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Fresh & Other 'Perishable' Ingredients (& Natural Packaging Materials) in CP Soap

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Garden Gives Me Joy

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In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, I am also keen on using dry ingredients like oat flour, corn flour, aloe powder, etc and packaging matterials that include cotton.

1. Am I correct in assuming that, provided they are very well pureed or ground, perishable ingredients are less likely to grow mold in CP (ie relative to HP) soap, largely because of the exposure of these ingredients to relatively high amounts of NaOH?

2. Am I correct in also assuming that brine soaps are even more potent in terms of 'preserving' perishable ingredients in CP soap?

3. Is there a rule of thumb amount of perishables, (like how many soapers use, at least as a starting point for subsequent iterations, 1 tbsp ppo exfoliant)?

4. Outside of several experimental iterations, is there a way of estimating the safe amount of fresh ingredients one may include in a recipe?
For instance, do people ever use 'lye concentration' to determine the level of preservability of a recipe ... and in turn to assume that higher concentrations can tolerate higher amounts of fresh ingredients? If this is correct thinking, is there a rule of thumb concentration and corresponding fresh ingredient amount? EDITING TO CORRECT QUESTION AS FOLLOWS: Re 'lye concentration' and preservability should have read 'AMOUNT OF LYE and preservability'. Explained in subsequent entry, below.]

5. Some time ago, I used cotton twine to help wrap unused HP either pumpkin or oat soap (can't recall which) in wax paper and then in a paper bag in a bedroom in extremely high humidity (tropical rainforest) climate. When I unwrapped the package, about 6 months afterwards, I remember noting that there was mold only where the twine and soap had made contact. Why might that molding have happened? Although atmospheric moisture might explain the problem in part, might CP or CPOP and nylon twine rendered better results?
 
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Anstarx

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1. I don't have much experience with HP but if you add the same perishable ingredients in HP after cook, I imagine they are more likely to go bad than CP under than same condition, but probably not by a lot tho.
2. Never tried this one. The actual salt percentage in a brine (as in using brine as water but don't add extra salt. If you add extra soap that's a salt bar) is not very high. For my brine soaps I used 35g salt in a total of 700g soaps.
3. If you are adding perishable in addition to your recipe (as in you don't change the water and oil amount), I'd say no more than 1 tbsp/ppo is about right. Usually when I want to use juice or puree I use it in place of water.
4. Lye concentration has nothing to do the level of preservability as you call it. High concentration means you less water, not you use more lye. High concentration lye solution tend to trace a bit faster but your soap will be faster to harden and unmold.
5. Soaps can sweat in a humid climate. Likely the cotton twine absorbed the moisture from soap sweating and the moisture couldn't escape because it was wrapped in wax paper, so it grew mold with time. Since soap's ph usually prevent molds, that's why the mold didn't spread. When you store lye soap, you want them to be somewhere dry and with good air circulation. The latter is more important in my opinion. I don't usually wrap my soaps. They are in the open of my soap shelf until they are used.
 

earlene

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There was a SCC challenge that involved food additives to soap last year, in which I participated.

In that challenge there were minimum amounts of edible additives, including drink as water replacement in the lye solution, which were required in order to qualify as a challenge entry.

The food portion additive was 1 part food to 8 parts oil. Finely puréeing food prior to adding to the soap helps prevent mold; chunks of food would more likely mold. Most food contains some or a lot of water (Google and you can find the percentage of water for many different foods) so that needs to be taken into account when calculating for lye solution. I used this or something like this chart when calculating for my food additive's water content for that paticular challenge.

We just finished using up a bar from that batch in the shower. Over the course of it's life there was never any apparent evidence mold in or on the bar. I beleive that, if mold were going to grow, the shower should have been an excellent place for it to happen.

I don't recall what background was given (in that SCC challenge) to suggest that going any higher than 1 part food to 8 parts oil would have been a problem, although there probably was something about maximum food usage precautions. But obviously at that percentage, with the food finely pureed, it was a safe amount. I think 'finely puréed' is as important, as the amount when it comes to edible food additives.

Regarding your question about lye concentration, do you ask this question based on the amount of lye in the soap? Or in relation to the total amount of liquid in the soap? If the former, then NO, since the amount of lye does not change when you alter the lye concentration. If the latter, well, if you have a very low lye concentration, you also have more liquid in the soap, so maybe. However, you can only go so low before the soap fails anyway and the batch will not set up in the first place. If you have too much liquid in your recipe and the soap doesn't set up, but remains liquid indefinitely, of course mold would have a better chance to grow.

As for packaging playing a part in mold growth coupled with ambient moisture, both can foster & facilitate mold growth. Water provides a medium that can foster mold growth, so of course that is a big factor that can be addressed with dehumidifiers or fans. But if you don't address that, then any wrapping that wicks water out of the environment and onto the soap, would also play a role in facilitating mold growth. Even paper would do that. Shrink wrap would do it as well, by allowing condensation to collect under the wrapping.

I am not sure if there is a firm written-in-stone rule of thumb for (edible?) exfoliants, but I believe it's more about what the consumer can tolerate than it is about the load (or mass) in the batter. Some people have skin much more sensitive to the scratchiness of exfoliants than others.

Would your soap have molded if CP or CPOP vs your HP, when wrapped the same way in the same environmental conditions? Quite possibly. By wrapping uncured soap and placing it in a moist environment, you are inviting problems. Even after cured, soap should be kept in a fairly dry environment, not in tropical storm conditions, if at all possible. Otherwise it will absorb water.
 

Garden Gives Me Joy

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Thanks all for the responses.

#3
@earlene Thanks so much for that information re the 1:8 puree:eek:ils ratio. ... and it's really making sense re considering the fruit or vegetable's water content. After all, if you wanted to reduce pure water by 100g and then added 100g of cucumber puree, you will essentially be discounting the water liquid by 10g, without even realizing it.

#4
Re 'lye concentration' and preservability should have read 'AMOUNT OF LYE and preservability'. Sorry, I definitely used the wrong wording because I was considering the amount of lye needed to saponify the soap, whose existence also helps to 'preserve' fresh ingredients. My thinking was; what if I wanted to maximize my cucumber amount, could I substitute oils like palm kernel oil which needs less NaOH with coconut oil because it needs more NaOH, ie with the hope of sneaking in more cucumber ... or herbal tea as a 'pure water' substitute without a problem?

#5 Thanks for both of your responses.
Unfortunately, the region's climate at that location is truly tropical rainforest (like the National Geographic type of conditions). It has completely changed my soaping experience from my other location with a very dry climate. One thing I gather is that, if nothing else, packaging must be done only AFTER the soap is fully cured (which I gather means after the prescribed 2-4 weeks for HP and 4 - 6 weeks for CP). Since the cotton twine wicked in the moisture, my understanding is that even soap that is unused, cured over the prescribed period and non-brine can re-absorb moisture from its environment to a potentially dangerous extent. (BTW, my salt bars, tucked away on a bookshelf in the living room, collected pourable puddles of water once the stormy weather began). I feel uncertain regarding the best way of reliably packaging in such a highly humid place where dehumidification and dry storage conditions are not always possible, especially if the soap is passed on to other people.

@Anstarx ,
5. Soaps can sweat in a humid climate. Likely the cotton twine absorbed the moisture from soap sweating and the moisture couldn't escape because it was wrapped in wax paper, so it grew mold with time. Since soap's ph usually prevent molds, that's why the mold didn't spread. When you store lye soap, you want them to be somewhere dry and with good air circulation. The latter is more important in my opinion. I don't usually wrap my soaps. They are in the open of my soap shelf until they are used.
I see what you mean re the cotton twine! Definitely not planning on using it again, at least not in humid climates! If you give away or sell your soaps, what is the impression towards the open, un-wrapped approach? I proudly showed my all-natural wide band cigar-style packaging idea to a friend in the US who was not impressed. He responded with a photo of his idea of an improvement - a standard commercial soap box. OK, so he is old school in his 70s. I honestly do not know if he ever used or uses natural soap. Is his reaction reserved for people who are completely unfamiliar with natural soaps? ... or does it at all represent a negative perception of the open or cigar-type packaging style? How do you manage when shipping your soap in the mail? ... and would leaiving the non-brine and non-crystalline soaps open and well ventilated resolve potential molding issues. Should they simply be packaged only just before being gifted or sold? Re the brine and crystalline soaps, should they be cured fully, possibly after CPOP and then airtight sealed to keep moisture at bay?

Maybe this #5 issue deserves its own thread!
 

GemstonePony

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#4 are you referring to lowering the superfat? And using a less cleansing blend of oils to do that? That could help you hedge your bets against soap going bad, but I wouldn't use it as a reason to add more food, particularly if that's already an issue you struggle with.
#5 As far as cure time, weigh your bars of soap every week. When the water loss slows down to roughly the same amount for a few weeks in a row, usually less than a gram of loss per bar, you can risk storing the bars. The 4-6 week rule assumes controlled environment with 60-80°f living temps and average/low humidity. If you live in a warm, tropical area, your soap might take much longer to lose the water.
 

TheGecko

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Interesting questions.

1. Am I correct in assuming that, provided they are very well pureed or ground, perishable ingredients are less likely to grow mold in CP (ie relative to HP) soap, largely because of the exposure of these ingredients to relatively high amounts of NaOH?
From what I have researched, it's less about the lye and more about the heat; else-wise there would be a lye concentration minimum. It's like cooking potatoes...if I cut up my potatoes into small bite-size chunks and add to boiling water, they will be thoroughly cooked in about 5 minutes. But if I just toss whole potatoes in the pot for the same amount of time, only the outside of the potato would be cooked, the rest would be raw. And if I grated my potatoes...I had have potato soup in a about a minute.

And it's no different with HP Soap. You can add perishables after you have "cooked" your batter, but you have to do it while the temperature is still hot enough cook it.

2. Am I correct in also assuming that brine soaps are even more potent in terms of 'preserving' perishable ingredients in CP soap?
Not really. The reason why a brine preserves food is because the food is [heat] sealed in it...think pickles. But once that seal is broken, the pickles will go bad.

3. Is there a rule of thumb amount of perishables, (like how many soapers use, at least as a starting point for subsequent iterations, 1 tbsp ppo exfoliant)?
Yes...it's based on water content. Whether you are using Coconut Milk or Pumpkin Puree or Avocado...all contain water. You have to determine the amount of the water contained within and then subtract from the water being used in your lye solution. Coconut Milk is easily...it's an even exchange. And while raw Pumpkin is 90% water to begin with, but you can't just replace 90% of your water with it. And most pumpkin purees aren't even made with real pumpkin. And when using Avocado, you also have to consider the fat content.

With said, there is an old thread about Usage Rates for certain things that might be helpful.

4. Outside of several experimental iterations, is there a way of estimating the safe amount of fresh ingredients one may include in a recipe?
For instance, do people ever use 'lye concentration' to determine the level of preservability of a recipe ... and in turn to assume that higher concentrations can tolerate higher amounts of fresh ingredients? If this is correct thinking, is there a rule of thumb concentration and corresponding fresh ingredient amount? EDITING TO CORRECT QUESTION AS FOLLOWS: Re 'lye concentration' and preservability should have read 'AMOUNT OF LYE and preservability'. Explained in subsequent entry, below.]


Lye is not a preservative.

5. Some time ago, I used cotton twine to help wrap unused HP either pumpkin or oat soap (can't recall which) in wax paper and then in a paper bag in a bedroom in extremely high humidity (tropical rainforest) climate. When I unwrapped the package, about 6 months afterwards, I remember noting that there was mold only where the twine and soap had made contact. Why might that molding have happened? Although atmospheric moisture might explain the problem in part, might CP or CPOP and nylon twine rendered better results?
The reason why you developed mold had nothing to do with the fiber content of the twine, but with the fact that the twine allowed for moisture to get trapped against the soap.
 

earlene

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#4
My thinking was; what if I wanted to maximize my cucumber amount, could I substitute oils like palm kernel oil which needs less NaOH with coconut oil because it needs more NaOH, ie with the hope of sneaking in more cucumber ... or herbal tea as a 'pure water' substitute without a problem?
I wouldn't exceed the 1:8 food to oils ratio.

As for water replacement for lye solution, anything goes, really. That you can substitute 1:1. Lot's of soapers do that ALL the time. I've done 1:1 water replacement with a variety of different fluids and drinks. You just have to use a very tall container with a lot of empty space for the ensuing lye solution volcano in some cases (kombucha tea did that for me once or twice.) Anything sugary or containing alcohol can boil up in an instant when lye is added, even when added very slowly.

#5 Thanks for both of your responses.
BTW, my salt bars, tucked away on a bookshelf in the living room, collected pourable puddles of water once the stormy weather began. .
Yes, puddles of water on my salt bars in Hawaii as well. Not every property in HI has AC.

I feel uncertain regarding the best way of reliably packaging in such a highly humid place where dehumidification and dry storage conditions are not always possible, especially if the soap is passed on to other people.
My inclination (after cure) would be to wrap in an air-tight water-resistant packaging, whatever suits my style (or yours, in your case), apply the label, then store in a cardboard box with some desiccant packets in the box and larger desiccant collection packets in the soap storage room.

I proudly showed my all-natural wide band cigar-style packaging idea to a friend in the US who was not impressed. He responded with a photo of his idea of an improvement - a standard commercial soap box. OK, so he is old school in his 70s. I honestly do not know if he ever used or uses natural soap. Is his reaction reserved for people who are completely unfamiliar with natural soaps? ... or does it at all represent a negative perception of the open or cigar-type packaging style?
As far as his possible unfamiliarity with natural soaps, I don't think has any bearing at all. Some people prefer to buy a product that is securely wrapped and untouched by other people. Soap in boxes is quite common with handcrafted soaps, and it does ensure (or at least implies) that the soap hasn't been exposed to a multitude of contaminants that uncovered soap could have been. In the midst of a global pandemic, I tend to agree with protective wrapping, be it a box or otherwise.

How do you manage when shipping your soap in the mail? ... and would leaiving the non-brine and non-crystalline soaps open and well ventilated resolve potential molding issues. Should they simply be packaged only just before being gifted or sold? Re the brine and crystalline soaps, should they be cured fully, possibly after CPOP and then airtight sealed to keep moisture at bay?
I don't mail naked soaps to my family, no matter what kind of soaps they are. Sometimes the soaps have been wrapped in paper; sometimes individual soap boxes; sometimes in fabric; usually in shrink wrap. If moisture would be an issue (frequently this is likely), I add desiccant packets to the box prior to sealing the box.

Although I don't do a lot of salt soap, I have found that they do not get wet from humidity when securely sealed in shrink wrap (even in Hawaii), so they definitely get wrapped as soon as possible.
 

DeeAnna

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"...The reason why a brine preserves food is because the food is [heat] sealed in it...think pickles. But once that seal is broken, the pickles will go bad...."

Not really. Pickles can be fine in an open jar at room temperature if they're prepared properly. Salt is a preservative if the percentage is high enough. Just as foods with sufficient alkali, acid, or sugar can also be self-preserving. The key issue is that there has to be enough of the "preservative" ingredient and that integrity has to be maintained.

For example, a lot of people think honey is a preservative all on its own. That is so not true -- honey can and does grow mold and ferment just fine. Honey is self preserving ONLY if the sugar content in the honey is high enough.

IMO, the reason why soap can preserve food type ingredients added to the soap is due to the high pH as much (or maybe more) than the heat generated during saponification. The heat only sanitizes while the soap is hot, so something else has to provide ongoing preservation. That's likely the high pH of the soap itself. But the alkaline nature of soap can only do so much as a preservative. Large chunks of things that microbes like to eat (coarse food particles, oat flakes, flower petals, thread, etc.) that aren't fully permeated by soap and/or fully embedded within the soap are fair game for microbial growth.
 
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Anstarx

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I see what you mean re the cotton twine! Definitely not planning on using it again, at least not in humid climates! If you give away or sell your soaps, what is the impression towards the open, un-wrapped approach? I proudly showed my all-natural wide band cigar-style packaging idea to a friend in the US who was not impressed. He responded with a photo of his idea of an improvement - a standard commercial soap box. OK, so he is old school in his 70s. I honestly do not know if he ever used or uses natural soap. Is his reaction reserved for people who are completely unfamiliar with natural soaps? ... or does it at all represent a negative perception of the open or cigar-type packaging style? How do you manage when shipping your soap in the mail? ... and would leaiving the non-brine and non-crystalline soaps open and well ventilated resolve potential molding issues. Should they simply be packaged only just before being gifted or sold? Re the brine and crystalline soaps, should they be cured fully, possibly after CPOP and then airtight sealed to keep moisture at bay?

Maybe this #5 issue deserves its own thread!
When I sell/give away soaps, I package my soap using plastic shrink wraps, put them in a plastic gift bag, then mail them out using bubble mailers. Not very environment friendly, I know, but I only have so much storage place, paper boxes get squished easily during shipping, and I don't want my customers/ friends to receive a dusty soap. Shipping service here is not gentle at all. I am hoping to improve my packagin in the future though, maybe switching to a custom stamped kraft/wax paper bag instead of a plastic one.
Wax paper is pretty common among soap makers here who wants a more natural approach. Usually it's a wax paper wrapper+a cardstock paper box, packed in a mailer box with paper rolls for protection. In this case the soaps are always wrapped right before shipping.
For ventillation, I've read on this forum to use a small fan blowing at the soaps to help keeping the air dry enough. I hadn't tried that yet as my soaping room aka my office has A/C on most of the time but I think it's worth a shot.
 
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TheGecko

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[QUOTE="DeeAnna, post: 850297, member: 9248”}Pickles can be fine in an open jar at room temperature if they're prepared properly. Salt is a preservative if the percentage is high enough. Just as foods with sufficient alkali, acid, or sugar can also be self-preserving. The key issue is that there has to be enough of the "preservative" ingredient and that integrity has to be maintained.[/quote]

The pickles will go bad...ask anyone who has ever done any canning.
 

DeeAnna

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The pickles will go bad...ask anyone who has ever done any canning.
Not necessary -- I have canned for many years. In addition to that, I've made pickles using a vinegar-salt brine or doing a lactobacillus fermentation. I understand some pickles are not room-temp shelf stable ... but some most definitely are, and I do think I have a clue about the differences.
 
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