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Hi! First I want to say thank you to all of you who graciously answer questions because forums on this site have me the confidence and knowledge to start making soap. As with all things science, many factors play a part in the finished product and changing even one factor may result in a different product.

My question here is about softness and longevity. My understanding is that a recipe with a low hardness number on soapcalc/a high iodine number yields a soft, short lived bar in the shower. And a high hardness/low iodine recipe yields a hard, quick to unmold bar.

I've heard things about sodium lactate to harden your "soft recipe". But no one really specified for how long. Also, how does SL differ from me simply adding table salt to my lye water and will either option not only allow me to unmold quicker but yield a harder, longer lasting bar of soap?

Thanks!!
 

Todd Ziegler

Circle Z soaps
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Hi! First I want to say thank you to all of you who graciously answer questions because forums on this site have me the confidence and knowledge to start making soap. As with all things science, many factors play a part in the finished product and changing even one factor may result in a different product.

My question here is about softness and longevity. My understanding is that a recipe with a low hardness number on soapcalc/a high iodine number yields a soft, short lived bar in the shower. And a high hardness/low iodine recipe yields a hard, quick to unmold bar.

I've heard things about sodium lactate to harden your "soft recipe". But no one really specified for how long. Also, how does SL differ from me simply adding table salt to my lye water and will either option not only allow me to unmold quicker but yield a harder, longer lasting bar of soap?

Thanks!!
Welcome to the forum.

Sodium lactate will help speed up the hardening of your soap while it is in the mold but that is as far as the sodium lactate will go. If you have a lot of olive oil or oils like it, it still may take a couple of days before you can unmold your soap. It really helps but its efficiency is dependent on the oils that you use.

You can use a little salt in your recipe and that will help speed up the overall hardening of your soap, more so than sodium lactate. However you must dissolve the salt in your lye/water before you use it and you have to be careful about how much salt that you use. If you use to much salt, it will harden your soap before you even get it into your mold. I don't use salt this way but you can search it on the forum for how much to use.

Also there is no way to get around letting your soap cure properly for at least 30 days because in the end, it is water evaporation that hardens your soap properly. Also your choice of oils will also affect your hardening time. I use 50% lard because it gives me plenty of time to do my swirls, multiple colors and it makes a nice hard bar. Olive oil around 50% +\- will usually take from 2-3 months to cure and harden properly.

If you have any more questions please feel free to give me a shout. If I can't answer it, someone else will. There is a lot of good people and wisdom on this forum.
 
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Thank you SO MUCH Todd! That was very helpful. If I can pick your brain a bit, will discounting the water help with hardness and longevity?

Welcome to the forum.

Sodium lactate will help speed up the hardening of your soap while it is in the mold but that is as far as the sodium lactate will go. If you have a lot of olive oil or oils like it, it still may take a couple of days before you can unmold your soap. It really helps but its efficiency is dependent on the oils that you use.

You can use a little salt in your recipe and that will help speed up the overall hardening of your soap, more so than sodium lactate. However you must dissolve the salt in your lye/water before you use it and you have to be careful about how much salt that you use. If you use to much salt, it will harden your soap before you even get it into your mold. I don't use salt this way but you can search it on the forum for how much to use.

Also there is no way to get around letting your soap cure properly for at least 30 days because in the end, it is water evaporation that hardens your soap properly. Also your choice of oils will also affect your hardening time. I use 50% lard because it gives me plenty of time to do my swirls, multiple colors and it makes a nice hard bar. Olive oil around 50% +\- will usually take from 2-3 months to cure and harden properly.

If you have any more questions please feel free to give me a shout. If I can't answer it, someone else will. There is a lot of good people and wisdom on this forum.
Thank you SO MUCH Todd! That was very helpful. If I can pick your brain a bit, will discounting the water help with hardness and longevity?
 
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Not Todd, but there is a difference between hardness and longevity:
Hardness is how hard the bar feels. Salt is hard, but it doesn't stay that way in water.
Longevity is how soluble the bar is. Beeswax is softer than salt, but lasts longer in water.

Both oils and fats are composed of a mix of different fatty acids that the lye reacts with to make soap. The different fatty acids have different amounts of solubility as soap. They're all soluble, but some bond with water much more readily than others.

When people talk about increasing hardness with a little salt or sodium lactate, they're talking about making the bar feel harder without very much impact to how quickly the soap dissolves in water.

When people talk about longevity, they're referring to how quickly their soap dissolves in water, usually by using butters or oils with fatty acids that become less soluble soap, or by adding a small amount of beeswax.

Longevity can result in a hard bar, but it's easy and common to have bar that dissolves quickly be much harder when it's cured than a bar that dissolves more slowly.
 
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Not Todd, but there is a difference between hardness and longevity:
Hardness is how hard the bar feels. Salt is hard, but it doesn't stay that way in water.
Longevity is how soluble the bar is. Beeswax is softer than salt, but lasts longer in water.

Both oils and fats are composed of a mix of different fatty acids that the lye reacts with to make soap. The different fatty acids have different amounts of solubility as soap. They're all soluble, but some bond with water much more readily than others.

When people talk about increasing hardness with a little salt or sodium lactate, they're talking about making the bar feel harder without very much impact to how quickly the soap dissolves in water.

When people talk about longevity, they're referring to how quickly their soap dissolves in water, usually by using butters or oils with fatty acids that become less soluble soap, or by adding a small amount of beeswax.

Longevity can result in a hard bar, but it's easy and common to have bar that dissolves quickly be much harder when it's cured than a bar that dissolves more slowly.
Wow! This actually made sense me thanks for using those examples! Which fatty acids in the butters and oils should I be looking at to formulate a recipe with longevity? I use soapcalc.
 
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Wow! This actually made sense me thanks for using those examples! Which fatty acids in the butters and oils should I be looking at to formulate a recipe with longevity? I use soapcalc.
Stearic and Palmitic, with Stearic being less soluble. But here's the catch: the less soluble the bar is, the less soap it will give you to lather, so super longevity can really kill bubbles, and most soaps with high longevity require a few months of curing to lather well.
I only do vegan soaps, but here's a brief overview of what the stuff I do use for longevity does as soap, from lowest to highest solubility:
Palm oil: relatively soluble, doesn't kill lather, actually boost it slightly.
Cocoa Butter- It's higher in Palmitic than Stearic, but it's so low in everything else that it can reduce bubbles anyways
Mango Butter: Very high in Stearic, but bubbles well given a long enough cure. Very creamy lather, almost lotion.
Shea Butter: Almost identical to Mango butter in FA profile. However, due to it's high unsaponifiable content, it seriously cannot lather well on its own, but can add creaminess to a mix.

Honorable mention: Avocado oil, which on its own makes a hard bar that doesn't lather. Sure, it has Palmitic FAs, but it's also high in unsaponifiables which get even more in the way of it lathering.

I don't use these, but they deserve a mention in any post about longevity:
Lard- common alternative to Palm oil
Soy wax- it's mostly Stearic FAs.

There are also plenty of oils and plant butters out there that I have not mentioned.
 
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Here's the recipe I came up with in hopes of getting a bar that lasted longer in the shower but also a good lather. It includes less soluble butters and oils that you mentioned. What can you tell me by looking at this? Am I going in the wrong direction?

Cocoa butter 25%
Olive oil 20%
Coconut oil 15%
Shea butter 15%
Avocado oil 10%
Castor oil 5%
Rosehip 5%
Mango butter 5%

30% lye concentration
3% superfat

Giving me a FA profile:

Lauric 7
Myristic 3
Palmitic 14
Stearic 18
Ricinoleic 5
Oleic 40
Linoleic 8
Linolenic 2
 
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Hi! First I want to say thank you to all of you who graciously answer questions because forums on this site have me the confidence and knowledge to start making soap. As with all things science, many factors play a part in the finished product and changing even one factor may result in a different product.

My question here is about softness and longevity. My understanding is that a recipe with a low hardness number on soapcalc/a high iodine number yields a soft, short lived bar in the shower. And a high hardness/low iodine recipe yields a hard, quick to unmold bar.

I've heard things about sodium lactate to harden your "soft recipe". But no one really specified for how long. Also, how does SL differ from me simply adding table salt to my lye water and will either option not only allow me to unmold quicker but yield a harder, longer lasting bar of soap?

Thanks!!
Sodium lactate basically works the same as salt. Pick one or the other. Except if you are making HP soap, then I would suggest Sodium lactate because it really helps with the fluidity of the batter post cook. As Todd said, if using salt, make sure it has been fully dissolved in water, before you add it to your lye water. Salt or sodium lactate help more with the initial hardening and unmolding rather than in the overall qualities of the soap.
 
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Sodium lactate basically works the same as salt. Pick one or the other. Except if you are making HP soap, then I would suggest Sodium lactate because it really helps with the fluidity of the batter post cook. As Todd said, if using salt, make sure it has been fully dissolved in water, before you add it to your lye water. Salt or sodium lactate help more with the initial hardening and unmolding rather than in the overall qualities of the soap.
Thank you! The sodium lactate work similar to using yogurt to help with the fluidity of hot processed soap?

I meant does
Thank you! The sodium lactate work similar to using yogurt to help with the fluidity of hot processed soap?
Sorry, I meant does it work similar
 
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I think the rosehip oil is better suited for lotions than a rinse-off product as expensive as it is. It's properties are wasted in soap. just use the oil as is, and your skin may reap the benefits.

As for the soap itself, I reworked a little bit since the bones are there. Feel free to run it throuh a soap calculator.

Cocoa Butter 55 g
Mango Seed Butter 60 g
Shea Butter 60 g
Olive Oil 100 g
Avocado Oil 100 g
Castor Oil 25 g
Coconut Oil, 76 deg 100 g
Total 500 g
 
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I think the rosehip oil is better suited for lotions than a rinse-off product as expensive as it is. It's properties are wasted in soap. just use the oil as is, and your skin may reap the benefits.

As for the soap itself, I reworked a little bit since the bones are there. Feel free to run it throuh a soap calculator.

Cocoa Butter 55 g
Mango Seed Butter 60 g
Shea Butter 60 g
Olive Oil 100 g
Avocado Oil 100 g
Castor Oil 25 g
Coconut Oil, 76 deg 100 g
Total 500 g
Agreed on Rosehip seed oil. You also can't add enough of it to make a noticeable difference to the recipe without significantly increasing the chances of rancidity.

But can we get the recipe in percentages, @Arimara ? Otherwise, everyone has to plug all the numbers into a lye calculator to get a clear idea of the numbers.
 
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I think the rosehip oil is better suited for lotions than a rinse-off product as expensive as it is. It's properties are wasted in soap. just use the oil as is, and your skin may reap the benefits.

As for the soap itself, I reworked a little bit since the bones are there. Feel free to run it throuh a soap calculator.

Cocoa Butter 55 g
Mango Seed Butter 60 g
Shea Butter 60 g
Olive Oil 100 g
Avocado Oil 100 g
Castor Oil 25 g
Coconut Oil, 76 deg 100 g
Total 500 g
Wow thanks! I will try this out. I've done a recipe using rosehip but I believe I had only done it at 5%. No more wasting that oil! Thank you guys for letting me know!

@Arimara thank you so much! I ran it through the calculator and will give it a try. I sincerely appreciate you for that!
 
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Sodium lactate fan here and in general I can unmold 24 hours later. I use it at 3% of my oil weight. Let us know how your recipe turns out! And we love pics!
I sure will Zing! Oh, good because I love taking them!!

So guys! I'm still going to make the recipe @Arimara helped me with, but I made a similar one to try out adding salt to my lye water. I also added sugar to boost lather. AND, I ALSO discounted my water to 30% and although it's only 8% below full water, being a newbie soap maker I was taking a R I S K! Oh and I used titanium dioxide, and clay...Geranium and Clove. Let's say it together: T R A C E! 😂 That batter traced like nobody's business in less than 10 seconds.

Well, research on these types of possibilities and meditation allowed me to work quick on my feet and SCOOP the batter into my mold and look at this beauty!

IMG_20210130_203554193_HDR.jpg

IMG_20210130_203135657.jpg


For batch number 5 I'm proud of myself and it's safe to say I won't be discounting water again anytime soon...my wrist hurts from all that resistance. 😩
 
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Sodium lactate fan here and in general I can unmold 24 hours later. I use it at 3% of my oil weight. Let us know how your recipe turns out! And we love pics!
I accidentally posted this on a very old thread (I forgot it's now 2021; not 2020...Sorry!), and now I'm going to resurrect this one, which is old, but not that old! Zing, do you add sodium lactate to the cooled lye water or to the oils before you add the lye mixture? Does it make a difference?
 
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I accidentally posted this on a very old thread (I forgot it's now 2021; not 2020...Sorry!), and now I'm going to resurrect this one, which is old, but not that old! Zing, do you add sodium lactate to the cooled lye water or to the oils before you add the lye mixture? Does it make a difference?
Not Zing - but the recommendation is to add sodium lactate to the cooled lye water. 1 teaspoon per pound of oils.
 

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