Lanolin Wool wash and conditioner bar

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Vulpeste

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Hi everyone!

I’m totally new here, and to soap making in general. I introduced myself in the introduction thread, but to make it quick, I’ll do it here as well :)
My name is Caroline and I’m a French expat living in NZ, I have an hand dyed yarn business and I’m looking to create a line of bar wash / conditioning lanolin products to add to my shop.

I’ve been doing some research in the last few days but I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of informations. I read every thread many times that I found here on wool wash and it definitely helped giving me clues.
Basically, even if I’m totally open to modifications see as I don’t know if what I want to make is doable, here are my ideal project plan;

a wash bar whith NaOH, probably with around 5% lanolin and difference fragrance.
If it is doable, I would love for this recipe to be a non-rinse recipe and have conditioning included in the product. That way you’d either grate some of the bar in hot water until melted or run between your hands, it would wash the product (I think if I understand well the coconut oil would be the main “stripping” ingredient), and recondition the wool with a mixture of lanolin and ideally other fats such as cocoa butter and other quality products (I need to do more research here on what would be a nice combination).
I would also need guidance on the pH of the final product, ideally neutral? I want to optimise and preserve the fibre but also prevent any striping of the dye. I know it gets technical because dyeing can change the pH of the wool. So any guidance here is appreciated!

I like the look of bars but if it’s too hard to get all these components in one solution, I’d like to have a soap/clean wash bar with perhaps less conditioning effect and then rinse the garment with a liquid lanolin conditioning recipe that would be non-rinse and fragranted.

because I’m so new, at this stage I’m happy for any pointers or guidance, and even better if someone has a bar wool wash recipes already made that I could use as a base to tweak and replace/add products to experiment with.

thank you so much!
photo of some of my pretty yarn for attention
 

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Todd Ziegler

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Welcome and that is some beautiful yarn.

Let's start this way. I can't help with a conditioner, so let me ask some clarifying questions.

Are you wanting to make a laundry soap bar? If so, a bar of soap with lye will never condition anything, including your hands, you can only make it more gentle. Also there is no practical way to make a neutral lye soap or at least not with the cold process. Also I don't think you would want to leave the soap in the yarn or at least I would not. But it is possible to create a more gentle soap by adjusting your ingredients.

First I would recommend that you become familiar with some of the basic oils that you want to use. Then find a good soap calculator and play around with it until you are comfortable. We can recommend different oils to use but if you would share what oils you would like to use, we can make recommendations from there.

Others I'm sure will jump in on this but this at least gets you started.
 

Vulpeste

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Welcome and that is some beautiful yarn.

Let's start this way. I can't help with a conditioner, so let me ask some clarifying questions.

Are you wanting to make a laundry soap bar? If so, a bar of soap with lye will never condition anything, including your hands, you can only make it more gentle. Also there is no practical way to make a neutral lye soap or at least not with the cold process. Also I don't think you would want to leave the soap in the yarn or at least I would not. But it is possible to create a more gentle soap by adjusting your ingredients.

First I would recommend that you become familiar with some of the basic oils that you want to use. Then find a good soap calculator and play around with it until you are comfortable. We can recommend different oils to use but if you would share what oils you would like to use, we can make recommendations from there.

Others I'm sure will jump in on this but this at least gets you started.

Thank you for coming back to me so quick!

Already very helpful, based on what you said I would then aim for a wash bar that is more gentle on the wool, and create a conditioning leave in solution on the side.
So wash with the bar, rinse, and then add leave in conditioner.

this would be use for people to wash and block their woollens, and for me to wash my wool after it had been dyed and before sending it to customers. I use citric acid in the dyeing process so the wool will be acidic when I go to wash it, and it want to wash off excess dye (without stripping the yarn), and add softeness and nice fragrance to the wool.

I’m totally new for the oils so at this stage I don’t know yet what I should go with or what is good for fibres, that is one thing I couldn’t find in my research.
From other bars recipes that I found, I’m thinking: Lanolin, avocado, jojoba, maybe shea butter?
I know that I do not want to use palm oils however.

I had a look at the calculators but at this stage I didn’t know where to start so I thought I’d get pointers here first.

I’d love any recommendations. I think for woollen fibre it’s pretty similar to shampoo bars, often I see recommended the use of mild baby shampoo to wash woollens efficiently.
 

DeeAnna

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I get it about the lanolizing wool wash, but I'm not sure your expectations are realistic.

If true lye-based soap is not rinsed out of the fabric, the soap residue can irritate the skin and may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. I really, really don't recommend this, especially since a lot of folks are going to use a product like this to lanolize baby clothes, not just wool clothing for themselves. Babies' skin is even more delicate than adults' skin. There are synthetic (not soap) detergents that might be mild enough to use in "no rinse" cleansers, but soap doesn't qualify.

True lye-based soap used in hard water forms soap scum that sticks to the fibers in the fabric. This is why modern wool scouring and wool washes are based on synthetic detergents, not soap. Back in the day, soap was all there was, but the advice given for scouring or washing wool was to use rain water, which is quite soft. Soap scum buildup makes the fabric "crunchy" feeling and will cause yellowing of the fabric.

I also do not think using 5% lanolin in soap will be enough to properly lanolize wool. That's a ratio of 1 part lanolin to 20 parts soap. Most lanolizing methods I've looked at use quite a bit more lanolin in proportion to detergent than this -- I'm guessing around 1 part lanolin to maybe 1-4 parts detergent.

The problem with using more than about 5% lanolin to soap is the finished soap is probably going to be quite soft. It's not going to be a bar you grate -- probably more like a greasy paste.

Also be aware that soap and acids don't mix.
 

Vulpeste

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I get it about the lanolizing wool wash, but I'm not sure your expectations are realistic.

If true lye-based soap is not rinsed out of the fabric, the soap residue can irritate the skin and may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. I really, really don't recommend this, especially since a lot of folks are going to use a product like this to lanolize baby clothes, not just wool clothing for themselves. Babies' skin is even more delicate than adults' skin. There are synthetic (not soap) detergents that might be mild enough to use in "no rinse" cleansers, but soap doesn't qualify.

True lye-based soap used in hard water forms soap scum that sticks to the fibers in the fabric. This is why modern wool scouring and wool washes are based on synthetic detergents, not soap. Back in the day, soap was all there was, but the advice given for scouring or washing wool was to use rain water, which is quite soft. Soap scum buildup makes the fabric "crunchy" feeling and will cause yellowing of the fabric.

I also do not think using 5% lanolin in soap will be enough to properly lanolize wool. That's a ratio of 1 part lanolin to 20 parts soap. Most lanolizing methods I've looked at use quite a bit more lanolin in proportion to detergent than this -- I'm guessing around 1 part lanolin to maybe 1-4 parts detergent.

The problem with using more than about 5% lanolin to soap is the finished soap is probably going to be quite soft. It's not going to be a bar you grate -- probably more like a greasy paste.

Also be aware that soap and acids don't mix.
Ah! That’s definitely why I’m here then, lots to review!

so would you think based on that that it would be easier to create a liquid soap rather than hard bars?
i know that bars are doable as their is other retailers in the world doing them, but yes they must have more of a “cleansing/refreshing” effect than truly cleaning.
I have seen wool wash recipe with as much as 25% lanolin, but I thought this would be more likely for the conditioner?
Based on a thread I have read here on making hard wool wash bars, I think it was mention that the lanolin didn’t even need to be part of the bar, but the person was thinking of adding 5% nontheless as it wouldn’t hurt and help make the soap less scoury?

about the fact that acids and soap don’t work I’m really not sure what to do?
I really have zero knowledge on the subject and have just been using wool softener from the supermarket to rinse my wool before selling it.
i used to use a soap as well, hard bar that a local knit shop was selling but they have stopped and I couldn’t find the provider.

so should I just create a hard bar that would have more softening qualities then cleaning ones? but if it’s a hard bar doesn’t it mean that lye is present and therefore it would need to be rinsed?

Really just happy to take the best direction to create a nice product for the wool, so I’m open to switching to a liquid soap although I liked the idea of a bar for washing + liquid conditioner.

Would a bar with olive oil as main component (I think it’s better and more delicate than coconut oil), some coconut, lanolin, Shea butter and avocado oil work for this purpose?

and then a liquid conditioning solution on top of that, that would have a higher lanolin content to re-lanolise the fibre after washing it?
 

Vulpeste

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Here is a link to the kind of bar I’m looking to create:

so something like this that you would rinse,

And for the conditioning I’m thinking more of a product similar to Eucalan wool wash and this one would be leave in
 

DeeAnna

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so would you think based on that that it would be easier to create a liquid soap rather than hard bars?

Soap is soap is soap. It's soap whether it's a liquid (soap made with potassium hydroxide, KOH) or made as a bar (made with NaOH, sodium hydroxide). You still have the same issues of soap scum and the chance for irritation either way.

"...I have seen wool wash recipe with as much as 25% lanolin, but I thought this would be more likely for the conditioner?..."

I have no idea. You need to give links to the products you're talking about so we can follow along with you. You're not (yet) a soap maker, so your grasp of what the product truly is might be quite different than mine or someone else's.

"...Based on a thread I have read here on making hard wool wash bars, I think it was mention that the lanolin didn’t even need to be part of the bar, but the person was thinking of adding 5% nontheless as it wouldn’t hurt and help make the soap less scoury?"

Less scoury? As in less cleansing? You can certainly add lanolin to a bar soap -- I do -- but I'm not certain adding lanolin to the soap will tame down the harshness if a soap has been formulated to be a strong cleanser. It's the proportions of the fatty acids in the soap that are more important.

"...about the fact that acids and soap don’t work I’m really not sure what to do?"

You said your yarn or fiber is acidic after being dyed. Soap is always alkaline. When you mix the two, a neutralization reaction takes place. Depending on the amount of soap and acid involved, you may see some decomposition of the soap into fatty acids. Also the fiber is going to become more alkaline.

"...so should I just create a hard bar that would have more softening qualities then cleaning ones? but if it’s a hard bar doesn’t it mean that lye is present and therefore it would need to be rinsed?"

Properly made soap does not ever contain active lye. The lye (NaOH or KOH) is supposed to fully react with fats to make soap. If soap contains unreacted lye, it's been made incorrectly.
 
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Vulpeste

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Thank
Soap is soap is soap. It's soap whether it's a liquid (soap made with potassium hydroxide, KOH) or made as a bar (made with NaOH, sodium hydroxide). You still have the same issues of soap scum and the chance for irritation either way.

"...I have seen wool wash recipe with as much as 25% lanolin, but I thought this would be more likely for the conditioner?..."

I have no idea. You need to give links to the products you're talking about so we can follow along with you. You're not (yet) a soap maker, so your grasp of what the product truly is might be quite different than mine or someone else's.

"...Based on a thread I have read here on making hard wool wash bars, I think it was mention that the lanolin didn’t even need to be part of the bar, but the person was thinking of adding 5% nontheless as it wouldn’t hurt and help make the soap less scoury?"

Less scoury? As in less cleansing? You can certainly add lanolin to a bar soap -- I do -- but I'm not certain adding lanolin to the soap will tame down the harshness if a soap has been formulated to be a strong cleanser. It's the proportions of the fatty acids in the soap that are more important.

"...about the fact that acids and soap don’t work I’m really not sure what to do?"

You said your yarn or fiber is acidic after being dyed. Soap is always alkaline. When you mix the two, a neutralization reaction takes place. Depending on the amount of soap and acid involved, you may see some decomposition of the soap into fatty acids. Also the fiber is going to become more alkaline.

"...so should I just create a hard bar that would have more softening qualities then cleaning ones? but if it’s a hard bar doesn’t it mean that lye is present and therefore it would need to be rinsed?"

Properly made soap does not ever contain active lye. The lye (NaOH or KOH) is supposed to fully react with fats to make soap. If soap contains unreacted lye, it's been made incorrectly.

Thank you so much for all your replies, super informative! I’m going back to work but will come back later with better explanation of what I mean and links as I’m sure I’m being very confusing right now!
thanks again
 

DeeAnna

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Eucalan is a synthetic detergent product; it's not a true lye-based soap product.

The ingredients of the wool wash bar --
Aqua, Glycerin, Lanolin, Sorbitol, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Laurate, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Oleate, Sodium Myristate, Sodium Chloride, Glyceryl Mono Laurate, CocamidopropylBetaine (Coconut), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut), Titanium Dioxide (0,15%), Sodium Thiosulphate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Trisodium Sulfosuccinate, Pentasodium Pentatate, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Essential Oils.

This ingredients list does contain true lye-based soap made directly from pure fatty acids -- sodium stearate, sodium laurate, sodium myristate, sodium oleate. It also contains ingredients often used as solvents for "melt and pour" soap -- glycerin, sorbitol, propylene glycol. There's also the synthetic detergent cocoamidopropyl betaine.
 

DeeAnna

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I'm certainly not the last word on treating wool with lanolin, but thank you for the vote of confidence, Todd! What I understand about this process is you first get the wool clean -- the garment, yarn, fleece, etc. -- and then you treat the wool by dipping/soaking it in a mixture of warm water and lanolin that's been emulsified with detergent.

Typically, the detergent and lanolin are added to the water as separate ingredients. Many tutorials are quite detailed about getting just the right proportions of detergent to lanolin so the lanolin becomes properly emulsified.

Some of the lanolin remains in the fiber to provide waterproofing. It seems like this lanolizing is often recommended for wool sweaters and babies' diaper covers.
 

Vulpeste

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Soap is soap is soap. It's soap whether it's a liquid (soap made with potassium hydroxide, KOH) or made as a bar (made with NaOH, sodium hydroxide). You still have the same issues of soap scum and the chance for irritation either way.

Oh right of course, yes i now understand I'm looking to create two different products!

The first one, a cold process wool wash bar that would be used less regularly and when the wool really need washing, for examples dirty socks. I need to now learn what to integrate in this one, a good balance of cleansing that is not too harsh, so I think more olive oil than coconut? Some fatty acids, and still with 5% lanolin added at a superfat. Hard to find information about what butter or oils are good for fibres, but for that I can go off of other's recipe, such as this one: Chai Spice
I think I might want to add some polysorbate to that one, as it could maybe help cleaning oils from woollen clothing? Although I really haven't looked into that at all yet!
There is also this recipe:
Wool Wash Bar — Adventures With The Sage
to swap some of the 25% of lanolin with other oils/butter

And another product which would be the "conditioner", or wool softener/detergent that is for more regular use and blocking. This one would be liquid and probably closer to mild shampoo? And no rinse - And have up to maybe 15% lanolin with other oils like avocado oil, shea butter, jojoba oil (I probably want to research that more but don't want to add too much lanolin and have too much permeability/stickiness to the wool such as this result)
Maybe this is a good start: Wool Conditioner — Adventures With The Sage

Am i in the right direction?

You said your yarn or fiber is acidic after being dyed. Soap is always alkaline. When you mix the two, a neutralization reaction takes place. Depending on the amount of soap and acid involved, you may see some decomposition of the soap into fatty acids. Also the fiber is going to become more alkaline.

Yes I get it now, so, from looking at google, the pH of wool is between 8 and 10 depending on the fibre. So technically, if it has become acidic after dyeing, and I use a soap bar that is alkaline, I should bring back my wool to a neutral pH? If I then rinse with water and leave in conditioner that has citric acid like above, it might not be the best for the fibre therefore? I don't know how important this is, ideally you would want to bring the wool pH back to it's natural setting I assume, but I have no idea what would be the pH of my wool after dyeing. I could let it soak in water for a while and measure the water pH for an indication, but unsure how accurate this would be.


Properly made soap does not ever contain active lye. The lye (NaOH or KOH) is supposed to fully react with fats to make soap. If soap contains unreacted lye, it's been made incorrectly.

I actually remember reading about this now! the Zap test to make sure no lye has been left undisolved.


So there is still so much to learn! I am trying to play with the calculator but at this stage it's trying to understand a lot of informations really fast and I might need to take more time reading everything and learning more. I have a good english but being french the terminology of specific fields is also making it difficult to understand what is going on most of the time :D

I think I will keep browsing and create two different recipes based on some model I have linked here, that said I'm really interested if you have another recipes that would be good, or even pointer on what oils/fatty acids could be good for wool and fibre. I haven't even started to look at fragrance haha!

Quick question: I also wanted these soap bar to be lightly coloured with dyes and (maybe) safe glitters, like this tuft woollen one. There was talk of this being risky as the dye could dye the fibre however so i'm wondering if it's realistic. The wool fibre would dye when it became acidic and with hot water. So if washed on cold and the bar of soap is alkaline, perhaps not too much risk?

Thanks again for all the help, I'm learning a lot, the amount of informations is overwhelming haha
 

Todd Ziegler

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We don't really use dye per in coloring soap but if you use to much mica in your soap, it can stain. Black oxide, black mica and charcoal will stain very easily if you use to much. Since I don't know anything about dying or wool, I don't know how easy it is for wool to be stained by something.

I do believe there are some micas that have a dye as part of the ingredients, so I highly recommend that you buy your mica from a reputable seller and check the ingredients, because some are not stable in CP soap and less than reputable sellers can use dyes or any other ingredient that may stain your wool and you.

On the soap calculator start with a simple recipe and I recommend that you set the calculator on percentage. Here is an easy way to get started.

30% Coconut
30% palm oil
20% high oleic safflower oil
7% castor oil
13% sweet almond oil
33% lye
5% super fat
3% fragrance
30 ounces or 850 grams total oil weight. It does not matter its a how you weigh it, it is just a personal preference.

Buy no means is this a recipe I would recommend. I am just giving you some numbers to fill in the blanks on the soap calculator. Once you have all those numbers entered, go to the part that shows the hardness, bubbly..... It will give you a range that your recipe will fall into once it is ready to use. This is not exact information, just a rough idea. After doing this, go back and start adjusting your percentages and then look at the chart again, that way you start to understand how the oils will effect your finished soap. Then start changing and adding different oils that you would like to use and check the numbers again to get an idea of what your soap will do.

When you get a recipe that you like, post it and we can help you fix any problems that we see.

On the percentages, it is just easier to add up the percentage as you go rather than trying to add up ozs or grams.

Also download a good SAP value chart that gives you the SAP value but it will also tell you important information about how the oils react in your soap.
 
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DeeAnna

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"...And another product which would be the "conditioner" ... liquid and probably closer to mild shampoo? And no rinse ..."

Like I said before, soap needs to be rinsed out to prevent irritation to the skin.

If you want a no-rinse conditioner, then it's not a good idea to use soap.
 

Vulpeste

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We don't really use dye per in coloring soap but if you use to much mica in your soap, it can stain. Black oxide, black mica and charcoal will stain very easily if you use to much. Since I don't know anything about dying or wool, I don't know how easy it is for wool to be stained by something.

I do believe there are some micas that have a dye as part of the ingredients, so I highly recommend that you buy your mica from a reputable seller and check the ingredients, because some are not stable in CP soap and less than reputable sellers can use dyes or any other ingredient that may stain your wool and you.

On the soap calculator start with a simple recipe and I recommend that you set the calculator on percentage. Here is an easy way to get started.

30% Coconut
30% palm oil
20% high oleic safflower oil
7% castor oil
13% sweet almond oil
33% lye
5% super fat
3% fragrance
30 ounces or 850 grams total oil weight. It does not matter its a how you weigh it, it is just a personal preference.

Buy no means is this a recipe I would recommend. I am just giving you some numbers to fill in the blanks on the soap calculator. Once you have all those numbers entered, go to the part that shows the hardness, bubbly..... It will give you a range that your recipe will fall into once it is ready to use. This is not exact information, just a rough idea. After doing this, go back and start adjusting your percentages and then look at the chart again, that way you start to understand how the oils will effect your finished soap. Then start changing and adding different oils that you would like to use and check the numbers again to get an idea of what your soap will do.

When you get a recipe that you like, post it and we can help you fix any problems that we see.

On the percentages, it is just easier to add up the percentage as you go rather than trying to add up ozs or grams.

Also download a good SAP value chart that gives you the SAP value but it will also tell you important information about how the oils react in your soap.

thank you so much for all this information! So I didn’t reply until now because I had to work on my latest shop update and wanted to read more about everything to understand a bit better.
After doing some research, I think for now i will not focus on the soap so much, and will try that later on, but will instead try to create a formulated detergent for the wool, which is what I was referring to as “conditioner”

I think a liquid detergent that isn’t lye based will be more efficient for regular wool wash and less agressive on the wool, and probably easier as a start.

which means I’m not reading a lot about surfactants and trying to find recipes that could give me an idea about the percentage of each and what would work for what I’m after.

im thinking of a liquid but thicker than water formula, have low foaming ability (I want some foaming but not too much), have mainly natural surfactants, that would clean lightly and condition the wool.

so based on what I was reading I would need to use nonionic surfactant, with a cloud point catered to low temperature for cold wash, and cationic surfactants for low static and commonly used for fabric softeners.

to that I’d want to learn about everything else I have to add for it to work but will want to add lanolin.

Once I have learned and managed a detergent I’ll learn more about making a soap bar which would be catered for woollen that need a bigger cleaning such as dirty socks, which would be rinsed and used less commonly.

So if anyone has a recipe that could work for my detergent or close enough and that I could tweak It would be super helpful.
You’re all already very helpful and I’m learning a lot, thank you!
 

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