A basic vegan and palm-free cold process soap recipe
This is the recipe I use all the time. I like it because it is simple and inexpensive. I have not used palm for a long time, and had to formulate a bar that was nice without palm. To add to the hardness of the bar without using palm, I use some shea butter. This adds creaminess and hardness to the soap.
56% refined A olive oil
26% coconut oil
11% shea butter
7% castor oil
I use refined A olive because it is lighter in color and I like bright colors in my soaps. Using lighter color oils lets any colorants you use really shine. If you don't have refined A olive, use the lighter color olive oil from the grocery store. Avoid extra virgin olive oil because it is darker, and don't ever substitute olive pomace for regular olive oil because it will make your soap trace much faster!
In almost all of my soaps I use a 33% lye solution. The only time I break this rule is if I'm using floral fragrances or any fragrance that traces very quickly. When I do this I use full water.
What do these terms mean? Before you make your first batch of soap you should become familiar with a soap calculator. I use soapcalc. If you haven't made soap before click the link and familiarize yourself with the soaping calculator. It will become your best friend! You will be able to adjust water on your recipes, as well as adjust the size for different size batches and soap molds.
For this demonstration I am going to use the 2.5 pound tall and skinny mini soap mold from Nurture Soap. The description for the mold states that it can hold 1.92 pounds of oils. We'll also use full water for this recipe. If this is your first time making soap, it is good to use full water in your soap because it will keep your soap fluid for longer and you'll have more time to learn and play with your recipe. This is what should be entered into soapcalc:
After this information is entered, hit the "calculate recipe" button at the bottom right. This will calculate how much you need of water, lye, and oils. Then click "view or print recipe." In this screen, you will see how much you need of each ingredient for your soap:
We can see from these calculations that for Nurture's 2.5 pound tall and skinny mini mold we need the following:
11.67 ounces of water
4.28 ounces of lye
17.2 ounces of refined A olive oil
7.99 ounces of coconut oil
3.38 ounces of shea butter
2.15 ounces of castor oil
Assuming that you have already thoroughly researched how to make lye water, go ahead and do so wearing FULL SAFETY GEAR! Wear gloves, dear! And goggles. And an apron! Respect thy lye!!!
Warm up your oils and blend them together. I personally soap using room temperature oils and lye. Many others soap when both their lye and oils are at about 110 degrees. This is personal preference and use which method you are most comfortable with.
When first starting to make soap, it is best to make a few batches without fragrance or colorants. Doing this helps you get the hang of soaping without being distracted by pretty colors, techniques, or weird acting fragrances. Because of this I did not include instructions for doing these things in this post. I will be posting more about colors, swirls, layers, fragrances and everything in between soon!