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Soap Making Forum > The Soap Making & Craft Forum > Lye-Based Soap Forum > Water woes (or maybe it's math woes)
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Old 01-14-2011, 09:29 PM   #1
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Default Water woes (or maybe it's math woes)

I'm going to use the Castile II soap recipe on millersoap.com, but going to make 110oz instead of the recipe's 87oz (because I only have one possible "mold" right now, a sturdy, small cardboard box and that's the amount I figured I need to make to get the size bars I want....I hope), so I am using a couple of the soap calculators to figure out how to scale the lye and water amounts.

I've read and read and read about lye concentration and castile soap and cure time and all that and I can't make heads or tails how much water is ideal for this. Do I want 33%, 40%, or 50% lye concentration? I've seen all 3 mentioned.

And do I measure water (or milk, beer, whatever) by weight or volume?

I'm looking at this (rounded to the nearest 10th so the totals don't equal 100%):
69.5 oz Olive Oil - 63.2%
20.2 oz Coconut Oil - 18.4%
20.2 oz Palm Oil 18.4%
15.2 oz Lye

SoapCalc tells me to use between 15 oz (50% concentration) to 30 oz (33% concentration) water.

But the MMS calculator at thesage.com says "27 to 41 fluid ounces of liquid."

Is is "bad" if I just go somewhere in the middle and use say, 35 oz (by weight or volume?), and hope for the best?


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Old 01-14-2011, 09:57 PM   #2
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You are actually making what they call a bastile soap, which is to say making a bar with a fairly high percentage of OO but using other oils as well (it's short for bastard castile).

As long as your lye is correct, you're fine. The liquid should definitely be weighed, not measured, and since this is not 100% OO, which takes a long time to cure, using the smallest amount of water isn't stressed as much.

If you haven't made a lot of soap yet, most people would opt for the medium to high amounts of water, so you don't have the soap tracing on you more quickly than you expect or are ready for.

I would also say that this is a large batch of soap and if something were to happen with it, meaning if it goes wrong somehow, that's a LOT of oils sacrificed. People have posted some very creative ideas for molds and you may be able to find something much smaller so that you risk less on a recipe you've not tried before. You can use juice cartons/boxes, tupperware, PVC pipe, or you can use the box you mention but fill it one inch deep so that the top would be the face of each soap vs using it like a log mold. Just an idea.

Post some pictures when you're done!


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Old 01-14-2011, 10:39 PM   #3
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I like your thoughts on pouring it to an inch deep instead. I might do that. More math, joy!

I'm anxiously waiting for my supplies to get here so I can do this. The 2 places I ordered from haven't contacted me at all to say they got the orders or that they are being shipped (and emails aren't being returned) so I'm a little nervous there.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:02 PM   #4
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There is a sticky at the top of this forum page about calculating how much soap you should make to fit your mold, but then again, MORE MATH!

If your box is small enough you could try this as a guestimate-type method, which I've used and is fairly good: Put a large and intact (stress intact, hole-free) ziplock or other plastic bag inside the mold. Fill it using a pitcher or gallon jug until the bag is filled about an inch high, as long as it's covering the bottom of the mold pretty well. Then you can just take the bag out and either weigh it (easier) or measure its volume somehow- pour into a big measuring cup, for instance. Oil isn't the same weight as water, obviously, but you can get a fair idea of how big a batch to make then. If you bars are a little thicker or thinner than an inch, it's not too big a deal.

Who did you order your supplies from?
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:22 PM   #5
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I found the sticky about calculating how much oil to use for your mold, that was so helpful. I think my box is too wide (it's 13x8.5 and I can go as deep as 2.5 inches) for the baggie trick, but I will definitely remember that for in the future!

I ordered some FO from oregontrailsoaps.com and the coconut and palm oils from cibariasoapsupply.com ...I can get by without the FOs for my first batch but I do need the oils to start. Everything else, like the SB and thermometer, I got from Amazon and is already here (Amazon Prime trial, free 2 day shipping, yay).
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:26 PM   #6
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I haven't used those suppliers before. I'm sure someone will pop on here who has and let you know how reliable they've been. I hope you get everything soon. And don't forget to post a picture!
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:43 PM   #7
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I don't know about your oil supplier but I use Oregon Trails and they are very reliable. Their FOs are good and formulated for soap making instead of just being skin safe candle scents. Some folks have found them to be a bit slow in getting the orders out but I have never had that problem. If you are impatient for your oils, you could always get some stuff at Costco or Sam's club. I get my OO there and my lard. For coconut oil and palm oil you need a good health food store not just the vitamin type store. You can buy Nutivo brand coconut oil in a 29oz jar and you can get palm oil from Spectrum brand. It comes in a little tub and is labeled "all vegetable shortening". It is 100% palm oil. Pricey to do it this way but you can get started by making a smaller batch....good idea anyway if you are just starting out. Also, those two "oils" from the healthfood store plus the really really light olive oil will give you a very white soap. I usually buy Star brand olive oil from Sam's Club but yesterday I was at my local Sam's and they did not have it on the shelves. I bought Bertolli's instead. I made two batches with it already from my usual recipe and they turned out just fine. If anything, it is even lighter in color than the Star brand. Lighter makes for whiter soap with less color distortion. EVOO is a waste in soap.
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:13 AM   #8
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I ran all the numbers again with a less deep pour (1.25" now) and will be using a total of 55.25 oz of oil for the first batch. I'm fairly confident with the amount of water, can't wait to see if what I'm thinking and the numbers I'm seeing turn out viable!

I'm impatient but using the time to research as much as I can. My order for the oil still shows as "processing", and I doubt they work on weekends, so it looks like I'll have to wait til Monday to find out anything. I'm not so impatient that I'll go spend more money on oil when it's coming I have the big jug of OO from Costco already (from when I made homemade dog food no less, that stuff is good for everything). I'm not in a big hurry for the FO but it's good to know what I will get eventually is good stuff!
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:14 AM   #9
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If I run a recipe through The Sage Lye calc, I take the midrange for my liquid.


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