Basically what these calculators will do in a nutshell is let you input which oils youd like to use (and I use Soapcalc as an example...) then the amount yould like to make (like 2lb, 3lb etc... this will be the weight of oils in the recipe) It will then take the ingredients in the proportions youd like to use them in and transfer them into the weight amount to add to the recipe....so lets say you wanted a recipe that was 60% Olive oil and 40%coconut oil (just for an example) and you wanted to make a 2lb batch. It will tell you the amount of water, lye (NaOH) and oils to add.
Soapcalc will also show you the 'numbers' which is basically the breakup of properties of your soap, these numbers should be between these ranges, but they are not set in stone...soap comes in many forms and there are billions of recipes!
Summary of values:
Hardness 36 to 50
Cleansing 14 to 22
Condition 45 to 80
Bubbly lather 14 to 33
Creamy lather 16 to 35
hope that helps!!
dont get intimidated, my best advice is to just punch in a bunch of stuff into the calc and watch how it changes your soap, then use the soapnuts link on the thread I linked to to learn about properties of the oils, try to learn why each oil will cause what changes in your soap!
Soaping is addictive, so beware once you start itll be hard to stop!
Blonde, type in just one oil, let me suggest olive oil (not pomace, just ordinary OO). Type in 100 percent. Then hit compute. See if you can figure out what you did.
You're going to have to figure out lye calculators if you don't want to be a soaper cripple. You should start now figuring it out. You're facing severe disabilities if you want to explore soaping but can't calculate lye.
Perhaps you should explore the manual method of calculating lye. Ask if you want me to attempt to explain how.
Actually every soaper should try manual calculations just once, just for the experience.
Excess oil would mean oil that has not combined with lye in your soap.
Each oil requires a certain amount of lye to become soap. When you make a recipe, you want to have a little bit of oil left over in your soap so that your soap is not harsh on your skin. This is called superfatting a soap recipe. Most of us here seem to use between a 5% and 10% lye reduction in our recipes.
As Lovehound mentioned above, go to SoapCalc and click on one of the oils....look to the left of your screen and you will see a box called "Soap Qualities". In this box is a list of things that an oil contributes to soap. Below that box is a box called "Fatty Acids", this box contains a list of acids that an oil is made up of.
Input the following ingredients into the "Soap Recipe" box.
Coconut 30%, Olive 40%, and Palm 30%. Do not change any other thing and press the "Compute Recipe" button.
Now look at the "Soap Qualities" box again....notice the second column has a new list of numbers in it? The list should read as follows:
This is the soap qualities rating for all of the oils in your recipe combined.
If you click on the "Soap Qualities" lime green tab at the top of the page you will go to a new web page that you should read. It explains what each acid will do for your soap and what general range of soap qualities to try to keep your soap in.
I say generally because SoapCal is not an exact science. It just gives you a general idea of what your final soap might be like. You really have to work with the oils in order to understand each one. And read lots and lots of material about them. I have found that soapmaking requires quite a bit of research if you want to start creating your own personal recipes.
Here is a link to a page I made that explains 27 base oils and what they do for your soap.
Wow, Cathy, once again good info on your website. You're so methodical and meticulous that I think you and I both think very similarly. I'm glad I don't have any particular interest in doing a soap site. I'll just use yours!
ilovedoxies, just keep asking for any part you don't understand. You'll find that forum people are always willing to help beginners, particularly at SMF. I'm sure we'll get you squared away if you just keep asking.
Honestly, SoapCalc looks very complicated at first. I remember looking at it the first time and saying, "What the heck???" But it's deceptively complicated appearing, and much easier to use than it looks like. In fact I'll try to add just a bit to what Cathy said above.
The primary purpose of SoapCalc is to tell you how much water and how much lye to use. You pick the oil or oils and SoapCalc does the rest. In the beginning you should use SoapCalc to figure out recipes you already have, perhaps ones from books, forums or the Internet. Start out with SIMPLE recipes, certainly none with more than 4 oils, and at first just do a few single oil recipes.
One more thing before we start. There is SoapCalc and SoapCalc WP. The WP version can be reached by clicking the WP link at the top of the SoapCalc page, and WP stands for "weight and percents." The regular calculator works for percentages only. Often you will find recipes with weights listed but no percentages. You can manually calculate them but it's easier to just use the WP version. So if you are checking out a recipe you have weights for use the WP version which is practically identical except for the weights.
Important: once you have a recipe going you can then scale them to any batch size you want! This is the other primary purpose of a calculator besides telling you how much lye and water to use!
You scroll that list of oils in the middle until you find an oil of interest, let's say olive oil. Highlight olive and then over to the right click the plus + sign to add an oil to your recipe. Let's make a one oil soap. To the right of the olive you just added in the percent column put 100 for 100 percent. Now click "Calculate" and your recipe will appear below.
Note the "total oil weight" box in the top just left of center. That allows you to change your batch size. Enter a different weight and hit calculate again and see how the recipe is recalculated with the new weights.
There's only two more important things I have to cover, the other two settings that many of us change. They are lye concentration and superfatting. The defaults are a superfatting of 5 percent and a lye concentration of 25.3 percent. You don't need to change it in the beginning and the default settings will work fine. I still use 5 percent superfat except on rare occasions. However, I've always used 30 percent lye concentration because I think the lesser amount of water helps the soap set up quicker.
Well I hope two (or more) explanations in different words will help. Also, Cathy and I have covered different parts to some degree, so perhaps after reading both and playing with the calculator a bit maybe you'll have a better understanding. Feel free to ask for more explanation of any parts that are giving you trouble.
Lovehound, I wish someone had given me some of the hints you have given here about trying to get use to Soapcalc. eg. putting just one oil like the olive and seeing what happens. DUH!!!
But anyway, Ilovedoxies just keep playing with whatever calc as these guys are saying. I would have to say it took me months to get use to it. Every so often another little piece of the puzzle would fall into place, but I kept going back to it again and again. It really is an amazing and wonderful tool.
Thanks for your help. I think I'm slowly coming to and I stress the word slowly.
I find it very difficult to think along the lines of %'s instead of actual ounces.
I bought some really nice smelling FO's and I don't want to waste them by screwing up my soap.
I would like to stick with something mostly lard and a little coconut oil or soybean oil. It's coffee scented, so I thought about adding a half a square of baker's chocolate for color (does this need to go into the calc someplace?)
Well you don't really need percents. Just use SoapCalc WP which has both weights and percentages. You can just click the weight column and add actual weights. I think you'll find percentages more flexible and easier to use--once you get to understand percentages--but if you prefer weights there's no reason you can't use them.
It also has olive and I suggest you may want it because of the conditioning. You get conditioning 49 with the olive included and 30 without (on a scale of 100). Have a look at Karen's recipe and if you like it we can help you figure out the correct weights for your mold size. BTW I made this very same recipe as my second batch and it makes nice soap.
Rather than the baker's chocolate, let me suggest you use cocoa powder instead because it is one of the often used natural colorants.