In the still of the night....2 shave soaps

Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums

Help Support Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums:

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
The kids are asleep, and I pulled out the plan and supplies. Though at first glance the recipe might appear simple or foolish, it is not some lark, nor a random thought, but a result of many hours snatched away from less productive and less fun things (mostly work, sleep...and cooking) reading into the depths of SMF, a few shave forums, and going through some dozens of iterations on SMFriend calc to see exactly how far I can take the famous RBO.

The goal of this soap:
To build a premium feeling soap with simple ingredients and without premium or "luxury" fats and oils. Emphasis on glide, skin feel, protection and explosive lather being a secondary concern. Working within the limits of 50% SA and seeing how far I can stretch other variables. The goal of a vegan and palm free shave soap (still working on glycerin...) is what started me down this road, and is also included in the challenge.



If you're shielding your eyes out of pity, don't worry, it's not actually this garishly colored in real life, the recipe:



The breakdown:

Hard fats=49% very close to the 50% guideline suggested by the very wise @ResolvableOwl

Stearic acid+Palmitic acid=50% RBO has the wonderful fatty acid profile, and is the one soft oil I can pump up this high and get away with having both the benefits of liquid oil and the shave benefit of palmitic acid. I lowered my commercial SA and raised RBO as much as I could without sacrificing 50 SA/PA.

PUFAs=a very worrying 32% -Edit, thanks RO-PUFAS actually 16 and just at the edge of dangerous instead of in the danger zone. I have included citric acid as a chelator on one of these tubs to compare both lather and DOS tendency. I'm aware CA is not ideal on it's own however. ROE is on the way, and I wish I could have included this in the experiment, it was not fated to be included. :-( This is a performance test more than anything.

Glycerin= 9.68 grams. Not a random number, I pulled this from @DeeAnna 's guideline of roughly 12% glycerine to replace the glycerine missing from commercial stearic acid. I added 5 percent to the TOW on top of that. I was unsure how much to add to get slip and hope this is not excessive or deficient.

Castor oil+coconut oil=20% I was very tempted to eliminate coconut oil completely due to its cleansing/stripping qualities. I even had a recipe lined up and ready to test before scrapping that idea. The fact is that Coconut is very useful being that it "breaks" down very easily. Despite castor being an awesome bubble enhancer I'm not sure of its suitability in shave lather considering RO's latest experiments with liquid soap and very loud crackling. I will explore that later. This recipe eventually ended up as an SA+RBO+10% castor oil with coconut wedging it's way back in.

RBO=magical wonder oil? Maybe, I'll find out in 2 weeks.

Making this stuff: @The Efficacious Gentleman has shared his method of making microbatches in the microwave with small containers. This proved very doable and even less cleanup was required. In response to learning this method I scaled down my experiment batches from 150 g to 100 g and went out and purchased 12 oz #5PP plastic deli containers. These are perfectly sized for batch experimenting shave soaps as they are wide enough to build a lather with the final product, tall enough to stir hot oil and lye without spilling and still fairly compact. I preheated a small Pyrex baking dish with a small water bath before placing the tubs in to aid heating, and to hopefully keep the tubs warm when removed from the nuker. Worked great. No stick blending, which is unfortunate as I have been dying to use my new mini stick blender.

I want to thank EFG, RO, DeeAnna, @Professor Bernardo, @Zany_in_CO , @IrishLass for some very specific advice and sharing so much knowledge. I'm sure I've forgotten quite a few others. There are countless others to thank including some long lost trail blazers and prolific shave soapers, LBussy, songwind, Lindy, psfred to name a few.
 
Last edited:

ResolvableOwl

Notorious Lyear
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
1,953
Reaction score
5,118
Location
Germany
Never easing off! 😃 Great write-up, what made you decide for the recipe to become what it is. That means it might be more helpful even for those who want to achieve something different than you.:thumbs:

But the question remains … why is it so vividly yellow? Does your camera want to warn you to not use that much RBO? Pros dye their soap yellow-orange to “hide” DOS 😂. Joke aside, you are taking the rancidity issues very seriously. However, at this pilot scale, it is comparatively easy to use up the whole batch long before it has a chance to catch DOS. But better get used to best practice as early as possible. You might keep a leftover of this soap for a long time (> 1 year), together with a rest of the batch that you will make as soon as the ROE is delivered, and watch how the two compare over time.

PUFAs=a very worrying 32%
Umm, the RBO itself has 32%, and you're not using it pure. PUFA = Linoleic + Linolenic, so you're at 16% here, which IMHO isn't “very worrying”, but just at the upper limit of what is considered well manageable with chelators + antioxidants.

I have been dying to use my new mini stick blender
As long as you insist on using double-digit percentages of FFA stearic acid, its seizing/instant trace “issues” will always help you minimise work for reaching trace, and make your mini-SB superfluous.
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
Never easing off! 😃 Great write-up, what made you decide for the recipe to become what it is. That means it might be more helpful even for those who want to achieve something different than you.:thumbs:
Thank you! I've gotten quite a bit of useful info from seeming unrelated posts, but due to surrounding explanations can be applied.

But the question remains … why is it so vividly yellow? Does your camera want to warn you to not use that much RBO? Pros dye their soap yellow-orange to “hide” DOS 😂. Joke aside, you are taking the rancidity issues very seriously. However, at this pilot scale, it is comparatively easy to use up the whole batch long before it has a chance to catch DOS. But better get used to best practice as early as possible. You might keep a leftover of this soap for a long time (> 1 year), together with a rest of the batch that you will make as soon as the ROE is delivered, and watch how the two compare over time.
My phone knows me all too well already....maybe it knows more about soap than I realize lol! As a bonus the third batch should be quite easy considering I won't have 2 slightly different sets of ingredients to keep separate and correctly added.

Umm, the RBO itself has 32%, and you're not using it pure. PUFA = Linoleic + Linolenic, so you're at 16% here, which IMHO isn't “very worrying”, but just at the upper limit of what is considered well manageable with chelators + antioxidants.
:oops: Thank you, for catching this. I had been operating under the assumption that PUFAs were acceptable while working this until I wrote everything down when I decided to "correct" myself. Double d'oh!

As long as you insist on using double-digit percentages of FFA stearic acid, its seizing/instant trace “issues” will always help you minimise work for reaching trace, and make your mini-SB superfluous.
One less thing to clean at least heh.
 

Cat&Oak

Supporting Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
476
Reaction score
911
Location
Sparks, Nevada
Now I have that song stuck in my head 🤣 I have been going down the rabbit hole of shave soaps here and other shave sites. I appreciate your very detailed post and am curious to see how the RBO works out. Thank you for your post and I hope your shave soap is everything you hoped it would be.

 
Last edited:

Professor Bernardo

Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
222
Reaction score
429
Location
Moved to The Oort Cloud...
Looks like an interesting recipe. Stick with the Castor Oil, it helps the lathering ability of the soap. Personally, I would cut back on the rice bran oil and up the stearic acid. Don't worry about "Palm Free" aspects of soap; as long as you get your Palm Oil from an RSPO supplier you should not suffer any massive guilt issues...

Since it's make with strictly KOH, it will be a pasty, sticky soap. Some addition of NaOH would have been beneficial. But that's my personal opinion. I'm getting the impression that you are in search of the "Holy Grail" of shaving soap. GOOD LUCK!

There are SO MANY types of shaving soaps out there it is ridiculous. A lot of crap soaps and some very good ones. The methods, ingredients and such are so varied it would take a long time to catalog them.

Each to their own... I am looking forward to seeing the net result after the curing process is complete.
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
Looks like an interesting recipe. Stick with the Castor Oil, it helps the lathering ability of the soap. Personally, I would cut back on the rice bran oil and up the stearic acid. Don't worry about "Palm Free" aspects of soap; as long as you get your Palm Oil from an RSPO supplier you should not suffer any massive guilt issues...

Since it's make with strictly KOH, it will be a pasty, sticky soap. Some addition of NaOH would have been beneficial. But that's my personal opinion. I'm getting the impression that you are in search of the "Holy Grail" of shaving soap. GOOD LUCK!

There are SO MANY types of shaving soaps out there it is ridiculous. A lot of crap soaps and some very good ones. The methods, ingredients and such are so varied it would take a long time to catalog them.

Each to their own... I am looking forward to seeing the net result after the curing process is complete.
Hey Prof, there are tons of different soaps, and there appear to be endless possibilities but it's funny how if you check out the ingredients there's some definite patterns and some relative "here thar be monsters" zones. There's duck fat and donkey milk, but is anyone using lard or canola oil? Why not? Stirling actually uses lard in a bath soap and Uncle Jon uses canola in some videos, but these seem to be outliers and not sold in shave soap. There is no holy grail as far as I'm concerned, neither are there any crap soaps. Check out how much love even the cheapest soaps get. There's too many metrics a soap can be measured with to be considered utter crap. The challenge is that with each ingredient not only do we add to a value, but we also end up taking away something another ingredient added. It's the thing that makes soaping so dang interesting IMO.

Anyway, yep the KOH and large amount of RBO is likely to yield my softest soap. I'll find out how soft in 2 weeks...maybe 3-4 weeks.
 

Professor Bernardo

Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
222
Reaction score
429
Location
Moved to The Oort Cloud...
If you look at some of the soaps sold on Ebay by "crafters" quite a lot of the shave soaps are just melt and pour types. Which don't really lather up well at all for a shaving purpose. Perhaps I was a little harsh using the adjective "crap". Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with M&P soap, is just doesn't truly belong in the shaving soap category IMHO.

I prefer the KISS principle: Keeping It Simply Soap.

I'll stick with my formula I use and know. My soaps get glowing reviews on Ebay. Only one complaint and that was because the customer thought the Sandalwood scent wasn't strong enough.

I wish you all the best in your endeavors! May the Saponification Gods be with you!
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
An update of sorts, the citric acid tub is a bit softer on top, somewhat sticky, left a bit of residue on my finger when touching. Non-CA batch seems to have dried quicker. I do recall stirring these two was also slightly different, the CA batch seemed to glide around the tub a bit even though the non CA batch went through saponification steps slightly quicker. Not sure if this is related or totally random. The final weight between them after all oils and glycerine was only .02 grams apart. Anyway, they look about the same and finally have a decent hue to them.

 

The Efficacious Gentleman

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
9,145
Reaction score
9,508
Location
Austria
Oh, you are a fiend! I have a perfectly wonderful shaving soap recipe (it's easier for me as I don't care about it being vegan) and now you start making me want to go and have a play with some small batch recipes for poops and giggles........

I might have missed it in the write up, but did you add more lye to allow for the citric acid? If not, it could explain why it behaves a bit differently (even if you did add more, just having it in can have an impact). The small batch method is great for trying a lot of options in a small time, but the margin of error is so small when it comes to measuring.
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
Oh, you are a fiend! I have a perfectly wonderful shaving soap recipe (it's easier for me as I don't care about it being vegan) and now you start making me want to go and have a play with some small batch recipes for poops and giggles........

I might have missed it in the write up, but did you add more lye to allow for the citric acid? If not, it could explain why it behaves a bit differently (even if you did add more, just having it in can have an impact). The small batch method is great for trying a lot of options in a small time, but the margin of error is so small when it comes to measuring.
Oh did I drag you back down the rabbit hole of shave soapin'? There's plenty of room! I'm not actually a vegan, it was kind of a challenge after seeing the dichotomy and trying to match tallow's claimed superior performance. Tallow's time will come soon once this RBO formula is settled for me.

Regarding the CA and lye, yes I did account for it, thanks mainly to DeeAnna and her articles. Future batches will have sodium citrate however as I honestly hate the idea of accidentally goofing a recipe up. Citric acid is nice though being as cheap as it is and the fact that it reacts with both lyes.

And the small batches...oh man every time getting to within the gram and dropping the last bit in was a bit nerve wracking and tedious, but it wasn't too bad once I got the flow down. Disposable pipettes for the win, I highly suggest them. Also getting the "dry" ingredients in first helps because it's easy to remove a dab of coconut oil or stearic acid before the wet oils come in. Learned a lot with these two soaps.
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
Citric acid batch is still very soft and moist, every time I touch it I get some on my finger. No zap. Have never had a batch this soft this far out. Non-CA batch is soft of course, however it is dry and feels like perfectly fine curing shave soap.

*accounted for the lye needed
*accounted for the additional water needed for the extra lye
*2:1 water/CA ratio (H2O pulled from lye water)
*added CA to heated oils and stirred
*label all my CA specific ingredient containers (oil mix, lye mix, CA mix)
*Started each step with the CA batch first, consistently

I'm at a loss. I work for a big beverage company and we have GMPs to follow to account for everything, and here I thought I could sort of emulate that. I can't of course rule out inexplicably swapping lyes without realizing it. Maybe I should record myself next time. :-/

Wondering if these things could be the culprit :
No stick blend
High RBO (42%)
CA in oil, instead of lye
100% KOH

Searched CA issues on the forum, not much to report. Hmm. Maybe it is just the fact that I'm still a noob working with a new ingredient.

Found a useful thread on CA:


Apparently there is citric acid in two forms (monohydrate and anhydrous), each neutralizing a different amount of lye. Also, just checked my container and mine has "less than 2% silicon dioxide" as an anticaking agent. Reading more on CA it appears it *does* soften soap in higher amounts, 2% usage rate + 100% KOH was a bit much. Well heck it appears I've thrown in more variables than I thought.

Searching the forums for this issue is relatively difficult as there seems to be quite a lot of unrelated things to sift through in the results...
 
Last edited:

Professor Bernardo

Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
222
Reaction score
429
Location
Moved to The Oort Cloud...
Start with a tried and true recipe and make adjustments from there, if you have to. You are doing too many things at once to really get a good grip on what is the mitigating factor. What is the change from the base recipe and so forth.

It's like you have learned how to make a pizza from a box of Chef Boyardee pizza mix and now are attempting to make a Chicago Deep Dish in the style of Pizzaria Uno.

s-l1600.jpg
sc600x600.jpg
 
Last edited:

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
Start with a tried and true recipe and make adjustments from there, if you have to. You are doing too many things at once to really get a good grip on what is the mitigating factor. What is the change from the base recipe and so forth.

It's like you have learned how to make a pizza from a box of Chef Boyardee pizza mix and now are attempting to make a Chicago Deep Dish in the style of Pizzaria Uno.

View attachment 61528 View attachment 61529
Hey Prof,
Perhaps I should have tried CA with my working RBO soap before increasing the RBO. :-/ I am limiting myself to iterations of the RBO soap so far, so nothing crazy coming out of the kitchen yet. Just an increase of RBO from my previous working batch, I wouldn't call that extreme.I am learning patience and the value of cure time from the previous batches. Gimme credit for not lathering up with this the second it was done heheh.
 
Last edited:

ResolvableOwl

Notorious Lyear
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
1,953
Reaction score
5,118
Location
Germany
Reading more on CA it appears it *does* soften soap in higher amounts, 2% usage rate + 100% KOH was a bit much.
Can't speak for potassium-based soap, but at least in sodium-based (bar) soap, I couldn't find a noticeable impact of citric acid on hardness at such usage rates. Of course, the lye cation might make a difference, even if I (or you) can't proactively imagine. Being solid is really not a favourite thing to be for KOH soap – it seems that this class of shave soap is so special in its reliance on fine-tuning of the ingredients that a minor variation like 2% citrate can make the soap remember its LS roots and turn soft.

Fair enough, I have never directly compared soap with and without citrate. (The root cause is that I don't dare to not use chelators in my notoriously high-linoleic reicpes 🤭) – Thus I cannot confirm nor contest the softening tendencies of citrate (I couldn't anyway, b/c KOH). Something you have just earned spurs with :).

One wild guess: wrt softening, citrate bears some similarity with glycerol – superficial or beneficial? Unlike with regular bar soap recipes, you have the luxury that you can control (decrease) the amount of glycerol. Let me suggest to reduce the amount of extra glycerol from 9.68 g to, say, 5 g (or leave it out altogether).

Aside this, you still have the obvious (but tedious) route of dual-lye (replace some KOH with NaOH).

CA in oil, instead of lye
😬
No. Dissolve it in the water, before you're adding the KOH (more carefully than without citric acid, it gets even hotter than in plain water).
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
Can't speak for potassium-based soap, but at least in sodium-based (bar) soap, I couldn't find a noticeable impact of citric acid on hardness at such usage rates. Of course, the lye cation might make a difference, even if I (or you) can't proactively imagine. Being solid is really not a favourite thing to be for KOH soap – it seems that this class of shave soap is so special in its reliance on fine-tuning of the ingredients that a minor variation like 2% citrate can make the soap remember its LS roots and turn soft.

Fair enough, I have never directly compared soap with and without citrate. (The root cause is that I don't dare to not use chelators in my notoriously high-linoleic reicpes 🤭) – Thus I cannot confirm nor contest the softening tendencies of citrate (I couldn't anyway, b/c KOH). Something you have just earned spurs with :).

One wild guess: wrt softening, citrate bears some similarity with glycerol – superficial or beneficial? Unlike with regular bar soap recipes, you have the luxury that you can control (decrease) the amount of glycerol. Let me suggest to reduce the amount of extra glycerol from 9.68 g to, say, 5 g (or leave it out altogether).

Aside this, you still have the obvious (but tedious) route of dual-lye (replace some KOH with NaOH).


😬
No. Dissolve it in the water, before you're adding the KOH (more carefully than without citric acid, it gets even hotter than in plain water).
Hey RO,
Thanks for the feedback. I have to scoot off to work, but quickly-

I may have been unclear but I dissolved CA in water first (2:1 H2O/CA), then added to oils, then lye added to the oils. I've read it's a bit unpleasant to mix CA with lye, though I'll give it a try if that is the preferred method.

WRT glycerin, I do want to keep some around to replace the missing portion from the stearic acid, right?

And yep, I think I may have hit the limit of KOH, perhaps Prof's past suggestions of dual lye might just have to be taken sooner than I thought heh.

And no chelators with high linoleics? Oooh playing with fire I see ha!
 

ResolvableOwl

Notorious Lyear
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
1,953
Reaction score
5,118
Location
Germany
I've read it's a bit unpleasant to mix CA with lye,
It's not that bad. Just add the KOH to the dilute CA solution not at once, but in small steps (start with half a tsp and strong stirring, to keep boiling/bubbling at a minimum).

And no chelators with high linoleics? Oooh playing with fire I see ha!
Which fool, exactly, has come up with the idea of 42% RBO and no citrate???? 🤣😇 Srsly, your shave soaps appear to be “quick enough” to cure (and small batches), so that you can use them up, well before the DOS goblins have a chance to do so. IIRC, there are reports from RBO addicts (@Dawni?) that suggest that RBO has going on some phytochemical magic that makes its PUFA be less rancidity-troublesome than, say, canola or lard.

Or consider joining the exclusive lye masterbatch club (and the even more exclusive sub-club of KOH masterbatch). Pre-dissolved lye really saves you many of the hassles from managing the dissolution process.
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
It's not that bad. Just add the KOH to the dilute CA solution not at once, but in small steps (start with half a tsp and strong stirring, to keep boiling/bubbling at a minimum).
Sounds doable. Do you MB lye with CA or is it advisable? One less thing to worry about. Hmm.

Which fool, exactly, has come up with the idea of 42% RBO and no citrate???? 🤣😇 Srsly, your shave soaps appear to be “quick enough” to cure (and small batches), so that you can use them up, well before the DOS goblins have a chance to do so. IIRC, there are reports from RBO addicts (@Dawni?) that suggest that RBO has going on some phytochemical magic that makes its PUFA be less rancidity-troublesome than, say, canola or lard.

Wowsers, I have some reading to do.

Hey hey now I did use citric acid. The result has yet to pan out and will take an eternity to find out it seems...a self imposed hard 2 week cure as opposed to the giddy first lather mere hours after making songwind's. Let's hope that CA found KOH at the dance floor, else I have a failed batch here. :-/

In other news, my first RBO shave soap has a noticable dent from daily shaves since I've made it. Just an amazing addition, quite glad you guys (and I believe you in particular) shined a light in that direction.
 
Last edited:

ResolvableOwl

Notorious Lyear
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
1,953
Reaction score
5,118
Location
Germany
Sounds doable. Do you MB lye with CA or is it advisable? One less thing to worry about. Hmm.
I tend to not include it, or make a separate CA masterbatch. Salting-out (common-ion effect) is well-known outside soapmaking too, and the solubility of potassium citrate in near-saturated aqueous KOH might be surprisingly low.

Then, again, if you know you stay with a 40% KOH concentration, you might get away with citrate in the masterbatch. But test it first if it stays in solution. A precipitation would defeat the purpose of a masterbatch.

Or make a 42% masterbatch KOH+water, and another 40% masterbatch citric acid+water (dilute CA solutions might catch mould over time). Then preparation of the lye boils down to mixing two liquids (you don't even need to add pure water any more).
 

Johnez

What if I....
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
415
Reaction score
824
Location
Omaha, NE
Well guys and gals I done did it again, another midnight special coming in:



This is actually identical to the recipe I had put together in my previous MdC clone thread, but never made. Some sodium citrate showed up at my door, so I had to finally whip it up. As you may notice, it has literally whipped up in comparison to the RBO soap I made last week.

So I made a mistake on this one by not subtracting the water of the sodium citrate solution from my lye water, meaning I've got 4 grams water over what the recipe calls for. Drat.

Anyway, this soap pulled the same exact trick my previous RBO soap with citric acid did-it slid around in my tub while stirring. I noticed what looked like a thin film (oil, water, glycerin?) between the "soap" and tub so I broke out the mini-mixer. It worked! Everything incorporated nicely and thickened up, no more slick film on the edges. It hardened up a bit, at which point I zap tested it. I wasn't confident it didn't zap, it definitely wasn't the familiar plain soap taste, however it did have something. Perhaps a light zap with a sodium citrate zing? Not sure. Back in the microwave and had to pull it out after 15 seconds as it started pillowing up, caught it just in time and stirred it down best I could. And the result is what you see there after 15 minutes of stirring and repeated hot water baths.

Not sure if I made a process error (added SC solution to oil, then added lye), but I suppose learning comes from doing, figuring out what went wrong and trying again. I've experienced zero problems in the recipes without CA or SC so I'll get back to reading on these additives before trying again.

Recipe:



I'm going to use this as my RBO log if y'all don't mind. Keep it contained to one thread at least heh. This was a slight iteration from my very first RBO soap, and I plan to make more with these ingredients, dial in an optimal Coconut/Castor ratio, and work with additives. I've got an excellent tried and true recipe currently in my first batch and I want to get that down before moving on.

ETA, I just put the soap away and it has hardened very nicely. Still "zingy" tho.
 
Last edited:
Top