Lye concentration vs. H20 as % of oils. What a difference!

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froggybean37

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Since starting soapmaking a year ago, I've only ever used the default "Water as % of oils" option on soap calc. I've been experiencing more and more "stearic globs" and "glycerin rivers" but thought it was purely a heat-related thing so tried not insulating, putting molds in cold to set etc..

Ihad never played with my water levels as I found it so incredibly daunting and didn't think I would be able soap fast enough to keep up with the faster trace.

I finally took the plunge last night and soaped at 30% lye concentration (vs. the comparitive of about 26% when soaping with water as 38% of oil weight).

I blended to emulsion and then separated out my batter and added colour and FO stirring by hand until the last minute when I gave a short burt with my SB. Considering I was using an accelerating FO, it went really well and I had no issues at all.

Afterwards I covered and insulated as I used to before my glumpy troubles. This morning I got up and the soaps were still really hot and I immediately thought "darn... I bet I have globs again". BUT! I took the molds apart and sliced the soaps and they look a zillion times better!!

I am so thankful for this forum and everyone's great knowledge, for giving me the confidence I needed to finally play around with my water/lye concentrations and get the results I wanted! Even cutting the soap was different - cutting it only 12 hours after pouring the soap was nice and firm - usually I wait a couple days and can still struggle with play-doughy edges and stearic-glubbed insides.

I've attached the photos for comparison! THANKS!

image.jpg
 

DeeAnna

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Well done! I'm glad you took the risk -- and I'm even happier it worked out so well for you!
 

Seawolfe

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Wow thats a very good visual representation of what discounting the water a bit does for the soap in the right recipe!
 

mymy

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I'm clueless still. To summarize the process is by reducing water in the batter? 38% to 26% water?
 

DeeAnna

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"...To summarize the process is by reducing water in the batter?..."

In effect, yes you are reducing the water in the batter, but you are NOT working with the setting called "water as % of oils". You need to switch to using "lye concentration".

For an introduction to using lye concentration rather than "water as % of oils", please see this thread:
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=54095

...and read the full explanation of why you want to do this here:
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=53642
 

Arimara

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Is lye concentration a better way to go than water:lye ratios as well?
 

DeeAnna

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Unlike "water as % of oils", the concepts of lye concentration % and water:lye ratio mean exactly the same thing. You can make a lye solution with a 1:1 water:lye ratio or one with a 50% lye concentration and you will get the same mixture either way.

The conceptual problem with the water:lye ratio is that ratios are harder to use once you get away from the "convenient" ones such as 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, etc. For example, I soap with lye concentrations from 30% to 33% and the equivalent ratios are as follows:

30% = 1 part lye to 2.33... parts water
31% = 1 to 2.22...
32% = 1 to 2.125
33% = 1 to 2.03...
33.33...% = 1 to 2

IMO, percentages are far easier to remember and think about than their equivalent ratios. If I want to increase my lye concentration by 1%, then I just add "1" to the concentration. If I want to tweak the ratio by the same small amount, I need to find my calculator and do the math. But other soapers feel differently about the matter, so it's not for me to say that the use of concentration is better than the use of a ratio.

ETA: For those who enjoyed my party story with guys (lye) and blond, brunette, and redheaded girls (fats) to explain the rate of saponification of various fats, I've added a second chapter to the story to try to explain why lye concentration works better than "water as % of fats." See http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=53642 Post #12.
 
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nsmar4211

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And now I have something else to tweak in my recipe.... :)
 

Arimara

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Thanks. Still finding ratios to be immediately easier to wrap my head around but I won't be opposed to lye concentrations when I need tweaking.
 

PinkCupcake

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Wow! What a difference in your soaps!

I have been playing with lye concentration too. I can tell a big difference even between 30% and 33%. At 33% I can unmold and cut after 24 hours. At 30%, same mold and recipe, after 36 hours the soap is just firm enough to unmold, but a little bit softer than I like for cutting.
 

ngian

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So the top soap is with 26% and the bottom soap with 30% Lye Concentration?

One could suspect that the color difference they have is that the 26% apart from a few streakings, it has also passed the gel phase but the 30% did not.

:think:
 

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