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KOH and NaOH in shaving soap

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fatfacedcharlie

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Hi All

I've been looking for ages for a shaving soap that I really like and haven't found one, so I've decided to make some instead (after all how hard can it be :crazy:) I've got a recipe that seems to tick all the boxes, in theory at least, and I'm going to try that at the weekend.

The thing is, most shaving soaps (even the hard ones) seem to use a mixture of KOH and NaOH. My question is can I still cp with a proportion of KOH in the mix? I've only managed to find reference to liquid soaps using hp with KOH. The other thing is, has anyone got any suggestions regarding proportions of both types of lye. There doesn't seem to be much information about DIY shaving soaps anywhere.

Any advice would be very welcome

Thanks.
 

songwind

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I asked this same question about percentages of a professional shave soap maker and his response was "it depends on what oils/acids you're using, and what end consistency you want. Experiment in small batches."

I also recently learned that even hard soaps use KOH in part because the potassium salts of stearic acid (and maybe oleic?) are apparently more effective at weakening/softening the hair for shaving.

Out of curiosity, what shaving soaps have you tried, and what did you dislike about them? I have hard-core shaving soap "acquisition disorder."
 

fatfacedcharlie

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"Out of curiosity, what shaving soaps have you tried, and what did you dislike about them? I have hard-core shaving soap "acquisition disorder.""

The most dissapointing one for me was Mitchells woolfat, I can get a nice creamy and stable lather out of it and it gives reasonably good glide, but it dries my face something shocking, and it seems that my face doesn't like lanolin, can't use musgo real shave cream for the same reason. Which is a double shame 'cos musgo and the fat make a great superlather. Tried prorasso sensitve, but I can't stand the smell. To my nose it's like two day old grass clippings. Tabac gave a reasonably good shave but the smell is a bit strong and it gave me a headache. Col Conks was ok, but the lather never seemed to last very well for me keep having to reload my brush. Bought a stick of Arko in Turkey a while back, for the price it's pretty good, but it's got a horrible fake lemon / bathroom cleaner smell to it. Tried Wilkinson sword soap in a blue bowl, that was plain rubbish. Palmolive green having stick is not too bad, but didn't jump out at me. Probably my favourite so far, is The real shaving co's cream, it's cheap and lathers well, gives a reasonable shave and doesn't dry my face. I want something that gives a good stable lather, so I can load my brush and it's good for three passes, give a good comfortable shave and doesn't dry my face too much. Probably be quicker and cheaper to buy a puck of everthing going and see which fits the bill, but wheres the fun in that !
 

VanessaP

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All the soapers that I know who make bar shaving soap use straight NaOH. However, you want the stearic content to be at least 20, on SoapCalc. You can achieve that by using oils high in stearic content such as tallow and shea butter. You can even use straight Stearic Acid in your soap to get to 20. You also need a HIGH amount of castor oil in order to help achieve the stable lather. And by stable, it should pass at least a 15-20 minute test before it starts to break down and need to be replaced.

When you start mixing KOH (4 or 5 parts) & NaOH (1 part) , you get cream soap, which needs months of rotting time before it reaches its final consistency and mildness. I've never seen anyone use more equal parts of both. Go ahead and give it a shot though I will in no way guarantee the outcome LOL
 

fatfacedcharlie

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Hi VanessaP, thanks for the reply, I messed about, sorry I meant experimented in a very scientific and knowledgable way :lol:, with soapcalc and more by luck than judgement I think, came to the same conclusions. Lots of castor oil and tallow a goodly lump of shea butter, a small dollop of coconut oil (not too much 'cos it can dry) and a smidgin of stearic acid to get it up to 20. It's a bit of a relief to have that confirmed by someone who knows what they're doing tho' ! The reason I was asking about KOH was because I vaguely remember reading somewhere that potassium salts (particularly potassium sterate) are more water soluble than their sodium counterparts and help with the lather. I just wondered if a mix of 20/80 or so of KOH and NaOH would help the lather without compromising hardness.

I was also going to add some glycerin, 10% or so to help stabalise the lather, and for moisturising, any thoughts ?

Many Thanks
 

sistrum

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You are right about the benefits of adding a bit of koh to your soap according to what I have been reading lately. There must be something in the air because I'm getting ready to start my testing next week. I don't know what amount works best but I'm going to swap the amounts that soapmaker gives for koh and NaOH in their cream soap calc. as my starting place.

Keep us posted on how you're doing if you want. Good luck. Sissy
 

songwind

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The most dissapointing one for me was Mitchells woolfat, I can get a nice creamy and stable lather out of it and it gives reasonably good glide, but it dries my face something shocking, and it seems that my face doesn't like lanolin, can't use musgo real shave cream for the same reason. Which is a double shame 'cos musgo and the fat make a great superlather. Tried prorasso sensitve, but I can't stand the smell. To my nose it's like two day old grass clippings. Tabac gave a reasonably good shave but the smell is a bit strong and it gave me a headache. Col Conks was ok, but the lather never seemed to last very well for me keep having to reload my brush. Bought a stick of Arko in Turkey a while back, for the price it's pretty good, but it's got a horrible fake lemon / bathroom cleaner smell to it. Tried Wilkinson sword soap in a blue bowl, that was plain rubbish. Palmolive green having stick is not too bad, but didn't jump out at me. Probably my favourite so far, is The real shaving co's cream, it's cheap and lathers well, gives a reasonable shave and doesn't dry my face. I want something that gives a good stable lather, so I can load my brush and it's good for three passes, give a good comfortable shave and doesn't dry my face too much. Probably be quicker and cheaper to buy a puck of everthing going and see which fits the bill, but wheres the fun in that !
That's too bad about Mitchell's/Lanolin. It also shoots down one of my other favorites, RazoRock "karite" soaps.

Two of my favorites are small handmade operations, Mystic Water and the Strop Shoppe.

Both of which use a mix of KOH and NaOH in their soaps, to bring it back around to the original topic. :)

I'm not trying to save money here, either. I'm just interested in the process. If I end up with a product I can give to fellow wet shavers as gifts, or even sell a bit of, that's fine with me. Otherwise I'll just be enjoying myself.

Eric
 

fatfacedcharlie

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May I ask where the value of 20 comes from?
Out of thin air really. I'd like to increase latherability (I may have just made up that last word) without sacfrificing hardness too much, and 20% seemed as good a starting point as any. It will no doubt turn into a fairly long running experiment tho'. And you're right about Woolfat, it's a crying shame, I really wanted to like it but sadly it doesn't like me.

"Keep us posted on how you're doing if you want. Good luck. Sissy"

I've already made loads of notes of my shaving soap "research" (that makes it sound more grand than it really is), I might turn it into a blog, and enthrall the internet with my soapy adventures. It would certainly be more interesting than my facebook page!
 

chicklet

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Please keep us posted if you start a blog - I would be very enthralled (maybe I exaggerate slightly) :) with your shaving soap research as it progresses. :) No, seriously! I would be very interested - especially the part about mixing KOH and NaOH.
 

songwind

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Out of thin air really. I'd like to increase latherability (I may have just made up that last word) without sacfrificing hardness too much, and 20% seemed as good a starting point as any. It will no doubt turn into a fairly long running experiment tho'. And you're right about Woolfat, it's a crying shame, I really wanted to like it but sadly it doesn't like me.

"Keep us posted on how you're doing if you want. Good luck. Sissy"

I've already made loads of notes of my shaving soap "research" (that makes it sound more grand than it really is), I might turn it into a blog, and enthrall the internet with my soapy adventures. It would certainly be more interesting than my facebook page!
That would be neat to see.

The reason I ask about the stearic number is because I have seen a few discussions of this topic and the target number for creaminess and/or stearic never seems to be the same twice. I've seen it suggested that you need to push your stearic as high as 60+.
 

Lindy

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Okay when adding KOH you will need to HP and I recommend a crockpot. You will need to add Stearic Acid.

That's too bad about the woolfat... I love that shaving soap and I love lanolin. I think of all the commercial ones that has to be my favourite.

I agree with making small batches until you find your formulation. Even then I still tweaked by using testers from a men's shaving forum until I got it to the point they were raving. I needed honest answers from people who are super fussy about their shaving products.
 

songwind

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I agree with making small batches until you find your formulation. Even then I still tweaked by using testers from a men's shaving forum until I got it to the point they were raving. I needed honest answers from people who are super fussy about their shaving products.
As someone who's been down this road before, what stearic/creamy numbers did you end up shooting for?
 

Lindy

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You need Stearic to be at least 60%, low bubbles, high stable lather & high conditioning. Very, very low hard/ cleansing.

Take a look at the order of ingredients on commercial products.
 

Pims

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Okay when adding KOH you will need to HP and I recommend a crockpot. You will need to add Stearic Acid.

That's too bad about the woolfat... I love that shaving soap and I love lanolin. I think of all the commercial ones that has to be my favourite.

I agree with making small batches until you find your formulation. Even then I still tweaked by using testers from a men's shaving forum until I got it to the point they were raving. I needed honest answers from people who are super fussy about their shaving products.
Does anyone know why this is? Why can't KOH be used in cold process soapmaking when it's used in combination with NaOH?
 

Lindy

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KOH is Potassium Hydroxide and is used in liquid soapmaking.
 

ambers_artworld

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I'm so glad I found this thread, just ordered my shaving soap experimental supplies yesterday! Was also trying to find out more about koh/naoh since a thread on badger n blade suggested 60 koh/40 naoh but it is sounding like it has to be hp?
 

DeeAnna

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Does anyone know why this is? Why can't KOH be used in cold process soapmaking when it's used in combination with NaOH?
My guess is because extra energy (heat) is necessary to drive the reaction of the potassium ion (the K in KOH) with your ingredients, especially the stearic acid and glycerin. Maybe more knowledgeable people can confirm this. --DeeAnna

2016 update -- Now that I've made shave soap and worked with high percentages of stearic acid, I can now answer my own question. :) It's because the stearic acid in the recipe will saponify very quickly after the lye is added, so a CP method just doesn't work well -- an HP method is more tolerant of the craziness that a large amount of stearic acid brings to a soap recipe.
 
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sistrum

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Pims, you can add koh to cold process soap. I now add 10% of my NaOH to my batches high in lard and or tallow to help with lather, but will probably keep going higher just to see where I feel the cut off is for my formulas.
 

AngelMomma

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I have been trying to research this subject as I have time as well. It seems that when a soaper does hit on a great recipe it is closely guarded. Obviously it takes a lot of work, research and experimentation to get to that point, so that is completely understood!!! And if you sell then it is wise not to have an open book on that! I also read quite a bit on badger & blade. Made my head spin just a tad ;) But I will just have to keep at it. I am nothing if not tenacious until I master what I am aiming for, though it might take awhile. I have everything except for the KOH. I hope everyone that is not interested in selling will continue to share their experiences. I think doing it HP will be nice anyway because it can at least be tested sooner :)

I need to do more reading to accomplish this, because I refuse to buy us girls shaving creme! LOL.....we just lather with my CP soaps for a good leg shave. But I do so miss that nice poofy lather.
 

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