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Sandy Maine's Basic 3-Oil Soap Recipe

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I got to hear Sandy Maine of SunFeather Natural Soap Company several years ago at a soap making conference, and did a review of her book The Soap Book. I was very amused and interested to find that the "basic" recipe that she used for all the varieties of soap in her book is just three oils:
  • 48% Crisco
  • 25% olive oil
  • 25% coconut oil

That's right...no palm oil, no castor oil...just those three oils.
So I tried it...and you know what? It's good soap...!

It doesn't have quite the heavy, creamy lather that castor oil gives...it's a lighter lather...but quite plentiful - perfectly respectable soap. It's a great recipe to get started with soapmaking because these oils should be readily available and make a good option for a grocery store soap.

Now - the formula for Crisco has changed in the past couple of years. It now incorporates a fair amount of hydrogenated palm oil - which is good for making soap! If you're using Crisco, be sure to know what kind you are using...and adjust your lye calculator accordingly. Most lye calculators these days have a setting for "old Crisco" and "new Crisco." If your label lists "hydrogenated palm oil" as one of the ingredients, use the "new Crisco" setting.

The recipe below is formulated using "new Crisco."

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour


  • 9.4 oz. Crisco (or vegetable shortening)
  • 6 oz. olive oil
  • 6 oz. coconut oil
  • 7 oz. water
  • 3 oz. lye
  • .9 oz. of fragrance oil or essential oil blend


While Sandy makes huge batches of soap, this recipe will just make a 2-lb. batch.


  1. assemble all of your equipment and ingredients.
  2. mix your lye solution and set it aside to cool.
  3. Measure and heat your solid oils until completely melted.
  4. Measure and add the liquid oils to the melted solid oils.
  5. When both the lye and the oils are at about 100-110 degrees, slowly pour the lye solution into the oils. Stir with a stick blender, alternating short blasts with the blender and stirring.
  6. Mix the soap until it reaches a light trace.
  7. Add the fragrance oil.
  8. Mix them into the soap thoroughly.
  9. Pour the raw soap into your mold and let it sit for 24-36 hours until it has cooled off completely and is hard enough to cut. Because this recipe doesn't have any palm oil or stearic acid plentiful oils like tallow or lard, it may take an extra 12 hours or so to harden up. Just be patient...it will get hard enough to cut.
  10. Remove it from the mold and slice into bars. Let it cure an additional 2-4 weeks.

    For more detailed directions on making soap check out step-by-step cold process soap making or DIY soap - making soap from scratch.

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