Double Butter Soap: Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter

Double Butter Luxury Soap Recipe

Double butter soap bars
The Spruce / Mindy Schiller

While just a plain, everyday bar of soap can be luxurious, most people equate luxury with oils like shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba, and some of the other liquid oils.

This recipe, called Double Butter, uses 25 percent butters. Because butters will dampen the lather of your soap some, we upped the coconut to 35 percent and balanced the recipe with some lard, olive and castor oils. Recipes with high percentages of butters come to trace quickly.

Using lard instead of palm oil or tallow as your “hard” oil helps slow things down. But we’ve included a vegetarian version of the recipe for you as well.

For this recipe, which makes 3 pounds of soap, we used:

  • 4.5 ounces lard (10 percent)
  • 15.6 ounces coconut oil (35 percent)
  • 11.2 ounces olive oil (25 percent)
  • 2.2 ounces castor oil (5 percent)
  • 5.8 ounces cocoa butter (13 percent)
  • 5.4 ounces shea butter (12 percent)
  • 6.3 ounces lye (6 percent lye discount)
  • 12.6 ounces water
  • 2 ounces of fragrance or essential oil blend (such as the Lavender Dream blend of patchouli, orange, and lavender essential oils)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gold mica
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mica

Vegetarian/Non-Animal Oil Version

Substitute the 4.5 ounces of lard for 4.5 ounces of palm oil. The saponification values for the two oils are close enough that the lye amount doesn’t change.

Melting the Oils (Special Technique)

Solid cocoa butter in a bowl
The Spruce / Mindy Schiller

This is a pretty straightforward batch of soap, and normally you could weigh and melt all of the solid oils into a pitcher at once. However, this much cocoa butter will take a long time to melt so we'll use a modified technique.

First, put just the cocoa butter into the bowl/pot alone and start to melt it. In the microwave, heat the cocoa butter for 3 minutes at 50 percent power.

When the cocoa butter is partially melted, add the shea butter, and heat further. Then continue to add the solid oils in the reverse order of their melting point. Coconut oil next, then the lard.

Continue heating the solid oils until they are completely melted. Then add the liquid oils to the mixture.

Prepare Your Micas and Fragrance

Melted micas with oil in a mug
The Spruce / Mindy Schiller

While you’re heating the oils, prepare your micas. Color is completely optional in this recipe. You can try an “in the pot” swirl” to give this Double Butter soap a rich, warm color. To do this, put 1/2 teaspoon of mica into a ramekin with about 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir well with a small whisk or chopstick. Measure out your fragrance or essential oil as well, and you’re ready to make some soap!

Mix to Trace and Add Fragrance

Mixing melted soap with an immersion blender
The Spruce / Mindy Schiller

Mix the oils together. To make the lye solution, you'll need a glass jar or pitcher that's taller than the actual amount of liquid it will hold. Add the water to the jar and then, once you've measured out the lye, add it to the pitcher of water. Mix the water-lye solution with a non-metal utensil, like a chopstick. Let it cool down a bit; the jar will be hot to touch.

WARNING: Lye is potentially dangerous if not used properly. Be sure to take these precautions when using it:

  • Add the lye to the water and not the other way around. The reverse can cause explosions!
  • Wear safety gear: gloves and goggles.
  • Ventilate: Crack a window or turn on the vent hood.

Now, add the lye solution to the oils. Use a stick blender to mix the oils until you achieve "trace," which just means that the mixture will hold its form when you drag the blender through it. Add the fragrance and stir a bit.

Adding the Micas

Adding micas to the melted soap
The Spruce / Mindy Schiller

For the “in the pot” swirl, pour one of the ramekins of mica onto one side of the pot, and the other on the other side.

Mixing in the Micas

Swirling the melted soap to mix the colored micas
The Spruce / Mindy Schiller

Then, using the stick blender (not turned on) swirl the color into the rest of the soap. You can leave distinct swirls of color or mix it up a bit for a more subtle color variance.

Now, you can also take out a cup or two of the soap, add the colorant to it, mix it, and then swirl it back into the pot.

Unmold and Enjoy the Double Butter Soap

Cutting soap into bars
The Spruce / Mindy Schiller

Pour the soap into the mold and let it set up overnight. After 24 hours or so, unmold it and let it cure for a few weeks. You can see how the swirl gives a sort of variegated marble-like effect. That effect and the nice clean sides created by a silicone soap mold gave this batch of soap a "luxury" look that makes great gifts. Be sure to save a few bars for yourself too!