Stock up on Bulk Oils for Soap Making at These Places

Bulk oils for soap making

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Whether you’re planning to sell your handmade soaps, or just hoping to make a large batch of soap, buying bulk oils for soap making keeps your craft budget-friendly. You can buy soap making oils from a wide range of sources, from local brick-and-mortar stores to online wholesalers. In this article, we’ll discuss considerations before buying in bulk, plus the best places to find large quantities of base oils.

You can redirect the money you save from buying base oils in bulk to other soap making supplies such as micas, dried botanicals, luxury oils, or fancy soap molds. Aside from saving you money, bulk buying saves time (fewer trips to local stores, or precious time scouring the internet). Besides, who doesn’t want to save money nowadays?

Let’s get started!

Considerations before you buy bulk oils for soap making

Before you go all-in on the best deal for wholesale bulk castor oil, for example, read over a few important considerations to keep in mind.

  • Try before you buy: Quality soap comes from quality ingredients. Try to order small batches or samples of oils first before buying in bulk. After all, you don’t want to end up with a large lot of oil that is subpar.
  • Make a list: Compile a few of your favorite soap recipes and make a list of common oils used as a soap base. Common base oils include avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, plus lard or tallow.
  • Shipping costs and shipping options: If you’re buying online, it’s best to research shipping prices and options beforehand to save yourself from an (unexpected) hefty price tag upon checkout. Does the wholesaler have a minimum order quantity? Wholesale pricing is only good if the shipping costs to your area are reasonable.
  • Shelf life of oils: You probably already know that different oils and body butters have varying shelf lives. For example, soybean oil is high in linoleic acid, which gives it a shorter shelf life. Many varieties of vegetable oil come in high oleic acids such as high oleic sunflower oil, high oleic safflower oil, and high oleic canola oil. These types of oils have a longer shelf life compared to their traditional counterparts. When buying bulk oils, look at the best-before date (if shopping at a brick-and-mortar store). And consider buying oils with a longer shelf life to ensure that you use them up. After all, nobody wants rancid oils in finished soap bars.
  • Quality of oil: Every soap maker has different standards and preferences (as do your customers). If fair trade, organic, or non-GMO is important to you, make sure you do your research before buying bulk.
Bulk oils for soap making, vegetable oil
Credit: Yay Images

Where to find bulk oils for soap making

Not everyone lives near a local soap supply store, nor a big box supermarket. If this is you, you’ll need to get creative with local suppliers, or source your ingredients from an online wholesale supplier.

Tip: When buying oils for your next batch of soap, avoid blended vegetable oils as this makes it hard to calculate the exact amount of lye required to saponify your homemade soap recipe. Stick with vegetable-based oils labelled as 100 percent pure, such as 100 percent sunflower oil.

Local butcher or farmer for lard or tallow

If you use lard or tallow, the best and cheapest source of this is from your own animals! And if you don’t have your own, the next best thing is to forge a relationship with a local butcher or farmer.

Many butchers regularly toss out trimmings and fat. If you don’t mind a bit of extra work to render your own fat, you can have a steady supply of fats to make oodles of soap.

Costco and/or Costco business center

I’ve been shopping at Costco for years and regularly stock up on bulk foods and oils. But recently, a Costco business center opened up in town.

A Costco business center is essentially a version of the regular store that caters specifically to the needs of small businesses and restaurants. So, you’ll find a wide selection of office supplies, food and produce, and yup, bulk oils for soap making.

You can find a tub of refined coconut oil (3.79 L) and an enormous box of canola oil (17.3 L).

The good news is, you don’t need to be an official business to shop at the business center—but you’ll still need a regular Costco membership. You can get items delivered to your doorstep, but you’ll need to spend a certain amount (around $250) to forgo the shipping fee. You can also return items to any Costco warehouse worldwide.¹

Depending on your local store, you might find:

  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Corn oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Large box of deodorized lard
  • A wide variety of olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sunflower oil

Local restaurant suppliers

Restaurants need a steady supply of bulk cooking oils, and you can use many cooking oils for making cold process soap, body products, and other homemade personal care products.

Many restaurants use high oleic versions of oils as they last longer and have a longer fry time. The bonus to you as a soap maker is that your soaps will also last longer when choosing high oleic varieties of oils.²

Depending on your local store, you might find these cooking oils:

  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil (high oleic)
  • Coconut oil
  • Large cubes of lard
  • A wide variety of olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Sunflower oil (high oleic)

Amazon

Of course Amazon had to make the list of good places to buy bulk oils. Look around and you might even find a free shipping option.

A few good oils to buy here include:

  • Castor oil: While you might find a small bottle at a local pharmacy, the prices are exorbitant. Stock up on this invaluable soaping oil—castor oil produces a luxurious stable lather.

Castor Oil 64oz | for Hair Health, Eyelashes & Eyebrows | Hexane Free & Cold Pressed | Vegetarian, Non-GMO | By Horbaach

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Castor Oil 64 oz. | Hexane Free & Cold Pressed | Vegetarian, Non-GMO

  • 100% pure ricinus communis (castor oil).
  • Castor Oil is a well-known natural skin emollient, and can be used in a variety of hair or skin care treatments.
  • Bulk 64 oz. (half gallon) bottle is great for all your wellness needs.

Found on Amazon
Check Current Price
Those in Canada and the UK should be taken to the product listing in your region.

Palm oil: While the use of palm oil is controversial (because of environmental and sustainability concerns), you can find RSPO-certified palm oils that are ethically sourced.

Palm Oil - RSPO Certified - Sustainable - Food Grade - Kosher - Not Hydrogenated - 1 Gallon - safety sealed HDPE container with resealable cap

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Food Grade Palm Oil – RSPO-Certified – Not Hydrogenated – 1 Gallon

  • Made from fruit of the oil palm (Elaeis Guineensis).
  • No stir – in a microwavable HDPE safety sealed container with a resealable lid.
  • Semi-solid, odorless, white to pale yellow.

Found on Amazon
Check Current Price
Those in Canada and the UK should be taken to the product listing in your region.

Shea butter: This moisturizing body butter makes for a stable, creamy lather in soap bars. It’s often hard to find bulk shea butter in local shops. Look for refined shea butter, which is free of impurities and has a neutral odor.

Refined Shea Butter 5LB Pail White BULK Great for Soap Making and DIY Beauty Products (5LB)

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BULK Refined Shea Butter, 5 LB Pail

  • Great for soap making and DIY beauty products.
  • Natural refining method to remove its color and strong nutty scent.
  • Analysis: Myristic .1; Palmitic 7.4; Stearic 39.4; Oleic 44.5; Linolenic .1.

Found on Amazon
Check Current Price
Those in Canada and the UK should be taken to the product listing in your region.

Sweet almond oil: While you probably won’t be using a huge amount of sweet almond oil in each batch of soap, this oil is great for using on its own on dry skin, or for using in other homemade recipes such as lip balm.

Sweet Almond Oil Gallon - 100% Pure Carrier for Massage, Diluting Essential Oils, Aromatherapy, Hair & Skin Care Benefits, Moisturizer & Softener - by Nature's Oil.

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Sweet Almond Oil, 100 Percent Pure

  • All natural: 100 percent all natural, never adulterated, and top quality.
  • Responsibly sourced from reputable growers.
  • Expertly distilled quickly after harvest to ensure top quality.

Found on Amazon
Check Current Price
Those in Canada and the UK should be taken to the product listing in your region.

Online soap suppliers

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a good place to start if you’re new to soap making. You’ll find common and exotic oils for soaps, aromatherapy, and more.

I’ve organized them by country to hopefully save you some money on shipping.

U.S.

Bramble Berry: Based in Washington State, they offer a wide range of soap making supplies and oils, essential oils, and soap-safe fragrance oils. Ships internationally and offers a Handcrafted Rewards Program (points).

Bulk Apothecary: Based in Ohio, you’ll find all the raw bulk ingredients required for homemade soap, an excellent selection of essential oils. Offers wholesale pricing.

Essential Depot: Based in Florida, find quality beef tallow in bulk one-gallon containers, and base oils like avocado oil by the gallon. You’ll find an emphasis on ethically sourced, greener products.

Mountain Rose Herbs: Based in Oregon, they carry an excellent selection of vegetable oils, butters, and botanicals for making soap. If you’re looking for an ethical supplier that provides organic, fair-trade and non-GMO products, check out Mountain Rose Herbs.

Soaper’s Choice: Based in Illinois, Soaper’s Choice offers a great selection of base oils, butters, and more at affordable, wholesale prices.

Wholesale Supplies Plus: Based in Ohio, you’ll find a huge range of soap oils, butters, waxes, and other soap making supplies. They have a wholesale program that offers free shipping within 48 contiguous United States.

Canada

Canwax: Based in Ontario, this company offers a vast selection of oils, butters, fragrance oils, and other soap supplies. You can pick up a bulk 20 L coconut oil here. They offer a 5 percent discount on orders over $500 (excludes some items).

Cranberry Lane: Based in B.C., Cranberry Lane carries raw natural ingredients for homemade soap, and bath and beauty products. They ship to Canada, the US, and internationally.

Soap and More: Based in Calgary, Alberta, this company offers a wonderful selection of rare oils (like cherry kernel oil), as well as bulk base oils such as castor oil in 20 L.

Saffire Blue: Based in Ontario, they also have a U.S. Distribution Center in Michigan. They have a great selection of bulk vegetable oils and exotic butters. Bulk orders require two weeks of processing time.

Europe

Just a Soap: Based in the U.K., you’ll find a variety of bulk standard liquid oils, as well as a few unique ones (such as a calendula-infused sunflower oil).

Soapmakers Store: A large EU-based online retailer that carries a good selection of solid butters (like coconut oil, RSPO-certified palm oil, and kokum butter) in bulk containers up to 25 L.

The Soap Kitchen: A large supplier of soap and bathbomb making supplies based in the U.K. Find solid butters, waxes and liquid oils in bulk.

Where to find bulk essential oils

Finding essential oils is one matter, finding quality essential oils in bulk is another.

Here are a few online suppliers that provide fine essential oils:

New Directions Aromatics: Here’s a huge supplier of pure, certified organic, and certified fair-trade essential oils at wholesale prices. Check out their Canadian website for all you Canucks. You can buy lavender essential oil in amounts up to 396 pounds!

Liberty Natural: Based in Oregon, Liberty Natural offers over 350 essential oils at wholesale prices. (Their website looks old-school, but they seem to be a popular choice amongst many soapers.)

Where to find bulk lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide)

The main thing to consider when buying lye for soap making is to ensure it’s 100 percent pure lye (with no additional chemical additives).

If you want a bottle of lye pronto, and don’t want to order online, try checking out your local hardware store, or local chemical supply company.

A few places to buy lye in bulk online:

Bulk Apothecary: Buy sodium hydroxide lye in quantities up to 2,000 pounds.

Essential Depot: They sell both potassium hydroxide flakes (KOH) and sodium hydroxide flakes (NaOH) in a variety of small and bulk sizes. They also offer free shipping in the US.

Check out our article for more information about buying sodium hydroxide lye.

Related questions

What oil makes the hardest soap?

Palm kernel flakes have a hardness score of 90 according to Soap Calc, which to my knowledge is the hardest soap making oil. Add PKO flakes if you want to create a harder bar of soap.

Hard oils are those that are solid at room temperature (think coconut oil, lard or tallow, and shea butter). You can use these oils as part of your soap recipe to increase hardness in your soap bar.

There’s also a special category of oils known as brittle oils; these oils are beyond hard—they require some effort to chip or chisel them out of the jar. Brittle oils include babassu oil, palm kernel oil (and palm kernel flakes), and cocoa butter.

👉Read up on hard and brittle oils for soap making.

What is the cheapest oil for soap making?

The cheapest oil for soap making would be if you had access to your own lard or tallow. You can make good soap using animal-based fats you render yourself. However, not everyone is a fan of using lard or tallow. There are many affordable vegetable oils such as canola oil, coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil (pomace), palm oil, rice bran oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil.

Of course, price depends on several factors, including where you live, whether you buy online, and whether you buy in bulk.

👉Check out our roundup of the best cheap oils for soap making.

RusticWise

References

  1. Broaddus, Hannah (25 July 2016). “Why Choose High-Oleic Instead Of Regular Oil?“, Centra Foods. Accessed November 2021.
  2. Costco Business Center, Can I return a Business Center order?, https://customerservice.costcobusinessdelivery.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/610. Accessed November 2021.

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