Hard Oils & Lye Concentration

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Jan 12, 2021
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Tennessee, USA
So I came up with a base recipe that I like. It’s got a fair amount of hard oil, so I’ve been using a 30% lye concentration but I feel like I have all kinds of problems, particularly glycerin rivers. I’ve experimented with soaping temps from 90-120 F. I typically SB just to emulsion because with all those hard oils my experience is that if I bring it to any sort of trace it just firms up way too fast for any designs. And lately it’s been taking longer than the normal 24-ish hours to unmold- which is likely due to the high humidity in my part of the world at this time of year, even with the A/C running.

My recipe is 30% coconut oil, 20% lard, 20% olive, 15% palm, 10% sweet almond, 5% castor. I usually force gel with a heating pad and insulation. (I don’t CPOP because the one time I tried it, my oven smelt like FO afterward and that was gross.)

i know that using less water will prevent glycerin rivers. But I’m wondering y’all’s thoughts and experiences with using less water with a recipe like this. Does it firm up too fast to do anything with (FO notwithstanding)? Would soaping at even cooler temps than 90F be the ticket? Are these really dumb questions? Do they even make any sense? LOL
Nov 15, 2018
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Trace actually slows down for me around 38-40% lye concentration. I typically use a 40% lye concentration, and my typical recipe tends to be very high (50-70%) in lard or lard + tallow. So the first thing you could try is a batch with maybe 35% water and see what you think.

You could also try soaping cooler, but you might be dealing with some false trace at some point. There are some good threads here that talk about how to work around that.

The next issue is that palm and coconut oil both trace fast. You could lower the CO to 15-20%, and put that amount into the lard instead. Palm is very similar to lard as far as the FA profile goes, so you could also lower or eliminate the palm, either along with the CO swap, or on its own. Doing either or both of those will definitely slow down your recipe even with significantly less water.

If you are concerned about bubbles when lowering the CO, add some form of sugar to compensate, whether that is sugar or sorbitol dissolved in your pre-lye liquid, AVJ, milks, etc. This will definitely make bubbles beyond what the calculator would lead you to expect, since the calculator doesn't recognize sugar in that way. You'll end up with a milder soap that hardens sooner in the mold and still has good bubble action... without overheating or glycerin rivers.
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Supporting Member
May 6, 2015
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I agree with what @AliOop advised you. Unless there is a particular reason you want to use both palm and lard, I would also recommend eliminating the palm and adding it to the lard (bringing the lard to 35%). I find I have lots of time using 25% coconut oil and 35-45% lard and 33% lye concentration, beginning combined soaping temp 90-95.

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