Formulating Recipes?

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by Kinetic Soap Co., Feb 7, 2018.

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  1. Feb 7, 2018 #1

    Kinetic Soap Co.

    Kinetic Soap Co.

    Kinetic Soap Co.

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    Hi everyone!
    I'm pretty new to soap making, but am really trying to start my own business! I'm active duty Navy and would like to have something going for when my contract is up. I'm currently working on formulating my own recipes for what will eventually be my own products.

    I guess my question is this:
    When making a new batch of soap, I've noticed that the top part of my loaf will turn out sort of crumbly. The activated charcoal will be black throughout the bar, but gray towards the top where the texture has changed. This is the same for Brazilian Pink Clay.
    Is this due to the recipe itself? The air exposure?
    I haven't figured out insulation to allow for gel phase quite yet, would this issue be resolved if the soap were allowed to gel?

    My recipe is:
    6% Avocado Butter
    10 % Avocado Oil
    30% Coconut Oil
    6% Mango Butter
    30% Olive Oil
    18% Shea Butter

    I've used a 5% superfat and water is set at 38%

    This is the only recipe I've done trial and error with so far, my resources are limited so I'm doing my best to be calculated in every batch that I make in an effort to not waste any materials and always make progress forward.

    Any help or advice or experience that anyone would be able to share with me would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Charcoal (and any other additive, I sometimes have this problem with oatmeal) can settle to the bottom if you pour too thin. I find that my soap works best poured at medium trace, when the batter feels like a thin to stiffening pudding. It still pours, but if I mix for two more minutes, it wouldn't, and the bowl requires scraping.

    Crumbly top can be any number of things, from letting it set too long before cutting, to lye heavy, to strange amounts of water. None of those seem like an issue, but...I'd try a small batch solving the separation issue first and see what happens.

    Pics please? Google soda ash - that might be what you are describing.

    Also, a lot of us posters here have strong feelings about people planning to sell when they are just starting out. So you might get some strong reactions!

    I sprayed the batch with alcohol, would soda ash exist internally other than just on the surface?

    My intentions aren't really anybody else's business, but since people here would apparently like to judge me without knowing any details of what my hopes are for my future, let me go ahead and clear it up.
    I'm not here for drama or to be judged, I'm here to learn and gain knowledge from those who have more experience than I do. I have 2 1/2 years of active duty service left. I am 7 months pregnant and will owe more time at sea after I have my son, so the 2 1/2 years will be more like 3 1/2 years. My hope is to start now in being proactive about creating something that will eventually be a real business. I'm not saying that I'm going to make a questionable batch tonight and go and sell it in 2 days just because I feel like making some cash. I am trying to learn how to do things the right way, to learn tips and tricks about how to improve so that one day in the next few years I'll be able to have a product and have the knowledge and experience to begin a more entrepreneurial chapter of my life.
    Honestly, I'm not too concerned with other people's judgments or negative opinions about how I go about planning for my future. I enjoy making soap just like everyone else here. I love the freedom and creativity that can go into every batch, as well as the respectable aspect of real life chemical reaction between materials to create a product that we use every day. So even if this doesn't blossom into a business like I hope it will, I will still continue to make my own batches as a creative and intriguing hobby.
    I hope that cleared up your "strong feelings" about my personal life.

    The batch doesn't really separate, just has a different texture along the surface. I'm not able to post pictures right now, but once I get home in a little while I'll be able to post some so you'll be able to see what I mean.

    I agree with this assessment.
    Way to be proactive. Best wishes.
    Carol

    Ignore the fact that in this particular batch, there were other mistakes that I made which I’m aware of and the batch definitely didn’t turn out as well as it did the first time around. The first picture with the beyond messy swirls is this most recent batch I’ve made and the texture difference is obvious. The second picture of the prettier bars was the first and worked out just as I’d hoped, apart from the texture difference at the surface. In the first batch I had put Himalayan Salt on top, meant to be decorative, but it fell off quickly and didn’t look as appealing afterwards. For the second batch (the one I learned lots of lessons with) I had ended up grinding up the salt to a finer grit and incorporated a little of it in the pink swirl as a mild exfoliant. I’m planning to leave it out altogether the next time I make this recipe.

    When you say water is set at 38%, are you talking about lye concentration? I would hesitate a guess that you are not, which means that your lye concentration is quite low (around 27-28%), and that leads to easy ash formation. You can even achieve an ash swirl if you pour a thin batter at this low lye concentration :)

    Increasing your lye concentration (to around 33%) can go a long way to help alleviate ash formation, as can gelling the soap. Basically, anything that forces the lye to react with the oils, instead of moving around and reacting with the air, will reduce the ash. Some people spritz the top with alcohol (which apparently melts a little soap and forms a temporary barrier that allows the lye to react with the oils first), others CPOP (using an oven to force a full, and quicker, gel) and yet others pour at a thicker trace. It's up to you what techniques, or combination of techniques, work for your soaping style.

    Himalayan Salt, even as small ground-up crystals, is sharp enough to cut your skin without you feeling it (initially - then it's like multiple paper cuts).

    There's a detailed explanation here, on the culture dixiedragon was trying to give you the heads up about.

    The water as % of oil weight is 38% which is what the lye calculator automatically sets to unless you adjust it, I use an app on my phone called Soap Calc Pro as well as running it through the BrambleBerry Calculator just to verify.
    How would I increase lye concentration, or even calculate that to find the value, in my recipes? This is all so helpful, in all of the reading I’ve done I haven’t come across anyone who’s talked real in depth about lye concentration as a percentage or the production of soda ash.
    I did not know any of that about Himalayan Salt, it basically has a microdermabrasion effect?
    I really appreciate all of the information Salted Fig!
     

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  2. Feb 7, 2018 #2

    Kinetic Soap Co.

    Kinetic Soap Co.

    Kinetic Soap Co.

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    Hi all,
    Trying to formulate my own recipes and am having a little trouble. Is it all really just trial and error?? One rule of thumb I've come across says that 60% hard oils to 40% soft oils is a safe bet. So that's what I've sort of been going with.
    However, I'm very limited in my resources and have not attempted too many batches. I'm trying to learn as much as possible in order to either eliminate failed batches, or learn from my mistakes and make as much progress forward as possible.
    What are some tricks or rules that you've all come across to help you formulate successful soap batches?
     
  3. Feb 7, 2018 #3

    shunt2011

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    Hello and welcome. I highly recommend reading the first 10 or so pages of the beginners section. There are many that have posted recipes which can be tweaked. If you tell us what oils you have available we can help you. Have you made any soap yet?
     
  4. Feb 7, 2018 #4

    Kinetic Soap Co.

    Kinetic Soap Co.

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    :)o_O

    I've made several batches so far, I started with other people's recipes and soon wanted something more challenging. I'm currently trying to formulate my own recipes, the hope is that I'll be able to have a semi successful soap business in the next 2 years! That will be when I will be getting out of the Navy and since I am about to have a son, I really don't want to have to re-enlist.
    My first recipe turned out wayyy too hard to even cut into bars, the loaf crumbled as I cut. The recipe I've worked with now I actually really like, it suds well and doesn't leave my skin too dry. Only problem was that towards the top of the loaf, where it was exposed to air and about 1/4-1/2 inch down, the texture was not the same as throughout the rest of the bar. It seemed a little crumbly, the activated charcoal and Brazilian pink clay swirl both discolored to being a little ashy in this part. The charcoal, which was black throughout the rest of the bar, is gray here. I haven't figured out how to insulate to allow for gel phase, would that help the texture? The recipe is: 6% Avocado Butter, 10% Avocado Oil, 30% Coconut Oil, 6% Mango Butter, 30% Olive Oil, and 18% Shea Butter. I used a 5% superfat.
    I've read several other recipes, the only reason I try to come up with the entire thing from scratch is because my hope is that in the future, they will be my own products and I will sell them and be able to have somewhat of an income. I wouldn't feel right utilizing recipes that other people formulated, it would be like taking credit for work that isn't mine, even if I did tweak it a little.
     
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  5. Feb 8, 2018 #5

    Relle

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  6. Feb 8, 2018 #6

    lsg

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    I suggest going to the SoapCalc and reading all the information on oil properties and how to use SoapCalc and how to interpret the numbers on SoapCalc. That should give you an idea of how to use a lye calculator in formulating a soap recipe.
     
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  7. Feb 8, 2018 #7

    toxikon

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    Here's a nice chart for you to learn about what different oils will bring to your soap:
    http://www.lovinsoap.com/oils-chart/

    There are plenty of great recipes floating around the forum if you'd like to try something tried-and-true first, just to start getting your feet wet and experiencing handmade soap.

    Most general-use, balanced recipes will be made up of:
    30-60% hard oils - palm, tallow, lard or a combo
    30-60% soft oils - olive oil, avocado oil, high-oleic sunflower/safflower oil, rice bran oil, canola oil, apricot kernel oil
    10-25% bubbly oils - coconut oil, babassu oil, palm kernel oil
    5-10% castor oil

    Butters like shea, cocoa, and mango can be added but are not essential. They add hardness and creamier lather.

    Here's a simple one to try:
    40% palm/lard
    35% olive oil
    20% coconut oil
    5% castor oil

    5% superfat
    30% lye concentration
     
  8. Feb 8, 2018 #8

    Cellador

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    What you are describing sounds like soda ash- it is very common and only cosmetic. There are lots of ways to try to prevent it, the most popular being to spritz your soap with 91% rubbing alcohol after pouring. Others also cover with plastic wrap after pouring and/or spritzing with alcohol. Personally, I've had the best luck with steaming my soaps.
     
  9. Feb 8, 2018 #9

    shunt2011

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    It sounds like ash. Only cosmetic. I find that spraying the tops with 91% Alcohol and then covering them (my molds have a lid) and laying a towel over the top to encourage gel. If I leave it along except to make sure it's not overheating until they are entirely cooled down I rarely get ash. If I expose them to the air too soon I can get it. It can be steamed off or you can embrace it.
     
  10. Feb 8, 2018 #10

    DeeAnna

    DeeAnna

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    A thing I've noticed is that new soap makers tend to blame the blend of fats for a problem -- issues like too brittle or hard when cut, too soft, top crumbly, separating in the mold, etc. -- when the real issue may be something else entirely, such as the amount of water in the recipe, the temperature of the soap batter, the way the soap was mixed, colorants and other additives, how the soap was cut, the type of mold, etc.

    To pick an example from what you've shared, a soap may not cut cleanly because it was cut with a knife that wedges the soap apart, but it may cut fine if one uses a wire cutter or a flat blade such as a dough scraper -- a cutter that does not have a wedging action. Or the soap may not cut cleanly because it was left too long in the mold so it got too hard before it was cut.

    "...towards the top of the loaf, where it was exposed to air and about 1/4-1/2 inch down, the texture was not the same as throughout the rest of the bar. It seemed a little crumbly, the activated charcoal and Brazilian pink clay swirl both discolored to being a little ashy in this part. The charcoal, which was black throughout the rest of the bar, is gray here. I haven't figured out how to insulate to allow for gel phase, would that help the texture?..."

    Yes, a full gel would probably help. The change in color and the crumbliness at the top of the loaf may be due to that part of the soap not getting warm enough during saponification. I see that in my soap from time to time.
     
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  11. Feb 8, 2018 #11

    penelopejane

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    Yes I agree with DeeAnna’s post. It could also be from over mixing so the last part of the mix put in the mold was a different consistency from the rest.

    Or it could be from soaping too cool. Butters and coconut oil need to be clear when you mix them in. If the other oils are cold they will immediately drop the temp of the hard butters and make them prone to not mixing in fully. That’s why I soap at about 105-110* F and use a thermometer to check. Posting pics will help us narrow it down.

    I’d stick to one butter per mix so you can feel the difference. Anything less than 10% is pretty much wasted as I can’t detect it in soap. Except for Castor oil where 5% makes a difference, anymore and it can make a soap sticky. You can also emphasise label appeal by calling it mango butter soap or shea butter soap.

    Yes trial and error is the only way unfortunately because your soaping area is different, your storage is different, your weather is different, your skin is different, your stickblender is different, your olive oil is different, your customers are different and all that matters when making a good soap and giving it away or selling.

    Where do you live?
     
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