Like the wheel, soap’s history is long, but its relevance to daily life has kept the basic design tried and true. At Koster Keunen, we are dedicated to the kind of innovation that blends creativity into formulation to build knowledge and stretch the thinking about what is possible.

This month, we are proud to have the article “The Functional Advantages of Natural Waxes in Traditional Soaps,” published in SOFW Journal. The article, by Alexandra G. McMahon and Belen M. Lemieux, describes their study of the effect of adding different percentages of natural waxes to traditional soap recipes, along with their results and recommendations. (PDF version here.)

From Suds to Science – A note from the Co-Author

Alexandra McMahon, B.S, Research & Development Chemist at Koster Keunen USA

Alexandra McMahon, B.S, Research & Development Chemist at Koster Keunen USA

Unbeknownst to many at Koster Keunen, I’m from the generation where making “potions” with your family’s expensive beauty products was our version of fun… I have come to realize my childhood was filled with science, and that is a very strong indicator of who and where I am today.

My most recent project in the Koster Keunen labs has been dedicated to understanding the scientific basis of soapmaking. Although soapmaking has been around for centuries, I have learned that it takes a special skillset to create a beautiful soap. My research has been concentrated on bridging the gap between a triglyceride specific soap industry with the inclusion of natural waxes.  This research was recently featured in the April issue of the SOFW Journal, where we discuss the history and chemistry of soapmaking, as well as the functional advantages of using natural waxes. I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Find the article here on Koster Keunen’s website.

Interviewer: I love that your childhood was filled with science, do you have a specific memory you could share with us?

Ally: Some of my favorite core memories were built from trips to science centers & museums with my family during our summers off from school.

Interviewer: You volunteered for the soapmaking challenge in our lab. What is it about making soap that interests you?

Ally: I love the creativity associated with it! Soapmaking is an art – it requires a lot of patience and critical thinking in order to be successful.

Interviewer: Now that you are on your way to becoming an expert in using natural waxes in soap making, what is the next thing you are hoping to dive into?

Ally: I am working on determining different functions of saponified waxes in other mediums! As sole products, emulsifiers, co-emulsifiers, etc.

Stay Tuned!

Formula Features Functionality and Flexibility

Our All Around Soap Bar brings to the table an example formula that shows off the practical applications of what you see in our study. The combined positive attributes of Bayberry Wax, Cocoa Butter, and Orange Wax produce a soap bar that is pleasant to hold and rinses clean, yet leaves a moisturized after feel.

All Around Soap Bar

Formula: #7/21-286/188/139-1

Ingredient Trade Name INCI Name %
Phase A
Deionized Water Aqua 21.42
Lye3 Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda) 9.58
Phase B
Cocoa Butter Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter 10.00
Bayberry Wax Myrica Cerifera (Bayberry) Fruit Wax 8.00
Orange Wax Citrus Aurantium Dulcus(Orange) Wax 4.00
Olive Oil Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil 25.00
Coconut Oil Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil 12.00
Almond Oil Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil 10.00

The unique properties of natural waxes open up new frontiers in soapmaking. From producing bars with extra stability to creating beautifully patterned bars, we have a wax for that!  When you are looking for the right wax or the just-right formulation to suit your brand’s bars, please feel free to contact us.

Contact Koster Keunen

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get assistance with wax chemistry.

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.