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Greasy Bars - new to the craft...

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DextrousM

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Hello everyone! So I'm having trouble with my third batch of soap. It's a recipe from another book I have. The two recipes I used from the first book went off without a hitch! Great hard bars after a month or two in the dehumidified basement - simple grocery oil bars. So yesterday I decided to make something complex from Susan Cavitch's book ' The Soapmaker's Companion.' The white Chocolate Mousse bar. I brought the total weight down of the oils to be more in line with the first book ' Smart Soapmaking' by Anne Watson. About 850g. I plugged the recipe into soap calc, printed it out and away I went. I used a stick blender to combine the heated oils (~100F as per the book) with the lye (~100F) and proceeded to blend to trace which took 3 or 4 minutes, it seemed to take longer than I expected, but it has been a while since I made a batch. As I poured it I think I realized it may not have been a stiff enough trace because, even though the recipe said to make sure to cut it immediately after the 24 hours because the cocoa butter makes for a rock hard soap, it was only like slicing into butter that's been out of the fridge for only a short while. Hard, yet still very soft and pliable and very easy to push my pastry scraper through. Also the bars seem very greasy. I also use grams to measure as that just feels more accurate to me. Do you think that maybe I didn't use my stick blender long enough?

pasting from soapcalc 10% superfat 38%H2O:
Grams
Water 323.00
NaOH 107.83
Oils 850 (total)

Oil/Fat % Grams
Olive Oil 21.57 183.33
Jojoba Oil 15.69 133.33
Coconut Oil, 76 deg 31.37 266.67
Cocoa Butter 15.69 133.33
Palm Oil 15.69 133.33

I do have to say I cheated and used EVOO from the kitchen cupboard and Cooking CO, 76 degree oils... That surely couldn't have made a huge difference?

Or am I just counting my chickens before they hatch? I haven't made a batch of soap in several months and I've only made two batches prior, but I surely do not remember the bars being greasy... :(

Thanks for reading!
 

traderbren

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Welcome! Were your previous batches also at 10% Superfat? And did this soap gel? If it didn't gel, it could take longer to firm up enough to unmold and cut. Have you zap tested them? My initial thought is they feel greasy from the higher superfat, but once they finish saponifying (if they are not done) most of the excess oil should absorb into your soap a bit more.
 

dixiedragon

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The jojoba, olive and cocoa have a pretty high percentage of unsaponifiables, so I think that may be contributing here? Honestly I've never soaped with jojoba so I couldn't tell you.

Was all of the lye fully dissolved? Once I made a batch where some of the lye settled to the bottom of the pitcher. I mixed a bit more lye with some water and added it, but I still didn't have enough lye. Even a year later the bars felt greasy, so I recently shredded them for confetti soap.
 

DeeAnna

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The extra virgin olive is fine. So is the coconut oil -- that's the usual CO most soapers use.

I'm more concerned about the 15% jojoba. Very little of that actually will saponify into soap so it will build in a higher amount of softness compared to a similar recipe w/o jojoba. I agree that this soap will firm up if you give it more time and it would be good to gel the soap next time, if you make it again.

I don't have the ability to analyze the recipe in more detail, since I'm traveling and limited to using only my kindle. IMO it seems overly complicated and a too high superfat especially with the jojoba. The water content seems high as well ... I would use a lye concentration of 30% to 33% for a recipe like this. I think your lye conc is closer to the mid 20% range.
 
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DextrousM

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Oh my goodness! Thanks for all of the quick and thoughtful replies! I did make sure the lye was completely dissolved. My helper does all of that mixing outside and I just double check his work... :) I did notice Cavitch's soaps were higher in superfatting and in water concs. Watson's recipes were at 8% superfat and 30% water. Cavitch is at 10% and 38%... I think I may experiment more with 8%/30% - I think less drying time the better and I don't have super dry skin to worry about a high superfat.

And yes, the lye concentration is 25%ish. I think that's what the lye calc set automatically, I'm assuming that is tied to the superfat percentage I chose?

Also, what does it mean for the concoction to gel and what is zap testing? Everything just says to look for good trace, but Watson's book plays it more fast and loose and says that's not really necessary - that the sap will go on just to get it good and blended with your stick blender until you feel a good viscosity change. I went to trace anyhow but I could tell something seemed a bit off by the greasy texture of the cleanup and the finished product. I'm thinking I may just not have been patient enough... Time will certainly tell... :D
 

cmzaha

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Oh my goodness! Thanks for all of the quick and thoughtful replies! I did make sure the lye was completely dissolved. My helper does all of that mixing outside and I just double check his work... :) I did notice Cavitch's soaps were higher in superfatting and in water concs. Watson's recipes were at 8% superfat and 30% water. Cavitch is at 10% and 38%... I think I may experiment more with 8%/30% - I think less drying time the better and I don't have super dry skin to worry about a high superfat.

And yes, the lye concentration is 25%ish. I think that's what the lye calc set automatically, I'm assuming that is tied to the superfat percentage I chose?

Also, what does it mean for the concoction to gel and what is zap testing? Everything just says to look for good trace, but Watson's book plays it more fast and loose and says that's not really necessary - that the sap will go on just to get it good and blended with your stick blender until you feel a good viscosity change. I went to trace anyhow but I could tell something seemed a bit off by the greasy texture of the cleanup and the finished product. I'm thinking I may just not have been patient enough... Time will certainly tell... :D
DeeAnna is stating Lye Concentration not Water as % of Oil in soap calc. I usually use 31-34% lye concentrations the lowest number for cranky fragrances and I only superfat in the 3% range and would go to 1% with your recipe, since I simply do not want to wash with oil. But then I would not waste jojoba oil in soap. Zap testing is done to check for active lye in your soap. Wet your finger, rub it on the soap and touch your tongue you will know if it zaps. It is like touching a battery to your tongue. If you did not gel your soap and had it in the fridge wait 72 hrs before zap testing. Un-gelled soap can stay very zappy for 72hrs. Gelling your soap is usually done by covering your mold and insulating with a blanket around the mold. There are other methods for forcing gel that can be found in the forum
 

DeeAnna

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^^^^ What Carolyn said.

Water as % of oils doesn't translate directly to lye concentration. You'll get more consistent understandable results by ignoring "water as % of oils" and instead using lye conc or water:lye ratio.

Anne Watson isn't playing fast and loose, she's giving good advice. She's just not dumbing down her advice to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator of beginning soaper.

The key thing about trace is it is a clear guideline for newbie soapers, so that's why you read about it in most of the beginner books.

Same thing about the usual 38% water as % of oils ... it's a commonly used default setting that will get new soapers going without too much explanation or trouble, but it's not necessarily the best setting for most soaps.

Soaping is a lot like many skilled crafts ... it's relatively easy to make a batch or four of decent soap right off the bat using someone else's recipe and technique but it is surprisingly challenging to make good soap consistently and well.
 

DextrousM

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*Update* - So after sitting in my dry basement for the past month (dehumidifier is set to 50-55%) the bars have turned out beautifully. There is no oily residue and the bars appear to to be fully cured and solid look like a normal soap bar should. I'm gonna try a bar in the coming days. I guess there is no substitute for experience! Thanks again for all of your responses.

So DeeAnna, I understood water % as a total concentration in the solution, irrespective of the input of lye. So I guess that is what you were trying to say? I did notice in the soap calculators that a change to the water % doesn't change lye input in the recipe as a check on my assumption.

Thanks again all for your quick and helpful responses...
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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No matter what you do the the water amount, the lye amount will not change - lye amount is tied to the amount and type of oils and the lye discount.

If your oils need 100g of lye to saponify with your chosen lye discount, you can set the "lye concentration" to 50% (or the ratio to 1:1) and the water will be 100g. Set it to 75% concentration (3:1 ratio) and the lye is still 100g, but the water will now be 300g. The lye will only change when you change the oils or the lye discount.

The water will also change, to keep your chosen concentration level with the new lye amount - so you change your recipe and you now only need 95g of lye. If you have a 50% concentration selected, the water will change to be 95g, too.

* please note, I do not suggest using a 50% concentration. Was just for easy maths.
 

MattInSD73

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So I tried the bars - they're great! I want to say the bars didn't leave a greasy feeling at all. Actually, I was to say it may have cleaned a little too well. . I think I know why the soap is called white chocolate mousse now. . The lather! . It's rich and velvety and white, white seems a bit odd coming from a slightly earthy toned bar...
 
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