How to know if you've used too much sugar?

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akseattle

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Another question:
I have started adding sugar to my soap recipe in order to increase lather. But, how to know if you have used too much sugar?
I've read that 1-3 teaspoons per lb of oil is what should be added per pound of oil. But, why is that? is it that at some point, it inhibits other qualities/ characteristics? Like what may have been a cleansing bar is no longer as cleansing? or the lather just stops increasing? I've also read that your soap will become "sticky" if you add too much sugar. But, I haven't found anything that says WHEN will the soap feel sticky? When unmolding? After its cured? On your skin when using it?
I use SoapCalc.net to calculate my recipes. I don't see that it has any place to add things like sugar. Is there a calculator that considers other additives besides fragrance?
Thank you in advance!
 
But, how to know if you have used too much sugar
I just searched under "sorbitol" and @AliOop :) Speaking of which, Ali, it seems like you have gone up in the sorbitol lately, am I right or did I increase my usage incorrectly?

Seriously, @akseattle, there really is no rule on this, so for something like this I will do a search and see if there is a consensus. If there is not I'll go with the answer of someone who knows what they are doing and uses the additive consistently, eg, AliOop. For increasing lather, it works well for me to use 1.5% sorbitol ppo, in combination with 20% CO, 5% castor, and substituting aloe vera juice for water.
 
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Sugar is a solvent for soap which interferes with the crystal structure that soap normally wants to have. Sugars and other solvents are used when making transparent soap (which includes melt and pour soap), because this interference with the crystal structure makes the soap more translucent rather than entirely opaque.

When the solvent load in a soap becomes high enough, however, the soap will become unpleasantly gooey or sticky on its surface, because these solvents tend to be hygroscopic, meaning they easily absorb water from the air. The soap bar may also become softer as the solvent load increases. This will shorten its longevity when used for bathing.

Remember that soap contains around 8-10% glycerin that is naturally formed during saponification of fats. Glycerin is another soap solvent like sugar, so you have to keep this glycerin content in mind when also adding sugars.

If the soap was made with fatty acids, it won't contain any natural glycerin, so I'd think more sugar could be used in this type of soap without causing problems.

How much sugar is too much? Can't answer that question for you and your soap. The only way to know is to experiment.
 
Thank you for the kind words, @not_ally. Credit really goes to @cmzaha for turning me on to sorbitol. For me, it dissolves more easily than sugar, and I don’t need as much.

But I get that some folks like to use ingredients that serve more than one purpose, like sugar for both soap and sugar scrubs.

Whether sugar or sorbitol, I like to add it by percentage of oil weight. That’s easy to do using the soapmaking friend calculator. My recipes are generally 20% CO, and I bounce between 1-2% sugar or sorbitol - usually the higher number for sugar since for me, it isn’t as “strong” as sorbitol.

I read of folks who use up to a T of sugar PPO and seem to like it. Their recipes vary but do tend to have lower amounts of lauric and myristic acids (i.e., low percentages of CO, PKO, and babassu and thus lower cleansing value and lower solubility).

@akseattle try experimenting with some small batches and see what you think. We will be standing by to cheer you on. 🤗
 
Sugar is a solvent for soap which interferes with the crystal structure that soap normally wants to have. Sugars and other solvents are used when making transparent soap (which includes melt and pour soap), because this interference with the crystal structure makes the soap more translucent rather than entirely opaque.

When the solvent load in a soap becomes high enough, however, the soap will become unpleasantly gooey or sticky on its surface, because these solvents tend to be hygroscopic, meaning they easily absorb water from the air. The soap bar may also become softer as the solvent load increases. This will shorten its longevity when used for bathing.

Remember that soap contains around 8-10% glycerin that is naturally formed during saponification of fats. Glycerin is another soap solvent like sugar, so you have to keep this glycerin content in mind when also adding sugars.

If the soap was made with fatty acids, it won't contain any natural glycerin, so I'd think more sugar could be used in this type of soap without causing problems.

How much sugar is too much? Can't answer that question for you and your soap. The only way to know is to experiment.

@DeeAnna , thank you. Actually, it's going to take me a minute to digest your answer, well, except for that I'm going to have to experiment ;)! I thought all oils have fatty acids :confused:

Thank you for the kind words, @not_ally. Credit really goes to @cmzaha for turning me on to sorbitol. For me, it dissolves more easily than sugar, and I don’t need as much.

But I get that some folks like to use ingredients that serve more than one purpose, like sugar for both soap and sugar scrubs.

Whether sugar or sorbitol, I like to add it by percentage of oil weight. That’s easy to do using the soapmaking friend calculator. My recipes are generally 20% CO, and I bounce between 1-2% sugar or sorbitol - usually the higher number for sugar since for me, it isn’t as “strong” as sorbitol.

I read of folks who use up to a T of sugar PPO and seem to like it. Their recipes vary but do tend to have lower amounts of lauric and myristic acids (i.e., low percentages of CO, PKO, and babassu and thus lower cleansing value and lower solubility).

@akseattle try experimenting with some small batches and see what you think. We will be standing by to cheer you on. 🤗
thank you @AliOop. Part of my problem is my impatience. I am only now starting to be able to test my soap. My first batch was in January, and then I didn't make another batch until February because I was hoping to know the result of my first batch. But, although I've been making soap more regularly now, I've only just tried one other batch (and actually, I skipped ahead and tried Batch #4- again, my impatience- but I am really trying to force myself to wait until the soap is full cured .... assuming I'll know??.)
So, I started to add, and then increased the sugar, without knowing what the end product was like. More just the flawed approach "if one is good, two is better." But, its been a good reminder for me to just patiently wait to see results. So, I'll stick to 1 tsp per pound of soap until I know how that is working. With the exception of a couple tiny tweaks, I'm also sticking to my same recipe so that I'll know if its the sugar or something else causing the change.

I just searched under "sorbitol" and @AliOop :) Speaking of which, Ali, it seems like you have gone up in the sorbitol lately, am I right or did I increase my usage incorrectly?

Seriously, @akseattle, there really is no rule on this, so for something like this I will do a search and see if there is a consensus. If there is not I'll go with the answer of someone who knows what they are doing and uses the additive consistently, eg, AliOop. For increasing lather, it works well for me to use 1.5% sorbitol ppo, in combination with 20% CO, 5% castor, and substituting aloe vera juice for water.

@not_ally , thank you for your input. I did actually do a google search for discussions on this. There seemed to be no consensus! So, I posted here. And, the only consensus is "there is no rule, experiment!!" So, experiment I shall!
Actually, I've been reading a couple books on soapmaking. One thing I'm learning is that there are many issues in the soaping world on which there is no consensus. And actually, maybe even broad disagreement on issues where it seems to me there should be consensus. So, I think on this issue, I'll follow the consensus which is "experiment!";)
 
...I thought all oils have fatty acids...

Yes, you're right -- the fats used to make soap contain fatty acids. But fatty acids can be used in pure form to make soap -- fatty acids don't have to be locked into fats to make soap.

So you can make soap with fats. Or you can make soap with just fatty acids. Or you can do a combination of both. People who make shave soap, for example, often use stearic acid as well as fats in their recipes. Some commercial soap is made from pure fatty acids, not fats.

Soap made from fatty acids does not contain glycerin. Soap made with fats does contain glycerin.
 
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thank you @AliOop. Part of my problem is my impatience. I am only now starting to be able to test my soap. My first batch was in January, and then I didn't make another batch until February because I was hoping to know the result of my first batch. But, although I've been making soap more regularly now, I've only just tried one other batch (and actually, I skipped ahead and tried Batch #4- again, my impatience- but I am really trying to force myself to wait until the soap is full cured .... assuming I'll know??.)
So, I started to add, and then increased the sugar, without knowing what the end product was like. More just the flawed approach "if one is good, two is better." But, its been a good reminder for me to just patiently wait to see results. So, I'll stick to 1 tsp per pound of soap until I know how that is working. With the exception of a couple tiny tweaks, I'm also sticking to my same recipe so that I'll know if its the sugar or something else causing the change.
For a new recipe, I usually start testing an end cut at 1 week, and test weekly after that. That gives me an idea of how the soap changes over time, and how long that recipe should be cured.

I don’t tend to try new soap recipes these days, as I stick with my primary high-lard recipe, a pine tar soap for one friend, a colloidal oat neem soap for my husband, and a goat-milk ZNSB for one good friend who is gaga for it. But I still love to test the end cuts. It’s just fun. 😊
 
It hadn't occurred to me to start testing my soaps. I gave my very first batch the zap test about once a week because I thought it might have had a problem. I skipped to my 4th batch out of turn to start using but, it seems a little softer than I thought it would be. I think I'll put it away for a couple weeks to see if it changes.
Yes, you're right -- the fats used to make soap contain fatty acids. But fatty acids can be used in pure form to make soap -- fatty acids don't have to be locked into fats to make soap.

So you can make soap with fats. Or you can make soap with just fatty acids. Or you can do a combination of both. People who make shave soap, for example, often use stearic acid as well as fats in their recipes. Some commercial soap is made from pure fatty acids, not fats.

Soap made from fatty acids does not contain glycerin. Soap made with fats does contain glycerin.
ok, well that clears up some my confusion. thanks! so much to learn ....
 
In my opinion and actually not just my opinion, several years there was a test done with different additives to help lather and it was found Sorbitol increased lather the best which is why I changed from using sugar. I find sorbitol so much easier to use and it upped my lather in my low CO bars plus my lower SF.
 
In my opinion and actually not just my opinion, several years there was a test done with different additives to help lather and it was found Sorbitol increased lather the best which is why I changed from using sugar. I find sorbitol so much easier to use and it upped my lather in my low CO bars plus my lower SF.
That’s what I use too - I think it is less likely to scorch, too.
 
In my opinion and actually not just my opinion, several years there was a test done with different additives to help lather and it was found Sorbitol increased lather the best which is why I changed from using sugar. I find sorbitol so much easier to use and it upped my lather in my low CO bars plus my lower SF.
Well, I probably will try Sorbital at some point. It seems to be the consensus that it is easier to use. But, at the moment, I have a bunch of sugar in my cupboard and I haven't yet had a chance to try the soap I made with sugar. Is sorbital something that must be purchased from a soap supply store or can it be found at the grocery store?
That’s what I use too - I think it is less likely to scorch, too.
I have some powdered buttermilk that I bought about six months ago when i baked something. I probably won't use it again for another year (that's how often I bake...) I'm thinking I might try using some in soap. Maybe I'll get some sorbital before I try the buttermilk. Or does only fresh milk run the risk of burning?
 
I have some powdered buttermilk that I bought about six months ago when i baked something. I probably won't use it again for another year (that's how often I bake...) I'm thinking I might try using some in soap. Maybe I'll get some sorbital before I try the buttermilk. Or does only fresh milk run the risk of burning?

I use powdered buttermilk. I just mix it with a little bit of water and I make a slurry and then mix it into my oils. I never have an overheating problem.
 
I use powdered buttermilk. I just mix it with a little bit of water and I make a slurry and then mix it into my oils. I never have an overheating problem.
@artemis , do you mix the buttermilk powder just like as if trying to mimic the exact consistency of buttermilk? Or , by "slurry" do you mean just enough water so that it's not solid. Like a cakemix batter ?
 

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