Rant about soaping "trends" and myths

Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums

Help Support Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums:

Ugeauxgirl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
412
Location
Alabama
I started making soap about 9 months ago, and since I am a tad obsessive, I read everything I could get my hands on, joined every facebook group, read tons of forum posts here, articles, and a stack of books on soaping dating from the 70's to now. I've made nearly 80 batches of soap and I'm rather frustrated at some of the things I had to "unlearn."

None of the old books talk about superfatting. Except for pure coconut oil soap and soleseife, I find that I don't like it. Where did that stupid rule that you should superfat half of your cleansing number come from? I suspect I rinse it down the drain and I think it interferes with lather.

I don't care about expensive butters in soap- I think they turn to soap and lose their skin softening properties when they do. If Ann Bramson was curing soap on the loaf in the 1970s, why am I turning my bars so they can get more air? Do thick soap bars cure less well than skinny ones since skinny ones have more surface area?

On many facebook groups (not so much this one) people kept telling me my recipes (at 25%) coconut oil were too drying. Most of the older soaping books I have have a MINIMUM of 25% coconut oil- it isn't unusual at all to see a "gentle" recipe at 29% or more in the older books. Even though my dermatologist says I have sensitive skin, a cleansing number of 19 is perfectly fine for me- in the summer anyway. I can't believe I spent months trying to formulate a more bubbly recipe with lower coconut oil when I didn't even need to! Since I'm no longer scared of coconut oil, I'll be trying a bar I made for my husband with a cleansing number of 22.

Rant over. On to the next soapy recipe.
 

AliOop

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
5,097
Reaction score
8,668
Location
US
My personal unfavorite soapy myth is the recommendation to use vinegar for any lye splashes on skin. I had to unlearn that one after many years of soapmaking - thank goodness I had no significant burns or splashes all that time.

Regarding butters, I do like what they bring to soap, but often soap without them due to cost, since I give away a LOT of soap.

Regarding superfat, I agree that too much is, well, too much. I do use 20% for my 100% CO bars and my salt bars. For all other recipes, I started at 5-7%. After experimenting, I've found that 2-3% is my sweet spot for my typical recipes.

Regarding the CO, many folks do experience skin irritation, or severe dryness, with CO over 20% (long-cured salt bars and high SF 100% CO bars are the exception for me). For some folks, even 20% CO is too much.

It does take experimentation to find what works best for you, as well as those who will be using your soap. For me and for my users, it works best to keep CO at 20% or less, and add some form of sugar to boost bubbles. I know that bubbles aren't necessary for cleaning, but they make the washing process more enjoyable for me.

Those recipe tweaks may not be necessary or ideal for you, but please don't dismiss them as myths, because they aren't. Different people can prefer different recipes for different reasons. Those are just differences, not myths. :)
 

Cat&Oak

Supporting Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
299
Reaction score
424
Location
Sparks, Nevada
Everyone prefers something different in their recipes. I keep my cleansing numbers at 12 because I am getting ready to sell and I want a very gentle bar for the public. I keep my superfat at 6% and I use mango butter as well because that is what I like personally.

If what you are doing works and makes you happy then that's great but I agree with @AliOop completely about myths vs differences

Just keep learning and making and most of all have fun with it
 

IrishLass

Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Feb 11, 2008
Messages
17,461
Reaction score
11,307
Location
Right here, silly!
Ditto what AliOop said.

I've found that a lot of the soaping 'rules' out there (whether in books or online) need to be taken with a grain of salt, because much of them are based on nothing more than one's own personal skin type and what it can handle/not handle, such as how much coconut oil to use for example. Some folks think that just because coconut oil in soap makes them dry or itchy over 15% or whatever else %, that it's an automatic given it will be that way for everybody at that particular %. Not so! It will differ widely from person to person, for everyone's skin type is different in what it can handle or not handle.

I, for one am one of those that isn't bothered by a high amount of coconut oil, and do quite well with it at 30.5% with an 8% S/F (cleansing # of 21), but if I gave that same soap to fellow forum member Susie, I'm sure she'd probably hunt me down and fling it through my front window with much forceful vigor! lol 😂

But that's the beauty of making your own....you can formulate it to your own likes, and further tweak things for the people you give your soap to, according to their skin likes/dislikes.

The longer one soaps, the more one is able to discern what statements are truly myths vs those that are actually just personal opinions based on ones own skin type and what it likes/dislikes.


IrishLass :)
 

Ugeauxgirl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
412
Location
Alabama
Agreed. To assist with the myth-busting, I will be making a 2 lb batch of soap. I'll divide it between 2 loaf molds. I'll cut one to cure and let the other one cure in the loaf. I'll test the middle bar of the uncut loaf against any bar of the other loaf and let y'all know if there's any difference between them. If there's not, y'all can quit turning your bars to cure. 😂
 

Cat&Oak

Supporting Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
299
Reaction score
424
Location
Sparks, Nevada
Agreed. To assist with the myth-busting, I will be making a 2 lb batch of soap. I'll divide it between 2 loaf molds. I'll cut one to cure and let the other one cure in the loaf. I'll test the middle bar of the uncut loaf against any bar of the other loaf and let y'all know if there's any difference between them. If there's not, y'all can quit turning your bars to cure. 😂
Sounds good! Let us know how it goes!
 

Ugeauxgirl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
412
Location
Alabama
I'm going to do this just like the 1972 book suggests. She gives 3 recipes- the first one looks crazy hard (52! It's 44% tallow!). The last one calls for Crisco which I'm sure has changed formulas since then. I'm going to go with the middle recipe which has a hardness number of 42 and slice it with a knife just like she recommends. I'm going to cure it for 6 weeks. I'll start a new thread and keep you posted. 😁
 

Cat&Oak

Supporting Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
299
Reaction score
424
Location
Sparks, Nevada
I'm going to do this just like the 1972 book suggests. She gives 3 recipes- the first one looks crazy hard (52! It's 44% tallow!). The last one calls for Crisco which I'm sure has changed formulas since then. I'm going to go with the middle recipe which has a hardness number of 42 and slice it with a knife just like she recommends. I'm going to cure it for 6 weeks. I'll start a new thread and keep you posted. 😁
This is fun myth busters soap style!
 

Mobjack Bay

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 19, 2019
Messages
3,443
Reaction score
7,311
Location
Virginia
I haven’t tried high SF except in salt bars, but doesn’t raising the superfat act to counteract the cleansing quality of a relatively high CO soap? Maybe that’s how the “half the cleansing number” rule originated. Also, back in the “olden days” higher SFs would have made it easier to avoid excess lye. We can buy reasonably accurate scales inexpensively now, but was it always the case that accurate kitchen scales were affordable? Some makers may have had a better safe than sorry philosophy, especially those who were measuring ingredients by volume.
 

cmzaha

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
12,105
Reaction score
12,022
Location
Southern California
I for one cannot use a soap at 20
Agreed. To assist with the myth-busting, I will be making a 2 lb batch of soap. I'll divide it between 2 loaf molds. I'll cut one to cure and let the other one cure in the loaf. I'll test the middle bar of the uncut loaf against any bar of the other loaf and let y'all know if there's any difference between them. If there's not, y'all can quit turning your bars to cure. 😂
I am one that cannot use soap with 20% CO, but I have found I can use 18% CO/PKO split, when I use only CO I only use 15-17%. The PKO seems to buffer the cleansing just enough for me with my 2% superfat. I am from the days when everyone believed you had to superfat at 5% or higher and was even told by a fellow soaper they would never touch my soap because I superfatted so low. Well now, many superfat low at least in this forum.

As for letting your soap cure longer in the mold and cutting it, you will not find any difference other than trying to cut the soap. Whether your soap is 1" thick or 3" thick it still needs to cure long enough to form its crystalline structure inside and lose some of the liquid inside the bar. You can also let a bar sit for a year, cut it and it will usually still be wet in the middle.

I do make a 57% Shea Butter soap with 12% CO/PKO split that I love and yes the butter does give a different feel to the soap. I also use Shea in my Palm Vegan soap. I like the creaminess Shea butter gives to soap similar to the feel of lard in soap. I use Tallow at 40% with 20% lard in my non-vegan soaps. Just a side note, tallow does not lather well but does up the cleansing number.
 

ResolvableOwl

Notorious Lyear
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
1,363
Reaction score
3,341
Location
Germany
CO (and as a matter of fact all lauric oils, i. e. babaçu and palm kernel as well) is a double-edged sword. So many subjective things, sometimes in an anecdotal tone, sometimes as YMMV-style advice, sometimes proclaimed like natural laws. One thing I had to un-learn myself is the misconception that “I know my body” – my body skin is happy with 20% CO (or even 30% which I made in one lovely LS with very low superfat), but my facial skin reacts sensitive and delayed (after 1–2 weeks) on lauric oils. The one universal advice I can definitely give about CO/lauric oils is that there is no such thing as a universally valid advice – everyone who tells something else has at least an undercomplex conception of the issue.

One point regarding butters (the usage of the word “butter” for these fats is worth another rant, btw), @cmzaha has somehow brought it up already, is that, besides their “luxury” properties (possibly present in performance, definitely present in their price), there are some technical reasons to use them, in particular for soaps free of animal fats and palm.

the first one looks crazy hard (52! It's 44% tallow!).
At which lye conentration? CP or HP? Which cut/drying/curing advice? A surplus hardness can be encountered with water retention tricks. I've made PO/PKO soap with hardness number 57 (74% palm oil, HP, dual lye, generous sorbitol addition), and it came out at a reasonably balanced hardness.
 

ResolvableOwl

Notorious Lyear
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
1,363
Reaction score
3,341
Location
Germany
As common with old recipes, they're on the more dilute side (<27 %). I haven't gone through the lye calculation, but I think you will.
What do the instructions tell about the mixing? AFAIK, the high lye concentration + stick blender technique is relatively young (much younger than the half century (!) since 1972).

That's a gem of a thread where quite some “wisdom of the ancient” is discussed:
 

Latest posts

Top