"Cleansing"

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Pyewacket

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In the soap calculator, it says "cleansing" has to do with how well a soap DISSOLVES. Not sure why it's not called "solubility" then but ... anyway ...

What does this mean for liquid soaps? And what does it mean for something like a pure castile that will have 0 for "cleansing"?
 

Obsidian

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Cleansing has to do with how much oil and dirt a soap can carry away from from your skin.

Not sure where you saw that it has to do with longevity as that calculator has a separate longevity number.
 

Pyewacket

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Not sure where you saw that I said I thought it had anything to do with longevity. SOLUBILITY, I suggested, would be a better name for it given the definition I have for it (see below where it says "measure of how water soluble ...")

This is the definition for that parameter from the calculator on soapee.com, which looks EXACTLY the same as the one on this site except that they define terms and terms are not defined on the calculator here. Or at least my browser fails to show them.

Hover over cleansing over there and this is what it says.

"It is a measure of how water soluble the soap is - meaning it is a measure of how easily the soap dissolves in difficult situations such as hard water, cold water, or salt water. The cleansing number does NOT tell you whether the soap will actually get your skin clean."

That sounds like the opposite of what you are telling me. So is the soapee site wrong? If it is wrong, where can I find the CORRECT definition of all those terms (cleansing, hardness and on down the line)

I am a total novice here so if I've latched on to a site that gives out grossly wrong information (soapee.com), then could you please guide me to one that is better?

And regardless of exact definitions:

What does this mean for liquid soaps? And what does it mean for something like a pure castile that will have 0 for "cleansing"?
 

Obsidian

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Sorry, typo on my part. Longevity and solubility are closely related. More soluable a soap is, the short it lasts. Coconut soap is a prime example of this, gets rock hard but is super soluble.

As far as the cleansing definition on soapee, yes its wrong. Maybe the program writer misunderstood that aspect. If I remember right, he isn't a soap maker.

Either use soapmakingfriend that you linked in your first post or soapcalc.net

All soap cleans, even a castile with a 0. Its just that castile won't strip all your natural oils away.
 

Pyewacket

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OK so having a soap with 0 "cleansing" isn't bad then.

And I will pass on that website (soapee) then. I don't know enough to know what I don't know, LOL! There may be good info there for someone who knows what they are doing but that does not describe me when it comes to soapmaking.

Thanks.
 

Obsidian

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Nope, 0 is not bad. You don't want it to high either. Most people shoot for around 15 but it depends on the skin type too.

And omg, I just noticed your name. Growing up my sister had a cat named pyewacket. Something about a witch maybe, in a book she read. I've never heard it anyone else use it.
 

Pyewacket

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Nope, 0 is not bad. You don't want it to high either. Most people shoot for around 15 but it depends on the skin type too.

And omg, I just noticed your name. Growing up my sister had a cat named pyewacket. Something about a witch maybe, in a book she read. I've never heard it anyone else use it.
For me the only thing I care about is NOT HAVING ANY COCONUT, BABASSU, OR PALM OIL in it. Or anything else related thereto. That includes glycerine because the vast majority of that is sourced from coconut primarily and palm secondarily, and often mixed sources. I don't think there is any way I could get hold of glycerine that would be safe for me. It may exist, but I have limited shopping/shipping options. Also limited funds LOL!

As for the name - Bell, Book and Candle. I forget who wrote the book but Jimmy Stewart starred in the movie (he was perfect for the role). Kim Novak starred as the witch and the movie was not improved thereby. Somebody like Audrey Hepburn would have been perfect. But yes, it was the name of the cat (a black-and-tan Siamese). Derived from a made-up name for a made-up demon by one of the girls who kicked off the Salem witch trials.


How's that for proper definitions of "hardness" and all that? Accurate/trustworthy?
 

Obsidian

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Glycerin is made naturally during the saponification process so there really isn't any reason you would need any in its pure form anyways.
Is the coconut/palm a allergy? Tucuma butter works well to add the same cleansing properties to soap but its crazy expensive.

Soapcal is a good, reliable calculator. Try not to get too hung up on the numbers, they really are only a guideline.
Anymore the only number I pay much attention too is cleansing since I have dry skin and need that number to be 15 or under, best is around 10 for me.
 

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Your quote from Soapee is perfectly correct --

"It is a measure of how water soluble the soap is - meaning it is a measure of how easily the soap dissolves in difficult situations such as hard water, cold water, or salt water. The cleansing number does NOT tell you whether the soap will actually get your skin clean."

The "cleansing" number is the total percent of lauric and myristic acids. Soap high in these fatty acids will be very soluble in cold, salty, and/or hard water and it can be overly drying to the skin.

I agree that the name "cleansing" is misleading, but Soapee's definition is accurate about what a soap is like that is high in lauric + myristic acids. Lauric and myristic acids aren't the only fatty acids that make highly soluble soap -- oleic acid and ricinoleic acid are two others, although the solubility of these soaps is highest in warm, soft, and not-salty water.

The "cleansing" name is not Soapee's fault, nor was it the Soapee designer's idea. That name has been in use for quite some time -- you'll see this name and others at Soapcalc (I believe this was the original source of these "numbers"), SoapMaking Friend, etc. as well as Soapee. There are other soap making terms that are inaccurate, but they're not going to change any time soon no matter what, so we've all learned to deal with them.

Here's one of my articles with more info: Soapy Stuff: Soapcalc numbers
 

Pyewacket

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Glycerin is made naturally during the saponification process so there really isn't any reason you would need any in its pure form anyways.
Is the coconut/palm a allergy? Tucuma butter works well to add the same cleansing properties to soap but its crazy expensive.

Soapcal is a good, reliable calculator. Try not to get too hung up on the numbers, they really are only a guideline.
Anymore the only number I pay much attention too is cleansing since I have dry skin and need that number to be 15 or under, best is around 10 for me.
DEFINITELY allergic to coconut, most likely also to babassu because that pretty much goes hand in hand with coconut allergy, and may be allergic to palm stuff as well. I bought a "goat milk" soap that purported to only have 3 ingredients, the goat milk and 2 forms of palm stuff and had that blowtorch feeling for over a month thereafter. So either I'm also allergic to palm stuff or ... that soap had more than 3 ingredients and one of them started with "c" and rhymes with "oconut".

I like mango butter but I can't get it locally. Lots of things on the list of "soap oils" that would work for me but I can't actually physically get them, or they're expensive. You've already noted "crazy expensive" on tucuma butter so I won't even look that one up LOL! Pretty sure that isn't going to be locally available anyway.

Right now I am not washing my hair AT ALL because I've been too ill until recently. Well, recovering from having had what was most likely covid, during recovery I'd been "cheating" and using leftover-from-before-I-knew-what-I-am-allergic-to conventional shampoos, which I had at least been trying to MINIMIZE coconut content because I THOUGHT it was just bad for my hair and scalp - took me awhile to realize I had a full-on allergy. So while I had been using "real" shampoo the last few months I now am having the scalp problems that allergy brings along with it. So the time between shampoos got longer and longer the worse my scalp felt. I swear I don't know which is worse, contact dermatitis on your scalp, or dirt on top of slowly healing contact dermatitis.

I've recovered enough by now that I've dug up my soapnut powder a couple days ago and am making soapnut solution today. I"ve been using herbal hair conditioner for going on a year now I think - I use an amla/hibiscus rinse and sometimes with some fenugreek gel. But I had just mixed up my first batch of soapnut liquid for washing my hair right before the covid (or whatever it was) hit and by the time the worst of that was over, it had gone bad. Looking at that icky moldy stuff wasn't real encouraging LOL! But I have to bite the bullet and give it a whirl. Allergies don't give you sick time off.

For the shampoo I have shikakai and soapnuts and for conditioner I have (all in powdered form)

amla
bhringraj
brahmi
neem
fenugreek
rose petal
hibiscus flower
tulsi
chamomile tea bags
green tea
Aloe vera powder

You don't use all of that at once but as complicated as this sort of regimen may look, its not nearly as complicated as the chemistry that goes in to making modern cleansing products. I used to come up with these rashes basically only when I'd been out and about and had used "foreign" hand soap. I use a foamer at home which probably minimizes the amount of coconut stuff I come into contact with at home, but I'm trying to get away from even THAT much contact. The rashes are getting worse and worse. I had my first full-body rash this past weekend due to having tried on a new pair of shorts I'd just bought, intending to toss them in the wash right away if they fit, and then ran around in the house in them for I don't know how long before I broke out in hives everywhere they touched. Including my feet (I sit cross-legged a LOT).

THANK DOG I don't go commando (anymore).

They must have used something coconut-infused to soften the fabric. They use coconut derived substances even in TP and feminine products (for the allergy-stricken, Always web site is the only manufacturer of feminine products I know of that lists ingredients for their products on their website). The one TP I knew I wasn't allergic to hasn't been available since the pandemic hit here - or at least, since the gubmint reluctantly ADMITTED it had hit which was months after it had ACTUALLY hit.

Aaaaannnnnnyyyyywaaaaaaay ....

I would also like to get some arappu powder for shampooing, which they have back in stock through Amazon. At least I'm familiar with the tradition so I knew I had these options, LOL! Imagine finding out you are allergic to ALL commercial shampoo, conditioner, and soap when you are over 60. That's a lot to have to change on pretty short notice and with very very few Western alternatives.

Also doctors think there is no such thing as coconut allergy so ... nobody bothered to test me for it when I started getting mystery rashes about 15 years ago, they just shrugged and said "contact dermatitis" and handed me a permascription for cortisone cream (eg perpetual permanent prescription).

I found out that the healing properties of hemp oil were not woo (I HATE woo) when I ran out of said cortisone cream for the first time in over 10 years a couple of years ago and in desperation rubbed on some hemp oil, which I had in the house for some reason that I can't even remember. I'm glad I did. It worked on the rashes I get WAY better than the cortisone cream ever did. OH I remember, I had gotten it to try as a hair oil. Worked pretty well too. Except for the odor. Sort of like dry grass. I was using it as a scalp treatment too and it was really helping my scalp, before I figured out I had a full on allergy and what to. Only hemp oil saved me from utter despair this past week with the pretty-near full body rash.

So yeah. Allergies. Coconut Hatums Me. And I have to avoid the rest Just In Case. If the ingredient list on that goat's milk soap was honest/accurate, I'm allergic to palm stuff too so that's what I have to work with. If I want to be sure not to break out in full body rashes ever again, the only way for me to be SURE I'm coconut-babassu-palm free is to learn to do it myself. And as the allergy gets worse, which it has been doing for some time now, eventually I won't be able to use conventional laundry detergent anymore either, double-rinse or no double-rinse.

So here I am. I just want to feel CLEAN again. Scrubbing with plain water just doesn't really get you there.
 

Pyewacket

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Your quote from Soapee is perfectly correct --

"It is a measure of how water soluble the soap is - meaning it is a measure of how easily the soap dissolves in difficult situations such as hard water, cold water, or salt water. The cleansing number does NOT tell you whether the soap will actually get your skin clean."

The "cleansing" number is the total percent of lauric and myristic acids. Soap high in these fatty acids will be very soluble in cold, salty, and/or hard water and it can be overly drying to the skin.

I agree that the name "cleansing" is misleading, but Soapee's definition is accurate about what a soap is like that is high in lauric + myristic acids. Lauric and myristic acids aren't the only fatty acids that make highly soluble soap -- oleic acid and ricinoleic acid are two others, although the solubility of these soaps is highest in warm, soft, and not-salty water.

The "cleansing" name is not Soapee's fault, nor was it the Soapee designer's idea. That name has been in use for quite some time -- you'll see this name and others at Soapcalc (I believe this was the original source of these "numbers"), SoapMaking Friend, etc. as well as Soapee. There are other soap making terms that are inaccurate, but they're not going to change any time soon no matter what, so we've all learned to deal with them.

Here's one of my articles with more info: Soapy Stuff: Soapcalc numbers
Sorry if it seemed I was blaming the soapee website for the nomenclature, I realize that it is ubiquitous and on every site so its probably been around longer than the Internet, I would guess.

I'm doing my best to find a way to be clean again and its looking like an olive oil based soap is pretty much my only alternative. None of the books or websites are all that helpful to me as far as recipes go because they ALL use coconut or palm products or both. I have gone through hundreds of online recipes and have only found a bare handful that are safe for me and they're all for 100% olive oil based soaps.

The problem with that is that apparently it is true that these need to be cured for a full year.

I REALLY need to feel clean before that!
 

Pyewacket

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Glycerin is made naturally during the saponification process so there really isn't any reason you would need any in its pure form anyways.

<snippage>
BTW I mentioned glycerin because apparently glycerin is an ingredient that is added to improve trace time per :


So it is an ingredient that is unsafe for me due to its most common methods of production and the difficulty of sourcing glycerin that is coconut-palm free.
 

Obsidian

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I can't imagine how difficult it is to completly avoid coconut in hair care, they put it in everthing.
I've tried different indian herbs in my hair but I have seborrheic dermatitis and they just don't clean enough.


Are you willing to use animal products? Lard is very gentle and it cures in 6 weeks vs a year. Tallow could be added to boost cleansing abilities, along with some olive oil to balance it out a little.

Wish I had a soap I could share but mine would all be cross contaminated with coconut.

Many people do use glycerin when making liquid soap but its not mandatory. It can be made with just water.
 

DeeAnna

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Not sure why you have this idea that glycerin needs to be added to soap. That is not at all a requirement.

Glycerin is rarely added to bar soap (soap made with NaOH).

It is an optional ingredient sometimes used for making liquid soap (soap made with KOH). You really don't have to make liquid soap with extra glycerin, however. I often make liquid soap with just water -- no added glycerin -- and it makes perfectly fine soap.

Glycerin is sometimes used as a solvent for "transparent" and melt-and-pour soaps, but even these soaps can be and often are made with solvents other than glycerin.

That said, glycerin is naturally produced during the saponification reaction of fats. This natural glycerin content in handcrafted soap (without any added glycerin) runs about 8-10% by weight.
 

Obsidian

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@DeeAnna I'm not one to normally disagree with you and I do understand that the cleansing number has to do with the lauric/myristic and this kind of soap will be highly soluble.

I just don't understand why soapee says it won't tell you how clean the soap will get you while your article says these soap have the ability to strip away natural oils if the number is too high. They seem to contradict each other.
 

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BTW I mentioned glycerin because apparently glycerin is an ingredient that is added to improve trace time per :


So it is an ingredient that is unsafe for me due to its most common methods of production and the difficulty of sourcing glycerin that is coconut-palm free.
Are you making bar soap or liquid soap. Glycerine is added to liquid soap.....if bar soap you are good to go. :)
 

Pyewacket

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I can't imagine how difficult it is to completly avoid coconut in hair care, they put it in everthing.
I've tried different indian herbs in my hair but I have seborrheic dermatitis and they just don't clean enough.


Are you willing to use animal products? Lard is very gentle and it cures in 6 weeks vs a year. Tallow could be added to boost cleansing abilities, along with some olive oil to balance it out a little.

Wish I had a soap I could share but mine would all be cross contaminated with coconut.

Many people do use glycerin when making liquid soap but its not mandatory. It can be made with just water.
Only shikakai, areetha (soapnuts), and arappu (no English translation that I know of, or for shikakai now that I mention it) are CLEANSING herbs. I make a tea of them - the "traditional" way is to make a paste and scrub your scalp with it, then rinse it out. That is OK for pouring water over your head to rinse outside, not so great for modern plumbing. So I stick with the teas.

I've had excellent results from the conditioning herbs I've used to date. If I could get my hands on them, I'd add some other stuff like mallow root and horsetail nettle to my arsenal but by the time I knew I wanted them, any place I could buy that stuff from had either closed for covid or couldn't restock.

I am thinking of adding fenugreek to the shikakai/areetha to thicken it. Also to counteract the drying effect - even the amla/hibiscus rinse I use is very drying, and sort of terrifying the first time you do it. The first time I used it it made my hair feel all tangledy and like a briar patch on my head, but heavy conditioning and detangling in the shower followed by a detangler outside the shower while my hair was still wet worked just fine. When it dried, my hair was silky, bouncy, no flyaway, great resilience, volume and shine,stayed tangle free for days, and my curls sprang back into their full glory for the first time in decades.

Getting your hair clean with herbs can be done but its a process and unless you have allergies - much easier to stick with conventional shampoo, LOL!

I got onto the hair shtick not because of allergies (didn't know I had them yet) but because my hair had been breaking off and losing its curl for like 30 years. Turned out to be a severe protein deficiency (just in my hair) and between protein treatments (I use Neutral Protein Filler that coincidentally has no coconut content) and the Indian herbs, pretty soon I figured out there was something more going on with my scalp than just whatever shampoo of the moment wasn't "cleansing" enough. They were actually irritating my scalp due to having allergens in them. ALL of them, which is why nothing seemed to work properly. More coconut = more irritation more quickly, but they were all irritating.

I may try making the paste-type soapnut blend JUST OCCASIONALLY and applied only to my scalp with a shampoo brush to really get my scalp clean, but not on all my hair, to minimize gunk going down the drain and maximize cleaning potential.

Someday I may try making a homemade shampoo but first I have to figure out the soap thing. Burning in your nether regions is no fun and takes way longer to heal than hives and rashes elsewhere.

I'm lucky my lip balm has no coconut or palm content. I use Dr. Bronner's Naked Lip Balm. If you're not on the lookout for coconut allergens, the formulation looks very much like the Burt's Bees, yet the Burt's Bees didn't work for me and I almost didn't try the Dr. Bronner's because I already knew the similarly beeswax based Burt's Bees stuff didn't work. Now I know why - coconut content!

Lard - by "lard" I assume you mean the stuff they sell in your local bodega marked "Manteca"? That's actually mixed pork fat, not lard. No commercially sold product marked "lard" is actually lard, its all mixed pork fat (and some of it even has beef tallow added).

Sorry. Veteran baker here. Serious bakers like me search assiduously for real lard for pie crusts and it is quite expensive and hard to find. Hardly anybody raises lard hogs any more and "regular" hogs and modern breeds don't produce more than a little bit of actual lard.

Anyway I have no problem whatsoever with animal products. As long as manteca-lard doesn't have palm additives (they use them in vegetable shortening to harden it up) I'm good with it. I've been considering the use of manteca-lard since I saw it in the list of soap fats, eg - since YESTERDAY LOL! I haven't seen any coconut free recipes that use it yet. It's hard for me to figure out how to use and combine these things because every single recipe I've seen so far is either full of unobtainium (ONE recipe that used several oils/fats I can't easily get) or its 100% olive oil that takes a whole year to cure or ... the vast majority are chock-full of coconut/palm products. I don't really have a springboard to get me started.

Not sure why you have this idea that glycerin needs to be added to soap. That is not at all a requirement.

Glycerin is rarely added to bar soap (soap made with NaOH).

It is an optional ingredient sometimes used for making liquid soap (soap made with KOH). You really don't have to make liquid soap with extra glycerin, however. I often make liquid soap with just water -- no added glycerin -- and it makes perfectly fine soap.

Glycerin is sometimes used as a solvent for "transparent" and melt-and-pour soaps, but even these soaps can be and often are made with solvents other than glycerin.

That said, glycerin is naturally produced during the saponification reaction of fats. This natural glycerin content in handcrafted soap (without any added glycerin) runs about 8-10% by weight.
I don't know that it NEEDS to be added but people DO add it, especially when they want to improve trace time. Its not something that is obviously a problem for someone with my allergies unless you know how it is made. So I mention it so that people know I can't use it, and also that is why glycerin soaps are not an option for me.

Also because I have been thinking that a liquid version of a castile soap may be something I can achieve in under a year. I swear I found a recipe/process on here for doing cold process castile soap but now I can't find it. Dang me!

I also have no idea where I would get potassium hydroxide. I can get Sodium Hydroxide - Tractor supply sells 2 lbs of a pure sodium hydroxide drain cleaner for $15 (I forget the brand) - but not sure I can find potassium hydroxide.

I can't get mail so mail order is out. And if getting via Amazon, it has to be shippable to an Amazon locker, or delivered direct to my door (not a mailbox) by UPS. If USPS gets hold of it they just send it back because they won't acknowledge my disability and they now just return all my mail. It goes to a distant (for me) mail pod instead of the pod right across the street 2 doors up from my house and they will not move my box to the nearer mail pod nor give me home delivery because they say I don't LOOK disabled. And since 90% or more of all UPS shipments now go through USPS for the last leg, well. There I am. Can't mail order. And not everything on Amazon is deliverable to an Amazon locker. Just so you know. I'm limited on my shopping/shipping options. Sorry! So picky, me.
 

Pyewacket

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Are you making bar soap or liquid soap. Glycerine is added to liquid soap.....if bar soap you are good to go. :)
Well since it takes a whole year for castile soap bars to cure, yes, I AM looking for a coconut-babassu-palm free alternative such as liquid castile soap. I swear I thought I had found a cold-process liquid castile soap recipe/process on here and now I can't find it again ...
 

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@DeeAnna....I just don't understand why soapee says it won't tell you how clean the soap will get you while your article says these soap have the ability to strip away natural oils if the number is too high. They seem to contradict each other.
According to the quote provided by Pyewacket (I haven't gone to Soapee to confirm), the info in Soapee says "...The cleansing number does NOT tell you whether the soap will actually get your skin clean..."

I'm assuming this is what you're concerned about? I think this is an accurate statement.

Soap with a "cleansing" number of zero (or any other number) can cleanse the skin, meaning remove grime and excess oils. I mean -- we all know that from 100% olive oil (castile type) soap which has a zero cleansing number. Right?

So if any soap with any cleansing number can clean the skin, then the "cleansing" number tells a person nothing about whether the soap can clean the skin.

What the cleansing number does indicate (besides the soap's solubility in salty/hard/cold water) is whether the soap is more likely to be a skin irritant. Irritancy is different than cleansing. A high myristic-lauric soap has the ability to remove not only grime and excess oils, but also to strip the natural fats and proteins that are needed to protect the surface of the skin.

If you've ever washed with a new soap -- maybe a test recipe or someone else's soap -- and had your skin feel taut or dry and look "ashy" after bathing, that's the kind of stripping I'm talking about. If you keep washing with that particular soap, your skin will probably get drier feeling and drier looking to the point you'll start feeling uncomfortable and itchy.

A high cleansing number => high in lauric and myristic acids => more likely to strip "good" fats and proteins => more likely to irritate the skin, especially sensitive or dry skin.

I'm not sure I'm answering your question, really. Please ask again if I've missed your point.
 

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