- Don’t use more than 30% coconut oil in a recipe – it will be too drying.
- Don’t superfat more than about 8-10% - the soap will be soft, have poor lather, and will be prone to dreaded orange spots/spoilage.
The pros of coconut oil and superfatting combine to cancel out the cons of using a high amount of coconut and using a high superfat percentage - resulting in a really lovely bar of soap!
How does it do this?
First, let's talk about the issue of “drying.” Coconut oil is not really “drying” – it’s just super cleansing. It cleans your skin so well that it strips the oils off of your skin – making it feel dry. However, coconut oil itself is actually really good for your skin. Having 20% extra oil in the soap mitigates the "drying" effect - resulting in a bar that's really mild and good for your skin.
Next, the issue of dreaded orange spots and lather.
Dreaded orange spots (or DOS) are caused by the free oils in the soap going rancid. In any bar of soap where there is any amount of superfatting, there is going to be a certain % of oil left behind. In a standard, balanced soap recipe, you’re going to have a combination of soft, more fragile oils like canola, sunflower, almond, or even olive…along with long lasting hard oils like tallow, palm or coconut. Coconut oil is a really long lasting stable oil. Even if left “free” in the soap at a high percentage, it’s going to be sturdy and shelf stable for 1-2 years. Add to that stability, it makes super lather and you can see why a 100% coconut oil bar of soap cancels out the lathering and spoilage issues commonly associated with high superfat %.
So let’s make some soap!
Follow the directions for making a basic batch of soap. This batch, while non-traditional, is actually pretty predictable and reliable when it comes to soap recipes.
When you are calculating your recipe in your lye calculator, just use one oil, coconut, and enter 20% as the superfat. Coconut oil doesn’t trace super quickly, so you can use a 2:1 ratio of water to lye pretty reliably.
The recipe I used for this 12-bar, 3 lb. batch of soap (in the Bramble Berry silicone mold I adore!) was:
- 33 ounces of coconut oil
- 4.8 ounces of lye
- 9.6 ounces of water
- 1.5 ounces of essential oil (I made a really crisp, spicy, woodsy blend for this soap that had .5 ounce cedarwood, .4 ounce rosemary, .3 ounce lavender, .3 ounce black pepper)
- Make your lye solution first, and set it aside in a safe place.
- Weigh out your oils and melt them on the stove top or microwave.
- With your oils and lye solution both at about 100 degrees, mix them together. (I did not use any additives other than fragrance (e.g. colorants or botanicals) but you certainly could.)
- Make sure all of your additives, color, and/or fragrance are ready to go, with all of the spoons, spatulas and mold ready to go.
- Slowly add the lye solution to the oils and blend until it is well mixed.
- Add in the fragrance or essential oil.
- Continue blending until it reaches a light trace and add in any additional additives.
- Pour the mixed soap into the mold.
I know soap makers who absolutely fall in love with this soap - not only for its simplicity - but also for its wonderful lather, texture and creaminess.