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does how thick your trace is affect cure time?

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KimW

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The "3 week cure" person is not the only "celebrity soaper" who thinks curing soap is only about evaporation of water. Kevin Dunn apparently gave an off-the-cuff opinion recently (not sure to whom, when, or where) with this same point of view although when he contacted me about this matter he was pretty close mouthed about his reasoning and opinions. I gather he may be doing some investigation about this subject, so maybe someday we will benefit from his research. I was also told Cathy McGinnis of Soaping 101 fame is also of the "evaporation only" school of thought.
Yes, Soaping 101 has a video "soaping myths" ( I think) where she says she spoke with Kevin Dunn and a pro-soaper and they both told her there was no scientific evidence that cure contributed to soap crystal formation. However, like you, I agree that water evap can't possibly account for all the differences in a new bar from one that's been aged for a year - or even just 3 months. I liken it to aging cheese, only because my grandmother was very fussy about me being able to recognize the block of cheese she'd bought from the block of soap cake she'd bought. Maybe we need a movement to change the term to "aging soap"?!!!! :nodding:
 

DeeAnna

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Aging soap might be a better name, I suppose. But if people confuse saponification with curing -- which in my mind is fairly clear cut -- I can't imagine there will ever be consensus about the gray area when curing stops and aging begins. :cool:

There is a good body of research available to scholars and large-scale soap manufacturers that has looked at the various crystalline structures in bar soap; how the crystal structure can be altered by different ways of processing the soap; and how these structures affect the soap properties such as mushing and cracking of the bar, lather volume and quality, smoothness and slickness of the bar in the hand, etc.

It's quite the deal, what little I've been able to dig into it. These findings are another reason why I'm rather skeptical of the "evaporation only" school of thought.
 

GemstonePony

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Aging soap might be a better name, I suppose. But if people confuse saponification with curing -- which in my mind is fairly clear cut -- I can't imagine there will ever be consensus about the gray area when curing stops and aging begins. :cool:

There is a good body of research available to scholars and large-scale soap manufacturers that has looked at the various crystalline structures in bar soap; how the crystal structure can be altered by different ways of processing the soap; and how these structures affect the soap properties such as mushing and cracking of the bar, lather volume and quality, smoothness and slickness of the bar in the hand, etc.

It's quite the deal, what little I've been able to dig into it. These findings are another reason why I'm rather skeptical of the "evaporation only" school of thought.
Anecdotal, but I beveled quite a bit of my first bars, and was delighted to have a mound of basically soap dough. Squishy, moldable- I played with it for a few hours. My mom played with it for a while. Then I added a few drops of water and played with it for another hour or two, before finally molding some of it into the shape of a snail and some of it into a butterfly and letting it dry as such.
My poured soap bars have very creamy lather with a few bigger bubbles while my soap dough creations have a lot of dense medium-sized bubbles. At some point, I'm planning to make soap dough bars on purpose, since the lather is really nice on those.
 

cmzaha

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I have to mention 40% lye concentration will Not slow trace in my recipes, especially my high palm (vegan) vegan recipe. I also find with age soaps will just get better if they do not come down with DOS.
 

glendam

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Thats so funny you mention the 40% Lye concentration slowing down your trace. I read a Reddit post where the poster said the same exact thing and suggested everyone try it and that it was such a eureka moment for them that they started doing a majority of their recipes with a 40% lye concentration. Wish I could find the post again, maybe it was you:p
haha, It was not me but I have read something similar here. The same thing happened to most people doing the ghost swirl challenge but I was skeptical until I did the soap myself
 

paradisi

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Aging soap might be a better name, I suppose. But if people confuse saponification with curing -- which in my mind is fairly clear cut -- I can't imagine there will ever be consensus about the gray area when curing stops and aging begins. :cool:

There is a good body of research available to scholars and large-scale soap manufacturers that has looked at the various crystalline structures in bar soap; how the crystal structure can be altered by different ways of processing the soap; and how these structures affect the soap properties such as mushing and cracking of the bar, lather volume and quality, smoothness and slickness of the bar in the hand, etc.

It's quite the deal, what little I've been able to dig into it. These findings are another reason why I'm rather skeptical of the "evaporation only" school of thought.
I concur. I've read some of that stuff as well, and patents too. There is solid evidence there.

Dunn appears to me to only be looking at how to get something to market fast, and not the quality of what's being sold.

As to evaporation vs cure: I've tried 100% coconut oil soap at 4 weeks, and it was dreadful. Like having bathed with sandpaper. Same at 6 months. But at 18 months it was pretty nice.
 

DeeAnna

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I concur. I've read some of that stuff as well, and patents too. There is solid evidence there....
It means a lot to me to hear I'm not the only one who has studied this more deeply and drawn similar conclusions, @paradisi.

I've been questioned rather pointedly about this by people (not affiliated with SMF) who clearly think I'm making it all up. It's not been much fun.
 

glendam

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I have noticed a bell curve with my recipe, where high water has a slower trace, medium water is faster, and then somewhere around 40% lye concentration, it slows way down.

I have no idea why it does this, but I've observed it for a fact as I've played around with different lye concentrations for the same recipe. I've only recently read of other people having the same experience, so I had no preconceived notions about this when I observed it on my own.

Along with less ash, less warping, and less weight change over time, the slower trace is one more reason that I prefer working with high lye/ low liquid concentrations for most of my recipes. It's easy enough to force gel through other means.
That is interesting, it makes sense then when my 34% Lye to water ratio traces faster than the 40%.
In the ghost challenge I used 25% and 40%, it has been less than four weeks and I have DOS in those bars! I am blaming the high water portion and the humidity where I live, as I have older bars made with the same oils that are fine, so I believe I will be switching to 40% for the same reasons you listed plus this one.

As to evaporation vs cure: I've tried 100% coconut oil soap at 4 weeks, and it was dreadful. Like having bathed with sandpaper. Same at 6 months. But at 18 months it was pretty nice.
That is interesting. The opposite has happened to me with my regular bars (tallow, coconut, olive oil, etc). The ones that are 1 year old, are more “cleansing” than the 1-2 month old ones. I only do 5% super fat though
 

paradisi

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It means a lot to me to hear I'm not the only one who has studied this more deeply and drawn similar conclusions, @paradisi.

I've been questioned rather pointedly about this by people (not affiliated with SMF) who clearly think I'm making it all up. It's not been much fun.
Ugh, that's a shame; I'm sorry.
They're the ones making a claim against decades of soapmaking knowledge, they should be showing *their* proof, and Dunn's pdf and his article at WSP are not it.

He confuses saponification & water loss for curing and hand waves it away: "this thing I'm measuring gets really small, therefore this other thing I'm not measuring doesn't happen."
 

dragonmaker

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How interesting that there's a bell curve on trace speed! I had always heard higher lye solution concentrations meant faster trace. This looks like yet another experiment to add to my growing list of soapy things to try...

@DeeAnna That's a shame. I'm sorry.
People seem to love denying expert knowledge when it does meet their goals, especially when money is involved. They rarely seem to have any basis behind their reasoning other than their impatience.

I have not been making soap for that long, but I did manage to cure 2 different recipes for over a year. Comparing those bars now to my notes from when it was young and to identical bars I made more recently, there is definitely a difference! It can't possibly be from further drying in my humid climate, especially 18 months later. From my own experiments, there's got to be more going on.
 

DeeAnna

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I don't know that the relationship between time to trace and lye concentration forms a bell curve. But the relationship is definitely not linear, as most people assume.

As with most things soapy, it's ... complicated. ;)
 

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