Recipe too soft??

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Sep 18, 2015
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Here is a recipe I tried a few days ago:

17.5% Olive Oil = 5.95 oz
15% Coconut = 5.10 oz
12.5% Avocado = 4.25 oz
20% Sunflower = 6.80 oz
25% Rice Bran = 8.50 oz
10% Cocoa Butter = 3.4 oz
Lye: 4.60 oz
Water: 11.22 oz
Superfatted by 3%

I used Bramble Berry's Lye Calculator; haven't really worked with Soap Calc yet. I soaped around 120. There was also lavender FO, 2.5 oz...maybe that caused it to heat up as well? This was my first time using this many different oils (pretty much used everything I had)! A partial gel happened and it is still REALLY soft, almost mushy. Now that I'm looking at the recipe I'm wondering if I needed more hard oils? Honestly, I really don't have a good understanding on all this water/lye percentage and superfatting business. I kind of learned to start with percentages of oils and go from there so it's just me throwing things together ha! If anyone could explain that better, or might have an idea as to why I experienced partial gel, I'd be greatly appreciative! And let me know what you think of the recipe in general, please :D
The soap is soft due to the high amount of liquid oils. You need either lard/palm/tallow to make up a significant portion of your oils. I would think at least 25%, but that is just me.

Your partial gel is probably due to just normal saponification heat and fragrance oil. I insulate my soap to ensure gel and avoid the dreaded partial gel.
Ditto what Susie said. Too many soft oil vs. hard oils.

And your water amount was pretty high for that many soft oils (too much water makes a high soft-oil recipe even softer upon unmolding).

Also- using a high amounts of sunflower plus rice bran in the same recipe really kicks up the overall linoleic % in one's formula. You have a total of 28% linoleic in your formula, which greatly increases the chance that your soap might come down with DOS. Lots of soapers like to keep the total linoleic in their formulas 15% or below to ward off the DOS monster.

As far as for partial gel, that happens when the batter loses too much heat in the mold for the gel to keep up momentum while saponifying. Like Susie said- it's best to insulate to ensure full gel.

RE: water %: Generally speaking, as far as water percentages go, the more water you use, the softer the soap at unmolding time and the more chance your soap has of warping during cure or separating in the mold. And the less water you use, the faster things move/accelerate and the harder your soap will be upon unmolding.

And as far as lye percentages go (i.e., superfat), you want to have enough lye in your formula to be able to saponify all your fats, but having too much lye beyond what your fats need will cause a lye-heavy soap that that may shatter upon cutting and won't be very comfortable to use. And on the other side of the coin, if you have too little of an amount of lye in your formula, the soap won't clean as well lather as well, or last as long, and will be a bit on the softer side in comparison to others. Most lye calculators use a default of 5% superfat to make sure your soap won't be lye heavy on one hand, nor too fatty/greasy on the other, but you can change it according to what works best with your formula. I use anywhere from 3% to 20%, depending on my formula.

As you can see, making soap is all about balance and finding your own personal 'sweet spot'. :)

For me, I have different 'sweet spots' that correlate to the different formulas or FOs that I use, but for the vast majority of my batches, as far as water goes, I like to use a 33% lye concentration, which means that I use a water:lye ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part lye. For most things, it's not too little and it's not too much. I call it my Goldilocks %. ;)

IrishLass :)
I think Susie and Irish Lass are giving good advice. I also want to offer a suggestion to stick with no more than three -- MAYBE four -- fats in a recipe. Your recipe calls for six fats, and that's just too many, especially when you're learning to make soap.

The coconut is your main lauric and myristic oil -- that is a good choice.
Use avocado OR olive as your high oleic oil. Olive is the classic soaping fat and is easier and cheaper to find.
I suggest using palm or lard as your main stearic and palmitic oil. These fats would take the place of the cocoa butter. If you specifically chose to not use palm or lard, then cocoa butter is the fall back option, but it's harder to find and costs more.
Use sunflower OR rice bran oil as a high linoleic oil. Many soaps contain no high-linoleic oils, so using either is optional. Keep linoleic comfortably below 15% as a general rule of thumb.
Thank y'all for the input! I have a lot to learn about the specific oils and their acids. I know I can find a lot of information on here, and online in general but...any recommendations for books? Or something where all the info is consolidated into one place haha!