100% KOH Shave soap/croap

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Staff member
Feb 11, 2008
Reaction score
Right here, silly!
Last night, I finally made a batch of my shave soap/croap formula with 100% KOH. Previously, the highest amount of KOH I've ever used in my shave formula was 64% (paired with 36% NaOH).

That was a very interesting experience. On the one hand, it was nice using only one type of lye- it made things more convenient/easier. But on the other hand, it was a little nerve-wracking in that I was flying by the seat of my pants in the dark because I didn't know how long it would take, and I didn't exactly know what the consistency of my batter would/should be at pour.

The way I normally do things with the dual lyes is to let my hard fats react with the KOH for a bit, while I let my liquid oils react with the NaOH until it reaches a heavily-thick trace. Then I combine them together in a pot, stickblend them to mix well, and cook them (covered) in the oven at 180F/82C until zapless. This method usually takes no more than 1 hour to reach zaplessness, and my batter is quite smooth and pourable- much like medium trace consistency in CP.

My 100% KOH batch went very differently. When I checked on things 1 hour into the cook, my batter was smoothly fluid on top and all round the outside edges.....but with a big cohesive, smooth lump of firmer batter smack-dab in the center, lurking just underneath the surface- and the lump was quite sticky and taffy-like in consistency.

I broke it up as best I could and stirred as well as I was able, all the while amazed at how much that sticky lump of taffy resembled my soap paste when I make glycerin liquid soap. When I took my spoon out, it was coated heavily with the taffy stuff, and it did not want to let go of my spoon. I had to physically remove it and plop it back into the pot. Try to imagine yourself removing sticky, hardening caramel off a utensil. That's pretty much what it was like.

And that's when I grew a little bit perturbed. When making liquid soap, the sticky, taffy-like paste only gets firmer all the way through, and it doesn't thin out/get fluid until you dilute it later with a bunch of water. Thoughts began running through my head.....Was my shave soap now nothing more than liquid soap paste??? Will I never be able to pour it into a mold??? What about adding my FO? How on earth does one add FO to a sticky lump of paste??? Should I take it out of the oven while there was still some fluidity present and beat the beegeebees out of it with my stick-blender to be able to add the FO, and then glop it as best I could into my mold while it was still kinda somewhat workable??? Gah!!! What to do!!??

Then I realized I hadn't even checked for zap yet, so I pushed all the panicky thoughts aside momentarily to test for zap, and decided to let that be my indicator of what to do next.

It zapped, so I did what came naturally- I covered it and cooked 30 minutes longer. When I checked after those 30 minutes, the zap was less and the taffy lump was getting smaller. Once I saw that, all panic disappeared and I knew everything would be okay if I just let it cook longer. Whew!

To make a long story short, it took 2.5 hours to come to zaplessness and completely smooth fluidity. Sweet! I whisked in the FO and poured without incident into my BB silicone column mold, and left it overnight.

I just unmolded it about 1 hour ago, and out popped a very nice, smooth, cohesive log of croap, although much more fragile/dentable than my usual 2-lye croap at unmolding. At the moment, this one is more of a putty/cream cheese-like consistency instead of a firmer, modeling clay-like consistency. But it holds it shape nicely....if I don't handle it much. If it doesn't eventually get as firm as my regular croap, I may have to package in a container instead of wrapping paper. We'll see how much firmer it gets as it sits out and cures a bit. I used a 25% lye concentration (my normal concentration for the KOH portion of my dual-lye method, by the way).

It smells wonderful. I scented it with Montego Bay from Oregon Trails Soapmaking Supplies, which smells just like my blend of Bay Racemosa EO and crushed whole allspice berries.

IrishLass :)
Did you have stearic acid in your recipe? I get instant mashed potatoes when I dump in the 100% KOH.
Yes, I had pure stearic acid in it- 28% worth.......plus the natural stearic from my illipe butter, kokum butter and tallow ingredients as well. As per the usual procedure that I like to use with my dual lye method, I melted my stearic separately in the oven and kept it warm @ 180F/82C while I heated my other fats on the stovetop. Once my other fats were all melted and had reached 180F/82C, I poured the stearic into them, brought the overall temp up to about 200F/93F, and then added in the barely warm KOH solution. I found this method to work really nice for me in keeping at bay the typical, instant mashed potatoes scenario that comes part and parcel with added stearic, and just get a nice smooth med-thick trace instead. Then I stick it in my oven to cook at 180F/82C until zapless.

IrishLass :)
Congratulations! Glad it worked out. It is certainly stressful when doing something for the first time and you don't fully know what to expect. I use 100% KOH and use the same mold as you. I am able to cut it with my wire cutter and it does firm up somewhat with time. I've wrapped some of the pucks in coffee filters with no problem. However, for the most part I pour it into 8 oz low profile jars. They do stay pliable though
Thanks, Shari- that's good to know. My regular croaps remain pliable, but they are certainly more durable compared to these at the moment, for sure! lol

I ended up cutting mine with a wire cutter, too, as I didn't think they would stand up very well to my usual knife-cutting method. The wire cutter that I have is not exactly the best, but it cut through the log like a champ without causing any damage.

What I mean by the cutter not exactly being the best is that it's poorly designed for cutting my rectangular soaps in that the swing-bar was built at an angle for some strange, incomprehensible reason known only to the maker, and it presses into the edges of my rectangular bars when I cut them, giving then unsightly dents- but it works great for cutting my round/cylinder soaps. It would be in the trash heap but for that. I bought it years ago in my beginning days......sometimes a smoking deal can be too good to be true and you get what you pay for, if you know what I mean. ;)

IrishLass :)

Latest posts