Drying Cold Process Soap!

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Kjill123

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I have made couple of batches of soaps already but all of them dries my skin.
1 was cured for 6 weeks
The others 4 weeks.
They are not lye heavy. I used soap calc and brambleberry calculators. These are unscented soaps. These are also a coMbination of gelled and ungelled soaps. My skin doesn’t go dry when I use commercial big brand “soap” bars. My skin is cracking like scales whenever I try one of them. Coconut oil is 15% maximum. 10-15% palm. All has 10% Shea butter. Those without palm have 5% cocoa butter and more olive oil. Olive oil goes up to 30% to 35%. The rest are soft oils. Castor is 15% in all. Superfat is 2% for most. I have one with 10% but they all dry my skin. Does it mean I have to cure them more since it’s main base is olive oil? I figured because for Castile soaps(100% olive oil), you have to cure them longer. But is 30-35% really much of a deal?

I honestly don’t understand the ph strip thing coz I read that cold process soap is standard 9-10 and 11-14 is lye heavy. Mine when I use paper strips are between 7-9. I’m not allergic with any of the oils either: sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil.
 

shunt2011

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Some people just cannot use handmade soap. I personally don’t use olive at more than 20-25% as it makes my skin feel dry. As long as your soap doesn’t zap it’s fine. There’s no way your soap is a 7 PH. Wouldn’t be soap. PH strips don’t work well with soap. You could try a higher SF. I SF at 3-5%. And is more palm but prefer lard.

A longer cure may help as well.
 

IrishLass

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It's hard to say what exactly might be causing the dryness. It could be as Shari said that your skin just doesn't like handmade soap....or maybe it's just one or more of the oils. The skin of some folks can't tolerate having any coconut oil in their formula, or any olive oil, because it just dries their skin too much, while other oils are perfectly fine. Or it could be that your skin prefers a lower pH. Many commercial soaps are not true soaps, but syndets, which have a lower pH than true soaps.

If you're going to test the pH of your soap, don't use paper strips. They are notoriously unreliable when it comes to soap, because the surfactant nature of soap messes with the ink dyes and can throw the reading off by as many as 2 or 3 points. As far as strips go, the most reliable are the plastic lab-grade strips. They are more expensive, but you'll get a more reliable reading from them than paper strips, for sure. The most reliable, though, is a pH meter, properly calibrated, of course. No matter which one you use, in order to get the best reading, you'll need to make a 1% solution of your soap with distilled water and then test the solution with your testing instrument (instead of touching the strip or meter to the actual bar).

Have you tried using anyone else's handmade soap? If not, it might be a good idea to buy a variety of different handmade soaps, each made with different oils, just to see if any might be less drying to you. In the long-run it might be less expensive to do that instead of making a bunch of batches that your skin hates. Once you find one that your skin likes, you can then try to make your own version of it, using the oils listed in the ingredients.


IrishLass :)
 

Rogue-Soaper

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I have made couple of batches of soaps already but all of them dries my skin.
1 was cured for 6 weeks
The others 4 weeks.
They are not lye heavy. I used soap calc and brambleberry calculators. These are unscented soaps. These are also a coMbination of gelled and ungelled soaps. My skin doesn’t go dry when I use commercial big brand “soap” bars. My skin is cracking like scales whenever I try one of them. Coconut oil is 15% maximum. 10-15% palm. All has 10% Shea butter. Those without palm have 5% cocoa butter and more olive oil. Olive oil goes up to 30% to 35%. The rest are soft oils. Castor is 15% in all. Superfat is 2% for most. I have one with 10% but they all dry my skin. Does it mean I have to cure them more since it’s main base is olive oil? I figured because for Castile soaps(100% olive oil), you have to cure them longer. But is 30-35% really much of a deal?

I honestly don’t understand the ph strip thing coz I read that cold process soap is standard 9-10 and 11-14 is lye heavy. Mine when I use paper strips are between 7-9. I’m not allergic with any of the oils either: sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil.
I like to use less olive oil too, I use 22-25%.
 

Kjill123

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I use these oils on myself without problems...except in a soap. I tried another handmade soap but the scent was suffocating. It’s too strong it makes me nauseous. It was still drying on my skin but not as drying as mine. It’s also has goats milk. I use my own soap on my hair without problem. I have naturally dry hair but my hair doesn’t feel dry when I use my soaps for unknown reason...

Could it be my skin is just too dry for these soaps?
 

snappyllama

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It's all subjective, but that 2% superfat would be too low for me - especially in the winter. I run between 5%-7%. Also - that's a lot more caster than I've ever used - wondering if that could be it?? I use a standard 5% and normally don't see folks posting recipes above 10%. The other oils seem to be in standard ranges.

What are the other oils you used? Some oils I've heard of folks having troubles with some other oils when saponified: fractionated coconut oil, mango seed butter, palm kernel oil, and hemp seed oil.

Have you tried zap testing to make sure it isn't lye heavy? As IrishLass mentioned, those testing strips aren't very accurate.

Did you color the soap with anything?

Or it could be that your skin just doesn't like homemade soap as Shunt mentioned. :(
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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But wait - I've been told that soap is moisturising........

Seriously though, there is a big difference between using the oils on your skin and then the oils in a soap.

It could be the water (hopefully!) rather than lye soap in general. Hopefully, any way.
 

Kjill123

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But wait - I've been told that soap is moisturising........

Seriously though, there is a big difference between using the oils on your skin and then the oils in a soap.

It could be the water (hopefully!) rather than lye soap in general. Hopefully, any way.
I mentioned “allergic”. I said I’m not allergic to any of the oils I mentioned in the original post so there is no way that it’s an allergic reaction. It should be relevant before and after saponification. Lotion moisturizes. Soap cleanses.

It's all subjective, but that 2% superfat would be too low for me - especially in the winter. I run between 5%-7%. Also - that's a lot more caster than I've ever used - wondering if that could be it?? I use a standard 5% and normally don't see folks posting recipes above 10%. The other oils seem to be in standard ranges.

What are the other oils you used? Some oils I've heard of folks having troubles with some other oils when saponified: fractionated coconut oil, mango seed butter, palm kernel oil, and hemp seed oil.

Have you tried zap testing to make sure it isn't lye heavy? As IrishLass mentioned, those testing strips aren't very accurate.

Did you color the soap with anything?

Or it could be that your skin just doesn't like homemade soap as Shunt mentioned. :(
All the oils were provided in the original post. They are sunflower oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil. I’ve read too much Castor will result to a soft mushy soap, not a drying soap. My soap looks normal. They all harden after a couple of weeks in open air. They lasther very nice but my skin is not so nice after rinsing unless my hands were oily/waxy before washing. If my hands are full of oils beforehand, my skin seem fine after using my soap.

I also often see some use Castor up to 24% without mentioning anything like being drying. Most of these are for shampoo bars too. Why Castor Oil is used in higher percentages for shampoo bars? My soaps works fine for my hair as well...is Castor a surfactant?

HI AGAIN GUYS!
So I went to our attic to get one of the old soaps I made last December 2018. These do not have the same recipe but these old soaps also have 15% Castor oil and actually has 25% coconut oil(instead of 15% I currently use) and around the same amount or less olive oil(25% or less). 5-10% more palm too. My main base was coconut oil unlike my new soaps which has upto 30% olive(or more.) Shea Butter was only around 5% with the old batch. No sunflower or avocado oil. It was just palm, cocoa(if palm wasn’t used) and sweet almond oil.

I’ll let these February batch cure until 1st week of April to see if they just need a longer cure. Otherwise, I’ll stop for awhile. The handmade soap I bought has the same ingredients with my new recipe so I don’t think the new oils are the issue. If I have to try again, I’ll try to superfat at least 10% next time.

Also, for some reason, the old soaps are not so bubbly despite having more coconut oil and no superfat.
 
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Jeboz

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This is going to sound silly but I can't use any soaps on my face - I only wash my face in the shower with water and I still have to use moisturizing cream afterwards because my face feels tight and dry. I'm mid 60s and this has pretty much always been the case.

I do like making soap and soapy stuff for the rest of me, though! ;)
 

midnightsoaper

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Do you have hard water? Have you tried any chelators? What is the lowest coconut you have tried? One of my favorite soaps for hands and body is Genny's Shampoo Bar (coconut free). I think its great for skin sensitive to dryness (like mine, although I don't get scaly and cracked skin, just painfully itchy).

A few things you could try is to take your best recipe that gives you the least problems and do small test batches. Make a small castor free batch, adding the balance to the other oils (a coconut free batch, etc) so you can rule out if a particular oil is bothering you.

A 10% superfat defintely helps too.
 

Kjill123

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Do you have hard water? Have you tried any chelators? What is the lowest coconut you have tried? One of my favorite soaps for hands and body is Genny's Shampoo Bar (coconut free). I think its great for skin sensitive to dryness (like mine, although I don't get scaly and cracked skin, just painfully itchy).

A few things you could try is to take your best recipe that gives you the least problems and do small test batches. Make a small castor free batch, adding the balance to the other oils (a coconut free batch, etc) so you can rule out if a particular oil is bothering you.

A 10% superfat defintely helps too.
I’m not sure if we have hard water. The lowest I tried is 15%. What’s a chelator? I’ll try a new batch without castor oil. Thanks.
 

midnightsoaper

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Sodium citrate (or citric acid) and I believe EDTA are more common ones. They help bind the minerals in hard water. Soaps lather better and have less scum. I'm not sure on the science behind it, but hard water can you leave you irritated/itchy too (not sure if its the water alone, or as it reacts with cleaning product?).

If you search for chelators here on the forum, you will probably get better info that I can give :D One of our members here, DeeAnna, has a great site with lots of info too https://classicbells.com/soap/citrate.html

Before you try too many test batches to see if one oil is bothering you, I'd just try the Genny recipe. And maybe one with less than 15% coconut. My skin prefers 10% or less of coconut. Out of the all the oils, that's the one more likely to leave you dry, itchy & irritated.
 

Baqn

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Well... I had the same issue with my soaps. It's not about pH. Alkalinity of soap is about 9. Saponification process in cold process soap finishes for a day or two. So I was trying to understand what is happening. I read many articles on that topic. At the end I realized I haven't found any definitive information. But I learned that it's not about pH. As we know everywhere is written that the soap must be cured in order to use it. During that time many things happens with it - evaporating water, hardening, some other very slow reactions, etc. It is like aging of wine. The water content is very important for the properties of your soap. So the result of losing water is not only lowering the weight of your soap. It makes your soap more delicate to the skin. So I suggest to you to live your soap at least 2 months and make experiments every month after that. Keep in mind that even cured 2 months,soap that is drying your skin will continue doing that more or less even after that 2 months. I found good for my skin soaps like that which have cured for about 6 months. After the second month you can cover your soap with foil to prevent oxidation and eveporating essential oils (if you have such incorporated).
 

Kjill123

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Hi again everyone! Does the place to store your soaps affect saponification/cure time? I tried the exact same recipe but I did the hot process method this time. It’s my first time doing hot process but the soap turned out fine. Not drying at all. I actually like it. So what happened in the cold processed soap that has been curing 4-6 weeks already? Now I feel like those cold processed soaps are still caustic...not as caustic as a 1st week cure cold process but it’s definitely mildly caustic to me compared to the ones that were made December 2018 and hoT processed yesterday.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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It's not caustic. A cold process soap (which isn't lye heavy)will no longer be caustic after around 24 hours. More if you keep it colder, less if you let it warm up more. But 24 hours is a general figure.

After that, it's curing. Not caustic, but the water is evaporating out, the soap itself is setting up it's structure nicely to perform well. That's why a week old soap and a month old soap perform very differently. Not because this one is caustic and the other isn't
 

Kjill123

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It's not caustic. A cold process soap (which isn't lye heavy)will no longer be caustic after around 24 hours. More if you keep it colder, less if you let it warm up more. But 24 hours is a general figure.

After that, it's curing. Not caustic, but the water is evaporating out, the soap itself is setting up it's structure nicely to perform well. That's why a week old soap and a month old soap perform very differently. Not because this one is caustic and the other isn't
Thanks for answering. So if the soaps are not caustic...what do you think causes the dryness? They have the same exact recipe. I made 8 batch of cold process. 9th is the hot process. They were all well mixed into trace. Some were gelled l, some were not. What’s the point of curing 4-6 weeks other than to let liquid evaporate?
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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As I said, the physical structure of the soap changes. Exactly what happens is not 100% clear and documented. Dr Dunn has done a great deal of work there, though.
 

Amy78130

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Using newer soap dries my skin too. I’ve found them much less drying after a longer cure time. I’m a spoiled soap maker, my hubby built me this curing rack for my birthday! I don’t know if putting a fan on my soap helps a lot, but it does seem to help! I lay them flat for the first 48 hours and then stand them up to save space.
 

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Kjill123

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Using newer soap dries my skin too. I’ve found them much less drying after a longer cure time. I’m a spoiled soap maker, my hubby built me this curing rack for my birthday! I don’t know if putting a fan on my soap helps a lot, but it does seem to help! I lay them flat for the first 48 hours and then stand them up to save space.
How long do
You normally let them cure? My soaps are stored in a fairly cold shelf they’ve been sitting there since February. I like your shelf lol
 

shunt2011

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@Kjill123 - That may be part of the problem. Soap need air circulation and if its cold it may take longer to cure as well. Are they in a cabinet or open air?
 
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