Soapmaking Ingredients

Learn how to read the ingredients

Just because the ingredients do not include the word lye - doesn't mean it wasn't used. Soap ingredients can be listed three ways. Each example is the same bar of soap.

Ingredients: Water, Olive Oil, Beef Fat and Lye

Saponified Oils of Olive and Tallow

Ingredients: Sodium Olivate and Sodium Tallowate (Lye is a salt which is sodium).

Make certain you purchase soap from a soap maker or company that discloses the list of ingredients on the package. Soap is sometimes considered a cosmetic and must be labeled by FDA standards and sometimes it is not - and no ingredients are required. If the soap just says, Vegetable Glycerin Soap - there are other ingredients used to make it than just glycerin and you are not being told - ASK!

Here's some common soapmaking oils and additivies used;

Almond, Sweet (Prunus amygdalus)

Great for all skin types, almond oil is created by the pressing of almond nuts.  This oil is used to help relieve dry, itchy skin.

Apricot Kernel (Prunus armeniaca)

Helps to hydrate the skin and wonderful for facial massages.

Avocado (Persea americana)

This unrefined green oil is from the first pressing of the fruit and contains protein, amino acids, vitamins A, D & E along with potassium and sulfur.  Easily absorbed in to the skin, this is a highly nutty scented oil in the unrefined form.

Beeswax (Apis mellifera)

We only use unrefined yellow beeswax for our products.  Some of our sources are from local bee keeps, others are from Texas and North Carolina.  Our vintage liniments contain this sweet smelling wax.

Castor USP (Ricinus communis)

One of the primary ingredients in our shampoo bars, we use castor oils in many body care products for people and pets.  Known by some as Palm Christi Oil, is made from the first pressing of the castor bean.  Very moisturizing for dry cracked skin, our Red Clover Salve contains healthy amounts of this thick rich oil.

Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao)

We only use the unrefined and highly fragrant form of organic Cocoa butter for it's rich skin soothing properties.  Very hard and made from pressing cocoa beans used in chocolate and is a high saturated fat.  Cocoa butter helps to lock in moisture on the skin. Our Cocoa Butter Lip Balms are great for soothing dry, chapped lips.

Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)

We use both 76 and 92 degree coconut oil for crafting our products.  Used in soap making to help create fluffy lather. 

Essential Oils -

Not to be confused with Fragrance oils which are synthetic reproductions of nature.  More information coming soon on each individual oil.

Hazelnut (Corylus avellana)

An oil for oily skin!  It is light weight and easily absorbed into the skin. Those with allergies to latex might want to avoid hazelnut oil along with peach fragrance oils.

Jojoba, Golden (Simmondsia chinensis)

Technically a wax, this beautiful golden colored oil that is hydrating and not a "slick" feeling oil.  Hypo-allergic and very good for children's products.  It is reported to be anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. 

Lard (Lard)

An ingredient used by early soap makers.  It is made from the rendering of hog fat.  Our lard is food grade and does not contain whiteners or preservatives needed for long term shelf storage, like the type found in grocery stores.  Lard produces a softer soap than a tallow or palm oil soap.    Many detergent manufacturers use lard as an ingredient in their laundry soaps usually listed as lardate.  You'll find this ingredient in our vintage country lye soaps.

Olive Oil (Olea europaea)

Olive oil has been a popular oil for centuries, from using in cooking to soap making.  In soap, it gives a rich silky feel to the final bar and also is reported to have moisturizing benefits.   We use both organic virgin olive oil and pomace oil depending on the recipe and use.

Palm Kernel Oil (Elaeis guineensis)

Hard at room temperature, this is a beautiful white oil from the kernel of palm trees.  In soap making, it is used to help with lathering.

Palm Oil (Elaesis guineesis)

It is used in soap making to increase hardness of soap.  We like this oil for laundry and kitchen hand soaps but will use it for some body care soaps to create a long lasting bar.

Rosemary Extract (Rosmarinus Officinalis)

This is not essential oil of Rosemary.  Rosemary extract is used as a preservative to extend the life of the oils and prevent them from going rancid.  It does not protect against bacterial or fungus infections in creams with water.

Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)

One of the most popular oils on the market today. Shea butter has been used for centuries. It is expressed from the pits of the African Karite tree. We use the unrefined smokey form of Shea butter in our luxury soaps.

Soybean (Soya max)

We no longer use soybean oil in any of our products. Many people are finding out they have allergies to soy.

Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)

The most misunderstood ingredient we use! Dreaded and feared by many due to mishaps, it's perfectly safe if used with a bit of care and common sense. Sodium hydroxide is actually a salt and what creates bar soap. It is the chemical reaction between lye, water and oils that create soap. Glycerin is the natural by product of this chemical reaction. When people think of "lye soap" most think the old time hard white soap that left hands and faces red, but all of our luxury and vintage soaps which are made with lye are gentle. A soap maker controls the level of lye used and thereby creates harsh or mild soaps.  Sometimes a stronger solution of lye is used to make effective laundry soaps - one would never use a strength for laundry the same as a facial bar.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Similar to olive oil used in soap making, our sunflower oil is from the USA. Rich in Vitamin E (tocopherols), this oil assists the skin to maintain it's natural moisture. Sunflower oil is a clear, unscented, light weight oil.


Tallow may be of animal or vegetable origin, but usually it is of animal origin. Vegetable shortening has been used as a tallow for the same characteristics in soap making. Either form makes a hard long lasting bar of soap.

Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

A very thick and sticky liquid. We use vegetable source vitamin E. While Vitamin E is known as a preservative, it is not a preservative against bacteria or mold. Vitamin E in high amounts is effective in preventing oil rancity oil - that's it's preservative features, not protecting against mold or fungus.

Walnut, Black (Juglans nigra)

This is Black Walnut extract, not just walnut oil from several pressing. It's thick and very black in color. Currently we only use this oil in our Black Walnut and Sassafras Soap.

Wheat Germ (Triticum vulgare)

Our wheat germ is unrefined and has a very distinctive scent. Incredibly orange in color, this is a favorite of ours to use in lotions, scrubs and soap.  A natural antioxidant, wheat germ contains huge amounts of Vitamin E. It also is known to aid in both muscle and lymph functions.