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Lauric Acid will add hardness to your bar, promotes a fluffy lather and cleans very well... almost too well. Large amounts of lauric acid will create an excessively drying product as your natural skin oils will be stripped because of its amazing cleansing abilities. Just try not to go overboard with ingredients like coconut oil, Babassu oil or palm oil that have large amounts of lauric acid in them.
Linoleic Acid will add conditioning and moisturizing properties to your soap bar. Some also report that a silky feel is added to their product when using ingredients high in this acid. The only thing to really watch out for is DOS (dreaded orange spots) as it tends to go rancid more quickly then the other fatty acids. Just be leery of using too much of an ingredient that has a high content of linoleic acid, especially if you want your bar to last a long time.
Linolenic Acid will add conditioning properties and moisturizing properties to your soap creating a very mild finished product.
Oleic Acid will also add conditioning properties and moisturizing properties to your soap. It will not produce a very good lather though. Some say that oleic acid is what gives your bar that slippery feel.
Palmitic Acid will add hardness to your bar and a creamy/stable lather. Careful though... too much can be over drying!
Ricinoleic Acid will add conditioning properties, a fluffy lather and some creamy/stable lather! This fatty acid is prominent in castor oil and is great for adding a luxurious lather to the finished product even if only used in small amounts.
Stearic Acid will offer many of the same characteristics as palmitic acid. Once again, you'll gain hardness to your bar and add a creamy/stable lather.
Myristic Acid will add hardness to the bar, offer good cleansing properties and adds a nice fluffy lather. Again, because of its cleansing abilities, too much myristic acid will produce somewhat of a drying product.
Iodine Value: Yes, I know... the iodine value of a recipe is not exactly a fatty acid, but I decided to throw it in here anyway. What exactly is an iodine value? The iodine value is the measure of the number of grams of iodine that will unite with exactly 100 grams of the oil in question. As a broad rule, the higher the iodine value the softer the bar and the more conditioning properties it will have. Alternately, the lower the iodine value the harder the bar and the less conditioning properties it will have. Remember that this is just a general rule as there are some exceptions.
Now that you know about the main fatty acids and what they will add to your soap, creating the perfect recipe will be a cinch, right? Umm... not really! Some say that combining oils is more of an art then a science. I tend to agree. As you gain more experience, you will learn from your mistakes and successes the best combinations of various soap making oils to create a wonderful bar of soap. Of course, a high quality soap calculator will make this process much easier for you.
Keep in mind that you have a great opportunity to get a little head start through this website and not have to experience the failure that some soap makers have to go through in the very beginning. Here at soap-making-resource.com you'll learn from my experience as I share my personal soap recipes and let you know what works and what doesn't when it comes to oil combinations and other soap making topics!
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