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Herbal Oil-Based Extract (via Alcohol Intermediary Method) for Soaping & / Body Oils

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Garden Gives Me Joy

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Hello,

I want to retain the beneficial properties of medicinal plants but am confronted with the following challenges.

-- CHALLENGES --
1. The extracts of many plants are most potent when medicinal properties are drawn out in, of all things; alcohol. However, alcohol is undesirable to me because of its drying properties.
2. There appears a likelihood that the lye remaining after emulsion, especially in CP, can destroy the beneficial properties.

-- SOLUTION ? --
Does the following plan seem sound?
  1. Prepare the extract by combining ground herbs in just enough alcohol to wet the herbs. Is it acceptable to use something cheap like rubbing alcohol (versus vodka)?
  2. Allow to stand for 24 hours.
  3. Add oil to fully cover the herbs.
  4. Blend until slightly warm and then strain
  5. Then very mildly simmer or double boil that alcohol-based extract into my superfat oil to evaporate away only the alcohol. How best can I get rid of the alcohol? For the last few months, a big blue rubbing alcohol bubble refuses to evaporate itself from the bottom of a beloved oil extract I accidentally poured into a bottle that I had forgotten to dry after disinfecting it with alcohol. :( ... or is there a way to ensure that the heat of the batter evaporates the alcohol sufficiently well?
  6. Add the superfat extract just before pouring.
Is the lye in even HP soap too destructive for this idea?

Thanks in advance for your comments, changes to and or corrections of this 'solution'.
 

Mobjack Bay

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As far as I can determine, there is very little actual research on what makes it through saponification in artisan cp soap. Some plant colors and EOs make it through for sure. I have been swayed by the collective wisdom of experienced soap makers here on the forum to save my skin friendly plant infusions for leave-on products like salves, balms and lotions.

If you want to try making a tincture-like herbal extract for use in cp soap, an approach I use for plant dyes might work: Most recently, I’ve added dried ground madder root or indigo plant powder to a mix of 50% distilled water and 50% isopropyl alcohol (91% strength) and let it sit for as long as it sits until I’m ready to use it. Without checking my notes, I’m going to guess that I’m typically using a TBS of powder in 4-6 ounces of the liquid. If it doesn’t look strong enough, I will more powder. A few hours, or the night before I want to use the liquid dye in a batch of soap, I pour out 2-3x however much I think I will need and leave it open to the air in a shallow bowl until about half the volume is gone. The approach seems to work well enough. (I don’t lose color during evaporation, but I would guess that anything volatile in an herb extract could evaporate). I’m assuming, but don’t really know, that the alcohol is preferentially evaporating relative to the water. In any case, the remaining liquid doesn’t cause anything weird to happen when I use it in my recipe. I’m still making very small batches (500 g or less) using this liquid dye. That way, if anything goes wrong, I haven’t wasted a lot of materials.
 

Kcryss

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1. The extracts of many plants are most potent when medicinal properties are drawn out in, of all things; alcohol. However, alcohol is undesirable to me because of its drying properties.
2. There appears a likelihood that the lye remaining after emulsion, especially in CP, can destroy the beneficial properties.
I'm right there with you and this is the reason I decided to do hot process soaping. Sadly, I have no "scientific" facts to back up my theory, but based on my knowledge of herbal extracts, teas, and infusions, I believe that adding botanical s after the cook in hot process is the best way to retain as many of the compounds as possible.

Others with more experience my chime in, but to my knowledge the lye monster is pretty much gone once the cook is finished. Doing a zap test will indicate that the soap is finished "cooking" and I believe indicates that the lye has been used up.

I wait until the soap has cooled enough to add EO's and that's when I add any botanical infusions.

To answer your questions about extracts, I wanted a way to remove the alcohol from extracts last summer and found several sites all saying the same thing. Yes, you can remove the alcohol and replace it with something else, like honey, oil, or even distilled water. Here is one of the links I saved. https://nhaa.org.au/docs/Member_docs/Removing_alcohol_from_herbal_tinctures.pdf

I haven't tried it in soap yet, I've only used herb infused oils so far. If you give it a try I would love the hear the results. :)
 
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