Crazy Bubble Recipe Feedback?

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Sweet-Suds

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I'm a newbie to soap making and this is one of my first recipes so I'd really appreciate some critique! I'm set on making a vegan soap that's extremely bubbly and can take well to detailed molds. This is what I have so far!
 

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Good job on starting with a small batch while you experiment! Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Is there a reason you are using fractionated coconut oil (liquid MCT oil) instead of the regular 76-degree solid coconut oil? Fractionated CO is best saved for lotions and such, and isn't that great in bar soap. After making the switch to regular CO, you probably want to cut it down to 20% so your soap isn't too drying to the skin.

2. Babassu oil is expensive, and very similar to coconut oil. Combined that with the coconut oil you already have in your recipe, you will have an extremely cleansing (stripping, drying) bar of soap. See that cleansing number of 39? That is way too high. Most of us try to keep cleansing below 15, and many of us keep it quite a bit lower than that. Consider using palm or lard instead of the babassu. They are both affordable, and make very nice soap without adding the stripping effect of babassu + coconut oil.

3. Castor oil is normally used at 5% max. Some people go higher, but you risk having a sticky or rubbery bar unless you specifically formulate to counteract that. And that's a bit advanced for a first recipe. :)

4. Don't use the water-as-percent-of-oils setting for the lye calculation; that was originally designed for hot process soap, which requires much more water due to evaporation during cooking. Instead, change it to lye concentration and set it to 33%. That is a good average starting point and will provide consistent results as you try different recipes and batch sizes.

5. Finally, for your first recipe, it is best to start with fewer oils. Consider leaving out the sweet almond oil for now to simplify things. Putting all that together, your new recipe might look like this:

20% coconut oil (76 degree)
30% olive oil
35% palm oil or lard
10% sunflower oil (preferably high-oleic)
5% castor oil
 

Sweet-Suds

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Good job on starting with a small batch while you experiment! Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Is there a reason you are using fractionated coconut oil (liquid MCT oil) instead of the regular 76-degree solid coconut oil? Fractionated CO is best saved for lotions and such, and isn't that great in bar soap. After making the switch to regular CO, you probably want to cut it down to 20% so your soap isn't too drying to the skin.

2. Babassu oil is expensive, and very similar to coconut oil. Combined that with the coconut oil you already have in your recipe, you will have an extremely cleansing (stripping, drying) bar of soap. See that cleansing number of 39? That is way too high. Most of us try to keep cleansing below 15, and many of us keep it quite a bit lower than that. Consider using palm or lard instead of the babassu. They are both affordable, and make very nice soap without adding the stripping effect of babassu + coconut oil.

3. Castor oil is normally used at 5% max. Some people go higher, but you risk having a sticky or rubbery bar unless you specifically formulate to counteract that. And that's a bit advanced for a first recipe. :)

4. Don't use the water-as-percent-of-oils setting for the lye calculation; that was originally designed for hot process soap, which requires much more water due to evaporation during cooking. Instead, change it to lye concentration and set it to 33%. That is a good average starting point and will provide consistent results as you try different recipes and batch sizes.

5. Finally, for your first recipe, it is best to start with fewer oils. Consider leaving out the sweet almond oil for now to simplify things. Putting all that together, your new recipe might look like this:

20% coconut oil (76 degree)
30% olive oil
35% palm oil or lard
10% sunflower oil (preferably high-oleic)
5% castor oil
Thank you for the advice! My reasoning behind using fractioned coconut oil is that I've heard it's bubblier than the regular. Is there anything I could use to substitute the palm oil/lard that has the same effect?
Fractioned coconut oil reference Coconut oil differences and use (not only) in soapmaking and cosmetics making
 
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I didn't get past the first line in that article. She says 72 degrees co. It is 76 degees. Typo, but i think if somebody is qualifying themselves to teach, the first line should not have wrong information.

I add sugar to my water before adding lye. It makes a noticeably more bubbly soap.
 
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I find exactly the opposite; FCO is less bubbly in my soap and gives it a weird texture.

EDIT: Please notice that in the article you quoted, she says she has never tried FCO in soap, but that she THINKS it will make a bubbly bar. She is giving advice about something she has never tried, and obviously has not bothered to research. Please be very careful about following any of the information she provides. You will find much more accurate information in this forum.

If you don't want to use lard, tallow, or palm, I recommend that you use the search function of this forum to look for "vegan soap recipe." There are lots of good threads that explain how you can blend a variety of oils to achieve a good balance.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Just too many divergent opinions on MCT soap. Unless proven otherwise (by well-documented experiments), the only safe/sensible use of MCT in soapmaking stays HP post-cook superfat as carrier & anchor of EOs/FOs/plant extracts.

@Sweet-Suds
Without hard oils, your soap will be very readily soluble and dissolve quickly. You already have enough of a well-known crazy-bubble-oil (babaçu), and the well-known crazy-bubble-supporter (castor); you probably couldn't even tell if any of the other ingredients (including the MCT oil) make any difference at all!
 
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Is there anything I could use to substitute the palm oil/lard that has the same effect?
[/QUOTE]
I’m not sure about an exact substitute, but some soapers use soy wax for a vegan bar. Is you use the search function and type it in, you will find lots of info on it. I know @KiwiMoose uses it regularly. Maybe she’ll chime in.
 

Zany_in_CO

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Don't use the water-as-percent-of-oils setting for the lye calculation;
Old School here. With all due respect, seriously, I prefer the default settings on SoapCalc when trying a new CP recipe and recommend them for beginners.

38% water as percent of oils is so-called "full water". While it's true that water evaporates faster when making HP, that same water evaporates over time with CP. I can't it explain the science, but I believe basic soaps, in most cases, need all that water to reach full saponification.

I suspect that's one of the reasons why I've never experienced DOS or soda ash in all my 17 years of soapmaking. Dunno. :smallshrug:

Using a 33% lye concentration aka "water discount", while popular, isn't always the best option, to my mind at least, across the board and the soaper should have a good reason for choosing that option -- just as one would if choosing any one of the variable lye concentrations available. IMO and IME it isn't always the best option, may cause problems, and may not be necessary in the long run.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I'm set on making a vegan soap that's extremely bubbly and can take well to detailed molds.
I hate to disappoint you, but that recipe isn't going to get you there. :(
For starters, I agree with what @AliOop said about the FCO, the Castor oil and the Babassu Oil.

Pay attention to the recommended Range in the Soap Bar Quality section, especially the INS Value. A so-called "perfect" bar has an INS Value of 160. Your formula has an INS Value of 179. :eek:

Please read: Advice to Beginners

At this stage of your soapmaking journey, I'd advise you to start with the
BASIC TRINITY OF OILS starter formula and grow from there. Once you understand what each of the 3 legs brings to the formula, then you will be better equipped to design the bar of your dreams. :nodding:

HAPPY SOAPING! :hippo::hippo::hippo:

ETA: Almost forgot to say, good thinking to post your formula in the Recipe Feedback Forum before making it.
 
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Old School here. With all due respect, seriously, I prefer the default settings on SoapCalc when trying a new CP recipe and recommend them for beginners.

38% water as percent of oils is so-called "full water". While it's true that water evaporates faster when making HP, that same water evaporates over time with CP. I can't it explain the science, but I believe basic soaps, in most cases, need all that water to reach full saponification.

I suspect that's one of the reasons why I've never experienced DOS or soda ash in all my 17 years of soapmaking. Dunno. :smallshrug:

Using a 33% lye concentration aka "water discount", while popular, isn't always the best option, to my mind at least, across the board and the soaper should have a good reason for choosing that option -- just as one would if choosing any one of the variable lye concentrations available. IMO and IME it isn't always the best option, may cause problems, and may not be necessary in the long run.
With all due respect, scientifically speaking, what you shared is not correct. My soaps saponify just fine with a 40% lye concentration, which is my standard.

More importantly, when you use water-as-percent of oils, you end up with differing lye concentrations, depending on the size of your batch. While that may work well for you, it isn't as consistent from batch to batch, leaving new soapers wondering why one batch takes forever to harden, and another doesn't. Using lye concentration -whether one starts at 30%, 33%, or some other number - gives the soaper a consistent base (pun intended) for making soap batters that behave the same whether it is a small batch or large batch.

FWIW, every other soaper I've heard discuss this issue experiences less ash with less water. And DOS has nothing to do with how much water is used, but rather, the quality of the water (and other ingredients), as well as storage conditions.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Some remarks:
  • “Water as % of oils” folklore has the ugly side-effect that the lye concentration will depend on the choice of oils! That elusive “Full water” means 24.2% lye concentration for shea butter, but 31.4% for coconut oil, or 36.7% for the FCO (at NaSAP 0.232). Does this sound like a clever idea?
  • Keep in mind that INS rewards highly cleansing/stripping/irritant recipes. It won't help (or even misguide) you how to tackle hardness issues. INS can be a decent helper metric to develop recipes as long as you limit the sum of lauric&MCT oils (coconut, babaçu, PKO, MCT, FCO): popular & proven choice is 20…30% for the sum. All of a sudden, you have no choice but include a ton of lard/palm/tallow/shea/cocoa/soy wax to make INS happy – for good reasons!
  • Recipes high in water tend to shrink and distort with time/drying/curing, and develop a rough, rugged surface. Not the best prerequisites for accurate moulding. 33% lye concentration is a good starting point, but you can always increase afterwards. Advantage: Higher lye concentration → less likely to gel, and ungelled soaps keep their dimensions better, IME.
  • ETA: Interesterified or Fractionated coconut oil, MCT … do have varying saponification values based on the botanical origin, degree of fractionation, manufacturer, etc. (different caprylic:capric ratio). That alone should make one be careful with using it as a soaping oil. Tabulated SAP values are unreliable, and naïve usage can cause soap to be lye-heavy.
 
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Thank you for the advice! My reasoning behind using fractioned coconut oil is that I've heard it's bubblier than the regular. Is there anything I could use to substitute the palm oil/lard that has the same effect?
Fractioned coconut oil reference Coconut oil differences and use (not only) in soapmaking and cosmetics making
If your concerns about palm oil are due to deforestation, please know there are companies that sell responsibly harvested palm oil. They often work with inhabitants in their villages to harvest the palm -
It is a terrific oil for soap making.
 

Zany_in_CO

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@AliOop @ResolvableOwl Your points are well made. As you may or may not be aware, I can not speak to the “scientifically speaking” framed issues because I do not have a background in Soap Science, nor do I worship at the altar of Kevin Dunn. So forgive me if I don’t respond on that level.

You both do an excellent job of sharing your science-based wisdom and I’m always delighted to see you contribute to whatever issue is at hand. I may not understand it, but I am grateful for your helpful intent and contributions.

I hope we can agree to disagree as to whether 38% water as % of oils or 33% lye concentration is the best starting point for Newbies. Since I have far more experience with SoapCalc than either of you, I feel that it is safe to say, once you understand how to use it, it is a reliable guide for those of us who are not scientifically oriented. :)
 
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@AliOop & @Resolvable Owl Your points are well made. As you may or may not be aware, I can not speak to the “scientifically speaking” framed issues because I do not have a background in Soap Science, nor do I worship at the altar of Kevin Dunn. So forgive me if I don’t respond on that level.

You both do an excellent job of sharing your science-based wisdom and I’m always delighted to see you contribute to whatever issue is at hand. I may not understand it, but I am grateful for your helpful intent and contributions.

I hope we can agree to disagree as to whether 38% water as % of oils or 33% lye concentration is the best starting point for Newbies. Since I have more experience with SoapCalc than either of you, I feel it is a reliable guide for those of us who are not scientifically oriented. :)
Thanks as always for your courteous response, Zany.

We will have to agree to disagree for sure, as I believe that using lye concentration is especially important for those who do not have a science or math background, and thus have trouble understanding or calculating full water, water discount, lye discount, SAP values, etc.

Instead, lye concentration lets them use one simple number to achieve a consistent batter regardless of size, or as @ResolvableOwl pointed out, which oils are used.

BTW, Owl, that was fascinating about how the different SAP values change the lye concentration when using the water-%-of-oils setting. I knew the concept but not the specifics. Love it!!
 

ResolvableOwl

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BTW, Owl, that was fascinating about how the different SAP values change the lye concentration when using the water-%-of-oils setting. I knew the concept but not the specifics. Love it!!
No prob. I just took some not to be named SoapCalc-ulator (of which I would never dare reckon that I am better or worse at handling it than anyone else 😇), plugged in a single-oil recipe, and looked at the results. I didn't even bother care about the sane default 5% SF.

Homework: Take some arbitrary soap recipe, formulated with water-as-%-of-oils. How does lye concentration react on modification of SF percentage?
 

Zany_in_CO

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Just curious as to why you say this, and in your opinion, what would be some examples of the good reason? How do you, personally, choose what to use?
Good question! The simplest answer is that it all depends on the choice of oils and your objective.

EXAMPLE:
ZNSC using the default settings in SoapCalc results in 100% olive oil castile taking a long time to trace; sits longer in the mold before unmolding; sits on the curing rack longer before cutting; and takes minimum 3-months to cure. Even at that, it still produces "slime" when lathering up.

Based on that, my objective was to reduce slime and shorten cure time in 100% olive oil soaps.

So, using SoapCalc, I personally tweaked many batches over 12 years to arrive at 1.7:1 Water to Lye Ratio and 0% SF. That, plus the addition of faux sea water gave me the Castile Soap of my Dreams!

ETA: Other reasons:
I used my wholesale customer's formula for Goat Milk Soap at 31% lye concentration which we arrived at by mutual agreement. It was a best seller, ready to ship in 4 weeks, and had no issues over the 10 years we did business together.

When trying someone else's recipe, either on SMF or elsewhere, I always follow the author's lye concentration recommendation at first, then change it if I feel I can improve the results with a tweak in that area. This just comes with experience... knowing where to tweak a recipe when called for.
 
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Zany_in_CO

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Homework: Take some arbitrary soap recipe, formulated with water-as-%-of-oils. How does lye concentration react on modification of SF percentage?
If you wish to continue this discussion, out of respect for the OP's topic, it's best to start a new thread. But please take some time to respond to the objective of
I'm set on making a vegan soap that's extremely bubbly and can take well to detailed molds.
I look forward to reading your input. :nodding:
 

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