A wish for consistency of UNITS! Is it only me?

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luluzapcat

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I love the soapmaking community so much, and so appreciate everyone's generosity with their knowledge. So I hope no one is offended by this question--it's pretty likely you'll all just educate me (again) as to why this is actually a good way to do it!

But right now as I work out calculations for a batch with various types of colorants, it's driving me crazy that while most of us (I think) weigh out ingredients in grams, or at the least pounds, why are all kinds of recommendations offered in tsp per pound? Why can't everything be in weights? And ideally nice easily added and multiplied grams? I can't even convert tsp to grams without getting into densities of the ingredients.

I say this as someone who actually LOVES a good spreadsheet and isn't at all math-averse. Just seems like this makes things so convoluted...

Thanks for listening to me whine. Go ahead and school me (rap on the knuckles with a ruler) and I thank you for it.
 

msunnerstood

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A UK teaspoon is worth 1.20 of a US Teaspoon. Generally, the teaspoon is mica and a tiny amount off on it won't affect much. I assume it is done this way is different colorants weigh different amounts.
 

luluzapcat

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I think it's getting complicated for me because I'm premixing colorants, in some cases with oils and others with water, and adding them into my batches that way. So I need to figure out how much pre-batched colorant to use, and subtract out the oils or water I'm hence adding back in...usually to a portion of the batch not the entire batch...which also means planning ahead for what will be subtracted and accounting for that in each divided portion...it escalates!
 

dibbles

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Like @Mobjack Bay I adjust the color by sight. Also, I only mix colorants as I need them. The amount of mica I use won't register on my scale, and I'm too lazy to get out my jewelers scale to weigh my colorant every time I make soap.
 

KimW

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I'd never considered that a UK teaspoon and a US teaspoon were different! As a baker, the mixing of volume measurement and weight measurement, like tsp/PPO, did drive me a bit nuts when I first started learning about additives on the forum. However, also as a baker I know that a tsp of salt weighs 6 grams. I know this because I grew tired of weighing such a small amount, and laboring to get the full of such a small amount into the dough batter (scrape, scrape, check, scrape, oops there went some granules onto the counter, scrape, etc). So, one day I measured out a teaspoon of salt and, what do ya know, it weighed 6g on my 1g unit scale. My point is, I've always figured this tedium of weighing such a small amount was why soapers here express powdered soap additives as "tsp/PPO" rather than, say, 6 grams. I will say I do weigh any suggested volume when experimenting with a soap additive, like powdered sugar. Then I note that weight in my notes and carry on from there. It does still get to me because when I want to try something new I have to then either make a new note or I have to refer to my notes to understand a new additive amount.

BUT - I had no idea that UK teaspoons and US teaspoons were different. This does cause me pause, but I have no idea what's to be done...

ETA - I just realized your post is mainly about colorants. Everything above applies, of course. What also comes to my mind is the way I determine a good starting point for a new addition, like sesame seeds, to bread dough. I put an obviously bigger amount than I would want on the scale and note the weight. Then, after I've added what looks right to the dough, I weigh again. The difference in these two weights, of course, is the weight of the sesame seeds I added to the dough. Whether the amount of sesame seed turns out to be just right in the recipe doesn't matter - I now have a starting point to continue on and find the right weight of sesame seeds for our taste (the answer is 10g to a 760g loaf, btw...lol).
 
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TheGecko

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Why can't everything be in weights? And ideally nice easily added and multiplied grams? I can't even convert tsp to grams without getting into densities of the ingredients.
I think you answered your own question. I tried weighing out my colorants...once. It was Activated Charcoal and I sneezed...it took me an hour to clean up the mess because that stuff gets EVERYWHERE!

It is much easier for me to measure out a teaspoon of colorant than it is for me to fiddle with trying to measure out 0.17 ounces or 4.86 grams. Even in European cooking shows and cookbooks...they may measure the majority of their ingredients by weight, they still use volume for stuff like baking powder and baking soda. And I follow several European soap makers who use volume instead of weight when it comes to colorants.

Soap making is science, but it's not rocket science. Nothing is going to blow up is I don't weigh my colorants.
 

luluzapcat

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You know, you all are making me realize I should switch out how I'm working out my recipes and colors. I want to be able to play with color amounts and adjust as I go! I think the answer is I should split out my oils BEFORE adding lye OR color, then add colorants as desired to the oils. And after that divide my lye to match each oil portion. That way I don't have to worry about how much oil my color is pre-dispersed in, etc. And I can spoon in by the teaspoon, etc.

Well, except for my pre-mixed water soluble TD, but I'll make it work...

@KimW , I just love your weighing technique and will totally use this.

And @TheGecko, I'm warned about sneezing and charcoal! 😁🤧

Thanks everyone for all your thoughts on this. Very helpful as always.
 

FragranceGuy

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I agree with your sentiments COMPLETELY! In my experience with making fireworks, measuring by weight is superior in every way for consistency in making replicable recipes. I also understand why aspects like coloring is more of a “feel” based art and doesn’t require the same precision as measuring lye or nitrates. Recently I was researching using sugars and salts as additives in soap making. I was surprised to find that non-weight measurements were common. Once again, I understand why, but the deeply ingrained need to measure by weight overtook my artistic side. I decided to weigh 1 tsp of sugar so I could use that at a reference. I’d recommend measuring a fixed amount of coloring agent and adding a little at a time until you reach your desired look. Then weigh what’s left and you’ll have a good idea of how much you like in your recipe. There’s no better way to make a replicable recipe than measuring by weight. That being said, I use volume measurements for all of my cooking and I eat pretty well 😆😉
 

AliOop

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I actually use percentages of total oil weight (TOW) for almost all of my potential additives: sugar, salt, citrate, citric acid, colloidal oatmeal, goat milk powder, SL. The SMF calculator allows me to put it in that way, too, and converts that to grams for me. The only volume measurements are micas and other colors (clays, charcoal) but it is not exact bc I adjust for the desired color. And silk is just eyeballed when masterbatching my lye solution.
 

Vicki C

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I love the soapmaking community so much, and so appreciate everyone's generosity with their knowledge. So I hope no one is offended by this question--it's pretty likely you'll all just educate me (again) as to why this is actually a good way to do it!

But right now as I work out calculations for a batch with various types of colorants, it's driving me crazy that while most of us (I think) weigh out ingredients in grams, or at the least pounds, why are all kinds of recommendations offered in tsp per pound? Why can't everything be in weights? And ideally nice easily added and multiplied grams? I can't even convert tsp to grams without getting into densities of the ingredients.

I say this as someone who actually LOVES a good spreadsheet and isn't at all math-averse. Just seems like this makes things so convoluted...

Thanks for listening to me whine. Go ahead and school me (rap on the knuckles with a ruler) and I thank you for it.
Oh... me! Me! Call on me!
This is also my bugaboo. I have been developing a GREAT spreadsheet based on dispersed colorant weight. Happy to share it with you. I started this thread on exactly this topic. Measuring colorant by weight instead of volume My issue is that if I try to adjust colors on the fly I am not very good at guessing how colors will look after curing.
The spreadsheet is in Google Sheets. I just made a copy to share, users will need to copy it for your own use as I made it non-editable. I think.
This looks complicated, but I have been having fun puzzle solving and adjusting the spreadsheet for my needs. I am aware that this approach is not for everyone. But, when you said you love a good spreadsheet my nerd eyes lit up. 🤓 Soap Colorant by Weight
 
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penelopejane

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Being a micro manager I’ve weighed all my additives (Citric acid, salt, Clay, AC etc) on a jewellers scale a number of times and I know what a level 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp or each additive weighs. It’s easier to then use those measurements.

if I’m doing a 3 colour (1 plain and 2 colours) soap I’ll split the water into 3 tiny containers. One will be just water and the others might have clay or AC in it. Then I add back the water mix into each divided batch of batter. One will be plain water but that makes everything even. This way the maths is easy.
 

TheGecko

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You know, you all are making me realize I should switch out how I'm working out my recipes and colors. I want to be able to play with color amounts and adjust as I go! I think the answer is I should split out my oils BEFORE adding lye OR color, then add colorants as desired to the oils. And after that divide my lye to match each oil portion. That way I don't have to worry about how much oil my color is pre-dispersed in, etc. And I can spoon in by the teaspoon, etc.
That can be a lot of extra work (not to mention dirty dishes) just so you don't have to consider how much extra oil you are adding in. Unless I'm doing a test batch, my smallest batch is 34 oz of oils. I general don't use a full tablespoon of oil/water to disperse a teaspoon of colorant in (unless it's a clay) and so I don't worry about the extra. Now if I was doing something that had more than three colors in it for 34 oz, then I would probably just lower my SuperFat by a percentage. Or just use the oils from my batch since I Master Batch my oils and Lye Solution.

The only time I split my oils for colorants before adding the Lye Solution is if I'm doing layers...like I did with my Neapolitan Soap as I needed to have each layer set up before pouring the next.
 

Zing

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You are preachin' to the choir here @luluzapcat! I've ranted on this forum before and my issue is the back and forth with metric and English measurement systems. For recommendations that are "per pound of oil," I have to convert my grams to ounces, and then, since I can never remember how many ounces in a pound, I have to look that up too.
Way back in pre-historic times when I was in elementary school, we spent way too much time on conversions between metric and English and we were told "metric is coming, metric is coming." Even as a 8 year old, I thought, let's just switch completely to metric and be done with it, forget the converting. No one listened to me. 🙁
As for charcoal, I could only find capsules locally. It's super fun to rip open and empty many capsules just to get to one teaspoon. After the last fiasco, I just ordered a bottle of powdered charcoal.
 

KimW

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You are preachin' to the choir here @luluzapcat! I've ranted on this forum before and my issue is the back and forth with metric and English measurement systems. For recommendations that are "per pound of oil," I have to convert my grams to ounces, and then, since I can never remember how many ounces in a pound, I have to look that up too.
Way back in pre-historic times when I was in elementary school, we spent way too much time on conversions between metric and English and we were told "metric is coming, metric is coming." Even as a 8 year old, I thought, let's just switch completely to metric and be done with it, forget the converting. No one listened to me. 🙁
As for charcoal, I could only find capsules locally. It's super fun to rip open and empty many capsules just to get to one teaspoon. After the last fiasco, I just ordered a bottle of powdered charcoal.
Don't hate me...when I do small recipe test batches I just put charcoal capsules in whole, rather than messing with the mess of my bagged charcoal. One or two quick bursts of the stick blender and the capsules break up to be seen no more.
 

Vicki C

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Way back in pre-historic times when I was in elementary school, we spent way too much time on conversions between metric and English and we were told "metric is coming, metric is coming." Even as a 8 year old, I thought, let's just switch completely to metric and be done with it, forget the converting. No one listened to me. 🙁
It’s funny, my daughter is a scientist, and my grandson uses metric units by default because that’s what he hears. Although I recorded him making up a song about whale sharks, where he sang “whale sharks weigh about twenty thirty meters” 😊
 

KimW

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It’s funny, my daughter is a scientist, and my grandson uses metric units by default because that’s what he hears. Although I recorded him making up a song about whale sharks, where he sang “whale sharks weigh about twenty thirty meters” 😊
Too cute!!!
 

Mobjack Bay

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I work at a low superfat which gives me room to use a little extra oil to mix my colorants. I can adjust the shade without worrying about shorting my batch oils. I sometimes add micas dry, but then I have to be sure that I have plenty of time recipe-wise to mix it in with the SB. I also use a high lye concentration which lets me add oxides or clays in water without ending up with a low lye concentration.
 

JoyfulSudz

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I sorta wish I could get accustomed to metric measures because they really do make more sense in so many ways. But my old brain only thinks and pictures in US measures. If something says 9.3 ounces, I can picture just what that looks like. If it says 45 grams, that sounds like a lotta somthin' until I convert it and realize how little that is.
 
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