Illipe Nut Butter and Cocoa Butter have many similarities, and I wanted to see how they would stack up against one another in a bar of soap. Cocoa Butter is often considered a great choice to help make a firmer bar. Let’s see if Illipe Nut Butter will do the same.
Since I am trying to determine the impact of just one ingredient – and because it’s the smallest percentage of the ingredients in my recipe – I am going to make sure all other factors are as equal as I can possibly make them.
I weighed the oils for both batches side by side, making sure the weight of each ingredient was exactly the same.
I used Wild Mint & Ivy as a fragrance, both because I love it and because it does not discolor or accelerate. Orignially, I had considered not using any fragrance, but I caved in when I remembered this favorite. This yummy scent reminds me of spearmint and fresh green plants, and I could cheerfully inhale its scent all day long.
Here is the recipe I used, pouring each soap into a Rubbermaid 2912 drawer organizer that holds 18-20 ounces of soap. I really like using these simple soap molds. They are large enough to make a good test batch, and they are inexpensive and readily available. I line them with plastic wrap, which makes unmolding a breeze!
Our 6-5-4-1 formula is a great tool for a fool-proof batch of soap. Here’s what I used for these test batches:
|Recipe in Ounces
6.75 ounces Soybean Oil
5.63 ounces Palm Kernel Oil
4.5 ounces Olive Oil
1.13 ounces Illipe Nut Butter/Cocoa Butter
|Recipe in Percentages
37.5% Soybean Oil
31.25% Palm Kernel Oil
25% Olive Oil
6.25% Illipe Nut/Cocoa Butter
Our Lye Calculator recommended 2.49 ounces of lye for Illipe Nut Butter and 2.5 ounces of lye for Cocoa Butter. I went with 2.5 ounces for ease of measurement. The fluid recommendation was 5-7 ounces. I chose 7 ounces and used distilled water.
The Fragrance Calculator recommended 0.45 ounces Wild Mint & Ivy Fragrance Oil for 18 ounces of soap.
Palm Kernel OilSoybean Oil
Illipe Nut Butter
Cocoa Butter (I used Regular for this comparison.)
Sodium Hydroxide (lye)
Fragrance of choice
Soap Bucket or other microwave-safe container
Plastic wrap to line mold
Masking tape to hold the plastic wrap in place
If you have never made cold process soap before, please stop and read this blog post. Otherwise, grab your gloves and goggles and let’s make some soap!
I started with the Cocoa Butter batch by adding the lye to the water a bit at a time and stirring until the lye dissolved and the solution became clear. After mixing the lye solution, I set it aside to cool while I melted the oils. It’s a good idea to melt the oils in the microwave in short time bursts. I began with 45 seconds, stirred, did 30 more seconds, then stirred again. At that point, the oils were all liquid. The temperature of the oils was about 150 degrees. I set melted oils and the lye solution aside to cool. I periodically stirred and checked the temperature of the two liquids until both were nearing 130 degrees. When melted oils were 133 degrees and lye solution was 132 degrees, I mixed the oils and lye solution together. After stick blending to a light trace, I stirred in the fragrance oil with a silicone spatula.
I checked the temperature of the soap batter again just before pouring – it was 128 degrees and very fluid.
After the Cocoa Butter soap was poured into the mold and set aside, I followed the same procedure with the Illipe Nut Butter soap. For the Illipe Nut Butter batch, the lye solution was 130 degrees and oils were 133 degrees when mixed. The soap batter was 127 degrees just before being poured into the mold.
A word about the temperature of the lye solution and melted oils: Although you may hear it is not strictly necessary to have both near the same temperature before mixing them together, it is a good practice to get the oil and lye mixture within 10 degrees of one another. You’ll avoid a lot of potential problems that way! This soap batter behaved beautifully. I chose the oils because they are far less likely to accelerate the soap batter, and I soaped at a low enough temperature to avoid overheating.
Since the soap was very fluid when poured, there wasn’t much I could do in the way of making designs on the top. When I checked on the soaps after about an hour, the batter had firmed up enough that I could do something with the top of each loaf of soap to help me tell them apart. I made a crosshatch design on the Illipe Nut Butter soap and pressed some bubble wrap into the top of the Cocoa Butter soap. (I’ve seen several soaps that have bubble wrap pressed into the top for texture, and it looks neat! The only bubble wrap I had was a large size, though. I used it, but I don’t recommend you try it. It looks pretty awful! I should have just used the circle pattern I’d envisioned.)
The temperatures in my soap lab were pretty cool on the day I made these, and I did not insulate the molds. It appears these soaps did not go through gel phase. Since the soap batter temperature and my ambient air temperatures were so low when I poured into the mold, I was not surprised.
The color of the Cocoa Butter soap turned out to be slightly warmer than the soap using Illipe Nut Butter.
After cutting and sitting for 24 hours, I was surprised to find the Illipe bars were slightly harder than the Cocoa Butter. I can press a finger into the Cocoa Butter bar and leave a shallow indentation, but I can’t with the Illipe bar. This means that Illipe Nut Butter can be used to help harden cold process soap. As my soaps continue to cure, I’ll continue to monitor the hardness between the two and I suspect after the cure is complete, I won’t be able to tell a difference between the soaps.