It was all fine until I tried to dissolve it....

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Stacie

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This my first time making liquid soap. Everything went fantastic making the paste. Then I went to dissolve some of the paste in water to make the actual soap. I can't get it the right consistency. Either it's really watery, or it gets a solid mass in it (or clumps if I stir continuously).

I can't figure out how to prevent some of it from solidifying, but when it does do that the liquid part is much cloSer to the right thickness. I could just throw away the solid part, but that seems so wasteful. Thoughts?
 

Susie

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Home made liquid soap is almost as thin as water unless you use some sort of thickener. Throwing the clumps away would indeed be a waste, as that is the soap paste you just made. There are several threads that cover various methods of thickening liquid soap. Just use the search.
 

LunaSkye

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I had soap clumps as well when I was making my unscented soap. I was originally making a bar soap and had a bit extra left over. I decided to add water to the leftovers and to my surprise I had made liquid soap. I didn't know how to get rid of the clumps, but I did notice that they seemed to disappear as kept mixing it and adding water. I unfortunately did not have any bottles to keep the soap so I had to pour it down the toilet (at leas it was used to clean with).

Note: I'm thinking that if the water is heated enough (I use a slow-cooker so it take a while), you can melt the clumps while you're mixing it. Just add water (not too much) and cook it down some.
 
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shunt2011

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Stacie, I'm experiencing the same problem. But my soap is thick. I think I'm going to put it back into the crock pot and let it warm up again for several hours and maybe that will melt it down more. I diluted it 3:1 but it's still pretty thick.
 

Stacie

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Thanks, Susie. I poked around, found a thread with a discussion on this topic, did what worked for that thread owner (which failed for me), posted questions there and got some feedback. Hopefully this will be a fruitful direction.

Shunt2011, from what I've gathered (keeping in mind I'm utterly new at this) 1:1 is a very common ratio of paste to water. Now that I know that what I got to begin with was normal and not some mistake, I'd say that ratio worked for me. I did not dissolve the whole thing at once. I'm keeping the paste in the fridge and dissolving small amounts to experiment.

Fwiw, my paste is almost entirely coconut oil based. Apparently salt is a thickener for olive oil based soaps, but not so good for coconut oil ones. I tried xanthan gum dissolved in glycerin, but that just made its own clumps that would not dissolve. I've had hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) recommended for my particular soap. Some people use borax, but some have crystallization issues. Some use something called crothix (a derivative of steric acid), also mixed results. That's what I've gleaned so far. So I'm ordering HEC once I determine what ratio I need to expect use, so I know how much to order.
 

Stacie

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P.s. I'm annoyed that the Everything Soapmaking book, where I got the recipe and instructions, does not mention the thickness issue in any way. It is obviously something that has to be addressed. Grrr.
 

FGOriold

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It is hard to address thickness/dilution as each formulation is different. Some require more water than others to achieve full dilution. If you have chunks of paste, then it is not fully diluted. Start small and add water slowly. I start 1:1, allow it to dilute than add additional water as needed in smaller increments allowing the paste to continue to dilute between each water addition. Patience is key.
 

Susie

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As FGOriold said, 1:1 is where we begin to dilute any unfamiliar recipe. It is certainly not where we finish. I always prepare enough water to provide the 3:1 or 2:1 ratio I think I will need for the finished product. I then add only enough water to dilute 1:1, and add more slowly until that last clump is dissolved. I then write down on the recipe page exactly how much it took so that I will have a closer approximation next time.

I know that I will eventually be better at guessing/knowing the correct amounts, but that time is not yet. It is a learning process, and I am having fun learning.

Please understand that thickness is not a cleaning function. The soap will clean regardless of the fact that it is as thin as water. I do not add any thickeners whatsoever to my soaps. I just prefer to keep the products and the process as simple and free of additives as possible. I learned how to cup my hand differently to hold the liquid soap when I use the pump. It was not difficult.
 
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seven

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my recipes are usually okay with 1:1 dilution. i first tried 2:1 and it was too watery. i'm sorry xanthan gum did not work out for you, it works quite okay with me as far as i can tell. mix it with glycerin first until fully dissolved, and then add it to the warm/hot soap. as the soap is cooling down it starts to thicken.
 

Susie

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My liquid laundry soap made with Coconut Oil 24 oz and Soybean Oil 8oz only took 1:1 water ratio. This is exactly why I start there. You just don't know until you have done it enough times.
 

Stacie

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I found a blog with instructions for using HEC, ordered some, and got my soap thickened perfectly. Yay!
 

lady-of-4

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It's really best to start out super slow with dilution..starting with 4-8 ounces of water..just to get things wet, then going at 4oz increments from there. To get chunks out of the way, it's best to mash them with a spoon or keep a potato masher handy. What I've noticed with a lot of new liquid soapers is they use dilution ratios and charts and end up with watery soap. Start super slow, and baby it. I had one small 16oz oil batch of soap that was a glycerin method that only needed 4oz of water to dilute and keep fluid. Glycerin method tends to get completely solid once cooled, and fluid when hot. At least that's how mine behave. So the 4oz of water prevented it from going solid again, but also gave it a nice viscosity. If you have a skin that forms, don't add more water. Just make sure you put the lid on your soap pot to block of air circulation over the surface of the soap. That's technically what's causing skin to form. Just like a hand soap pump on the side of the sink with a glob of soap dried on the tip. And if you feel like you've over diluted, just cook it off for a half hour. Use a drip test on a cold glass to get a quick look at your progress.
 

Stacie

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For me, I started with 8 oz soap paste and 8 oz water. The water kept evaporating before the paste dissolve, regardless of mashing or stirring. Putting a lid on resulted in boiling over, even though the pot was less than half full. Putting the lid on after it was all dissolved and removed from heat did prevent skin forming, though.

I added water, dissolved, added more water, finished dissolving, cooled, and checked for consistency many, many times in a row trying to get the least amount of water that would keep the soap liquid. It never did get to be the right consistency. I really did have to thicken. But is was not a glycerin soap. It was primarily CO. Perhaps that is why such the difference.

After having since done a batch three times that size, it was much easier, possibly not only because I knew better what to expect, but also because a bigger batch gives more wiggle room between too much and too little water.
 

lady-of-4

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Yeah, it takes some serious trial and error to avoid boil overs of any batch size. I've learned to keep the stove on low and just stick by, adjusting the dial as needed.
 

Stacie

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I have an electric stove and it seems to me that it's on the hotter end of the spectrum. My soap boiled over with a lid on at the very lowest setting. Perhaps on a different stove it wouldn't have done that.
 

Susie

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Even with a crockpot set on warm, I play the "lid on, lid off" game. It is just going to be something you have to keep an eye on, so don't feel bad.
 
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