Just a couple of questions...

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wearytraveler

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​Hello all. I've been quietly lurking 'round here trying to absorb as much information as I can since I've recently become interested in making soap for myself, family and friends. I've been reading posts, websites and watching lots of vids and I think I have​ the basics down. However, as with anything new, I'm loaded with questions and I think since I'm about a month away from making my first batch it's a good time to make my appearance here and start asking. Sorry if these are elementary;

1). I'm always reading/hearing that I should double check any changes to a recipe on a soap calculator and adjust lye. But, for example, if I have a recipe that calls for a total of 32 oz of oil and X amount of lye and I plan to substitute some olive oil for some other oil in equal quantity so the total amount still remains 32 oz., would there be a cause to adjust the amount of lye the recipe calls for? Only the types of oil change, not the amounts.

2) Adding aloe juice. I've read that some here use the juice to substitute water. So does that mean that instead of X amount of water to dissolve the lye I would use the same X amount of aloe juice to dissolve? If so, then I assume I can use any combination of water and aloe juice for the recipe as long as they both equal to the amount of water the recipe called for.

Thanks in advance for any answers.
 

lenarenee

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Hi wearytraveler,

Any change in oil should be run through the lye calculator again - whether it's the kind of oil (changing sunflower to olive) or the amount of oil used. The oils each have a different SAP value; meaning the amount of lye needed to saponify a gram of olive oil will (probably) be different than the amount needed to saponify coconut.
Did I explain that well?

As for aloe, I don't have much experience with it, and the method I use shouldn't be tried by a soaping newbie (and no insult intended - it was only two years ago I was in your shoes). But don't worry, there's lots of aloe lovers here who can help you out.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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To start off, keep it plain. Then (if you can resist the urge to change more) change one thing in the recipe at a time so that you learn what that particular recipe does.

If you start with a recipe and plain water and then make a different recipe with aloe, you lose the comparison
 

IrishLass

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Right here, silly!

1). I'm always reading/hearing that I should double check any changes to a recipe on a soap calculator and adjust lye. But, for example, if I have a recipe that calls for a total of 32 oz of oil and X amount of lye and I plan to substitute some olive oil for some other oil in equal quantity so the total amount still remains 32 oz., would there be a cause to adjust the amount of lye the recipe calls for? Only the types of oil change, not the amounts.
Yes- absolutely- the lye amount will need to be adjusted to reflect the SAP# of the oil being subbed in. The easiest way to do that is to just enter your desired recipe oils and their amounts into a soap calculator, click on calculate, and the calculator will make all the necessary adjustments for you.

​ 2) Adding aloe juice. I've read that some here use the juice to substitute water. So does that mean that instead of X amount of water to dissolve the lye I would use the same X amount of aloe juice to dissolve? If so, then I assume I can use any combination of water and aloe juice for the recipe as long as they both equal to the amount of water the recipe called for.

Thanks in advance for any answers.
I use aloe vera juice on occasion. I use it 1:1 in place of water, but you can use it in any combination with other liquids just as long as it all equals out to the amount of water called for in your recipe.


IrishLass :)
 

Susie

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The amount of lye changes with the type of oil. The amount of water (or other liquid) changes with the amount of lye. The amount of liquid can also be adjusted on the lye calculator (water as % of oils) if different results are desired. However, the liquids can be swapped on a 1:1 basis with water.
 

MsHarryWinston

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I'm going to go against every piece of advice here that says start simple. You're researching a month before you create your own batch which means you sound like you will be more than capable. I'm a "begin as you mean to go on" person. If you have an idea in your mind of what you want your soap to be then THAT is the soap you should be trying to create. I say that as a person that didn't bother messing around with simple recipes because I knew that wasn't the soap I was ever going to want.

From batch 1 my soap had oils, butters, aloe, goats milk and silk all at once. Yes, you can swap aloe juice up to 100% so long as the final amount matches the correct water amount for your recipe.

Research different oils and butters, what properties they specifically bring to soap and then form your recipes around that. Then be sure to run them through a lye calculator. People around here love soapcalc. I prefer the brambleberry one. It's a nice streamlined recipe calculator.

Have fun!
 

wearytraveler

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Thanks everyone for the replies and, more importantly, the answers to my questions. Everything stated on this thread will be placed into my shallow knowledge pool for use when the time comes. I've been researching now for about a month and I think another month of reading and watching vids and getting the last bits of the puzzle put together from the information I garner from this forum will have me ready to get my first batch done. I'm itching to put the information to use and get a batch processed but I want to make sure that my first batch isn't just made for the sake of making it. I want to make the batch that I envision in looks (not as important right now), feel/performance (very important) and scent (also important). Once that's done (and possibly tweaked) and I feel I have a soap recipe that I'm content with the only thing I'll really be experimenting with heavily will be scents. That's something I have some exposure to since I have a ton of aftershaves (yes, I'm a guy... not a woman with a hormonal issue). Maybe some bubble gum scented soap for my daughter and Ben Gay scented for grandma!
All kidding aside, thanks again for the information and I'm sure I'll be here sooner or later asking about something else.
 
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dixiedragon

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I tend to agree with MsHarryWinston. Though I don't recommend milk for beginners. There are lots of ingredients that are well-behaved and, IMO, suitable for beginner soap. I haven't used aloe juice a lot, but when I have it's not a problematic ingredient. My first batch, I split in half, colored one half green and scented with mint EO, and scented the other half with lavender EO and added camellia buds to it. (I don't recommend the camellia buds, btw). The soap turned out perfect.
 

Dahila

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Still I would start simple, how will he know if this is what he wants. To take step up, you need to start simple. Simple does not mean bad soap, rather the opposite
 

Kamahido

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I too would start with a basic recipe. One must first crawl before they can walk.
 

TeresaT

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Wearytraveler, send me some of that Ben Gay soap. Ben's been my eau de parfum for about 20 years. I've never found a nice perfumed soap, though. (BTW: I ain't no granny!)
 

wearytraveler

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Continuing to say thanks for the replies and suggestions. The more I read the more psyched I get about working on my first batch. I've been playing with a soap calculator and trying different oils and quantities to see how everything gets affected and just the time spent playing around has been very helpful. However, I'm curious about the following two questions:

I'm assuming that any additional butters/oils I decide to add to the mix after the saoponification shouldn't be added to the soap calculator values since I'm not looking to process those fats into soap. I've been wrong in my assumptions before so I just want to verify this.

How important is it to have some phenolphthalen handy for testing the soap knowing that I plan to let the soap (hot process) cure/harden for a minimum of 2 weeks before testing/using/enjoying/washing my daughter's mouth out with?

I'm familiar whit the 'zap test' and wonder if the phenolphthalen is something I can remove from my Amazon order that will contain most of the equipment needed for all of this.

Thanks again!
 

FlybyStardancer

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Add the additional fats to the calculator! Otherwise you'll end up with too much superfat, which will decrease the lather you get from the soap (and might even feel oily when you use it).

Phenolphthalen is basically useless for soapmaking. If used properly, it'll tell you that your soap is alkaline... which is soap's nature. It can't tell you if there's unreacted lye left or not.

And cure time is the same for cp soap--minimum four weeks. Often longer, because extra water is added to hp soaps to help with molding them.
 

Susie

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Yep, ditch the phenolpthalein. Your tongue is your best test.

I don't make HP, so I am no real help on how to figure the superfat.
 

wearytraveler

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​OK, the phenolpthalein​ has been removed from my lengthy Amazon order list. That's money I can put towards something else!

I understand now that the butters I add to the mix after the hot process is complete need to be factored in with the initial oils and have to be added to the calculation. So, because I'm not quite sure I understand how that works, let me walk through a scenario and see if I'm at least understanding the basics:

32 oz. of oils (not including any butters/superfats or water/lye)
I'd like to add, say, 4% butter/superfats - In this case mango butter

4% of 32 oz = 1.29 oz

So with that known, in the SoapCalc box (section 4) I would enter 4 as the percentage for "super fat" and under the "soaps, fats and waxes" I would add "mango butter" and the amount which in this example is the 1.29 oz that amounts to the 4% then calculate from there, correct?
I'm currently assuming that my basis of 100% is from the 32 oz of oils and not from oils plus water/lye mix. If that's not the case and my 100% value comes from the total weight of oils water and lye then, according to SoapCalc, my total weight will be 49.07 in which case my 4% would amount to 1.96 oz.
I still need to wrap my head around why the added oils/superfats need to be factored in but I want to at least know I have the process correct.

Thanks.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I always do it this way, because I have my recipes in % not weights so that I can always make a smaller batch more easily.

I enter my oils in to soap calc, as %, with the total batch weight being my total target weight and the superfat amount set to correspond with my superfat oil amount. I calculate, just to get the actual weights of all the oils in the batch.

Then I turn it over to weight mode rather than %, remove my superfat oil from the list (having noted what the weight is!) l, set the superfat % to 0 and calculate again - this gives me the lye amount to saponify my "soap" oils with no lye left over, plus the right amount of my superfat oils that will bring my batch up to target weight.

A working example - I make a 1000g batch, so I put the batch size to 1000g and put in my %, including my 5% superfat oil and set the superfat to 5%. I calculate and see that my super is 50g. I change to weight mode, remove the superfat oil and the superfat % and recalculate. It tells me that my new 'batch' is 950g of oils and how much lye to saponify that. The 950 + my 50 superfat brings me to my target of 1000g.

I basically just let the calc do the work for me.

Regarding terminology, I can certainly say that this batch has a 5% superfat, as 5% of the oils are not saponified. I can't, however, call it a 5% lye discount, as the lye used might well be more or less than 95% of what would have been needed for the whole batch, depending on the oil choices. Using this method is one of those times that the difference between superfat % and lye discount actually matter
 

topofmurrayhill

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I can certainly say that this batch has a 5% superfat, as 5% of the oils are not saponified.
You certainly can not. :)

You can say that 5% of your recipe consists of a superfatting oil, since that's traditionally what you call the oil that you reserve for the end. What that ensures is that if there is any superfat in the soap, it will be composed at least partially of that oil.

I don't think there's anyone here who knows what their superfat is. You would have to go to the trouble of creating some calibrated reference solutions and follow analytical procedures to determine the strength of your lye and the SAP values of your oils. If you do all of that very carefully and weigh correctly, you can calculate the superfat of the resultant soap with reasonable accuracy. It's perfectly possible.

The first purpose of the lye discount is to provide a fudge factor against uncertainty, because we want to make it likely that there is excess oil rather than excess lye. What you have done here is created the fudge factor in a different way to the same effect. The quantitative difference (amount of caustic) is minor. There is no qualitative difference.

Say I want to make 1000 g of a 95% lard HP soap with 5% castor superfatting oil. I just bought a sack of NaOH from the chemical factory next door and feel confident it's near 100% pure. As far as what kind of life my pig sources led -- where they lived, how long they lived, what they ate, what part of them was harvested to make my fat -- I have no idea.

Credible sources tell me the SAP number of lard is normally between .137 and .146, so I decide to use 14.2% of my lard weight for NaOH. If the SAP value is in reality .146, I've left 135.5 g of my lard unsaponified and added 50 g castor oil, giving my soap a 19% superfat. If the SAP value is .137, I've saponified all my lard with 8.6 g NaOH lurking to saponify my castor oil. All of it. With lye left over.

How do I feel about these outcomes? I feel nothing about them because I have no idea they happened.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I was tempted to mention that, of course, our exact and spot on levels of superfat are not actually what we think they are, generally speaking. But that would have just taken away from the actual point
 

topofmurrayhill

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I was tempted to mention that, of course, our exact and spot on levels of superfat are not actually what we think they are, generally speaking. But that would have just taken away from the actual point
I wanted to plant the seed here in the beginner section in case it takes root in a few minds. Even the experts seem to have gotten used to thinking that they can control the amount of unsaponified oil in their soap, when I listen to how they talk and think about things. I guess it's easy to forget and fall into that.

Anyway, I think the best definition of superfat is your own statement that I quoted. As a noun it's the actual amount of excess oil or fatty acid. In industry they know what amount that is.

I understand you were really trying to deal with these terms in the form of verbs, "lye discounting" versus "superfatting". You can distinguish between those in terms of common practice in CP vs. HP. Perhaps more realistically, in industry they sometimes superfat their products, but crafters just discount their lye.
 
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