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What is in a handmade soap that makes it lather?

Ingredients that make a handmade soap lather

One of the frequent questions I receive is “does your soap lather well?”

It can be frustrating to use a bar of handmade soap which has little to no lather. So the next time you are considering buying a bar of handmade soap and want to know if the soap will provide a nice lather, here are some things to consider.

While most oils contribute to the lather in a bar of handmade soap, there are a few oils which make a bigger contribution than others. Coconut oil, which is readily available, is by far the biggest contributor to a great lather so you want to see this oil listed as one of the first few ingredients.

I personally don’t like to see coconut oil listed as the first ingredient, because while it is also moisturizing, it can have a drying effect if too much is used. I prefer a moisturizing oil such as olive oil to be the lead ingredient.

Handmade soap with olive oil

Two other oils which contribute to the lather are palm kernel oil and babassu oil. These oils are very similar to coconut oil and can be used in combination with coconut oil or can be used in place of coconut oil if someone has an allergy to coconut.  

Castor oil is another great ingredient to see in the list of ingredients because it will boost the lather by making the soap more easily to dissolve in water. It contributes a dense, creamy lather to the bar of soap.

I prefer to use all vegetable oils as my soap ingredients, but if you do not have a preference, lard and tallow can also be substituted for coconut oil to produce a very nice lather in a bar of soap.

So the next time you are considering purchasing a bar of handmade soap and want to know if it is going to lather well, look at the list of ingredients.  

Either coconut oil, palm kernel oil or babassu oil, or a combination of the oils, should be listed as some of the top ingredients. Lard or tallow can be substituted. An added bonus is castor oil which provides a silky, creamy lather.