Reducing Lye %

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DeeAnna

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Yes, Linne1gi, you're right -- Carly is masterbatching at 33% lye concentration, but I understand her to be saying she's comparing the amount of water used at 33% lye conc to the amount of water she would use at the "full water" setting.

Anywhere between 33% lye conc and "full water" is okay for the way she makes soap. She can add a little extra water for a colorant or whatever. As long as the total water is less than or equal to the "full water" amount, that's fine.

At least that's my understanding of her method.
 

linne1gi

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Yes, Linne1gi, you're right -- Carly is masterbatching at 33% lye concentration, but I understand her to be saying she's comparing the amount of water used at 33% lye conc to the amount of water she would use at the "full water" setting.

Anywhere between 33% lye conc and "full water" is okay for the way she makes soap. She can add a little extra water for a colorant or whatever. As long as the total water is less than or equal to the "full water" amount, that's fine.

At least that's my understanding of her method.
My only comment here was, she is definitely not using a 2:1 ratio (33% lye solution) IF she is using a 2:1 master batched lye solution AND adding extra water.
 

Carly B

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You said you use 2:1 master batch. So, for example if you need 100 grams of lye, you would measure out 300 grams of MB lye solution. That equals, with your master batch 200 grams of water & 100 grams of lye. If you are using a 33% lye solution, you are already there and can not add additional water, so I don’t understand. You are obviously using more water than a 2:1 lye solution in your soap making.
That wasn't what I was saying. I use a 2:1, or 33% lye solution. What I was saying is that SoapCalc default is 38% water as a percent of oils. For the example I cited above, if you do that, the water:lye ration is 2.6369:1.

Doing a 2:1 makes the water as a % of oils 28.82%. So the actual comparisons are 2.0:1 vs 2.6:1 for lye/water, and 28.82% vs 38% water as a percent of oils.

The actual water difference is approximately 42gms or 1.5 ounces. That's what I use if I want to add salt or anything else water soluble.

The confusion is that for #3 Water on SoapCalc, it lets the user decide which method they want to use, but all three are different things. I realized that doing 2:1 lye/water used less water than their default option, but I figured if the "default" option had more water, I was safe adding that water differential if I needed to.
 

Carly B

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Yes, Linne1gi, you're right -- Carly is masterbatching at 33% lye concentration, but I understand her to be saying she's comparing the amount of water used at 33% lye conc to the amount of water she would use at the "full water" setting.

Anywhere between 33% lye conc and "full water" is okay for the way she makes soap. She can add a little extra water for a colorant or whatever. As long as the total water is less than or equal to the "full water" amount, that's fine.

At least that's my understanding of her method.
Correct, DeeAnna
 

Carly B

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My only comment here was, she is definitely not using a 2:1 ratio (33% lye solution) IF she is using a 2:1 master batched lye solution AND adding extra water.
Also correct, but I have only done that on two occasions when I wanted to add salt or sugar. I think of the additional augmented water as an additive and treat it as such.
 

ghoshsmita

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I’m switching my lye concentration from %30 to %28 In the soapmakers friend calculator.I kind of understand what that means, but not %100. (😆)

I’m hoping for less ash, and general stickiness. What else should I expect? Will the batter accelerate faster? I feel like I should understand this better by now.
One way of reducing ash is by keeping your soap tightly covered till it is fully saponified. I use 35% water instead of 38% water(which is usually for HP)... Way more water than you use, but I don't get ash 🤞🏻. Always keep my soap covered till it is saponified. You could also spray alcohol on top to prevent ashing, but I don't.
 

ghoshsmita

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Sorry to chime in here, but just remember that when you are looking at a recipe in your lye calculators that the amount of lye is not changing no matter what you do with your lye concentration numbers. It is the amount of liquid that is changing.
Just read the 2nd page. Yup I agree. Tho I use 35% water (instead of the default 38% which I guess is for HP), I don't have slimy soaps or Ash.
 

JuliaNegusuk

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I use natural colours, I was getting a lot of ash even at a 2:1 lye ratio but I've never particularly thought that was the reason. I eventually took it right down to 1.5:1 and my last batch had no ash. I haven't tried anything in between, maybe you don't have to go quite that low to eliminate ash, but it does seem to work whereas all the other stuff about gelling and cpoping didn't and spoilt my colours to boot.
 

cmzaha

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That wasn't what I was saying. I use a 2:1, or 33% lye solution. What I was saying is that SoapCalc default is 38% water as a percent of oils. For the example I cited above, if you do that, the water:lye ration is 2.6369:1.

Doing a 2:1 makes the water as a % of oils 28.82%. So the actual comparisons are 2.0:1 vs 2.6:1 for lye/water, and 28.82% vs 38% water as a percent of oils.

The actual water difference is approximately 42gms or 1.5 ounces. That's what I use if I want to add salt or anything else water soluble.

The confusion is that for #3 Water on SoapCalc, it lets the user decide which method they want to use, but all three are different things. I realized that doing 2:1 lye/water used less water than their default option, but I figured if the "default" option had more water, I was safe adding that water differential if I needed to.
Wow, too confusing for my little brain. My 50/50 masterbatch works wonderfully and I can simply use whatever lye concentration I want, which is why I never masterbatch a 33% lye concentration. My 50/50 Left me room for vinegar, milk, and whatever additives I wanted.

I also change my lye concentration at times, depending on how many swirls I want since my vegan recipe is a fast-moving recipe.
 

Sudsmaster

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I use natural colours, I was getting a lot of ash even at a 2:1 lye ratio but I've never particularly thought that was the reason. I eventually took it right down to 1.5:1 and my last batch had no ash. I haven't tried anything in between, maybe you don't have to go quite that low to eliminate ash, but it does seem to work whereas all the other stuff about gelling and cpoping didn't and spoilt my colours to boot.
@JuliaNegusuk 1.5:1? Wow. I started out soaping at 2.4:1 (water to lye) and now have gradually worked my way down to 1.8:1. I don't worry about soda ash anymore or glycerin rivers. I'd like to go down lower, maybe to a 1.6:1, but I worry about coming to trace too fast or being able to swirl different colors. I personally use mica colors. What kind of natural colors do you use? And what temperatures (lye and oils) do you mix at?

Does anyone else work with a water to lye ratio below 2:1? How low can you go and at what temp(s) before it comes to trace too fast to be able to work in your colors?
 
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Tara_H

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See, this is the kind of color mixing I do. I want to keep the soda ash and glycerin rivers out, but I worry that going too low or mixing too hot won't give me enough time to work with the colors like this.
FWIW, and I am by no means an expert, I have had much more success with keeping a fluid batter since I went to 38% lye concentration (1.63:1).

For example:
IMG_20210401_105356.jpg IMG_20210331_104156.jpg

That's not actually glycerine rivers in the red and black, just insufficient mixing because I was nervous and rushing!
 

DeeAnna

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...Does anyone else work with a water to lye ratio below 2:1? How low can you go and at what temp(s) before it comes to trace too fast to be able to work in your colors?
You can use a lye solution that's as low as a 1:1 water:lye ratio -- that is the same as a 50% lye concentration. You're assuming less water => faster to trace and that's not necessarily true. But for typical soap recipes, the 33% lye concentration (2:1 water:lye ratio) is a nice sweet spot.
 

TheGecko

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I’m switching my lye concentration from %30 to %28 In the soapmakers friend calculator.I kind of understand what that means, but not %100. (😆)

I’m hoping for less ash, and general stickiness. What else should I expect? Will the batter accelerate faster? I feel like I should understand this better by now.
Then you are going in the wrong direction . The amount of Lye you need for your oils/butter is fixed...you NEED xx amount of Lye to turn your oils into soap, changing the Concentration doesn't change the amount of Lye, it changes the amount of water. The higher the number, the lower the amount of water. The lower the number, the higher amount of water.

If you want your soap to be less 'sticky', then you want to use LESS water...not more.

For my recipe:

28% Lye Concentration = 5.69 oz of water, 2.21 oz of Sodium Hydroxide
33% Lye Concentration = 4.49 oz of water, 2.21 oz of Sodium Hydroxide
35% Lye Concentration = 4.11 oz of water, 2.21 oz of Sodium Hydroxide

It should be noted that you cannot exceed a 50% Lye Concentration. At a minimum, Sodium Hydroxide needs its own weight in water to dissolve.
 

earlene

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@JuliaNegusuk 1.5:1? Wow. I started out soaping at 2.4:1 (water to lye) and now have gradually worked my way down to 1.8:1. I don't worry about soda ash anymore or glycerin rivers. I'd like to go down lower, maybe to a 1.6:1, but I worry about coming to trace too fast or being able to swirl different colors. I personally use mica colors. What kind of natural colors do you use? And what temperatures (lye and oils) do you mix at?

Does anyone else work with a water to lye ratio below 2:1? How low can you go and at what temp(s) before it comes to trace too fast to be able to work in your colors?
I also sometimes work with [40% lye]* or 1.5:1 water to lye. It's not only the amount of water that affects trace & time for swirls. The formula (oils used, etc.) also play a part, and heat is based on formula as well. So there really is not a hard and fast rule that works for all formulas.

* brackets are the shorthand for 'concentration'
 

JuliaNegusuk

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Sudsmaster, in answer to your earlier questions - I use cold madder root tea in my lye for pink and calefular petals in the hot lye and left in the soap mixture for pale yellow, cocoa powder in the batter for brown and green tea wax heated in the oils for green. Otherwise, just using 5 fold orange oil gives a pale orange colour and coffee grounds in the lye and mixed into the soap mixture for brown with speckles. I mix when the solid oils are melted and my lye temperature is about 125 degrees f. I don't usually bother to measure my oil temp. I mix the hot solid oils with the cold liquid oils so I am guessing the temperature is not high, maybe 100 degrees f thereabouts. I don't do fancy stuff like swirls but I' ve not particularly noticed the batter speeding up to trace since using less water. I think that is more influenced by the essential oils. A couple of my soaps seemed to take a long time to trace this time. Don't ask me which, I am not very observant and can' t remember.
 

Sudsmaster

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All great stuff, guys. Thanks for the input. Good to know you can go down to 1.5, 1.6:1 without any major problems with hitting trace too fast. And, yes, I agree, there are a lot of factors that can affect trace. E.O's and even the type of oils/butters you decide to use. I was just wondering if anyone had "that one time" when, for example, they used 1.5:1 and mixed at 140 degrees because beeswax was in the recipe and ended up with mixing-pot-shaped-soap. Ha ha.
 

earlene

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All great stuff, guys. Thanks for the input. Good to know you can go down to 1.5, 1.6:1 without any major problems with hitting trace too fast. And, yes, I agree, there are a lot of factors that can affect trace. E.O's and even the type of oils/butters you decide to use. I was just wondering if anyone had "that one time" when, for example, they used 1.5:1 and mixed at 140 degrees because beeswax was in the recipe and ended up with mixing-pot-shaped-soap. Ha ha.

Not with beeswax, I haven't. I have not used beeswax since my early soaping adventures, while still learning, and had not yet started altering default settings on my lye calculators-of-choice.
 

GemstonePony

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All great stuff, guys. Thanks for the input. Good to know you can go down to 1.5, 1.6:1 without any major problems with hitting trace too fast. And, yes, I agree, there are a lot of factors that can affect trace. E.O's and even the type of oils/butters you decide to use. I was just wondering if anyone had "that one time" when, for example, they used 1.5:1 and mixed at 140 degrees because beeswax was in the recipe and ended up with mixing-pot-shaped-soap. Ha ha.
I don't think I've had to soap above 120° with beeswax. The main thing about reducing water is that your soap will be significantly harder when it finishes saponifying, and thus harder to cut. So, I've only used low water for high-Oleic/Linoleic recipes, which are slower to trace and harden anyways. I don't think I've gone down to 1.4:1 with beeswax, but one of my recipes is 1.5:1 and includes beeswax, and it soaped beautifully. You can, of course, get soap on a stick (or in a bowl) from FOs, and lowering the water may aggravate acceleration. But I would keep the finished soap hardness in mind and go from there when deciding water percentages. IME there does seem to be a bit of a curve between 2:1 and 1.6:1 where the lower water does accelerate, but it seems to slow back down at 2:1 or higher and at 1.5:1 or lower.
 

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