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Topic: Coconut allergy and soap making  (Read 820 times)
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Sylwa
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« on: June 15, 2012 05:34:39 AM »

Hi everyone,

I made my first batch of soap last night, just basic castile soap with a little bit of castor oil and I would like to make more soaps. I really like the white type of soap but it seems that every white soap has lots of coconut oil in it. Actually almost every recipe I've seen so far had coconut oil in it. So I was wondering if any of you makes soaps without coconut oil and what type of oil you substitute for it? I've been playing with the lye calculator at soapcalc.net and no matter what I do I can't seem to get the recipe have the proper levels (INS etc.) without that darn coconut.
ANy suggestions? I'd like to avoid tallow if possible too. Is it even possible?
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2012 11:27:22 AM »

Hi there! The reason coconut is used is because it makes large bubbles and a hard bar. As you've probably seen from your studies, the trifecta of soaping oils is olive-coconut-palm. A good sub for the palm oil is vegetable shortening or tallow. I'm afraid there isn't really a good sub for coconut as far as getting all the same properties. Lard would be ok, but if you're wanting to keep it to all vegetable oils you might want to look into some other things.

I would definitely not worry about the INS numbers, I've made recipes that are awesome that don't meet those numbers, it's not totally necessary.

So what are your options? Olive-vegetable shortening isn't a bad combo, I would probably add in shea butter too, as much as you can afford (5-10% at least). If you don't have coconut, I would definitely stop adding in castor. It's going to make your soap too soft and take even longer to cure. As it is, your olive-castor bar will probably end up really nice....in a really long time. It might take two months to cure, 100% olive (castile) bars take a really long time, and the castor is just going to extend that.

Another option is a bar I've successfully made that is mostly shea butter. I use 60% shea butter, 20% palm or equivalent, and 20% olive. Unrefined shea is awesome for this.
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2012 12:07:55 PM »

Wow! Thank you so much for all that information!
I am making soap for my 20 month old son who has eczema and is allergic to number of things (coconut, wheat, dairy, peanuts ....) and from what I've read castor oil was supposed to be mild and I had it at home so I just added it. Had no idea it would make it so soft  Huh

What I made was
35oz extra virgin olive oil
5oz castor oil
10oz water
5oz lye

cut it into thin bars today  https://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/c67.0.403.403/p403x403/600032_4064203011224_589270814_n.jpg and then I remelted the rest and mixed with essential oil and calendula and the strangest thing happened: it was thick when I put into a mold and an hour later it was melted ... not sure how that is possible  Huh


I will definitely try the shea butter one, thank you! Is 8.99$ a lb good price for unrefined ivory shea butter? That's the only one I found.
ALso I was thinking about using Babassu oil or palm kernel flakes instead of coconut, but now you got me to think that I need more research since I totally messed up with that castor oil.


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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2012 12:23:45 PM »

You definitely didn't mess up! You made a very mild bar of soap that will have nice small suds and be great for your son. It may be a bit on the soft side and you might have to wait a bit longer to use it, but it's still good soap! The general rule is to not use more than 3-7% (or is it 3-5%?) of castor oil, so at 12.5% you used a bit more than that, but ti's not a disaster Cheesy

I've actually never used Babassu oil so I'd be interested to hear what you think of it! After years of soaping with palm oil I made the switch to vegetable shortening for many reasons--it's easy to get hold of (can run to the grocery store or restaurant supply rather than get it shipped or make a special trip to my soap supplier), it's much less drying than palm oil, and it's cheaper than palm oil! I had always kind of looked down on it because it's a "cheap" oil, but it's hydrogenated, and while that's bad for eating, it's great for soap. The basic rule is that if it's going to harden your arteries, it's going to harden the soap Cheesy The exception of course being the olive oil, which doesn't follow normal soap making rules.

That does sound like a good price for unrefined shea!

Also, you definitely don't have to use extra virgin olive oil, light or pomace is fine for soapmaking and can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. I use pomace myself, but I'm aware that some people are worried about the extraction process, as it is the last pressing of the olives.
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2012 08:20:36 AM »

Soaping without coconut is totally possible but will require more playing around with your recipe. Another hard oil that you could use in your soap to help harden is cocoa butter (a bit expensive, but something to try). I've not played with Babassu oil but those that use it have said it helps with bubbles.

Once you get the hang of soapmaking, you will also want to play with lowering your water amount relative to your lye so you have a higher lye concentration and it will help you with cure time, particularly if you have a lot of olive oil and some castor. Your soap will always get better with age, but less water will help it harden faster.
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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2012 08:16:23 AM »

Hi ladies,
thank you for even more info!
I was a bit discouraged by my first try but now I am ready to try again, I ordered 1lb of babassu oil and 1 lb of shea butter ($27 yikes) and this is what I am thinking of doing:

olive oil 50%
babassu oil 25%
crisco 15%
shea butter 10%


I am actually excited, hoping it will turn out better than my first one -I had my bf do the tongue test on my first one and it zapped him, I guess that means I made a mistake when weighing lye? It's been curing 3 weeks now and its still really soft  Tongue
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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2012 11:44:14 AM »

I would expect that soap to probably be soft for about two months with all of the soft oils in it. And, personally, I don't believe in the tongue test Grin Do you have a digital scale that you weighed your lye and oils with? Definitely don't throw it away or anything, give it another month or two!
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« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2012 12:11:33 PM »

I did use my digital scale and actually did the lye in grams because I think that's more accurate but the battery was running low so maybe it messed that up, I'll see. But I tried washing my hands with it yesterday and it made them dry. Who knows
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