Borax Hand Soap for Blacksmith or other dirty work

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earlene

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Because I have mentioned this in various threads, I thought I'd start a thread about this soap since I wanted to report back on how it's working.

Last year I made Borax soap for my son to use after gardening. This year I made some for my brother who requested some 'Lava type soap' because that's what he uses after blacksmithing.

But he told me it takes all week long to get his hands clean using pumice soap (Lava.) So I searched some blacksmithing sites and found that many guys use Borax instead of pumice because it gets their hands cleaner after blacksmithing.

So for my brother, I made 3 bars using lard as one of the oils (I had never used lard in soap before this, but brother is not vegetarian):

1. Pumice bar
2. Borax bar (pictured here)
3. combination of Pumice and Borax

I kept a couple of bars from each batch to keep an eye on them and also to have Hubby test when he works on our cars. He does most of the work on our cars, except body work, so he can get pretty dirty after a day of changing oil, rotating tires, and whatnot.

Before I left for SoapCon, I removed all the hand soap from the master bathroom & replaced it with one bar of Borax soap that I made on June 25th. Today Hubby came to me after washing his hands after a major oil spill clean up (he managed to get motor oil all over and had quite a clean up so he got dirtier than usual this time). He asked me what was in the soap at the bathroom sink because it got his hands and under his fingernails clean with only one washing. I told him it was the Borax soap that I had made for my brother and I was hoping he would use it and report back to me how it worked. He raved about it; said Lava soap does not clean under the nails at all and that with one single washing he has never been able to get motor oil out from under his fingernails with Lava or that Orange hand cleaner he keeps under the bathroom sink.

So I have my report on the Borax Soap.

My brother first tested the Combination soap right after I gave it to him. His hands were pretty dirty before he started and he had a blood blister that, although I recognized it as such, he did not think it was a blood blister. He thought it was just dirty. Well it was so dirty that he couldn't see the blood blister underneath the dirt. He came back from the bathroom after washing his hands and said, 'the Combination is a Winner'. And he said, 'You were right it is a blood blister. I couldn't even see it before.' I am not sure how many days it had been since he had worked with his blacksmithing when he washed his hands with my soap, but he had already done a few handwashings and still had those black stains on his hands. But when he told me his hands got cleaner with only one washing with the combo soap than with a whole week of handwashing with Lava.

So I am in agreement with the blacksmiths who said the secret is Borax. I told him about finding this out at a black smithing forum, so that was certainly of interest to him. It was not the forum he participated in, though, I guess, or at least he had not read that thread.

He has not reported on the pumice only soap, but we have all been on various roadtrips and he may not have yet used that soap.

So now I need to learn to determine how much lye the Borax neutralizes so I can formulate the soap to be a predictable SF. DeeAnna & I discussed this topic in another thread, but I think we both felt like we were hijacking the thread, so it would be more appropriate here. DeeAnna suggested that with an unpredictable SF with the Borax, I might get DOS. So I went and looked at the bars and what do you know? There was a little bit of DOS, hence I moved the soap to the bathroom sink to get Hubby to use it and report on it's usefulness before I'd have to toss it out. It still smells fine, just a little bit of discoloration at this point.

Also I did not yet have EDTA when I made this soap and it did not occur to me to add ROE to the lard, therefore I made no efforts to prevent DOS in that soap.

The other bar with Borax and Pumice, was all rebatched soap scraps left over from trimming other soaps. So they had ROE in them already and the soap was already saponified, so there was no lye to neutralize. Those bars of soap should not get DOS, at least not from the Borax interacting with fresh lye, since there was no fresh lye. I still have a couple of bars of this soap to watch as I am not sure my brother would know or see DOS like I would. (After all he couldn't see his blood blister under the dirt, but I could.)
 
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TeresaT

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Thank you for this!! My next door neighbor is a mechanic. His hands are never clean. It would be amazing if I could make some borax soap for him for Christmas. How much borax did you use in your soap? What SF did you soap at to begin with, I usually do a 5%. I can lower that to 2% with the borax in it until you and DeeAnna figure out the "borax eats" lye rate. I guess that would make it sodium borate?

ETA: Yep, now that I figured out "Borax" is the name brand for sodium borate, I feel really smart. :lolno: ESPECIALLY since I've got a crap ton of that stuff in the laundry room. I literally have more than 15 lbs of "sodium borate" in my cabinet. I wish I could blame it on being tired...
 
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Misschief

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Earlene, I've made a borax soap before using the recipe in this link:

http://www.soaprecipes101.com/homemade-soap-recipes/borax-handmade-soap-recipe/

And before anyone starts telling me that I shouldn't use a recipe like this one because it's by volume only and not by percentages, or whatever, I did change it to percentages and ran it through SoapCalc. I love this soap and I should make another batch soon.
 

earlene

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Thank you for this!! My next door neighbor is a mechanic. His hands are never clean. It would be amazing if I could make some borax soap for him for Christmas. How much borax did you use in your soap? What SF did you soap at to begin with, I usually do a 5%. I can lower that to 2% with the borax in it until you and DeeAnna figure out the "borax eats" lye rate. I guess that would make it sodium borate?

ETA: Yep, now that I figured out "Borax" is the name brand for sodium borate, I feel really smart. :lolno: ESPECIALLY since I've got a crap ton of that stuff in the laundry room. I literally have more than 15 lbs of "sodium borate" in my cabinet. I wish I could blame it on being tired...
My most recent recipe for Borax soap was:

33% Lye Concentration
7% SuperFat (because of the high CO content, I don't usually go that high)

40% Crisco, new w/palm
30% Coconut Oil, 76 deg
30% Lard, Pig Tallow Manteca

2.2 ounces Borax dissolved in boiling water (reserved from the lye water)
Colorants I used for the last batch: alkanet root, madder root, TD
I tried doing a ribbon pour, but poured too thin and it turned out looking like a Clyde Slide.
I was actually happy that it turned out pretty considering that it was really just designed to be a hand cleaning soap.


My first recipe (no animal fats) was:

SoapCalc default: 5% SuperFat and
27.601% Lye Concentration or Water as 38% of oil Weight

15.5 ounces Westcott Vegetable Shortening (I used the Crisco setting, but did not actually have any Crisco, so the final SF was probably off)
7.5 ounces Coconut Oil, 76 deg

1.2 ounces Borax dissolved in
2 ounces boiling water (reserved from lye water)

3.33 ounces NaOH
6.74 ounces distilled water (total called for was 8.74, but 2 were used to dissolve the Borax)

This was the first time I tried using vegetable shortening in soap. This soap was rather brittle. I probably should have cut it sooner than I did, but back then I did not cut my soaps as early as I do now. I often waited at least 2 or 3 days before unmolding and cutting the soap.

The second soap is not brittle at all.

Misschief, I found that recipe too as well as one in a book I borrowed from my local library. As a vegetarian I wanted to make the soap without animal fats, so I adapted based on the oils I had on hand at the time. I did conclude that vegetable oil with CO was not the best recipe, but it was a starting point.

I have no problem cooking meat for my husband to eat, so I decided that I may as well give making soap with lard a try. I doubt I'll go the tallow route, though. I don't really want to boil down animal fats in my kitchen. I don't like the smell of animal fats. I don't even like the smell of lard either, but I did discover that by adding FO's to the lard soap batter the lard odor doesn't offend my nose for as long as it does without any added fragrance.
 

Kamahido

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I too am interested in how much sodium hydroxide is eaten by the borax.
 
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Scooter

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Earlene, I've made a borax soap before using the recipe in this link:

http://www.soaprecipes101.com/homemade-soap-recipes/borax-handmade-soap-recipe/

And before anyone starts telling me that I shouldn't use a recipe like this one because it's by volume only and not by percentages, or whatever, I did change it to percentages and ran it through SoapCalc. I love this soap and I should make another batch soon.
I noticed that the URL you link to describes this recipe as making an "extra mild soap, perfect for delicate skin." It is 2/3 CO and 1/3 tallow. Did you think it was mild? I am still trying to figure out what a soap may "feel like" (in a rough general way) by just reading the recipes. Does this kind of recipe not strip out the oils too much?

Thanks for posting it!

Scooter
 

artemis

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Today, I slightly tweaked a recipe and added the dissolved borax at trace. The soap is already out of thr mold and cut. I did add a little salt to the lye water, so I know that contributed to it hardening sooner, but what about the borax? Will that do it, too?
 

earlene

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Is anybody equipped to do a titration?
I don't have any phenolphthalein, which is what Dr. Kevin Dunn used when he demonstrated the method for determining if lye had gone bad, or how pure it is at the point in time of testing.

I thought I would do some searching online and see if I could find some answers, but so far all I have found just muddies the waters.

This thread from 2009 contradicts the 'Borax neutralizes lye' statement. So I remain confused.


ETA:

Well, I did a little more searching using additional criteria and here is one of DeeAnna's most recent posts about Borax and it makes me a little less confused. Still can't find anything yet about how much Borax neutralizes how much NaOH (yet).

ETA again:

And now I found this on Buffer Solutions. I think it might be what I need.




The molecular weight of Borax is: 381.37 g/mol
The molecular weight of NaOH is: 39.997 g/mol

So with the formula above, 0.025 M of Borax would be 9.93 grams
and 0.1 M of NaOH would weigh 4 grams. Duh, that's already there in the parentheses! Hand to head. :think:

Now I just have to figure out how to apply this to a formula for making Borax soap. (The hard part.)
Or maybe not, since this addresses pH and that's not really what I want to adjust. I just want to make sure I don't end up with too high a superfat when I make Borax soap for my brother and I want to prevent DOS that could result with too much superfat.

Any ideas anyone on how to figure out how much Borax 'neutralizes' or 'buffers' or whatever it is actually doing to the NaOH when making bar soap? DeeAnna? TOMH? Gentalman? Anyone with the scientific know-how on this? I'm at a loss at this point.

I have no way of testing the resulting SF, and don't really want to go to extremes in terms of laboratory testing and whatnot. I just want to make sure the soap is good for hand cleaning (for my brother the blacksmith) and that it won't get DOS while it sits on the shelf before he uses the next bar. I suppose I could just make a low SF (2% perhaps) bar of soap, use ROE and EDTA, of which I have both, and hope for the best. I think that would be my next step anyway if I cannot find a better next step.
 
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Misschief

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I noticed that the URL you link to describes this recipe as making an "extra mild soap, perfect for delicate skin." It is 2/3 CO and 1/3 tallow. Did you think it was mild? I am still trying to figure out what a soap may "feel like" (in a rough general way) by just reading the recipes. Does this kind of recipe not strip out the oils too much?

Thanks for posting it!

Scooter
It's actually one of my favourite soaps. Borax is also a water softener. I don't find it drying at all.
 

susiefreckleface

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fascinating stuff. I've been wanting to use borax in soap for quite a while.

Your soaps look beautiful, cute little car.

Suz
 

Saipan

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Wow, I've been thinking about this, just this morning and I'm online and here it is.

I am a blade smith, and have been wanting to make borax soap, so, I think I'll give it a try.

Probably in 3 weeks when I'm back from Austria.
 

penelopejane

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This doesn't help with the borax problem, sorry, but I have used 30/30/30/10 palm oil (your crisco I think?)/conconut oil/olive oil/castor oil. 5% SF.
It makes a hard bar that a farmer friend of mine and a tradesman love because it gets their hands clean. No EDTA or ROE necessary.

It might be somewhere to start.
 

mx6inpenn

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Ugh. I waited too long to cut my first attempt at Borax soap. After about 19 hours, I had a crumbly mess. I guess this will be my first rebatch since I wanted this soap for my brothers. I don't think it would be effective in confetti. :(
 

nsmar4211

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mx6- If you don't want to rebatch, Could you use it as hand milled? (grate up, add a touch of water, press into shapes)?


***
earlene-thank you for posting your experiences!

I'm following this with interest with the borax because I'm working on a soap to remove oil smells off of hands myself. I can vouch that pumice is awesome, but if you use the soap a lot it takes off skin! Great for blacksmith's though. I use it at 1 tsp ppo in my current odor soap , the fine ground version. I tried 1 tbl ppo and used that for a foot scrub LOL.


Do blacksmiths end up with oil on their hands or is it all just dirt?
 

earlene

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Well, I'd have to ask my brother, but I'd say it's more than simple dirt. His hands get black and it sort of embeds itself into the skin.
 

Steve85569

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I keep a salt bar in the places where I clean up after getting greasy of working with metals.
Just a thought. I suppose you could add some borax to a salt bar just to see...
 

ngian

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Ugh. I waited too long to cut my first attempt at Borax soap. After about 19 hours, I had a crumbly mess. I guess this will be my first rebatch since I wanted this soap for my brothers. I don't think it would be effective in confetti. :(
You could put the soap loaf in the oven at~60-70°C for 30-50min so as for the soap to become softer and be able to cut it without getting crumbled.
 

mx6inpenn

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Well, I rebatched today. It was still a bit crumbly in spots and is ugly as sin, but I was able to get decent cuts while it was still warm.
 
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