Castor Oil Profile

Castor berry

w-ings / Getty Images

You may remember being forced to gulp a tablespoon of castor oil as a kid--and now dislike the idea of it--but it's a wonderful oil to include in your soap recipes. It, used in combination with coconut and palm kernel oil, imparts extra lather to your soap. It's more of a creamy lather than a bubbly lather (like coconut will give you) so it's good to use both.

Basic Information About Castor Oil

Castor alone makes a mushy not hard or brittle bar, though if used in higher percentages, it can make a nice shampoo bar. It'll never reach the fluffy lather of a coconut oil shampoo bar, though. Castor oil added to a soap recipe results in a stable lather that is low, dense, and creamy.

What it does do is add moisturizing qualities to soap. Though it's thick and sticky straight out of the bottle, it is easily absorbed by the skin.

Because of its unique fatty acid make-up, there's truly no other oil quite like it. You only need to use about 4-6 percent in your recipe to see a difference. Be warned, castor oil will speed up your trace. You may want to leave it out of recipes where you want extended time to swirl like a column swirl or even just a multi-layered soap.

Basic 4 Oil Soap Recipe

A reliable and wonderful basic soap recipe. 

  • 6.5 oz. palm oil
  • 6.5 oz. coconut oil
  • 7.5 oz. olive oil
  • 1.3 oz. castor oil
  • 8 oz. water
  • 3.1 oz. lye
  • 1 oz. of fragrance oil or essential oil blend

Grocery Store Soap Recipe

You should be able to find all of these ingredients in your supermarket. The lard is sometimes in the Hispanic foods section and the castor oil is often near the pharmacy.

  • 30 percent olive oil
  • 30 percent lard
  • 25 percent coconut oil
  • 10 percent sunflower oil
  • 5 percent castor oil

Old-Fashioned Hard White Soap

Another great, basic recipe. As long as your olive oil is on the light side (use light or extra virgin olive oil if you can), it will give you a nice white bar of soap.

  • 35 percent olive oil
  • 30 percent palm oil
  • 30 percent coconut oil
  • 5 percent castor oil

Basic, Mild, Shampoo Bar Recipe

Most bar soap recipes only use about 4-5 percent castor oil in them, but shampoo bars take advantage of castor oil's properties and use a much higher percentage. It helps create a bar that's more gentle on your hair.

  • 25 percent coconut oil
  • 25 percent olive oil
  • 20 percent castor oil
  • 15 percent canola oil
  • 15 percent palm oil

Luxury Shampoo Recipe

  • 25 percent coconut oil
  • 20 percent olive oil
  • 20 percent castor oil
  • 10 percent canola oil
  • 10 percent avocado oil
  • 10 percent palm oil
  • 5 percent jojoba