Sodium cocoate in safe soap production

Sodium cocoate is a combination of coconut oil and lye (sodium hydroxide). When the two are mixed a chemical reaction takes place, known as saponification: this creates soap.

Sodium cocoate has two core functions in soap production - it acts as a surfactant and an emollient.

Sodium cocoate as a surfactant

Similar to Sodium tallowate, Sodium cocoate serves as a surfactant, a compound capable of decreasing the surface tension of a liquid, enabling it to foam or permeate solids. Sodium cocoate interacts with both water and oil, effectively disrupting the surface tension that enables dirt and oil to be easily rinsed off by water molecules. While this property is beneficial in soap making, excessively cleansing bars can potentially harm the skin. The key lies in striking a balance among ingredients to craft the perfect soap bar.

Sodium cocoate as an emollient

Sodium cocoate has moisturising and emollient properties - it can help to nourish and hydrate the skin. It forms a protective barrier that helps to retain moisture, preventing dryness and leaving the skin feeling soft and supple.

Sodium cocoate is great for soap

It’s a versatile ingredient found in many personal care products, including bar soaps, liquid soaps, facial cleansers, and body washes. As a surfactant, it’s able to cleanse the skin and has the ability to create a dense lather. It’s also safe and great for sensitive skin.

Like Sodium tallowate, the EWG guide to safer personal care products gives Sodium cocoate it’s safest rating:

The Skin deep hazard score (rated from 1 to 10) reflects known and suspected hazards linked to ingredients. The EQG Verified mark means an ingredient meets the strictest criteria for transparency and health.[1]

When making Skin Salve Soap, we use a technique called ‘superfatting’ - this means that not all the oils are saponified in the production process, leaving some oil in the soap. In every bar of Skin Salve Soap there is a small percentage of coconut oil (as well as Sodium Cocoate). 

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that is also in breast milk. Lauric acid is an ingredient in natural remedies for all kinds of health issues, including eczema.

While coconut oil cannot cure eczema. Research [2] has found that coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help eczema sufferers.

A further 2019 study [3] concluded that coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties and can effectively reduce the presence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on the skin. It can soothe the skin, reduce irritation and itchiness, and lower the risk of infection. 

Overall, Sodium cocoate is a widely used ingredient in the personal care industry, valued for its cleansing abilities, lathering and moisturising properties. These qualities make the Skin Soap a great bar for everyday use and ideal for people with sensitive skin. 




Back to blog

This page has been reviewed

Collapsible content

Page Reviewed

Reviewed by: James Davidson

Date: 16/02/24

Next Review: 12/01/2025