Re-formulating My Cold-Process Soap Recipe, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it HERE.

After hearing back from my readers, my thoughts about lard and tallow are definitely being challenged! I have been learning about the benefits of both from Katrina Kimball of Sego Lily Soap and Erin Burke of Modern Girl Beauty. Anita Faulkner from Sadie’s Mission Soaps said the majority of her customers have no issues with (beef) tallow, and suggested that I substitute tallow for lard in my previous recipe. So, after the input from these fine ladies, I decided to decided to go ahead and try beef tallow for my next test recipe!

The recipe is nearly the same as the last one, but I went ahead and increased the tallow to 30%, decreasing the shea butter and castor oil. This is the recipe I used for Bergamot Mandarin:

30% tallow
25% olive
25% coconut
10% shea butter
5% castor
5% avocado
(0.8 oz. fragrance per pound of oils)

6.5% superfat
33% lye solution
(meant to add sodium lactate, but forgot!)

Bergamot Mandarin soap by Great Cakes Soapworks
Bergamot Mandarin soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

1. The soap took awhile to trace, but once it did, it set fast! At first I thought maybe it was the fragrance that I had never used before, but then I tried a similar recipe with essential oils that I knew wouldn’t speed trace and the same thing happened again. I think I just overblended – both times.
2. The texture of the soap batter was a little weird, for lack of a better word. It was almost as if it was coated in oil. I don’t know how else to describe it. By the time I was getting the colors mixed and poured into the mold, the soap was setting up pretty quickly and I was spooning most of it – especially on top. The batter would just slide right off the spoon. Like I said, a bit WEIRD.
3. After six days, the lather is amazingly dense and creamy:

Bergamot Mandarin - 6 day lather test
Bergamot Mandarin – 6 day lather test

Soap Qualities:

Hardness: 47 (recommended range 29-54)
Cleansing: 19 (range 12-22)
Conditioning: 49 (range 44-69)
Bubbly: 24 (range 14-46)
Creamy: 32 (range 16-48)
Iodine: 52 (range 41-70) – lower = harder bar
INS: 156 (range 136-165) – higher = harder bar

So how does it compare to Formal Affair (recipe #1)?
According to SoapCalc, the tallow recipe should be a harder bar. But I used sodium lactate in Formal Affair that won’t reflect the hardness in SoapCalc. The lather in Formal Affair is getting more dense and creamy as time passes. Here is an updated lather test, showing the improvement:

Formal Affair - lather test comparison
Formal Affair – lather test comparison

I still have more work to do! I’m open to suggestions, and I will keep you posted on my results.

Page with Comments

  1. I know just what you mean about that weird texture Amy! I don’t use tallow, but it always happens when I’ve melted my oils and they’ve cooled to the point of murkiness . I always soap at room temp, but the weird thing doesn’t always happen. One of those mysterious soap things I guess 🙂

  2. Thanks for the shout out! I’m really enjoying following your recipe reformulation. I use sodium lactate in all my soaps, even my salt bars. I find it helps keep the batter more fluid and adds a little to the lather. Are you using any additives like Kaolin clay or dry malt extract?

  3. @Lisa – I’m trying to remember what the temps were and how the oils looked when I made this recipe. I usually try to make sure the oils are clear, but that’s good feedback!

  4. @Anita – I meant to use sodium lactate, just forgot!! No clays, and I’ve not even heard of dry malt extract. What is it and why would you add it to soap?

  5. Dry Malt Extract is a grain sugar that is used in making ale wort (used in brewing ale and beer). I like the Briess CBW Pilsen Dry Malt (ld-dme-1793A), which I purchase from a apothecary/soap supplier. I use 1/2 – 1 tsp ppo depending on my soap formula. I think the combination of SL, Kaolin Clay, and DME provide a lot of lathering bubbles. I have been using that combination for a year with a lot of success.

  6. I’ve enjoyed reading about you trying tallow in your soap. I’ve been using it for years and every time I try to go to an all vegetable soap I’m disappointed. My question is: Are you finding a good source for tallow? Online? Local?

    Thanks for the inspiring blog!

  7. @Connie – It’s funny how the two camps are pretty set in their ways. LOL! I’ve just been ordering mine from Soaper’s Choice. I haven’t had time to look for a local supplier just yet.

  8. That was going to be my question. Where do you get the tallow? But you’ve already answered it. I am using your Americana soap and I’m so impressed with it! The only time I tried tallow in a soap, I rendered it myself, and it smelled like roast…… Your’s is amazing, and my skin loves it!
    Jamie Cody´s last blog post ..The Tears in His Eyes

  9. Hi,
    Anita what is SL thats added to soap along with kaolin clay, and DME for good lathering properties?

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