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Making your own recipes?

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BeeButter

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I am very new to soap making but once I had my first batch under me I have been making soap almost every day, blindly I might add. Experimenting with different combinations of oils, butters, etc. My question is, are there specific ratios you can follow when making your own recipes? Such as for more moisturizing, better lather, or to get that perfect firmness. I'm just curious what your thoughts are. I've done a ton of reading on oils that I am using but sometimes I think I might not be using them in the best possible percentages.
 

MissBee

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I only have 8 batches under my belt, but I stick around certain %s. My coconut oil has been in the low 20's because I like where my numbers end up. I think I like shea around 10-15% the most so far.

I make notes in a journal on what my experiences are using something. I also have a few recipes in my line up that are drastically different than previous ones just so I can reaffirm or adjust where I like my %s. I even made a 80% olive, 20% coconut bar for funsies.
 

IrishLass

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For me, the answer to your question is yes- there are certain percentages that one can follow, but those percentages are very individual to each person seeing as how we all have differing skin-types, as well as differing likes and dislikes when it comes to lather/feel, etc..., not to mention the differing qualities of water that we bathe in (i.e., hard water or soft water). All of these factors add up/have an effect and determine how we each individually formulate the percentages of oils/fats in our recipes. The only way I know of for soapers to be able to determine the percentages that are right for them is through good old-fashioned trial and error.

Sure, there are generalities, such as the fact that hard butters will contribute to a hard soap and coconut will contribute to lather, etc.... but the devil is in the details as the old saying goes....and the details are determined by one's skin-type, personal likes/dislikes, and the hardness/softness of one's water, etc... all of which are very individual things. One can only determine what they like best by making several different kinds of recipes, letting them fully cure, trying them out (and taking meticulous notes!), and then tweaking based on the results.

For what it's worth, my usual favorite percentages for the majority of my formulas (depending on the recipe, of course) are 28% to 31% of bubbly oils such as coconut/PKO/Babassu (I think I can hear Susie and some others cringing! lol), 30% to 50% olive oil, 8% to 11.5% castor oil, 8% to 30% butters, 15% to 65% lard/tallow, and about 5% to 8% higher linoleic oils such as rice bran.


IrishLass :)
 

OliveOil2

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SoapCalc will give you a better idea of your soap oil properties. It is interesting to change amounts and see what the effect is. I know the profile that I am aiming for, and their summary helps me to achieve the results that I want. I am sure that you can get help here on using SoapCalc, I know that for me it has been worth the effort to really understand the soap properties. Your question is such a good question, since this is what makes really great soap.
 

Susie

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I am glad you are keeping a notebook. That is very important. It will help guide you down the road. I understand that overwhelming urge to make soap, soap, and more soap. LOL. However, what I would suggest you do is let your soap cure so that you can compare how each soap feels to you. Stop making more soap until you have an idea of what you like and what you don't. The qualities in a soap are not necessarily reflected in those numbers. You need to judge from actual bars of soap what to change or not. No one can tell you your perfect recipe, you have to find it yourself, but it takes time for cure to happen so that you can judge them correctly.

EDIT-Apparently I was typing while others were also. IL's perfect soap is a great example of what works for one person does not work for another.
 

Dahila

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It took me at least two years to decide what soap is the best for my skin:)) I do not have notebook but I put notes on every printout, and keep it in special binder in protectors. The notes are there::))
 

LittleCrazyWolf

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Keep taking notes for each batch. One thing that really drives home the importance of a good cure is to try a bar of new soap and notate how the bar itself feels and looks (sticky, tacky, smooth, hard, silky, etc), how long it took to lather, how much it lathered, how the lather looked and felt (creamy, dense, airy, thin, big bubbles vs little), how it made your skin feel immediately after and 5-10 minutes later. Then try the bar again after a full cure and compare notes.

What the others said is true about recipes being so subjective...my husband loves big fluffy bubbles but my son and I both have dry/sensitive skin (especially my son) so we prefer creamy and gentle. I sometimes make us each our own batches of soap; high coconut for hubby, lil' coconut for me, no coconut for the little man. That's the wonderful thing about being able to make your own soap...you really get to personalize it to suit you and your loved ones.

The link below gives a general guide and starting place that leaves lots of room for customization. You may have already come across this but just in case.

http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/secret-to-the-best-soap-recipe/#comments

I just checked my three favorite recipes and sure enough they are not that far off from 60% hard oils and 40% soft oils.
 

gigisiguenza

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I'm with everyone else regarding notes. I'm very new also and my notes will become my bible. They are already proving their worth as I plan a new soapy experiment.

As to guidelines, I've been relying on some of the sources listed above, as well as suggested tweaks from the very helpful folks here once I think I've got one I like, and using these as my general base for oil usage rates in designing a recipe:

I really like this one because it gives s suggestions for things like to increase lather try these, to increase cleansing increase that, etc
http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/secret-to-the-best-soap-recipe/
http://www.lovinsoap.com/oils-chart/
http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-...-guide-to-soapmaking-common-soapmaking-oils/
 

BeeButter

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Wow! Incredible feedback! Thank you so much! Your knowledge is such a gem in my eyes :)
 

tbeck3579

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Here is another chart that I like and it's downloadable in a .pdf for easier reference/printing.

http://www.naturesgardencandles.com/mas_assets/theme/ngc/pdf/soapoils.pdf

The charts listed above are all good too -- all have a different format but they pretty much say the same things.

I have my favorite oils/butters that I keep in the house, and I always have oils/fats for cooking (crisco, canola, etc.). Same with the water -- different milks and teas to replace the water. When I'm ready I go to soapcalc and start plugging it in. I usually do a spin-off of a reliable recipe.
 

Obsidian

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It really does come down to your skin type and trial & error. When I first started soaping, I was way too dependent on the soapcalc numbers. I figured since I have dry skin, if I had low cleansing and high conditioning, my skin would like it, wrong.

I couldn't figure out why my high olive oil, low coconut oil was drying. I messed with the superfat, kept increasing the olive oil, added butters and other "conditioning" oils. I eventually tried a 100% olive oil soap and found out I'm sensitive to it, high OO dries me right out.

After that, I started using higher amounts of palm but still quite a lot of OO, the soaps were better but still not great. I was to the point I though I might be one of those people who couldn't use CP. Then one day I was out of almost all oils, so I made a 80% lard, 20% coconut and loved it. That when it dawned on me I needed to greatly increase the lard (or palm) and really lower the OO.

Now I have a recipe I love, it works well for most all skin types, has good lather and traces slow if I ever want to do swirls. I like it with 8% SF and at least half the water replaced with aloe juice.

50% lard, palm or tallow (I use lard)
25% olive oil or other conditioning oil like avocado or almond (I use OO)
20% coconut, palm kernel oil or babassu (I use coconut)
5% castor

One thing I wish I would have done as a newbie is create a base recipe with common oils, then messed with butters and more exotic oils. I spend hundreds of dollars on soap that no one really want to use. Its decent but I have much, much better soap made with simple grocery store ingredients.

Now if I want to add in some kind of butter, I can reduce the lard some and replace with the butters. Same with a exotic liquid oil, I can replace some of the OO. That way I still have my base recipe but tweaked a bit to make a "luxury" bar. My coconut and castor amounts always stay the same.
 

tbeck3579

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BTW, many people ignore the can of Crisco in the cupboard. I did when I first started. I came across a few people that swore by it so I tried it. I honestly like it. It makes a creamy, white soap. Obsidian is right about the fancy oils. Save them and use sparingly. Unless you have a ton of money to blow, :shock: then go for it.
 

Obsidian

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I had the exact opposite using crisco. Its what I originally used for my hard oil instead of palm or lard and almost all my soap developed DOS within 6 months to a year and I thought it made a inferior soap. Soy is one oil I absolutely refuse to use in any amount.
I do however use walmarts great value shortening, its a mix of palm & tallow and is a good sub for lard when I run out and its really cheap.

If I had infinite money, I would make some dang expensive soaps...
 

OliveOil2

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My favorite recipe is very similar to Obsidian's, and for me it was a matter of trial and error, I found out that olive oil wasn't that important for the qualities I wanted. I think of SoapCalc as a starting point to see how a recipe works, but as Obsidian said you can get stuck on the numbers, and they should just be a guideline. I have an all vegetable recipe that is nice after a couple of years of tweaking, but I like my lard or tallow recipes much better.
 

gigisiguenza

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I have to say that I'm happy to read that soapcalc numbers aren'tt a hard and fast rule. Several times over the past few weeks I've been told that I shouldn't stress hard over the soapcalc numbers. I thought if you didn't stay within their recommended range on the numbers, you would have horrible or harmful soap, so I did indeed spend quite a bit of time struggling to tweak to get every number within their recommended ranges. It is nice to know it's ok to not hit every one of them and still have really nice soap.
 

OliveOil2

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The one I try to keep in the range is the Iodine, because I don't want to have the soap develop DOS. It wouldn't be harmful soap, or horrible soap, just an indicator that your soap will be more prone to DOS. Some oils like hemp, rice bran, etc make that number go up pretty quick. But I just reduce the amount of those oils. I have made soap with both those oils and they are fine two years later.
 

LittleCrazyWolf

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I was the same way Gigi. I spent hours plugging in different oil combinations. I put so much pressure on myself to find "the perfect" recipe. I eventually learned (from lurking here) that the numbers can't possibly give the whole picture. It's a huge relief to not be so dependent on those numbers. They are nice as a tool but they aren't etched in stone.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I would also suggest reading back through this site on any thread that mentions recipes and feedback - you'll see a lot of trends but also the important 'why?' - why do we tend to use certain ratios? Why is a high oo soap different than a high lard one? It'll take some reading, but you'll get a good foundation in recipe formulation
 

LittleCrazyWolf

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OliveOil, I read on SwiftCraftyMonkey's site that rice bran is considered a great anti-oxidant with a one year shelf life because it has high levels of vitamin E and ferulic acid.
 

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