Understanding Our Ingredients & Materials


Recycled Clamshell

Our signature clamshell packaging for our bar soap is a wonderful thing! Not only does the package protect the soap, but it’s perfect for gift giving without the need for additional wrapping – cutting down on the use of materials.

The clamshells are made from recycled cardboard, contain no dyes or bleach, and are fully recyclable.


Our body butter, foot soaks, bath salts, scrubs, and other products come in high-quality glass containers that can be washed and re-used for other purposes. They are also fully recyclable.

For our liquid soap, hand sanitizers, deodorant, and other products that come in plastic bottles, jars, or tubes we use high-quality plastics that can be washed and re-used for other purposes. They are also fully recyclable.

Base Liquids


When making soap, the lye element must be dissolved in a carrier liquid. The most commonly used and widely available carrier liquid is good old water! We use distilled water to be sure that there are no unwanted minerals within the recipe for the purest soap possible.


Believe it or not, beer contains many things that are beneficial to your skin! Hops are a primary ingredient in beer, and they contain skin-softening amino acids as well as antibacterial polyphenols that act as a natural preservative. The sugar content in beer also promotes a lovely, bubbly lather.

Goat's Milk

Goat’s Milk contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial fatty acids, all of which are great for your skin and aren’t found in other types of milk. Soaps made with Goat’s Milk have a very rich and luxurious lather that’s truly a joy to use!


We use real brewed coffee in our Café Au Bain soap. Having this real coffee in the soap gives your skin a small dose of caffeine, which can pep you up in the morning and also help to stimulate blood flow to the skin. Coffee also has deodorizing properties – great for washing your hands after cooking with garlic or onions!

Tomato Juice

Everyone loves tomato in their ketchup, sauce, and in their salad – but the idea of tomato as a skin-loving product can be surprising! Tomato juice is high in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, which is known to brighten and even out the skin. Tomato juice can also fight free radicals and help reduce the appearance of aging!



Lye is a strong alkali that’s used in many industries and is often used interchangeably to describe Sodium Hydroxide and/or Potassium Hydroxide.  Lye is used in the food industry for curing foods as well as in canning, pretzel making, and more.  Lye can also be used as a household cleaning product.

In soapmaking, lye is combined with various fats (oils and butters).  When mixed together, the oils and butters (acidic) and the lye (basic) go through a chemical process called saponification, where entirely new molecules are created through a gradual chemical reaction. The result of this chemical process is soap! So while lye is used in the soapmaking process there is no lye remaining once the soap is finished, nor are there any bare oils left. All of the ingredients have converted into soap!

Oils & Butters

Olive Oil

Olive oil has long been known as a great food product, and it’s also a great skin product! This smooth oil has a light color and scent, and it’s full of Vitamin E and Vitamin A, plus antioxidants to promote healthy skin. It’s incredibly moisturizing and also hypoallergenic. Olive oil is one of the few oils that’s deemed to be safe for use on newborns!  We use olive oil in the vast majority of our soaps!

Coconut OIl

Coconut oil is chock-full of wonderful fatty acids, micronutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants.  In soap, it has exceptional cleansing ability. It also promotes a light and bubbly lather.  Better still, because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it helps to create bars of soap that have a high level of hardness and are long-lasting.

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet Almond Oil is rich in vitamins and helps skin to retain its natural moisture. It can also aid in reducing skin irritation and inflammation.

Palm Kernel Oil

We no longer use Palm Kernel Oil in any of our recipes due to the industry’s negative impact on our planet.

Castor Oil

Castor Oil is most widely known for its effective use when taken internally, but it has great benefits in soap as well! In addition to increasing the bubbliness of lather, Castor Oil is an emollient that can penetrate the skin to help hydrate and soften by stimulating production of collagen and elastin. This can help to reduce wrinkles and maintain a youthful appearance.

Cocoa Butter

Everybody loves to eat chocolate! But the skin benefits of cocoa butter have also been known and put to use for ages. Cocoa butter not only makes a bar of soap feel silky and creamy, but it offers the same benefits to your skin! It is full of natural antioxidants as well as Vitamin E to promote clear, supple skin. While Cocoa Butter is also delicious, we don’t recommend eating our soap!

Soybean OIl

Soybean Oil is high in Linoleic Acid.  Research shows that Linoleic Acid helps to reduce skin irritation and retain moisture, and may also help with acne reduction. Soybean Oil also helps to improve the stability of the soap’s lather.

Shea Butter

We use Shea Butter in some of our soaps and also as a core ingredient in our Whipped Body Butter. Time and time again, Shea Butter has been shown to offer incredible moisturizing and healing properties when used on the skin. Shea Butter is high in Vitamins A and E, and promotes healthy skin in ways almost too numerous to count!


While most of our soaps are made with vegetable oils rather than animal fats, some of our shave soaps contain lard.  Lard helps to create a VERY hard final product and is also beneficial is creating the type of lather desired by serious shavers


Similar to the benefits of lard, we love to use beef tallow in our shave soaps to make them nice and hard, and to promote an extra thick and creamy lather.

Essential Oils & Fragrances

Essential Oils

Essential oils are natural oils that have been extracted from their original plant source, typically through distillation. They offer pleasing smells and often promote other benefits for the skin.  Essential oils that we use frequently include Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Sweet Orange, and others.

Fragrances (Various)

For certain smells (like chocolate) no essential oil is available.  So when we want to have a soap with a particular smell, we turn to a skin-safe, phthalate-free fragrance oil. In a typical recipe, the fragrance will be 2% or less of the total so that even our fragranced bars are still approximately 98% all-natural.


General Note:

Usage of any particular colorant at Oak City Soap is typically 1% or less of the total formula.


Clays come in a variety of colors and shades.  In addition to providing a natural way to add color to soap, they also can add smoothness and slip to a finished bar. This is especially true of bentonite clay, which we use in some of our shave soaps to allow the blade to glide smoothly.


Mica is a silicate mineral that can be used for a wide variety of applications.  In soapmaking, we use brightly-colored micas to make some of our soaps really pop!  Our “Spring Cleaning” soap contains 4 different micas to achieve its bright appearance.


An oxide is simply a mineral or metal that has combined with oxygen. When this oxidation occurs, there are a number of different resulting colors possible, depending on the original mineral.  For example, we use Titanium Dioxide as a source of white coloring!

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a wonderful, natural & renewable ingredient for making gray or black soap. It is also believed that activated charcoal helps to draw dirt and toxins from your skin and helps to wash them away.

Exfoliants & More…

Poppy Seeds

You already love poppy seeds in your muffins and on your bagels, so why not in your soap?  Poppy seeds are a great all-natural exfoliant.  Their round shape is gentle to the skin, and they also contain beneficial lineoleic and oleic fatty acids that are great for your skin.

Oat Bran

Oat Bran is mild and gentle, making it a great exfoliant to use in soap.  Oats also contain saponins, which are mild cleansing agents, helping to keep you clean while moisturizing skin and helping to remove dead skin cells.

Cacao Nibs

We use cacao nibs in the exfoliating version of our Chocolate Decadence soap. Cacao nibs contain both cocoa butter and cocoa powder – offering the benefits of both ingredients while also providing some gentle exfoliation.


Cinnamon is a delicious, natural spice that we all know and love. When used on the skin, cinnamon acts as a mild astringent that can help to shrink skin tissue.  Cinnamon also stimulates skin, so you may experience a warming sensation on your skin when using a soap that contains cinnamon.  Research also shows that cinnamon has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Cocoa Powder

Our chocolate soap gets its awesome brown color from real cocoa powder! In addition to being an all-natural way to color soap, cocoa powder is a humectant and contains numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as powerful antioxidants that are great for your skin!

Sodium Lactate

Sodium lactate is a type of salt.  Specifically, it is the sodium salt of lactic acid. It is produced by fermenting a sugar source, such as corn or beet sugar, and then neutralizing the resulting lactic acid. In soap, sodium lactate helps to promote hardness of the final bar, and it is also an effective humectant and moisturizer.  In some of our soap recipes that use a high percentage of softer oils such as olive oil, we use a small amount of sodium lactate to help ensure that the final result is a hard and long-lasting bar.

NOTE – Even though it sounds similar, sodium lactate is chemically very different from lactose and does not contain any milk proteins, so those with dairy sensitivities or allergies do not need to avoid sodium lactate.

Calendula Petals

Calendula is a type of marigold, whose flowers contain complex polysaccharides that are wonderful for sensitive skin. Calendula has been shown to have a healing effect on rashes, wounds, and other types of skin irritation. We use the petals themselves in some recipes, while other recipes use a base oil (such as Olive Oil) that has been infused with Calendula.

Juniper Berries

An ingredient in some of our foot and bath soaks, juniper berries not only look great, but offer some beneficial properties as well! It is believed that juniper helps to ease joint and muscle pain, and that inhaling the essential oils promote respiratory health as well.


Aloe vera is a type of succulent plant that has long been used in herbal medicine. It has moisturizing & anti-irritant properties – a great addition to our All-Natural Hand Sanitizer, as well as some of our soaps.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a strong astringent and antioxidant. It helps to fight bacteria and can also aid in repairing skin and reducing swelling when applied to the skin. That’s why it’s a favorite ingredient in our All-Natural Hand Sanitizer!