Simple Old Fashioned Hard White Soap Recipes

Just Like Granny Used to Make

A bar of white soap with soap suds on it
Zara Ronchi / Getty Images

There's a difference between making a basic soap recipe, like this Grocery Store Soap Recipe, and making a simple hard white bar of soap. There's something magical to a pristine bar of sudsy white soap.

Basic Soap

If you're okay with a slightly off-white soap, this basic recipe, which has a little castor oil thrown in for extra lather, might serve your purpose just fine. Equal ratios of olive, palm, and coconut oils will make a wonderful, moisturizing lather that will leave you feeling clean and fresh:

  • 35% Olive Oil
  • 30% Palm Oil
  • 30% Coconut Oil
  • 5% Castor Oil

This soap will come out a nice light beige color, a little less beige than Goat's Milk Soap, though not pristinely white.

How to Get Your Soap Whiter

There are two basic ways to make your soap whiter:

  1. Add some Titanium Dioxide (TD). If you're using Water-based Titanium Dioxide, you add it to your lye-water mixture. If you're using Oil-based Titanium Dioxide, then you can add it to your melted oils at any time up to trace. With either version of TD, I usually add about 1 tsp. per pound of oils. (ie. If your recipe has 32 oz. of oils in it, use 2 tsp. of TD). Once you get the feel for how TD works in your soap, you can use it to lighten the entire batch, or just part of a batch - incorporating it into swirls with other colors.
  2. Adjust your recipe with "whiter" oils. Harder oils, like beef tallow, lard, coconut or palm kernel oil, will usually yield you whiter soap. A little bit of Castor in the recipe will also help give you a nice hard white bar, as will really light-colored Olive Oil. (Note: usually only the "refined grade A" or extra virgin is light enough color to not impart any of the green to the soap.)

So, here are a few simple recipes using these oils that should give you a nice hard white bar of soap with or without the Titanium Dioxide. (You can order beef tallow commercially from soapmaking oil suppliers like Columbus Foods, or it's really easy to render tallow for soap making yourself.)

Basic White Soap

  • 35% Beef Tallow
  • 30% Coconut
  • 30% Lard
  • 5% Castor Oil

Basic White Soap with Shea

A little-refined shea butter will give you some extra moisturizing without imparting much color at all.

  • 30% Beef Tallow
  • 30% Coconut
  • 30% Lard
  • 5% Shea Butter
  • 5% Castor

Basic White Soap with Olive Oil

If you've got some really light-colored refined Olive Oil, you can try that too. It's often worth the slight beige tint to get the extra moisturizing qualities of Olive.

  • 25% Beef Tallow
  • 25% Lard
  • 25% Coconut
  • 20% Olive
  • 5% Castor

So for a nice, hard, white bar of soap, just like Granny used to make, use one of these combinations of oils, or create your own soap recipe using combinations of these oils. If you want to use your tried and true recipe, but want it whiter, add some Titanium Dioxide to the batch. Or, better yet, use one of these recipes and add some TD and folks might just think you've slipped a bar of Ivory into the bath! (Heaven Forbid!)