Salt Bars?

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Sep 4, 2014
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Hi everyone!

I made my first salt bars yesterday, and I'm wondering about a few things.

Do they go through gel phase? I didn't use a colorant, so they're pure white, and they never got that "gel phase" look that my regualar cold process soap gets. I know they get really hard really fast, so I put them in individual silicone cups, but they never really heated up despite being insulated. They were already quite firm by the time I left for work, so I'm not worried about them being completely ruined. Yay!

Second, I did follow a recipe and did a 15% superfat. Does that much unsaponified fat make the bars spoil more quickly? Or does the salt act as a preservative and...pickle(?) the soap?

Lastly, what's a good cure time for salt bars? My understanding is that the cure process has a tiny affect on PH but a big impact on hardness, and therefore how long the bar lasts. If salt bars harden super fast, is it necessary to cure them for as long as regular bars?

Thanks so much for your insight - this forum has been an invaluable resource!
Hi Elle

As for gel, I really don't think it does - when I have made them I didn't do anything but didn't get even a hint of partial gel. I don't know why, to be honest.

I don't think that they will go off too fast. A high superfat does not always equal racidity sooner as it depends a lot on the oils used. Sure, the more free oil you have in there, the higher the chance of DOS. That said, the chances of CO developing DOS seem to be very low, so you are increasing a small chance a little bit. I've not heard anyone on the forum talk about an gone-off salt bar as yet.

Many people actually find a salt bar is better after a longer cure - about 8 weeks seems to be a normal amount, or 6 weeks. The difference is noticable, I have to say. While the bar is indeed hard from the off, the cure really helps it to mellow out more than you would imagine, so it is well worth not cutting the corner on it.

I will add, salt soaps are great to use, so enjoy them!
I make lots of salt bars and love them. So, I generally use 80-85% CO, Avocado and Castor. I superfat 20%. I have some bars that are 3 years old now and they are still perfectly fine never had dos. I've never been able to see the gel phase in my salt bars. I've tried cpop with them and still couldn't tell. Individual molds to not gel at least mine didn't. I do find that using individual molds they are much more prone to ash even after spraying them with 91% alcohol.
I've seen gel happening in my wooden mold (got really hot, color difference going from middle to edges). I think that if it does happen, it happens really fast and is easy to miss, and once its done you really cant tell because of the salt. I'd guess that individual molds cool quickly enough to not gel.
My first batch of salt bars did not gel as far as I could tell, I used a 8-cavity silicon mold. The next batch I did CPOP, and I could definitely see a colour difference, same recipe. So I think it did gel the second time. And I actually liked the CPOP'ed bars better. There was a slight difference in texture that I preferred.
Wow - thanks for the great information everyone! I am super excited to try them, and I feel so much better knowing some of you had similar experiences.

My recipe was 80% coconut, 10% shea, 5% avocado, and 5% castor, so it sounds like it's not that far off from some tried and true ones you folks have used successfully.

I'll post a picture of my salt experiment once they're out of the molds. :crazy:
Salt bars tend to go through what I like to call, 'stealth gel'. In my early days of making salt soaps, I always made sure to gel them because that's what Iben (the originator of the salt bar concept) instructed in her tutorial, although I later found out that it's actually not necessary. I thought that maybe the soap would fall apart if not gelled or something, but that 's not the case- it just has more to do with 'feel' (at least to me it does).

Anyway, to ensure gel, I would CPOP all my salt bars and babysit them by checking for gel every 20 minutes without fail. I checked by lightly pressing a gloved finger on the surface of my soap and testing the resistance. As I did so, I always noticed this progression:

My soap would get harder and harder until it was pretty darn hard (usually took about 1.5 hours or so to reach the 'pretty darn hard' stage), and then it would all of a sudden go into full gel, which, by the way, was always absolutely impossible to observe with the eyes and only detectable by pressing my gloved finger on top of the soap.

I remember the first time I made a salt bar and kept checking with the gloved finger test. Iben said it needed to gel, so no matter how hard my soap kept getting, I ignored my ever-increasing nervousness and took her at her word and kept it in the oven and kept checking for gel. It took an hour and 40 minutes for it to come to a complete gel. I was able to tell it was in gel only by pressing my finger onto the soap (couldn't see it with my eyes at all).

Basically, what happened was that after it had reached a point where it was pretty darn hard, I waited another 20 minutes and checked again. I was expecting my finger to encounter a fair bit of resistance again when I pressed, but to my surprise, my finger very easily went completely through the molten soap right down to the bottom of my mold (was glad I had my gloves on!). At that point I turned off my oven and just let it sit there until it firmed back up. As soon as it was firmed back up (and not a minute later), I took it out and cut it while it was still hot (cuts easier with less crumbles that way).

IrishLass :)
Newbie here and this is the first I've heard of a "salt bar". Can someone explain the difference between this and a "regular" bar of CP soap? What is the benefit?

Thanks! Off to do some more reading :)
My salt bars get quite hot, but not an actual gel. I usually cut within the 2 hr mark. Depending on how much liquid I have put in my bars. I have a few fo's that accelerate so I have to use full water and not my 31% lye concentration that I like to use in salt bars. I just keep checking until I feel they are cool enough to just handle
Lol oh I remember having that same question Jmzblond! Salt bars are soaps typically made with lots of coconut oil (which lathers well despite the salt) and salt (sea salt or any salt with no iodine) mixed in at trace in the amount of 25-100% of total oil weight or even total soap weight. And they are often superfatted at around 20% because there is SO much coconut oil in there. So a typical recipe would be something like 80% coconut oil, 15% olive oil, 5% castor oil, superfat at 20%, with 80% of the total oil weight as salt added at trace. And use individual cavity molds or be ready to cut as early as 2-4 hours.

A good salt bar feels like washing with frothy sea foam while bruddah Iz sings to you in the background [ame=""]:)[/ame]

Search the forums for "salt bar" to get drawn into the addiction.
It's my understanding that salt bars make a super, lotion-like lather that's wonderful for shaving one's legs. The salt exfoliates and I've read that it makes your skin feel super soft.

....and they look cool.
My salt bars are that exactly. A thick creamy lather. I love my salt bars and use them every day in the shower. I like them on my face too but only every 2-3 days as it is a bit drying in my older age. But my skin is the best it's ever been since I started using them 3 years ago. Must be the salt.
100% coconut oil bars do not risk going rancid at a high super fat because of the antibacterial/ antifungal properties of the coconut oil. :) magic.

I would love some help with mine. I have my first salt bar batch in the oven and its not setting up....
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I've never put mine in the oven, and they do fine. They get so hot in the mold all on their own I never saw the point, but CPOP isn't really my thang.

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