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Making 100% Coconut Oil Soap With 20% Superfat

Two long-held soap making rules collide in this wonderful soap recipe:

1. Don’t use more than 30% coconut oil in a recipe—it will be too drying.

2. Don’t superfat more than about 8% to 10% or the soap will be soft, have poor lather, and will be prone to the dreaded orange spots or spoilage.

What happens when you make a batch of soap with 100% coconut oil but increase the superfat percentage to 20%? 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.

Explanation

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. Coconut oil itself is 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.

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 percentage 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 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 one to two years. Add to that stability, and it makes a super lather, demonstrating why a 100% coconut oil bar of soap cancels out the lathering and spoilage issues commonly associated with a high superfat percentage.

Instructions

Follow the directions for making a basic batch of soap. This batch, while non-traditional, is 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 we used for this 12-bar, 3 lb. batch of soap was:

  • 33 ounces of coconut oil
  • 4.8 ounces of lye
  • 9.6 ounces of water
  • 1.5 ounces of essential oil (try a really crisp, spicy, woodsy blend for this soap, like .5 ounce cedarwood, .4 ounce rosemary, .3 ounce lavender, .3 ounce black pepper)
  1. Make your lye solution first, and set it aside in a safe place.
  2. Weigh out your oils and melt them on the stove top or microwave.
  3. With your oils and lye solution both at about 100 degrees, mix them together.
  4. 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.
  5. Slowly add the lye solution to the oils and blend until it is well mixed.
  6. Add in the fragrance or essential oil.
  7. Continue blending until it reaches a light trace and add any additional additives.
  8. Pour the mixed soap into the mold.

This recipe will harden overnight. You’ll want to unmold or cut it in about 12 to 18 hours.

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