Lye Solutions, Concentrations, Dilutions, and Ratios

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Kimimarie84

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One of the things I like about soapmaking friend is that the default lye setting is 33% and not water as percent of oils. And as a paid member, I can adjust the new recipe default settings to include use of MB lye solution, 40% lye concentration, and more. Very handy!
That’s good to know! I’ve never used soapmaking friend before. I may have to give that one a try.
 

Kimimarie84

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UPDATE: I soaped yesterday, and I used a 33% lye concentration instead of water as a percent of oil weight, and the soap moved through trace almost faster than what I could get into the mold. It’s a good thing I decided to not do any intricate colors or designs on that batch because it wouldn’t have worked. The soap was pretty hot, and it also did a weird ricing sort of thing on top. I don’t know if ricing is quite the right term, but the soap on top turned thick and “rough.” I’ll attach a photo. I also probably soaped too hot with this one, as my goat milk wasn’t completely frozen (I was being impatient for it to freeze).

I decided to change the lye concentration on the next batch to 30%, and I also used completely frozen goat milk that time. It worked better than the water as a percentage of oils - stayed cooler, didn’t accelerate, and I had time to do a design. I even tried the kiss pour, and while I don’t have a slab mold for the kiss pour to work as well as I’d like, I had enough time to work with the soap without it moving through trace too quickly.

For the third and fourth soaps, I continued with a 30% lye concentration, and one of the soaps still had a tiny volcano effect toward the center on one side, but it wasn’t as bad as the last time that happened. The fourth soap behaved beautifully, and I didn’t have any issues with it.

Overall, I like soaping at a 30% lye concentration, and I’ll just need to watch my milk temperature (use only frozen milk), and be careful to read about fragrance oils and how they behave in soap to make sure I know what to expect with acceleration.

Thanks for all the advice, encouragement, and article links. Y’all help me make better soap!
 

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TheGecko

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I make Goat Milk Soap with fresh goat milk. I don't use any colorants, but I do use FOs.

My recipe is:

21.0 % Palm Oil
21.0 % Coconut Oil
12.0 % Shea Butter
41.0 % Olive Oil
5.0 % Castor Oil

33% Lye Concentration
5% Super Fat
1tea PPO Sodium Lactate & Kaolin Clay
1 oz PPO FO
100% Goat Milk (fresh or health food section)

My process is:

Freeze the goat milk until solid. Prepare an ice bath of ice, water and salt (keeps the ice colder, longer). Put the container with the frozen GM in the ice bath and leave for about 5-10 minutes (brings the temp of the container down). While that is going on, I weigh out my FO and add my Kaolin Clay and give it a whiz with my little 'frother' thingy. Start adding your NaOH to your frozen GM a bit at a time...you want to keep the temperature to under 70F. If it starts to get a little high, then just let it sit for a bit and start preparing your oils going back and forth. I Master Batch so I just open my bucket, weigh out what I need and toss in the microwave for about 30 second per pound of oils which has my melted oils around 120F and I just leave them in the microwave to cool back down a bit.

The thing to remember with a Goat Milk Lye Solution is that it is going to be thick/clotted because the NaOH is binding to the fats in the milk...it's not a big deal. If it bothers anyone, you can just give it a quick whiz before pouring into your melted oil...I don't and have never had any issues.

When I combine my oils and Lye Solution...my oils are around 100F and my LS around 65F which brings my soaping temperature to around 80F. Now depending on which FO I use...I may add it to the oils or I may add it after I reach emulsion or even a light trace; but that's why I test all my FOs first with small batch. This was a lesson learned as I still have half a 16oz bottle of some really fast moving FO that I bought three years. If it's really cold, I can hand-stir it in at emulsion and still have time to pour it in the mold before it turns to pudding...which is better than having it turn it into concrete.

I live in Oregon...during the Summer it can get pretty warm here and in fact, we are looking at high 90s/low 100s all next week. For this means soaping with as low a temp as I can, mixing to a light-medium trace and popping that sucker in the back of the frig. It'll sit there for 24 hours and the out it comes to hang out in the kitchen for a couple of hours before unmolding and then another couple of hours before cutting. Then it's off to the garage to cure for six weeks.

During the winter I have to make adjustments because of the colder temps and rain. I increase my Lye Concentration to 35%, mix to a medium trace and in the garage it goes. Soap stays in the mold for a good three days, then I bring it in for a day before unmolding, then wait another day before cutting. Then back to the garage where it will cure for 10 weeks.

You are more than welcomed to use any of the above.

I dislike the term 'water discount', but given how some folks get all freaky about Sodium Hydroxide, saying "I used a steep water discount" sounds better than saying "I used a higher Lye Concentration" which sounds like you are using MORE Sodium Hydroxide. The simple fact is...whether you use a 30% Lye Concentration or a 35% Lye Concentration or a 40% Lye Concentration...it is STILL the same amount of Sodium Hydroxide.

Yes, different oils (and butters) will have different requirements and not just in terms of how much NaOH it takes to turn it into soap...some work well together, some do not. Some take a long time to trace, some do not. Some do better at warmer temps, some do better at cooler temps. I made a lot of frickin' soap my first year and I kept notes on every single batch...not just the ingredients and additives, but the time of year, what the weather was like, the temperatures of my kitchen, oils and lye solution, whether I was in a good mood or bad, how much I stick blended and hand blended, how long it took to reach emulsion and trace.

I Master Batch my Oils/Butters and Lye Solution (ready-to-use). During the summer when the MB is thin, it takes about 17 seconds PPO to bring it to 120F in the microwave; during the winter when it is like cornbread batter, it takes 35 second PPO. My batter does best when mixed to emulsion at around 90F...I get a lot of play time out of it depending on FO and colorants of course. I once made a 14lb batch that I turned into seven different soaps...some had different colored layers, some had swirls so there was a lot of sub-dividing. Took me about a hour and the last bit of soap was just getting to a light-medium trace when I added the FO and then sub-divided it to do a two-color swirl.

But this is stuff that you learn over time and is also a matter of person preference. I like soaping at cooler temps...you may not. I like emulsion, you may like trace. I like a 33% Lye Concentration, you may like 30% or 35%. Unless you are using glass or not allowing your soap to cure properly or making claims other than that your soap will get you clean...there is no 'wrong' way to make soap.
 

Kimimarie84

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
52
Reaction score
163
Location
AL
I make Goat Milk Soap with fresh goat milk. I don't use any colorants, but I do use FOs.

My recipe is:

21.0 % Palm Oil
21.0 % Coconut Oil
12.0 % Shea Butter
41.0 % Olive Oil
5.0 % Castor Oil

33% Lye Concentration
5% Super Fat
1tea PPO Sodium Lactate & Kaolin Clay
1 oz PPO FO
100% Goat Milk (fresh or health food section)

My process is:

Freeze the goat milk until solid. Prepare an ice bath of ice, water and salt (keeps the ice colder, longer). Put the container with the frozen GM in the ice bath and leave for about 5-10 minutes (brings the temp of the container down). While that is going on, I weigh out my FO and add my Kaolin Clay and give it a whiz with my little 'frother' thingy. Start adding your NaOH to your frozen GM a bit at a time...you want to keep the temperature to under 70F. If it starts to get a little high, then just let it sit for a bit and start preparing your oils going back and forth. I Master Batch so I just open my bucket, weigh out what I need and toss in the microwave for about 30 second per pound of oils which has my melted oils around 120F and I just leave them in the microwave to cool back down a bit.

The thing to remember with a Goat Milk Lye Solution is that it is going to be thick/clotted because the NaOH is binding to the fats in the milk...it's not a big deal. If it bothers anyone, you can just give it a quick whiz before pouring into your melted oil...I don't and have never had any issues.

When I combine my oils and Lye Solution...my oils are around 100F and my LS around 65F which brings my soaping temperature to around 80F. Now depending on which FO I use...I may add it to the oils or I may add it after I reach emulsion or even a light trace; but that's why I test all my FOs first with small batch. This was a lesson learned as I still have half a 16oz bottle of some really fast moving FO that I bought three years. If it's really cold, I can hand-stir it in at emulsion and still have time to pour it in the mold before it turns to pudding...which is better than having it turn it into concrete.

I live in Oregon...during the Summer it can get pretty warm here and in fact, we are looking at high 90s/low 100s all next week. For this means soaping with as low a temp as I can, mixing to a light-medium trace and popping that sucker in the back of the frig. It'll sit there for 24 hours and the out it comes to hang out in the kitchen for a couple of hours before unmolding and then another couple of hours before cutting. Then it's off to the garage to cure for six weeks.

During the winter I have to make adjustments because of the colder temps and rain. I increase my Lye Concentration to 35%, mix to a medium trace and in the garage it goes. Soap stays in the mold for a good three days, then I bring it in for a day before unmolding, then wait another day before cutting. Then back to the garage where it will cure for 10 weeks.

You are more than welcomed to use any of the above.

I dislike the term 'water discount', but given how some folks get all freaky about Sodium Hydroxide, saying "I used a steep water discount" sounds better than saying "I used a higher Lye Concentration" which sounds like you are using MORE Sodium Hydroxide. The simple fact is...whether you use a 30% Lye Concentration or a 35% Lye Concentration or a 40% Lye Concentration...it is STILL the same amount of Sodium Hydroxide.

Yes, different oils (and butters) will have different requirements and not just in terms of how much NaOH it takes to turn it into soap...some work well together, some do not. Some take a long time to trace, some do not. Some do better at warmer temps, some do better at cooler temps. I made a lot of frickin' soap my first year and I kept notes on every single batch...not just the ingredients and additives, but the time of year, what the weather was like, the temperatures of my kitchen, oils and lye solution, whether I was in a good mood or bad, how much I stick blended and hand blended, how long it took to reach emulsion and trace.

I Master Batch my Oils/Butters and Lye Solution (ready-to-use). During the summer when the MB is thin, it takes about 17 seconds PPO to bring it to 120F in the microwave; during the winter when it is like cornbread batter, it takes 35 second PPO. My batter does best when mixed to emulsion at around 90F...I get a lot of play time out of it depending on FO and colorants of course. I once made a 14lb batch that I turned into seven different soaps...some had different colored layers, some had swirls so there was a lot of sub-dividing. Took me about a hour and the last bit of soap was just getting to a light-medium trace when I added the FO and then sub-divided it to do a two-color swirl.

But this is stuff that you learn over time and is also a matter of person preference. I like soaping at cooler temps...you may not. I like emulsion, you may like trace. I like a 33% Lye Concentration, you may like 30% or 35%. Unless you are using glass or not allowing your soap to cure properly or making claims other than that your soap will get you clean...there is no 'wrong' way to make soap.
Thank you for the detailed information! Reading what you wrote, I feel validated in my methods.

Other than the recipe itself, masterbatching, and (up until the last time I soaped), the lye concentration, I make my goat milk soap the same way.

The last time I made soap, I melted down enough oils for 8 pounds, and then I split that into 4 different batches and measured out lye for each batch separately. For the first batch, I used a 33% LC, but I didn’t like the results, so for the rest of the batches I used a 30% LC, and I liked the results much better.

I live in Alabama, where we have temps in the high 90s and low 100s from May to September. It doesn’t really get cold until late November/early December. Last year I believe Christmas Day was in the 70s. It’s been so hot, I’ve moved all my soaps from the garage to the house to cure because they were sweating so much. But it’s not as much the heat here as it is the humidity. It makes everything feel thick and 2x hotter than the actual temperature. I think the LC and the humidity were my biggest problems with what happened to that one batch of soap, and since I’ve changed the LC and didn’t leave the soap out (but put it immediately into the fridge), it’s been great.

Thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate you taking the time.
 

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