Recipe for a *really* hard bar?

Discussion in 'Lye-Based Soap Forum' started by SoapEh, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. Nov 23, 2017 #1

    SoapEh

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    Hi everyone! Happy Thanksgiving to my neighbours to the south :D

    Because I'm a new soaper, I've basically been constantly experimenting for the last few months. I'm starting to figure out what works well for me, and also what I like personally.

    Turns out I like really hard, glossy, almost waxy-textured soap. I don't need big, frothy bubbles -- creamy lather suits me just fine, but I do have very dry skin so it has to be gentle.

    Therein lies my question -- the soap I have is lovely in texture (for me), but just a bit too drying. I sat down and started playing with soapcalc, and went a little nutso with the hard oils -- it seems that palm, pko, and cocoa are ones that produce the texture I adore -- and made a recipe that should, in theory, cure to a very, very hard bar and hopefully not over-cleanse (it is on the upper end of 'cleansing', but I'd superfat slightly higher and I think I have some pretty nourishing oils in the recipe to help combat dryness).

    The recipe would have (in order) palm, olive, coconut, pko, cocoa butter, and avocado oil. I generally add a little kaolin clay and oatmeal to my recipes, and I plan to try a 7% superfat -- is that excessive?

    I know the answer is 'try it and see if you like it', but it's always nice to ask opinions before cracking into the supply and spending money on something you're going to end up hating. Worse, if I'm overlooking something and about to create a recipe that will seize, volcano, or otherwise self-destruct, it'd be nice to know :)
     
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  2. Nov 23, 2017 #2

    Susie

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    Are you completely averse to using animal fats? If not, I have a recipe for you!
     
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  3. Nov 23, 2017 #3

    toxikon

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    A high percentage of tallow or palm with a touch of salt will give you a rock hard bar. Even just dissolving a tsp of salt into your water before adding your lye makes quite a marked difference.
     
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  4. Nov 23, 2017 #4

    MorpheusPA

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    That sounds good, actually! Keep the palm high for some hardness, keep the coconut and/or pko high for more hardness (but also high lather and heavy cleansing).

    Honestly, even pure olive cures rock hard (as in, could pound nails with it) in six to twelve months.

    And you can use either coconut or PKO. Effectively, they both do the same thing. But if you want to use both, there's no reason not to.

    For really, really hard bars, use soy wax as a component. I count it as fully hydrogenated soybean oil, but have lately learned that's not necessarily true. Still, it's rock hard.

    I don't recommend use much over 20% or you get a rock hard, waxy bar (which you'd like) with extremely spare lather (which you probably wouldn't like).

    I just made one of these for my niece, who's vegetarian and won't use anything with animal fats. That recipe was:

    50% Olive Oil
    25% Coconut Oil
    20% Soy Wax
    5% Castor Oil

    That was a fairly hard bar, but still conditioning from the olive.

    You can substitute palm, lard, or tallow for the olive for an even harder bar.
     
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  5. Nov 23, 2017 #5

    Obsidian

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    I have dry skin too and I found that increasing SF and having a high conditioning number did absolutely nothing to keep my skin from drying out. For me, I need a lower cleansing number, around 10 is ideal but I can go up to 15.

    My go to recipe is pretty dang hard but since you like a waxy feel, what about using some beeswax? This is my base recipe, you can add 3-5% beeswax. I would reduce the lard/palm. 5% SF

    50% lard, palm or a mix of the two
    20% coconut, pko or a mix of the two
    25% OO or your favorite go to liquid oil
    5% castor
     
  6. Nov 23, 2017 #6

    SoapEh

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    Not at all, I have tried lard in recipes, though the only time I have had DOS was in a lard soap (the dates were fine on all containers) so I am a bit wary...
     
  7. Nov 23, 2017 #7

    bathgeek

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    If you’re open to a year’s wait, pure olive oil cures rock solid.
     
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  8. Nov 23, 2017 #8

    SoapEh

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    Am I going somewhere? :D
    I am definitely going to try a castile soap. I don't think, in the end, it will be THE soap for me, but I think the experiment is something worth doing.
     
  9. Nov 23, 2017 #9

    Saranac

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    Morpheus' recipe looks good. In fact, it's exactly what my first SW recipe looked like. I now use soy wax in all of my bars but at closer to 40%. It makes great soap that is rock hard in 6-8 weeks.
     
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  10. Nov 23, 2017 #10

    cmzaha

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    40% Palm Oil, 30% tallow, 10% Coconut oil, 5% castor oil and 15% whatever soft oil you like will give a hard long lasting bar of soap with bubbly cream lather. You could cut the palm and add in some coco butter, but it is just without the butter. Hard bars do not represent long lasting soap, it is how soluble the soap formula is. Coconut Oil which creates a very hard soap is very soluble and disappears quickly, but is the reason it is used as a salt water soap for Sailors.
     
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  11. Nov 23, 2017 #11

    SoapEh

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    UPDATE -
    So... I was home today (which is why I got busy thinking about all this in the first place), and had the energy, so I figured why not just try this out?

    I just finished making a 2lb test batch of my funky recipe and here are my immediate findings:

    I use a 2:1 water:lye ratio (for a bunch of reasons it seems to work better for me than the way I was doing it before, which was using a 33% lye percentage number -- that kept changing the ratio depending on the recipe, and doesn't seem to really make sense). I also don't add in extra oils any more -- there were just too many issues there, especially with smaller batches. If I want to pre-mix micas, I take the oil from the batch before I add in the lye.

    I mixed up the batch to light trace, then poured into six separate cups, each with pre-mixed colour. I had time to mix each cup up, pour thoughtfully into my mold (I didn't have to throw it in because it was getting too thick or anything). I did notice it started to heat and thicken up towards the end, and by the time I was *ahem* 'decorating' the top it was definitely becoming... ploppy. I tried to make a pretty soap, but I'm pretty sure it's going to come out a mess. I'm just having 'one of those days'.

    I don't like leaving soapy dishes, so I started washing everything at the sink, but I had forgotten the stick blender. I went back to get it and noticed the top of my soap starting to crack -- this recipe gets HOT.

    The thing is, I usually use a silicone-lined mold, but today I was using freezer paper in a small, fairly thin, wooden mold. The soap had hardly any insulation, and my kitchen is actually pretty cold right now.

    The little loaf had already hardened up enough for me to lift it out of the mold, so at least it only has paper around it now, and hopefully it won't crack more. I was under the impression that *more* water was often the culprit in soaps overheating, but maybe this recipe would benefit from a higher water:lye ratio?

    So, we'll see what this turns out like - maybe it'll be 'the' recipe, maybe it'll be something I vow never to repeat. At least, between the cocoa butter and the Japanese Cherry Blossom scent F.O., my kitchen smells amazing right now :)

    Ah, experiments are fun :D

    For me it's not about getting the bar to last longer, or anything like that. This is strictly a texture issue.

    I never realized that soap even *could* have such a variety of different textures and finishes. I also never would have guessed that I'd care, but I really do!

    It all sort of came to a head for me when I was moving all the soaps I've made into the new guest room area we created for them to sit and cure (to free up the pantry shelves, which were getting cramped!) Since I was moving each and every bar, I got to touch each and every bar. I took the opportunity to look them all over, note which soaps were which recipes (I put post-its next to the bars), and really *think* about what I liked or didn't like.

    I realized every time I thought 'ooh, I like this one' it was not about weight, shape, whether it was beveled or not, it wasn't about colour, additives, enbeds, it was ALWAYS the texture. And, even more, the few bars that genuinely turn me off are all from the same basic recipe, and they've cured out a little bit spongy so far. Their texture positively grosses me out. For all I know, they'll be gorgeous and dense, smooth and beautiful in a few months. I don't care -- if they have to go through an ugly-duckling squishy stage, they're not for me.

    I find a close second to the smooth, silky, almost waxy bars that I like are 100% coconut soaps. I love how hard they are, I love the translucency, I think they look stunning with bright colours and glittery micas in swirls and dots. Unfortunately, while I LOVE the way my coconut bars *feel*, and I really like making coconut soap, if I use it I may as well take a sandblaster to my skin. I'm just so dry, and it's so good at being soap, that we don't get on well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2018
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  12. Nov 23, 2017 #12

    cmzaha

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    Palm is the oil that really gives a waxy feel. Lard will make a slick feeling soap as will vegetable shortening. Tallow will lend a cleansing factor hence my going lower with the PKO or CO, and will leave you a nice hard bar. Why not start with a tiny batch of 100% palm so you will know how it feels. To me it feels quite waxy but very hard to work up a lather which is the reason I mix it with tallow. Another hard bar I make is 37% Palm, 18% PKO, 30% liquid oil, Cocoa Butter 10%, Castor Oil 5%. The higher the water the hotter it gels risking volcanoes, separation, or alligator teeth (inside leaking cavern). It takes time and patience to finally hit on the recipe that one can deem perfect, but then maybe some just luck out and get it right the first time, or so they think :) Your approximate 33% lye concentration is what many of us work with and for me I have to force gel. I am guessing your fo overheated, I know I had a Cherry Blossom, at one time, whick was a big troublemaker
     
  13. Nov 24, 2017 #13

    lathered_up

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    For a waxy looking bar, I swear by mango seed butter. A little pricey, but a little goes a long way. One of my favorite bars had 9% mango butter, 14% palm oil, and 24% coconut oil for my har oils. Had an almost translucent, waxy texture.
     
  14. Nov 24, 2017 #14

    SoapEh

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    Oh, wow, I didn't even consider that it could have been the fragrance -- this one is new to me, I bought some flower scents for my mom for holiday gift soaps, and never got around to using this one until today.

    It's nice to know that it may be the FO, because I quite like the texture of the soap so far! It looks and feels like it's going to cure into just the type of bar I adore. Lucky for my mom, I feel like the pattern is a total dud (I just knew it!) so she's very likely going to end up with the entire batch minus one piece I will keep to test at various intervals :)
     
  15. Nov 24, 2017 #15

    Primrose

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    Big tallow fan here, makes for a super super hard waxy bar. I love that hard waxy bar too.
    I've found it to be deceptively cleansing, so be careful about pairing it with other cleansing oils such as coconut
     
  16. Mar 27, 2018 #16

    Nanditasr

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    Indeed, I have found my 100% CO soap and (even those with 20% CO) rather soluble, while my non-CO soap can practically sit in water and not dissolve. Is there a way to calculate how soluble a soap formula will be, or a list of oils with their solubility rating?
     
  17. Mar 27, 2018 #17

    DeeAnna

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    "...Is there a way to calculate how soluble a soap formula will be, or a list of oils with their solubility rating?..."

    It's not about the oils, speaking in a strict sense. It's about the proportions of the various fatty acids in the recipe.

    A moderate % of stearic and palmitic acids in the recipe is the key to making soap with decent longevity and lower solubility while still lathering nicely. Although some fats have higher stearic and palmitic content (lard, palm, tallow, the butters) than others, it's really immaterial where these fatty acids come from.

    I typically look for a combined % of stearic and palmitic in the low to mid 30% range when creating a basic bath soap.
     
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  18. Mar 27, 2018 #18

    Nanditasr

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    Thanks; I'll bear that in mind.
     
  19. Mar 27, 2018 #19

    MorpheusPA

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    Keep in mind, we all differ. DeeAnna likes about 30%. I just blasted together a soap with 42% palmitic and stearic. You could dent the floor with this stuff.

    :)
     
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  20. Mar 27, 2018 #20

    cmzaha

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    I use 30-36% in my soaps stearic /palmitic
     
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