Quantcast

Need help with my Shea Butter CP Soap ph is too high

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

Amber123

Active Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
42
Reaction score
16
Hi I made a batch of CP soap using a recipe from Anne Watson's book and I tested my ph after 12 hours then again after 24 hours and the ph is high (ranging 12-14-dark purple). I tested some other soaps and random things (my skin and other soaps) with the strips and the ph strips are definitely working. I emailed Anne and she says to test again in a week but I was wondering if the PH doesn't go down will I be able to rebatch the soap? Also any suggestions on how this happened? When I mixed the soap the lye water was at 114 degrees and the oils were at 123 degrees. Could this be the issue? Another question I have is if I put the soap outside in the sun for the day could that help the issue?

Any tips and advice are appreciated!

Thank you!

Amber
 

Amber123

Active Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
42
Reaction score
16
Here is the recipe

10.5 oz (298 g) coconut oil
10.5 oz (298 g) olive oil
9 oz (255 g) shea butter
8 oz (227 g) distilled water
4.2 oz (119 g) lye

I didn't test it with my tounge..lol..I'm kinda scared to do that but I keep touching it with my fingers and it doesn't hurt me. I did rub some of the soap on my finger then on my tounge and it didn't zap me.
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,988
Location
So Cal
I did rub some of the soap on my finger then on my tounge and it didn't zap me.
Then you did zap test and it did not zap you and that means that theres no free lye in it :)

Personally I would trust the zap test a LOT more than pH strips.

To pH test did you use test strips approved for this purpose? They are notoriously unreliable in anything but fresh water - for instance they don't work for salt water testing. Thats one reason I don't trust them - soaps are salts of fatty acids, does that mess them up somehow? Did you do the recommended dilution of the soap (I can't remember - is it 1 gram dissolved in 100 ml of water?) before testing?

From what I've read, its not the pH that should be tested on soaps, but the alkalinity. Which is a whole different process.

I say - if it doesn't zap (meaning there is no free lye) and you have cured it at least 4-6 weeks, theres no pockets of any suspicious anything, and it feels good on your hands when you test a scrap, its good :)
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,988
Location
So Cal
I zap test all the time, but I just wet a finger, rub it on my soap and dab it on my tongue.

Im not really into "french kissing" my soap, as a certain gentleman here once described it :p But feel free to do it yourself - its a great convincer. Theres a sticky about it with handy pictures on the top of this sub forum.
 

IrishLass

Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Feb 11, 2008
Messages
17,139
Reaction score
10,909
Location
Right here, silly!
Welcome Amber! :)

I wouldn't trust those. Seawolf is correct about the salt and surfactant nature of soap interfering with the indicator chemicals on pH strips. It can throw your results off by as much as 2-3 units according to this excellent article: [URL]http://www.millersoap.com/phtome.html[/URL]

The zap test to detect lye-heaviness is really all you need, if you ask me (and countless others) ,but for anyone that wants to go the route of pH strips, the absolute best and most closest to accurate pH strips to use for lye-based soap are these lab-quality plastic strips: http://www.lotioncrafter.com/ph-fix-indicator-strips.html

And to use them correctly, you'll need to make a 1% solution (by weight) by dissolving 1 gram of soap in 100g distilled water, and then sticking the strip in that for about 30 seconds to a minute to get your reading.


HTH!
IrishLass :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Candybee

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
630
Reaction score
345
Location
Shenandoah Valley, VA
You mentioned you tested your soap after 12 hours? then again at 24 hours? Did you CP? Or did you oven process? This will make a huge difference in your results. A cp soap may take several days to finish saponifying. So the soap can zap at this point until it is fully saponified after a few days.

If you used a heat source, oven, crock pot, stove, to cook the soap then you should have saponified soap when you finished the cook no zap because there should not be any lye left.
 

Hazel

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
12,667
Reaction score
1,764
Location
Ohio
I just wanted to add soap will have a higher pH because of its alkalinity. Someone mentioned on this forum *cough* IrishLass *cough* that the pH normally ranges between 9.5 to 10.5. You could also view Ann P's test results for pH in handmade soap. http://www.millersoap.com/phtome.html

I agree with Seawolfe - I'd trust a zap test to tell me if I had active lye in the soap or if it was lye heavy. I don't worry about pH of my soap. Just my opinion, the soap is good as long as it doesn't zap me. Of course, good depends on my recipe - not all of the recipes made "good" soaps. :oops:

Also, soap will become a little milder during the cure.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,170
Reaction score
18,539
Location
Northeast Iowa, USA
Here's some published pH measurements of commercial brands of soap that might be helpful. You'll see anywhere from 9.5 to over 12, with most products falling in the 10-11 range.

The last one -- the Walton feed one in pink -- is from a now-dead website. It mentions Dove as being a "soap", but Dove is a syndet (synthetic detergent) bar, not soap, and that is why its pH is around 7. It really shouldn't be on that list.

Baranda soap irritation vs pH.jpg

Dunn K Sci Soapmaking Table 13-1.jpg

Walton Feed soap pH.jpg
 

KristaY

Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2014
Messages
2,576
Reaction score
1,954
Location
Arizona, USA
DeeAnna - If I understood you correctly, you explained the Andalusian Castile Lye Heavy recipe would become safe given patience and plenty of time. I read your amazingly detailed and fascinating chemisty explanation on this thread from Feb 2014:

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=42922&page=2

So if we end up with a lye heavy batch, will it eventually be safe to use? Are we now putting too much emphasis on zap results after only a couple of days cure?
 

Bex1982

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2014
Messages
289
Reaction score
112
Location
Coast of Washington
Yep, I read that too. I think unless we want to rebatch right away to get a soap we can use quicker (but might look fugly) , we can just let it cure longer and keep checking it. As long as we keep it open to air, I think that was the trick.
 

KristaY

Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2014
Messages
2,576
Reaction score
1,954
Location
Arizona, USA
Yep, I read that too. I think unless we want to rebatch right away to get a soap we can use quicker (but might look fugly) , we can just let it cure longer and keep checking it. As long as we keep it open to air, I think that was the trick.
Fugly. Love that. :razz: I really want to name one of my disasters this one day. Guess I'd have to find the right market for it. :crazy:
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
8,980
Reaction score
9,054
Location
Austria
.............So if we end up with a lye heavy batch, will it eventually be safe to use? Are we now putting too much emphasis on zap results after only a couple of days cure?
I'm not DeeAnna (I have no superhero cape) but I think one thing that helps in the super-lye-heavy Castile is the amount of water - there is a lot of water moving to the outside of the soap, taking lye with it to become soda ash, leaving a usable soap.

If there isn't enough water, I imagine you could still end up with a lye heavy soap, if it was lye heavy enough to start off with.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,170
Reaction score
18,539
Location
Northeast Iowa, USA
"...So if we end up with a lye heavy batch, will it eventually be safe to use? Are we now putting too much emphasis on zap results after only a couple of days cure?..."

In my opinion the answer is "yes" to both questions, it will be, but this is just my opinion, not established fact. So take this with a big grain of salt (uh, soap), please!

(A stage whisper to The Gent ... I'm basing this opinion on results from soap made with a "normal" recipe as well as Anna Marie's lye-heavy castile recipe with lots of extra water.)

I spoke with Kevin Dunn who wrote the Scientific Soapmaking book about this. He confirmed in our email conversation that regular soap bars he has tested with up to 5% excess lye have done the same thing -- the excess alkalinity (too much lye) in these bars gradually drops to zero with time. There's a brief write-up about Dunn's experiment in his Scientific Soapmaking book in his chapter on alkalinity testing -- see Example 15-1, pg 250.

A 5% lye excess would be pretty seriously irritating to the skin to the point one would not want to use it in the bath, so this is an intriguing finding. Most people would rebatch a soap like this, but simple time and patience might be an alternate treatment.

Dunn only tested twice -- right after making the soap and after 11 weeks of cure, so that doesn't tell us precisely how long is long enough. The only thing that we know is it took at least 11 weeks for his "normal" soaps to drop to an acceptable alkalinity. That said, I'd say it took roughly that much time for my two batches of super-lye soap to become zap free and mild to the skin during hand washing tests at the sink. But I didn't do alkalinity testing -- just zap and hand washing.

Dunn and I speculated on what was causing the drop in alkalinity.

One thing that The Gent mentioned is that water, as it evaporates from the bar, will transport excess lye to the surface of the soap. When the lye reaches the surface, it will react with carbon dioxide in the air to make soda ash. Many of the super-lye soaps do show a LOT of ash formation, so I'm pretty sure this is one way the lye becomes neutralized.

But my trusty calculator tells me that soda ash formation alone might not be the whole answer. The ash should be really, really thick on my super-lye soaps if ash formation is the only way the excess lye is being neutralized. Dunn and I talked about ways to test what is going on; I need to set these tests up and get them going. (Summer activities have interfered with investigations into soap chemistry!)

I want to add a caution -- I'm talking about otherwise well-made bars here -- not ones that have separated, are weeping weird fluids, or otherwise do not appear to be properly made. I'd rebatch if it looks like the soap has more issues than just being somewhat lye heavy.
 

Amber123

Active Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
42
Reaction score
16
Update on my PH levels

It was cold pressed (answering one of the questions in the reply). I still haven't cut the bar for fear it will not be usable but at soon as I got home last night I licked my soap and it didn't zap me..then this morning I tested the ph strips again and its showing a dark green (ranging about a 9)! I'm so excited..so the ph is def going down and I think I'll cut it now and let it cure. I LOVE this forum! You guys are all so helpful and a great resource! :thumbup:
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,170
Reaction score
18,539
Location
Northeast Iowa, USA
"...The glycerin and baby soaps have the highest ph..."

Yeah. Go figure. I thought that was unusual too.

The "irritation index" in that particular list is based on skin patch tests done on sensitive individuals. According to the authors of that paper, most people are not bothered by soaps with a high skin irritation index, but for folks who are sensitive, any soap with an index over about 3.25 will probably be too harsh.

The authors also found a strong correlation (p<0.006) between skin irritation in sensitive people and the pH of the soap. The higher the pH, the higher likelihood of irritation. What's interesting to me is handcrafted soaps have about the same pH range as these commercial soaps, but my experience and what others say shows that most handcrafted soaps don't seem to be as irritating or drying as commercial soaps. Unfortunately, that's just an opinion -- objective research on handcrafted soaps is sorely lacking.

I make a lower superfat soap than most people, and my soaps are mild to the skin, so I'm also of the opinion that it's not entirely superfat that makes the difference. (Most commercial soaps made today have 0-1% superfat, just so's you know.) But I know plenty of soapers feel otherwise, and that's fine. Intelligent discussions about the finer points of soap and soaping are part of what makes soaping so interesting to me. :)
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,988
Location
So Cal
It was cold pressed (answering one of the questions in the reply). I still haven't cut the bar for fear it will not be usable but at soon as I got home last night I licked my soap and it didn't zap me..then this morning I tested the ph strips again and its showing a dark green (ranging about a 9)! I'm so excited..so the ph is def going down and I think I'll cut it now and let it cure. I LOVE this forum! You guys are all so helpful and a great resource! :thumbup:
Given that:
1) the pH test strips you are using are incredibly unreliable (from both their type and the reviews at Amazon)
2) unless your pH test strips are made to deal with soap they are useless for testing soap according to this awesome link: http://www.millersoap.com/phtome.html
I don't know that I would accept any pH reading from the strips that you are using.
 
Top