# Is there a tutorial somewhere on superfatting/water discount

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#### IanT

##### Freemason, Maker, Father, Mover & Shaker
Supporting Member
I have read a little bit on this but i still feel lost. Math is not exactly my strongest point...

Thank you!

I have read this as well that Irish lass posted, but im still a litttttttle bit confused!

IrishLass said:
Hi Sharon!

Lye concentration vs. water discount can be a very confusing topic. On the surface, they seem to be talking about the same thing, but they are actually two different animals when you get down to it.

When people speak of a lye concentration, they are talking about the strength of a solution that is made up of lye and water (i.e. how much lye is in the solution in relation to the water amount).

For instance (I gleaned this from another forum):

a 25% lye solution = 25% lye + 75% water (the water weight is 3 times the weight of lye)

a 33% lye solution = 33% lye + 66% water (the water is double the lye weight)

a 40% lye solution = 40% lye + 60% water (the water weight is 1.5 times the weight of the lye)

a 50% lye solution (only for the very experienced soaper) = 50% lye + 50% water (half and half)

What this means is that I'm taking the water amount of any given recipe and adding enough lye to it to bring it to a certain percentage of strength. When I tell someone I used a 33% lye solution, they know immediately that I used twice as much water as lye, no matter what recipe I happen to be using. It's pretty cut and dry and standard as compared to water discounts, which can be pretty nebulous.

For instance, if I tell someone I used a 33% water discount, they'd want to know what the foundational amount of water is that I am discounting from. Here's where it gets tricky because not all lye calculators on the net base their water amounts on the same criteria, even if it's the same exact recipe. A 33% water discount at So & So's does not give you the same water discount percentage as Whatchamacallit's because So & So's bases their water amount on oil weight, and Whatchamacallit's bases theirs on lye weight. It's not uniform across the board. A 33% water discount could mean one thing here and another thing there because they are both starting with different water amounts based on different criteria.

Lye solutions, on the other hand are very standard and mean the same thing across the board no matter what your recipe is. For instance, A 33% lye solution always means twice as much water as lye for every single recipe no matter how different it is from another recipe.

Hopefully, that makes sense.

Well, with that out of the way, you are now probably wondering what difference the various lye solutions make in your soap. Well, pretty much in a nutshell, the lower your lye concentration, the longer your soap will take to trace and the longer it will take to harden up and evaporate all the excess water out after unmolding. The higher the concentration, the faster things go and the faster your soap hardens and drys out after unmolding. The highest I've gone is 40%. It was for a Castile-type soap with 80% Olive Oil in it. I wouldn't go higher than a 33%, though, until you have a good feel for soaping and all of the curves it can throw you. Things move really fast the higher you go, so it's best to gain confidence at the lower levels first.

SoapCalc's default Lye concentration is set at 31%, I think. I like 33%. It's a nice middle of the road percentage. Not too low, not too high, and my soaps don't shrink much at all as they are curing in comparison to those made with a lower lye concentration. This especially comes in handy when making Castiles, because they can be quite soft at first if a low lye concentration is used. My very first Castile-type was done at a 26% lye solution, and it took a week for it to even be hard enough to unmold! Then it took at least 3 months more to harden up enough to use it without it completely turning to jelly! When I make the same recipe now, but use a 33% lye solution instead of 26%, I can unmold it within 12 hours and it reaches the same hardness at 2 or 3 days that it took my first batch to reach in 3 months! It's amazing!

Well, I hoped that helped!

IrishLass

EDIT: I think what would help if someone could give me an example recipe without superfatting/discounting and the showing me what it would look like WITH either/or??

I really appreciate the help!

Ian, are you asking about water discounting or lye discounting - they are 2 different things.

The way I look at it, superfatting and lye discounting are essentially the same thing - using less lye than is required to 100% saponify your oils.

Lye discounting is using (for example) 5% less lye than required for the amount of oils that are in your recipe. So, for a recipe that has:
580g Olive Oil, 280g Coconut oil & 60g Shea Butter my lye calculator tells me that I need 138.6g of Lye. I then decide that I want a 5% lye discount - I now only need 131.7g of Lye.

Superfatting is using (for example) 5% more oils than you have lye for. So, for the same recipe - 580g Olive oil, 280g Coconut & 60g Shea, I need 138.6g of lye. This time, instead of discounting my lye by 5%, I increase my oils by 5%. For this example, I'm going to add 46g of Cocoa Butter at trace.

Either way, both methods use more less lye than required to 100% saponify the oils used. Bear in mind however, if you have too high a discount and/or superfat you run the risk of your soap turning rancid and developing 'dreaded orange spots' (DOS).

I do have one recipe that I do both with, and it is a really lovely bar of soap, however I find it needs a longer cure time as it is initially very oily when it comes out of the mold.

Water discounting on the other hand is using less water than that suggested by your lye calculator, or by whatever formula you use to work out your lye & water.

So, using the recipe above, 580g Olive Oil, 280g Coconut oil, 60g Shea butter & 138.6g lye, soapmaker (http://www.soapmaker.ca) tells me I need 325.1g of Water. I now decide that I want this bar to be harder sooner, so that I can get it out of the mold quicker, so I might take a 30% water discount. I would then only need 227.6g of water.

You can go as low as equal amounts of lye and water, but I've never used less than a 30% water discount - I like plenty of time to play. Bear in mind that the less water you use, the quicker your soap will trace.

Hope this helps

yes that definately helped! ok so if ..(not saying that I will because I know its for more advanced soapiers)... I were to use equal amounts H20 and lye, lets say I have 120g lye and 215g water (hypothetically..) which one would I bring up/down to meet the other??

I really appreciate your clarification, I think seeing it in'action' helps me because I know im a visual learner... it definately helped!!

thanks!!!

Ian

IanT said:
yes that definately helped! ok so if ..(not saying that I will because I know its for more advanced soapiers)... I were to use equal amounts H20 and lye, lets say I have 120g lye and 215g water (hypothetically..) which one would I bring up/down to meet the other??

I really appreciate your clarification, I think seeing it in'action' helps me because I know im a visual learner... it definately helped!!

thanks!!!

Ian

Ian, to get to a 50% solution you use the same weights of lye (sodium hydroxide) and your liquid of choice; you mentioned water. This is a strong strength solution to begin with. I would only use this for perhaps Castile Soap. I soap between 30 to 33% in my recipes. All this is about solution strength only. You are asking several questions about several very different things. But this answers the question you just asked. :wink:

Paul

hahaha thank you!! I know im asking a few questions combined and Im aware that superfat/water discount are two entirely seperate topics (though somehow sort of achieve a similar goal)

so much info I want to learn! Im kind of nervous to try discounts or superfat (besides the discount that soapcalc does as default (5%) until i develop a greater understanding for it!!
thanks for your answers though!! one step closer to me understanding this whole thing!!

I greatly appreciate it!

Ian

IanT said:
Im aware that superfat/water discount are two entirely seperate topics (though somehow sort of achieve a similar goal)

Not really, Ian. Superfatting makes for a milder bar, and water discounting means that your soap will harden up faster.

Making a soap with, say 5% lye discount / superfat and no water discount will be a milder bar of soap (in general), but may have to stay in the mold for the full 12 - 24 hours.

Making a soap with no lye discount / superfat and a 50% lye / water solution (equal weights) will make a bar of soap that is not as mild, but may be able to be unmolded in only 6 hours, instead of 12.

Combining the 2, you have a milder bar of soap that may be able to be unmolded sooner.

Bear in mind tho, if you use too great a lye discount / superfat, no amount of water discounting is going to make that bar harden up.

ok so if ..(not saying that I will because I know its for more advanced soapiers)... I were to use equal amounts H20 and lye, lets say I have 120g lye and 215g water (hypothetically..) which one would I bring up/down to meet the other??

Once your lye discount is set in your lye calculator, that is the last time you mess with the lye amounts. So, if you are using soapcalc, and it is set on a 5% lye discount, and your recipe calls for 120g lye & 215g water, the lye amount is set and should not be changed. Your water amount is the number that can be played with.

Yup, Becky gave you the perfect answer. If you are using www.soapcalc.com just leave it at it's default setting of 5% superfat and 38%, which is about a 26% lye solution strength.

The default setting, using it until you get a few batches under your belt, will make a good bar, based upon good oils. I would be happy to make up a recipe for you, if you tell me what oils you have or want to use. :wink:

Paul

I REALLY appreciate the help guys and gals, Paul that would be great!...Right now im on the low budget track because Im unemployed (hopefully will be working for Big Brothers Big Sisters of CFL next week...keep your fingers crossed..just had the second interview today and im one of 3 candidates!)...Currently i have EVOO, Safflower, Coconut, and Canola oils (these are mostly base oils..right??)... I have been looking into some other oils, Id like to add to my collection some castor, palm kernel, and avocado, maybe some sweet almond too...but for now the ones above are the only ones i have!!!

you think I could make a better recipe than the one im using currently with just those oils?? (right now all ive done is 75%EVOO and 25% Coconut oil (76))

your all soooooo awesome and I could probably not learn all of this as effectively without this forum!! A million thanks!

EDIT: I think I need to just try a few recipes with the superfat or water discount...after I get some more basic batches under my belt...Im kind of looking forward to screwing one up so I can figure out what I did wrong...but so far its been painless lol... beginners luck?? hopefully it doesnt run out but I know mistakes are BOUND to occur!...just a waiting game!

Ian

I'm glad to have found this thread. This cleared up several percentage questions.

Thanks very much!

first post here!!! i was about to post up some of the same questions i found answers for here. im very glad to get some answers. finally after hours of research!!!

you sure did your research well, this thread is ancient!

..

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