My Creamy Cocoa/Shea GLS Tutorial

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Feb 11, 2008
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Right here, silly!
My Creamy Cocoa/Shea GLS Tutorial

Recipe to make 1lb. of paste, super-fatted @ 3% on Summerbee Meadow's Advanced Lye Calculator, with a 3:1 water to lye ratio (aka 25% lye concentration):

35% coconut oil (76 degree-type)........... 5.6oz/159g
30% castor oil...................................... 4.8oz/136g
20% cocoa butter................................. 3.2oz/91g
10% olive oil........................................ 1.6oz/45g
5% shea butter.................................... .8oz/22.6g
KOH................................................... 3.47oz/98g
Glycerin............................................... 10.4oz/295g

NOTE: This tutorial assumes that you have made soap before and are familiar with all the normal safety precautions when working with lye. If you have not made soap before, please research lye safety precautions before proceeding.

Step 1- weighing/prep (takes about 15 to 20 minutes):

A. Weigh out your hard fats into at least a 3qt. to 4 qt. stainless, stove-top safe pot or bowl. Set aside.

B. Weigh out your liquid oils into a measuring cup. Set aside.

C. In a separate measuring cup, weigh out your glycerin. Set aside.

D. Very important: With goggles and gloves on, and wearing facial protection of some sort over your nose and mouth in order to avoid breathing in any dry lye dust/particles (I myself use 3 cotton diapers folded over on themselves for this purpose), weigh out your KOH into a stainless steel pot that can hold at least 2 quarts. Set aside, covered over tightly with plastic wrap (lye is very hygroscopic, so it’s best to keep it covered in order to keep it dry while you set it aside to do other things).

Step 2- melting, mixing, heating, saponifying:

A. Melt your hard fats on a stovetop burner set on low to med-low heat. Once melted, add your liquid oils to them, turn off the heat, then cover the pot as you prepare the KOH/glycerin solution....

[Note: The below method that I spell out for dissolving the KOH is the traditional 'Pharmacist's Method' of dissolving KOH for this kind of soap, which I have always used with good success. For an easier, less intimidating alternative to the Pharmacist's Method, please click here, otherwise, continue on.]

B. Put your goggles and gloves on (if they aren’t still on from having weighed the KOH) and have your nose/mouth protection handy, because it’s time to make the KOH/glycerin solution. First, turn on your stove’s overhead exhaust fan. Then, with goggles and gloves on, pour the glycerin into the pot containing the KOH:


C. Next, place the pot on a stovetop burner set to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil while wearing a mask or holding a layer of cotton cloths over your mouth and nose with one hand, while stirring the boiling mixture with a stainless steel spoon with your other hand. Below: starting to heat. See it beginning to turn white? This is normal. Keep heating/stirring:


If at any time during the dissolving process it looks like the mixture is going to boil over, just remove the pot from the burner until things mellow out, then place it back on the heat and resume boiling/dissolving/stirring.

As the solution continues to boil and more of the KOH dissolves, you will see it gradually become less white and more clear. In order to more easily monitor the progress of the solution’s ever-increasing clarity as it is boiling, just remove the pot from the heat periodically and allow the boiling solution to settle for a few moments.

It normally takes about 8 to 12 minutes or so of continued boiling/stirring for my KOH to completely dissolve, which will be evidenced by the total clarity of the finished solution:

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Before proceeding to the next step, double-check the solution very carefully for any un-dissolved bits of lye. If you happen to see any hangers-on in your otherwise crystal-clear solution, just place the pot back on the heat and mash the KOH pieces against the side of the pot with the back of your spoon until they are completely dissolved.

D. When you have made sure all of the KOH has been dissolved, pour the hot KOH/glycerin solution into the pot of melted oils/fats, scraping out every last drop of the KOH/Glycerin with a silicone or rubber spatula. Be very careful when pouring so as not to splash any of the extremely hot/caustic mixture upon yourself.

E. Once all the solution has been poured/scraped in, start whisking the mixture (off heat) with a stainless steel whisk. Some people like to use a stickblender for this part because it speeds up saponification, which is fine if you have a stainless steel shaft on your stickblender. However, if your stickblender has a plastic shaft it's best to use a stainless whisk instead due to the exteme heat of the mixture at this stage, which is hot enough to melt certain grades of plastic. Although saponification will happen at a slower pace with a whisk, the mixture will still saponify perfectly fine all the same.

Starting to whisk:

F. As you whisk or as you stick-blend, the soap will go through certain stages, from clear amber and/or to milky opaque, and with bubbles starting to form on the surface, etc... Don't worry- this is all normal. Just keep on whisking/stickblending. The time that I personally stop whisking/stickblending is the moment I see tiny bubbles flying/floating up in the air around the pot or around my head. Some people call this the 'Flying Bubble Stage', but I like calling it the "Laurence Welk Stage" lol.

Although the camera doesn't show it in the pictures below, my soap had reached the Laurence Welk/FlyingBubble stage and there were very tiny bubbles flying all around my head:


It normally takes all of 10 to 12 minutes or so from the time I start whisking until the time I reach the Laurence Welk/Flying Bubble stage (or about 6 minutes with the stick-blender). The flying bubbles indicate that the mixture has completed the first stage of saponification. Technically/chemically speaking, it has now become soap, but it is quite harsh/crude soap at this point and not ready to use yet.

Before I go on, I need to stop and make mention right here that although the flying bubbles are a fun visual indicator that the mixture has officially completed the first stage of saponification and that you can stop whisking, there are some people who have never witnessed the flying bubble stage....and that's okay, especially since the bubbles can oftentimes be very tiny and hard to spot. If you end up in the camp of those who have never witnessed the flying bubbles, don't despair. Instead, let the surface of the soap in your pot be your guide: if you see that you have a goodly layer of bubbles covering over the surface of your batter in the pot (like what you see in my pic above) then that's good enough and you can stop whisking or stickblending and proceed to the next step...

G. Cover the pot and then leave it on its own (still off heat) to continue saponifying along to the ‘Paste Stage’. Don't worry that it's still very liquidy at this stage. This is normal. No need to cook it (I never do). It normally takes 6 hours for this formula to become paste for me on its own. The tell-tale sign that the paste stage has been reached is when you notice that the formerly liquid mixture has solidified to form a firm, but scoopable, sticky/taffy-like paste. Pictured below is what my paste stage looks like. Underneath that thin layer of dried bubbles lies firm/dense, taffy-like goodness. I scooped some out for you to see:


H. Once the paste-stage has been reached, it’s time to test it for the presense of any unreacted lye. This can be done very simply via the the tongue test, also known as the ‘Zap Test’, which is a reliable, time-honored, accurate, and easily applied test that soap makers have employed for hundreds of years . The results are immediate, and it doesn’t take any special equipment to conduct. To conduct the test, simply take a small portion of the paste and rub it between your gloved fingers under some running water to work up a small bit of lather. Next, touch the lather to the very tip of your tongue. Don't lick the lather or eat it or rub it all around your tongue or anything like that. Just simply touch it gently to the very tip of your tongue. If there is unreacted lye in the paste, it will reveal its presense by causing an immediate ‘zap’, or a stinging/burning sensation on the tip of your tongue. If you are unsure whether you felt a zap or not, then you can be sure that you did not. Zap is immediate and unmistakable, and won't leave you guessing. When done, do a quick swish and spit with water to rinse your tongue off if you feel the need to do so.

I. Normally, my paste usually checks out negative for unreacted lye by this time (and will taste sweet because of the glycerin), but if it zaps you, just let it sit (covered) for a little longer and then test again. Sometimes it just needs more time for the chemical reaction of saponification to reach completion, which is not out of the ordinary, by the way, so no need to worry.

Repeat the ‘zap test’ as often as needed every hour or so until it tests out negative (or you could leave it alone to sit overnight and just check it once in the morning when its surely bound to be negative). Once it tests out negative for unreacted lye, it’s time to proceed to the next stage- ‘Dilution’, where we transform the firm, taffy-like paste into creamy, bubbly, liquid soap by heating the paste with water and other goodies.

If for whatever reason you don’t have time to dilute your paste right away, no worries- you can store the paste in a ZipLoc bag in the fridge until a later time. No need to rush- it will wait for you patiently, even if it takes several months for you to finally get around to it (I should know, because it sometimes has taken me that long to get around to it! lol).

To be continued shortly........
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Step 3- Dilution Rates/Percentages

Now we come to the hardest part of liquid soap-making- determining dilution rates.

Each liquid soap formula will have its own dilution rate based on the particular oils/fats used in the formula, and also one’s preference for thin or thick liquid soap. I wish there was a ‘one-size-fits-all’ dilution rate for all formulas, with the added ability to satisfy everyone's preferences, but alas, there is no such thing.

The only way to determine the dilution rate for one’s particular formula is by good old-fashioned trial and error, and by making sure to take and keep meticulous notes (very important). Once you have reached a dilution you are happy with, and you were careful enough to have written down the amounts of each of the ingredients that brought you there, the rest should proceed more smoothly without too much (if any) further tinkering needing to be done later on to fine-tune the finished soap.

My own preferences for this particular formula are that the finished soap turn out to be low on the drying/skin-stripping aspect; rich and creamy in feel, but also be able to exhibit a lovely amount of the fluffy-type bubbles; be as thick as pourable honey; be opaque; and lastly, to exhibit a bit of a pearly sheen (gee- I don't want much, do I? :lol: ). Believe it or not, my ingredients/dilution rate meet each of those goals splendidly.

For what it's worth, when all is said and done, my finished, diluted soap has a total superfat of 7.1%

First, here are the dilution ingredients I use for this formula:

-Distilled Water
-Sodium Lactate in 60% solution (helps to dissolve the paste in a more timely manner)
-Tetrasodium EDTA in 39% solution (helps with my hard water issues)
-Stearic Acid (adds to the super-fat, and contributes greatly to the creamy/opaque/pearly aspect)
-Polysorbate 80 (solubizes my extra super-fat ingredients (as well as my FO), and keeps them from separating out of my finished soap)

and also

-Meadowfoam Seed Oil - which I add to the finished soap post-dilution (along with some PS80) for an extra super-fat. I chose to use Meadowfoam Seed Oil because it's very high in anti-oxidants and is resistant to spoiling......and because I like the way it feels on my skin.

My Dilution Rates:

To figure my dilution rates, I utilize a calculating technique called "Baker's Percentage", of which I'm in the habit of using in all my bread-making endeavours. I also like to use it for liquid soap-making, because it makes things easier for me when it comes to scaling the size of my dilutions up or down according to however much paste I feel like diluting at any given time.

The way in which things work with Baker's Percentage is that the weight of the flour in every successful bread recipe is represented as 100%, and all the other ingredients in the recipe are expressed as individual percentages of the flour's weight, which means that no matter how big you scale up or or how small you scale down, as long as you use the same exact ratio in percentages of ingredients as per whatever the weight of the flour, your bread will come out consistent.

The reason why bakers represent the weight of the flour as 100% is because it is the largest ingredient in every bread recipe, and upon which all the other ingredients hang- especially liquid ingredients, as the amounts of those in relation to the flour are extremely crucial to the consistency of the final outcome. As it is is with bread, so it is with liquid soap dilutions- only instead of flour, I represent my paste weight as 100%, and I express all the rest of my ingredients as individual percentages of whatever paste weight I decide to dilute.

Below is my "Baker's Percentage" dilution rate for this particular formula. No matter how much or how little paste you ever feel like diluting, use the same percentages listed below for each of the ingredients as per whatever your paste's weight might be:

-100% Paste
-41.3% Distilled Water [NOTE: If using the easier method of dissolving the KOH, use 31% distilled water instead]
-3% Sodium Lactate in 60% solution
-3% Stearic Acid
-1.96% Tetrasodium EDTA in 39% solution
-.15% Polysorbate 80

[Edited to Note: Although you can dilute this soap without the sodium lactate and/or the Tetrasodium EDTA, please note that they are in solution form, which means that their water amounts are a part of what makes up the honey-like finished consistency of the diluted soap. If you choose to leave them out, you'll have to increase the distilled water percentage.]

For a hypothetical example, let’s say that I want to dilute 16 oz/454 grams of paste. How do I figure out how much of each of the other ingredients to weigh out in relation to the paste? Well, let’s start with the water, which is 41.3% of my paste weight:

First I divide 41.3% by 100 to give me the decimal amount, which is .413. Next, I multiply .413 by 16 oz (or 454 grams) paste, which results in 6.6 oz. (or 187 grams) of water needed to be weighed out for my dilution.

Then I continue on down the line in the same manner with the % of each of the remaining ingredients in order to obtain their individual weight amounts:

-60% Sodium Lactate Solution: 3% divided by 100 = .03. So, .03 x 16 oz (or 454 grams) = .48 oz (or 13.62 grams) sodium lactate solution to weigh out.
-39% Solution of Tetrasodium EDTA: 1.96% divided by 100 = .0196. So, .0196 x 16 oz (or 454 grams) = .3136 oz (8.89 grams) EDTA Solution to weigh out.
-Stearic Acid: 3% divided by 100 = .03. So, .03 x 16 oz (or 454 grams) = .48 oz (or 13.62 grams) stearic acid to weigh out.
-Polysorbate 80: .15% divided by 100 = .0015. So, .0015 x 16 oz (or 454 grams) = .024 oz (or .681 grams) polysorbate 80 to weigh out.

.....Later on, after the dilution has been made and is completely finished, I then add in an extra 2.052% super-fat in the form of Meadowfoam Seed Oil as per the weight of the actual finished soap (which, for what it's worth, is 3% of the actual weight of the paste). Once the Meadowfoam Seed Oil super-fat has been weighed out, I take its weight and I multiply it by 3% in oder to figure out how much PS80 to combine with the Meadowfoam before stirring the mixture into my diluted soap. You can add more PS80 if you need to, but 3% of my meadowfoam amount is usually all I need in order to solubize it.

And as far as FO goes, I usually only ever need to use about 1% max FO as per the weight of my finished soap to get a good scent strength (oftentimes less than that), solubized with an equal amount of PS80.

Next I'll take you step by step through a diluting session. Stay tuned......
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Step 4- Let’s Dilute!:

I like to dilute my glycerin liquid soap in canning jars. Some people dilute in crock pots or double boilers, etc.. but I like the canning jar method because it keeps things nicely contained and helps to prevent evaporation. I learned the method from 3bees~1flower over at the Dish forum and it works wonderfully for me and my small batches.

Tools needed for the canning jar method:

1) A soup or canning pot large enough for your canning jar and filled with enough water to come up the sides of the canning jar so that it (the water) reaches to about 1/2” above the jar contents.
2) A small, round metal cake cooling rack or other similar flat, stable, heat-proof implement that can sit on the inside bottom of your pot so that the canning jar is not sitting directly on the bottom of the pot.
3) A never-before-been-used (wide-mouth) canning jar of appropriate size (and its matching cover) as is befitting the size of your desired dilution.
4) A stick-blender. A plastic one is fine for the diluting stage if you don’t have one with a metal shaft.
5) Rubber or silicone spatulas for scraping/squeegeeing
6) A firm/hard plastic stirring utensil long enough to reach the to the bottom of your canning jar (metal ones should be avoided unless you are very careful to not bang/scrape the sides of the canning jar with them too much).
7) Cotton-lined rubber gloves to protect my hands when handling the hot canning jar.
8 ) A clean dish-towel on which to set the hot jar whenever taking it out of the pot of simmering water so that it is not shocked by the temperature difference.
9) A small pot for heating my dilution water, sodium lactate solution and EDTA solution to boiling.

A. First, I prepare my soup pot. Pictured below is what my pot/rack set-up looks like before adding water. The round rack on the bottom is a cake-cooling rack:


I fill it with enough water, using a dummy canning jar of the same size as my dilution jar as a guide to guestimate how much water I should pour in. Once my desired water level is achieved, I take the jar out of the pot and start heating the water to bring it up to a simmer while I’m weighing out my dilution ingredients.

B. Secondly, I weigh my empty (sanitized) canning jar w/cover and jot the weight down (important for later), then I weigh my stearic acid into the jar, tare my scale, and then weigh my paste into the same jar on top of the stearic acid. I also add my PS80 to the jar at this time. Pictured: 16 oz. chopped up paste .48 oz. stearic and .024 oz. PS80 in a 1 qt. canning jar:


C. Thirdly, I weigh out my distilled water, the sodium lactate solution and the Tetrasodium EDTA solution, and add them together into my small pot and bring the mixture to a boil on medium-high heat. Below: My mixture has come to a boil:


Will shortly be continued next post...........
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D. Fourthly, as soon as the boiling point of the distilled water, SL and EDTA is reached, I then I pour the mixture into my wating jar, tightly cover it, give a little shake, and then place it in my pot of boiling water. Pictured: ready to be placed it into the pot:

In the pot:

Once it's in the pot, I cover the pot, turn the heat down to medium, and then let it boil at a gentle roll for 1 hour, making sure to check on the water level every now and again to make sure it's still above the contents in the jar. If it has fallen too low below that, I just add more piping hot water from the tap to bring it back up, and then resume boiling. Also- every time I go to check the water level, I pick the jar up with gloved hands, give the jar a gentle swirl, and then place it back in the pot of simmering/boiling water to continue heating/diluting. This helps the heat to disperse more evenly amongst the contents.

Note: The purpose of applying heat to the dilution ingredients is to help soften the paste so that it dissolves into liquid soap much quicker and easier than if you were to dilute it ‘cold’. It will actually dilute at room temp (according to 3bees~1flower's experiments over at the Dish), but it will take several days.

Once that hour of boiling is up, I take the jar out of the pot (with gloved hands), carefully set it down on a pot holder or kitchen towel (so that the heat difference won't shock the jar and cause it to break), wipe it down with a cloth, then carefully open the jar up and stir the contents with a spatula. I have a long, firm, plastic spatula that I like to use for this task.

Normally by this time, the stearic acid has completely melted, and the jar contents have turned into a dual mixture of clear, amber-colored liquid (diluted soap), and undissolved globs of paste:

Next, I smash some of the globs against the inside of jar in order to check and see how firm or soft they have become. If they are soft like jelly, I squeegee the soap off my spatula back into the jar and then I take my stick blender to the contents in order to break the globs up so that they will dissolve into liquid soap even quicker. But if they are still quite hard/firm, I squeegee the soap back into the jar, cover it back up, and let it cook more, re-checking at 20-minute intervals or so until soft enough. It's extremely rare that the globs are still too hard after that initial hour of boiling. Usually they are soft enough at that time to take my stickblender to them.

Below- stick-blending the softened jar contents. You’ll find that only a few intermittent pulses of the stick blender are all it takes to break up the softened globs:

As you can see, stick blending will turn the contents into an opaque ivory color. Don't get too excited just yet, though- this only temporary for the time being. The soap is not actually quite finished yet.

Once done stick-blending, squeegee the soap off the stick blender with a spatula back into the jar, re-cover, then place the jar back into the pot of water (with the burner turned off from here on out) to let the agitated contents of the jar settle in the warmth of the water in the pot. For what it's worth, I cover the pot with its cover while the jar contents are settling.

Stay tuned for next post..........
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After about 30 minutes or so of sitting in the warm pot, this is what the contents now look like- a jar of amber ale with a little bit of a foamy head, which is just what I actually want it to look like at this time:


Next, I just set the jar on a pot holder on my counter and leave it alone to cool down (oftentimes I just let it sit overnight). If you are awake as it cools down on its own over the next hours, you'll see the foamy head thinning out and gradually getting scantier and wispier. Sometimes (if I'm awake), I help things along by spraying at the foamy head with a spritz or 2 of alcohol every once in awhile, which helps to knock some of it down. If you do this, though- don't go overboard or it may thin the soap out beyond what you'd like. Just a spritz or 2 once every so often is plenty enough. Then just leave it alone to continue getting scantier on its own. Make sure to re-cover the jar when done spraying.

This is what my soap usually looks like anywhere from 7 to 12 hours later:


I want to take a momentary time-out right here to talk about 'blobbiness', because sometimes (mostly during the time you're still trying to figure out a good dilution rate for your formula) you'll get what looks to be a layer of thick, stubborn foam on the surface of the soap in the jar that just won't dissipate after a day of sitting on the counter, but in actuality the 'foam' is really a little layer of foam with a blob of undissolved soap lurking underneath it.

If you notice that your foam is taking much more than 12 hours to dissipate into mere wisps, open the jar and gently poke at the surface with a chopstick to see if that stubborn layer is hiding a blob.

If you encounter resistance, you can be sure that your soap has developed a blob, but no worries, though- what you've encountered is nothing more than a bit of undissolved soap. Having a blob is not the end of the world- it just means that there wasn't enough water in your dilution fluid to dissolve all the soap to the extent that it stays in dissolved suspension when the soap is at room temp.

All you have to do is add a little bit more distilled water to the jar and warm it in a pot of simmering water again (I suggest to only add as little as 1/2 mL of water at a time- you'd be surprised at how much just a little amount of water will do). Alternatively, you could leave the jar on the counter instead in order to let the extra water dissolve the blob, but the added warmth from letting it sit in a simmering pot of water will help speed things up in a more timely fashion.

By the way- you'll need to let it cool down again before re-checking to see if the amount of water you added was enough to keep the blob in dissolved suspension.

Blobs are an annoying happenstance (so annoying that some people just remove the blob and toss it out), but be of good cheer- it's been awhile since I've encountered a blob with this soap formula. The last time was when I was still in the throes of figuring out my dilution rate, but ever since I've been using the dilution rate mentioned in this turorial, I've happily been 100% blob-free. Hopefully you will be, too. Time-out over.

Continued in next post.......
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Moving right along.... Once my soap looks pretty much like the last pic in the above post (although it's perfectly okay if there are still some scanty wisps of foam on top), I let the covered jar of soap sit on the counter on its own to transform itself into its finished opaque creaminess.

It needs no help from me to do this, by the way. It will do this act all on its own, and it will take about 12 to 24 hours to do it. So go about your business, or go to bed if it’s night-time. If you happen to be present and awake, though, this is what the transformation looks like (it's pretty cool to see):




Don't let the ugliness scare you. What you see happening is the stearic doing it's job. It'll look much prettier when all is said and done. I promise.

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Superfat Time!

Once the soap looks like the soap in the last picture in the above post, it's good and ready to be stirred and super-fatted with Meadowfoam Seed Oil/PS80.

To super-fat, I must first figure out the weight of the soap in my jar since I will be super-fatting it as per my finished soap’s weight (which is a 2.052% S/F, btw). Technically, although I could just super-fat it as per the paste's weight of my dilution (which as was stated in post #1 turns out to be 3% of the paste's weight), I rather like to figure it as per the finished soap's weight at the end, because I never know how much of the soap may have been left behind when I opened the jar to stir or stick-blend during dilution.

To figure out how much soap is in my jar without having to pour it out, I first weigh the covered jar of soap on my scale, and then I subtract from it the weight of the empty jar w/cover that I had jotted down earlier at the very beginning.

Once I have figured out how much soap I have, I multiply it by 2.053% to come up with the weight of Meadowfoam super-fat to add. Then I multiply the Meadowfoam's weight by 3% to calculate how much PS80 to mix with it in order to solubize it into my soap. You can go higher on the PS80 if you need to, but I've found 3% of the Meadowfoam Seed Oil is all that I need. For what it's worth, I weigh these 2 things out on my small Jenning's scale, which can weigh things accurately in very small increments.

You can use a different super-fatting oil of your choice other than Meadowfoam if you want, but as I stated earlier, I like to use Meadowfoam because it's very high in anti-oxidants and is one of the most (if not the most) shelf-stable of all vegetable oils on the planet, which comes in especially handy for the super-fatting task at hand, since it has not had the benefit of reacting head-on with the full brunt of the lye. If your extra superfatting oil happens to be very fragile, your finished soap might not have as long of a shelf-life as mine seems to have with the Meadowfoam. For what it's worth, my finished, superfatted liquid soap stays lovely for at least over a year. And I don't use preservatives.

Once the oil and PS80 have been calculated, weighed out and mixed together, I then open my jar and stir the mixture into the soap. No heat and no stick-blending is needed for this step. Just stir it right in.

This is what it should look like in the end:



At this point you can either decant some (or all) into a beaker to scent and then package into pump-bottles or squeeze-bottles, or else cover the jar and store at room temp indefinitely until needed.

To scent, I like to add anywhere from .3% to 1% scent as per the weight of my decanted soap. The question of how much fragrance to add depends on the following two factors: 1) the maximum usage rate of the chosen scent as per the manufacturer’s recommendation, and 2) its particular strength (i.e., how strong it smells).

Once the amount of scent has been calculated and weighed out, I then mix it with an equal amount of PS80 before stirring it into the decanted soap (to emulsify). Again- no heat is needed for this part. Just stir in right in, pour the soap into your chosen bottle, and enjoy!

For what it's worth, this is my absolute favorite liquid soap to use...... and my family's, too.
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EDTA is not required in soap, but it does offer some nice benefits. EDTA helps prevent oxidation and rancidity (aka DOS). It also helps to reduce the soap scum that forms when you use lye soap in hard water.

You can also use sodium citrate to do much the same thing. You can either add sodium citrate directly to your soap, or you can make it indirectly by adding citric acid to your soap batter. If you use citric acid, you will need to add a bit of extra lye that the acid will react with. Citric acid + Lye => Sodium citrate.

But in the end, you don't have to use either one in your soap.
Ditto what DeeAnna said. I like to use the EDTA because it helps with my hard water issues. And as an added bonus, tetrasodium EDTA also has the ability to disrupt bacteria to the point that they starve of their food. It doesn't actively kill buggies like a preservative does, mind you, but it puts a bit of a wrench in their digestive systems so that they can't pig-out as much as they normally would. That's why you often see it used in lotion recipes in tandem with Phenonip or other preservatives. It acts as a "preservative booster", weakening the bacteria so that the preservative can go in for a better/easier kill, so to speak.

If you don't end up using the EDTA solution, you might want to do a little tweak to the dilution water amount to compensate, since the EDTA solution contributes to the liquid amount for my dilution rate.

IrishLass :)
Is this going to be a sticky since this seems to be a popular request?

Thank you for asking, Arimara (and Serene). :) Although I truly feel very honored that the request has been made to make this a stickie , the answer is no, this won't be made into a stickie. The reason why is because I've unlocked/opened the thread up for discussion, and we're trying to cut down/eliminate the amount of open/unlocked stickies we have on the forum. I feel it's much better to keep it open for discussion than to keep it locked. Discussion is good. :)

Having said that, though, I will add a link to it on the list of popular links we are collecting on this stickie:

IrishLass :)
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2 questions here. What does the PS80 do? Also I don't have EDTA, I have liquid Germall plus, would that be an ok sub for EDTA? I know I would have to recalculate the amount to use but it certainly stops bacteria growth.
BTW Your soap is gorgeous and Thank You!
*drools* Thanks for this!

Question, could you use the "put in crockpot, heat up, shut off crockpot and leave overnight" dilution I've seen others use with this if you have enough patience? And then just scoop into a sterilized jar?
Hi Dana! Thank you!

RE: PS80" The PS80 acts as a solubizer. In other words, when mixed with the extra super-fats that I add to this formula, it makes it so that they are water-soluble and will mix into my liquid soap without my soap separating into a layer of water and oil. Without it, my soap would end up looking much like a bottle of homemade oil and vinegar dressing, with the fat floating on top.

RE: Germall Plus: Unfortunately, the Germall Plus would not be a good substitute for the EDTA. The Germall is a preservative, while the EDTA is a chelator. The reason why I add the EDTA is for its chelating abilities, i.e., the ability to react with the excess calcium in my hard water, which helps to reduce soap scum, which in turn helps to increase my soap's lathering abilities in my hard water. The fact that it is also able to starve bacteria is just a happy side effect for me. Keep in mind that the EDTA is not a preservative and won't kill bacteria- it'll just weaken them.

IrishLass :)
*drools* Thanks for this!

Question, could you use the "put in crockpot, heat up, shut off crockpot and leave overnight" dilution I've seen others use with this if you have enough patience? And then just scoop into a sterilized jar?

Thanks, nsmar!

I can't say for sure, since I've never tried that method (I don't have a dedicated crockpot), but I don't see why it wouldn't work. If you try it, please post your results! :)

IrishLass :)
*drools* Thanks for this!

Question, could you use the "put in crockpot, heat up, shut off crockpot and leave overnight" dilution I've seen others use with this if you have enough patience? And then just scoop into a sterilized jar?

I would need a 4 qt crockpt to do that. I can only use 16oz of oil for liquid soap at present.