Cure in the loaf experiment

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Ugeauxgirl

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I'm going to try curing a loaf of soap uncut- which I read about in a really OLD soap book (Soap, Making it Enjoying it by Ann Bramson). I'm going to make a 2.5 lb batch and divide it between 2 loaves. I will unmold them both but only cut one of them. At the end of the cure period (6-8 weeks) I'll cut the remaining loaf and test to see if there are any differences in performance.

I'm trying to stick as closely to the recipe as I can, but when I ran the old recipe through soapmaking friend, it shows it at a 9% superfat and a 26.5% lye concentration. That's a LOT of superfat and a LOT of water.

I'm going to cut the superfat and raise the lye concentration to 30 or 33%. Any input is appreciated as I usually make hot process. I'll post pictures after I make it.
PXL_20210804_010923683.jpg
Screenshot_20210804-172902.png
 

Zany_in_CO

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The lye calculation on the book page shown above is correct using the default settings on SoapCalc.
Once calculated, I switched to %s to get the amount of each oil for a 40 oz. oils batch.

Ann Bramson Recipe.png


ETA: Oopsie. I calculated the recipe shown on the book page. Oh well. :oops:
You can try running the lard recipe through soap calc (Formerly "Sooz" back in Ann's day) using the default settings to see if it comes out the same as Soap Making Friend which is fairly new and a bit more sophisticated for us old biddies, me & Ann, that is. 😜
 
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dibbles

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I wonder if this lye concentration was used for soap that was left as a loaf to cure in order to be able to cut it more easily. Did the book mention how long the soaps were left to cure before cutting? Or maybe lye concentration wasn't something that people commonly messed with at the time. 🤔
 

Ugeauxgirl

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Yes, the book said you could EITHER cut them into bars after unmolding, or leave them in the loaf for 3-4 weeks, and then slice them from the block as you needed them- I assume (since her recipe made a huge quantity) that you'd be cutting on those soap loaves for MONTHS. She did say one of the recipes needed to be cut immediately after unmolding, and would be too hard to cut if you left it in the loaf.

The recipe she said got too hard was called Castile, but the recipe is 30% olive oil and 70% tallow.
 
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Ugeauxgirl

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I wonder if this lye concentration was used for soap that was left as a loaf to cure in order to be able to cut it more easily. Did the book mention how long the soaps were left to cure before cutting? Or maybe lye concentration wasn't something that people commonly messed with at the time. 🤔
I don't think there was a lot of soap science information in 1970. There was no mention of lowering the water or what would happen if you did- it did say you couldn't change oils around because different lye amounts would be required, but with a 9% superfat it might not have mattered that much!

ETA, I ran another recipe through a soap calculator and that one also had 9% superfat and even lower lye concentration. Hmm. Whatever the reason, I'm going to lower the superfat and raise the lye concentration for my experiment.
 
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TheGecko

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or leave them in the loaf for 3-4 weeks, and then slice them from the block as you needed them
Okay, that makes a little more sense. I thought you were talking about curing the entire loaf as a whole. The first cut is going to be a little soft on the cut side because of the short curing time and last of exposure to the air. Logic would dictate that you would then cut your second bar from the other end as it would have had another 3 to 4 week cure...and so on and so forth. Assuming a standard 5 oz bar cut 1" thick lasting for approximately 30 days, by the time you get to the last bar, it would have been curing for two years.
 

Ugeauxgirl

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Okay, that makes a little more sense. I thought you were talking about curing the entire loaf as a whole. The first cut is going to be a little soft on the cut side because of the short curing time and last of exposure to the air. Logic would dictate that you would then cut your second bar from the other end as it would have had another 3 to 4 week cure...and so on and so forth. Assuming a standard 5 oz bar cut 1" thick lasting for approximately 30 days, by the time you get to the last bar, it would have been curing for two years.
Gosh, you're right! I was wondering if maybe air (and water evaporation) didn't matter so much as time, and testing a middle bar would prove that. I will test the first and second bar and let you know.
 

Zany_in_CO

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As it happens, I have 2 batches of ZNSC Tea Tree curing now. Made July 17 and July 19. The first batch was cut 1 day after unmolding. The second batch is uncut loafs -- meant for shipping to a customer to cut as needed. I'm happy to join your experiment. I can always make more! ;) I'm curious to see how the loaves cut after 6 weeks cure, August 28 -- maybe too hard? (The loafs and cut bars are hard enough to ship in 2 weeks.)

ZNSC Tea Tree.jpg
 

Cat&Oak

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As it happens, I have 2 batches of ZNSC Tea Tree curing now. Made July 17 and July 19. The first batch was cut 1 day after unmolding. The second batch is uncut loafs -- meant for shipping to a customer to cut as needed. I'm happy to join your experiment. I can always make more! ;) I'm curious to see how the loaves cut after 6 weeks cure, August 28 -- maybe too hard? (The loafs and cut bars are hard enough to ship in 2 weeks.)

View attachment 59850
What a lovely green!
 

Ugeauxgirl

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As it happens, I have 2 batches of ZNSC Tea Tree curing now. Made July 17 and July 19. The first batch was cut 1 day after unmolding. The second batch is uncut loafs -- meant for shipping to a customer to cut as needed. I'm happy to join your experiment. I can always make more! ;) I'm curious to see how the loaves cut after 6 weeks cure, August 28 -- maybe too hard? (The loafs and cut bars are hard enough to ship in 2 weeks.)

View attachment 59850
That is a pretty green! I made your ZNSC a while back (thank you for the recipe!) And it came out rock hard. I could barely cut it the same day- but it was hot process. Can't wait to hear about yours. Have you shipped it in a loaf for later cutting before?
 

Zany_in_CO

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I know, it IS weird. But that's what it says. Here is a picture of the page
Oh my. I would blame that error on the editor... I know of at least one soapmaker who wrote a book and she was mortified when the book was published. The editor was responsible for the goofs contained there in.
Behind every great writer is an even greater editior. ;)
 

TheGecko

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People have did decent ideas of what Castile is. For me, it’s 100% Olive Oil, Sodium Hydroxide and Distilled Water.
 

TheGecko

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Gosh, you're right! I was wondering if maybe air (and water evaporation) didn't matter so much as time, and testing a middle bar would prove that. I will test the first and second bar and let you know.
You need water evaporation, else wise you’re just going to have soft soap…think soap dough.
 

DeeAnna

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A suggestion -- set your scale to weight ounces. Scales that convert to fluid ounces assume the specific gravity of what you are weighing is equal to 1. That's fine if you're measuring water, but not necessarily accurate for anything else. Some day this is likely to trip you up.
 

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