Help me solve a sensitivity mystery

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Hope everyone is well and in good holiday season spirits (aka not on their last nerve yet :p ). Sorry to be MIA lately, Murphy decided to do a little tap dance on my life, but I'm slowly getting back to all things sudsy.

This year, EVERYONE IS GETTING SOAP. I like to keep the holidays simple, it's how I avoid a bottle-of-wine-per-day habit for the month of December. But I have a perplexing problem I'd like to get to the bottom of.

I worked hard to create a recipe that *I* love (attached) but I'm getting feedback from a couple of users that prolonged use is causing sensitivity in unmentionable locations, including my number one guinea pig, Mr. E. Since I've already made enough bar soap to last *me* for several lifetimes, I have to (unfortunately) take the comfort of those around me into consideration.... especially the unmentionables of my betrothed... as, well... I've thrown away all of his Irish Spring, and he knows where I sleep.

Early on in my soaping adventures, I also tried BB's M&P bases... you know, for science :rolleyes::rolleyes:. So I have several dozen of those bars I've been giving out to reduce my inventory (and stave off the inevitable outgrowth of my soaping space).

Interestingly, the parties whose parts are reacting to my CP bars are thoroughly enjoying the MP bars. The BB M&P bases I used were Buttermilk and Goatsmilk. Which, to my knowledge are created through the magic of lye, not a syndet product, etc.

So, I turn to the collective wisdom of the SMF.... what gives?!?! 😂😢

I've read enough to learn that Ph testing is a fruitless rabbit hole that is best avoided (unless I really do want a bottle-of-wine-per-day habit), however reading this little nugget in the BB Q&A (attached), is causing me to peer perilously over the edge of said hole in search of a wisdom I'm fairly certain I won't find (though wisdom found at the bottom of a great bottle of cab does have its upsides 😂). Though really... I *know* that milk-based soaps aren't lower in Ph... [chants] I know this to be true, I know this to be true (though honestly its all still a huge whomping mystery to me).

Being the super-sleuth I am 🕵️‍♀️, I've also considered the FO. However, the M&P batches were every bit as heavily FO'd as the CP batches, all from BB. I've also considered colorants — but, same — all micas, all from BB (sheesh, they are raking in a small fortune from me! Hopefully, somebody's kid is going to college).

So I repeat.... what gives?!?!

Is there an aspect of my recipe that lends to sensitivity? Too much CO? I use a LOT of SL because my recipe tends to a soft-ish bar. I use a TB per pound of oils rather than the recommended TsP. Is SL to blame? There is no SL in the M&P batches.

[throws up arms in complete exasperation] How could I possibly gift Ryan Reynolds a basket of crotch-sensitizing soap? What kind of message does that send? He'll take my birthday wishes card off his fridge for sure. 😂😂😂

Seriously, any help is appreciated. : )
 

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@KiwiMoose Thank you so much! After much reading, CO did seem to be a possible culprit, but I needed validation. Thank you!

@Misschief According to my local wine wholesaler... nothing! 😂

@AliOop No, I haven't dabbled in EOs yet... too frightening for this newb. Kaolin clay is still giving me the heebie-jeebies. Sticking with time-tested FOs from major brands. I'm a toe-in-the-water soaper : ). Good to know about the anise though, I was planning an anise-based batch.

So, follow up question... Reducing the CO will presumably reduce the bubble factor, which is something I struggled with early on (early recipes were 30% shea). What can I do to increase bubbles without affecting much else? A teaspoon of sugar?

Thank you! And Ryan Renolds thanks you too (he just doesn't know it yet :)
 
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I make soaps with 15% CO and have no issues with lather. I reduce superfat to 2% and use Chelators such as EDTA and Sodium Gluconate for a total of 1% total batch weight. I also use Sorbitol at 1.1% total batch weight which I find helps with lather much better than sugar. The other contributing factor is a longer cure time. My Shea facial bar is 59% shea 12% CO with a 3% superfat, this bar I cure for 6 months and it lathers like a champ.

I do not use lye soap for my southern parts, I never could, I have to use syndet bars with no fragrance for sensitive areas. Some folks are sensitive to lye soaps, but it is something you will not know until you try lowering CO and longer cure times.
 
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^^^^ Ryan! Don't look so sad, SOAP IS ON THE WAY! :p :p

@glendam No, I didn't use the exact same FOs, but they are all from the same supplier. I've made and passed out so many bars of soap that I don't know who is using what at this point. I keep good notes on all of my batches, but descriptions from friends are usually no more precise than "the yellowish one" so I don't know which FO is associated with the issue. However, Mr. E is forced to use everything I make... you know... for science. His reaction has been consistent despite multiple FOs. So, it must be the recipe.

What is perplexing is that both parties prefer the BB M&P, so it's not a sensitivity to a lye soap, it's something about their ingredients/ratios that is less sensitizing.
  • Ingredients (Common Name): Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin, Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Buttermilk, Sorbitol, Propylene Glycol, Sorbitan Oleate, Oat Protein, Titanium Dioxide
Which led me to consider the properties of milk... which led me to think about Ph... which led me to a fine bottle of pinot... which led me here for help. 😂

@cmzaha My first reaction to what you suggest is that I'm afraid to go to such a low superfat. I only recently dialed back from 7 to 5%, as the whole point of my bars is to be less cleansing but super rich on the skin. My lather has always been good, lush and velvety, but the bubbles have suffered, they've been small and thin, you don't get a good bubbly experience in the shower. The sorbitol is interesting, I'll read up more on that, thank you!

And now that I'm past the 6-month mark into my soap-making adventures, I am starting to see the value of long cure time! Definitely a positive effect on the bubble factor!

Thank you!
 

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I love bubbles too, and I think aloe juice as a water replacement is a good bubble booster without causing any drama in the batter. I also use either powdered sugar, granulated sugar or sorbitol and I don't notice too much difference between the three. If you haven't seen it before, here is a lather lovers test showing lather with different additives when first made and one year later
 
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@cmzaha My first reaction to what you suggest is that I'm afraid to go to such a low superfat. I only recently dialed back from 7 to 5%, as the whole point of my bars is to be less cleansing but super rich on the skin. My lather has always been good, lush and velvety, but the bubbles have suffered, they've been small and thin, you don't get a good bubbly experience in the shower. The sorbitol is interesting, I'll read up more on that, thank you!

And now that I'm past the 6-month mark into my soap-making adventures, I am starting to see the value of long cure time! Definitely a positive effect on the bubble factor!

Thank you!
Soapmaking takes time with a lot of experimenting. Keep in mind I have been making soap for many years and I did not come up with my optimal soap recipes overnight, but you can believe me when I tell you Sorbitol makes a big difference since there is not much I have not tried in soap. I will mention adding milks and additional fats in any form will cut lather, but again this takes years of testing, so the knowledge you can gain in this forum is worth a lot. As Dibbles mentioned using Aloe will also add to the lather and combine that with Sorbitol. It is possible to get a good lather with less CO, I also found splitting CO with Palm Kernel Oil lends to a milder soap. Although PKO is a cleaning oil like CO it seemed to create a milder bar of soap, but was a tad too expensive to use at 100%.
 
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You've already heard from the experts but I'll add my 2 cents anyway. I love coconut oil and can tolerate a lot, but I cut it back because evidently I'm surrounded by delicate little flowers -- I went from 30% to low 20%s. I too LOVE bubbles and wanted to compensate. I now add 1/2 Tbsp white table sugar per pound of oils. I dissolve it in my distilled water first, then add lye. It will turn a light yellow but has no affect on the final color. Works for me, I get great lather of large bubbles. My superfat is 3%.

And nothing wrong with a small bottle of wine! And some people like a little tingle. Or so I've heard. From a friend.
 
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@Ephemerella don't fear the low SF that @cmzaha has recommended. Your bars will lather better without all those unsaponified oils in them. Plus, your recipe will already be more gentle with the reduction in CO.

I also love aloe vera juice as a water replacer and bubble enhancer, but that stuff doesn't grow in my yard like it does for @KiwiMoose. It's fairly expensive where I'm located, even when purchased in bulk at Wally World. So, I opt for the less expensive sorbitol as a fantastic lather enhancer. It's also a humectant that draws moisture to the skin. Plain ole white sugar works well, too, but I need more of it to get the same effect as a lesser amount of sorbitol.

Good luck on the reformulating. How lucky are you to have an excuse to Too bad you have to make more soap now. 😁
 
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@KiwiMoose so I gave your suggestion for reformulation a go this weekend, not exactly what you suggested, but close. Both loaves unmolded beautifully and cut lovely. The scents are divine: batch 1, batch 2. I didn't get a chance to get to the store for some aloe, but I'm going to try that next. And then dabble with sorbitol or sugar. @cmzaha @AliOop Thank you all so much!

Fingers x'd this solves the sensitivity issue. @Zing I'm like you, love coconut oil and lots of bubbles!

Next, I have to figure out why my AC keeps turning greenish-grey. I seem to have zero luck with it no matter what fragrance. M

this takes years of testing, so the knowledge you can gain in this forum is worth a lot.
@cmzaha This is so true, and I am so humbled by not only the wealth of knowledge here, but the generosity.
You know, toddling into this adventure starting with a BB kit, you get a couple under your belt and you actually think you know something... then start experimenting... 50+ batches later only to realize you KNOW NOTHING : )

Like making wine or bourbon, its a long-game but a good one.
 

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@KiwiMoose so I gave your suggestion for reformulation a go this weekend, not exactly what you suggested, but close. Both loaves unmolded beautifully and cut lovely. The scents are divine: batch 1, batch 2. I didn't get a chance to get to the store for some aloe, but I'm going to try that next. And then dabble with sorbitol or sugar. @cmzaha @AliOop Thank you all so much!

Fingers x'd this solves the sensitivity issue. @Zing I'm like you, love coconut oil and lots of bubbles!

Next, I have to figure out why my AC keeps turning greenish-grey. I seem to have zero luck with it no matter what fragrance. M


@cmzaha This is so true, and I am so humbled by not only the wealth of knowledge here, but the generosity.
You know, toddling into this adventure starting with a BB kit, you get a couple under your belt and you actually think you know something... then start experimenting... 50+ batches later only to realize you KNOW NOTHING : )

Like making wine or bourbon, its a long-game but a good one.
I think perhaps you misspoke. 50 batches in, you know a lot and you know to ask questions here! You're doing just great! I'm 50 batches in myself, love that my basic go-to recipe is fine-tuned to my (and others') liking. But I still get surprises with a new technique, ingredient, scent, etc.
 
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From a new soap maker. Have read that M&P bases contain a lot more glycerin vs CP soap. Is it possible that the additional glycerin is different on more sensitive skin areas? The added glycerin allows M&P to be remelted. What else does it change? @AliOop
 
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@Ephemerella Lovely soaps again! FWIW, unless I use a whole lot of it (to the point of dark grey lather), my AC almost always turns to a lovely deep blue shade. I’ve tried different brands, so I think it must be recipe-dependent somehow.

@bwtapestry i think it really depends on the base. The ingredients are so different for detergent-free v syndet bases. The syndet ones are fairly irritating to my skin; no surprise bc they usually contain sulfates.
 
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