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Dec 20, 2017
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Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Hi, all,

I'm wondering what I did wrong with the formulation of a veg oil soap (experimental) that's 70% palm oil & 30% soy. I added some coconut oil, olive and castor. No added salt, sugar or fragrance.

My issues are 2. I just unmolded and cut it tonight and, though I know it's raw, the "lather" is very light and creamy, but now my hands feel VERY dry. I thought by adding the olive oil it would make it less drying, and the castor and CO might add to the bubbles. Nope to both.

I've attached the recipe:

Another edit: Would it work as a solid laundry soap? Where I'm living now laundry is washed exclusively by hand, so solid soap is a must.
I must add that I don't have access to ANY luxury oils. CO is the most luxurious oil here and almost all veg oils & shortenings are VERY high in palm oil (and what they label as palm esters, separately from the oil). Lard and tallow are almost impossible to find. The butchers all must sell their scraps to commercial outfits because they all tell me they don't have any. Sucks.


  • Palm and Soy Recipe I.pdf
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In your recipe, you used palm kernel oil but your shortening is probably regular palm oil. If thats the case, you used too much lye and your soap is probably lye heavy.
Do a zap test, wet your finger rub it across your soap and touch it to your tongue.
If there is excess lye, it will give a unpleasant zap sensation.

A 100% coconut oil makes a good laundry soap but it may be harsh for handwashing. Maybe try 50% shortening, 50% coconut bar.
Ok my first question would be did you actually use palm kernel oil as the recipe says, or normal palm oil? Because they are quite different and the recipe is quite different.

If you did use palm kernel oil as the recipe states, yes it will be a very drying soap by the look of things. Young/fresh/uncured soap can also be stripping, and as it cures it may get milder but it will always be a stripping bar by that recipe alone.

I have not made laundry soap so I am not sure on that behalf however I believe it is usually made with a 0% superfat. If washing by hand would you want it to be a more gentler soap? I don't know. I think laundry soap is usually high cleansing but then that's gonna be hard on your hands if hand washing.
Ok. So I'll do another batch using the Palm oil (not kernel) in the recipe. I just did the zap test and there's no excess lye. Perhaps because of the superfattng percentage.

There's no equivalent hard laundry soap brand in the States but the one we use is great on clothes but I can use it as a hand-washing soap and it's less drying than the solid dish soap. It would be one expensive soap if my only alternative is to use coconut oil as the main ingredient. It's US$24 for a 3lb jar. And I don't want my friend to use it if it's going to strip her hands dry (the palm/soy soap I just made).
Make sure you put it through the calculator again to get the correct lye required for palm oil (not palm kernal oil)
I just put it in the calculator but with palm instead of palm kernel. I figured out that your soap should have a 5% lye excess (like a negative superfat), but since it doesn't zap, it's probably closer to 0 or 1 superfat. You can use it on laundry, as it cures, it will get milder on your hands. Or you can rebatch it and add some more oil, olive would be good, if you want to use it as hand soap.
Without truly accurate measurements and truly accurate lye purity calculations, it's hard to be sure the exact SF of a soap. But also how much has the lye been exposed to water in the air before you use it also affect the resulting SF of your soap. Did you weigh x amount of lye and leave it out to interact with the ambient water in the air for x amount of time, reducing the available NaOH to interact with the oils? Did you leave the cap off the lye bottle for x amount of time the last time you opened it? I see this in soapmaking videos sometimes and it always makes me think, 'they're letting the room air into the bottle of lye and how humid is that room air?' These variables of air/water exposure to the bottle of lye or even the pre-measured lye sitting out on the counter, can alter the SF of one's soap. To try and combat those issues there are measures one can take, but it's a real factor to consider when trying to 'guess' what the actual SF value of a soap.

I'd be willing to guess that even my 0% SF CO soap for laundry soap might actually have some SF because of the above factors. I don't know for sure of course, because I'm not likely to pay for a chemical analysis, but I did buy some Phenolphthalein recently and plan to learn to test my lye for purity soon using DeeAnna's instructions: and her video:

Once I learn to do that, I should have a better idea of what setting to use for my lye in my lye calculator. Almost every time I measure out my master-batched lye, I wonder if it's as accurate as I think. This should really help me stop wondering.

ETA: Lye also interacts with CO2 in the air, so that's another factor that can alter the purity of the lye.
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I can't buy phenolphthalein here so I can't test my lye's purity so I have to just take it on faith that it'll do what it's supposed to.
Having said that, I've reformulated my "palm & soy oil" recipe to try to make it more balanced.

Palm oil 21%
Soybean oil 9%
Canola 25%
Castor 6%
CO, 76F 15%
OO 24%

SF 5%
Lye:water 2:1

If adding fragrance 26g

Note: I will be adding, I think, the olive oil infused with dry bay leaves. They've been in their oil for about 5 or 6 days now.

I'm not planning on adding anything to it. No salt, no sugar or honey, nothing. I plan on making 500g of oils just for testing. I like to soap at room temp, which for me is usually mid-80's. This is intended as a CP soap.

Does it look balanced enough? I'm still learning so I'm still not sure how to read the numbers on the Recipe page.

Thanks, everyone.

Edited: Changed the uploaded file to reflect my adding notes to the recipe.


  • Vegan Soap w Palm and Soy, I Kg of oils.pdf
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