Fixed Oils Used in Soapmaking

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Sweet Almond Oil

Iodine Value: 105.0cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1360 KOH SAP value: .1904
Sweet Almond Oil is often used for superfatting soaps, for lotions/creams, and for lipbalms. It is a great moisturizer. It makes stable lather and helps condition the skin.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Iodine Value: 102.5cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1350 KOH SAP value: .1890
Apricot kernel oil is often used for superfatting. It is also a good moisturizer that helps condition the skin.

Avocado Oil

Iodine Value: 80.0cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1330 KOH SAP value: .1862
Avocado oil is a great moisturizer and so is often used for superfatting soaps. Avocado oil contains vitamins A, D, and E, which makes it healing as well as moisturizing.

Canola Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1240 KOH SAP value: .1736
Canola oil is less saturated than other fats, so it can be slow in saponification. It is a good moisturizer, however. You can use it in place of more expensive oils like olive.

Castor Oil

Iodine Value: 85.5cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1286 KOH SAP value: .1800
Castor oil is often used to superfat because of its humectant properties -- it attracts moisture to the skin and then holds it down. Use it in combination with other vegetable oils to produce a nice hard bar of soap.

Cocoa Butter

NaOH SAP value: .1370 KOH SAP value: .1918
Cocoa butter is used to make soaps harder, and is also used in lotion bars, lip balms, and so on. It acts to lay down a protective layer which holds the moisture to the skin, so it is an excellent skin softener. It has a natural chocolate scent which works well in many concoctions, but it is also available in unscented versions if you're worried about "fragrance clash." You can use it from anywhere about 1 ounce to a pound, to 15% of your total oils, depending on your preference. (I have made a 100% cocoa butter soap bar, which is yummy, but you need to turn it out of the mold and cut and trim your bars within about 8 hours, or else it will simply be too hard to cut!)

Coconut Oil

Iodine Value: 10.4cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1900 KOH SAP value: .2660
Coconut oil makes soaps lather beautifully. But it can be drying when it comprises a large portion of your soap's fats, so use it at a low percentage (no more than 20-30%). It will make a very hard, white bar of soap with abundant, fluffy lather (even in very hard or even sea water). It is sometimes sold as "[number] Degree" Coconut oil, in which case that number is the temperature in Fahrenheit that the oil melts at -- i.e., "76 Degree" oil melts at 76° Fahrenheit (24° Celsius), and "92 Degree" oil melts at 92°F (33°C). The higher melt point translates to a harder bar of soap. Coconut oil is a saturated fat.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1900 KOH SAP value: .2660
This is the kind of coconut oil that you want to use for massage oils, lotions, etc. It is oil that has the liquid split out from the hard components, and it doesn't have the tendency to dry out skin if you use much more than 20%, like regular coconut oil does. This oil will say on the packaging "Fractionated," and it's more pricey than the regular coconut oil, so don't worry about accidentally buying one or the other and getting them mixed up. :)

See this explanation courtesy of Camden-Grey for more detail.

Cottonseed Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1386 KOH SAP value: .1940
Cottonseed oil produces thick and lasting lather, in addition to having emollient properties. It can be vulnerable to spoilage depending on the season, so use less of this oil (which shouldn't be a problem, due to its price).

Emu Oil

NaOH SAP value: KOH SAP value:
Reportedly, it helps heal skin tissues, and helps draw other ingredients (like Wintergreen) down into your skin so they are more effective.

Evening Primrose Oil

NaOH SAP value: KOH SAP value:
Evening primrose oil provides essential fatty acids that the skin absorbs quickly. These acids help inhibit bacterial growth and encourage antibodies so the skin is better able to defend against infection or inflammation. It can help retain water in the skin to fight against dry skin, eczema, scaly skin, and dandruff. It is not suited for oily complextions. Use it sparingly, with only 1 2/3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of soap, added at trace before scent and color.

Grapeseed Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1265 KOH SAP value: .1771
Grapeseed oil is good in massage oils -- it is a lightweight oil that absorbs into the skin quickly without leaving a heavy greasy feeling. Probably too expensive to use in soaps except as superfatting.

Hazelnut Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1356 KOH SAP value: .1898
Hazelnut is low in saturated fatty acids, so use other more saturated fats to lessen your trace time and yield a harder bar. It is an excellent moisturizer for soaps, as well as lip balms, creams, and lotions.

Hemp Butter

NaOH SAP value: .1345 KOH SAP value: .1883
As far as I can tell, Hemp butter has all the qualities of hempseed oil but is a more solid version.
Superfat or as a base oil, no more than 40%.

Hempseed Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1345 KOH SAP value: .1883
Hempseed oil is not as stable as some others, and can go rancid quickly, but you will hear raves about how silky and wonderful your bars made with hempseed oil are, even if you just use it to superfat. It is thought to soothe and heal dry skin or mild burns. It is a less saturated fat, and since it is prone to spoilage, keep it as a small percentage (20-30% or less) to avoid having a soft, squishy soap, or having it go rancid on the shelf.
Superfatting or Base oil, 20-30% (No more than 40%).


Iodine Value: 85.0cg/g NaOH SAP value: .0690 KOH SAP value: .0966
Jojoba helps to promote a stable lather and is good at conditioning skin. Because of its expense, it's usually used to superfat, or in shampoo bars. Used in other toiletries, it is an excellent emollient for skin conditions like psoriasis, because it has a chemical composition very close to the skin's own sebum. It is suitable for all skin types, beneficial for spotty and acne conditions, and good for sensitive and oily skin. It also helps to unclog the pores and remove any embedded grime, restores and conditions hair. Jojoba is actually a liquid ester wax rather than a true oil.


Iodine value: 58.6cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1380 KOH SAP value: .1932
Lard is just what you think it is -- hard, white, pig fat. Its big plusses are that it is cheap, easily obtainable, and makes a nice lathery, white bar of soap. If you look hard enough, you should be able to find deodorized lard to avoid the bacony smell. Make sure you combine this with vegetable oils such as coconut or palm to compensate for the lard's shortcomings -- it can tend to be soft and not work very well in cold water.
Base oil

Macadamia Oil

Iodine value: 195.0cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1390 KOH SAP value: .1946
Macadamia is a luxury oil that is a little more expensive than some others, but fortunately it has a nice long shelf life so if you can get a quantity in a co-op or for a good price, do so -- you'll love what it does for your soaps. It is easily absorbed into the skin and acts as an emollient, and contains ingredients which some studies suggest may protect skin cells from deterioration, leading to better condition for your skin.

Mango Butter

NaOH SAP value: KOH SAP value:
Mango butter is a crumbly, yellowish oil which is extracted from the mango fruit. (I think "mango" is a name for hot or bell peppers in some areas, so note that I'm talking about the tropical fruit, with orange flesh inside a green/red skin, with a large kernel. They're delicious!) It has basically no scent. It is a great moisturizer.

Monoi Oil, also known as Monoi de Tahiti

Iodine value: 10.4 NaOH SAP value: .1900 KOH SAP value: .2660
MMMMMM.... Monoi oil is a special oil imported from Tahiti. It's made from coconut oil. The kind I get has great scents -- gardenia, coconut, I've heard of jasmine... When you use it at 60% or more of your soap, you don't need to add a separate FO/EO for scent. This oil has fabulous moisturizing properties. Lots of people swear by it in lotions and creams in addition to soaps, because it's just so good for your skin. It's pricey, but worth it.
Base oil at 60% or higher

Olive Oil

Iodine value: 81.1cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1340 KOH SAP value: .1876
Olive oil is great for your main oils in soaps, either in whole (called Castile soap) or in part. You want to look for either grades A, B, or Pomace olive oil -- don't use the expensive extra virgin stuff, while it might work great for cooking, it doesn't have what you need for soap. I've found Pomace to be cheaper (it being the lowest grade) and it works well for me, but some folks say it can produce a greenish cast in your finished soap or can react with some EOs or FOs to accellerate trace. If you're making an especially mild soap (like for a baby) use Olive.
Base oil, anywhere to 100%

Palm Oil, also known as Vegetable Tallow

Iodine value: 54.2cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1410 KOH SAP value: .1974
Use palm oil to make a hard bar that cleans well and is mild. Palm oil is a good substitute for tallow in all-vegetable soaps. When you receive a large quantity of palm oil, it may have separated into several different layers. Check with your supplier whether or not you need to melt and stir it up before use. If you do, just put your oil container in a large container full of hot water (like a laundry sink or bathtub for largs pails, etc.) until it's melted down, then stir it well before it resolidifies. If you do not stir your palm oil, you may find that you have varying results -- when palm oil is warmed, the stearic acid (what makes the soap so hard) sinks to the bottom.
Base oil

Palm Kernel Oil

Iodine value: 37.0 NaOH SAP value: .1560 KOH SAP value: .2184
Palm Kernel oil makes soaps that are very hard and lather well. It does not need to be stirred before use like palm oil (which is good, because it's an extremely hard oil!).
Base oil, usually 20-30%

Peanut Oil

Iodine value: 93.4cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1360 KOH SAP value: .1904
Peanut oil contributes long-lasting lather to a soap. It is highly unsaturated though, so it is prone to going rancid. Make sure you don't use more than 20% of peanut oil in a batch of soap.
Peanut oil is also regarded as a non-drying, conditioning oil, similar to olive and castor oils. It has a good amount of vitamin E. ** NOTE: Some people are allergic to peanut oil, so please make sure you note on the label what is in the bar so those sensitive folks can steer away!
Base oil, to 20% max.

Safflower Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1360 KOH SAP value: .1904
Safflower oil is another unsaturated oil, so it should be used in combination with palm, coconut, or a similar oil. It is valuable for its moisturizing properties.
Base oil

Sesame Seed Oil

NaOH SAP value: KOH SAP value:
Sesame oil is good as a superfatting agent because it is very good at moisturizing. Some people find that it can be prone to rancidity but others have no problems. It has a very strong scent which can overpower EOs, so plan your scents with that nutty sesame odor in mind. (It is also available in a deodorized form.) It makes a softish bar so use it in combination with other, more saturated oils.

Shea Butter

NaOH SAP value: .1280 KOH SAP value: .1792
Shea butter is a truly superior superfatting agent because it contains a large percentage of elements which do not react with the lye, but instead remain in the soap to nourish your skin. Use it at about 2-5% of your total oils, or to superfat use 1 2/3 tablespoons per 5 pounds of oils (melted to a pourable liquid consistency).
Superfatting, 2-5%

Vegetable Shortening or Soybean Oil

Iodine value: 130cg/g NaOH SAP value: .1350 KOH SAP value: .1890
Vegetable shortening is often made out of soybean oil. Its strong points are that it is cheap and readily available, is mild, and has a stable lather. It doesn't provide many other wins as far as moisturizers or conditioners go, so use it in combination with other luxury oils.
Base oil (combine with other, harder oils for best results)

Sunflower Oil

NaOH SAP value: .1340 KOH SAP value: .1876
Sunflower oil is a less expensive alternative to olive oil. It contains Vitamin E, so it naturally resists going rancid (Vitamin E is a preservative). Despite that, don't store it longer than six months. It is a less saturated oil so you want to combine it with other, more saturated, oils -- try to avoid using more than about 15-20% sunflower oil. It can make your soaps take longer to trace and to harden.
Base oil, to 20%