Shave soap lather question. Need more cushion!

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Str8t_Shaver

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I have used my first batch of shave soap and for a first attempt I think it came out pretty good. I used the following:
30% KOH solution
CO 76°- 33%
Castor Oil -15%
Stearic Acid - 52%
I used HP method and cooked for 30 minutes. I added glycerine and fragrance at the finish. It has rested for 5 weeks. It is slick as can be, but I want to see if I can achieve a better result. Here is my question:
What do I need to adjust to get a thicker lather? It lathers good. It just seems a bit "thin." I want to try to get a longer lasting, thicker, possibly more creamy. Perhaps what I'm looking for is more "cushion". I open to suggestions on what to change.
 

DeeAnna

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I personally would not use castor in the recipe. Can't say I've seen many shave soap recipes or ingredients lists that include it. Castor does not make lather in and of itself, it just stabilizes the lather -- makes it last longer -- as does glycerin. So if you want thicker lather, you need more lather-making fats, not castor.

Have you studied the monster shave soap thread started by Songwind? I know it's big, but it's a good education.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I agree with DeeAnna - No castor is needed.

3 suggestions - do read that long soaping thread, start to finish. Then try the co/stearic recipe that was found to work well. Then try adding in some tallow at the amounts people found to work well. It'll help you see the development (and the co/stearic recipe is pretty much MdC, so that is far from bad!) so that you'll know how to tweak the % to be right for you. 1% changes between co, tallow and stearic can actually make a noticeable difference
 

Str8t_Shaver

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I have read the Songwind thread. I will continue to try to make small tweaks. I need the castor to help the lather to last. It is already not holding as long as I'd like. I have been wet shaving for over a year and half the majortiy of my favorite artisan soap brands have castor in them. I will continue to research and just keep making more soap. That can't be a bad thing can it? :)
 

shunt2011

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Too much castor will inhibit the lather and make it more sticky. I agree with the others that you don't need it or very little. The recipes in the thread by Songwind have delevoped and tested it. You can certainly research and keep making soap till you find what works for you. Many have done so.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I don't think that you do need castor to make the lather last. I have no castor in my soap and the lather lasts for ages. A shave soap NEEDS castor like it NEEDS clay - in that it really doesn't need it at all.

As Shari said, too much is also a very bad thing, but even at lower amounts it is a bubble booster rather than anything else.
 

DeeAnna

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Think about it -- In your first post you say you are using castor at 15% but you want to "get a longer lasting, thicker, possibly more creamy" lather. We're telling you you don't need as much or any castor and the reasons why ... but you argue you "need the castor to help the lather to last."

It sounds to me like there's a mismatch between your perception of what castor should be doing for your soap is not what it is really doing.

You really, truly do not need castor to make a very long lasting lather. Use it if you wish, but it is not a strict necessity.
 
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Str8t_Shaver

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I'm so sorry if I came across argumentitive. I by no means want to argue with anyone here. It sounds like I'm wrong in what I think castor should be doing. I'm still new so I may not always know everything. When I look at the properties on Soap Calc it shows it at 90 bubbly. Should I be looking for oils high on the bubbly number? I will play with some formulas with and without castor and see what I can "create" and then get to cooking.
 

kchaystack

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I'm so sorry if I came across argumentitive. I by no means want to argue with anyone here. It sounds like I'm wrong in what I think castor should be doing. I'm still new so I may not always know everything. When I look at the properties on Soap Calc it shows it at 90 bubbly. Should I be looking for oils high on the bubbly number? I will play with some formulas with and without castor and see what I can "create" and then get to cooking.
Oh the soap numbers.... how many (including myself) have they led astray.

I would not pay them much mind, as they can be really misleading. Later, as you get to know more about soap and its chemistry, there are posts from topofmurrayhill and DeeAnna that explain them...
 

DeeAnna

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Like I said before in this thread, castor does not make lather in and of itself, it just stabilizes the lather created by the soap made from the other fats. So if you want thicker lather, you need more lather-making fats, not castor.

That means you want to look at using fats that give a thick creamy lather such as tallow or perhaps butters such as cocoa butter or shea butter. Stearic + coconut oil works pretty well, but shaver dudes like KC, Songwind, Fat Faced Charlie, Lee Bussey (Silver Fox), and the Efficacious Gent have made it clear that's just a starting point. They have added tallow and/or butters and even lanolin to build on this basic theme -- and what's even better, they have been kind and generous enough to share their suggestions for improvement.
 

MySoapyHeart

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Oh the soap numbers.... how many (including myself) have they led astray.

I would not pay them much mind, as they can be really misleading. Later, as you get to know more about soap and its chemistry, there are posts from topofmurrayhill and DeeAnna that explain them...
Ditto this!

Whenever I use SoapCalc to formulate a new recipe, or I need a fresher copy of an already exisiting recipe that I have tried over and ooooover again, and that I actually know to the core what feels like in real life; all I think about when looking at the hardness numbers etc. is...

Nope.
Nope-nope-nope.

SoapCalc is great, it really is a great tool! But after more experience you WILL notice a discrepansy between the recipe you put in, and the actuall feel of your "output" soap, so to speak.

SoapCalc is great, it really is! But it does has its shortcomings. This is something you will notice as your experience grows when it comes to soaping with different oils.

Sometimes SoapCalk lies or twist the truth somewhat - without really meaning to. This is something you`ll learn to understand after soaping a while ; )
 

IrishLass

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Just tip-toeing in..... Not to be a pot-stirrer, anything, but I use 20% castor in my shave formula and it works quite well in it. :think:

In defense of lovely castor.......... For any of that are having doubts as to whether castor can be a good addition to shave soap or not, I can name 2 crazy wet-shaving dudes who are members of this forum (who I will refrain from naming unless they want to be named, but suffice it to say they are by no means newbies when it comes to wet-shaving) who have both used my shave soap and gave it high marks. I told them point blank to be brutally honest with me, so unless they were trying to be nice to me (which I truly hope they weren't), I can safely say castor can actually be 'A-Okay :thumbup: ' in shave soap.

But then again, their word goes only so far with me, because the only opinions that really matter are my hubby's and son's. They're the ones that actually shave with my soap on a daily basis, and they both love it....... and they are both brutally honest with me about things they don't like about stuff I make, or else (it's a house rule we all agreed upon).

That of course does not mean that castor will work well in every formula, mind you, but it works very well in mine.

Tip-toeing back out.....


IrishLass :)
 

DeeAnna

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IL, I understand your point about YOUR recipe working well for you, but the OP says he is dissatisfied with his recipe. Of all the things that could be changed that might give improvement, it seems likely to look at reducing castor in favor of other fats that will build a thick lather. But if 20% castor works well for you -- with the implication being that his 15% castor is fine as-is -- then what ideas might you suggest to improve his recipe?
 

IrishLass

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DeeAnna said:
IL, I understand your point about YOUR recipe working well for you, but the OP says he is dissatisfied with his recipe.
I understand that, DeeAnna. I may not have stated it well, but the main point I was (hopefully) trying to get across was for the OP not to discount castor out of hand as quickly/easily as some seemed to be encouraging him to do. Some of the posts came off to me as castor being totally useless or as bad as using clay in shaving soap , which, it is no secret, I disagree with (depending on the formula, that is).

DeeAnna said:
what ideas might you suggest to improve his recipe?
To the OP- if it were me, I would reduce the coconut oil from 33% to something more like 10% to 15% at the most, and increase the oils/butters accordingly that contribute to creamy lather as opposed to fluffy lather such as coconut, the latter of which I've found tends to produce thin rather than thick lather in shave soap and that fizzles out quick and doesn't contribute much to cushion or long-lastingness. For me, castor happens to be one of the liquid oils I consider to be in the cushiony, thick, long-lasting-creamy-lather camp in my shave soap.


IrishLass :)
 

DeeAnna

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Sounds like the voice of experience. Nice stuff, IL! Thanks.
 

Str8t_Shaver

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Thanks everyone. IL how do can I find out which oils produce creamy or fluffy lather. Do I just search the Internet for oil properties? If the numbers in Soap Calc aren't super helpful where do I go to find the info?
 

topofmurrayhill

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I'm so sorry if I came across argumentitive. I by no means want to argue with anyone here. It sounds like I'm wrong in what I think castor should be doing. I'm still new so I may not always know everything. When I look at the properties on Soap Calc it shows it at 90 bubbly. Should I be looking for oils high on the bubbly number? I will play with some formulas with and without castor and see what I can "create" and then get to cooking.
Haha, nobody would think you're the one being argumentative.

So you have a lot of informed opinions and reliable recipes. That's always good. But you should still make whatever you feel like making and go in whatever direction your interest and intuition leads you. What has already been figured out doesn't bring us to the end of history.

Castor oil acts as a solvent in soap. It can make transparent and liquid soaps more clear, and it can increase the lather of hard soaps by making them more soluble. It works even in low quantities. I think its most useful quality where lather is concerned is that it brings out the properties of some of the least soluble soaps like those with stearic and palmitic. That would agree with IL's observations about it contributing to thicker and creamier lather.
 
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DeeAnna

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"...how do can I find out which oils produce creamy or fluffy lather..."

Soap calc IS helpful. It's just that the names it uses for its groupings of fatty acids are misleading. They lead beginners to form false impressions, such as castor oil being the holy grail of lather or such as a zero cleansing score means the soap won't cleanse. And that leads to a lot of new soaper angst.

This article on Soapcalc briefly explains more about what fatty acids are contained in its different groups and what these fatty acids do in soap: http://soapcalc.net/info/SoapQualities.asp

Once you learn which fatty acids are contained in the different groupings, then the Soapcalc numbers can give you a quick, rough idea of how the soap will behave. Keep in mind I said quick and rough. If you want a better idea about the fine detail, you will want to move on to look at the individual fatty acids. Even if you design the "perfect" soap by the numbers, it will be modified by the additives included in the recipe and the effect of superfat, since Soapcalc numbers don't account for anything about those factors.

So to really learn the true nature of the soap, you just have to make some and try it out.
 

FNG

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After a recent experiment, I'd like to add to the discussion on Castor oil for lather. Let's assume that the 100% SA soap test described on TheSage's site (http://blog.thesage.com/2012/03/26/single-oil-soap-stearic-acid/) accurately states the result of no lather (I haven't personally tried this yet), we can conclude that SA by itself does not generate lather.

I recently tested 60% SA and 40% Castor and it lathers extremely well (60% KOH / 40% NaOH shave soap testing). It resembles the MdC lather and lasts quite a while when left unmolested. If I can, I'll try to get a video or pic posted to show the results.
 

FNG

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Here's a pic of the test soap and a boar hair brush after about 5 seconds of loading. Soap had a little water added to wet the surface and brush had excess water shaken out.



After 20 seconds of hand lathering:



40 seconds:



Piled on the brush:



Not amazing in the after shave/rinse feel department, but a sight better than SA + CO.
 

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