Borax Hand Soap for Blacksmith or other dirty work

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math ace

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Dual lye makes the soap more soluble, which means it lathers a bit more easily. This can be important when you have a recipe like this with mostly low-lathering oils, plus a lot of scrubby stuff (or salts).

If you don't want to use KOH, you can compensate by making the soap more soluble (i.e., easy lathering) in other ways. For instance, increase the amount of honey, add some sorbitol, or use AVJ or some other form of sugar (which is a solvent that makes soap more soluble). You could also increase your CO or PKO.

Does the Borax itself bring in bubbles and / or lathering?
 

earlene

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@earlene

I have a few questions about your Blacksmith Soap

1. What is the benefit of using two different types of lye?
I don't use KOH for anything. I really don't want to order some just for this
recipe unless there is a real good reason.

2. How different is the break down of oils from your normal body soap recipe?
My basic body soap recipe is vegan. I do run with 5% castor and 20% coconut oil,
but the rest of my oils are different. I am wondering if I would have a decent
blacksmith soap if I kept my regular body soap recipe and just added the
additives - Pumice, Borax, and sugar (keeping it vegan friendly :).

3. THANKS earlene for sharing your recipe!
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you to answer your questions.

You don't need to use dual lye if you don't want to. It is to help with bubbles, something covered in various threads throughout the forum. There are certainly other ways to boost bubbles. And your 20% CO should manage that. Sugar helps, of course. I believe pumice somewhat inhibits bubbles, so I figure anything to enhance them is probably worth a try.

How it differs from my 'usual' soap recipe, is that this was for my blacksmith brother, who has no problem with animal fats. As a vegetarian myself, I avoid bathing or handwashing using soaps with animal fats,so it I were to make this for my personal use, I would not use lard.

But I am not the blacksmith in the family, so I made it to suit my brother.

Does the Borax itself bring in bubbles and / or lathering?
I am not really sure. The reason I use the Borax is because on the blacksmith forums, it was the one common denominator in posts by blacksmiths who were trying to find the most effective method of getting the stains off efficiently. Stains from blacksmithing on the fingers and hands are very persistent.

When my brother tested soap with and without the Borax, with and without the pumice, it was the soap with both ingredients that he found most effective. We did not even discuss lather comparisons. His only concern was the persistent stains being removed quickly (meaning in one day rather than taking several days which was the norm with his use of Lava soap.)
 
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Update: I thought I had posted the correction in this thread, but apparently only in another thread (How much Borax in CP Soap?)

Therefore, I am quoting the correction again here:



BELOW is the corrected formula:

Blacksmith Soap which I made for my brother, the blacksmith (April 9, 2017)

Dual Lye: 95% NaOH + 5% KOH (90% purity)
2% SF
Lye Concentration: 45%

Total Batch Weight 1567 grams
6% Fragrance (Dragon's Blood)

1000 grams of oils:
5% Castor
20% Coconut
30% Crisco, vegetable shortening (palm)
30% Lard
15% Olive Oil

*Lye Solution:
181 grams Water (distilled) - first deduct amount of water to dissolve Borax
136.8 grams NaOH
11 grams KOH (90% purity)

Additives:
62 grams Borax - dissolve in boiling hot water deducted from liquid amount
33 grams Pumice, super fine (the finest grain obtainable is best) - add to soap batter at trace
5 Tablespoons Honey - add to Borax solution to soften honey prior to adding to the oils
EDTA (or chelator of choice)
ROE (added to oils)

*IF using MasterBatch NaOH solution, there will be 44 grams water available, to be divided for dissolving Borax AND for dissolving KOH.

Add the Borax & Honey solution to the oils. Add the ROE, Chelator(s) & FO to the oils. Mix lye solution into oils to emulsion, then trace. Add pumice & mix well to ensure it remains in suspension. Color as desired. There should be sufficient time to do colored layers if desired.

Other oils can be used, however, that's what I used for the soap in question in this thread.


I do not claim that this is the be all and end all of Blacksmith Soaps, but my brother swears by it, so I have stuck with the Borax & Pumice combination to remove the stains from his hands and fingers.



FYI, I have checked, double checked & triple checked to make sure there are no typos or transcription errors prior to posting this Corrected Blacksmith Soap Formula.
Calling @AliOop or @earlene of @Misschief to the front desk, please. I'm assuming that water is a total of 181 grams. Of that 181 grams, how much water do you need to dissolve the borax? Thanks!
 

Zany_in_CO

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62 grams Borax - dissolve in boiling hot water deducted from liquid amount
Borax dissolves fairly easily in boiling water so I would use 50/50 water to Borax. The one thing to remember about Borax solutions is that you don't want it to cool down much before using it. The Borax can participate out and leave a hard crusty mass on the bottom of the container. Don't ask how I know this. 😁
 
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Calling @AliOop or @earlene of @Misschief to the front desk, please. I'm assuming that water is a total of 181 grams. Of that 181 grams, how much water do you need to dissolve the borax? Thanks!
Reporting to the front desk, sir! Yes, that is a total of 181grams. I'll look back in the thread where I asked Earlene how much water she used to dissolve the borax. It wasn't much, but like Zany said, it is best to have it boiling hot if possible.

EDIT: well, apparently I was asking her about this because I wanted to use master-batched NaOH lye solution, which was only going to leave me 44g of additional water. Since I would need 11g of that to dissolve the KOH, that only left me 33g of water for dissolving 62g of borax. Earlene assured me that was fine as long as the water was boiling. And she was right - it was more than enough water and it dissolved very easily in boiling water.

But if you @Zing are not going to use master-batched lye solution, it can still work for you. Just remember, you will need 147.8g (lets say 148g) of water to dissolve the combined NaOH and KOH. That means the max you can use dissolving the borax is 181g minus 148g = 33g. If that makes you nervous, simply up the water a bit to give yourself a margin for error. You don't have to go with the 45% lye solution that Earlene used, although that does help with making the batter thick enough to hold the pumice in suspension. You could do the same thing with a lower lye concentration by stickblending to a heavier trace.

It's a lot of work, but the soap is totally worth it. I have a bar sitting at my laundry sink and it's great for post-gardening cleanup.
 
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earlene

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Thanks for filling in for me & addressing those questions, @AliOop & @Zany_in_CO . I was in Italy & Prague, then didn't get back to SMF for a bit after my return. It takes some time to catch up on stuff back at home.

And thankyou for the feedback.

It's been awhile since I made this soap and I think I am going to have to make some more soon. Brother's house was badly damaged in the California fires, and we have not discussed how the soap fared the damage or anything about soap, because so many other things have been going on since. Mainly all of my siblings and our life events, which includes health issues for my 3 remaining brothers. Blacksmith brother is now undergoing cancer treatments, so not sure when he will be blacksmithing again, but I suspect he will. Another had another heart attack, and the baby has had major seizure problems requiring medication adjustments and all the ramifications of how that disrupts one's lifestyle.

Putting it all out there like that, makes me realize how imminently I need to do a roadtrip to the West Coast to see each of them! My last trip to California was a rescue mission to bring my eldest from there to here & only included one brother in the trip because he was in our travel path as they were in Colorado at the time we were traveling through.

I am now considering do I want to postpone my own surgery in order to make the trip to see all the bros or do I go ahead with my surgery and have to delay a West Coast trip to a couple of months or so out. My surgery is not urgent, but it will impair my ability to drive for a period of at least a month, maybe longer. My husband thinks I should post pone my surgery & see my brothers. I will be giving this more thought.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I was in Italy & Prague,
I just KNEW it!!! 😁 You were missed! I just knew you were probably out gallivanting as usual. So happy you're back! I hope you had a good trip?

I'm so sorry to hear about your brothers. That's a lot to process right now but I hope you will find time to escape here while deciding what to do next. Soapmaking and Soap Talk always helps me to reduce stress and it's cheaper than therapy! ;):thumbs:
 
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trancey_soap

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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.

How many ounces of oils did you uses for 2.2oz of Borax in the most recent recipe?
40% Crisco, 30% Coconut Oil, 30% Lard
 

earlene

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How many ounces of oils did you uses for 2.2oz of Borax in the most recent recipe?
40% Crisco, 30% Coconut Oil, 30% Lard
It was 32 ounces of oil. I had to look back in my notebook, as I did not save that recipe on my computer! It was probably in SoapCalc, which does not save as reliably as subsequent calculators and I am so glad I write everything down rather than rely on technology to save it for me!

Thank you for asking.
Have you made this with activated charcoal @earlene?
No, I have not. Have you? If so, I'd really be interested in your evalution of the resulting soap!
 
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Borax dissolves fairly easily in boiling water so I would use 50/50 water to Borax. The one thing to remember about Borax solutions is that you don't want it to cool down much before using it. The Borax can participate out and leave a hard crusty mass on the bottom of the container. Don't ask how I know this. 😁
I’m glad you mentioned that! I use borax to grow crystals on art projects. That would NOT be good in soap! Also, following, I love this idea of borax in soap!
 

earlene

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I am thinking about trying it, but wondered if 'just one more thing' might make it too brittle.
:search:

Let's see, what else can I add to this soap recipe?

I don't know about AC making it brittle, but that of course depends on the rest of your recipe, I suppose. What I think might make it brittle though is vinegar, which again also depends on the rest of the recipe. IME, using 100% vinegar as water replacement in a high palm oil soap, made for a very brittle bar. It did not have pumice & borax, though so who knows, I may consider that in the future. After, he will need more soap at some point. I'd test it in a small batch first, of course.

ETA: Actually, thinking back, I actually found that too much vinegar (100% water replacement) created brittle soap with any recipe I used it in, so not just palm.
 
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Very interesting findings, @earlene. I would never have guessed that was an issue with vinegar, but I almost never use palm, either (it is drying for my skin). My experiences with 100% vinegar never produced brittle soap, but I use a high percentage of lard in all of my 100% vinegar soaps — which I know you don’t use. So I’m guessing that phenomenon is recipe-dependent. I’ve stopped using vinegar much now that I MB my lye solution.

@KiwiMoose if you do try the charcoal, please share your thoughts about it. My version of this soap generally isn’t brittle, although the last batch had slightly crumbly edges. But since I made this before without problems, I think the crumbly edges resulted from overfilling the cavities so that the soap “lipped” over the edge of each cavity, and thus was too thin in those areas. Once I trimmed those off, rest of the soap is neither brittle nor crumbly. My version does need a good long cure, at least 6 weeks, to lather easily, probably bc I skipped the dual lye.
 
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I am thinking about trying it, but wondered if 'just one more thing' might make it too brittle.
First, I love @earlene's recipe and borax is a game changer!! It's a miracle cleaner! Dirt disappears in seconds and after gardening my hands are black. No more rubbing my skin raw and red.
I did end up with brittle soap, though, so this thread may be helpful, Borax soap. I can't wait to make more -- but will use no additional salts and will increase the water.
 
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