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Lye percentages...

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CiCi

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I've finally got all of my supplies and ingredients. I am now playing with soapcalc. I saw that the lye default is somewhere around 27% but I saw on the forum that many of you soap at 33% or greater. What is best for a beginner? What is the difference between the 27% and the 33% solution? Harder/softer soap? I changed my recipe to 33% and then I had doubts of what I did. I thought I'd better check first.
 

Soapmaker Man

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For starters, and for floral scents use the default setting at soapcalc.

The difference between a 28% and a 33% solution, is the amount of liquid you use to put your correct amount of lye in. The more liquid, the less concentrated the lye strength or solution is. CP soaping is a time related process. It takes time to cure out the water and to complete the saponification process. Some like a 33% solution strength, some refer to as a "water discount" which I hate using that term, :p so their bars are harder, faster. Less shrinkage and warping issues when less liquids are used. i DHHped a batch yesterday using a 30% solution, and it worked well. That is the differences. :wink:

Paul
 

CiCi

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Thanks Paul. So I am assuming that even if I do use a 33% solution, the "water discount" won't cause the soap to be lye heavy or more harsh? Just causes the bar to get harder faster? Correct? From what you are telling me, it seems that the higher solution is the best way to go. I just didn't want any problems. Other than the using the lower solution for florals, why would anyone want to soap at the lower 28% solution? I guess I am just trying to find out the purpose, if the better bar is at the higher solution. Sorry for all of the questions. I hope what I am asking is making sense.
 

Soapmaker Man

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Cici, you use the same weight, amount, of lye no matter how much liquids, water, you use. The more water, the weaker the solution strength. A 33% solution has less water than a 28% solution does, but the same amount, or weight of lye used. The lye weight is based on the oils you choose and the percent of discount you took. It will not change once you do "XX" weight of oils per recipe, but you can change the amount of liquids. I'll shut up so I wont confuse you any more than I have. :lol:

Paul
 

Barb

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CiCi said:
Thanks Paul. So I am assuming that even if I do use a 33% solution, the "water discount" won't cause the soap to be lye heavy or more harsh? Just causes the bar to get harder faster? Correct? From what you are telling me, it seems that the higher solution is the best way to go. I just didn't want any problems. Other than the using the lower solution for florals, why would anyone want to soap at the lower 28% solution? I guess I am just trying to find out the purpose, if the better bar is at the higher solution. Sorry for all of the questions. I hope what I am asking is making sense.
if you measure everything correctly using a 33% solution will not make your soap lye heavy. mis measuring ingredients cause lye heavy soaps, ( as well as some pre-printed soap formulas in soaping books and on the net can be formulated lye heavy, so always run them thru a lye calcualtor before using them).

that is also one of the reasons we superfat to give us bit of lea way, along with the extra conditioning.

if you are making your first batches of soap using the full water amount recommended will, give you a longer trace time so you can get the feel for the different stages of soap making. gives more time for swirling. plus it helps with those finicky fragrances like florals and a few others that work better with the full or slight water discount.

once you get the hang of soap making and have a feel for how the different fragrances you are using behave ( keep excellent notes, lol and refer to them, ) then you can experiment with the lesser amounts of water for dissolving your lye.
 

CiCi

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Thank you so much, Barb and Paul. I understood all of that and it is making sense now. My very last question that I forgot to ask. Soapcalc gives a default of 5% super fatting. Once I enter my 100% of oils...and I calculate my recipe, am I still able to add in things extra things vit E, glycerine, etc. without causing any problems?

Barb, I've really learned a lot here and one thing that I have come to realize is that nobody's recipe is taken as gospel in the amounts that are posted. I know to always run everything through soap calc. I'm actually having more fun creating my own, though. It took awhile, but I am understanding properties and qualities, etc and I think I'll have a pretty good bar. Little nervous about doing my first batch, but excited at the same time. I just wish I could stop ordering EO's and FO's. I've got what I need and keep looking for more. It's driving me crazy.
 

zajanatural

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You are still using the same amount of lye, just not as much water, therefore less water that will be in the finished batch. Less water means harder soap faster. It can also speed up trace. I worked with a 30% solution for 2 years before I ventured to my current 32% solution which suites me fine. I have time to play with colors, swirl, etc, and soap is rock hard the next day. A water discount also means that your soap will probably go into gel faster, so be careful when working with florals as it will accelerate trace.


You should be able to add extra botanicals, herbs, glycerin etc without a problem, but with moderation.
 

CiCi

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Thanks Z. I know that I certainly want to have plenty of time to play with swirling and the like, so I'm all for slow trace, at this point. I just didn't know, until this post, that the water amount controlled that. Good to know. I'll definitely start without water discount.
 
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