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Saturated:Unsaturated Ratio?

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DeeAnna

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"...Where did you learn about how the fatty acids contribute..."

I'm sure there are good written resources that cover this topic well, but I mostly figured it out on my own by deconstructing the Soapcalc "numbers", picking up tidbits here and there from other soap makers, reading scholarly books and research articles about the properties of soap, and putting it all together.

I wrote an article about the Soapcalc numbers -- Soapy Stuff: Soapy Stuff. I talk in that article about how I use the fatty acid profile (either the FA percentages directly or indirectly by using the Soapcalc numbers) to design recipes.

I think you can probably find other online articles by soap makers that give similar information, but I have yet to find any written soap making book that covers this information. Most of them are still stuck on the idea that the fats we use to make soap are really the most important thing, when it's really the fatty acids in those fats that have the most effect on how a particular soap performs. That's a pretty common trend with many soap makers, so I can see why the books written by soap makers also have this bias.
 
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GemstonePony

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I'm going to recommend a book, with caveats:
The Soap Maker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch goes over fatty acids, what they are, how they work, and what they do, as well as the fatty acid breakdowns for a lot of common oils and butters.
Caveats!
1. Her recipes are often use expensive ingredients that contribute very little to the bar for the average consumer, she doesn't explain the logic behind her complicate recipes, and her superfat is too high, so I would ignore the recipe portion almost completely.
2. Her understanding of preservation is outdated, the only reason the oil she uses helps us because it normally has a short shelf life and has preservative added to it. Deanna's work is a much better resource for that.
3. She doesn't care for animal fats, so doesn't do much with them.

However, she has lots of graphs which I screenshot for frequent reference, and once you're familiar with what the fatty acids do, a brief Google search of the fatty acid profile for any material you're using will give you a rough idea of what qualities it will lend to the soap.
 

AliOop

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The Ultimate Guide to CP Soap (e-book by Ashlee Greene) has pretty comprehensive information about fatty acids. She also explains how to use fatty acid profiles to create your own recipes with your desired soap qualities. Her other Ultimate Guide e-books (HP and LS) have this same information. I found all of them extremely helpful in my soapmaking journey, mostly because it is nice to have lots of information gathered in one place. You can purchase any one of them on ultimatehpsoap.com.
 

Loran

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Hi DeeAnna, I was just reading your link in soapy stuff. That is a LOT of technical information! That’s something I’ll have to read over and over to lock that info in. I’m confused as the last poster, about finding info that states what oils have which Major properties to use to come with the formula desired. My first experiments I used a recipe that had mostly CO, with some OO( I then converted ounces to cups since I didn’t have a scale and was only familiar with cups and tablespoons, don’t worry, I learned my lesson and ordered a scale). Honestly this information is making it scary to be a soap maker!
 

DeeAnna

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A lot of soap makers have the philosophy of "I just want to make soap, so just point me at a decent recipe; I don't want to understand the whys and hows." I can appreciate that.

And I can also appreciate why the more science-minded soap makers become confused and frustrated as they start learning the math and science behind making soap. I imagine for every person who perseveres with the math and science, there are quite a few who give up.

My Grandma Goldie made soap by blindly following a recipe with no knowledge of the underlying science and math. That's all that was available back in her day, even if she'd wanted to know more. There's nothing wrong with that soap making approach even today. A lot of us, including me, cook and bake without having a clue about controlling the proportions of liquid to flour to leaveners, etc. and we can still bake a decadent chocolate cake and cook scrumptious fried chicken.

What bothers me more than the "seat of the pants" soap makers are the people want to make up science-y sounding procedures, ideas, and rules that aren't factual and don't work.
 

GemstonePony

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Hi DeeAnna, I was just reading your link in soapy stuff. That is a LOT of technical information! That’s something I’ll have to read over and over to lock that info in. I’m confused as the last poster, about finding info that states what oils have which Major properties to use to come with the formula desired. My first experiments I used a recipe that had mostly CO, with some OO( I then converted ounces to cups since I didn’t have a scale and was only familiar with cups and tablespoons, don’t worry, I learned my lesson and ordered a scale). Honestly this information is making it scary to be a soap maker!
I absolutely understand feeling overwhelmed. The awesome thing about being in this community is that you don't have to know all the things right away, though I'd recommend learning as much as possible. There's no bad soap (as long as the lye is saponified), just soap that doesn't do what you want. If you tell us what you're working with and what you don't like about the results you're getting, odds are we can probably help you achieve something closer to what you want. In fact, I believe that's what the recipe feedback section of the forum is there for. And if you stick around, the science-y stuff will probably sink in over time.
 

cedarstar

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I've read some people prefer the 60/40mg but personally most of my recipes are closer to 40/60. I pay closer attention to keeping my lauric/myristic lower, stearic/palmatic, oleic higher and linoleic/linolenic under 14 and my cleansing at 12. We all have a personal preference. I like a low cleansing bar that is long lasting. :)
 

The Park Bench

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A lot of soap makers have the philosophy of "I just want to make soap, so just point me at a decent recipe; I don't want to understand the whys and hows." I can appreciate that.

And I can also appreciate why the more science-minded soap makers become confused and frustrated as they start learning the math and science behind making soap. I imagine for every person who perseveres with the math and science, there are quite a few who give up.

My Grandma Goldie made soap by blindly following a recipe with no knowledge of the underlying science and math. That's all that was available back in her day, even if she'd wanted to know more. There's nothing wrong with that soap making approach even today. A lot of us, including me, cook and bake without having a clue about controlling the proportions of liquid to flour to leaveners, etc. and we can still bake a decadent chocolate cake and cook scrumptious fried chicken.

What bothers me more than the "seat of the pants" soap makers are the people want to make up science-y sounding procedures, ideas, and rules that aren't factual and don't work.
The science portion of soap making is what intrigues me and keeps me soaping! But my degree is in exercise and nutrition so I have a passion for research. I have always said that anybody can make soap but not everybody puts science into their soap making.
 

DeeAnna

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"...anybody can make soap but not everybody puts science into their soap making ...."

True that.

I'm not sure I make soap that's any better than anyone else makes, however. I truly don't believe that knowing something about soap science means my soap is always a blue ribbon winner. But when soap doesn't work out the way I want it to, I'd like to think I have the resources to help me fix most problems and make improvements.
 
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