On Purpose and By Accident

Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums

Help Support Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums:

IrishLass

Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Feb 11, 2008
Messages
17,775
Reaction score
11,639
Location
Right here, silly!
Hi Jenny. :)

Just had a look. Regarding bar qualities: If you are asking what are considered to be good bar qualities.... well...all I can say about that is that the more you make soap, the more you will see how such things are very subjective and can differ greatly from person to person since such things are totally depend on individual skin-types and/or personal preferences. With that in mind, 'good qualities' are those with which your own skin is quite happy and content. :)

Regarding smoke points.... it is always good practice to find out the smoke points (and the melting points) of whatever oil/fat you are using in your recipe, and to respect their boundaries when soaping.

Regarding soaping oils such as coconut oil, etc.. turning into a gas (from your blog), hopefully DeeAnna or some of the more technically inclined can elaborate more on that, but if I understand things correctly, I don't believe they actually turn into a gas. The best simplified explanation that I have found (to date) about this subject can be found in the following link (look for the answer marked with a score of '13' next to it by a poster named rumtscho). Basically, (according to rumtscho) once an oil reaches its smoke point, it supposedly breaks up, which in turn prevents it from boiling and turn into a gas: http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/20549/does-oil-evaporate Hopefully, the more technically inclined here can either confirm or deny that.

Regarding FOs and the temperature of your soap batter. You'd be surprised at how resilient many of them are. The trick is finding those that can make it through unscathed and that will stick around for the long haul. Happily, there are much more of them around than you might think. Scent review boards are a soaper's best friend in this regard.

Regarding delaying trace: Since you are making soap via the HP method, 'trace' will accelerate as a matter of course, since that's actually the whole point of doing HP in the first place. :) Basically, by the time you pour an HP batch into it's mold, it will have already gone through trace at a much earlier stage, and should actually be at the 'gelling' point or just beyond when you pour. For reference sake, the stages of soap are as follows: emulsification, light trace, medium trace, heavy trace, then gel stage).

But I think the real question you are trying to ask instead is this, 'What can I do to make my traced and gelled HP less gloppy and more pourable?' Here are a few answers to that:

1) Make sure to use a 'full water' amount when HPing for a smoother pour and also so that the soap doesn't dry out too much when cooking.
2) Use some sodium lactate in your batch. Besides using extra water, SL helps to create a smoother, somewhat jam-like pour (instead of gloppy mashed potatoes).
3) Some people swear by adding a certain amount of sugar and/or powdered goat milk (or other powdered milk) to their batch for a smoother pour.
4) Make sure your soaping pot remains tightly covered when you're not stirring.

Regarding advantages and disadvantages to HP: Take this for what it's worth because I'm a CP girl at heart who only HP's when she has to, but for me the advantages are these:

1) I can soap with an ornery FO that normally gives my CP fits
2) I can use less FO
3) I can add a superfatting oil after the cook when all is tongue-neutral that may have a better chance of remaining somewhat intact.

Disadvantages:

1) It takes more 'hands-on' time for me to HP a batch compared to my CP.
2) My swirling abilities/opportunities are very limited
3) In spite of using sodium lactate (which really does help to get a smoother pour), I still have to work super quick to get it in the mold, because once molten HP soap hits the air, it starts hardening up/solidifying fairly quick.
4) As a result of the quick solidifying, my HP soaps always look more rustic/less smooth or streamlined than my CP.
5) In addition to the rustic appearance, I also get a bit of warping in my cured bars from the extra water evaporating off that was used to help contribute to a smoother pour.

HTH!
IrishLass :)
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
14,026
Reaction score
21,183
Location
USA
Some comments to add to Irish Lass' most excellent words of wisdom --

If you are using regular coconut oil, the melt temperature is about 76 degrees F, not 92 F.

As far as at what temperatures that soaping oils will boil -- this is not going to remotely be an issue under normal conditions of soaping. By the time you reach the boiling point, your oil will have already started break down, smoke, turn color, smell, and all that. This isn't something that's going to happen with normal soaping. If it does happen by accident, it will be really really obvious something is not quite right.

"...I knew that the soap I had to throw away was ruined because I cooked it above 400 degrees. ..."

Okay, this might be one case where it's obvious something is not quite right. I can only think of one possibility where soap could get that hot, and that's if you cooked the soap directly over the stove burner. Most people use a crock pot, hot water bath (bain marie), or oven.

"...I need to mix in my EO and FO mixture when the soap temperature is pretty close to 120 degrees, which means I'm running the risk of having my EO and FO burn off rather than infusing into my soap..."

There is nothing magic about 120 deg F that I'm aware of, so I'm not sure why you are worried about that particular temperature. Just make your HP soap without scent. When it's fully saponified, mix your scent into the soap when the soap is as cool as reasonably possible.

As far as mixing your EOs and FOs in a portion of your soaping fat and expecting the soaping fat to "protect" the fragrance ... that isn't going to happen. The volatility of the EOs and FOs is going to be about the same regardless of what you mix the scent into.

And unless you expose the EOs or FOs to flame or spark, you aren't "burning off" the scent. The scent is evaporating -- this is a totally different process than burning.

Your scent is also not infusing into the soap. Making tea is infusion -- you put tea leaves into water and allow the water to solubilize (dissolve) some of the chemical compounds in the tea leaves. You've got the scent as a final product and you're mixing it directly into the batter, so this is not infusion.

***

Here are some comments I've made in other SMF threads that may be helpful:

...Flash point is the temperature at which a combustible or flammable substance will burn if exposed to a flame (not a spark -- it has to be a flame). The fire may stop if the flame is removed, but the by definition the material will continue to burn as long as it is at or above its flash point temperature and a flame is present. The flash point enters into safety during shipping and storage, because a low flash-point material in a fire can make the fire much worse. That is why there are often hazardous material charges or restrictions on shipping low flash point materials. When the material is mixed with other stuff, like soap for instance -- the flash point of that one ingredient does not apply to the whole.

Flash point can be used as a rough measure of how volatile a flammable/combustible substance is. Bear in mind that not all volatile substances are flammable or combustible, so flash point isn't an absolute measure of volatility. For example, water is not flammable or combustible, but it is volatile (evaporates easily). As another example, common soaping oils are combustible, but they do not evaporate easily at all. Many people use the flash point as the temperature at or below which they can "safely" add fragrance to soap.

I don't pay any attention to that -- the flash point temp in this context is pretty much meaningless. When mixed into the soap, the fragrance won't burn for one thing. For another, one shouldn't be mixing fragrance into soap batter close to open flame. And finally, fragrance, even if it is below its flash point, is still going to evaporate -- the warmer the soap, the faster the evaporation. My goal, whatever the fragrance, is to add it at the coolest temperature I can manage....

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=50083

***

...Some substances do not have a flash point -- they either do not have burnable vapors, or chemically degrade before they reach a flash point, or do not produce any vapor under normal conditions. Things like gasoline, liqueurs, EOs, and FOs do have a flash point. For safety's sake it's wise to keep spark or flame away from these substances if you are working with them near their flash point.

The boiling point is where a liquid stops increasing in temperature in response to added heat energy -- all added energy goes into the boiling process only. Bubbles of vaporized material form within the liquid and rise to the surface at the boiling point. The flash point of a substance may be above the boiling point ... or it may be below. It depends on the flammability of the vapors.

Both properties are obviously related to volatility, but what I'm reading in this thread is that a substance is not volatile -- it will not evaporate -- before the flash or boiling point is reached, and that's just not true.

Long before a substance reaches its flash point or boiling point, a substance is still volatile, meaning it will evaporate. It is just volatilizing without actually boiling or burning. If substances were not volatile before their flash or boiling points, you couldn't smell bread baking, you couldn't watch vapor rise from a hot cup of coffee, and you would not be able to smell the fragrance in soap. Sheets wouldn't dry when hung on a clothesline, clouds in the sky would not exist, bread would never go stale, and your soap would never lose its scent. All of these things relate to the volatility of a substance even though the temperature is well below its boiling and flash points.

Bottom line ... respect the flash point of your EOs and FOs for safety's sake. Add fragrance to your B&B products when they are as cool as possible. Understand that volatility of a fragrance is related to temperature, time, and concentration, as well as the inherent vapor pressure of the chemicals in the fragrance.

Some compounds in an FO or EO have a higher vapor pressure than others and will not last as long. These highly volatile chemicals are the "top notes" in a fragrance. Citrus and many floral scents fall in this category. Some compounds last much longer in a fragrance. These chemicals are less volatile -- they have a lower vapor pressure -- and make up the long lasting "bottom notes". Patchouli, benzoin, frankincense come to mind....

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?p=409116
 
Last edited:

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
14,026
Reaction score
21,183
Location
USA
You're welcome. I am also hoping for the kindness of a more detailed reply when you have a moment. It's kind of a downer to spend a chunk of time replying thoughtfully to a rather complicated inquiry only to be rewarded with a one-line reply. Maybe you're just busy and don't have time to write more at the moment, and I certainly understand that. I will tell you, however, that I'm left wondering whether my reply was totally off base, or perhaps the concerns you have were not fully answered, or possibly that you disagree but don't want to express that, or something. I invite you to share more, please!
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
12,406
Reaction score
12,778
Location
Southern California
I can tell you DeeAnna I always appreciate reading your answers and have learned a lot from you. The more detail you give the more I enjoy reading. Sometimes I wonder if some realize how long it takes to think out and write such in-depth answers.
Oh yes, do try to add fragrance and eo's when the soap is cool enough within reason for hp. I just ended up with a face full of lemongrass and cedarwood because my shave soap was to hot when I dumped in the eo's. LOL, I love those two eo's but not when they billow up in my face. :-D Yes, I do know better...
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
14,026
Reaction score
21,183
Location
USA
I learned that the hard way too, Carolyn. Mine was a CPOP peppermint soap. Wowser -- I really got a faceful of mint when I opened that oven door. Yikes.
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
Messages
1,838
Reaction score
1,341
Location
Florida
I learned that the hard way too, Carolyn. Mine was a CPOP peppermint soap. Wowser -- I really got a faceful of mint when I opened that oven door. Yikes.

Happened to me with eucalyptus. Wow, what an explanation. I love it! I never thought of the vapor pressure effecting the volatility. My brother was talking on the phone to me the other day and expressed that he was shocked at (relatively) the high boiling point of ethanol. I told him that he probably thought it would be lower bc its 1: a volatile compound and 2: has a very low flash point and is very flammable. So I explained flash point vs. Boiling pt. Not in that much detail of course! I think he would've cried! Lol.

DeeAnna, you bring up some fantastic points that I hadn't considered. I was one of those thinking that the flashpoint would be the determination of whether my fragrance would survive in HP. Now that I know better (both from experience and this forum) and I'm less worried about it!

As for safety, I ended up going to the hospital with a friend of mine bc of some essential/flavor oils. We were making candy on the stove for a fundraiser event with the mad scientist club of my university and the molten sugar solution was 350 F. The instructions said to just add the flavor at this point (it was orange oil suspended in another oil). Not very good directions. When my friend did, I guess a small amount of sugar solution landed on the stove, caught fire, ignighted the oils (which were well above their flash point) and burnt his arm. There was a 2 ft tall flame. It happened in my apartment, so I felt responsible and was in the hospital with him and his second degree burns for like 6+ hours until 3 in the morning. He was ok and recovered completely. I respect flash point more than ever now.
 

jenny1271

Active Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2015
Messages
36
Reaction score
9
Location
Raleigh, NC
Thank you so much

DeeAnna and Irish Lass and others who have taken time to respond to my post,

I apologize for my one line reply a couple of hours ago, because I do appreciate now that you mention it what a downer that would be. What happened was that I wrote my blog entry while my kids were at school, but then I went and picked them up, and I just don't have any uninterrupted time to write anything from 12 until they go to bed. So, then, when my husband got home around 7pm and was entertaining the kids for some brief time, I got to read through your responses and I wanted to make short reply, because that was all that my time permitted, but I do realize that's not what you deserve, after you've given such instructive information.

I am realizing that I was using twenty-year-old chemistry memories to try to understand the situation, and basically, what I remember from high school chemistry is not sufficient to help me understand what I'm doing with my soap.

Regarding the essential oils, my experience is that the flash points are helpful in understanding how low the temperature of the soap needs to be before I attempt to add the essential oils. When I have added the essential oils above the flash point, the essential oils have evaporated very quickly, leaving nothing in the soap.

And, my experience has been that when I mix the essential oils with coconut oil, it makes it so the essential oils are more readily mixed into the soap without evaporating or vaporizing away, particularly when the temperature of the soap is close to the flash point of the essential oils.

However, in my essay, I was attempting to explain what I have experienced using extremely limited memories of my chemistry from high school, and while I don't love it when I'm as wrong as I was in the entry, at least it helped to evoke the detailed and incredibly well-versed responses that I got from you guys, which explained everything so well!

Regarding bar qualities, I've found that when I use a soap with cleansing quality of 18 or higher, it makes my skin itch and I immediately have to apply a moisturizer. When I keep the cleansing quality around 12-14, my skin doesn't itch and I don't have to follow up with a moisturizer. Unfortunately, having to keep my soap between 12-14 on the cleansing spectrum really severely limits my ability to make my soap super bubbly and super hard. So, i've been struggling to find a formula that will keep the cleansing power very gentle but also be hard enough and bubbly enough without being way too creamy.

Regarding smoke points, your points are well taken that there is a difference between the smoke point and "when it goes from solid to gas." That is an example of me leaning too heavily on my high school chemistry which is now twenty years old. What happened with the batch I had to throw away was that I was using a souped up crockpot that I could put on "Brown" at a temperature above 400 degrees, and my oils began to smoke before I even got the lye solution ready, and then when I added it, I think it went so fast through the gel phase and it was just gross and crumbly from start to finish. It was done really quickly, but I didn't realize it, so I kept cooking it. I kept the crumbs and actually mushed them together and after testing the soap with a pH strip and getting a neutral reading, I decided it was okay to use it as soap. Eventually, I decided it was making the bathwater too cloudy, so it might not be the best thing to use on my kids. It smelled good, and it felt good, and it floated, but it was ugly as sin, and initially, it was super crumbly, but once I wetted it and mashed the bars, they held together okay and I used them for a while. But, then I threw the rest away.

The "flashpoint" (which I no longer feel I know what it is at this point) of my fragrance oil was 200 degrees F. The "flashpoint" of the essential oils in my blend was 136 (Tea Tree), 139 (Frank), and 120 (Lemon), so I was trying to add everything together at a temperature below 120.

I was wondering, and I'm still wondering, assuming I've already gone through trace and the gel phase, etc., if the soap gets below the melting point of one of the underlying hard oils, will it basically become a solid? I'm gathering from how you guys are describing it, that the answer is no. The chemical process has changed the nature of the substance sufficiently that the melting point of one of the oils I used is no longer even relevant to what I should expect the soap to do at various temperatures after saponification has basically run its course. Good to know. So, when the soap starts getting stiffer and stiffer, I guess that is just that it is beginning to dry out, essentially.

For now, I'm kind of giving up on hot process (because of the disadvantages you guys have noted), and I'm going back to cold process until I can get to a point where I've done that successfully for a while and then I may return to hot process every once in a while.

So, fundamentally, your willingness to engage with me and explain things in language that I can understand has been immensely immensely helpful. Thank you so much. I hope you believe me when I say that I did not intend to offend in any way by making a short quick reply. My time is not my own anymore, and I miss the days when I could write as much as I wanted, and I could take the time I needed to finish thoughts and complete tasks. Now, as often as not, I'm trying to complete a thought while a toddler is demanding I give her the undivided attention that I might otherwise have given to my writing or to my clients or to my soap. As my kids get older (they're 2 and 4 right now), their increasing independence will bring me increasing independence, and it is my hope that I will have built up a business around my soaps so that I can keep focusing on the world of soap, rather than having to go back to practicing law.

Thank you again for taking time to read my thoughts and to help me get on the right track for purposes of understanding how soapmaking works. You've helped me so much, and I am sincerely appreciative.
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
Messages
1,838
Reaction score
1,341
Location
Florida
I love your response and I can see where things get busy. You're right about the chemical reaction now changing the oils to where they no longer have the properties of the original ingredients. It is as you said "no longer even relevant". There may be some correlation with the oils that make hard bars (palm, lard tallow) getting harder in the crock pot faster but I'm not sure of that.

ETA: I also used to be in the same boat as you thinking that the flash point would determine whether my scent would stick. A lot of times I will notice that if I go well above the flash point, top notes will subside. But even for high flash point oils sometimes there is enough heat below the flash point that it will cause much of the fragrance to dissipate. This is where I began to believe that flashpoint has less to do with fragrance sticking than I originally thought.
 
Last edited:

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
14,026
Reaction score
21,183
Location
USA
I completely understand all about a busy life, Jenny. I hesitated to say anything, because I realize there could be many reasons for your brief reply. In the end, I chose to share my point of view while trying to be respectful of yours. Thank you for your thoughtful followup!

***

"...I was wondering, and I'm still wondering, assuming I've already gone through trace and the gel phase, etc., if the soap gets below the melting point of one of the underlying hard oils, will it basically become a solid? I'm gathering from how you guys are describing it, that the answer is no...."

You're pretty much correct, Jenny -- there's not a strong connection between the fats used to make soap and the soap itself.

Even college undergrad chem classes don't cover the chemistry of colloidal materials like soap, so your high school chemistry is unfortunately not going to be too helpful. What seems to be "common sense" is often wrong when applied to soap. For one thing, soap doesn't have a tidy boiling point or melting point and it has more physical states than the usual solid-liquid-gas.

I normally wave my hands vaguely in the air when I reach this point in similar explanations, but I'm going to be more specific in this post, at the risk triggering a bad case of geeky information overload. :shifty:

Any given soap has a complicated phase diagram (see pics) that determine where it changes from a solid to different types of gels to a true liquid solution. What affects these changes in physical state for any given soap is the temperature, the amount of water in the soap, the alkali (lye) used, and the blend of fatty acids.

In the examples shown, you can look at a potassium soap made from pure oleic acid (olive oil is high in oleic acid) and a potassium soap made from pure palmitic acid (palm/tallow/lard are all high in this fatty acid). (I would have used the sodium soap diagrams, but don't have them in an electronic form.) To use a diagram, pick a soap content -- say 80% for grins -- and draw an imaginary line upward in the direction of increasing temperature. Note what phases your line passes through as you move upward.

Potassium palmitate changes from curd soap (solid soap) to neat soap (low-viscosity gel) about 80 C (176 F) and transitions to an isotropic solution (liquid soap) about 310 C (590 F).

Potassium oleate at 80% changes from curd to neat soap about 30 C (86 F) to an isotropic solution about 295 C (563 F).

There is another way to use the phase diagrams and that is to pick a temperature -- say 20 C (68 F), about room temperature -- and draw an imaginary line across the diagram from left to right. You can find about how much soap must be in a soap-water mixture to obtain different phases at that specific temperature.

For liquid (potassium) soaps, I want to know when the soap will become a gel at room temperature because I want a nice thick but pourable syrup texture -- a liquid soap that is not too thick, but not too thin. For potassium oleate, this idea range is where the soap is a "neat soap" gel or a higher viscosity gel called "middle soap". These phases occurs at room temperature when there is about 20% to 75% potassium oleate in the mixture. That's quite a wide range of soap concentration, and that is why a liquid soap high in oleic acid is easy to dilute to a nice thick, pourable consistency.

For potassium stearate, the soap never changes into a gel over the entire range of soap % shown on the diagram -- the soap basically wants to remain a curd soap regardless of the amount of water added. Only when the soap-water mixture drops below 3% potassium stearate does the mixture begin to transition into the gel and isotropic solution phases. This soap, as a liquid soap, would be tough to dilute to a desirable consistency. Even if you could get it diluted to a nice thickness, the soap would not lather and clean very well because there is so very little actual soap in the mixture.

***

"... Unfortunately, having to keep my soap between 12-14 on the cleansing spectrum really severely limits my ability to make my soap super bubbly and super hard. So, i've been struggling to find a formula that will keep the cleansing power very gentle but also be hard enough and bubbly enough without being way too creamy...."

I keep the lauric and myristic % (the "cleansing" number) fairly low too for much the same reasons. You might try substituting palm kernel oil for coconut oil (assuming you're using CO) and see if PKO is less irritating to your skin. What the soapcalc numbers don't show is the % of the short chain fatty acids (capric and caprylic acids) that can be especially irritating to some people's skin when made into soap. CO has more of these fatty acids, PKO has less.

Palmitic and stearic acids add hardness without being overly "cleansing". You'll get hardness and longevity by using more fats with these fatty acids -- palm, tallow, and lard. Yes, they do add creamy lather; it's a tradeoff, no way around it.

The castor oil you're including in your recipes may be helpful to boost the fluffy bubbles, but you might also look at additives such as sugar, beer, sodium citrate, tetrasodium EDTA, etc. that can maximize lather.

***

"...What happened with the batch I had to throw away was that I was using a souped up crockpot that I could put on "Brown" at a temperature above 400 degrees, and my oils began to smoke before I even got the lye solution ready..."

Oh, my goodness, yes, this batch was definitely one of those unusual soaping experiences. I'm glad the soap didn't turn out any worse than "gross"! :)

Potassium oleate phase diagram.jpg


Potassium palmitate phase diagram.jpg
 
Last edited:

jenny1271

Active Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2015
Messages
36
Reaction score
9
Location
Raleigh, NC
Wow! I'm so excited! This is the best explanation I've ever seen. I'm going to print this out and study it!! Thank you so much Deeann! I have follow up questions but I need to process this fully first. Thanks again!
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
14,026
Reaction score
21,183
Location
USA
Ah, found it -- here is the phase diagram of a sodium palmitate soap. I'm also including the same potassium palmitate phase diagram from my earlier post so you can compare the two soaps more easily. The "crystal + nigre" section at the bottom and to the left in the sodium soap diagram is basically the same as the "curd" section in the potassium soap.

Phase diagram potassium palmitate.jpg


Phase diagram sodium palmitate ver2a.jpg
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top