Alternatives to borax, boric acid

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seven

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I am about to try making liquid soap for the first time. I don't have borax or boric acid. I was wondering if i can use citric acid to neutralize it?

Also, for first timer, which method is easiest? the normal method or glycerin (like soaping 101)?

TIA
 

whitetiger_0603

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Alternative to Borax/ boric Acid is Citric Acid. Can be found in the baking or canning section of your store.

As for method, I've never done the Glycerin method but I do know glycerine speeds the saponification process quite a bit. So I recommend the normal method... Though there really isn't a normal. There's stock or crock pot. Then, Catherine Failior outlines 2 methods in her book on liquid soap making, Alcohol or paste. I personally think the paste method is easiest of those 2.
 

whitetiger_0603

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Salt does not neutralize. Any Lye excess can only be Neutralized with once of the cosmetically safe acids mentioned, as Lye is an alkali. Salt, regular table salt that is, is used for thickening.

Mel Z, the blog you refer to specifically has an article on neutralization, and most certainly doesn't mention salt.
 

mel z

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whitetiger, I know the page I linked does not mention salt. I didn't get the idea from there. I said I used salt as that is what I had. It worked for me. That is what I was saying. ;)
 

seven

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thanks guys..

i think i will try the recipe from the link mel gave and just replace borax with citric acid
 

new12soap

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Borax is not boric acid, it is sodium borate and has an alkaline pH, citric acid is acidic. They are not interchangeable.
 

DeeAnna

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As in so much of life, this is a relative issue. Borax can indeed neutralize a highly alkaline soap solution, despite the fact that a borax solution tests alkaline with a pH of about 9.5.

"...Another chemical commonly added to soap is Borax. In view of its alkaline reaction to litmus, turning red litmus blue, this salt is no doubt generally regarded as alkaline, and, as such, without action on soap. On the contrary, however, it is an acid salt containing an excess of boric acid over the soda present..." From The Handbook of Soap Manufacture, Simmonds & Appleton, 1908.

"...[Borax is] suitable for fixing the free alkali in toilet soaps.... By dissolving borax in water, decomposition takes place ... into sodium meta-borate and free boric acid.... The boric acid fixes the free alkali to a borate...." From The Soap Maker's Handbook, C Diete, 1912.
 

whitetiger_0603

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As in so much of life, this is a relative issue. Borax can indeed neutralize a highly alkaline soap solution, despite the fact that a borax solution tests alkaline with a pH of about 9.5.

"...Another chemical commonly added to soap is Borax. In view of its alkaline reaction to litmus, turning red litmus blue, this salt is no doubt generally regarded as alkaline, and, as such, without action on soap. On the contrary, however, it is an acid salt containing an excess of boric acid over the soda present..." From The Handbook of Soap Manufacture, Simmonds & Appleton, 1908.

"...[Borax is] suitable for fixing the free alkali in toilet soaps.... By dissolving borax in water, decomposition takes place ... into sodium meta-borate and free boric acid.... The boric acid fixes the free alkali to a borate...." From The Soap Maker's Handbook, C Diete, 1912.
Thank you! You beat me to it! Had to run some errands before i could sit down to this one. In lamens terms, Borax is a salt of Boric acid, precursor, if you will. Meaning Borax contains , or can be made into, Boric Acid, therefore they are interchangable. I'm pulling up several sources on the 2 and while they're chemical formuals are different, they are very much related in the fact that they contain the boron ion. Basically, as DeeAnna put it, dissolving Borax in water will in essence, create Boric Acid. Those 2, along with Citric Acid, are used interchangably when neutralizing soap, though the amount may differ. If you can, refer to Catherin Failor's book on liquid Soap for that one. Or maybe you can find osmething online. Keep in mind, neutral in this case isn't a PH of 7, but actually around 9-ish. Anything lower and breakdown occurs in your soaps.
 

Lindy

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Actually WhiteTiger is right - citric acid does neutralize liquid soap insofar as neutralizing any remaining lye which is what you are after, not changing the pH.
 

seven

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okay then, i will use citric acid to neutralize the soap. thanks for the help. does anyone know how much i should use? or is there a way to calculate it based on my recipe? dumb at math here.
 

Lindy

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I use 0.5% - you don't need much and too much can create it's own set of problems.
 

Susie

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Trying not to hijack your thread.

But if someone can confirm this, I would be most appreciative. I stole a recipe from Catherine Failor's book, and while comprehensive, I am having trouble finding the info in a logical order.

To neutralize my soap, I should make a 33% borax solution, I add 3 oz borax to 6 oz boiling H2O. Then add 1.5 tablespoons per pound of PASTE weight? Or is it diluted weight?

Sorry, I suck at math, and I have been doing soap formula figuring out all day. So my brain is kind of fried.

Thank you for any help!
 

Ellacho

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I made the paste method with borax solution - which I love. I also have tried both salt and citrus solutions but they will not be crystal clear as borax. Salt and citrus will make your liquid soap cloudy. And I am totally okay with it.

I think you will more patient in making liquid soap than in CP. But it is all worth it :)!
Wish you the best of luck!
 

whitetiger_0603

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OK, I've never heard of salt being used to neutralize. Not in any online text, nor in Failor's books on transparent and liquid soap making. All I've seen salt to be used for, it thickening. So could someone please site references for this.
 

mel z

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OK, I've never heard of salt being used to neutralize. Not in any online text, nor in Failor's books on transparent and liquid soap making. All I've seen salt to be used for, it thickening. So could someone please site references for this.
whitetiger;

I'm not sure that salt neutralizes the soap paste. It was recommended on a paste I purchased a few years ago in the typed literature they sent with it. When I started making my own, I cooked it for hours in a double boiler and hand stirred, that is why it took so long, and it turned out neutral from that. Never had a problem with it. Not harsh or abrasive. I stopped making liquid soap as it smells up the apartment to cook it, and I get worried about using a preservative when diluted (entirely different issue) and how long the preservative will last.

Guess I should have clarified cooking it down forever, and not having borax on hand at the time. Was just trying to get the recipe that works well for a beginner to seven, and seven understood that.

Thanks for helping clarification. Not a good communicator in typed format.
 

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