Soap Shreds in lye water

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SheilaB

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I watched a soap making tutorial awhile back and the woman put what looked like a couple of tablespoons of soap shreds in the lye water when she mixed it up. She did explain the benefit of doing so, just that she always does. Now I can't find the video and can't remember her name so I can't go back see if I missed something. I've been making soap for a few years now and am very clear on why one might add salt/sugar to the lye water but can anyone enlighten me as to why one would add soap shreds?
 

DeeAnna

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Soap is an emulsifier. If you start with a little bit of emulsifier (aka soap) right from the beginning, the soap batter will reach a stable emulsion easier (in other words, the soap will come to trace quicker) so you don't have to mix the batter as long.

I'm not sure how useful this is for bar soap if you're using a stick blender too. Stick blenders really shortcut the time to reach a stable emulsion. But adding a bit of soap to the batter can be useful if you're hand stirring the batter or if you're making liquid soap (soap made with KOH).
 

SheilaB

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Thank you DeeAnna, since you mentioned it, I do remember that it was a liquid soap making video and now it makes perfect sense to me. Mystery solved :) and I will try it next time I make liquid soap.
 

DeeAnna

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@Susie was the one who shared this tip awhile back. She uses grated bar (NaOH) soap in her liquid soap batter.

I don't recall the exact amount she uses, but I suspect you don't have to be super precise about it. Maybe something like 1/2 to 1 oz of grated bar soap per pound (or 500 g) of fats? Hopefully she will chime in and set me straight. :)
 

ResolvableOwl

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KOH and NaOH are salts. In general, salts diminish the emulsification power of soap (neither alkali hydroxides nor the soaps themselves are exceptions); it depends on the lye concentration if the added soap will dissolve at all. It's not even difficult to salt-out soap with strong lye (split a homogeneous soap solution into a watery lye layer and floating soap curds – the opposite of what a soap batter should be like).

It's a matter of recipe fine-tuning (composition, temperature, mechanical work) if this hybrid saponification/rebatch technique is of any use or not. It might work, it might not. It won't hurt, but unfortunately it's not the cure-all to magically speed up saponification and/or replace intimate mixing of lye and oils by mechanical means (stick blender).

ETA: Putting bar soap into a LS recipe is a clever way of adding small sodium quantities in a controlled way (for viscosity adjustment).
 

Ladka

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Soap is an emulsifier. If you start with a little bit of emulsifier (aka soap) right from the beginning, the soap batter will reach a stable emulsion easier (in other words, the soap will come to trace quicker) so you don't have to mix the batter as long.
Will have to test it in my CP lard soap - mine takes ages to reach stable emulsion (with SB of course).
 

DeeAnna

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"...It might work, it might not. It won't hurt,..."

Yes, it works. I wouldn't have mentioned it otherwise. I'm not interested in spreading information that is not reputable.

"...but unfortunately it's not the cure-all to magically speed up saponification and/or replace intimate mixing of lye and oils by mechanical means (stick blender)...."

If you took the time read my earlier post, you would also know I already explained, "...I'm not sure how useful this is for bar soap if you're using a stick blender too. Stick blenders really shortcut the time to reach a stable emulsion. But adding a bit of soap to the batter can be useful if you're hand stirring the batter or if you're making liquid soap (soap made with KOH)...."
 

ResolvableOwl

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If you took the time
Do you have a reason to assume I didn't read your post? Why can't we “assume positive intent” like a friendly signature of a fellow soapmaker here constantly reminds us of? We even agree on the topic, why that crude tone?
 

AliOop

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Ashlee Greene of Ultimate Guide to Soap is one who recommends using a few soap shreds (or a few drops of an EO with eugenol in it) per batch to speed up trace, specifically in HTHP, although I could see where it would also work in LS. She mentions that this is essentially the same theory behind the way commercial soap makers don’t clean their vats between batches - they just continuously add more materials. The existing soap remnants in the vats helps the newly-introduced ingredients to emulsify and trace.

Like DeeAnna suggested, Ashlee isn’t precise about measurements; she does caution that only a few shreds per 500g is needed for a noticeable reaction. And if the soap will be for sale, she made the good point that the shreds should be from a single-oil soap, such as OO or CO, where that oil is already part of the new recipe. Then you don’t need to worry about labeling issues.

ETA: this same phenomena can also cause problems if you are making multiple batches of CP, and you don't thoroughly clean the bell of your SB in between batches. The leftover soap residue inside the bell will cause your later batches to trace much faster. I know this from personal experience because I've had two SBs with bells that were notoriously difficult to clean out completely, even after whirring in hot soapy water and using a bottle brush under the blades. Soap always remained stuck in the gasket unless I got it out with toothpicks!
 
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Sharon Patterson

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I watched a soap making tutorial awhile back and the woman put what looked like a couple of tablespoons of soap shreds in the lye water when she mixed it up. She did explain the benefit of doing so, just that she always does. Now I can't find the video and can't remember her name so I can't go back see if I missed something. I've been making soap for a few years now and am very clear on why one might add salt/sugar to the lye water but can anyone enlighten me as to why one would add soap shreds?
I do HP and am lousy at doing rebatches so I will shred soap, put it in my lye water to kind of soften it and then add it to my new oils.
 

RDak

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Soap is an emulsifier. If you start with a little bit of emulsifier (aka soap) right from the beginning, the soap batter will reach a stable emulsion easier (in other words, the soap will come to trace quicker) so you don't have to mix the batter as long.

I'm not sure how useful this is for bar soap if you're using a stick blender too. Stick blenders really shortcut the time to reach a stable emulsion. But adding a bit of soap to the batter can be useful if you're hand stirring the batter or if you're making liquid soap (soap made with KOH).
Off topic but have you ever used a hybrid way to make liquid soap by combining a little bit of NaOH with the KOH to increase the viscosity of the finished liquid soap?

I know we'd have to adjust the water but is there a basic "formula" where a certain amount of NaOH will increase the end viscosity in the liquid soap or is this just too variable because the water dilution "rates" kinda makes this a moot point?
 

Zany_in_CO

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Why can't we “assume positive intent” like a friendly signature of a fellow soapmaker here constantly reminds us of?
FWIW, "Well-intentioned remarks often have unintended consequences." This applies to the written word where nuance is darn near impossible without writing at some length as to one's intent. At least, that's my experience. My intent is sometimes misunderstood. When that happens, I don't get testy. I just let it go. ;)
 

DeeAnna

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@RDak -- I use some KOH in my bar (NaOH) soap to slightly increase the water solubility in my high-lard soaps and thus increase the lather. But I've not played around with a KOH-NaOH combo for liquid soap (my reasoning is below). I know Kevin Devine (Devinely Made) on Youtube did some trials of KOH-NaOH blends for his soap. It's been awhile since I watched his videos, so I don't remember his goals and conclusions. But these videos were worth watching if you have an interest.

I know people say a dual lye blend works to make a thick, yet pourable soap, and I can see why it could work okay if they are able to dial in the optimum amount of NaOH to use for a given blend of fatty acids. But, IMO, a person can achieve much the same results more easily by adding a sodium salt as a thickener after diluting an all-KOH soap. The whole point in either method is to add a small amount of sodium to slightly salt-out the liquid soap and thus thicken it. The sodium can come from NaOH up front or NaCl (or other sodium salt) afterwards, but either way, you should get essentially the same outcome.

I think if a person used the same blend of fatty acids repeatedly, a dual lye blend might work fine to be a source of sodium. But if you like to try different recipes, a dual lye method might be cumbersome to dial in the right amount of sodium.
 

earlene

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Off topic but have you ever used a hybrid way to make liquid soap by combining a little bit of NaOH with the KOH to increase the viscosity of the finished liquid soap?

I know we'd have to adjust the water but is there a basic "formula" where a certain amount of NaOH will increase the end viscosity in the liquid soap or is this just too variable because the water dilution "rates" kinda makes this a moot point?
I am not DeeAnna, but here is a thread in which this was discussed. Suzie posted her experience making dual lye LS.


And here is another thread on the topic: Mixing KoH & NaOH for liquid soap?
 

DeeAnna

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Thanks @earlene -- those are good threads to share here!

The other thing to keep in mind is it doesn't take much sodium to thicken a liquid soap if it can be thickened with sodium (not all soap will thicken with sodium). If you're wanting to use a dual lye mixture for thickening, you'd really have to experiment to see how much is the right amount. Not enough sodium is (obviously) not going to thicken the soap very well, but it's also true that too much will also cause the soap to be thin as well. You have to add just the right amount to get optimum thickening.

When manufacturers thicken liquid soap (and other anionic liquid cleansers like syndet shampoos) with salt (sodium chloride, NaCl), they do a "salt curve" experiment to find the optimum amount to add. The procedure I've seen for doing a salt-curve experiment calls for adding salt up to 2% by weight of finished product -- that's not a lot.

If you're adding sodium up front with a dual-lye solution, I think it would be much harder to find the amount for optimum thickening. You'd probably have to do a salt-curve type of experiment to figure that out. I also think it would be very, very tempting to use too much NaOH -- it's easy to get into a "more is better, right?" kind of thinking.
 
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RDak

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@RDak -- I use some KOH in my bar (NaOH) soap to slightly increase the water solubility in my high-lard soaps and thus increase the lather. But I've not played around with a KOH-NaOH combo for liquid soap (my reasoning is below). I know Kevin Devine (Devinely Made) on Youtube did some trials of KOH-NaOH blends for his soap. It's been awhile since I watched his videos, so I don't remember his goals and conclusions. But these videos were worth watching if you have an interest.

I know people say a dual lye blend works to make a thick, yet pourable soap, and I can see why it could work okay if they are able to dial in the optimum amount of NaOH to use for a given blend of fatty acids. But, IMO, a person can achieve much the same results more easily by adding a sodium salt as a thickener after diluting an all-KOH soap. The whole point in either method is to add a small amount of sodium to slightly salt-out the liquid soap and thus thicken it. The sodium can come from NaOH up front or NaCl (or other sodium salt) afterwards, but either way, you should get essentially the same outcome.

I think if a person used the same blend of fatty acids repeatedly, a dual lye blend might work fine to be a source of sodium. But if you like to try different recipes, a dual lye method might be cumbersome to dial in the right amount of sodium.
Thanks DeAnna!!

I was hoping with NaOH lather would be less affected than with regular salt or even add lather.

(BTW, you were the member who explained the hybrid lye mixture with bar soap to me a few years ago.)
 

RDak

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I am not DeeAnna, but here is a thread in which this was discussed. Suzie posted her experience making dual lye LS.


And here is another thread on the topic: Mixing KoH & NaOH for liquid soap?
Thanks earlene!!

Looks like it might be better if I stay away from hybrid lye in LS. Not much benefit and in Suzie's case it was "a waste of time".

Thanks again!
 

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