Typical Soap Oils

Base oil, butter or fat Soft, hard or brittle Properties in soap Recommended usage  Breaking the rules & other notes
Coconut oil Hard large fluffy bubbles, highly cleansing, high   amounts can be too drying, makes a white bar 15-30% Some soapers will use a high amount of coconut oil and bump up the super fat amount.  The higher amount of un-saponified oils in the bar balance out the high cleansing from coconut oil.  Soap making is all   about finding the right balance.  Also a 100% coconut oil soap with a super low or none at all superfat makes a great laundry soap.
Palm oil Hard a great base oil, makes a hard long lasting bar,   stabilizes lather 25-50% Palm oil is the base oil of choice for those who don’t want to use animal fats such as lard or tallow.  I personally do not use palm oil anymore.
Olive oil Soft/Hard makes a very gentle and mild bar, low lotion-like   lather, low cleansing, great for babies and elder folk’s skin, some people   say that high amounts of olive oil make for a slimy or snotty feel in the   shower 25-50% Castile soap is made with 100% olive oil.  I classify this as a soft/hard oil because it makes a very soft bar of soap initially upon unmolding but cures into a rock hard bar.  Soaps high (50%+) in olive oil need longer to cure.
Lard Hard a great base oil, makes a hard bar with a low   creamy lather, makes a white bar, stabilizes lather 25-50% 100% lard soap with no superfat makes a great laundry soap.
Tallow (beef) Hard a great base oil, makes a hard bar with a low   creamy lather, stabilizes lather 25-50% 100% tallow soap with no superfat makes a great laundry soap.
Palm Kernel oil Brittle similar to coconut oil, large fluffy bubbles,   highly cleansing but milder than coconut oil 15-30% Palm kernel oil is a great sub for coconut oil.  You can also use it with coconut oil to add some hardness to your bar.  If you have a recipe that calls for 20% coconut oil…try using 10% coconut oil and 10% palm kernel oil.  I personally do not use palm oil anymore.
Cocoa butter Brittle makes a hard bar of soap, stabilizes lather 5- 15% You can experiment using cocoa butter and other butters in high amounts – up to 80%.  Try a bar made from 60% cocoa butter and 40% coconut oil.  You might like it!
Shea butter Hard makes a hard bar of soap, seems to add a silky   feel to the lather, stabilizes lather 5- 15% Same as cocoa butter.  I typically use 5-15% but occasionally will   experiment with using up to 60%.
Castor oil Soft helps suspend/hold the lather from coconut oil,   adds creaminess, high amounts will cause a bar of soap to be sticky and have   a drag when using it in the shower 5-10% Some soap makers like to use 15-20% castor oil in their shampoo bars or shaving bars.
Apricot Kernel oil Soft a wonderful sub for some or all of the olive oil in a recipe, similar properties to olive oil 5-12% Apricot Kernel is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Avocado oil Soft makes a very gentle and mild bar, low cleansing,   great for babies and elder folk’s skin 5-12%  Avocado oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Jojoba oil Soft a liquid wax, stabilizes and suspends lather 5-12% Jojoba oil is too expensive to use now in soap making.  I save it for leave on products like lotions and creams.
Sunflower oil Soft sustains lather, mildly cleansing, creamy and   rich 10-20% Sunflower oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Grapeseed oil Soft 5-10% I don’t use grapeseed oil much as it has a very limited shelf life.
Hazelnut oil Soft 5-10% I don’t use hazelnut oil much as it has a very limited shelf life.
Hempseed oil Soft 5-10% I don’t use hempseed oil much as it has a very limited shelf life.
Safflower oil Soft mildly cleansing 5-15% Safflower oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Soybean oil Soft sustains lather, mildly cleansing 10-20% Soybean oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.
Rice Bran oil Soft makes a very gentle and mild bar, low cleansing,   great for babies and elder folk’s skin , similar properties to olive oil, can give soap a waxy almost shiny finish 10-25% Rice bran is a wonderful sub for some or all of the olive oil in a recipe.
Almond oil, sweet Soft sustains lather, mildly cleansing 10-20% Sweet Almond oil is a wonderful sub for some of the olive oil in a recipe.

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