Home made shaving soap

Discussion in 'Shaving Soaps' started by charles_r, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Hi everyone.. I know this has been discussed before, but I had to ask everyone's opinion.

    SWMBO makes soap as a hobby, for our personal use and for gifts. She tried making a shaving soap for me using that recipe at about.com. The results were as expected. It's now being used in the shower. It just dried out my face like crazy and started burning on the second pass. Also, the lather didn't hold. The next day, I was back to my Mama bear soap. That about.com recipe assumes that upping the castor oil a little (9%) and adding bentonite clay is all there is to shaving soap...

    I've been reading a LOT about shave soap recipes and i've come upon a few bits of information:
    Olive oil in large quantitys is no good is shaving soap. It kills lather
    Lots more castor oil can be used.
    Coconut oils in large quantitys can be very drying.
    Clay does not turn a regular soap into shaving soap, but does give a little extra slip.

    After all the reading, using soap calc, I changed the original recipe:
    olive oil 5% (down from 40%)
    coconut oil 15% (down from 30%)
    Palm oil 50% (up from 22%)
    Castor oil 20% (up from 8%)
    Cocoa butter 10% (none in original recipe).
    We still added 1 tablespoon of clay to the oils and we used kaolin instead of bentonite this time. 1 tablespoon of glycerine was also added at trace. I'm hoping it will help the lather a little.

    Lye is discounted at 5%.

    What these changes did, according to soapcalc, was decrease the cleansing factor of the bar a LOT, increase the bubblyness a little, and increase the creamyness a LOT. We did a very small batch, only a 4 oz puck to see how this recipe would be. The last time we did 2 pounds.... Worst case, I'll wash in the shower with it again. It's still fun trying :)

    I will know the results in about 4-6 weeks, but I was wondering if any soapmakers were able to give me their opinion? Or suggestions for improvement? I might be doing another try soon replacing the cocoa butter with shea butter (for it's stearic content), or maybe we will just replace the palm oil with tallow, if I can get my hands on some.

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011
  2. drop the olive oil completely. it has no business being in shaving soap. drop the clay too. no good retail shaving soap i know of uses clay. i think it just makes the lather gritty and possibly dulls your blade faster. you can up the stearic acid by using castor and cocoa butter but most people supplement with pure stearic acid to get appropriate levels i think around 20% if i recall correctly. no need to add glycerin you are making plenty already plus you have a 5% discount so have leftover oil in the soap. I don't think shea butter is high in stearic acid...but cocoa butter definitely is. if you can get tallow then use it. tallow, stearic acid and coconut oil is the basic recipe that most shaving soaps are based on. you might also want to look into getting KOH in the mix with NaOH to saponify with as it makes a nicer soap and purportedly helps get full benifit of the stearic acid...
  3. Thanks for the tips Quintar. I was considering adding stearic acid to the mix if this puck failed. We do have some KOH here, used for liquid soaps. I didn't know one could with it with NaOH.
  4. I have been wondering the same myself. Sounds like a great recipe. I dislike clay in soaps too because it dries out my skin terribly (I have dry skin).

    I prefer the quality that shea gives to soap as opposed to cocoa butter. But that is just preferrence. Coconut oil also gives better lather in hard water (it will lather in sea water) and if you super fat enough it won't be drying at all just very cleansing so good for oily skin.

    I am really wanting to try tallow. They say palm is the best substitute, but I want to try the real thing.
  5. Saponify with something like a 60 / 40 ratio of Potassium Hydroxide to Sodium Hydroxide (or even 66 / 33). Note that this ratio division is calculated in terms of the saponification value - not weight.
    Try to get the purest KOH you can find. I've found some vendors selling KOH which is only around 90% pure which is low enough to start to muck up your calculations (and increases the chances of DOS). The purest KOH I've found has come from companies supplying those making D.I.Y biodiesel.

    The soap will be a softer but the sodium hydroxide will give it enough body for it to form a hard bar. The resulting potassium stearate is much more soluble in water than sodium stearate which means the properties of the stearic acid (principally a very dense creamy lather) can be fully utilised.
    A bias towards potassium hydroxide over sodium hydroxide is common practice in commercial shaving soap making and this is why the potassium salts are often listed before the sodium salts in the ingredient list. One commercial shaving soap I know of that didn't do this was the (old) reformulated Erasmic shaving stick. It contains no potassium salts at all and is regarded one of the most useless commercially-made shaving soaps of all time.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  6. Hi everyone...

    So here's what my test puck #2 will look like (will try this next weekend)
    Coconut Oil 20%
    Castor Oil 20%
    Palm Oil 50%
    Cocoa Butter 5%
    Shea Butter 5%
    I'm keeping the lye discount at 5% and I won't add in any clay or extra glycerin.

    I would love to try the 60/40 mix of KOH to NAOH for puck #2, but I can't seem to find any site that has a lye calculator for this purpose. They all pretty much a selection box with choice of KOH or NAOH. I'm also unsure on how to prepare the lye if i'm mixing the two... should I prepare the two types separately and then add to the oils, or just prepare them together in a single container? With our current level of knowledge, any reference I can read would be great.

    If I can get the info on the lye/water calculations, I will also make a puck #3, replacing the 5% cocoa butter with 5% stearic acid.

    For now, I'll skip the tallow, simply because I cannot get it locally and we are no where near an order with our supplier. (the shipping would be a deal breaker for a single item).

    Thanks for the info everyone, if I ever manage to make even a half decent shaving soap, i'll share the recipe :)

  7. not to be a smartass, but castor oil doesn't contain any stearic. it's 90% ricinoleic, plus some oleic and linoleic. and shea butter has a higher stearic content than cocoa butter. shea = 40%, cb = 33%. kokum butter is the best one to use in shaving soap, if you can find it (55% stearic).

    tallow is super easy to make yourself from cow fat if you can't find a source for it. and from what i've read, extra glycerin still helps lather. as far as qualities go, you want low cleansing, low bubbly (relatively), high stable, and high conditioning. a little avocado oil in there works nicely also (~5%).
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  8. This lye calculator will allow for variable ratios of KOH and NaOH. KOH reacts a bit more than NaOH when it hits the water so do take care. I normally add one to the water (either one - it doesn't matter too much), then wait for the reaction to die down and the solution to cool before adding the other.

    I'm not sure if the castor oil needs to be as high as you suggest but by all means give it a go.

    I source my beef tallow and palm oil from a bulk food wholesaler which supplies deep-frying shortening to local restaurants. It works out to be very cheap compared to D.I.Y soap making suppliers. Ask around and see if there is something similar near where you live.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  9. i can attest to what too much lye will do....burn like hell.
  10. I know very very little about making soap, but you mentined clay as adding "slip"!

    That makes me wonder what the addition of HBN hexonagonal boron nitride would do. It is a white very lightweight fluffy powder, used largely in the cosmetics industry to add a smooth silky feeling to creams, lotions and lipsticks. It is non toxic and can only be possibly harmful if inhaled, as are many dust products. It the ingredients you may notice in lotions or shampoos that give a pearlescernt swirling appearance.

    A touch of the dry powder on the skin and it feels super lubricated.

    I bought a kilo a couple of years ago to tumble bullets to provide a dry lubricant, It works there, they are so slick they are hard to pick up .
  11. I promised I would post back. Puck #1 was a disaster LOL It lathers up.. but the lather is very airy. The soap sort of reminds me of williams. I brushed my palm just to see what it feels like. There is not much cushion. When I rince it off, it sort of leaves a film of oils that takes a few seconds more to rince off. I wonder if that would protect my face in any way?

    We never got to making puck #2 with mixed lyes. We were busy with work and moving into a new house.

    Should I try shaving with puck #1 it or not? Since all of you helped me out, it's your call :)
  12. Do it! It will give a wonderful soapy shave, it just won't lather worth beans.
  13. Thanks for this post.
    Will follow it with great interest.

    (We are in our own soap making project here)
  14. that settles it. I will try my disaster puck :) thanks everyone, I will have a look at the soap making project thread.
  15. After reading various go's and no-go's about using Bentonite clay in the shaving equation I decided to put it to the test. I bought a little bag of the fine powder and put it into a salt dispenser. After lathering up with my Godrej mighty mist shaving cream (I know this cream to be a bit 'rigid') I puffed some of the clay on the brush/lather and lathered up some more.

    I find the result very satisfying. The result is a much smoother ride of the razor (a Gillette SS) on my face. So I am definitely in the pro Bentonite camp! Don't know yet if my experiment dulls my blades faster. But with current DE blade prices... who cares?
  16. Perhaps some clays dull the razor (I am not sure); however, sodium bentonite "absorbs nearly five times its weight of water and at full saturation it occupies a volume of 12 to 15 times its dry bulk weight." Source. Rather than dulling the blade, it contributes to razor glide.
  17. The shave with the "disaster puck" was pretty comfy, but it was more like using shaving oil. It was slick but no creamy lather lol

    We haven't done any soaping in a while because we moved into a new house two months ago... some reno.. lots of unpacking, etc etc..

    Today, we made a couple of batches of regular soap.... and my wife asked if I wanted to give the shaving soap another try. In the last couple of months, i did some reading and also stumbled onto the "Ian De Candre" thread.

    I looked at a couple of ingredient lists. (Arko and Vitos which I had on hand).

    I found tallow locally, and stearic acid online. Here is my latest try:

    50% Stearic
    20% Tallow
    20% Coconut Oil
    10% Castor Oil
    Lyes: 67% KOH, 33% NaOH

    We cold processed the batch, but we might consider hot process the next time around.
    Trace was almost instantaneous and we have to move really quickly to add some scent and dump into molds.

    I didn't put any clay in the soap. If this works out well, I'll try it out next time.

    Here is to hoping this will work out well :)
  18. Keep us updated with the results.
  19. We just unmolded the soap after 24 hours. It's a little on the soft side, but it's still a bar.
    I found a little chunk the size of a penny stuck to the mold.

    I was just too curious. I took my cheap 4$ turkish brush and tried the soap penny, which was probably still a little caustic.

    This is what I got. And the lather didn't collapse... (after 20 minutes I just dumped it in the sink). Hopefully it will be even better in a month after it's cured. I'll try it when it's ready

    Smells good too.. eucalyptus/mint

    Attached Files:

  20. how did it work out after a month.. looks fantastic so far. Good job

Share This Page