Rant about soaping "trends" and myths

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Garden Gives Me Joy

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I am a big proponent of figure out what works for you. I would say [...] run every recipe (no matter where you got it) through a lye calculator [...]
Amen! I have come across some ostensibly generous YouTuber videos that give away recipes. However, when you run the recipe through SoapCalc to check, the properties don't make sense. They may be way too harsh desspite the YouTuber's advertising that their soap is for skin that won't tolerate that recipe they gave. You wonder, 'do these 'generous' people intentionally omit details to deter others ... and encourage sales (because they had special abilities with the 'difficult' recipe)?!'

This reminds me of how my teacher taught my class of complete beginners with only the absolutely most expensive and inaccessible base fats. I know for a fact that the cost immediately turned off many people.

Getting back to giving away recipes; I get the same ugly vibes as with large corporations. I respect YouTubers who either truly give or politely decline for reasons that refer to their business.
 
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amd

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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 haven't heard this "rule" before... and I know some recipes that would really have too high of a superfat for the type of soap that they are - I did a quick check of two recipes, one is my current recipe (cleansing 12, I SF at 3) and another soapmaker friend (cleansing 24, she SF at 7)... and I will say that I think that "rule" is just bunk, otherwise wouldn't soapcalcs recalculate your superfat accordingly? Or maybe I expect too much from programming....
 

Ugeauxgirl

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I haven't heard this "rule" before... and I know some recipes that would really have too high of a superfat for the type of soap that they are - I did a quick check of two recipes, one is my current recipe (cleansing 12, I SF at 3) and another soapmaker friend (cleansing 24, she SF at 7)... and I will say that I think that "rule" is just bunk, otherwise wouldn't soapcalcs recalculate your superfat accordingly? Or maybe I expect too much from programming....
It's crazy- I can't tell you the number of times a newbie has posted a recipe with a cleansing number of 16 and people reply that it's MUUUUCH too cleansing- lower the coconut oil and raise the superfat to 8. EIGHT?? I finally quit replying and dropped out of most of them. I stayed in a few cause I like looking at other people's soap!
 

Zany_in_CO

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otherwise wouldn't soapcalcs recalculate your superfat accordingly?
I made my first batch in 2003. At that time, we figured the SAP of the fatty acids by hand, with pencil and paper. Although we had an iMac at the time, I borrowed books from the library to learn how to soap. Once I got online, MMS (Majestic Mountain Sage), where I bought supplies, had a lye calculator. To this day, it does a good job but is not as sophisticated as "Sooz" the precursor to "SoapCalc" or the newcomer, Soapmaker's Friend. Also, YouTube was non-existent and I could count the number of soapmaking forums/groups like this one on the fingers of one hand. 😁
 

amd

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Also, YouTube was non-existent and I could count the number of soapmaking forums/groups like this one on the fingers of one hand.
Yeah, I get all of that. My meaning is that if the old "rules" were good, then wouldn't our calcs today also reflect that? They don't.
 

Zany_in_CO

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if the old "rules" were good, then wouldn't our calcs today also reflect that?
Actually, soapmaking as a hobby has grown tremendously since that time and, while I don't believe there are any "rules", only "guidelines" for making soap, those guidelines change as there are more people to experiment and bring the results to the table and thus improve the process.

Think about a hundred years ago when women made soap from fat and wood ashes stirred in a cauldron out in the side yard! Then tossed in an egg -- if it floated, the soap was done!
Old Time Soapmaking.jpg

Lye hadn't even been invented yet.

We've come a long way since then and continue to progress along the way. I've been privileged to witness many changes that have taken place in the 17 years I've been at this. The beginning of making LS for one. It still gives me enormous pleasure -- as well as being challenging enough to keep my interest up.
 
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Raj

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100% Olive oil soap does have a slimy or "snotty" lather. This can lessen a bit after a longer cure, but it never really goes away. for me, a better way to cut down on the slime is to use Zany's No-Slime Castile ZNSC) recipe with fake sea water. I make the bastile version 75% OO, 20% CO, and 5% castor. It has zero slime, but it still needs a pretty good cure time of 8-10 weeks. You can use the search bar above to find the recipe.
Thank you,
will give it try.
‘Regards
 

Rsapienza

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I totally get the “unlearning” things statement. There are soooo….many soapy things on the web. FB groups, YouTube, makers’ websites that will have their products as well as soap making information. When one is coming into this craft, you read and watch everything you can get your hands on, assuming that the maker must know what they’re talking about. I mean, after all, they have this website and sell their products😉 Bottom line, there is a lot of false information out there. pH testing, water as %of oils, and HP soaps being sold the next day are perfect examples.
 

Susie

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Think about a hundred years ago when women made soap from fat and wood ashes stirred in a cauldron out in the side yard! Then tossed in an egg -- if it floated, the soap was done!
View attachment 59857
Lye hadn't even been invented yet.
Actually, the egg was used to test the concentration of the "lye" (potassium carbonate IIRC) rather than the "doneness" of the soap. My dad was in charge of boiling the "lye" until an egg floated. Which is why I know for sure what that test was for. And they called it "lye". So, while I understand that you mean modern sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, your verbiage was not quite correct.
 

TheGecko

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Think about a hundred years ago when women made soap from fat and wood ashes stirred in a cauldron out in the side yard! Then tossed in an egg -- if it floated, the soap was done!
View attachment 59857
Lye hadn't even been invented yet.
Going to have to correct you here. You do/did not make soap that way back then, you would have just ended up with greasy ashes. What you did was run water through wood ashes, often several times and or boiling the resulting liquid to produce Potassium Hydroxide. You put the egg in the lye solution, NOT in the soap batter, and it was to test the strength of the lye solution,

Sodium Hydroxide has been around since the 13th Century; it called for passing water repeatedly through a mixture of ash from saltwort plants and quicklime. It's similar to the process most likely used by the woman in your picture, but with the ash of hardwoods and water to create Potassium Hydroxide. By the early 20th Century, electrolysis of Sodium Chloride or chloralkali process had become the primary method for producing Sodium Hydroxide.
 

DeeAnna

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Herm. For the record, soap can be made using a carbonate lye made only by leaching ashes with water. The solution does not have to be further reacted with slaked lime in order to be adequate for making soap. If all you have is ashes, water, fat, a source of heat, and a fair bit of patience, you definitely can make soap.

The ash-lime method is a far, far better method, however. This method produces a hydroxide lye solution that makes better soap more easily.

But reacting with lime is not strictly necessary.
 

cmzaha

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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.
I forgot to mention I use dual lye and sorbitol in all my soaps since I use high palm, butters in my vegan soaps and high tallow.
 

AliOop

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Yeah, I get all of that. My meaning is that if the old "rules" were good, then wouldn't our calcs today also reflect that? They don't.
I agree that today’s calcs are lacking. For instance, the majority default to water-as-percent of oils, which is the least useful way to determine an appropriate amount of water on a consistent basis as recipes are sized up and down. Why don’t more of them default to lye concentration instead?

I submitted a suggestion to SoapmakingFriend to change the range of cleansing values to something like 8 to 18. The current range of 12 to 22 gives newbies the idea that 17 is the ideal cleansing number because it is in the middle. I don’t know anyone who regularly makes soap with that high of a cleansing number, except a few with very high superfat numbers. So many of us started soaping exactly bc we have sensitive skin and can’t handle high-cleansing numbers.

Sadly, the response was that the current range of 12 to 22 makes a perfectly safe and acceptable bar of soap. That ignored the fact that by today’s standards, that range is neither ideal nor typical.

I would also change the calcs so that there is no default fragrance amount or default SF number. Instead, soapers should be required to affirmatively enter the number for each recipe. That would cause people to think and research and learn, instead of encouraging them to follow what is basically someone else’s opinion.

Don’t even get me started on fixing the SMF glitch when using both CA and vinegar, or master-batched lye and vinegar or CA.

That being said, I still find SMF to be the best calculator out there. I’d just love to see them upgrade even more.
 

Rsapienza

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There are a few "trends" that annoy me, but more on the front of using consumer biases (and miseducation) to sell more product. Marketing sleight of hand. But that's a whole other topic.
That’s marketing period. Any product. It drives me insane! Yes, a whole other conversation.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Herm. For the record, soap can be made using a carbonate lye made only by leaching ashes with water. The solution does not have to be further reacted with slaked lime in order to be adequate for making soap. If all you have is ashes, water, fat, a source of heat, and a fair bit of patience, you definitely can make soap.
To be more precise about the actual chemistry that is going on during the ash leeching: Main component of wood ash (particularly if the wood is burnt above 650°C) is indeed quicklime, CaO, that turns into slaked lime when in contact with water. So someone with well-prepared ash can easily yield a solution of mostly potassium hydroxide – although the ash holds potash, i. e. potassium carbonate. But as soon as water is added, the calcium will grab the carbonate and let the potassium alone with the leftover (hydr)oxide ions. That caustification is already built in into the natural composition of ash.

Another serious issue (from an inlander's perspective) is that one really needs to burn saltwort (special plants grown by the sea coast), otherwise the alkali will be mostly potassium and not sodium, and the soap will be liquid soap, not bar soap. That's part of why historic soap industry (Marseille e. g.) has developed close to the sea.
 

Professor Bernardo

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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 never turn my bars to cure. They sit on a stainless steel wire rack used for cooling bread or cookies (no I do not get the dreaded orange spots) until about 4-5 weeks have elapsed. I weight one select bar at the beginning to get a baseline on the weight, i.e. moisture content and then weight it once a week for 4 weeks or so. Once it has dramatically slowed losing water and is quite firm then I wrap in plastic film and store until needed or to be sold via that infamous auction place...
 

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