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Liquid soapmaking is 1000 times harder than I thought, seriously!

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Rune

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Hi folks! :)

I am now making my first ever liquid soap. The paste is now in the bowl covered with a towel. And I'm not lying when I tell you I spent 2,5 hours just to get it to trace! And I'm not lying when I tell you I had so bad separation it would never come together again. Eventually it did. That was what I spent the hours on, making the soap come together again. My poor stickblender, yes, it is a miracle that it survived. I guess they make good stickblenders in Congo, where mine is made. It did heat up so badly it started to smell burnt plastic.

My plan was to make cold processed liquid soap. But it would never trace, and I got impatient, and threw the bowl into the microwave to give it some heat. After that, it started to separate. I have had separation before in hot process, so I knew it was just to stickblend it together again. But not this separation, no! I stickblended as much as I could, threw the bowl in the microwave again, handstirred with a whisk (because I had to give my stickblender some cooling. But really didn't cool). I was almost giving up. At the edge of nervous breakdown, I threw the bowl in the microwave again, and really nuked it like crazy. Not that I did not do that before, but it was more gentle. I tried to stickblend again, and I was so angry I didn't care about burning my stickblender. So I blended like crazy, and suddenly, wow! It looked like trace. Well, looked like, that is not the word. It became a thick pudding that actually hold together. I was no so sure, so I stickblended even more, just to be on the safe side. I do not dare to look under the towel, because I will get crazy if it has separated again.

I think the fault may have been that I used "full water" and 2 percent more (40% of oils). I thought full water would help it to gel at a lower temperature, and hopefully not make the paste too thick and unmanageable. I think I should have done the opposite, used as strong lye solution as possible, perhaps?

My recipe was:

31% (220 g) Flott Matfett (around 65% shea, 25% coconut and the rest rapeseed). I soaped it as palmolein.
31% ( 220 g) Olive
31% (220 g) Sunflower (high oleic)
7% (50 g) Castor

136 grams of KOH (calculated with 100% purity since I don't know the actual purity)
283 grams of tap water (but I measured 285)

(I know I probably will have some superfat (and unclear soap, which is okey) since I soaped with 100% purity of KOH. I did not dare to use 90%, since I don't know for sure. I have to mail the company to find out.)

I had no additives. But I added some mica at the end, just because I was tired of waiting for the stickblender to cool off a bit, and needed to do something. Boring color (50/50 Desert sunset and Sparkling gold), so I guess I have to adjust it a bit later. But I will see how it becomes when dilluted.

I will add sodium citrate when dilluting, and will dillute with a heavy sugar syrup (since I don't have preservatives). I don't know if I can make it work dilluting with a very strong syrup, but we will see. I don't know yet how to make an 80% sugar solution either. It will be a shower gel (since I have given up using bar soaps in the shower), and I want it to be thick and concentrated. So I hope a sugar syrup can make it both thick and very bubbly + preserve it. Have anyone used sugar syrup in liquid soap? Is it a bad idea, do you think?
I will also add fragrance oils. And it doesn't really matter what I'm going to add or not. That was not the problem.

I think I'm scared off from making liquid soap ever again. I'm so tired after struggling with this soap for ages. If this is what liquid soapmaking is, well, then. Or did I do something wrong? And what did I eventually do wrong?

I now fully understand why people are using the glycerin method, just sayin.

Yes, I forgot to tell you my temperatures. The fact is that I have noe clue. I did not measure. I melted the hard fat in the oils in the microwave, and it was just a tiny blob unmelted hard fat when I added the lye. I added the lye as soon as it was dissolved. The soap became quite hot, but not so that you could not hold your hands against the bowl. That came later when I desided to heat it in the microwave to speed it up.

Tap water, yes, I must explain that before anyone comments that I must use distilled water. First of all, distilled water is not easily available here. The only thing is so called battery water bought in auto stores. I guess I have to buy battery water next time I plan to make soap.
Second, our tap water is very clean. But of course, it is tap water, and it is coming straight out of a mountain, so it will have some mineral content. It is not hard water, but I don't know if it's soft either. No residue on the sink, neither white or brown. No fluoride or anything.
Third, I am going to add sodium citrate to neutralize the tap water. And I don't add clay or anything full of minerals, other than mica.

Oh boy, this became a long post. To sum up: Is it normal that liquid soaps take 2,5 hours to trace? And is it normal to have so heavy separation that it will hardly ever come together again? If this is the norm, I will have to get an armoured stickblender, and no less.

Now I had the courage to have a look under the towel. I'm amazed, it looks perfectly allright :) No separation, and it is slightly translucent. Like if it is gelling. Wow, I'm shocked! I expected another separation. Because this have been a liquid soap nightmare, so I did not have very high hopes for the trace to stay traced. But luckily I was wrong :) And I'm so glad I did not add detergent dish soap, as I in desperation thought of doing.

Here is some pictures taken with my ancient Iphone 3. So do not expect HD resolution :D
 
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Rune

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Maybe slightly harder to add pictures to this forum than to make liquid soap....
 

Saponificarian

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Ah Rune, I think you should have picked the 90% KOH purity if you wanted to be safe not the 100%. Since you know the composition of the Flott Maftett why not input it in th le calculator. You are likely to be more accurate that way.

Since you used 31% which is 220g per your recipe

Shea will be 65% of 220g = 143g
Coconut @ 25% will be = 55g
Rapeseed @ 10% will be 22g

I am not a liquid soap expert but I think you need glycerine for the ‘pharmacist method’ you are trying to use but good for you, you just invented a new way of making liquid soap: Serious microwave nuking and burning your stick blender :thumbs::D
 

Rune

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Yes, I probably should have used 90%. But I was afraid to make lye heavy soap. But I guess all KOH is around 90% pure, or does it vary?

When I calculated the saponification value for Flott Matfett, I experimented with SoapCalc until I got something that had the same fatty acid profile as the company had given me on mail. But to get it to match up, I had to add stearic acid, palmitic acid and other fatty acids. It did never match with only shea, coconut and rapeseed. I also used the wrong one, I should have used canola, and not rapeseed, since canola and unrefined canola/rapeseed are two different plants. The rapeseed we have here is the same plant as canola. And I suspect the coconut and rapeseed are hydrolyzed as well.

Anyway, when I had the saponification number, I tried to find a matching oil on SoapCalc, just to make it easy. Palmolein did match perfectly. So I just use that to make it easy. But I did once put in the tree oils plus all the extra fatty acids in SoapCalc, so that I could see the bubbly value, hardness etc.

Glycerine, yes, of course! Thank you. That is exactly what I will need to dillute it with. I will order some glycerine.

I think I maybe soaped way too cold to begin with. Next time will be in a crockpot, and not anymore cold process liquid soap attempt. I did not use my crockpot now, because I didn't make a very big batch. I was afraid it would be too little for the crockpot, and splatter all over when stickblending. But next time, I will add KOH to hot water, and prehea the oils to 240 degrees fahrenheit or more. Plus have some alcohol on hand to add when it separates. And maybe buy the worst ever fragrance oil, one that seizes immediately.

I hope my stickblender is not too harmed, actually. It is a very powerful one (and very noisy), but power did not help today. I could not use it on maximum speed, because then it would splatter all over, unfortunately. I think it is 800 watt, so it is quite powerful. I hope to be able to use it again. I did find out that it does not automatically shuts off when overheated. I actually thought it should catch fire, so I ran outdoors with it. I took it out of the socket, and had it sitting to cool down. But it did not cool at all, just got even warmer, and warmer. So warm that it almost burned my hands when touching it. So I thought it was safer with to have a fire outdoors than indoors. And then the soap separated even worse (as if that was possible), so I had to carry in again the baking hot stickblender. Liquid soap is adrenaline rush :D
 

Rune

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Have you tried the glycerine method? I think it is much easier and much faster.
No, because I have no glycerine, but I will order some. I have watched tons of Youtube videos on liquid soapmaking, but almost everybody uses the crockpot. Some use the glycerin method, others don't. I knew it would take much longer without glycerin. But that it would take soooo long and separate sooo bad, no I had no clue. I thought I just had to stickblend it for around 10 minutes extra without the glycerine. But I will not make any liquid soap again until I have glycerin on hand, that's for sure.
 

Rune

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Well, but it became soap in the end :) I was seriously thinking of throwing away the soap, and more than once. But at the last try, magic happened. I had actually decided to throw it if still separated on me after the last desperate try. Luckily it did not end up in the garbage. But it was very close.
 

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When making liquid soap paste with just water, it is helpful to heat the soap batter to about 180 F (82 C) to start with. That works pretty well for me. The batches I've made without glycerin come to trace in 15-30 minutes if heated to 180 F to start. Batches with part glycerin, part water come to trace in 10-20 minutes just relying on the glycerin to accelerate the reaction. The benefit of using glycerin to make LS is small, IMO, especially since glycerin cuts the lather somewhat and adds to the expense of making the soap. The main benefit of using glycerin comes if you cannot heat the soap batter.

LS batter does not have to be mixed continuously. Just stick blend or whisk the batter for 10-20 seconds at a time and do this every 5-10 minutes until the soap batter thickens up. Yes, it's going to separate when you're not mixing, but don't worry about that. Just bring it back to a well-mixed state every 5-10 minutes and let it do its thing in between times. You really, really don't have to hover and it's really not necessary to feel desperate. ;)

"...Have anyone used sugar syrup in liquid soap? Is it a bad idea, do you think?..."

Yes, it's a bad idea. Just use distilled or reverse osmosis water to dilute.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I spent 2,5 hours just to get it to trace!
LS high in liquid oils (75% in this case) takes “forever” to trace. The first time I made 100% olive oil it took me 10 hours! So I can honestly say, I feel your pain! :eek:
I had so bad separation it would never come together again.
CP LS is not like CP hard bars. It’s important to keep the batch warm while bringing it to trace. Maintain temp at 160°F (71°C) + until trace occurs.
My poor stickblender, ...It did heat up so badly it started to smell burnt plastic.
As DeeAnna said, it’s best to SB on and off while bring to trace to keep from burning out the motor. The batch will continue to do it’s thing between times. Also, if using glycerin in place of water, the batch is so hot that it can literally melt your plastic stick blender. Better switch to one with a stainless steel shaft.
I got impatient, and threw the bowl into the microwave to give it some heat. (1) ...threw the bowl in the microwave again, (2) ...I threw the bowl in the microwave again, (3) ...So I blended like crazy, and suddenly, wow! It looked like trace.
Excellent! Good thinking! I’m currently experimenting with processing in the microwave. It takes 3-4 Nukes, with 5-minute to 1-hour rest periods in between to get to where it doesn’t separate any more. I leave it in the MW overnight and it tests neutral in the morning... ready for dilution.
It became a thick pudding that actually hold together.
This is due to the high amount of shea butter (20% according to my calculation). That’s what makes the batch opaque and pudding-like instead of clear.
I think the fault may have been that I used "full water" and 2 percent more (40% of oils). ... I think I should have done the opposite, used as strong lye solution as possible, perhaps?
Use the “Water to Lye” button (on SoapCalc) to figure the amount of water needed. Your KOH amount is correct for this batch. Type in 3:1 (water to KOH) for normal batches; 2:1 for faster trace. NOTE If you use 2:1 be sure to keep an eye on it. If it starts to bloat up, quickly set it in the sink and stir it down. (I set it into a bowl to catch any spill over.) Lye needs oxygen from the water to do its thing. If there’s not enough water, the lye grabs oxygen from the air and that causes the batch to start rising out of the pot.
I added some mica at the end.
Not good. Liquid colorants work best -- you can even use food coloring -- add after dilution.
I will add sodium citrate when dilluting,
Add AFTER dilution, at the end or after 2 week sequester, or not at all. It’s not necessary.
...and will dillute with a heavy sugar syrup Have anyone used sugar syrup in liquid soap? Is it a bad idea, do you think?
Yes, as DeeAnna said, it’s a bad idea because it’s an invitation to bacteria/fungus to come and play in your LS. If you want to thicken it, try a simple salt brine. If you want to try adding sugar to a future batch, I've never done it, but I would add it to the lye solution ... and hope for the best! :rolleyes:
... I forgot to tell you my temperatures. The fact is that I have noe clue.
To get to trace in the least amount of time, combine when oils are 160°F (71°C) and lye solution is 140°F (60°C). Stir by hand, then SB (on and off) to trace 10 - 15 minutes, over low to medium-low heat. Maintain temp at 160°F (71°C) until trace occurs. (Nuke in the MW if you need to.)
Tap water, yes, ... our tap water is very clean.
I use tap water to make soap also. We are fortunate to have water supplied from the mountains as well.
Now I had the courage to have a look under the towel. I'm amazed, it looks perfectly allright :) No separation, and it is slightly translucent. Like if it is gelling. Wow, I'm shocked!
You did good. I would keep the batch covered for a week or two to fully saponify before diluting.

NOTE: The first rule of soaping is “PATIENCE”. The second rule is “DON’T PANIC”. You didn’t panic and you used your soaper’s knowledge and experience to muddle on through to a successful conclusion. You should be very proud of yourself. :thumbs:
 
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Rune

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Wow! Thank you all, and a special thank to DeeAnna and Zany_in_CO! :) Now I know exactly what to do next time. And I know exactly what I did wrong this time. I really appreciate your answers.

But now I encountered another problem. I was thinking that liquid soap definately would need a preservative. So I am looking here and there for a place to buy some, and research what to buy. Not very easy, since those who sell preservatives very often does not include the most important information - the PH range. But well, I think phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin could be a great alternative (Plantaserve E and other names). I had decided to buy that one, and was looking for a shop with an affordable shipping cost, so I typed something in Google, and there Brambleberry's TV-shop hostess, the Soap Queen popped up. I had a look at the article Talk It Out Tuesday: Preservatives. She writes a lot of blabla, and then:

"Preservatives aren’t generally necessary in liquid soaps, but can be added if desired."
"Liquid soap does not need a preservative either but it doesn’t hurt to add a little just to be extra careful.".

Hmm, I'm confused. If she is right, why does not liquid soap need a preservative while everything else with water will need one? She does recommend preservatives for salt and sugar scrubs, because they can come in contact with water in the shower. Liquid soap has a lot of water added, so why can it be preservative-free?

I personally think she is wrong, that water containing products need a preservative if they are not preserved otherwise, for example with acids, very high amount of salt or sugar or something else that reduces the water activity to such a low level that microbes and mold can not grow. But since liquid soaps most often are made and dilluted with distilled water, maybe that will make the product sterile enough? I did not use distilled water, so I guess I will need preservatives anyway.

What do you people do? Do you add preservatives or not to liquid soaps?

I see that many stores their soap paste, and dillute as they need. Well, that would eliminate the need for a preservative if the soap will be used up in a short time. I have thought of dilluting all at once and store the finished and bottled soaps in the freezer, and grab a bottle when needed. I don't know if that will work. I guess the easiest is to just add a preservative, so that is what I will do. But I wonder why Soap Queen does not try to push preservatives on liquid soapmakers? She usually sees the need for everything else, UV inhibitors and what not that Brambleberry sells.
 

DeeAnna

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Liquid soap does not necessarily need a separate preservative because the alkaline pH of the soap itself is the preservative. Almost every other product that contains fat and water (lotions, for example) will have a slightly alkaline to slightly acidic pH -- nowhere near as high a pH as liquid soap. There's the difference.

There's another issue to keep in mind, however. If you want to make liquid soap with anything other than fats, water, glycerin, and alkali -- if you decide you must pack the soap with goodies like milk, aloe, sugar, or other carbohydrate-containing ingredients -- then you cannot expect high pH alone to properly preserve the product.

The only preservatives that I know of that are functional in the high pH of liquid soap are Suttocide and Glydant Plus. Liquid Germall Plus has an off-label reputation for also working at higher pH. This is a reputable source to consult: http://makingskincare.com/preservatives/

Yes, I add preservative to diluted liquid soap. Personal preference only -- it doesn't greatly bother me that others choose to not use preservative if I know they are also sensible about the ingredients in their soap. Like so much of life, it's all about context.
 

Zany_in_CO

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... why does not liquid soap need a preservative while everything else with water will need one? ... Liquid soap has a lot of water added, so why can it be preservative-free?
Good question! The answer: It's all about the pH of the product:

Products that have a pH of 7 or below are acidic and require a preservative.
Products that have a pH above 7.5 are alkaline and do not require a preservative because bacteria can not survive an alkaline environment. Handmade soap, both hard bars and liquid soap fall in the range of pH 8.5 to pH 11 so a preservative is not required.
NOTE: While there are many options for preserving lotions, creams, and other water & oil products, there is no preservative specifically designed for liquid soap simply because it isn't necessary. There are, however, essential oils and other additives like rosin that have preservative qualities which can be added.
You can also use antioxidants like ROE (Rosemary Oleoresin Extract) that serve to extend the shelf life of oils used in liquid soap.
What do you people do? Do you add preservatives or not to liquid soaps?
I do not add preservative to liquid soap, for three reasons -- (1) It isn't necessary. (2) Preservatives are expensive. (3) *Some preservatives may do more harm than good over time. (Note to wardbond -- I need to note a source for that info... as soon as I can get to it. :))
I see that many stores their soap paste, and dillute as they need. Well, that would eliminate the need for a preservative if the soap will be used up in a short time. I have thought of dilluting all at once and store the finished and bottled soaps in the freezer
Actually, my guess is that it takes far less storage space for the paste vs the diluted LS. I dilute my paste all at once and bottle it up in 8 oz. containers for storage and easy access as needed or gallon jugs for laundry soap. I've done this for over 13 years. No problem. :cool:

ETA: * Liquid Soapers Yahoo Group has a gadzillion posts on using preservatives in LS -- both Pro and Con. If interested, join the group and search "preservatives". I spent an hour last night looking for the source for the info in BOLD above. I found this -- so I'm getting close. :D
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/liquidsoapers/conversations/messages/14150
 
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Rune

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Thank you both, again! :) PH, yes, well, I should have wrote that I had read that only a PH of 10 or over would preserve a product. And liquid soap has under 10. So that's why I didn't understand why it could be without preservatives and contain lots of water. But I forgot to mention it, and I can't find where I read it. I have a log on the computer as big as a the Bible itself.

But now I know that the PH of liquid soap is harsh enough for anything to grow out of proportions.

Context, yes, that is something I have thought of many times when I see on Youtube people making sugar scrubs, salt scrubs, emulsifed scrubs or other similar products. The stress that the product must have a preservative because water will enter the container (usually a big jar ment for the shower). And I think - why are nobody thinking of changing the container itself?

I'm sure there are lots of containers out there that does not allow people to dig in with dripping wet fingers.
 

Rune

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I learn a lot, thanks to you guys on this forum. I thought the reason behind that bar soaps can be without preservatives, were the low content of water, and that it had nothing to do with PH. And actually it is the PH that is the main preservative for bar soaps.
 

Rune

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Well, and that is actually the place where I read before about PH 10 and above. So now that is solved :D
 

DeeAnna

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"...Products that have a pH above 7.5 are alkaline and do not require a preservative..."

This is incorrect. Alkaline products can and most certainly do support the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. Here's a pertinent quote from the Making Skincare article I cited above:

"...The finished pH of the product will have a major impact on the efficacy of the preservative. Bacteria thrive in the pH range of 5.5 to 8.5, the typical pH range for bacterial growth is pH 4 to 9. Yeasts and filamentous fungi prefer the pH range 4-6 but growth generally occurs within a range of pH 3 to 10. Microorganisms present in manufacturing environments are often acclimated to thrive beyond these limits of pH. In fact, environmentally isolated microbes have been known to persist within a pH range of 2.5 to 10.5. Use a good antifungal preservative at a low pH or a good antibacterial preservative at a high pH may provide a better broad spectrum preservation. If the pH is high enough, for example, over pH 10, a preservative may not be needed...."
 

Zany_in_CO

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...actually it is the PH that is the main preservative for bar soaps.
pH is also the reason liquid soap requires no preservative. If your LS has pH 11 you are safe for sure, and your LS is NOT harsh, depending on oils/fats used and proper saponification method, of course. As long as it is fully saponified and there are no "loose" oils floating around due to superfatting it, you're safe.
 

Zany_in_CO

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"...Products that have a pH above 7.5 are alkaline and do not require a preservative..."

This is incorrect. Alkaline products can and most certainly do support the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. ... If the pH is high enough, for example, over pH 10, a preservative may not be needed...."
Thank you Dee Anna. I stand corrected. :thumbs:

The only problem that remains is whether or not that info applies to water-in-oil or oil-in-water products only, and not specifically to liquid soap. ??? Not to be argumentative, not at all, but when I have time I hope to do a little more digging to see what I can come up that's specific to LS.

Until then, I hope we can agree that whether or not to use a preservative in LS is a matter of personal preference. I don't yet have the science to back it up, only anecdotal evidence and the fact that the top commercial liquid soaps, so-called "all natural", and others, contain no preservative. There's also my personal fear that some preservatives are "formaldehyde releasers" over time which can result in a "toxic" product long after it's manufactured
 
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