Separating liquid dish soap

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Oct 15, 2023
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Regina, Saskatchewan
Hello! This is my first post here, but I've learned so much from the threads in this forum, so thank you to everyone for your years of commitment to helping people!

I've been making liquid soaps successfully for a few years, but I'm trying a new recipe and I can't seem to determine why it keeps separating. Recipe:

Distilled water - 61%
Coco betaine - 10%
Decyl glucoside - 15%
Glycerine - 10%
Guar gum - 2%
Sodium carbonate - 1%
Lemon essential oil - 1%
Lime essential oil - 1%

This is my first time using decyl glucoside and coco betaine, and I typically thicken my KOH liquid soaps with just salt. When it initially separated, out of desperation, I tried blending in 150g of Polysorbate 20 to see if it would stabilize, to no avail. Photo attached. Any suggestions are welcome! I've got 5 gallons of this stuff to fix. Haha

You've made a cleanser based on a blend of synthetic detergents. It's not actual lye-based "soap" so by calling this a "soap", you'll endlessly confuse people here. Call it a syndet cleanser instead to avoid ongoing problems with terminology.

At this point, I don't have any words of wisdom for you except to say I would have made a much smaller test batch if this type of cleanser is new to me. Five gallons is a lot of product to try to fix.

Have you ever used guar gum as a thickener before? I'm no expert at this, but what I gather from others is that other thickeners are easier to use in this type of product.

I also question the addition of sodium carbonate. This will raise the pH, because it's an alkaline salt. Most syndet cleansers are slightly acidic to neutral pH which is in an ideal range for skin -- I don't see the point of raising the pH if this is meant for handwashing and/or bathing. And if you need to raise the pH, a person would want to do so based on testing the pH to ensure the pH is within the desired range.

I'd also have erred on the side of making just the cleanser blend without fragrance to learn whether the base cleanser is stable. Some fragrances are fine in liquid cleansers, some cause trouble -- best to know if the base cleanser is working properly before complicating things with optional additives such as fragrance. And then add fragrance to a small sample of the cleanser, rather than add it to the whole batch.

I get the feeling you're following someone else's formulation -- have you contacted the author for advice?

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