could extra virgin oo cause cloudy liquid soap?

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poramor

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I changed 2 things in my liquid soap formula: 1.) I used extra virgin instead of "non-extra virgin" olive oil and 2.) I used 4% superfat instead of 0%. My formula has olive, coconut, sesame oil, and small amounts of castor and wheatgerm oil. Usually I get clear liquid soap, though last time it was zappy which is why this time I superfatted. This time all tests made resulted cloudy. The soap base is more fluid than usual. I added small amounts of KOH and waited several hours or overnight to see the effect until I had reversed the superfat in the formula but testing with distilled water still came out cloudy. I began using cold process method and since it wasn´t working I cooked and cooked several hours. Could this clouding be due to the use of extra virgin oil this time? Do you have suggestions on saving the soap?
 

DeeAnna

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You can superfat, but limit the superfat to 2-3% at most. Too much fat overall is probably the reason why this batch is cloudy, not the different type of olive oil. Much of the excess fat may eventually separate and float on top of the rest of the soap. That may improve the clarity.

Ah, I didn't read well enough -- you've added KOH and cooked the mixture to correct the issue. But you don't say how much KOH you added in proportion to the superfat, so is it possible you didn't add enough?
 

ResolvableOwl

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Could this clouding be due to the use of extra virgin oil this time?
Yes. Olive oil contains unsaponifiables (squalene is the most well-known; in the worst case, it's mineral oil contamination 🤮). Maybe you got a batch that had a bit more of unsaponifiables than usual/than the superfat emulsion tolerance of LS can handle.

If you are sure that your late KOH addition was sufficient to eat up any superfat, yet cloudiness persists, a few other reasons are left. You might have got a batch with a noticeably higher saponification value, that needs a bit more lye to fully react (the culprit doesn't have to be the olive oil) – the SAPs of soap calculators are average values. Or your solid KOH might not be as concentrated as you thought (e. g., pulled water from the air). I assume that you can exclude dirty vessels, or usage of tap water? (Everyone makes stupid mistakes 😳)

Do you have suggestions on saving the soap?
First, wait another day or two. If the cloudiness persists, add crazy extra 10% KOH to a small test portion and let it react. If it still fails the clarity test, then it's definitely an issue with unsaponifiables. But if it got clear, you can add castor oil, equivalent to the excess lye, and let it saponify.
 

DeeAnna

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Olive oil when meeting international quality specifications does not have any more naturally occuring unsaponifiable content than other common soaping fats. Even pomace olive doesn't have an unusually high unsaponifiable content. Shea and avocado lead the pack in the amount of naturally occuring unsaponifiable content.

If you are talking about adulterated olive oil, that's another story. Adulteration (squalene, mineral oil, other seed oils, etc.) is not natural and it's not per spec.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Olive oil when meeting international quality specifications
This is true, but I personally can't judge if this is the case without having more knowledge about @poramor's supply. If the olive oil did meet the same quality specifications as the non-virgin oil OP had used before, there were no cloudiness issues.

Adulteration (squalene
Do you have reasons to assume that squalene is deliberately added to olive oil, additionally to the 0.3% levels that are naturally present?
 
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Zany_in_CO

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Usually I get clear liquid soap, though last time it was zappy which is why this time I superfatted.
While I understand your thinking, "zappy" LS will calm down if left to do its thing for a day or two or however long it takes.
Cooking more than 3-4 hours is rarely necessary. Once again, let it rest to see what happens. When it comes to LS, PATIENCE is the best tool in your toolbox.
SF @ 4% is testing the limits of the balance. Not a good idea. If you want clear soap, stick with 0% SF.
The only advice I can offer is to wait a full 2 weeks to see if anything floats to the top or settles on the bottom or whether the soap clears. If it's still cloudy, best to review your notes to determine what went wrong. Wish I could be more help. :(
 

poramor

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You can superfat, but limit the superfat to 2-3% at most. Too much fat overall is probably the reason why this batch is cloudy, not the different type of olive oil. Much of the excess fat may eventually separate and float on top of the rest of the soap. That may improve the clarity.

Ah, I didn't read well enough -- you've added KOH and cooked the mixture to correct the issue. But you don't say how much KOH you added in proportion to the superfat, so is it possible you didn't add enough?
Thanks to all for their feedback! Its amazing the help provided by this forum´s members! My original batch had 7 kilos of oil. I used soapee to make the calculations. The total lye using 4% superfat was 1,558.5 grams and when I changed the superfat to 0%, the lye came up to 1,623.5 gram, a difference of 65 grams. To correct the clouding issue, I took a third of the soap base and added KOH in small doses, checking for cloudiness after leaving the soap base in the crockpot set to warm for several hours each time, until I had added 1/3 of the 65 grams: 22 grams. Since cloudiness continued, I just went ahead and diluted the base with distilled water. Its been twenty days and as DeeAnna said, the excess fat has floated on top and I have been able to recuperate some liquid soap that isn't transparent but it isn't so cloudy either. Now I want to try and save the other 2/3 of my soap base. I was thinking of surpassing the 43 grams that would proportionally bring it to 0 % superfat. What would you recommend? Is it necessary to cook the soap base so that the extra KOH incorporates into the soap?
Yes. Olive oil contains unsaponifiables (squalene is the most well-known; in the worst case, it's mineral oil contamination 🤮). Maybe you got a batch that had a bit more of unsaponifiables than usual/than the superfat emulsion tolerance of LS can handle.

If you are sure that your late KOH addition was sufficient to eat up any superfat, yet cloudiness persists, a few other reasons are left. You might have got a batch with a noticeably higher saponification value, that needs a bit more lye to fully react (the culprit doesn't have to be the olive oil) – the SAPs of soap calculators are average values. Or your solid KOH might not be as concentrated as you thought (e. g., pulled water from the air). I assume that you can exclude dirty vessels, or usage of tap water? (Everyone makes stupid mistakes 😳)


First, wait another day or two. If the cloudiness persists, add crazy extra 10% KOH to a small test portion and let it react. If it still fails the clarity test, then it's definitely an issue with unsaponifiables. But if it got clear, you can add castor oil, equivalent to the excess lye, and let it saponify.
I agree with ResolvableOwl. I can take a small amount of soap base and add extra KOH. When you say 10% extra, its 10% of what? and how much do I add to a small sample?
As for the olive oil being adulterated, I wouldn´t think so, having been bought in a reputable supermarket, although I had never tried that oil before. I have read somewhere that for making soap, it is better to use olive oil that is not extravirgin but I am not sure if this was only about solid cold process soap. Anyway, this was the first time I had used virgin oil. After this botched batch, I have made 2 more batches of liquid soap. I didn´t have cloudiness problems but I can´t use this to investigate what went wrong with the cloudy batch because I changed several variables: I used a different brand of non virgin olive oil, I superfatted on 1% and I changed from 38% water as a percent of oil, used on the "cloudy batch" to 30% lye concentration and then 33% lye concentration. They both passed the cloudiness test very quickly, 30 to 45 minutes of continuous use of the stick blender. The one with 30% lye concentration got so hard I had to cut through it with a knife to take it out of the pot but I guess this would merit starting a new thread....
 

ResolvableOwl

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When you say 10% extra, its 10% of what? and how much do I add to a small sample?
10% of the original amount of KOH, i. e. 150–160 g for your whole batch. I don't know how easy it is for you to measure the final weight and/or if you kept book over the soap concentration/total water addition (+ evaporation losses). This would be necessary for precision in the sense “I know that X g of soap paste contain Y g of oil and Z g of KOH”, so that additional steps can be tracked in a small sample, and scaled up for the full batch.

Example (eyeballed numbers, use your own in any case!): Your original batch was 7 kg EVOO + 1559 g KOH + 2660 g water = 11.2 kg. I guesstimate that your lenghty cooking let some water evaporate, so the batch might weigh only 10.5 kg. You took out one third for your gradual superfat reduction experiment, that is 3.5 kg. If you want to follow my initial proposition (I don't know if it is still necessary!), these 3.5 kg contain(ed) 519 g KOH. That means, you scoop out another 3.5 kg of the original batch and add 52 g KOH to it.
That's only about twice as much as you have already tried in your first experiment. Does the soap recuperated by DeeAnna's suggestion (after decanting superfat precipitate) pass the zap test? If yes (not zappy), then you could go on for a bit. If not (zappy), then you definitely have a major inclusion of unsaponifiables. Unfortunately, straining is the only way to get rid of it. Just to be 1000% sure, you might take the murky superfat layer, add a ton of KOH, and boil for a while.

You're basically carrying out a titration experiment of the saponification value of that EVOO, just the hard way. If you should succeessfully get a clear solution with lye addition only, then you have the questionable trophy of an extraordinary SAP that you can write onto the bottle, to spare you from such troubles the next time you use this oil.

Your subsequent success with non-virgin olive oil proves that your KOH is fine (if it was the same lot). The amount of water doesn't play a role about completion of saponification, it only has a minor influence on duration, and how tedious the soap paste dilution will be afterwards (there is no need to cut down on water that far with liquid soap).

Stupid question: Is the oil itself clear? EVOO can contain slurry that came from the crushed olive pulp, and it is sometimes just decanted. Of course, you can't expect that the “fibre” (the stuff that holds together the oil inside the olives and makes them firm) will magically dissolve into a clear solution. (Judge oil clarity at room temperature or above.)
 
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