Arnica is a perennial herb, indigenous to Central Europe, more commonly referred to as “leopard’s bane”. Preparations made from the flowering heads have been used in homeopathic medicine for hundreds of years. Over 100 drug preparations are made from the plant. Arnica extract penetrates into the skin to help activate metabolism in underlying tissues. It is said to promote burning of excessive fat deposits in the fat cells. The cleansing, nourishing, moisturizing and lubricating action of Arnica oil helps improve overall skin conditions and appearance. The internal use of Arnica is not suggested. It can cause vomiting, weakness, increased heart rate and nervous disturbances.
This is an infused oil that contains the active ingredients of the marigold flower. Calendula is traditionally used in Mediterranean regions for its skin care properties to help preserve skin freshness, prevent over drying, and reduce sun-induced wrinkles and premature aging. The anti-aging properties of calendula oil may be related to the high content and diversity of carotenes, phytosterols, polyphenols and EFAs. Calendula oil is good for all skin types and has anti- inflammatory and anti-spasmodic qualities. It is best when infused in a light textured oil like almond or sunflower. When used regularly this product will impart a deep olive shine to the skin and protects skin from age related thinning and drying out. It is magical in its ability to prevent tearing, soothe pain, stop bleeding, promote rapid healing, and prevent scarring. In soaps, use 1 and 2/3 tablespoons per five pounds of soap during trace, or up to 20% of total base oils. Calendula is considered safe in normal applications. The shelf life of Calendula oil depends on the base oil used in diffusion.
Combined with sodium bicarbonate, citric acid is what puts the fizz in bath bombs and fizzies. It can also be used to balance the acidity in lotions. Used between .25 and 1%. Lotions that are too acidic may irritate the skin.
Comfrey is native to Europe and temperate Asia. It is common throughout England and generally found on the watery banks near rivers and ditches. It has traditionally been known as “knit bone”, as it is a cellular regenerator with anti-scarring properties. Comfrey is an odor free oil, obtained by infused extraction from the root of the plant. Use comfrey for sunburns, wounds, and sore muscles. Comfrey is also known to be effective for eczema and dry skin. According to the FTC, comfrey contains toxic substances that when taken internally, could lead to serious liver damage. Has a shelf life of one to two years if kept properly in airtight container.
Emulsifying Wax NF
This is used as a binder in toiletries made with oil and water to bind or emulsify the oil and water together and keep them from separating. Great for use in cremes and lotions.
Honey acts as an emollient to moisturize skin. Used along with beeswax in soap formulations to harden with would otherwise be a too-soft soap. Use at 2 tablespoons per pound of oils at trace.
Lanolin has superior moisture binding and humectant properties and is ideal for soaps, creams, lotions and other toiletry products. Use at 3-6% of total base oils.
Stearic Acid, Palm
This is used for adding body to creams and lotions and to make cold process soap firmer by melting it with oils before adding your lye water. It can cause a slight acceleration so take care when adding it to cold process soap if you plan to use a fragrance that has a tendency to accelerate.
A naturally occurring mineral used to whiten soap. It is white, water soluble powder that is approved by the FDA.
Discovered in 1922, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that scientists understood the crucial role of Vitamin E in skin care. Today it is the world’s second largest selling Vitamin and is commonly referred to as nature’s own healing agent. Vitamin E has been cited as having positive effects on the wound healing process and possesses the ability to retard the conversion of soluble collagen to insoluble collagen (which is responsible for scar formation). In this manner, it helps reduce the chance of scar tissue forming. Vitamin E penetrates below the skin’s surface to rejuvenate damaged skin cells and promote healthy regeneration of scarred skin. This Oil can also help the skin overcome the harmful effects of the sun, responsible for over 80% of visible aging including premature wrinkles and skin dryness. It helps reduce the number of damaged cells found after exposure of the skin to UV radiation. It helps to preserve the health and integrity of the skin, helps in the healing of cuts, abrasions and post surgical scar tissue, provides a defense against bacterial infection, promote cellular oxygenation and protect and insulates the skin from pre-mature signs of aging. Considered to be safe in all normal applications with a shelf life of 2 years or more.
Soapmaking Oils and their Characteristics
As avid and curious soapmakers who enjoy experimenting with a variety of oils and additives, we have purchased most of the soapmaking ingredients listed here from many different on-line suppliers. See our Links Page. Therefore, the information shared here has been gathered from suppliers or manufacturers of oils and other ingredients, sources we consider to be the most accurate.
Experiences with soapmaking suppliers have been positive for the most part, but it would be helpful if they would include more information about their product, whether in the form of an information sheet or on the label.
The more you know about an oil or other additive, the more likely you will be to use it and use it properly. Usually, ingredients are labeled with the name of the product, its weight (sometimes), and if necessary, safety warnings and considerations.
One supplier in particular has seen fit to add detailed and informative product descriptions (online) of the oils they carry, we would definitely be a lot less savvy about the our own finished products – where these ingredients are used. Cedar Vale Natural Health, based in Kansas, has been one of the best informational resources as far as suppliers go.
Before considering the use of an oil you are not already familiar with, we recommend that you research the properties of oils including:
- the length of an oil’s stability in its raw form…
- most effective method of storing a particularly unstable oil to effectively increase its shelf life…
- whether or not an oil has previously been treated with an antioxidant for increased stability….
- whether or not an oil will add to the stability of other oils in your formulation…
- how the oil will affect tracing time – accelerated or slow…
- whether or not an oil has a high or low amount of unsaponifiables…
- if possible, how the oil has been extracted or processed; sometimes a refined version of an oil may have a longer shelf life than a crude version…
Oil stability and other attributes or non-attributes will ultimately affect your products in one way or another, so the more you know about ingredient options, the better. It has been our experience that labeling does not include instructions on how to care for your oils (again, the importance of stability), so it often up to you – the soapmaking consumer to conduct your own research.
Most of what is covered on this page are oils and butters, but we have also included other commonly used ingredients where possible.
Shop around for the best deals. Pay particular attention to customer service practices and shipping and handling costs. Some suppliers are more expensive than others, but if a supplier offers free or discounted shipping, it may be more feasible to purchase the oils there, even if their costs are a touch inflated. Shipping can sometimes equal the cost of an ingredient and becomes more costly as the shipping “weight” of your order increases.
Almond Butter, Ultra Refined
Almond Butter is derived from sweet Almonds and obtained by cold pressing of selected fruits followed by a full refining process. The natural oil contains essential fatty acids, but also contains unsaponifiables as natural waxes or paraffins. This butter makes an ideal massage or carrier oil and adds moisturizing properties to soaps, creams and lotions. In cosmetic preparations, the feel and behavior of Almond Butter is somewhat similar to that of shea butter.
Almond Oil, Sweet
Sweet Almond oil is cold pressed from the dried kernels of the almond tree and is an excellent emollient to help the skin balance the loss and absorption of moisture. Sweet almond is one of the most popularly used carrier oils in aromatherapy and massage and soapmaking. This oil has a fine texture and is easily absorbed, helping to leave the skin soft and smooth without leaving a greasy feel. Not only does this oil help protect the skin’s surface, but it also acts as a conditioner to help promote a clear, clean, young looking complexion. It has a rich concentration of oleic and linoleic essential fatty acids and is known to help repair the skin’s lipid matrix barrier. Sweet almond oil an also be used as one of the main ingredients in soaps and lotions. This oil saponifies easily and produces a mild conditioning soap with stable thick dense lather. Use as a percentage of fats or add at trace. Recommended use is one ounce per pound of fats. Sweet almond oil has a shelf life of six months to a year.
Aloe is a member of the lily family, but is closer in resemblance to a cactus. It has been used since ancient times due to its beneficial effects on skin. The finest most concentrated extract of aloe vera is obtained from the innermost flesh of the aloe vera leaf. Aloe vera juice, extract and oil is said to encourage skin rejuvenation and promote healing of wounds and treatment of sunburn. It is a superb penetrating moisturizing agent that helps stimulate the body’s immune system while being naturally hypoallergenic. It has close to the same pH as our own skin. Aloe vera is considered safe to use with no known side effects. Aloe vera has an average shelf life of six months to one year.
Aloe Vera Oil
Treat your skin to the soothing properties of this unique oil plant extract in soaps, lotions, creams, lip balms, body butters and any other application where your skin needs the soothing treatment of the fabulous aloe vera. Aloe vera oil is a moisturizer that is very effective in helping to heal skin irritation, promote new skin growth and help stall the aging process. This is amazingly moisturizing and smoothing. Use as little as 3% to as much as 100% to feel the benefits of this pale golden, odorless, silky oil.
Ayurvedic Fixed Oil
This oil is extracted from pressing of the fruit of the amla or indian gooseberry tree of India and is often used to treat hair and scalp and to promote stronger healthier growth of the hair due to its ability to penetrate the scalp. Most often used in hot oil treatments, conditioners and shampoos. This oil has an average shelf life of up to two years.
Apricot Kernel Oil
This is is a medium lightweight oil that contains skin softening, nourishing, and revitalizing properties and is particularly helpful for dehydrated, delicate, mature and sensitive skin. This finely textured oil spreads easily and is particularly rich in both oleic acid and linoleic acid. Apricot kernel oil is an effective replacement for sweet almond oil in soap and toiletry formulations. It is a highly unsaturated emollient that provides naturally moisturizing and nourishing EFAs in a dry, non-greasy form. This oil can be used in any cosmetic product as an active principle ingredient or as a carrier in the oily phase, without any proportion limit. Keep away from light and heat. It has a shelf life of six months to a year.
Although usually classed as a “vegetable oil”, the avocado is really a fruit that can yield a staggering 30% oil by weight. This oil is heavy, deeply penetrating and rich in vitamins A and D, lecithin, potassium, and vitamin E. Crude avocado oil is greenish yellow in color as it still contains some chlorophyll. It is classified as a mono-unsaturated oil and is used for dry or mature skins. It is said to be very helpful to those suffering from eczema or psoriasis and similar skin complaints. It is also used to treat sun or climate damaged skin that is dehydrated and under nourished. Avocado oil is said to help with the regenerating of skin cells and is easily absorbed into the skin to add superb emolliency. Stored in cooler conditions, avocado oil can become cloudy, but will usually return to its normal color when it is warmed up again. This oil is considered safe in all normal applications. This oil has a high percentage of unsaponifiables. In soaps, use up to 30% as a base oil. The shelf life for refined avocado oil is between twelve to eighteen months, whereas the shelf life for crude avocado oil is six to nine months.
The oil is extracted from the kernel of a large south American palm tree. It has been used commercially in soaps, food and detergents for many years and can be used as an active or carrier oil at 100%.
This oil is derived from the seeds of the baobab tree, native to Eastern and Southern Africa and has been part of African skin care for centuries. This rich, golden oil has a high content of vitamins A, D, E and F (essential fatty acids). Baobab oil absorbs quickly, improves elasticity, encourages regeneration of skin cells and does not clog the pores. It is an excellent ingredient in formulations for eczema and psoriasis. This is a highly stable oil with a shelf life of approximately two years.
Beeswax makes for a harder bar of soap and is also used in creams, lotions, lip balms and candle making. Beeswax comes in the form of white or natural pastilles. Natural pastille will add a yellow color to formulations, so to avoid that, use the white pastilles. Beeswax contains a high percentage of unsaponifiables and is often used in formulations containing honey to harden what would otherwise be a too soft soap. Limit the use of beeswax in cold process soapmaking to about an ounce per pound of oils.
Black Currant Oil
Black currant seed oil has a moderate immune-enhancing effect attributable to its ability to reduce prostaglandin E2 production. It is extracted from the seed using the cold-processed method. This oil is considered one of the richest sources of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), and has a high content of prostaglandins which protect the body. Black currant seed oil is often combined with vitamin E to prevent oxidation. Many women find that this oil reduces breast tenderness associated with PMS. There are no reports of toxic effects. Excess consumption can result in oily skin, an indication to decrease dosage. The shelf life is six months to a year.
Borage Seed Oil
Borage oil (also known as star flower oil) is an ancient oil that has been used in the far east for thousands of years. It has been found to be one of the richest sources of essential fatty acids known to man. The aroma is light and sweet with a thin to medium texture and leaves a mildly oily feel. Borage seed oil has also been used to treat pre-menstrual complaints, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatic problems, eczema and other chronic skin conditions. It can be used as a general tonic for the adrenals which are susceptible following periods of stress or depression. This oil is said to be excellent in treating many skin conditions. Borage is usually blended in a small (often 10% or less) dilution with other carrier oils. Borage oil goes rancid rather quickly and should be kept refrigerated or used immediately. It is excellent for all skin types and is a good skin and tissue rejuvenator. Not recommended for use during pregnancy and lactation, but otherwise it is considered safe in normal applications. This oil has an average shelf life of three to six months if properly stored and kept refrigerated.
Candelilla wax is a vegetable wax of Mexican origin, derived from a wild growing herbaceous plant of the family “Euphorbia Ceriphera” The wax is obtained by boiling the plant and skimming the wax from the top. It is a superior replacement for beeswax. It takes approximately 25% less candelilla than beeswax to achieve effective use in products like lotion bars and lip balms. Therefore, it can also be considered an economical “vegetable” alternative to beeswax. Candelilla was has excellent glide with the color of natural beeswax, a light golden yellow.
Camellia oil is expressed from the seed of a tree that originates from subtropical regions. It has high antioxidant properties, excellent skin and hair conditioning properties and presents skin restructuring and moisturizing virtues. This oil has been used by the women in China and Japan for many centuries is a skin tonic to prevent premature age related wrinkles and as a hair tonic. But the western world has yet to really catch on to this great natural product. Has a shelf life of six months to a year.
Camelina Seed Oil
This is a unique vegetable oil that is also known as “gold of pleasure oil”. High in Omega-3 content, this oil is suitable for a wide variety of skin care uses. Adds high emolliency properties.
This is a genetically engineered plant derived from the mustard family. Canola is an oilseed crop grown primarily in regions of Western Canada. Each canola plant produces yellow flowers which in turn, produce pods about 1/5th the size of pea pods. Within the pods are tiny round seeds that are crushed and expressed to obtain the oil. Each seed contains approximately 40 percent oil. It is considered to be a toxic and poisonous weed, which when processed, becomes rancid very quickly. The name of canola was taken from “Can-adian” plus -ola, for “oil.” This oil is considered to be a good moisturizer and can be used in place of more expensive products like olive. This medium light oil contains essential fatty acids, vitamins, specifically vitamin E and minerals. Use as a base oil up to 50%. Use with other saturated fats in order to speed up saponification. Considered safe in normal applications. Has a three to six month shelf life if kept properly in airtight container. Refrigerate after opening.
This oil is rich in beta carotene, minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin A and is a bright orange in color. It is rejuvenating and nourishing and good for prematurely aging and dry, itchy skin. This oil is rich in beta carotene as well as minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin A. Considered to be safe in normal applications.
Castor oil is expressed from the seeds of the castor plant and is native to India. It has been used therapeutically and medicinally since ancient times and is also known as Palma Christi or the “Palm of Christ”. Castor is commonly used in hair conditioners for the treatment of dry or brittle, damaged hair or hair loss. This is a very thick oil with a slight but prominent odor and slightly sticky texture. It is also often used as an emollient and skin softener, and medicinally as a treatment of gastrointestinal problems, lacerations and other skin disorders such as psoriasis. It is also found in many commercial skin care products. In soaps, it produces a clean, light-colored soap with a stable lather. It dries and hardens well and is free from odor. Use in addition to other carriers at around 10% of the total oil. Add in small amounts at trace or no more than 30% of total base oils. Considered safe in normal applications with an average shelf life of between one to two years.
This is a pale yellow brittle fat derived from cocoa beans that is used in many foods. In soaps, cocoa butter is used to harden too-soft soaps and is a rich moisturizer. Add at an ounce per pound of of oils at trace or up to 15% of total base oils. Using more than 15% can produce a hard, brittle soap that will be prone to cracking. Cocoa butter has an almost indefinite shelf life. You can also use “Maria Grade” cocoa butter which has all the qualities of natural cocoa butter, but very little scent. White ultra refined cocoa butter is pure white and every trace of chocolate scent has been removed. Commonly used to make “white chocolate”.
Coconut Oil (76 degree)
Coconut Oil is a very common base oil in the soap and toiletry industry. It comes from the seeds of Cocos Nucifera and is primarily cultivated from Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Coconut oil is somewhat solid at room temperature with a consistency similar to lard. This is a light and penetrating oil that when used in soaps, makes abundant rich creamy lather. Coconut oil will produce a bar that will lather in the hardest water and even in seawater. Coconut is also a very effective oil in lotions and hair care products. Most coconut oil is refined, bleached, and deodorized with a high melting point of 76°F, but there are hydrogenated versions available commercially that have a higher melting point of 92°F. Use between 20 and 30% of total base oils in soaps for a hard, white bar with moisturizing properties and a white fluffy lather.
Cold pressed in the USA from the inner kernel of maize, corn oil has a faint aroma and is a little lighter in texture than olive oil. It contains a good amount of vitamin E and essential fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Corn oil is commonly used for cooking, but cold pressed, it can be used as a carrier oil for all skin types. It is suitable to be used as 100% of base oils. Corn oil contains large amounts of vitamin E, which makes it a very stable oil with a shelf life of twelve to twenty-four months.
Until the mid 19th century when cottonseed oil production began, so much was left over from cotton production, that it was considered a health problem. For every ton of lint in seed cotton there are approximately 1.7 tons of cottonseed. One ton of seed yields about 200 kg of oil. It is ranked the sixth largest production of edible oil in the world. It contains high levels of antioxidants (Vitamin E) that contribute to its long shelf life. Cottonseed is useful as hair treatment oil and facial skin oil blends for mature, tired and dull skin. Cotton seed was one of world’s first vegetable oils producing a wide range of industrial products such as soaps, emulsifiers, insecticides, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics. When used in soaps it produces thick and lasting lather, in addition to having good emollient properties. Use no more than 25% of total base oils. Considered safe in normal applications and has a shelf life of twelve to twenty four months.
Emu Oil Information
This oil is rendered from a thick layer of fat on the back of the Emu bird. This unsaturated oil is generally a creamy pale yellow or creamy white color. It contains a high level of linolenic acid, known to temporarily ease joint pain. It also contains oleic acid, which produces an anti- inflammatory effect. It has virtually no aroma and does not clog pores. Among its many healing properties, emu oil is a natural emollient that is suitable for both skin care and cosmetics. Its unique penetrating properties make it an excellent carrier vehicle for other ingredients to aid in dermal penetration. Adds to mildness in soaps to make them less drying. Use in soaps at one ounce per pound. Has a shelf life of six months to a year.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is exceptionally high in fatty acids, and especially in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an important body nutrient that affects many of the enzyme functions in the body. It is an exceptionally fine textured oil with superb moisturizing properties. It is said to be effective in helping with eczema, psoriasis, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) rheumatoid arthritis as well as weight reduction. It is further purported to reduce hyperactivity in babies and young children when rubbed onto their skin. Evening Primrose oil does not have a very long shelf life and should be stored accordingly. Keep away from light and heat.
Flax Seed Oil
This is a herbaceous annual plant referred to in every ancient civilization, in Chaldea, Egypt, Palestine, and Greece. Flaxseed oil, also known as Linseed oil, is cold pressed in the USA. It has a rich, yellow color with an odor similar to butter. This oil is considered by many to be the answer to many of their health dilemmas. Flax seed is rich in essential fatty acids which directly takes part in the regulation of skin permeability, presents worthwhile restructuring and moisturizing skin properties for cosmetics. It is high in vitamin E and stimulates cellular regeneration and it is useful for preventing scarring and stretch marks. This oil is prone to rancidity and should be kept away from heat and light. Shelf life is approximately three to six months with proper storage.
Grapeseed oil is rich in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid quite important for the skin and the cell membranes. It is purported to have regenerative, restructuring and superior moisturizing attributes. Grape seed oil is a non-greasy oil that is often enriched by blending with another carrier oil such as sweet almond or wheat ger. This is a fine textured, oil that contains vitamins, minerals, and protein, GLA, and a small amount of vitamin E. It is good in massage oils for those whose skin does not seem to absorb easily. It is ideal for use in products for thin, greasy, damaged and delicate hair, body hygiene creams, lip balms, hand creams, and regenerative products for mature, damaged and stressed skin, notably for use around the eyes and neck. Store in a cool, dark area. This product can be used in any cosmetic product as an active principle ingredient or as a one of the carriers in the fatty phase, without any proportion limit. However, in soaps the recommended use is one ounce per pound at trace or 5% of the total oils. Considered to be safe for normal applications. Has a shelf life of six months to a year if kept properly in airtight container.
This oil contains useful amounts of essential fatty acids including linoleic acid, vitamins, minerals and protein. It is one of the most highly unsaturated vegetable oils with great moisturizing qualities. It is also heralded as an oil that helps to tone and tighten the skin while strengthening capillaries and assisting in cell regeneration. Hazelnut oil has good astringent qualities, which makes it a superb carrier to use on oily and combination skins. Considered safe for use in normal applications. Hazelnut oil has a shelf life of six months to a year if kept properly in airtight container.
Hemp seed oil is derived from the hemp plant, which is a non-narcotic variety that is amazingly versatile, nutritional and environmentally sound. Medicinal uses for hemp plant seed extend as far back as the Ming Dynasty. It contains more naturally occurring essential fatty acids than any other plant derived oil and a perfect 3:1 Omega-6: Omega-3 EFA ratio. The oil also contains the natural anti-oxidant vitamin E and sterols which blocks cholesterol absorption. Hemp penetrates the skin to remoisturize, revive and repair cells damaged by the elements; sun, wind and ultraviolet light. It may be used as a massage or moisturizing oil by applying it to the skin as desired. It may also be added to shampoo or conditioner to rejuvenate the scalp. If you choose you may add your favorite essential oil for fragrance. This carrier is very high in unsaturated fatty acids, which makes it a great moisturizer for dry and devitalized skin, especially since it absorbs into the skin very quickly. It is also a cell regenerator and helps soothe muscles. Use as a superfatting agent at 5% at trace or as a base il at between 20 to 30%. This oil is prone to rancidity and should be properly stored or used right away. Using this product in cosmetics will not trigger a failed drug test.
Illipe butter is derived from the illipe tree that grows in the forests of Borneo. Similar in chemical composition to cocoa butter, illipe butter is harder with a slightly higher melting point, making it ideal for use in soaps. This butter prevents drying of the skin and reduces degeneration of skin cells to restore skin flexibility and elasticity. Use at 5 to 100% in soaps.
In reality jojoba oil is not an oil but a liquid wax, and is pronounced “ho-ho-ba”. Jojoba became an important oil in the 70’s when whaling was banned as it has almost the same properties as the oil obtained from the sperm whale. Jojoba oil is derived from the jojoba bean. Because it is composed of wax esters, it is an extremely stable substance and does not easily deteriorate. The structure of jojoba oil closely resembles that of your own skin sebum, is an excellent moisturizer and is ideal for all skin types. It contains myristic acid which also has anti-inflammatory actions. It can in most cases be used on acne skin without any problems as it helps to control acne. Jojoba penetrates the skin easily and is suitable for all skin types. Great for mature, aging skin and wrinkles although good for all skin types. Limit use in soaps to one or two ounces per pound at trace. Jojoba will accelerate tracing in soap recipes. Used as a superfatting oil. It is frequently blended in a small dilution (10%) with other carriers. It has a very long shelf-life.
Kokum Butter has been obtained from the fruit kernels of a tree grown in India and is a soft, buttery lipid that is suitable for soaps, cosmetics and toiletries. Kokum Butter exhibits excellent emollient properties and high oxidative stability. Like other butters, it melts at skin temperature and is ideal for lip sticks and balms. Use at 2-5% of total base oils in soap.
Kukui Nut Oil
This is a very light oil, rich in oleic acid and native to Hawaii. It also contains high levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and is a well liked facial oil because it is moisturizing without being greasy. Kukui Nut Oil may be used on all skin types and is considered to be beneficial for dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and acne. This oil is a transparent, low-viscosity oil that is quickly absorbed into the deepest skin layers. Kukui Nut Oil contains vitamins A, C and E, all antioxidants that help create and protect healthy skin tissue. This oil is a luxury for the soapmaker who wants to add richness to bar soaps. Kukui nut oil goes rancid rather quickly. In soaps, use two tablespoons per 5 pounds of soap at trace or 20% of total base oils.
This common semi-solid or solid fat is obtained by rendering the fat of a pig. It is an inexpensive, easily attainable soap ingredients that makes a gentle white soap, but does not produce much lather on its own. This fat tends to make a soft soap and is often used in conjunction with tallow or vegetable oils like coconut or palm. Use at not more than 70% of base oils or one ounce per pound at trace.
Macadamia Nut Oil
It is one of the only plant oils that contains high amounts of palmitoleic acid, which is also normally found in our own skin’s sebum. Macadamia nut is very emollient and is therefore great for dry and aging skin. In aged skins, where sebum production has reduced, Macadamia oil can be of great benefit. Macadamia oil is great to use since it is readily absorbed and helps to soften the skin and is also said to help reduce fine lines when used in facial massage. This is a thick oil, clear in color with a slight tinge of yellow. It also leaves an oil film on the skin and if not carefully used or used in a small dilution with another carrier oil, it may overpower a blend. Use as a superfatting agent at one ounce per pound of soap at trace.
Mango butter is somewhat yellow in color and high in unsaponifiables. Adds super-emolliency to soaps and lotions. Use as a superfatting agent at 5% at trace or up to 15% of total base oils.
This is a stable, non-greasy moisturizing, rapidly absorbed oil a shelf life so stable that it can actually impart this stability to other oils in your recipe. Meadowfoam contains over 98% fatty acids and is one of the most moisturizing oils for skin and hair available.
Mowrah butter is of significant commercial importance in India and is used in edible and cosmetic applications. This butter is solid at room temperature, but melts readily on contact with the skin. It helps to prevent drying of the skin and reduces the development of wrinkles and degeneration of skin cells.
Indigenous to India, the neem tree is mostly grown as a shade tree in a variety of habitats. Fruit from the tree (sometimes called Margosa tree) contains kernels that are rich in oil (up to 40%). From these seeds a unique, cold pressed oil is expelled which contains natural constituents which have specific benefits for skin care. Scientific research has confirmed that Neem seed oil is non-toxic to mammals and may be very effective organic antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, dermatological and dental agent. It is also widely hailed as a natural insect repellent. This oil has been used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine to aid in the healing of topical skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, burns and acne. It is rich in fatty acids and glycerides and together with its healing properties, provides an excellent natural moisturizing base for skin care formulations. Use at up to 10% in skin care formulations. Up to 3% in hand and foot care products. and at 1 – 2% as an insect repellent. Considered to be safe in all normal topical applications.
Olive Butter is derived from olive oil and obtained by cold pressing of selected fruits followed by a full refining process. The natural oil inherintly contains essential fatty acids, but also contains unsaponifiables as natural waxes/paraffins that are collected during the refining and deodorization process, and from the squalane production process. In cosmetic preparations, the feel and behavior of olive is very similar to that of shea butter.
Olive Oil Pomace
Olive oil pomace is considered an inferior grade and is used for soap making or industrial purposes. This oil creates a long lasting, non-drying mild soap with creamy lather and no other soapmaking oil contributes its unique set of characteristics. It retains moisture to the skin by forming a breathable layer, and like jojoba oil, shea butter and kukui nut oil it does not block the skin’s natural functions while performing it’s own. Olive oil is a good oil for skin care, especially mature, inflamed, or dry skin, as it provides disinfectant, antiwrinkle, and wound healing properties. Some people may find certain grades unpleasantly strong smelling. It is a very stable oil and does not go rancid easily and can be stored without refrigeration for a year.
Olive Oil, Refined
Fully ripe, hand picked olives make the best oil, which is produced by crushing the pulp of the fruit and not the seed. The oil is made from the pulp and not the kernel and different qualities are available and range from extra virgin, virgin and pure. All virgin olive oils are unrefined. If olives are damaged or bruised, they and the oil pressed from them is of a lesser quality that must be degummed, refined, bleached and deodorized resulting in olive oils that are equivalent to other mass market oils in quality. These oils, like other mass market oils, have been changed from anti-mutagenic to mutagenic by overheating, and their minor ingredients have been removed.
Olive oil is a good oil for skin care, especially mature, inflamed, or dry skin, as it provides disinfectant, antiwrinkle, and wound healing properties. This oil creates a long lasting, non-drying mild soap with creamy lather, and no other soapmaking oil contributes its unique set of characteristics. It retains moisture to the skin by forming a breathable layer, and like jojoba oil, shea butter and kukui nut oil it does not block the skin’s natural functions while performing is own. Some people may find certain grades unpleasantly strong smelling. It is a very stable oil and does not go rancid easily and can be stored without refrigeration for a year.
Ostrich oil contains essential fatty acids that are known for their skin conditioning properties, making it ideal for lotions, shampoos, creams, and soaps. Recommended as a superfatting agent at 7-8%. Ostrich oil gives soap a wonderful rich creamy feel. Ostrich oil penetrates the skin, enhancing conditioning and moisturizing capabilities though the surface layers.
Palm oil is to tropical African cooking what olive oil is to Mediterranean cooking and butter is to northern European cooking. The oil is produced from the pulp or flesh of the fruit of the palm and is obtained by solvent extraction. It makes a nice hard bar when used in combination with other oils such as coconut and olive oil. The difference between palm kernel and palm oils is that Palm kernel is white and has a higher melting point. Palm oil is yellow and has a lower melting point close to room temperature. Oils with a higher melting point are hard and make harder soaps that take longer to melt in the shower. Palm is considered to be the tallow of vegetable soaps as it lends hardness and smooth creamy bubbles to soap. Palm oil is also used in the manufacture of soaps, detergents and other surfactants. Oleochemicals manufactured from palm oil and palm kernel oil are now popular for the manufacture of environmentally friendly detergents as they are readily biodegradable. It is difficult to find a soap recipe that doesn’t include palm oil. The usage rate is typically around 30% and sometimes is even 40% or more in some popular recipes. Palm oil imparts a creamy light golden or off-white color and gives a very nice texture to your soaps. Generally non-toxic, non-sensitizing and has an excellent shelf life.
Palm Kernel Oil
Also known as palm nut, palm kernel is expeller pressed from the kernels of the palm tree fruit. It is very similar to coconut oil in that it has a high percentage of lauric acid which allows it to produce a hard soap with good lather. Soaps made from this oil are white in color and an effective substitute for coconut oil as it is very stable and resists oxidation. If used in excess, palm kernel oil can be drying to the skin so keep your percentages between 10 and 30% to enjoy the moisturizing properties of this oil. Palm kernel lends a smooth texture to soap that regular palm oil does not. Palm Kernel oil is also less drying than coconut oil. This oil has an excellent shelf life.
A clear oil expressed from peanuts and extremely light in aroma with a slight fatty, nutty quality, produced mainly in the US. It has a high content of vitamin E, and is regarded as a non-drying, conditioning oil, similar to olive and castor oils. This oil is thick and leaves a very oily film on the skin, because of this it is said to be a good choice for inclusion in massage blends. It is good for all skin types, and is an emollient for arthritis or sunburn. Peanut oil is highly unsaturated, and creates a soft conditioning bar soap with a long lasting lather. It also strengthens weak and brittle nails. Peanut oil is said to increase the blood circulation after treatment, the skin will feel warm and have a reddish glow. Peanut oil has been used medicinally for preventing headaches. Peanut oil should not be used by anyone that has an allergy to peanuts. The shelf life is 6 months-1 year.
This is an extremely light oil that compares very favorably with oil from other oil seed crops. Pecan kernels contain 65 to 70 percent oil. Approximately 73 percent of fresh pecan oil consists of monounsaturated (oleic) and 17 percent polyunsaturated (linoleic) fatty acids. Oleic is the same fatty acid found in olives. This oil can leave a slightly oily film on the skin and has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Non-toxic, Non-irritant, do not use if allergic to nuts. It is said that it goes rancid somewhat quickly.
This oil is expressed from the nuts of the pistachio tree, and is generally quite expensive and only used in combination with other carrier oils. It is an excellent emollient which provides a high level of moisturization to the skin. It is rapidly absorbed into the skin and does not leave a greasy feel. Pistachio oil compares favorably to peanut oil and will soften and nourish the skin. Pistachio Oil has very good moisturizing qualities for a “light oil”. It blends easily with other carrier oils. The shelf life of Pistachio nut oil is 3-6 months.
While the pumpkin has been cultivated in Europe for centuries, it is only within the last two hundred years that residents of the providence of Styria have been making pumpkin seed oil. A few centuries ago, farmers noticed a change in the pumpkin seeds. A mutation caused the mature seeds to grow with soft rather than thick, hard shells. The seeds were deemed excellent for eating because of their rich flavor and soft shells. Soon, farmers began bringing their seeds to the local grain mills, grinding and then pressing them to extract the oil, and pumpkin seed oil became a special tradition born out of Austrian ingenuity. Pumpkin seed massage oil has great healing qualities for skin problems such as sores and ulcers. This makes it a good choice to include when mixing a massage oil or preparing a carrier oil blend. Although Pumpkin seed oil can be classified as a “specialty” carrier oil, some aroma therapists like to use it since it is high in protein, zinc as well as polyunsaturated fats. Can find no particular concerns.
Rice Bran Oil
Rich in vitamin E, rice bran oil is expressed from the husk of rice and is very similar to wheat germ oil but not as “heavy”. It has a smaller molecule that is able to more easily penetrate the skin. Rice bran oil is an excellent source of the essential fatty acids and antioxidant nutrients that promote overall good health and stimulates the body and spirit. Rice bran oil flows on smoothly and is moderately penetrating without being greasy or sticky. It is good for massage or lotions and is one of the most gentle oils which makes it perfect for eye creams, baby products and light facial and body moisturizers for all skin types. Rice bran oil is a perfect moisturizing base for under cosmetics. This oil is wonderfully used in liquid soaps and liquid cosmetics. It is well used in creams to soften and moisturize hands. Rice bran has a shelf life of 3-6 months.
Rose Hip Oil
Usually, the oil is extracted by a solvent from the wild rose bush seeds growing in the southern Andes. It has very high levels of linoleic and linolenic fatty acids. The aroma is mild and perhaps earthy. It has been identified that the presence of Trans-Retinoic acid is the component responsible for the remarkable pharmacological properties of rose hip oil. Trans-Retinoic acid is a derivative of Retinol (Vitamin A) and is marked as Tretinoin. It is high in GLA and has recently been used to help reduce the signs of aging, especially the fine lines around the eyes and lines around the mouth, the drying effects of the sun and climate, as well as assisting with attenuating both accidental and surgical scars, healing burns, and stretch marks. It is usually blended in a small (often 10%) dilution with other carrier oils. It goes rancid rather quickly. It has been reported to aggravate acne. Best stored in a cool place.
Safflower oil would be a suitable base to work from, but it is recommended to mix other carrier oils with it. This oil oxidizes very easily but may be beneficial for painful inflamed joints and applied to bruises, sprains, and painful arthritis. Safflower massage oil has great moisturizing qualities which make it a good choice to include when mixing a massage oil or preparing a carrier oil blend. The shelf life is less than 3 months. It should be mixed with another carrier oil with good antioxidant qualities to increase the shelf life since it goes rancid quickly.
Sal butter is obtained from the seed of the sal tree grown in India. This is a firm, but pliant butter suitable for soaps and other toiletry products. Due to its uniform triglyceride composition, it exhibits high oxidative and emulsion stability, and good skin softening ability. It melts at skin temperatures making it ideal for sticks and balms. Use in soaps at 3-6% of total base oils.
This is an oil considered to be strong smelling by some, yet is a good source of vitamins E and B complex and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Sesame oil further contains protein as well as lecithin. In folk medicine it has also been used to help fade blemishes. It may be expressed or extracted and is also known as Gingelly or Teel Oil. If the oil is extracted from raw seeds, it is a rather light color compared to that extracted from roasted seeds. Sesame Seed Oil is a natural skin moisturizer. Although it is a thick oil it is used for eczema, psoriasis and mature skin and it contains excellent moisturizing properties. It is best mixed with another carrier oil, such as almond or grape seed to make it a bit lighter. It is beneficial for dry skin. Does not stain sheets. Sesame oil may overpower a blend if not diluted with another carrier oil.
Shea Butter, Liquid
Liquid shea butter is perfect for lotions and cremes and especially, melt and pour soaps at a recommended use of no more than one teaspoon per pound. It will not affect the lather except to make it richer and eliminate any drying tendency of some bases. Use a few drops right out of the bottle for dry skin and you’ll be amazed at what it will do. Store at room temperature in amber for approximately two years.
Shea is also known as karite or African butter and is a wonderful superfatting agent. Use with cocoa butter to counteract shea’s tendency to stickiness in soapmaking formulations. To avoid graininess in products, heat shea butter to 175F and hold it at that temperature for 40 minutes to destroy the crystals of unsaponifiable matter without damaging shea’s properties. Incorporate shea into products for a dramatic effect. Use up to 20% of total base oils or as a superfatting agent of 1 and 2/3 tablespoons per five pounds at trace.
Soybean is a light oil with a mild scent that was rarely used before 1950, but now counts for more than 65% of all oil commercially used in the United States. The oil is expressed from the bean and is high in linoleic acid, contains proteins and vitamin C, A, E, and K. It is susceptible to oxidation and can be a sensitizer, so care needs to be taken when using in massage blends. Good for all skin types. Does not aggravate acne or oily skin.
This oil contains useful amounts of essential fatty acids and a high amount of vitamin E. Since it is inexpensive it can be blended with a variety of other base oils. Sunflower oil is expressed from the seed of the sunflower oil and is good for all skin types for use in beauty and skin care. It may be used as an effective substitute for olive oil in soaps, where it provides stable, conditioning lather to bar soaps. It is a very lightweight oil making it a perfect choice for bath oils, and lotions, but is not as suitable for massage due to the absorption rate. Use as a base oil in soaps at up to 20%. Sunflower contributes to slower tracing and a soap that may take longer to harden. Shelf life is approximately three to six months.
High in oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids, tallow is a an inexpensive addition to your soap. Combined with olive and coconut oil, it produces a hard, long lasting bar with a rich, silky lather.
Tamanu Oil is an incredible oil! Thousands of years ago, the natives of Tahiti found a large, strange tree growing near the ocean. They soon found that the dried nuts from this tree, which they name the “ati” tree, contained a special oil that they used to help protect their skin from the hot sun, humidity and sea winds. There is a very small supply of Tamanu oil in the world because of the small growing area. It takes a the annual production of one adult tree of 100 kilograms of Tamanu fruit to make just 5 kilograms of cold pressed tamanu oil. This is a truly muli-faceted oil with reputed uses by the people of Tahiti that are wide and varied – from burns, to insect bites, to stretch marks. Use it in soap up to 5%. Those with allergies to nuts of any kind should not use tamanu oil.
Also known as sulfated castor oil, this is the only oil that will completely disperse in water. This oil is expressed from the seed and created by adding sulfuric acid to castor oil. It is considered to be the first synthetic detergent, which is still used in textile and leather industries today. Turkey Red has a distinct and heavy scent. It is used to emulsify essential oils so that they will dissolve in other water-based products, or for superfatting liquid soap if you want the soap to remain transparent. This means that the oil will combine with the water in the tub, and not leave those little oil bubbles floating on the top of the water. It is of medium viscosity and is usually used in bath oil recipes along with fragrance or essential oils, or in shampoos. This oil also has great moisturizing abilities.
Vegetable Shortening or Soybean Oil
Vegetable shortening is normally made from soybean oil. It is cheap and readily available and produces a mild, stable lather. Use it in combination with other exotic or moisturizing oils. Use this as half of your fats to keep costs down. It is a good filler and makes a very hard white bar when used alone and when mixed with other oils it makes a wonderful hard bar of soap. Use vegetable shortening as a base oil or combine it with other, harder oils for better results. Recommend use as base up to 50% of total oils.
This oil is reported to have many benefits when used in the healing of wounds and skin problems. It is obtained by expression from the nut. Walnut oil is useful against fungal and parasitic infections and may also help eliminate warts, and when rubbed on the skin, walnut is reputed to be beneficial for eczema, herpes, psoriasis, and skin parasites. Very unsaturated, walnut oil presents good moisturizing, anti-aging, and regenerative and toning properties, and can be used in all anti-wrinkle products and creams for dry, normal, and mature skin, body and hygiene products, massage blends, and lip balms, etc. Considered to be safe in all normal applications. Has a shelf life of 6 months to a 1 year.
Wheat germ Oil
This oil is made from the germ of the wheat and is very high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Because of its high vitamin E content, which is a natural antioxidant which helps to prevent rancidity, it is often added to other carriers to help lengthen their shelf life. It is said to promote a smoother, younger looking skin, assisting in healing scar tissue as well as stretch marks. When it is applied topically on to the skin it is said to help promote the formation of new cells, improve circulation, and is said to help repair sun damage to the skin. It is also used to help relieve the symptoms of dermatitis. This carrier is said to stimulate tissue regeneration and is often added to other blends because of its antioxidant properties. Shelf-Life – 12 months to a 18 months. If kept properly in airtight container, Should be refrigerated after opening.