Neem Oil and Titanium Dioxide in Cold Process Soap

Recently we were asked if Titanium Dioxide would color a soap white if one used dark colored oils. Since I don’t have many dark oils, I decided to make 5 different batches of soap with Neem Oil to show how using Titanium Dioxide can lighten the color, but not make a white soap. This post is a collection of all these soaps and the differences that appear in the finished soap. 

Collect needed items:

Ingredients
Coconut Oil
Golden Jojoba Oil
Neem Oil
Soybean Oil
Sodium Hydroxide
Water
Titanium Dioxide
Equipment
Scale
Soap Spoon
Gloves
Rubber Scraper
Mold of your choice (I used a Rubbermaid Drawer Organizer #2915)
Immersion Blender
Plastic Wrap to line the mold
Time spent:
Weighing time: 8 minutes
Adding lye to water: 20 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of stirring
Heating of oils time: 2 minutes
Pouring lye solution into the fat mixture: 15 seconds
Using immersion blender to mix soap solution: 90 seconds
Pour into mold: 40 seconds
Allow soap to rest: 24 hours
Recipe in ounces: (Batch 1)
5 ounces Coconut Oil
4 ounces Golden Jojoba Oil
1 ounce Neem Oil
6 ounces Soybean Oil
2.03 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
6 ounces Water 

0.16 Titanium Dioxide (1% Usage Rate)

Recipe in ounces: (Batch 2)
5 ounces Coconut Oil
3 ounces Golden Jojoba Oil
2 ounces Neem Oil
6 ounces Soybean Oil
2.1 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
6 ounces Water 

0.16 Titanium Dioxide (1% Usage Rate)

Recipe in ounces: (Batch 3)
5 ounces Coconut Oil
2 ounces Golden Jojoba Oil
3 ounce Neem Oil
6 ounces Soybean Oil
2.18 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
6 ounces Water 

0.16 Titanium Dioxide (1% Usage Rate)

Recipe in ounces: (Batch 4)
5 ounces Coconut Oil
2 ounces Golden Jojoba Oil
3 ounce Neem Oil
6 ounces Soybean Oil
2.18 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
6 ounces Water
Recipe in ounces: (Batch 5)
5 ounces Coconut Oil
2 ounces Golden Jojoba Oil
3 ounce Neem Oil
6 ounces Soybean Oil
2.18 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
6 ounces Water
1 ounce Titanium Dioxide (6.25% Usage Rate)

I started by mixing the Titanium Dioxide into 1 ounce of the water and allowing it to completely hydrate. I did not want any specks of white color since that would mean I did not have an accurate test. I allowed the hydrating Titanium Dioxide sit for 30 minutes before I started weighing any other materials.

After the Titanium Dioxide mixtures had been sitting for 30 minutes, I began to measure the fixed oils on the scale. You can choose to warm your oils on the stove or in the microwave. I melted the fixed oils in the microwave. It took about 2 minutes in my microwave to melt all of the oils.

As the oils were melting in the microwave, I added sodium hydroxide remaining water. Mix well. Combine the fixed oils and lye solution. Stir until thin trace. For me, this took just 60 seconds for batches 1 & 2, but batches 3, 4 & 5 took only 40 seconds to reach trace. After the soap reached trace, I added the Titanium Dioxide mixture and mixed well. I added the color and stirred to mix the raw soap and color. At this time, the soap accelerated like nothing else I’ve ever seen. I ended up actually plopping the soap into the molds rather than pouring. I allowed the soap to sit until was firm.

The next morning the soap was cut into bars. Stack to allow good air circulation. Allow to cure for several days before using. Longer curing will result in a harder bar.

Notes:
Batches 4 & 5 started to volcano in the mold, so I promptly dumped them back into a mixing bucket and stirred until they had cooled down enough to go back into the molds.

The comparison photo shows the following soaps from left to right: Batch 1, Batch 2, Batch 3, Batch 4, and Batch 5. As you can see, batch 5 is the lightest colored soap but it is still not pure white.

As the comparison photo shows, the addition of Titanium Dioxide will help lighten the soaps, but you will not get a pure white soap when using dark colored oils like Neem Oil. If you would like to have a white soap, I would recommend using oils that contribute a light or white color to soap in combination with Titanium Dioxide. These would be oils that are light colored in their original form. Colorless Jojoba, Lard, Soybean Oil, Coconut Oil, and Almond Oil are some oils that I would recommend for such a soap.

Enjoy!

Comparison between the five batches of soap.
Pre-mixed Titanium Dioxide with water.
Batch 1
Batch 2.
Batch 3.
Melted oils, lye solution and liquid Titanium Dioxide.

Lye solution and oils before mixing.
Mixing the raw soap.

Blending the Titanium Dioxide into the raw soap.
Adding the Titanium Dioxide mixture.

Pouring batch 1 into the mold.
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Neem Oil and Titanium Dioxide in Cold Process Soap, 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

8 thoughts on “Neem Oil and Titanium Dioxide in Cold Process Soap”

  1. So, on the first picture, the batches, from left to right, are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? So that means 4 has no TD and is the darkest; 5 has the most TD and is the lightest. Conclusion: 1% will lighten soap made with neem oil, but to get it almost white, you need to up that to 6%, or 1 oz. TD per 16 oz. oils. Very interesting! Thanks, Andee.

    Cee

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  2. That is correct! Even with the 6% usage rate, batch 5 still has a tanned appearance. The best way I can describe it would be melted vanilla ice cream that has had butterscotch sauce mixed in.

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  3. Dear Andy,
    I’m running a Dutch Soap Forum, and onde of the members asked about using Neem Oil in CP soap.
    As I’m not a great Neem fan :D I never made a neem soap myself, but I did remember Neem shoud not be exposed to higher temperatures, so I decided to google CP Neem soap.
    That’s how I found this article.
    Thank you for doing the experiment!

    A few remarks:
    – oil solubile TiO2 would have been easier, just mix it with the warmed oils and you’re ready to soap. No worries about white specs in the soap. (I use water solubile TiO2 the same way, with the same good results)
    – you could have done the same test with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which can be a dark green. No way you get a white soap using TiO2 either!
    – I don’t understand why the batches 4 and 5 volcanoed, and the others did not. It was not due to the TiO2, because batch 4 didn’t have any in it. What are your thoughts about that.

    I know this experiment is about Titanium Dioxide, but perhaps you could answer my question:
    As Neem Oil loses some of its qualities when exposed to high temperatures, is it still a good idea to use it in a CP soap (apart from the volcanoes)?
    I’m also worried that the NaOH lye will harm the good qualities of the neem oil.
    Personaly I would opt for a HP soap (superfat % =0) and superfat with the neem oil after cooking; or make a surfactant based washing product.

    Thanks in advance for your time and trouble to look into this matter!

    Corry Helmond (aka Eucalypta)

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    1. Corry,

      I believe that Neem will work well in cold process soap. I think it works much better there than hot process soap.
      Volcano soap has to do with over mixing when the temperatures are far from each other (lye is hot and oils are
      cold or vice versa). Titanium does not cause spikes in temperatures. Both types of titanium dioxide can appear
      speckled in the finished soaps. Sometimes the oils used are not melted completely (stearines) and sometimes certain
      other fractions are slow to saponify (oleic).

      Making a moderate temperature soap, along with moderate use of a range of fatty acids (not heavy in any one area)
      and an even mixing rate will make the best soap.

      Neem is wonderful in cold process soap and it does not need any more than 1 oz as part of every 16 ounces of fats.
      That is a sufficient amount for starting a neem soap.

      Tina

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  4. I know this is a post on titanium dioxide, but I am finding it helpful with regards to neem. I just received my order and I am still formulating a recipe for it. So using as little as 1 oz per 16 oz of oils can already be beneficial? I was thinking of starting with 10%. I have not opened the can yet. I am a bit apprehensive about the smell that will greet me! :-)

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