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Soap Paste Consistency Questions

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lrachel

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I have now made about seven batches of LS and there is always such a vast difference in paste consistencies. I've done water method, glycerin method and water method with soap shreds from a coconut/lard CP bar (I've only done this with liquid laundry soap).

Right now my preference is glycerin method. The first one I tried is the infamous soaping 101 blend and i loved the paste consistency, but of course want to shake things up (and I don't like to soap with a lye excess).

Yesterday I made a batch with OO (45%), CO (20%), AKO (20%), CB (5%) and castor (10%) with a 3% SF. After my oils melted, I took it off the heat and left it off heat for the remainder of the process. It went translucent quickly and was too thick for my stick blender before there were any tiny bubbles. Although it was completely clear, I went ahead and stirred by hand for another minute or so just to make myself feel better.

I put a cover on it and let it sit for about 90 minutes. When I went to check on it, it was Extremely thick.........almost hard. It was difficult to get out of the crock, but it diluted very quickly (almost completely diluted within a couple hours, but because it was so thick, it was in quite small pieces). The resulting liquid is completely clear.

So my questions:

1 - Did any of the oils I used make it fly right past taffy stage? What can I do next time to achieve (and stay at) a nice, thick taffy stage?
2 - Is it normal (and okay) for it to dilute so quickly? I dilute in a crockpot set on warm. I add my boiled water and then the paste. Once it's started to dilute, I turn off the the crock, cover and just let it sit.

Any other tips?
 

Susie

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How much water to how much KOH? That seems to be the determining factor for paste consistency and dilution for me.

Also, please post the entire recipe in weights, including KOH and water to get the best results from inquiries.
 

lrachel

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My recipe (16 oz test batch)
7.2 oz OO (pomace)
3.2 oz CO
3.2 oz AKO
.8 oz cocoa butter
1.6 oz castor
3.33 oz KOH
9.98 oz glycerin

I used Summerbee's calc.
 

Susie

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Looks fine to me. Proper KOH and glycerin amounts. I would count my blessings for the fast dilution and keep on making it. I have yet to have any 2 different recipes go through the same stages, so I don't sweat the small stuff. As long as I end up with paste, I dilute and keep on keeping on.
 

lrachel

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It does seem odd to complain about quick dilution :). I was mostly shocked by how thick it was. I thought I was going to break the spoon getting it out!
 

Susie

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I have had that happen...not with quick dilution, though. Mine took forever to dilute.
 

DeeAnna

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Of the few batches I've done, the more glycerin there has been in the soap batter, the firmer the soap paste tends to be. The one all-water batch actually ended up with less water in it due to evaporation during the cook compared with my other batches. It was definitely softer and gooey-er right after it was made, although it firmed up after a few weeks until it was about the same as the batches with glycerin. Not that I've made eleventy-hundred batches, however, so take this with a grain of salt.

What I think may be going on is that our KOH paste soap can end up as one of two basic types of soap gel -- either "neat soap" or "middle soap". Neat soap is that thick taffy- or vaseline-like translucent stuff that is thick but reasonably easy to stir. It's also what you also get when a bar soap gels in the mold. Middle soap is also a gel phase of soap, but it is MUCH stiffer and thicker, even though middle soap actually contains more water than neat soap. The fats used will determine how likely a soap will go into a middle soap phase -- soaps with a high % of oleic acid (found in olive and avocado for example) are going to be more prone to this.

There are two ways to get a KOH soap paste out of that hard-to-stir middle soap stage. One is to just cook it longer and evaporate more water so the gel shifts out of middle soap stage back into a neat soap phase. (I think this is what some liquid soap makers do when they think they need to cook the soap paste for hours or days. They're not saponifying the soap any better than those of us who cook for far less time, but the soap is changing its physical state due to the long cook.) The other way is to just sigh heavily and get the soap diluted. Since middle soap contains more water than neat soap, it stands to reason that middle soap may dilute a bit easier despite its extreme thickness. The way to keep a KOH soap paste from reaching the middle soap stage in the first place is to adjust that particular recipe so you use a little LESS water. This will help keep the paste in the neat soap stage.

So how does using all or part glycerin in a KOH soap paste affect this neat-soap and middle-soap stuff? It appears to me that using glycerin alters the point at which a soap paste shifts from being neat soap to being a middle soap gel. Looks to me, and I AM just guessing here, that more glycerin increases the tendency for the soap paste to become a middle-soap gel and less likely to become a neat-soap gel, all other things being equal.
 
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