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Jersey Girl

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I, too, was intrigued by the Lather Lover's Additive Test and wanted to try sorbitol. I ended up buying 11 lbs of it from Bulk Supplements (don't judge - ha! Their pricing schematic at the time made buying 11 lbs make sense - pricing has since been changed by quite a bit so that it no longer makes sense).

Anyway, over the course of 2 days in early July I had to make 6 batches of soap for gifts and threw caution to the wind, adding 5% (oil weight) sorbitol to every single batch in spite of never having used it before. Figured, why not, it's supposed to be great and I have a ton of it. Well, that was a mistake. It may have to do with my recipe (olive oil, soy wax, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and shea butter), but these 6 batches of soap are not my finest moment.

This is a recipe I've used for a long time and am familiar with how the soap performs. The soap in my shower right now using sorbitol at 5% (oil weight), as opposed to my usual 5% (oil weight) granulated sugar, is a mess. The sorbitol soap started out nicely and lathered well (albeit not crazy good, as I thought it might), but after a few uses it started to become mushy, a little slimy, and soft. The soap is on a well-draining soap dish, so I can't imagine what a mess it would become it it wasn't. Overall, it's not great, not great at all. Initially, I did feel like there was a little more lather with the sorbitol soap vs. the sugar soap, but it's not enough to warrant putting up with the sorbitol soap getting... icky.

Anyway, eventually I'm going to try again but add sorbitol at a lower percentage to see if I can find a balance.

Anyone have any theories as to why sorbitol would make soap mushy? I believe it's a humectant, so maybe that is why?
I’m really sorry this happened to you but thank you for sharing your experience. I have been thinking about adding sorbitol to my soap too but may hold off for a while after seeing your results. Hopefully reducing the percentage will result in a good outcome.
 

DeeAnna

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From what I'm seeing from a quick search, looks like liquid sorbitol is typically a 70% solution.

The soap in the Lather Lover's test was made with 5% sorbitol, but the info given doesn't say whether that 5% was powder or liquid.

Carolyn (@cmzaha) has shared in the past couple of years that she uses powdered sorbitol at 1% to 1.2% of total batch weight or 2% of fat weight (ppo). Using one of my recent soap batches, a dose of 1% based on total batch weight would translate to about 1.5% ppo at 33% lye concentration and 1.8% ppo at 28% lye concentration.

 

HowieRoll

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As the % of a solvent increases in the soap, it will cause the soap to become more rubbery/pliable and less firm/hard.
I appreciate your entire post, DeeAnna, and this stood out in particular because yesterday in the shower I was (ruefully) entertaining myself by how I could bend the sorbitol soap into a U-shape (the sugar soap was not bendable). I'm easily entertained.

I’m really sorry this happened to you but thank you for sharing your experience. I have been thinking about adding sorbitol to my soap too but may hold off for a while after seeing your results. Hopefully reducing the percentage will result in a good outcome.
It was a learning experience, for sure! Other than that burst of 6 batches in early July, I haven't been making soap at all; seem to be in a bit of a downturn on that end. But when I do fire up the process again, my first order of business needs to be making batches using sorbitol at 1%, 2%, and 3% (oil weight) to get to the bottom of things.

Here's another SMF post that I'd read prior to using sorbitol, where a forum member said they like to use it at 5% - but - they add it to HP soap (I mostly CP) and didn't mention their soap becomes like Gumby. So that's another mystery, if HP has a different effect (or it could be their recipe, or the weather where they live, or their zodiac sign, who knows - it's soaping!).

 

DeeAnna

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Apparently the soap with 5% sorbitol in the Lather Lovers swap was fine too -- at least Kenna didn't say otherwise (speaking from memory here). She was fairly outspoken about oddities in the other soaps so if the sorbitol soap was bendy, I would think she would have said something. These soaps were all done cold process, although I have no idea whether it was limited to "normal" CP or if people could do CPOP or whatever.

I'm going to guess it's recipe related, @HowieRoll, but just how the recipe affects the results, I couldn't say at this point.

There would be mornings when I would love to bend my soap into a U shape just for grinz. ;)
 

Ant

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Thanks for all of your responses everyone! A lot to absorb here. For some reason, I was thinking it was a liquid solution verses powder. I'll have to see what the usage rate is powdered vs liquid version.

Right now I'm using powdered sugar. Haven't been able to properly test it yet but would like to do a comparison between the two.

Sorry for the late response but eternally grateful for all the information you guys share. In the process of moving and packing is killing me lol
 

runnerchicki

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I used sorbitol in a couple recent batches, and early lather testing is pretty impressive. I mean these bars are only a couple weeks old and they are really producing nice lather. I cannot tolerate too much coconut oil so my recipes don't register high bubbly numbers and tend to have more creamy lather. The sorbitol seems to really bump up the fluffiness of the lather. I can't wait to see how these bars lather after a few months cure. I bought my sorbitol from Nuts.com and got it very quickly.
 

beckster51

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I used sugar in all my recipes until I got curious about sorbitol. I have to say that with my recipes, sorbitol seems to bump up the lather much more than sugar. Although sorbitol is more pricey, I make soap only for family and friends, so the price doesn't bother me. I order big bags of it from Amazon.
 

linne1gi

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I used sugar in all my recipes until I got curious about sorbitol. I have to say that with my recipes, sorbitol seems to bump up the lather much more than sugar. Although sorbitol is more pricey, I make soap only for family and friends, so the price doesn't bother me. I order big bags of it from Amazon.
I just received it (from Amazon) and I'm going to try it out.
 
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