Shaving soap with NAOH and KOH?

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

Mighty Mama

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2013
Messages
24
Reaction score
5
Location
Knysna, Western Cape - South Africa
After three years of making hot and cold process soap, I have been approached to make a shaving soap for a local barber shop. I've spent some time researching only to find out I actually need to use a 60/40 percentage of KOH and NAOH as well as stearic acid. My only problem is that there doesn't seem to be a soap calculator that lets me work with both chemicals.

If I use Soap Calc and work out the recipe first for the NAOH and then for the KOH, how do I know how much water to add as each one shows a different amount.

If any of you out there has any tips for me I would be most grateful!:p
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,998
Location
So Cal
This calculator lets you enter both NaOH and KOH, but it does not calculate for 90% KOH (which seems to be the most common in the US), and as I recall it was missing one oil I wanted to use - but it does let you enter the SAP value manually so that worked. I think I just went back and forth between that one and soapcalc till I got numbers that made sense.

The other way would be to enter 40% of your oil weight into soap calc for the NaOH and do it again with 60% of the weight for KOH and then add the two water results for the whole recipe.
 

Corinne

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2014
Messages
71
Reaction score
42
Location
So Cal
Forgive me if I sound a little stupid for asking this, because I only started CP soaping very recently, but... why do you need the KOH and stearic acid?

From my understanding those aren't necessary at all unless, of course, you are trying to make more of a whip/butter type soap rather than a solid soap?

If you want to make a shaving soap that is CP or HP you only need a greater ratio of oils which produce more lather (like castor oil) and a bit of bentonite clay to help wick and give "slip" to it from my understanding. I've been looking into this too as I want to start making a shave soap bar.

Is the barber shop who requested it looking for a shaving "cream" or an actual bar soap that they would lather up with a brush? This makes a huge difference!

Sorry if this is completely unrelated, I just don't quite understand it fully. Like I said, I'm rather new to this whole soaping thing, so forgive me if I say anything stupid!
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,998
Location
So Cal
I can't speak for the OP, but after reading this thread, I used both NaOH and KOH because I wanted a puck with the lather boost from the KOH. Plus it sounded interesting and rolling out the soap like cookie dough as DeAnna suggested let me try 4 different scent combos. Not a stupid question at all :)

Edit to add, it's late and I'm tired and I can't remember why I used the stearic, but I'm sure there was a very good reason. It's a nice shaving soap.
 
Last edited:

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,472
Reaction score
19,390
Location
USA
KOH is usually used in shave soap to increase the solubility of the soap. Stearic is important because it creates a dense, long lasting, cushiony lather that protects the face during shaving and increases the closeness of the shave.

When you add a lot of stearic acid to a soap recipe, whether the stearic comes from tallow/lard/palm or is added directly as a separate ingredient, it reduces the solubility a lot. Adding KOH compensates for that.

Theoretically a shave soap can be made without KOH, but it won't lather as well as the same recipe made with KOH. The % of KOH can range from, oh, about 60% up to 100%.

http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=34264
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,472
Reaction score
19,390
Location
USA
"...If you want to make a shaving soap that is CP or HP you only need a greater ratio of oils which produce more lather (like castor oil) and a bit of bentonite clay to help wick and give "slip" to it from my understanding...."

I think you'll find, if you research the matter further, that these ideas are "common wisdom" amongst many soapers. This "wisdom" isn't necessarily accepted by the wet-shaving community, however, and those fellows are the ones to please, not the soapers. I've seen a fair number of soapers who start with a nice bath bar recipe, add a little clay, and think it's a shave soap. The wet shaving community is far more particular. They are quite divided about the use of clay -- some like it, some don't. Some well respected commercial shave soaps do not have any clay. Castor may or may not be in a good shave soap. What IS in a good shave soap is a high % of stearic acid along with other ingredients that contribute to a dense, long lasting, cushiony lather.

Edit: And castor enhances lather, but it does not produce lather in and of itself.
 
Last edited:

The Efficacious Gentleman

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
9,020
Reaction score
9,169
Location
Austria
"...If you want to make a shaving soap that is CP or HP you only need a greater ratio of oils which produce more lather (like castor oil) and a bit of bentonite clay to help wick and give "slip" to it from my understanding...."

I think you'll find, if you research the matter further, that these ideas are "common wisdom" amongst many soapers. This "wisdom" isn't necessarily accepted by the wet-shaving community, however, and those fellows are the ones to please, not the soapers...............
This! You're not making a soap, you're making a shaving soap - for that, you need to look at things totally differently

Please think twice before using clays and things - people are often either for or against, but the best idea is to make a good shaving soap that doesn't need it - some people say it dulls the razor faster, others that it can do some serious damage to the blade - this is not a good things, so err on the side of caution and leave the dirt in the garden.

The Songwind thread is what I consider to be the starting place for people looking to make a shaving soap - so much knowledge in that thread from so many soapers, it is unreal.
 

wetshavingproducts

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2014
Messages
245
Reaction score
136
Some well respected commercial shave soaps do not have any clay.
Taking this statement one step further... No large scale manufacturer I know of uses clay in their soap. Only small craft soapers use clay in their shaving soap. AFAIK. Could be wrong, there might be some foreign manufacturer that does. But IIRC none of the big names do. Which would be Mitchell's, DRH, T&H, MdC, Proraso, Tcheung Fu Tsing (sp), Edwin Jagger, Tabac, Arko (I think, never looked), etc etc. Cheaper/junker brands (ie Williams) may, but since I never looked and since they are crummy anyway, I don't count them.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,472
Reaction score
19,390
Location
USA
Nope, Williams mug doesn't. I haven't seen clay listed in any of the other "big name" shave soaps I've looked at either. But there may be smaller makers who use clay in their formulations with success. I'm not the last word on this type of thing, most definitely. :)
 

alaskazimm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
83
Reaction score
40
Location
Western Alaska
Please think twice before using clays and things - people are often either for or against, but the best idea is to make a good shaving soap that doesn't need it - some people say it dulls the razor faster, others that it can do some serious damage to the blade - this is not a good things, so err on the side of caution and leave the dirt in the garden.
FWIW, I mainly use artisan shave soaps that all use clay (either bentonite or kaolin) and I haven't noticed my blades dulling any faster or any physical damage to the blades or razor. I DE shave and haven't used a straight, yet anyway.
 

Mighty Mama

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2013
Messages
24
Reaction score
5
Location
Knysna, Western Cape - South Africa
Wow...thanks for all your very insightful replies everyone!

I made a trial soap yesterday with 20% of each coconut oil, avocado oil, shea and cocoa butter and 20% Stearic acid. It has left me with a bar that is quite soft in feel (it was made with 40% NAOH and 60% KOH) and which lathers incredibly compared to my 'regular' soaps. The foam is just so much denser and thicker and has more structure than the foam from my bar soaps.

I watched a video on You Tube yesterday where a guy has testers of various amounts of Stearic acid in soap. The 60% one is so much fluffier and copious than the 20% Stearic Acid that I will probably try making that today just to see what the difference is.

Is it better to melt the Stearic in the microwave before adding it? Last time I added it directly to trace and not sure that it dissolved properly.

I would like to try a batch with bentonite but not if its going to dull the razor. Just want to make sure the soap has enough slip without it though! I also added glycerin to the recipe and that may also not be necessary....figuring it out as I go.

Thanks again for all your comments.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
9,020
Reaction score
9,169
Location
Austria
Have you read the Songwind thread "My first shaving soap is a success"? There is so much info there, it is simply a must read.

@alaskazimm, do you know how much of it they add? It would be interesting to see if there is a sweet spot between enough to add slip and so much that it causes issues. That said, if I can make a shave product without it, that would be my first choice, personally.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,472
Reaction score
19,390
Location
USA
"... Last time I added it directly to trace and not sure that it dissolved properly...."

I'd be willing to bet it didn't, unless your batter was above 160 deg F. That is roughly the melt temperature of stearic. It really needs to be fully melted to give good results.
 

Lindy

Soap Diva Queen
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Messages
8,625
Reaction score
1,643
Location
BC
Mighty Mama you had the percentages backwards.


I use kaolin clay in and mine is very popular with the wet shaving community.
 

shunt2011

Moderator Emeritus
Moderator Emeritus
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
15,448
Reaction score
9,736
Location
Michigan
You need to melt the stearic in with your other oils. It won't dissolve properly added at trace if at all.
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,998
Location
So Cal
From that monster shaving soap thread, DeAnna pointed out that melting the stearic by itself and then mixing it in might be a better idea, because the stearic melts at a higher temp than the other fats, and you don't necessarily want to overheat them all.
 

Lindy

Soap Diva Queen
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Messages
8,625
Reaction score
1,643
Location
BC
I just put the Stearic in with my oils...
 

songwind

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2013
Messages
489
Reaction score
347
Location
Minnesota
From that monster shaving soap thread, DeAnna pointed out that melting the stearic by itself and then mixing it in might be a better idea, because the stearic melts at a higher temp than the other fats, and you don't necessarily want to overheat them all.
But if the rest of the oils are at a temperature lower than the melting point of stearic, and you add the stearic to them, isn't there a chance you could lower the stearic below its melting point and cause it to recrystalize?

It takes a while, but I usually just put everything in the crock pot and turn it on. Then I do something else for an hour while it melts, and add in the lye once it's all liquid.
 

songwind

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2013
Messages
489
Reaction score
347
Location
Minnesota
Mighty Mama you had the percentages backwards.


I use kaolin clay in and mine is very popular with the wet shaving community.
What's your brand/site? I see guys on the forums frequently asking about Canadian artisans that aren't being rebranded as RazoRock and I don't have anyone to suggest to them.
 

Latest posts

Top