How To: Using SoapCalc

Posted by Cindy on October 23, 2010

Several people have asked me to help them create a soap recipe or how to use SoapCalc to create their own homemade soap recipe. It’s very exciting to have so many more people learn this addicting craft! And if it’s only SoapCalc that’s intimidating them – I can help out!!

What if you have a wonderful sounding recipe, but can’t find one of those oils locally? Run it through SoapCalc, omit or substitute that oil!

What if you have a wonderful cold-process recipe, but want to make it by the hot-process method? Run it through SoapCalc to make sure you’re starting with enough water that will evaporate from cooking!

There are many soap calculators across the internet that I’m sure are wonderful. I looked at many of them while I was researching soap-making, but they didn’t all fit with the other information I was getting — superfatting/lye discounting, water percentage, oil properties — some of them, you just had to know these things. I didn’t know these things. Then I found SoapCalc and the chemistry of soap-making started to make sense. It was that ah-ha! moment for me. I want others to have that moment, so they’re not afraid– not afraid to create their own recipe, not afraid that something will blow up if they don’t follow someone else’s recipe, not afraid to substitute HP for CP.

Open up SoapCalc.

These values are what the program opens with. Anything in green can be changed.

1. Type of Lye Used – Choose NAoH for bar soap.

2. Weight of Oils — Input the recipe size.

3. Water — this is the lye:water ratio level. 38% is automatically here when you open SoapCalc. I leave it at this percentage when making HP. If you’re making soap with the CP method, feel free to change.

4. Superfat — Superfatting is essentially the process of adding more oil to your soap while keeping the amount of lye that has been used essentially the same. If you are looking at your recipe, you can superfat it by looking at the lye and oil ratios and increasing your oil content by five percent or so. SoapCalc does this automatically for you. I use 5% most of the time, while others have used up to 10-15%.

In this demonstration, I’m using the recipe I developed for the CiTR Party Soap — 2# Lavender-Basil HP Soap.

5. Soap Qualities — Choose your oil in the list. On the left under “One” will show you the qualities of the oil that you’ve clicked on and is highlighted in blue.

6. Soap Recipe — Double click the oil in #5, it will appear in the “Recipe”.

7. Percentage or Pounds – Now choose what percentage of that oil you want to use. Coconut oil, for example, you only want to use a maximum of around 25%, or it will give your soap a drying quality. I like to use around 17% — it still helps to give a hard, cleansing bar. You can also use the pound selection. I usually use Percentage, no figuring involved here!

Continue adding your oils and inputting the percentages. On the left (#5), under “All”, you will find the combined Soap Qualities of all the oils you’ve chosen. (This is also shown in more detail when you Print the Recipe in #8)

8. Calculate Recipe – when you are done adding oils and percentages, click 1. Calculate Recipe. If your math isn’t so good, it will tell you here! — to add or subtract a certain amount. It’s smart! When everything reaches 100%, click 2. Print Recipe.

Ta da, a new tab will open and give the recipe!

Water and lye are in a separate section of their own, then the oils, giving pounds, ounces and grams. I use grams most of the time — unless ounce was already selected on the scales, then I go with that!

Below the recipe is a section with soap qualities and their ranges. To the right of that table is Your Recipe’s Soap Qualities! See SoapCalc’s definitions of Soap Qualities. After several recipes now, I’m able use the “All” in #5 to determine the total oil qualities and where they land in the ranges, but for many, many recipes, I would “Print” so I could see this table and where it landed in the recommended ranges.

The ranges are for the most desirable soap. Not all recipes will land within these ranges, however.

This recipe that I developed for the CiTR Party Soap, landed in the ranges and turned into a wonderful, wonderful soap.

I don’t add the fragrance amounts into my recipes. I create a recipe of oils, then use it for many different soaps, by just changing up the fragrance and the additives. For Essential Oils, I use about 3 teaspoons per pound. For Fragrance Oils, I use 1 fluid ounce per pound.

When using additives — herbs (dried), sugars, herbs (powdered), oatmeal, etc — I start with smaller amounts, generally 1/2 Tablespoon per pound for dried, roughly ground herbs. I mix it in to see how it looks in the soap. If it needs more, I add more. Then I make notes on my recipe of what I’ve used so I can use it later or change it up.

There is so much more information to SoapCalc than just making a recipe — there are book recommendations, FAQs, instructions, help, and an Oil List Page that you can download into an Excel sheet — all found at the top tabs of the site.

I’ve found their site to be so helpful in my soap-making adventure, I hope you can, too!

9 thoughts on “How To: Using SoapCalc

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  4. skittleroni

    Can you tell me around how many bars of soap this makes and if a 4 quart crock is large enough to cook this in. Thanks! Cant wait to try this recipe out :)

    1. Cindy

      It depends on how large of bars you cut, but it makes about 10 (4 oz) bars. Yes, a 2# recipe will fit into a 4 qt crock pot. Just watch it for any volcanoes :)

  5. Amy

    Thank you so much for all this wonderful information! I actually think that I can do this now!!
    My question is: in using the soap calc, I don’t see anywhere to factor in using goats milk. I know some say that you can just substitute it for water, but there is a lot of fat in it, so I am afraid to do that without re-adjusting everything. How would I do that? Thank you so much! Amy

  6. Amy

    Thank you so much for all the helpful info! I am actually going to try it out!
    But…I don’t see any place to substitute goats milk for the water. Won’t this need to be calculated in as well because of the fat content of the milk?
    Thanks for your help!- Amy

    1. Cindy

      I don’t do any extra calculations when I use milk. If you don’t want an overly superfatted soap, just reduce the Superfat factor a percent.


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