Please help me understand

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

Fendigirl

Active Member
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
27
Reaction score
60
Location
Ontario
I saw a recipe on this forum that I would like to try. Being fairly new to soap making, I only use the default settings on soapcal.
This recipe called for 5% super fat and 35% lye concentration. So I clicked on lye concentration at plugged in 35%
I ran the recipe on the calculator, one with the default settings, one with the 35% lye concentration.
Holy Moly- so much less water with the 35% lye concentration! did I do something wrong? Is the reason for so much less water
10CBA8B4-3EAB-49A3-BDB0-08DDE9D4BACA.png
FDE4F58B-6A22-443C-839C-0390E023FFDD.png

so it will come out of the mood more quickly. Sorry if this a basic question, but this old brain is really trying to understand.
thank you
 

Fendigirl

Active Member
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
27
Reaction score
60
Location
Ontario
I tried to post the proper images again but put it in a different thread
AND posted one of them twice
since my Covid vaccine, my brain is in a fog!
 

AliOop

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
3,673
Reaction score
5,674
Location
US
You are seeing a very graphic picture that explains why the default "38% water-as-percent-of-oils" setting is not recommended. That setting was originally established for hot-processed soap, which generally uses significantly more water due to the evaporation that occurs during the cooking process. Because cold-processed soap is not cooked (and thus very little evaporation occurs), it needs far less water. In fact, CP soap can often turn out warped or too soft with such a high amount of water.

Old-time soapers often use the default 38% water-as-percent-of-oils setting and then apply what they call a "water discount" to reduce the excess water in a CP recipe. But that is a very imprecise way of determining a correct amount of water. It is much easier to use the lye percentatage or water-lye ratio setting, neither of which require any additional math outside of what the calculator does for you. Either of those settings will give you an accurate and consistent water amount as you scale your recipes up and down; it's best to pick whichever one is easier for you to understand, and stick with that. The default setting doesn't scale up or down very well, and can create other problems in very small or very large batches.

That being said, a 35% lye ratio can be challenging if you are newer at soaping, or if you want a more fluid batter for swirling. You can try 33% or even 30% and see what you think. It really comes down to what works for you, and for the specific recipe you are using.

Good luck, and don't forget to show us your creation when you are done! :)
 

ImpKit

Active Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
46
Location
Seattle
You are seeing a very graphic picture that explains why the default "38% water-as-percent-of-oils" setting is not recommended. That setting was originally established for hot-processed soap, which generally uses significantly more water due to the evaporation that occurs during the cooking process. Because cold-processed soap is not cooked (and thus very little evaporation occurs), it needs far less water. In fact, CP soap can often turn out warped or too soft with such a high amount of water.

Old-time soapers often use the default 38% water-as-percent-of-oils setting and then apply what they call a "water discount" to reduce the excess water in a CP recipe. But that is a very imprecise way of determining a correct amount of water. It is much easier to use the lye percentatage or water-lye ratio setting, neither of which require any additional math outside of what the calculator does for you. Either of those settings will give you an accurate and consistent water amount as you scale your recipes up and down; it's best to pick whichever one is easier for you to understand, and stick with that. The default setting doesn't scale up or down very well, and can create other problems in very small or very large batches.

That being said, a 35% lye ratio can be challenging if you are newer at soaping, or if you want a more fluid batter for swirling. You can try 33% or even 30% and see what you think. It really comes down to what works for you, and for the specific recipe you are using.

Good luck, and don't forget to show us your creation when you are done! :)
Can I just say a MASSIVE thank you for this? I have heard the term water discount from the outset of my soaping experience but not one person has so clearly conveyed what the "default" is, why it is, and why we "discount" water. I just hear a lot of "it's better to do it this way so just do that" and even though I completely understand, after seeing some math, why ratios and concentration percentages are more helpful, I still wondered why the term discount was used and what we were discounting!

Thank you thank you thank you!
 

AliOop

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
3,673
Reaction score
5,674
Location
US
You are so welcome! Someone did the same for me years ago, and as someone who is math-challenged (I understand the concepts but constantly make transcription mistakes), being able to pick a setting, do no extra math, and have consistent results, was a God-send for me, too!
 
Last edited:

Eleanor Thorne

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
13
Reaction score
18
Location
Utah
For an easy view of the water ranges and superfat ranges for a soap recipe, Majestic Mountain Sage's lye calculator (The Sage) is great. I mainly use SoapCal for the cool graph that shows the hardness, cleansing, etc. of the recipe. Most of the time the two calculators match. Once in while, if I'm using an unusual oil like murumuru oil for instance, they won't quite match. I usually run a new recipe through both calculators. Using The Sage calculator, I use the highest water amount, reduce it by the amount of coconut milk I use (1 oz per 10 oz oils) and the soap turns out great.
I prefer using 1 tsp per pound of oils (PPO) of sodium lactate and a higher amount of water to aid in mold release. I think it makes a difference what your humidity is, too. Where I am, it is always super dry (cold desert). If I were somewhere more humid, I would definitely be discounting that water!
 

Latest posts

Top