I’ve been working on an excellent shave soap recipe. The men’s grooming industry is booming! Men are starting to spend some serious dough on skincare products. Men are going back to wet shaving using shave soap and a shave brush! Benjamin has been wet shaving for awhile now, so it is time for me to make him some soap. We love purchasing shave soap from others in our industry and have bought wonderful shave soap from Fairhope Soap Company, Breezy Quarters, and Soap Commander. All create great artisan shave soap!
2020 UPDATE: I’ve now created an eClass dedicated to Dual Lye Shave Soap! I’ve updated my process to a much more quick and simple process than the one below (which still works great!). Learn to make dual lye shave soap in less than 30 minutes with the new Quick Hot Process Method!
Free Download – Essential Oil Blends for Men’s Grooming Products
Before we get started, I’ve got a free gift for you! It can be hard to come up with essential oil blends for the fellas! So I want to help you out! I’ve put together a list of essential oils for more masculine blends and then I share my favorite 16 essential oil blends for men! Enjoy!
Dual Lye Shave Soap
This shave soap recipe is made using dual lye. I used both potassium hydroxide (60%) and sodium hydroxide (40%). Potassium salts are more soluble than sodium salts. This contributes to a rich and easy lather buildup for shaving.
How to Formulate a Shave Soap Recipe
I did some research to formulate this shave soap recipe. Some of my favorite resources for research are wet shave forums like Badger And Blade. They are so much fun to read! People share lots of trial and error. It is fun seeing everyone’s shave of the day and to hear what they like and don’t like about a shave soap that they tried. At the end of the day, people like different types of shave soap. You might have to experiment to get your shave soap the texture that you want.
The ultimate goal when creating shave soap is to create a dense and stable lather.
Here are some tidbits that I learned from my research:
- Don’t use olive oil. Olive oil’s lather is not ideal for shaving. I’m going to go a step further and say don’t use any other liquid oil (besides castor oil).
- Skip the clay! So many soap makers use clay in their shave soap for slip. I’ve learned that many serious wet shavers do not like clay in their soap. It can dull blades and just isn’t needed.
- Use high stearic oils and butters for most of the recipe. Stearic acid is excellent for the bulk of your recipe. Butters and tallow/lard are next. If you are palm-free, try soy wax, which has a high amount of stearic.
- You’ll want lots of coconut oil to create large fluffy lather.
- Castor oil is great in shave soap because it creates a more soluble soap…same with glycerin.
So using some of these rules and reading the INCI labels on some popular shave soaps, I created this recipe. I have a few more recipes coming soon including one with 100% KOH. I am in full experimental mode and hope to compare them all in a blog post coming in the next couple of months.
If you don’t like animal fats, simply remove the tallow and use more stearic/coconut/shea.
Stearic acid is derived from palm oil and coconut oil and I know I have lots of followers who are palm free. Try subbing in soy wax. Most suppliers don’t specify if their stearic acid is from palm or coconut. I wish a supplier would source a coconut-derived stearic acid. Lush is trying to get their supplier to produce a coconut-derived stearic acid, so that is good news to us if it catches on. If you know of one, please post in the comments!
I used a 5% superfat. Summer Bee Meadow has a lye calc that allows you to use both KOH and NaOH in a recipe.
Dual Lye Tallow Shave Soap Recipe
- Stearic Acid – 8 oz.
- Shea Butter – 4 oz.
- Coconut Oil – 8 oz.
- Tallow – 5 oz.
- Castor Oil – 4 oz.
- Glycerin – 4.35 oz. (15% of oils)
- Sodium Hydroxide – 2.06 oz.
- Potassium Hydroxide – 3.10 oz.
- Sodium Lactate – 2 oz. (helps the soap stay fluid)
- Water – 25.8 oz. (five times total lye)
- Lime Essential Oil – 1 oz.
- Cypress Essential Oil – .5 oz.
- Patchouli Essential Oil – .5 oz.
Step 1: Weigh out the stearic acid and set to melt using a double boiler.
Step 2: Weigh out 25.8 oz. of water.
Step 3: Weigh out both the sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide together.
Step 4: In a well-ventilated area, pour the lye into the water while stirring. Weigh the sodium lactate and add to the lye solution.
Step 5: Weigh out the glycerin and castor oil into a crock pot. Set on high to heat up.
Step 6: Weigh out the shea butter, tallow and coconut oil.
Step 7: Once the stearic acid is melted, add the solid butters/oils to melt. This lowers the melt point of the stearic and makes it more manageable to mix.
Step 8: Once all of the base oils are melted, add to the crock pot. Mix.
Step 9: Add your lye solution to the base oils.
Step 10: Mix to trace. The soap will go through a couple of different stages while mixing.
It will start out looking like applesauce.
Then it will thicken up like mashed potatoes.
Next, it will loosen up again.
Last it will thicken up like taffy.
Once you get to taffy stage, let it cook until it is neutral. I tongue tested it to see if it is neutral. If you haven’t done that before, it is easy. Simply take some soap out of the crock pot. Blow on it to cool it off. Touch it with your tongue and see if it zaps you. If it doesn’t, it is probably cooked to neutral.
Step 11: Once the soap is neutral, add your essential oil and mix.
My soap was super-thick! It was hard to mix in the EO. I just chunked and mixed and glopped it as best I could.
The soap was definitely not pour-able at this point. I had to scoop it out into balls and flatten them into the mold.
CAUTION: The soap can be very hot at this stage! I could touch it until I got to the very bottom where the soap was touching the crock pot. Use a spoon and glop it into the mold. Then you can use a cup bottom to smoosh it down.
So how can you get more fluid soap? You can use more water, glycerin, yogurt…etc. However, it will take longer for the soap to cure. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different liquid amounts. You’ll definitely want a more fluid soap if you are creating larger batches.
(2020 Update: I can help you get a fluid soap with our Quick Hot Process Method!)
I’m actually quite happy with this soap even though it was so thick when molding. It hardened up in an hour so I could unmold and set to cure fast.
I plan to cure it for 4 weeks, but wanted to try it out after 1 week to see how it is doing! So I grabbed my husband and had him give it a go. He LOVED this soap. The lather was simply amazing and stayed forever. This is a recipe to add to my regular lineup.
Check out this lather!
This lather isn’t going anywhere! We set it by the sink and the next day, it was still standing. 🙂
I think our shave soap turned out really well! I hope you give it a try.
Happy Shave Soaping!