Determining LC & super fat percentages

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Kila

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I am going to use 40% for my LC and 4% superfats. What would tweaking with these numbers do? What does a higher or lower superfat percentage do? And if I wanted to use 33% LC like many other people, what would be the biggest difference as opposed to 40? Thanks.
 

lsg

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You said in another thread that you were studying on how to make soap. As a beginner, I think that you need to stick with standard the percentages if you are using SoapCalc. Watch the YouTube tutorials of SoapQueen and Soaping101. They both have good recipes for beginners. Don't use expensive ingredients when first making soap, stick with readily available ingredients. Make small, 1 lb. batches for the first several times in case your soap doesn't turn out the way you want it. That way you won't be wasting expensive ingredients.
 
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DeeAnna

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None of us use the abbreviation "LC" for lye concentration, so you're going to confuse a lot of soapers here by using this shorthand. "Water as % of oils" and lye concentration percentages both look the same, so it's very easy to confuse the two if people don't say exactly which one they're talking about. IMO, further abbreviating either of these terms will increase the chance of confusion even more.

If you'd asked what lye concentration would be good to use for making soap, I'd give you my opinion. You've clearly made a decision, however, and I think it's up to you to explain your choice first. What is your reasoning for deciding to use 40% lye concentration? How do you think your soap making will benefit from 40% versus 33% or some other lye concentration?
 

cmzaha

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If by chance you have read that a higher lye concentration, such as 40%, will give more working time for swirling, and design do not count on it. That theory could be recipe-driven, but I know with my recipes 40% will trace much too quickly for me. When you answer DeeAnn's question she will explain well the reason for different lye concentrations.
 

Kila

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None of us use the abbreviation "LC" for lye concentration, so you're going to confuse a lot of soapers here by using this shorthand. "Water as % of oils" and lye concentration percentages both look the same, so it's very easy to confuse the two if people don't say exactly which one they're talking about. IMO, further abbreviating either of these terms will increase the chance of confusion even more.

If you'd asked what lye concentration would be good to use for making soap, I'd give you my opinion. You've clearly made a decision, however, and I think it's up to you to explain your choice first. What is your reasoning for deciding to use 40% lye concentration? How do you think your soap making will benefit from 40% versus 33% or some other lye concentration?
I learned this lye concentration from a Youtuber named Elly's Everyday. She said that a higher amount of water would make emulsion happen slowly and take a longer time to dry. She said it's best to work in the middle anywhere from 33-40%. However she prefers 40. My goal for this first trial batch of mine is to make it without any swirls or designs, just a solid bar with sprinkled botanicals on top & a good amount of suds. I still don't fully understand the concepts of super fat other than it is extra oil left on the bar of soap (correct me if I'm wrong). Thank you for baring with me as I learn these basics!
 

Susie

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First off, opinions are like noses (keeping it G rated here), everyone has one, and they are all slightly different. So, get several opinions from people you can have ongoing conversations with (like here vs YouTube), and take each into account with everyone's reasoning. Then, make your own mind up with your reasons for doing so. After that, run the recipe by us on here so we can tell you what we think.

Second, I will STRONGLY recommend that you start out with someone's tried and true recipe that you can depend upon to turn out well. Once you get the hang of making soap and learning what to expect, then you can branch out and figure out what each change makes. Avoid recipes that involve expensive ingredients until you get the hang of it. (I would still avoid them then, but that is me, and I have tested most of them already.)

Third, don't believe everything you see on YouTube. There are people there that say untrue, and in one case, dangerous, things. Watch a LOT of YouTube videos by lots of different people. Research what you see and hear by reading SMF or other soap making forums. Read at least the first 5 pages of threads on the beginner forum. Follow that up by about as many pages on the lye based soap forum. Then you will have a good amount of solid knowledge that you can count on.

Finally, superfat (SF) determines the amount of fat/oils/fatty acids that are not reacted with the lye (NaOH+H2O). This does determine the amount of free fatty acids that can stay on your skin. If you live in an area with hard water, and do not have a softener, then a higher SF is not a good thing, as all that SF will become soap scum that will stay on your skin, walls, and inside your pipes. 2% SF is my new rule.

ETA: Just watched the video in question. She does promote safe practices, so I am not worried about that, but that recipe is going to take about 6-9 months to cure because of the high olive oil amount. I am assuming that you would probably prefer to be able to test and use your soap more in the 4-6 weeks time frame. I would also never put the soap on a metal rack. That is just asking for DOS. Also, do not store it in a cupboard or drawers. Even with a Damp Rid.
 
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DeeAnna

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"...super fat other than it is extra oil left on the bar of soap..."

Yes, that's basically it. I use a superfat of 2-3% for my usual recipes for bath soap. Many other people use somewhat higher. What works for you will depend on your skin type, water quality, and personal preference. Don't get hung up on one % for superfat. You need to experiment to see what you like best. More of my thoughts: https://classicbells.com/soap/superfat.asp Also see the many discussions about superfat, lye concentration, and cure time here on SMF.

"...a higher amount of water would make emulsion happen slowly..."

Some soap recipes work better with a higher amount of water and some work better with less water. Again, don't get hung up on one specific number for lye concentration. Leave the door open to using different lye concentrations to best suit the type of recipe you're making and your particular style of soap making.

Recipes high in oleic acid (100% olive oil soap, for example) do nicely with a 40% lye concentration -- the batter will come to trace in a reasonably short time with a lower water content. A soap high in myristic and lauric acid (a 100% coconut oil soap) is best made with 28% lye concentration in my experience. This type of soap saponifies fast and hot to the point it can crack and even "volcano" and that is especially true if you use 33% or higher lye concentration. Middle-of-the-road recipes (not too high in oleic and not too high in lauric-myristic) do well with 33% lye concentration, although 40% may be fine too. What you may find with 40% is the working time may be too short if you want to do design work (swirls, etc.) that require the soap batter to be fluid and pourable. More of my thoughts: https://classicbells.com/soap/waterInSoap.asp

"...a higher amount of water would ... take a longer time to dry..."

And lastly, don't get hung up on the idea of less water = faster cure. Cure is not just about water evaporation. You can use less water in the recipe, use a dehumidifier during cure, or even try a food dehydrator or freeze dryer (yes, all these have been mentioned by others), but if you actually test the soap for some weeks to months and keep careful records, you will likely find the soap will still require a minimum of 6-8 weeks to earn decent marks for longevity, mildness, and lather. Some soaps require an even longer cure to be at their best. More of my thoughts: https://classicbells.com/soap/cure.asp
 
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