciates oils more when they’re rare and expensive?
Either way, it’s a discussion that ends with, oils. . . what’s not to like? Want to learn more? Subscribe to the Saponifier!
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth for the Saponifier
Oil. I never thought in my life that I would care so much about oil. Animal or vegetable, organic or refined, it captures my interest. And for what reason? Making soap, of course! Now, I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of oils and enjoy using many of them and experimenting with them in soap and other products. Do you?
Oil choices and percentages play a major part in making good soap and a soapmaker who wants to be knowledgeable simply cannot remain ignorant of each oil they use and its properties. Certainly, it’s possible to make soap out of 100% coconut oil or 100% olive oil, and it is common. In fact, some of the world’s most famous soaps are 100% olive oil. Yet, to my way of thinking, a truly wonderful bar comes from a mix of oils, each with properties that contribute to a bar that is moisturizing, cleans well without stripping the skin, lathers up well, and is hard enough to last in the tub or shower.
How do we find out which oils do what for soap? Research and experimentation is the answer. Begin with an established formula and tweak the oils until you reach what for you, is the perfect soap. It’s part of the process for becoming a confident soapmaker. Hint: recipes that you run across calling for a can of this and a cup of that are best ignored. Can sizes may change over time, so if it doesn’t state what that can size is by weight, move on. Cup and other types of non-weighed measurements are also potential problems. Why? Because even cup measurements from cup to cup can vary, so a cup of shortening might not weigh eight ounces, and lye calculations are based on the weight of each oil. You could potentially end up with either a very soft batch or a lye-heavy one. Soap isn’t as forgiving as cooking and the ingredients were meant to be weighed out.
But what about you? Perhaps you have a formula that you have used for years and you’re very happy with it, so you see no need to waste time or money on changing it. You admit that you know just so much about each oil that goes into your soap, but you do know how to produce a consistent product from batch to batch.
Where product production is concerned, I understand the need for a consistent formula, but couldn’t exist without my r&d (research and development) time, but that may not be true for all.
Weigh in (no pun intended). Are you an experimenter (mad scientist) type or a tried-and-true soap/bath and body maker?
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Do you feel comfortable using essential oils?
If the answer is no, but you would like to learn, Marge Clark on The Essentials of Essential Oils is for you. Beth Byrne interviewed Marge to get the scoop on essential oils, from what they are to how they are obtained. She explains the production processes, how to choose oils of acceptable quality, and questions to ask suppliers to ensure pure, good quality oils. She also talks to readers about proper and safe use of essential oils. Read the article and arm yourself with the knowledge to make appropriate buying decisions!
What are your favorite essential oils for your products, and why?
No doubt you know of a soapmaker who has sought an alternative to palm oil–maybe one of these soapmakers is you. The reason? The rampant burning of the rainforests in order to create farmland for palm trees to satisfy the needs and desires of the world. The effects of this uncontrolled practice are widespread and alarming, and who could look at Orangutans losing their habitat and not feel a pang of guilt? Erica Pence, in The Search for Sustainability, aptly explains the situation, not simply for palm oil and Orangutans, but also for other products and causes, and urges us to search for sustainable products, instead. She makes a compelling case and even provides us with two formulas to try out.
Have environmental or social global concerns affected the way you do business?
Carrier oils, how much thought do you give them? Except for getting the right balance for soap, do you pay attention to them? I admit to being an oil afficionado, so Sherri Reehil-Welser’s article, The Beauty of Carrier Oils, was on my must-read list. She reviews a long list of oils, ranging from the most common such as olive oil, to a few that are more obscure, namely Tamanu and KuKui Nut. She informs us as to the vitamins and other properties of the oils, as well as their effects and what products or conditions to use them for.
How many of your favorites were mentioned?
Until next time, may bubbles be part of your day.
Do you dream of landing a large wholesale account? Or does the very idea force you to wake up in a cold sweat? Read as Joan Broughton outlines in her article, Growing as a Soapmaker, how to go about it, from order to delivery, for a large client. You’ll have the tools to take advantage of your next opportunity!
An oil is an oil, right? Wrong! Each oil holds its own specific properties that make each one not only unique, but well-suited to different needs. Are you curious about the properties that various carrier oils contribute to bath and body products? Let Sherri Reehil-Welser explain the oils and their uses, benefits, and healing properties in her article, The Simple Beauty of Natural Carrier Oils. You’ll soon formulate with greater confidence.
Yes, coming to your inbox on September first is the newest issue of the Saponifier Magazine. Our writers and editors are preparing for an exciting and informational edition that will put you on the road to success.