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Grace131

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I would love to pick you soapers brains. I tried to make my first shave soap today, and it was a disaster. My recipe has 45% stearic acid, dual lye 60/40. I usually make cp soap, so this was a whole new experience for me. I don't like stearic acid, the high melt point puts me off lol. First off took a whole lot of time to melt the stearic acid, I got over this hurdle. By then my lye water was very cool so I heated it in double boiler, this is where the confusion starts!
My oils/stearic acid were up to 150F, lye water 120F, so I thought yup I will give it a go...no chance, my stearic acid starts hardening on me as soon as I pour in the lye water. I stopped and set crock pot to high, let the stearic acid melt again.
Here goes again oils/stearic acid at 175F (which should in theory work great no?) lye water at 155F ..nope, same outcome again.
Turned crockpot to high again let heat to 200F (I got carried away) lol. Lye water @ 155F, thought ok this has to work....BOOM volcano (putting off clearing it up!)
My question is this, would you re heat your lye water to a high temp? I'm thinking that if crock pot is set to high the stearic acid will eventually melt again, surely.
Pretty sure it volcanoed cause oils/stearic acid temp was too high. I'm going to try again and make a smaller batch size.
What temps would you work at. Any insight? Thanks for reading!!
 

DeeAnna

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Stearic acid melts around 150-160 F. So doesn't it make sense that the stearic will solidify if you add something cooler than 150-160 F?

Try having ALL of your ingredients about 160 F and see how that works.

You got a volcano the third time you tried this because your fats were at or above the boiling point of the water-based liquids you added ... or the crock insert was above that boiling point.

When you added the lye and/or other water-based ingredients, these liquids dropped to the bottom of the crockpot, some of the liquids instantly turned into steam, and the result was steam rising through the upper layer of fat and/or soap and causing the volume of liquid to expand.

That's why you got a volcano. Actually you were lucky to just get the volcano -- you could have gotten an erupting geyser of fat and lye all over you and your work area.

Never heat just the fats that hot AND THEN add cooler water-based liquids. That is a recipe for a trip to the emergency room with thermal and chemical burns.

In this specific situation, you can heat all of the ingredients that hot, or you can heat the water-based ingredients that hot. But you cannot heat the fats near the boiling point of the water-based liquids and then add cooler water-based ingredients.

This will be especially true when using a crock pot set on high -- the crock heating elements and crockpot insert can be much hotter than the fat itself. That further increases the danger of a geyser.

The bottom line is you have a lower limit on temp -- the freezing point of stearic acid -- and an upper limit on temp -- the boiling point of water. Stay between those two limits and you'll be fine.

Another tip -- Try heating the stearic acid with some of the fat, not just the stearic by itself. I think it melts easier that way. Some use the microwave, but I get better results by putting the stearic in a heat-proof container that's sitting in a warm water bath.
 

KimW

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@DeeAnna - how I'd like to do a mind meld with you!
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Sorry, the "Space" soap challenge must still be on my mind. 😁
 

Obsidian

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The hardening you got when adding your lye wasn't the stearic hardening, it was the stearic saponifying. It happens in just a few seconds, this is why high stearic soaps can't be made CP.

Add your lye, stir best you can. Let it cook, it will loosen back up. Stir more. Don't crank the crock to high, take your time and cook it on low. It really shouldn't take too long.

To speed things along, I melt my stearic along with all my other oils in the microwave. It takes forever in a crock pot.
 

Grace131

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Stearic acid melts around 150-160 F. So doesn't it make sense that the stearic will solidify if you add something cooler than 150-160 F?

Try having ALL of your ingredients about 160 F and see how that works.

You got a volcano the third time you tried this because your fats were at or above the boiling point of the water-based liquids you added ... or the crock insert was above that boiling point.

When you added the lye and/or other water-based ingredients, these liquids dropped to the bottom of the crockpot, some of the liquids instantly turned into steam, and the result was steam rising through the upper layer of fat and/or soap and causing the volume of liquid to expand.

That's why you got a volcano. Actually you were lucky to just get the volcano -- you could have gotten an erupting geyser of fat and lye all over you and your work area.

Never heat just the fats that hot AND THEN add cooler water-based liquids. That is a recipe for a trip to the emergency room with thermal and chemical burns.

In this specific situation, you can heat all of the ingredients that hot, or you can heat the water-based ingredients that hot. But you cannot heat the fats near the boiling point of the water-based liquids and then add cooler water-based ingredients.

This will be especially true when using a crock pot set on high -- the crock heating elements and crockpot insert can be much hotter than the fat itself. That further increases the danger of a geyser.

The bottom line is you have a lower limit on temp -- the freezing point of stearic acid -- and an upper limit on temp -- the boiling point of water. Stay between those two limits and you'll be fine.

Another tip -- Try heating the stearic acid with some of the fat, not just the stearic by itself. I think it melts easier that way. Some use the microwave, but I get better results by putting the stearic in a heat-proof container that's sitting in a warm water bath.
Thanks for your detailed reply. I tried to get the lye water temp up but no matter how long I had it on a high rolling boil on the double boiler for I couldn't seem to get it past 155F. I thought the higher fats temp would help things along to stay melted. The next time I will mix my lye last thing when everything else is melted. I will try keep them within 10deg of eachother, above the melting point of the stearic acid. I had no idea that adding the cooler lye water could cause the volcano, I actually read somewhere, to let the lye water cool 'a bit' whatever that means! Thanks for your tips, I will be having another go in the next few days.

The hardening you got when adding your lye wasn't the stearic hardening, it was the stearic saponifying. It happens in just a few seconds, this is why high stearic soaps can't be made CP.

Add your lye, stir best you can. Let it cook, it will loosen back up. Stir more. Don't crank the crock to high, take your time and cook it on low. It really shouldn't take too long.

To speed things along, I melt my stearic along with all my other oils in the microwave. It takes forever in a crock pot.
Thanks that makes total sense, I think you are right it wasn't the stearic acid hardening it was indeed saponifying. This thought did cross my mind, I was hoping when I got the lye water in that it would all melt down again, spent too much time focusing on melting the stearic acid and added the water too fast. You live and learn. Cheers
 

Grace131

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Stearic acid melts around 150-160 F. So doesn't it make sense that the stearic will solidify if you add something cooler than 150-160 F?

Try having ALL of your ingredients about 160 F and see how that works.

You got a volcano the third time you tried this because your fats were at or above the boiling point of the water-based liquids you added ... or the crock insert was above that boiling point.

When you added the lye and/or other water-based ingredients, these liquids dropped to the bottom of the crockpot, some of the liquids instantly turned into steam, and the result was steam rising through the upper layer of fat and/or soap and causing the volume of liquid to expand.

That's why you got a volcano. Actually you were lucky to just get the volcano -- you could have gotten an erupting geyser of fat and lye all over you and your work area.

Never heat just the fats that hot AND THEN add cooler water-based liquids. That is a recipe for a trip to the emergency room with thermal and chemical burns.

In this specific situation, you can heat all of the ingredients that hot, or you can heat the water-based ingredients that hot. But you cannot heat the fats near the boiling point of the water-based liquids and then add cooler water-based ingredients.

This will be especially true when using a crock pot set on high -- the crock heating elements and crockpot insert can be much hotter than the fat itself. That further increases the danger of a geyser.

The bottom line is you have a lower limit on temp -- the freezing point of stearic acid -- and an upper limit on temp -- the boiling point of water. Stay between those two limits and you'll be fine.

Another tip -- Try heating the stearic acid with some of the fat, not just the stearic by itself. I think it melts easier that way. Some use the microwave, but I get better results by putting the stearic in a heat-proof container that's sitting in a warm water bath.
Hi Dee Anna, Thanks again for the temps advice, 2nd attempt went well adding the lye water was no problem. Then I got to the mashed potato phase and it was so thick my stick blender broke. I now realize in hindsight perhaps more water would be better, I did 3:1 because I would like a hard soap, I will try 6:1 the next time. One question for you, is there any way to save this batch? It's cooking at the mo will see what happens. I hate to waste ingredients!
 

Grace131

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Thanks for your detailed reply. I tried to get the lye water temp up but no matter how long I had it on a high rolling boil on the double boiler for I couldn't seem to get it past 155F. I thought the higher fats temp would help things along to stay melted. The next time I will mix my lye last thing when everything else is melted. I will try keep them within 10deg of eachother, above the melting point of the stearic acid. I had no idea that adding the cooler lye water could cause the volcano, I actually read somewhere, to let the lye water cool 'a bit' whatever that means! Thanks for your tips, I will be having another go in the next few days.


Thanks that makes total sense, I think you are right it wasn't the stearic acid hardening it was indeed saponifying. This thought did cross my mind, I was hoping when I got the lye water in that it would all melt down again, spent too much time focusing on melting the stearic acid and added the water too fast. You live and learn. Cheers
Thanks yes you were right, the lye water went in no probs this time. Thanks for that, facing other issues now, cant seem to crack this recipe!
 

Becky1024

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You may not need to use the stick blender much because it thickens up so fast. I have a 2 speed Kitchenaid stick blender. I use it on the slower speed and blend for around 30 seconds or until it gets too thick and sticks to the bell. Then just stir with a spoon until it seems blended. Then let it HP and stir it every 15 minutes or so to keep it well blended.
 

Grace131

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You may not need to use the stick blender much because it thickens up so fast. I have a 2 speed Kitchenaid stick blender. I use it on the slower speed and blend for around 30 seconds or until it gets too thick and sticks to the bell. Then just stir with a spoon until it seems blended. Then let it HP and stir it every 15 minutes or so to keep it well blended.
Thanks for that, yes I will try in my next attempt. Attempt number 3 what can go wrong this time! I definitely stick blended far too much I thought you had too see it through the initial stages whilst constantly blending. Thinking about it rationally why would you. I am sure it will be a success. I will update when it is. Cheers
 

Grace131

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UPDATE FAIL!! Ha yes my third attempt is a fail, if anyone would like an update. I am beyond upset lol. This is my nemesis, I have been making soap for 10 years believe it or not. I reduced my stearic acid to 40% and upped my water 5:1. It all went swimmingly, I stick blended until it was pretty thick and nicely mixed. Covered and cooked. It was just so thick the batter, cooked for about 1hr, checking in and trying to stir it a bit, it passed the zap test. Then it was just impossible to mix in my superfat & glycerine. I even tried a potato masher and it started going foamy, like yes I am soap ha. SO thick, I don't know if I can try it again. I am guessing sodium lactate is a must in this recipe? I thought the large amount of water would keep it nice and moveable. I am wondering if the palm free stearic acid is to blame. I am all out of ideas!!!
 

DeeAnna

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No, sodium lactate is not a must-have in shave soap. You can use it, sure, but it's not required. I've added SL to a batch or two of liquid soap to see what I thought of it, but otherwise I've never added SL to soap.

I'd recommend you stick to a lye concentration of 25% (water:lye ratio of 3:1). More water isn't more helpful.

When I've added ingredients to shave soap after the cook, yes, they are hard to mix in. A potato masher works. Or you can knead the ingredients in, somewhat like kneading bread dough. Not sure why you were getting foam unless the extra water was a factor -- hard to say.

I think you're expecting shave soap to behave in ways that are not realistic for shave soap. Shave soap isn't a tidy thing to make -- it's thick and sticky, and hard to handle. That's just the nature of the beast.
 

Becky1024

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No, sodium lactate is not a must-have in shave soap. You can use it, sure, but it's not required. I've added SL to a batch or two of liquid soap to see what I thought of it, but otherwise I've never added SL to soap.

I'd recommend you stick to a lye concentration of 25% (water:lye ratio of 3:1). More water isn't more helpful.

When I've added ingredients to shave soap after the cook, yes, they are hard to mix in. A potato masher works. Or you can knead the ingredients in, somewhat like kneading bread dough. Not sure why you were getting foam unless the extra water was a factor -- hard to say.

I think you're expecting shave soap to behave in ways that are not realistic for shave soap. Shave soap isn't a tidy thing to make -- it's thick and sticky, and hard to handle. That's just the nature of the beast.
I agree that shave soap can behave badly! I only HP mine for about 20 minutes, add my after the cook ingredients and then I slop it into the mold. I've tried sodium lactate after the cook and frankly it doesn't make much of a difference.
 

Grace131

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I agree that shave soap can behave badly! I only HP mine for about 20 minutes, add my after the cook ingredients and then I slop it into the mold. I've tried sodium lactate after the cook and frankly it doesn't make much of a difference.
I am thinking of going down that route the next attempt Becky. After about 20-30 mins the soap just became a solid mass that was impossible to incorporate anything. I left it to cook in the hope it would be a tad softer when translucent but it wasn't. Can I ask do you then leave it to cure like cp soap or a shorter cure time? I might give the sodium lactate a go just because I have some here, would you incorporate it with your glycerine?
 

Grace131

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No, sodium lactate is not a must-have in shave soap. You can use it, sure, but it's not required. I've added SL to a batch or two of liquid soap to see what I thought of it, but otherwise I've never added SL to soap.

I'd recommend you stick to a lye concentration of 25% (water:lye ratio of 3:1). More water isn't more helpful.

When I've added ingredients to shave soap after the cook, yes, they are hard to mix in. A potato masher works. Or you can knead the ingredients in, somewhat like kneading bread dough. Not sure why you were getting foam unless the extra water was a factor -- hard to say.

I think you're expecting shave soap to behave in ways that are not realistic for shave soap. Shave soap isn't a tidy thing to make -- it's thick and sticky, and hard to handle. That's just the nature of the beast.
Thanks DeeAnna, Yes I will go back to the 3:1 water ratio as the extra water did nothing! I am going to reduce my stearic acid right down to 28 or 30% max and add in some high stearic butters. I will try the sodium lactate as I have some here, anything to help it along.
I do realize the nature of the beast and that all that stearic makes it very hard to work in the additives. However my batch was absolutely solid, there was no stirring or kneading in anything. I am hoping the reduction in stearic acid will keep it movable the next time. I am also going to cook for half the time and put in my additives early on whilst it is kind of elastic and sticky. I will give an update. Cheers
 

DeeAnna

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Are you watching the stearic acid content in your fatty acid profile to keep it high enough as you tinker with the recipe?

There's nothing wrong with using fats high in stearic and palmitic, but it's important to keep the stearic and palmitic content sufficiently high enough to make a good shave soap. Not saying a good shave soap can't be made with fats alone, but it's harder to get a good result ... and it will be more expensive too.
 

Becky1024

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I am thinking of going down that route the next attempt Becky. After about 20-30 mins the soap just became a solid mass that was impossible to incorporate anything. I left it to cook in the hope it would be a tad softer when translucent but it wasn't. Can I ask do you then leave it to cure like cp soap or a shorter cure time? I might give the sodium lactate a go just because I have some here, would you incorporate it with your glycerine?
I cure HP and CP soap the same amount of time, 4 - 6 weeks. I added the sodium lactate after the cook and stirred well and hoped it would make the soap more fluid but it didn't make a difference with my recipe. Your result may be different.
 

Grace131

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I cure HP and CP soap the same amount of time, 4 - 6 weeks. I added the sodium lactate after the cook and stirred well and hoped it would make the soap more fluid but it didn't make a difference with my recipe. Your result may be different.
Are you watching the stearic acid content in your fatty acid profile to keep it high enough as you tinker with the recipe?

There's nothing wrong with using fats high in stearic and palmitic, but it's important to keep the stearic and palmitic content sufficiently high enough to make a good shave soap. Not saying a good shave soap can't be made with fats alone, but it's harder to get a good result ... and it will be more expensive too.
I am still tinkering with the recipe, at the moment I have stearic at 47 and palmitic at 7 so I am happy with that. However I have hit another stumbling block, I decided to run the recipe through another dual lye soap calc 'Mountain Sage' and it is giving me different lye percentages.
At 5% superfat soapee is giving me 60% NAOH 30.2g 40% KOH 70.6g
Whilst Mountain sage is giving me NAOH 29.1g KOH 61.2g
I will have to do my own calculations. I am stumped quite a difference there. I ordinarily use my own soapcalc that myself and my husband made, so I am unfamiliar with online calculators and which are reliable.
 
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When I was making and sell Shave Soap, before I lost the market it was very popular in I put in low-profile 6 oz jars like these which worked out really well. Wow, another recipe I just shared. :p:p:p
1613406983528.png

I used dual lye at a ratio of NaOH/KOH 30%/70%, superfat 4%, Water: Lye Ratio 2.03: 1 (the addition of glycerin is upping your liquid amount)
Liquid OIl 7%
Castor 8%
Cocoa butter 8%
CO 22%
Stearic Acid 44%
Tallow 11%
I also used 0.5% EDTA dissolved in liquid before adding lye
0.5% Germall Plus or preservative you prefer
1% sugar
SL
.06% of total batch wt Glycerin added to oils
 

DeeAnna

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Pick a one reputable calc and stick with it. Don't switch between two or more calcs -- all this will do is make you feel confused, as you have mentioned.

As you already know, having made your own calc, every soap recipe calculator is based on different data sets for the saponificationvalues, as well as different assumptions and goals. These slight variations from calc to calc means each one will produce slightly different answers.

MMS is a reputable calc, although I'm not as fond of it as I am of Soapee or the Soapmaking Friend calc. Or you could update your own calc to include the KOH calculations. I'd double-check the answers from your homemade calc against one of these reputable online calcs, however, until you're certain your calc is working correctly.
 
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