In Part II of our soapmaking series, we are taking a deeper dive into the waxes that can most effectively contribute to the unique properties of your signature bar soap formulas. The first installment, The Role of Waxes in the Complex Chemistry of Bar Soap, offers an overview of the effects that waxes generally have in bar soap systems.  When you consider the breadth of wax options, their diversity creates possibilities for formulations that appeal to consumer interests, from aesthetic attributes to social impact ideals.

Selecting Waxes for Soapmaking: Options Abound

In the table below, you can see a brief survey of waxes and their effects within soap formulations. Using the full range of Koster Keunen waxes washes away the limits on your options for type and texture of soap bar.

Wax Name Average Sap Value (mg KOH/g) Average Sap Value (mg NaOH/g)* Color Use Level** Natural Scent? Effect on Bar Rigidity Lather (Scale 1-5) Cleansing Properties Trace Level at 50 C Recommended Application
Bayberry Wax 218 155 Green Up to 100% Yes Hardens 2 High Very fast Artisanal
Beeswax 93 66 Ivory Up to 50% Slight Hardens 3 High Average Textured top
Candelilla Wax 60 43 Tan Up to 50% Yes Hardens 4.5 Medium Average Embedding
Carnauba Wax 87 62 Orange Up to 50% Yes Hardens 5 High Very fast Artisanal
Cocoa Butter 193 138 Light yellow Up to 100% Yes Softens 2 Low Slow Layering, pours
Kester K-24 146 104 Ivory Up to 50% No Softens 2 Low Slow Drop swirls
Orange Wax 103 73 Dark orange Up to 50% Yes Softens 4.5 Medium Average Layering, swirling
Rice Bran Wax 98 70 Light brown Up to 15% Slight Hardens 305 Medium Fast Layering, designs

*Koster Keunen COAs express Saponification Value in mg KOH/g. For mg NaOH/g, simply multiply by 0.71 **Use level is based on its compatibility on its own, or in various percentages with olive oil. Use levels may vary with different oils and butters.

Eight Waxes That Raise the Bar in Soapmaking

Eight of our favorite waxes for soapmaking are discussed below. As each of the waxes brings different attributes, finding one to suit your specific application becomes a matter of considering which best fits your system, adding its specific benefits to your formulation.

Sample Formulations Demonstrate Wax Efficacy

To give the wax usability descriptions some context, we offer three sample formulations below. From the deceptively brief ingredient lists, these formulas highlight the wonderful variety of texture, lather, and emollience made possible with natural waxes.

Cocoa-Berry Soap

A most soothing formulation, Cocoa-Berry Soap blends the dense lather and moisturizing properties of Cocoa Butter with the softening effects of Bayberry.

Formula#:  11/21-188/286-1

Ingredient Trade Name INCI Name %
Phase A
Deionized Water Aqua 12.35
Lye Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda) 5.29
Phase B
Bayberry Wax Myrica Cerifera (Bayberry) Fruit Wax 41.18
Cocoa Butter Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter 41.18

Plant Based Minimalistic Soap

This vegan soap boasts the luxury that boosted lather and slip bring to skin care products.

Formula#:  11/21-420/358-1

Ingredient Trade Name INCI Name %
Phase A
Deionized Water Aqua 11.55
Lye Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda) 4.95
Phase B
Carnauba Wax Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax 41.75
Kester Wax K-24 Lauryl Laurate 41.75

Peeling Good Soap Bar

The Orange peel wax in this formulation brings its unique, energetic scent and color to the bar.

Formula#:  11/21-10030-3

Ingredient Trade Name INCI Name %
Phase A
Deionized Water Aqua 20.30
Lye Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda) 8.70
Phase B
Olive Oil Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil 60.35
Orange Peel Wax Citrus Aurantium Dulcus (Orange) Peel Wax 10.65

About Koster Keunen

Koster Keunen has been working with wax since 1852 and has used our extensive experience and knowledge base to continuously develop new chemistries. Whether you are developing a new product, or need help with a reformulation or replacement, contact us to learn more about how we source, refine or develop waxes so you can create the perfect formula.