Lye monster and avocado

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mx6inpenn

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So at work today my mind was wandering and I of course was thinking about soap. The lye eats whatever oils it wants. What about when using something like avocado oil that has a higher percentage of unsaponifiables? I noticed a big difference in my soaps using avocado at 15% in place of olive and just wondered if this could play a part in that. Any of our science-y minds know if it makes a difference and at what rate? I suppose I should probably look up what percentage of it is unsaponifiable since I could figure the rate out myself, *if* it would guarantee that percentage of that oil being superfat. Curiosity killed the cat, enquiring minds want to know, and all that. :-D
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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When I talk about things not surviving saponification, I mean that they don't stay as they are. The unsaponafiables are not saponified, but the mass doesn't change - so they are there still, in some form.

Are they still the skin-loving goodies which where in the original oil? I wouldn't think so, because lye is what it is, and even if it can't saponify something, that something is not going to enjoy the attempt!

Edited to add - which is why we need to try oils in soap to see how they feel etc. many people prefer using some avocado rather than just olive, so clearly there is some difference there. Is that difference because the unsaponifiables are the same as before? Or just because of what is left over in what ever form it is?
 
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topofmurrayhill

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So at work today my mind was wandering and I of course was thinking about soap. The lye eats whatever oils it wants. What about when using something like avocado oil that has a higher percentage of unsaponifiables? I noticed a big difference in my soaps using avocado at 15% in place of olive and just wondered if this could play a part in that. Any of our science-y minds know if it makes a difference and at what rate? I suppose I should probably look up what percentage of it is unsaponifiable since I could figure the rate out myself, *if* it would guarantee that percentage of that oil being superfat. Curiosity killed the cat, enquiring minds want to know, and all that. :-D
In considering this question, we could start with the fact that by far the biggest contribution to the properties of soap comes from the balance of fatty acids in the oil recipe. That determines what kind of soap is in your soap, accounting for most of its properties. Even a small change in the balance of fatty acids can make a perceptible difference in the performance of the final product. There are other factors too, but nothing nearly as big.

Non-saponifiables actually do survive in the soap. They mostly consist of vitamin E and chemicals called phytosterols. Offhand, I don't recall many crafters claiming that adding vitamin E to their soap made a perceptible difference in how it worked. In any case, olive oil has at least as much vitamin E as avocado oil and typically more, so that doesn't explain why you might like adding some avocado oil in place of olive oil.

Avocado oil does normally have more phytosterols than olive oil. The amount will vary from sample to sample, but for both oils it's typically a fraction of one percent. Even if your EVAO has 1% phytosterols, at 15% it's only contributing 0.15% phytosterols to the oil recipe. When you add in water and alkali, it's even less in the final product. What's more, since the other oils also contribute phytosterols, the percentage increase due to the avocado oil is tinier still. Phytosterols are sometimes used as an ingredient in cosmetics and various leave-on products at a rate of several percentage points. Here we are talking about a miniscule amount in a rinse-off product. You could actually buy phytosterols and add them to the soap, but everyone would be doing that by now if it really made a difference.

So even though the phytosterols survive, it's not a very plausible explanation for any effect of substituting some avocado oil for olive oil. With the differences in appearance, flavor and aroma between two similar oils, we can imagine there are all kinds of differences in composition besides triglycerides that could be detectable in soap, but it's really almost ALL just triglycerides.

So if there is a difference, I think it would have to comes from the way the avocado oil substitution affects the fatty acid balance of the soap. There's one other possibility that we can't overlook, though some may protest, and that is the psychological factor. If you've heard from several other people that a small amount of avocado oil in place of olive oil improves the soap, you're more likely to experience that yourself.
 

Dahila

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Psychological factor and label appeal. I do think the one with avocado is better than others, but it is simply psychological effect :)
topofmurrayhill :)
 

mx6inpenn

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I would agree with the psychological factor if I were the only one that notices the difference. Blind testing with multiple people resulting in very similar comments is harder to call psychological tho. Either way, it doesn't really matter why or how to me. I like it, my family likes it. I'll continue to use it. So many people worry about using expensive oils as superfat, it just made me wonder. Further thought on the topic has made me realize it was probably a dumb thought in the first place. Unsaponifiables wouldn't matter I don't believe, since they wouldn't be included in the equation (Sap value) to begin with.
 

ngian

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Avocado oil is famous in the soaping community that it has something good to give to a recipe.

I have made a while ago a test where I used a few soft oils as a major oil (40%) in every recipe to see what they would bring to the party. Those soft oils were all in the oleic fatty acids family and the results were interesting. The oils were Olive oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Sunflower HO, Canola and Avocado.

Every soap had a slightly different behavior while cleaning my hands but avocado (Refined Oil) slightly did something more to my perception while cleaning. Having given all the soaps to a woman also, she was amazed with how the avocado made her feel (yes, women must have double the amount of neurons in their bodies compared to men). So I got curious and read the CoA document for avocando. I for the first time learned about a new fatty acid that isn't very popular in soapmaking and that is palmitoleic fatty acid.

I then found out that macadamia has double the amount of this unusual FA in its profile so I made a 40% macadamia recipe and guess what. I also felt a bit more of this different feeling while cleaning my hands and I guess the sodium palmitoleate gives something really new and nice to the soaping party.

So to conclude I also agree that the fatty acid profile of the entire recipe plays the major role in how the soap will behave under the water along with the way it will interfere our perception. Then it is for the additives that slightly change the overall characteristics of the suds. And use avocado as much as possible (eg. replace all Olive oil with Avocado) in order to gain its effect to the max. I would advice you to make a small "Avocadille" (Bastille) kind of soap (80% Avocado. 15% CO, 5% Castor with around 38-40% lye concentration) and you will not regret it.

You can read more about my experiment here: http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=56642
 
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mx6inpenn

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Avocado oil is famous in the soaping community that it has something good to give to a recipe.

I have made a while ago a test where I used a few soft oils as a major oil (40%) in every recipe to see what they would bring to the party. Those soft oils were all in the oleic fatty acids family and the results were interesting. The oils were Olive oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Sunflower HO, Canola and Avocado.

Every soap had a slightly different behavior while cleaning my hands but avocado (Refined Oil) slightly did something more to my perception while cleaning. Having given all the soaps to a woman also, she was amazed with how the avocado made her feel (yes, women must have double the amount of neurons in their bodies compared to men). So I got curious and read the CoA document for avocando. I for the first time learned about a new fatty acid that isn't very popular in soapmaking and that is palmitoleic fatty acid.

I then found out that macadamia has double the amount of this unusual FA in its profile so I made a 40% macadamia recipe and guess what. I also felt a bit more of this different feeling while cleaning my hands and I guess the sodium palmitoleate gives something really new and nice to the soaping party.

So to conclude I also agree that the fatty acid profile of the entire recipe plays the major role in how the soap will behave under the water along with the way it will interfere our perception. Then it is for the additives that slightly change the overall characteristics of the suds. And use avocado as much as possible (eg. replace all Olive oil with Avocado) in order to gain its effect to the max. I would advice you to make a small "Avocadille" (Bastille) kind of soap (80% Avocado. 15% CO, 5% Castor with around 38-40% lye concentration) and you will not regret it.

You can read more about my experiment here: http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=56642
I'm not sure how I missed that thread completely! Thanks so much for the link, the experiment and the interesting read. I will have to get some macadamia oil to experiment with myself. Avocado will remain in my usual recipe regardless of results because of the cost of macadamia here, but a splurge in the interest of science can be made :)
 

topofmurrayhill

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I'm not sure how I missed that thread completely! Thanks so much for the link, the experiment and the interesting read. I will have to get some macadamia oil to experiment with myself. Avocado will remain in my usual recipe regardless of results because of the cost of macadamia here, but a splurge in the interest of science can be made :)
Soaper's Choice:

Avocado Oil $3.96 / lb
Macadamia Oil $3.77 / lb
EVOO $2.95 / lb

Shipping for four 7 lb bottles of oil is about $15.

I suspect that compares well with your current source, and the macadamia oil is about the same price as avocado.
 

mx6inpenn

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Hmm, its actually cheaper! I buy most of my oils locally. Since I don't sell, I don't use many of them enough to buy in large quantities. I had checked several from a couple suppliers a while back, but just can't justify saving $1/pound and paying shipping on large quantities. I typically make 2 to 6 pounds of soap per month, but often make none during the summer when the kids don't have school. So I typically use less than 6# OO per year in soap.
 

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