Melt and Pour 101: Choosing a Soap Base

Base Breakdown

With over 30 melt and pour soap bases to choose from, there is a lot of variety for you to build your soap creations upon. Both SFIC and Stephenson manufacture fantastic soap bases and I must say, I enjoy them both equally. Stephenson is UK based and SFIC is USA based. In smaller quantities, Stephenson brand soap bases come in a handy 2 lb. plastic container and SFIC soaps are conveniently wrapped in 1lb blocks. Quantities of 12, 25 and 40 lb. blocks are also available for when you are ready to invest in a larger operation. No matter which brand you choose, you’re sure to be pleased.

I’ll never forget my first days at Bulk in customer service product training; wading through pages and pages of soap making products on our website. These items immediately piqued my interest and it wasn’t long after I earned my first paycheck that I made the investment in some products to try. I’ve always loved handmade soap and would purchase it from venues such as Etsy to support these crafters and artisans. Never in my wildest dreams did I think soapmaking was something *I* could ever do! I didn’t have any skill! But, here I am today, doing what I thought I wasn’t capable of. You can do it too!

Of course, over the years I’ve gotten my hands on a little bit of everything and I want to share with you some of my first-hand experiences with these products. Today I am going to walk you through the different types of soap bases, highlight some key features and share my own personal accounts of using these products. Let’s dig in!

White Soap Bases

From plain white soap to a base that is all natural or even one that is low-sweat, we’ve got you covered. 

I began my soapmaking adventures with white soap as it’s something with which I already had some familiarity. When color is added to white soap bases, it is likely your end result will be a color of a pastel hue. For optimal color vibrancy, use clear soap base instead. However, if you are going for a simple look, this is a great place to start.

Cat’s Favorite White Soap Bases
Standard White Soap Base

Look, I’m a firm believer that you just can’t go wrong with plain white soap. Stephenson’s White Melt and Pour Soap Base was the first base I had chosen to begin my soapmaking journey. Not only did the 2-lb package make it easy to handle and store, it also had a neutral odor that really held the scent of my fragrance oil well. Keep in mind that if you choose to add extra moisturizing ingredients to give this soap base a skin-loving boost, keep your oils to 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp. per 1 lb. of soap. Adding further oils may affect the lather.

White Low Sweat Soap Base

Low-sweat soaps rank in my top tier because they help prevent dew drops from forming on the finished soap bars. This happens due to the glycerin content in the soap base – glycerin is a natural humectant, meaning it will pull moisture out of the air. The more glycerin in a soap base, the more moisturizing it will be, but it will also be more prone to sweating. Storing your soaps properly in a cool, dry area will also provide preventative measures against this. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, SFIC really knocked it out of the park with this one. I love this all-natural low sweat base! Check it out here.

Castile Soap Base

Who doesn’t love olive oil? made with grade A extra virgin olive oil, this soap base produces a nice, firm bar of soap. I love this base because Castile soap is one of the soap recipes that has been around for centuries. In cold process soap, it takes well over a year to cure a true Castile soap. This melt and pour base spares you the time and lye to product a nice bar of soap that is comparable to traditional castile soap. Buy it here.

Clear Soap Bases

If you’re looking to make a vibrantly colored soap, this is the place for you. Not only does clear soap take color incredibly well, but it also provides an excellent base for any soap that will include embeds or layers. I am personally a bit partial to clear soap bases because I love the dimension it gives my soaps. Another thing I love about clear soap base is that you can always make clear soap opaque by using color blocks or titanium dioxide. We will discuss more about color next week.

Cat’s Favorite Clear Soap Bases
Stephenson Ultra Clear Soap Base

This is one of the first soap bases I ever purchased and years later it still remains one of my favorites. Let me be clear: I love this base. This base can seem a bit greasy to work with due to the high glycerin content needed for transparency. While this slippery feel doesn’t carry over to the finished bar of soap, be sure to store your finished product in a cool, dry environment because the glycerin content of this base will pull moisture from the air and cause dew to form on the soap. Another great thing about this soap is that it is formulated for minimal discoloration when used in conjunction with a fragrance oil that has a 2% of less vanillin content. Click here to buy Stephenson Ultra Clear Melt and Pour Soap Base.

Clear Low Sweat Soap Base

This is another exquisite low-sweat base from SFIC. Just like it’s white counterpart, it too has a lower glycerin content to prevent sweating and dew forming on the finished bar of soap. Most definitely one of my favorites. This base isn’t as crystal clear as standard clear soap, so plan accordingly when using color. Check out our SFIC Clear Low Sweat Soap Base here.

Moisturizing Soap Bases

Melt and pour soap bases are preformulated and meant to have fragrance, color, and botanicals added. What I love about these particular bases is that they already contain skin-loving ingredients, which makes this base even easier to work with and market. Instead of possibly compromising the lathering ability of your soap by using your own natural oils, these bases already contain the proper amounts of the oils needed to give efficient foaming and cleaning properties as well as the skin benefits we all seek and love.

Cat’s Favorite Moisturizing Soap Bases
Shea Butter Soap Bases

Shea butter is widely known for its skin-nourishing properties. Simply put, you can’t go wrong with either SFIC or Stephenson shea butter soap base. It really boils down to personal preference, but I love them both. Shea butter acts as a soothing emollient which is why it is such a popular choice in the personal care industry, making these some of our bestselling melt and pour soap bases.

Goat’s Milk Soap Bases

The inclusion of goat’s milk in this soap base gives it wonderful skin-loving qualities. Goat’s milk is rich in butter fats that contain vitamins and minerals, making it a lovely moisturizing soap base. Click here to buy Stephenson Ultra Goat’s Milk Melt and Pour Soap Base.

Olive Oil Soap Bases

Made with 20-30% of grade A extra virgin olive oil, these soap bases are some of my personal favorites. It contains just enough olive oil to give the soap the moisturizing properties it needs without too much of a green tint. The bases themselves are not at all “greasy” to work with (from the oils) and slices and dices nicely for easy melting. The black heart soap pictured at the top of this post. I made 200 black heart soap favors (pictured at the top of this post) for my niece’s Edgar Alan Poe themed wedding using this base and everybody loved it the lather and scent throw. Available in both Stephenson and SFIC brands, I encourage you to check them both out! 

Hemp Soap Base

Our Hemp Oil Soap Base contains unrefined hempseed oil and extra virgin olive oil. Please note that color variation will occur from batch to batch from yellow to a greenish/olive tint. This base is all natural and it does not contain any THC or CBD. Hempseed oil is made up of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids as well as oleic acids that create the perfect trifecta of a balanced, nourishing bar of soap. Check it out here.

Unique Soap Bases

I wanted to include some other noteworthy soap bases. These bases are special because they are unlike the traditional melt and pour bases. In addition to my favorites listed below, we also offer you soap bases that contain honey, cocoa butter and aloe vera. I love them all so much, but products highlighted below are not only my favorites, but those of our customers as well.

Cat’s Favorite Unique Soap Bases
Suspending Soap Base

This base is specially formulated to evenly disperse and suspend additives such as ground oatmeal and other natural, gentle exfoliants. Take mind that while this base is translucent, is it not meant to be completely clear. The level of suspension is dependent upon the particle weight and size that is being suspended. It is a lot of fun to experiment with this one. Check it out here.

Palm Oil-Free/Sustainable Palm Oil Soap Bases

Palm oil is a staple in soapmaking – due to its fatty acid makeup, it is known for giving a bar its hardness and a high foaming content. Unfortunately, palm oil is also known for contributing to deforestation. For this reason, I love that we are able to offer our customers soap bases that are made of either RSPO certified sustainable palm or no palm oil at all! This is a perfectr fit for those who are enviromentally conscious. I love both of these bases! Check out our palm-free soap base here and our RSPO-certified soap base here.

Shaving Soap Base

If you love lots of lather, then this is the soap base for you. Many customers, including myself, use this melt and pour soap base for a nice, foamy lather to achieve a smooth shave. It is enriched with wheat protein to provide as a conditioner. This is part of what makes this soap base so great. It’s high foaming ability also makes it perfect for standard bar soap not necessarily meant for shaving. Check it out here.

*Note: This base contains trace amounts of gluten, therefore it is not gluten-free.

Oatmeal Soap Bases

These contain ground oatmeal as a gentle exfoliant. These bases are fantastic for anyone who would like to make a gentle exfoliating soap without the hassle of mixing in their own additives. Be sure not to overheat this one – in doing so, you may run the risk of having the suspended oatmeal sink to the bottom of the finished bar. Stay below 130° F for optimal results! Our oatmeal soap bases are available both in white soap and soap enriched with shea butter. Check them out here!

Carrot Cucumber Aloe Soap Base

Made with the oils of carrot seed, cucumber seed and aloe vera, this unique soap base is an underrated gem. Due to the color of this base, it’s best to stick with a color theme that will complement its orange color. You definitely don’t want to try to make blue soap out of this! Cold-pressed cucumber oil offers this soap base a healthy array of Omega-6 fatty acids (great for the skin!) while the carrot seed and cucumber seed oil lend also lend their qualities to the skin with their naturally-occurring Vitamin E content. I loved working with this soap base for my Lemon Orange Blossom Melt and Pour Tutorial. The color of the base really allows it to pair well with citrus scents. Click here to buy Stephenson Carrot Cucumber Aloe Melt and Pour Soap Base.

Rebatch Soap Base

Sold as a 20 lb. solid block, this soap base is also a favorite among customers and I know exactly why. It is designed to mimic the look and feel of traditional cold process soap and produces a nice, rustic looking bar of soap. For this reason, this is one melt and pour soap base is NOT microwaveable. It may bubble up and ruin the soap’s texture, resulting in what may look like lumpy mashed potatoes. Melting over a double boiler is ideal because it allows for a slow, even melt. Click here to buy Stephenson Rebatch Melt and Pour Soap Base.

Time to Decide

Now that we’ve discussed some of the different melt and pour soap bases available, I encourage you to head on over to our melt and pour soap product page to see which soap base would best meet your needs and your price point. It is best to start with a simple recipe to get the feel for how melt and pour soap performs and behaves. The best way to know and sell your product is to learn it first. An easy to follow beginner melt and pour recipe can be found here. This is one of our most popular blog posts as it will show you how to make your first batch of soap for under $20.00. I encourage you to explore this beginner recipe, and please feel free to adapt it to the color and fragrance of your choice.

Do you have any lingering questions we haven’t covered? Drop us a comment below and let us know how we can help you along your journey to soapmaking!

Author: Cat

7 thoughts on “Melt and Pour 101: Choosing a Soap Base

  1. Great article! I currently purchase bar shampoo for my beard. I would like to try making my own to go along with the beard oils I make. Do you have a base that would work for this?
    Thank you!!

  2. Hello! I want to make a facial soap bar and I have sensitive skin! I was thinking about the carrot cucumber aloe one? What’re you’re thoughts?

  3. I would like to try the white organic soap base. Will it require lye? I really don’t like the idea of lye in my soap. Thanks.

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