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Is a failed clarity test actually a problem?

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Primrose

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This is only my second attempt at LS. The first I did a CP method. It acts like soap but is dark, with a white milky layer on top, and thinner than I prefer

I attempted a HP method today using a dual lye recipe.

The paste doesn't zap, but dilutes milky.

Is it actually a functional problem? Or is it just aesthetics?
 

DeeAnna

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You have to give more info, please. What is your recipe? Do you use distilled water or tap water? What is your superfat? What kinds of fats are you using? What is the purity of your KOH and do you take that into account when designing your recipe?

My best guess, given the limited information you provided, is you added too much fat for the amount of lye you used. In other words your superfat is too high. But there are other reasons why a non-zappy soap can be milky, so it's just a guess.

IF you use only fats that are known for making a clear liquid soap AND adjust the recipe for KOH purity AND don't use too much superfat AND use only distilled water or the equivalent ... then a milky soap may indicate the soap has excess fat. But if the milky soap isn't zappy, then cooking the soap longer, which is the usual advice, doesn't work. The reason why it doesn't work is there is no more lye (KOH, NaOH, or both) in non-zappy soap paste to react with the fat.
 

Primrose

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Hi DeeAnna, yep that's the theory the way I understand it also and I suspect it is excess oil also, so I stopped cooking (it had been cooked about four hours) and left it to sit overnight, I guess what I was particularly wondering though is that is there any functional reason not to dilute a milky paste, whether it will actually negatively affect the final product or whether it just won't be the clear liquid soap that people desire?

The recipe is apparently a successful one from another soap maker. I don't have the actual amounts on me atm but from memory it was

75% olive oil
12% coconut oil
7% castor oil
6% avocado oil

60% KOH at 90% purity (I have no idea what the actual purity is or how to test this? I just used the default suggestion in the calculator)
40% NaOH

Lyes were dissolved in flat cold beer at 3:1

I wasn't able to stick blend but whisked every 5-10 minutes and I'm reasonably sure I saw mashed potato, Apple sauce and vaseline? But not having done HP before I could be very much mistaken.
 

Primrose

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This is my clarity test after sitting overnight 20191227_082449.jpg
 

DeeAnna

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It looks like you set up the recipe pretty nicely.

I've not used a blend with that much NaOH nor have I used beer to make the paste, so I can't say whether the beer or that much NaOH can cause milkiness. Maybe others will give their perspective.

Olive, coconut, and castor are all fats that should make a clear liquid soap. Avocado is another story -- it has a high unsaponifiable content, and that definitely can cause milkiness.

Your soap looks milky, but there's also a white floating layer, which I think is more than just the usual cloudiness. Could be the avocado unsaponifiables. Could be excess fats or fatty acids.

You can find out if it's excess superfat by adding some KOH to this sample -- just put a few flakes of the dry alkali directly into the soap and stir well to dissolve the flakes. Let sit for, oh, maybe overnight. See if the floating layer clears up and/or the clarity improves. Maybe add a few more flakes of dry KOH, stir, and let sit again. See what happens to the appearance.

If the floating layer disappears and/or the soap becomes more clear, that's telling you the soap contains more superfat than the soap can contain. If these issues don't disappear, it could be unsaponifiables. You might try making this with just KOH and/or just distilled water (not beer) and see if the appearance is different.

I made a soap with a high % of lard awhile back. When diluted, the soap was milky/cloudy with a thin layer of white floaty stuff (not as much as what's floating on your soap, but something like that). I added sufficient KOH to a sample to make it slightly zappy. I didn't see any change in clarity nor reduction in the floating layer.

I concluded the milky stuff is probably palmitic and stearic soaps which are not very soluble in water. That's just how this particular soap looks. The appearance is stable -- I've had some sitting quietly for months and the diluted soap looks the same now as it did when first diluted.

I don't necessarily think milky soap is a problem, but it could be if you don't know why it has this appearance. Is it poor recipe design (too much superfat) or poor soap making technique (not saponified enough)? Or is it an intentional choice to use certain ingredients (high unsaponifiable content)?
 
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Primrose

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Thanks DeeAnna, I'll try the KOH flakes in the sample and see what happens!

The original recipe from the soapmaker actually had 6% jojoba which I did think was odd due to the unsaponifiables. She had suggested to someone else that didn't have jojoba, that she'd substituted with avocado at one point and it also made a good soap. I love a little bit of jojoba in my bar soap recipes. Anyway turns out i couldn't find my jojoba (found it late last night of course) so used the avocado
 

DeeAnna

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I wonder if jojoba will have the same tendency as avocado to cloud the soap, but there's nothing wrong with using it unless a person really wants a transparent liquid soap.

I've never bothered to do a clarity test, but haven't had any problems getting crystal clear LS if that's what I want. The key things I've found for a transparent LS --

use only fats that are known to produce transparent LS -- limit stearic and palmitic acids, keep unsaponifiables low
be careful about not too much superfat -- use a low superfat setting and account for KOH purity
use good soap making technique -- careful measuring!
make sure the soap has saponified fully -- zap test​

I think a zap test gives a person more useful feedback than a clarity test, and it is certainly easier and quicker to do.
 

Zany_in_CO

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so I stopped cooking (it had been cooked about four hours) and left it to sit overnight,
Of all the oils, olive oil takes the longest to cook to full saponification. The first time I made 100% OO, it took 10 hours! :eek: PS: I now use the glycerin method and have soap in 2 minutes! :cool:
Carrie Petersen's GLS
is there any functional reason not to dilute a milky paste, whether it will actually negatively affect the final product or whether it just won't be the clear liquid soap
Good question. Personally, I would let it set for 2 weeks to see if it clears. Either way, I can see no reason why it wouldn't be just as "functional".
75% olive oil 12% coconut oil
7% castor oil
6% avocado oil
In addition to avocado oil (as DeeAnna mentioned), olive oil is also high in unsaponifiables bringing the total to 81%. Plus, 2% SF = most likely, this is the source of the milky result. I agree with DeeAnna's remedy of adding a few flakes of KOH (50/50 in water) to see if it clears.
60% KOH at 90% purity (I have no idea what the actual purity is or how to test this? I just used the default suggestion in the calculator)
40% NaOH
Your supplier should have this information available. That being said, I usually tick KOH 90% because I'm OCD about clarity. :rolleyes:
I've never used NaOH in LS so no comment there.
For future reference:
What to Expect from Various Oils in LS
 

DeeAnna

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"...olive oil is also high in unsaponifiables..."

You keep repeating this factoid, Zany, without any supporting proof. Please provide a reputable source that supports your assertion about this, because I sure can't find any and I've been looking.

Here's what I have found --

The International Olive Oil Council, the US Department of Agriculture, and the California Trade Standards all require the unsaponifiable content for olive oil to be no higher than 1.5% and for pomace to be no higher than 3%.* These are maximum limits, not typical amounts.

Typical unsaponifiable content for various fats often used for soap making -- around 1% for lard, tallow, canola, coconut, and palm and around 2% for hemp, refined shea, refined avocado, and corn.

So tell me -- why is olive with unsaponifiables at 1.5% max and pomace at 3% max any much different than these other fats?

The fats that typically do contain high amounts of unsaponifiables are unrefined shea averaging 5% to 15% unsaponifiable content** and crude avocado oil ranging from 4% to 9%. ***

Lump pomace in with shea and avocado if you must, but olive oil, regardless of grade, does not qualify as a fat with high unsaponifiable content.

------

* http://cesonoma.ucanr.edu/files/27262.pdf and also
https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Olive_Oil_and_Olive-Pomace_Oil_Standard[1].pdf

** Orit Segman, Zeev Wiesman and Leonid Yarmolinsky. Ch 17: Methods and Technologies Related to Shea Butter Chemophysical Properties... Pg 417-441 in Cocoa Butter and Related Compounds. Nissim Garti and Neil R. Widlak ed. 2012.

*** Y.F. Lozano, C. Dhuique Mayer, C. Bannon and E.M. Gaydou. Unsaponifiable Matter, Total Sterol and Tocopherol Contents of Avocado Oil Varieties. American Oil Chemists Society. 1993.
 

Zany_in_CO

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@DeeAnna :thumbs: Good to know! Thank you! I apologize for not updating my list of oils. Probably has something to do with adjusting to widowhood and struggling through health issues and all I have on my plate since my dear Jim is no longer around to help with stuff that needs doing. I could use 4 more hours in every day or a clone! Just not enough time. :(

"...olive oil is also high in unsaponifiables..."
You keep repeating this factoid, Zany, without any supporting proof. Please provide a reputable source that supports your assertion about this, because I sure can't find any and I've been looking.
To avoid Hijacking this thread, I moved my response to start a new thread here:
https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/grades-of-olive-oil-usda-standards.77573/
 
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