To make good soap, you need lye / caustic soda / sodium hydroxide (NaOH) as well as a balance of hard and soft oils. Hard oils are for hardness, cleansing and lather. Soft oils create a softer, milder soap. 

The below SAP Chart will assist you in selecting oils for your soap making formulations. It shows you how much Lye you will need to saponify a particular oil for cold process soap making. SAP is a saponification value. It is the ratio of caustic soda to oil. The idea is not to turn all the oils into soap, and require superfat  as a buffer. The superfat stops your soap from being caustic, and make it milder. Saponfication (SAP) value is the amount of lye required in order to turn 1 gram (1000 milligrams) of an oil or butter into soap. 


Superfatting: When you add additional oils or butters to a soap recipe. There is more fat in the mixture than the lye can react with and this results in some unincorporated oils in the finished soap.
Oil Name Shelf Life SAP Value Usage Rate in Cold Process
Apricot Kernel Oil 1 year .135 up to 15%
Argan Oil 2 years .136 up to 10%
Avocado Oil  1 year .133 up to 20%
Avocado Butter 3 years .133 up to 12%
Babassu Oil 2 years .175 up to 33%
Borage Oil 3 years .135 up to 33%
Canola Oil 1 year .132 up to 40%
Carrot Seed Oil 2 years .137 up to 15%
Castor Oil 2 years .135 up to 25%, *recommend 2-5%
Chia Seed Oil 1 year .158 up to 10%
Cocoa Butter 2 years .137 up to 15%
Coconut Oil 18 months .178 up to 33%
Coffee Butter 2 years .133  up to 6%
Coffee Seed Oil 2 years .139 up to 10%
Evening Primrose Oil 1 year .133 up to 15%
Flaxseed Oil 6 months .19 up to 5%
Fractionated Coconut Oil 3 years .232 up to 30%
Grapeseed Oil 1 year .133 up to 15%
Green Tea Seed Oil 2 years .136 up to 6%
Hazelnut Oil 3 months .136 up to 20%
Hemp Seed Oil 1 year .135 up to 15%
Jojoba Oil 2 years .069 up to 10%
Kokum Butter 2 years .135 up to 10%
Kukui Nut Oil 2 years .135 up to 20%
Lingonberry Seed Oil 2 years .135 up to 15%
Mango Butter 2 years .137  up to 15%
Meadowfoam Oil 1 year .12 up to 20%
Moringa Seed Oil 2 years .139 up to 15%
Neem Oil 2 years .136 up to 6%
Oat Oil 1 year .138 up to 15%
Olive Oil 2 years .134 up to 100%
Peach Kernel Oil 1 year .178 up to 25%
Peanut Oil 1 year .19 up to 25%
Raspberry Seed Oil 2 years .135 up to 15%
Rice Bran Oil 2 years .129 up to 100%, *recommend around 20%
Rosehip Seed Oil 2 years .135 up to 10%
Safflower Oil 1 year .19 up to 20%
Sesame Oil 1 year .19 up to 10%
Shea Butter 2 years .133 up to 15%
Soybean oil 3 months .135 up to 50%, *recommend around 15%
Sunflower Oil 6 months .134 up to 100%, *recommend around 20%
Sweet Almond Oil 1 year .136 up to 20%
Tamanu Oil 2 years .148 up to 5%
Walnut Oil 3 months .192 up to 15%
Wheat Germ Oil 1 year .131 up to 10%

Shelf life: When butter or oil is rancid, a noticeable change in colour, consistency, or odour becomes obvious. Also, butters develop mould or dark spots.  Write down the oil and butter delivery dates to ensure that you are closely tracking shelf life.  If you do use rancid oil or butter in your soap, it can develop dreaded orange spots (DOS). Your bars may discolour and develop an unpleasant scent on retailers shelves which you will be unable to track until the customer notices.
*Please note we have left palm oil off this list. For more information on why please read this blog. Palm oil has a SAP value of .141. Looking for replacement oils, you could use any of the following, for example:  Sweet Almond Oil (.136), Grapeseed Oil (.133), Olive Oil (.134), Rice Bran Oil (.129), Soybean Oil (.135) or Sunflower Oil (.134).

 

A

Apricot Kernel Oil

  • High in linoleic and oleic acids.
  • Conditioning and easily absorbed into skin.
  • Produces small bubbles.
  • A lightweight oil which is similar to sweet almond oil in fatty acids.
  • Use 15% or less so the soap bars aren’t too soft.
 
Argan Oil 
  • Silky and moisturising oil.
  • Packed with vitamins E and A.
  • Use in cold process up to 10%.

    Avocado Oil  


    • Makes a soft bar of soap. 
    • Used at 20% or less in cold process soap making.
    • Rich in vitamins A, B, D, and E.
      
    Avocado Butter 
    • Solid at room temperature.
    • Derived from the fruit of the avocado tree and hydrogenated. 
    •  Creamy consistency that makes skin feel smooth and moisturised. 
    • use up to 12% in your cold process.


      B
      Babassu Oil
        • From a native Brazilian palm tree.
        • Use as a substitute for coconut or palm in cold process soap. 
        • Can be added up to 33% in cold process.
        • Has a light feeling on skin and absorbs quickly.  
        • Cleansing. Makes large, fluffy bubbles. Adds hardness.

      Borage Oil 
      • One of the richest sources of essential fatty acids.
      • Gamma-linolenic acid nourishes and hydrates skin.
      • Works well on sensitive or mature skin. 
      • Use in cold process up to 33%.

          C

            Canola Oil
          • Affordable option for soap making.
          • Produces a balanced bar with a creamy lather. 
          • Good substitute for olive oil. 
          • use at 15-40% in cold process soap making.

          Carrot Seed Oil 
          • Silky texture.
          • Lightweight and absorbs quickly.
          • Ideal for sensitive skin.
          • Can be used 5-15% in cold process soap making.
           
          Castor Oil   
          • Thick liquid extracted from the castor bean plant.
          • Draws moisture to the skin and creates great lather in soap.
          • Use it up to 25%, but more than 10% can make the bars soft and sticky.
           
          Chia Seed Oil
          • Lightweight and moisturising. 
          • Packed with fatty acids, protein, and vitamins.
          • Can be used in cold process around 10%.
           
          Cocoa Butter 


          • Solid and hard at room temperature.
          • Luxurious and moisturising.
          • Use at 15% or less in cold process soaps. Higher can cause cracking in your final bars.

          Coconut Oil 


          • Super cleansing and produces large, fluffy bubbles in cold process.
          • So cleansing that it can be drying. Use a high superfat of unsaponified oils to counteract drying effect.
          • Can be used up to 33%, but use it around 15% if you have sensitive or dry skin.

          Coffee Seed Oil
          • Extracted from freshly-roasted coffee beans.
          • Can be used in cold process up to 10%.

          Cucumber Seed Oil
          • Great for mature skin
          • Excellent moisturising properties,
          • Feels lightweight and absorbs quickly.
          • Use in cold process up to 15%.
            E

            Evening Primrose Oil
            • Has a lightweight and moisturising consistency 
            • Absorbs quickly into skin.
            • Use up to 15% in cold process.
              F
              Flaxseed Oil 
              • Lightweight and a rich source of fatty acids.
              • Use it in cold process up to 5%.

              Fractionated Coconut Oil
              • Contains only medium triglycerides, so it stays in liquid form.
              • Has a more lightweight feeling and it makes softer bars than coconut oil.
              • Doesn’t have the same cleansing or lathering properties as coconut oil.
              • Use it up to 30% in cold process.

                  G

                  Grapeseed Oil
                  • Leaves your skin silky.
                  • Lightweight and thin texture,
                  • High in lineoleic acid and antioxidants. 
                  • Can be used up to 15% in cold process.

                  Green Tea Seed Oil 
                  • Lightweight and moisturising
                  • Absorbs quickly into skin. 
                  • Rich in nutrients like vitamins A and B.
                  • Use in cold process up to 6%.

                    H


                    Hazelnut Fixed Oil 
                    • Low in fatty acids, so it slows down trace. This makes it ideal for intricate cold process designs. 
                    • Lightweight texture and it creates conditioning and small lather. 
                    • Use at 20% or less.

                        Hemp Seed Oil  



                      • Excellent source of fatty acids. 
                      • Creates excellent lather. 
                      • Use up to 15% in cold process.


                        J


                        Jojoba Oil  


                        • Liquid wax.
                        • Makes a stable and long-lasting bar.
                        • Use at 10% or less in cold process. 

                          K
                          Kokum Butter 
                          • Lightweight and moisturising consistency that absorbs quickly.
                          •  Can be used in cold process at 10% or less.


                            Kukui Nut Oil
                            • Comes from Hawaii.
                            • Has a lightweight and silky consistency
                            • Absorbs quickly into the skin.
                            • Use in cold process up to 20%.

                              L

                              Lingonberry Seed Oil 
                              • A silky and lightweight texture.
                              • Packed with essential fatty acids and antioxidants. 
                              • Use in cold process at 5-15%.

                                M

                                Mango Butter 
                                • Extracted from the fruit kernels of the mango tree.
                                • Solid at room temperature but melts on skin contact.
                                • Used up to 15% in cold process.

                                Meadowfoam Oil
                                • Similar to jojoba oil. 
                                •  Use at 20% or less in cold process. 

                                  Moringa Seed Oil 
                                  • Add it to cold process up to 15%.
                                  • Lightweight and non-greasy consistency.

                                     N
                                     
                                    Neem Oil 


                                    • Has a distinct musky / garlic odour. 
                                    • Moisturizing and full of antioxidants.
                                    • Can be used at 3-6% in cold process.

                                    O
                                    Oat Oil 
                                    • Absorbs quickly.
                                    • Leaves skin feeling hydrated.
                                    • Rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin E. 
                                    • Lightweight and non-greasy texture in cold process soap.
                                    • Can be used at 5-15% in cold process.

                                      Olive Oil   



                                        • Thick oil that moisturises the skin. Ideal for sensitive skin, elder skin or baby skin.
                                        • A 100% olive oil soap is known as Castile soap. It takes up to 6 months to harden.  
                                        • Creates a creamy lather but almost no bubbles.
                                        • Pure olive oil creates softer bars than pomace, and takes longer to trace.

                                        P
                                          Peanut Oil
                                            • A good substitute for olive or canola oil. Both have the same SAP value.
                                            • Can be used up to 25%.

                                            R

                                            Raspberry Seed Oil
                                            • Keeps your skin smooth.
                                            • Packed with essential fatty acids. 
                                            • Feels lightweight and absorbs quickly.
                                            • Use in cold process soap at 5-15%.

                                              Rice Bran Oil 

                                              • Rich in vitamin E and antioxidants.
                                              • Similar to olive oil.
                                              • Use up to 100% in cold process soap i okay, but the bar will be soft and have small lather.
                                              • Use rice bran oil around 20%.


                                              Rosehip Seed Oil 


                                              • Great for dry or mature skin
                                              •  Rich in vitamins A and C
                                              • Feels hydrating.
                                              • Lightweight and non-greasy.
                                              • Use in cold process around 10%.

                                                S
                                                    Safflower Oil 
                                                  • Similar to canola and sunflower oil. 
                                                  • Can be used up to 20% in cold process soap.
                                                    Sesame Oil
                                                  • High in antioxidants and fatty acids - this adds moisturising properties.
                                                  • Not the same as toasted sesame oil.
                                                  • Can be used up to 10% in cold process recipes.

                                                  Shea Butter
                                                  • Luxurious and moisturising on the skin.
                                                  • Helps harden cold process soap
                                                  • Can be used up to 15%. 

                                                    Soybean Oil 

                                                   
                                                  • Has a creamy, stable, and conditioning lather.
                                                  • Produces a hard bar of soap when combined with palm or coconut oil. 
                                                  • Use at up to 15%.

                                                  Sunflower Oil 
                                                  • Rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
                                                  • One of the most cost-effective oils.
                                                  • Produces a conditioning lather.
                                                  • Keep it refrigerated.
                                                  • Can be used in cold process recipes up to 100%. 20% or less is ideal.

                                                   

                                                    Sweet Almond Oil 


                                                  • Full of fatty acids.
                                                  • Has a lightweight and moisturising consistency.
                                                  • Can be used up to 20% in cold process.

                                                      T
                                                      Tamanu Oil
                                                      • Has a lightweight and moisturising consistency that absorbs quickly.
                                                      • Packed with essential fatty acids.
                                                      • Can be used up to 5% in cold process.

                                                          W
                                                          Walnut Oil 
                                                          • Antioxidant-rich oil.
                                                          • can be used up to 15% in cold process soap.
                                                           
                                                          Wheat Germ Oil 
                                                          • Packed with nutrients like vitamins A, B, D, and E.
                                                          • A light feeling on the skin. 
                                                          • Can be used in cold process up to 10%.